Lately, I have been engaged in a variety of discussions in which both Roman Catholics and Protestants have been involved and I have noticed something very interesting.  Protestants are very quick to reject what Catholics contribute, even on topics that are not related to Catholicism.  In fact, I have observed a projection on the Catholic regarding their doctrine when their doctrine had nothing to do with the discussion.  It is as if the Protestant is telling the Catholic they have nothing meaningful to contribute simply because of the doctrinal positions that they hold.

It is not lost no me why this happens since at one time, I too would be very quick to dismiss Catholics and Roman Catholicism, wholesale.  The primary reason I believe  is because Protestants have embraced a model of Christianity that leaves no room for practices ascribed by Catholicism.  In fact, I think if you were to ask the average evangelical Protestant about Catholic faith and practice, you might get these kinds of responses

  • they promote a works-based system of merit
  • they have elevated the Pope to same status of Christ and scripture
  • they engage in practices that are contradictory to scripture, such as prayer to others rather than God

These were my responses at one time that demonstrated an ignorance of Catholic doctrine and its historical development.   Taken at face value, it does seem that Catholic doctrine flies in the face of what we Protestants hold dear with respect to Soteriology and Ecclesiology.  This includes

  • Salvation is through grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone.
  • Jesus Christ is our advocate and prayer is conducted to God through him; we don’t believe in praying to Mary or to others
  • Jesus Christ and Scripture is the final authority for faith and practice, not the Pope.

However, I have come to realize that what appears to be contradictory practices of Roman Catholicism must be examined in context of the historical development of the Catholic church and how their doctrine is sourced in a rich tradition of early church practice.  It is only through this understanding, that I believe Protestants can be more accepting and understanding of Catholic doctrine and practice.  Absent that understanding, we will always measure the practices of Catholicism against our own and deem them unorthodox at best and heretical, at worst.

It is important to recognize that the first few centuries of the Christian church experienced a universality of doctrine and church practice.  From the doctrinal perspective, there was a unified front on what was deemed authentic Christianity appropriate to the revelation of God and the apostolic witness of Christ.  It is why in the early church writings, the word ‘catholic’, which means universal, was commonly used as a reference to one church.  In protection of the one church, ecumenical councils were formed to combat false or distorted teaching that were attempting to infiltrate and distort the apostolic message.

In the absence of a solidified canon, writings were circulated to provide instruction to the various assemblies that were emerging.    Church practice was an evolution that centered around interpretation of the apostles teaching and the instructive letters.   Overtime, these elements would be transformed into a solidified practice incorporated into doctrine of church and shape liturgical practices that are very much apart of the RCC.

The doctrine of the church is a key element in understanding Catholic theology and why liturgical practices are deemed an important element related to the justification and sanctification of the believer.   Affirmed at the Council of Trent, the church is the conduit through which Christ manifests his presence and authority.  It is not simply the invisible church comprising all believers in Christ, but the visible organization established by Christ and maintained through apostolic succession based on Jesus’ words to Peter in Matthew 16:18.  The revelation of God, unveiled in Christ is not simply inscribed in writings of the apostolic witness (scripture) but is carried on through tradition established by the church.  This is otherwise known as Sacred Tradition, which is just as valid as scripture, according to Catholic theology and it is the church who serves as the authoritative interpreter of both.  It is not as though the overseers of the church would arbitrarily decide to incorporate elements into the church to bolster man-made practices, but to uphold an historic tradition that is reflected in the inception of church practices transmitted by the apostles themselves.

Francis Beckwith, former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, had this to say in an interview with Christianity Today regarding his conversion to Roman Catholicism

“Looking at tradition would also help evangelicals learn about Christian liturgical traditions, like Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism, that many evangelicals reject because they say liturgy is unbiblical.  When did these practices come to be?  It turns out many of them came to be very early on in church history when people were close historically to the apostles themselves.  There must be something to these practices that the early Christians thought were perfectly consistent with what they had received from the apostles.”

He further goes on to say that it was through his study of the church fathers and the development of liturgical traditions that liberated him with respect to his views on church tradition.  To be honest, the Catholic doctrine of the church has garnered a greater appreciation for me of not only church tradition but the significance of the visible church.  I think we protestants have been historically too dismissive of tradition and tend to undermine the authority and presence of the ecclesiastical body.  Upholding scriptural authority has somehow created a laissez-faire attitude with respect to the unity of body that Christ sought (John 17:20-21)  and that the RCC seeks with respect to doctrine and church practice.  When Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg door, he had no intention of dismantling the church but reforming practices that had been corrupted.   While I do not agree with the authoritative status of the Pope as the succession of the apostolic witness, I do think there is something to be said for the preservation of historic Christianity and ecclesiastical unity that the papal office seeks to uphold.

With respect to the model of justification and sanctification, it might appear to be a meritorious works-based system, which sorely contradicts the Protestant understanding of justification by faith.  However, the liturgical elements are not a set of rituals contrived to produce mechanics of symbolism, but are an active way in which members of Christ’s body participate in the union with Christ.  Grace is dispensed through participation in the sacraments thus fostering this union.  When the Catholic receives the eucharist, it is believed to be the actual presence of Christ.  Therefore, I think it is unfair and not very accurate to label the RCC a system of works-based merit but one in which the model of participation in the union of Christ looks different than that of Protestants.

With the advent of the Vatican II Council, there has been a greater focus on scriptural authority in the RCC.  I have witnessed that first hand in some recent viewings of Catholic masses on EWTN.  I actually was impressed with the amount of scripture being read and taught and found little that I disagreed with in the messages.  Yet, I wonder how many Protestants would even receive messages delivered by a Catholic priest, let alone watch a Catholic channel.   I can’t help but believe that would only perpetuate ignorance and disharmony.

It too amazes me the backlash that I have heard from ex-Catholics who have converted to Protestantism who have joined the chorus of nay-sayers against the RCC vocalizing the same opposition as listed above.  I wonder too if it was because of a failure to fully understand Catholic theology and doctrine that they at one time were actively engaged in.   I do  recognize that just because one actively participates in Roman Catholicism does not necessarily mean they are believers in Christ and it could be that the ex-Catholics who rail against Catholicism do so because they saw it as a detriment to the salvation they now have.  However, there’s no sense in throwing the baby out with the bath water.  Perhaps a greater consensus could be gained by ex-Catholics through an revisitation of the catechism that has now been wholesale rejected.

Because Catholicism does yield some very faithful and devoted believers in Christ.  I have encountered some wonderful Catholics whose belief in and love for Christ matches, if not surpasses, Protestants that I know.  And it is because of belief in Christ, not the practice of Catholicism, that allows for the unity that I believe some Protestants reject simply because the brother or sister in Christ is Catholic.

So I propose to my Protestant brothers and sisters, that rather than rejecting Catholics and Catholicism outright, that we take the time to understand where they are coming from.  That does not mean we will necessarily agree with all the doctrine.  I certainly don’t.  But being quick to reject them or their contributions I believe does a disservice to the body of Christ and undermines the unity that we should seek to foster.

Here is an interesting interview with Mark Noll that I think fosters greater dialogue and cooperation between Protestants and Catholics

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    200 replies to "Why Protestants Are Quick to Reject Catholicism – And What Can Be Done About It"

    • Kevin

      trent.

    • JasonJ

      ” I have encountered some wonderful Catholics whose belief in and love for Christ matches, if not surpasses, Protestants that I know.”

      My cousin in Morman and I could say the same of him. However, this is not the heart of the issue. Loving and trusting in Christ is great but the issue is WHO you say Christ is and what you say he actually accomplished in making atonement.

      There are countless doctrines in the RCC that make it incompatible with Protestant faith. Solo Ecclesia, doctrine of the assumption of mary, the mass and its implecations of the insufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ. The list goes on.

      Robert Sungenis, an RCC apologist, has debated these points with various Protestant and it’s clear that there is no misunderstanding where he and other RCC apologists are coming from on these doctrines.

      While other RCC members may veiw the various teaching of Rome in different light the simple fact remains…they don’t speak for Rome. The debate rages not due to ingorance, or a lack of ecumenical motivation, but do to honest, strong convictions in what is truley taught in Scripture.

      Many of your statements in this blog are just not true. The top Catholic apologists do not affirm your views on the eucharist. The fact that Rome holds to “EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS” argues heavily for Romanism being a works based religion.

      To say that they mean church = Christ in the same sense as Protestants mean it would be simply untrue. There would never have been a reformation if these things weren’t issues needing protest.

    • James

      Excellant posting Lisa. What you say above is all too true. I also think that the opposite is true. Catholics will tend to “lump together” protestants and treat them all as believeing the same way when there is so much more to it.

      Couple of brief comments on the blog.
      1) I note that you reference Mt 16:18, but I think an equal or even firmer proof is in Mt 18:15-18. Especially when we recognize that “sin” against a brother includes false teaching.
      2) I was going to mention that you might find EWTN to be worthwhile, but I see you are already aware of it. ;-))
      3) The late great Archbishop Fulton Sheen commented more than once that there are thousands who hate the Catholic Church for what they Think it teaches but less than a hundred who hate her for what she actually teaches (paraphrased).

      Peace
      James

    • Wilson Hines

      When you say “RCC” I think you must then qualify what you are discussing. It is like saying “The Southern Baptist Church is dead.” That is a very true statement in Eastern North Carolina, the SBC is as dead as a doornail with very few exceptions in our area. It would be easy for someone in our area to make a hasty generalization in regards to the SBC as a whole, which would be false.

      When you are talking about the RCC in Latin America, I have seen enough evidence to say they have ensnared generations of people, millions of people, into the slavery of works salvation and idol worship. I’ve seen this with my own eyes and it isn’t even arguable, it is what it is.

      The RCC in America is such a diverse group of people. I know some in Michigan that scoff at the Pope and are actually embarrassed of whoever the pope is at the time – it’s not the man, it’s the position. Basically, this sub-group of the RCC read their Bibles and pray just like we do, as evangelicals.

      With these two extreme examples, I imagine there is much truth to your statement, but I would be extremely wary of hitching up too tight with the RCC. I can be friends and I could even meet at the local ministerial association, I guess. But, I would I know too much about the doctrine and what they put up with for me to want to be going to The Catholic University of America for me to get a seminary degree. I actually know a SBC pastor who is going through the CUA to get her P.h.D. I expressed my concern about this to her. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did.

    • Alden

      Amen. Great post. The evangelical church has largely been anti-historical, out of simple ignorance. If people understood the true nature of the early church, I think many would have to reassess a number of attitudes about church, worship and theology.

    • wm tanksley

      I do agree that deep historical study is (deeply) needed, as well as an irenic attitude; but this article is historical whitewash, and will not in the long term promote brotherhood.

      Let me hit a couple of critical points.

      It is important to recognize that the first few centuries of the Christian church experienced a universality of doctrine and church practice.

      Why is this important to recognize? It’s not true. The first few centuries did NOT experience any universality of doctrine; there were fringe groups, splinter churches, and even heretics, just as there are now; even while the apostles were around and writing the Scriptures. Any study of patristics that goes deeper than the typical pro/anti-Roman Catholic polemic will show that there are quotes available to be mined for every side of every issue from respected Church Fathers. There are two reasons for this: first, the issues hadn’t yet been argued, so the Fathers weren’t as careful with their language as we have to be; and second, there was a true diversity and sometimes disagreement over the issues and practices.

      I mentioned “typical pro/anti-Roman Catholic polemic” above. People engaging in that often quotemine texts from the ancient authors to show supposed agreement or disagreement with modern Roman Catholic teachings; but true agreement or disagreement is almost never there, because the issues that caused the Roman church to define the doctrines and dogmas had not yet arisen. (I’m attempting to phrase this neutrally).

      Overtime, these elements would be transformed into a solidified practice incorporated into doctrine of church and shape liturgical practices that are very much apart of the RCC.

      I agree with the author’s disappointment at ignorant evangelicals dismissing “liturgy” as being bad; but the above statement is historically illiterate. The ancient church’s ceremony and decorations would be almost unrecognizable to a…

    • Paul

      Wilson, I think you make some good points about Latin America. I hope these will also help you to understand where they are coming from.

      When Catholic missionaries (primarily Jesuit priests as I understand it) went to evangelize the new world they began to run into a problem. They found a lot of people were not willing to give up their old religions. Thus, Syncretism. Santeria is the best example I can think of. Where the Catholic church told slaves from Africa that their Gods were actually saints in the Catholic church. I feel that this explains it but does not excuse it. The only thing we can do is pray that they move forward into purer faith.

      I also think that the works in the Catholic church are not always understood. When I was employed by the Catholic church I had a very good friend explain to me the importance of works in relation to faith (not in place of). You start with faith. That’s important. You START with faith. Faith in Christ. But how are we to sustain this faith? How are other people to see this faith? This is where the works comes in. I think of it as actions speaking louder than words. Because we have faith, we wish to improve God’s creation. This can be done through works. Works like charity and labor, but also through sacraments that serve as a reminder of who we are and who God is (nothing like confession to remind you that you’re a sinner). And when we commit ourselves to Christ in the works, it reinforces our faith. Makes our faith stronger. In the end, we get a beautiful cycle. Faith that inspires us to work. Work that strengthens our faith. Look at James 2:14-18.

      But faith must come first. Like two feet walking, one of them has to take the first step.

    • wm tanksley

      …The ancient church’s ceremony and decorations would be almost unrecognizable to a modern Catholic, as they would to a modern evangelical; but there is a common core that both would agree with, since it’s been preserved faithfully in the Scriptures.

      Many of the most notable liturgical elements are known innovations that have been tracked by archeologists; for example, the use of tabernacles to “reserve the Host” away from the congregation, together with an approved worship of this Host; those tabernacles were not in any way present until 600 years after Nicea! Yet now they’re a central part of Roman Catholic worship, and veneration to their contents is the same as veneration to Christ Himself.

      Therefore, I think it is unfair and not very accurate to label the RCC a system of works-based merit but one in which the model of participation in the union of Christ looks different than that of Protestants.

      But the Roman Catholic system is precisely one of merit, which is based on works. Merit, in their doctrine, is something that can be generated by good works, and graciously assigned to someone else; your works can even (with God’s help) be surplus beyond what you need for your own salvation, and placed into a treasury of merit, there to be dispensed by the church for the salvation of the faithful.

      This doesn’t merely LOOK different; it IS different. And it’s different in precisely a way that matters: it’s another gospel different from the one Paul already preached. And even if a group with true direct apostolic succession from Paul and Peter preaches that other gospel, let them be accursed!

      -Wm

    • Paul

      Mr. Tanksley, I grew up in the Post-Vatican II Catholic church. I still have many family members who practice their faith this way. I don’t know of anyone in my family or former parishes who would even suggest that any work is sufficient to secure salvation. I also have to say the idea that you could create a surplus is something I heard of for the first time in your response to this blog.

      I feel I should also point out that the Catholic church worships the consecrated host because they believe that it is Christ. It’s not a separate thing from God, to them, it IS God and therefore worthy of worship. While you may disagree with this belief, to say they are consciously worshiping an entity separate of God would be incorrect. I hope you will accept this correction.

    • Hodge

      Lisa,

      I agree with Wm here. I think you’ve come under the spin of ecumenists and RC apologists. Noll is a good example of this. I was also unclear about your point concerning these three propositions:

      * Salvation is through grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone.
      * Jesus Christ is our advocate and prayer is conducted to God through him; we don’t believe in praying to Mary or to others
      * Jesus Christ and Scripture is the final authority for faith and practice, not the Pope.

      Are you saying that the RCC does not really teach or presuppose these in its official doctrine? Of course, no RC would say that they don’t believe in gratia (even sola gratia), fidei, and sola Christi; but the point of our disagreement is over sola fidei with faith defined apart from the works it produces.
      I would also include in the last proposition that Jesus Christ and the Scripture is to be interpreted through the interpretive authority of the elders, now in line with the historic Church’s witness (making apostolic succession general rather than specific to the bishop of Rome).

      The Prot view of the RCC is that it did not begin until Trent. Before that the one Church had variations and remnants of Augustinian/Semi-Augustinian/Semi-Pelagian/Pelagian anthropologies running within it. These were all tolerated until the Semi-Augustinian/Semi-Pelagian views had produced a different religious system (one that was really based on works) reared its head. Hence, the Reformation arose to combat this (and so did Trent). The only problem is that Trent held onto the anthropology of the Semi-Augustinian/Semi-Pelagianism that had produced the theological perversion and the magisterial Reformation held onto an anthropology with Augustinian presupps.

      So we must set aside our anthropologies to be one. Yet, what did the early Church say about anthropology? Was it important enough to divide over? According to the unity issue you describe, we would be required to…

    • Hodge

      divide over the issue. The original groups understood this. You’re right that they weren’t attempting to create a different church. There is no other Church but the one catholic Church. But they were attempting to divide over anthropology as it corrected or distorted the gospel itself. The truth of the matter is that modern evangelicalism has become so Roman Catholic in its anthropology that it either has to distort RCC doctrine in order to divide with it (something often seen in fundamentalist critiques, as the examples you give bear out) or one simply does not see what the big deal is and even though disagreeing, accepts RC’s as having a legitimate form of the gospel. That’s fine, but where’s the historical unity that was made an issue in this article? Why not be in unity with the early Church that condemned wayward anthropologies?

    • Lisa Robinson

      Wilson,

      As to this statement,

      When you are talking about the RCC in Latin America, I have seen enough evidence to say they have ensnared generations of people, millions of people, into the slavery of works salvation and idol worship. I’ve seen this with my own eyes and it isn’t even arguable, it is what it is.

      I think the same could be said of certain Protestant denominations and some independent churches who have embraced very legalistic forms of sanctification.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Hodge and Wm Tankley,

      Let me be clear and say I am not advocating for regress to a universal form of the visible church, only that our dialogue and understanding be improved so that we be careful to understand what exactly it is we are rejecting.

      As to Tankley’s point that there existed splintered groups in the early church, I agree. But none were sufficient to warrant a different recognized body within the universally accepted church. In fact, I clearly stated that various heretical and distorted doctrines arose. As to his other point here

      People engaging in that often quotemine texts from the ancient authors to show supposed agreement or disagreement with modern Roman Catholic teachings; but true agreement or disagreement is almost never there, because the issues that caused the Roman church to define the doctrines and dogmas had not yet arisen.

      My point is not that every doctrinal piece was established but that what is established now is a result of an evolution of practice and doctrine formed under the auspices of the recognized church. Does it matter that the example cited of the veneration of the Host did not occur several hundred years after Nicea? No, because if the church is the official conduit through which faith and practice is regulated then implementation of practices must necessarily be judged as consistent with the early church foundation.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Hodge,

      The Prot view of the RCC is that it did not begin until Trent. Before that the one Church had variations and remnants of Augustinian/Semi-Augustinian/Semi-Pelagian/Pelagian anthropologies running within it. These were all tolerated until the Semi-Augustinian/Semi-Pelagian views had produced a different religious system (one that was really based on works) reared its head. Hence, the Reformation arose to combat this (and so did Trent). The only problem is that Trent held onto the anthropology of the Semi-Augustinian/Semi-Pelagianism that had produced the theological perversion and the magisterial Reformation held onto an anthropology with Augustinian presupps.

      I concede this point but I am just curious as to what exactly you are referring to by ‘works’. Do you mean the practice of indulgences or the whole sacramental system? And is not the anthropology consistent with the RCC view of the visible church?

    • Rick

      “The revelation of God, unveiled in Christ is not simply inscribed in writings of the apostolic witness (scripture) but is carried on through tradition established by the church. This is otherwise known as Sacred Tradition, which is just as valid as scripture, according to Catholic theology and it is the church who serves as the authoritative interpreter of both.”

      Eastern Orthodox churches hold to the same position, so I am not sure why you did not mention EO more in your post?

      I do agree that Evangelicals need to a better job learning and appreciating church history and tradition (that may be why many are going to “Rome”, “Constantinople”, or even “Canterbury”), but apart from what EWTN is advocating, the RCC does not hold a monopoly on the historic faith.

    • Hodge

      “I am just curious as to what exactly you are referring to by ‘works’.”

      Yes, indulgences, as they were being taught in Luther’s day, and everything along those lines that Luther mentions as not real works at all (climbing up stairs on the knees as one pays homage to saints through icons, etc.); but also the medieval religion that had become a “good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell” type religion. Both Prots and RC’s saw these as corruptions and were corrected in their own ways by each group. As I said, however, the correction that came about through Trent did not take the bad tree out by its root.

    • Mike

      95% of Protestantism is essentially Roman Catholicism. If one simply put the Bible and faith in place of Rome and their predisposition for fairy tales and self effort, you’d be in line with Luther.

    • Michael T.

      Hodge,

      “good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell” type religion.”

      Putting this with you’re earlier accusation of Evangelicals being similar to the Roman Catholic Church in the Reformation time period. Is it your assertion that Evangelicals teach this?? I mean sure there is the inclusivistic vs. exclusivistic debate, but outside of this squabble I have never been to a Evangelical Church which would put forth such a teaching.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Rick,

      I have not seen the level of dismissal towards EO Christians as I have towards Catholics, which is why I made this post specifically about Catholics. To be honest, I have been annoyed recently they way I’ve seen Catholics outright rejected when bringing meaningful contributions into a discussion, simply because they are Catholic. So it’s not about the RCC having a monopoly on truth, but about how we perceive the RCC and its members. That’s what I was attempting to address.

    • wm tanksley

      You know, I confess I ended my message in a way that was out of line. I expect better from this conversation forum, and I failed all of you. I let “being in a hurry” come before participating properly in the discussion. I apologize for my sloppiness and offensiveness.

      Let me correct myself: Roman Catholics are NOT to be accursed simply because “another gospel” is commonly present among them. After all, “another gospel” is also commonly present in all evangelical churches; the Faithful Church will have tares among it until the Day of Judgement. There are many faithful Christians who are Roman Catholic (I’ve had quite a few friends, one of them a close friend, who were Roman Catholic and unmistakably faithful to the Gospel).

      The problem is that the Roman Catholic Church has long since decided that its position as a successor to the apostles is more important than teaching in a way that supports the teaching of the apostles. This is why I quoted Paul: he placed the teaching of the Gospel above his own apostleship. The RCC teaches that its doctrinal authority is beyond doubt; Paul placed his teachings under the microscope and praised people who questioned him.

      -Wm

    • Hodge

      Michael,

      I think you misread me. I said the medieval religion that crept up in the Church was such, not that the RCC or Prot Churches were this way.

    • EricW

      It is important to recognize that the first few centuries of the Christian church experienced a universality of doctrine and church practice. From the doctrinal perspective, there was a unified front on what was deemed authentic Christianity appropriate to the revelation of God and the apostolic witness of Christ. It is why in the early church writings, the word ‘catholic’, which means universal, was commonly used as a reference to one church. In protection of the one church, ecumenical councils were formed to combat false or distorted teaching that were attempting to infiltrate and distort the apostolic message.

      These statements seem contradictory to me. The fact that the Councils had to combat teaching that was believed to be false or distorted indicates to me that there was NOT a universality of doctrine and practice. Nicea I was in 325 A.D. before the church had ended its 3rd century (assuming Pentecost ~33 A.D.), so it’s NOT true that “the first few centuries” experienced such universality. Also, some of the NT epistles indicate that teachings deemed to be false were already competing with what some of the apostles taught.

      And as much as Roman Catholicism and Protestantism may have in common, and as much as Roman Catholics and Protestants can pray and worship and study the Scriptures together, the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist and the priesthood is what it is: The priest by his ordination has received an indelible mark on his soul, and when he confects the Eucharist and says the Words of Institution, the bread and wine BECOME the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – as real and as much Christ as if He were to stand in front of the priest and the parishioners. Eucharistic Adoration (not veneration, which is giving honor, but adoration, which is the worship that belongs to God alone) testifies to the belief that the Wafer is Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It’s Christ Among Us.

    • MShep2

      “I have been annoyed recently they way I’ve seen Catholics outright rejected when bringing meaningful contributions into a discussion, simply because they are Catholic.”

      Lisa: your point that we should not reject Catholic ideas or contributions simply because they are Catholic is good. If that were the whole of your argument, I would agree with your posting. However, your statements concerning what Catholicism really is contradicts published Church documents.

      “It is only through this understanding, that I believe Protestants can be more accepting and understanding of Catholic doctrine and practice. Absent that understanding, we will always measure the practices of Catholicism against our own and deem them unorthodox at best and heretical, at worst.”

      Yes, we can be more understanding. And yes, I believe there are dedicated Christians inside the Catholic church. However we must measure Catholic practices against the Word of God. If we do, we will have to admit that many are actually “unorthodox” or even “heretical.”

    • EricW

      Re: #22:

      I’m not saying that the Catholics are wrong and the Protestants are right. I’m saying that the Catholic Church’s doctrine and practice of the Eucharist and the priesthood, and the centrality and essentiality of them to the faith and practice of that same Catholic Church, make all other areas of disagreement with Protestantism pale by comparison, IMO, and if there can be no agreement on these, then despite agreement in other areas, we’re in many ways talking about TWO DIFFERENT RELIGIONS.

    • Michael T.

      Eric W,

      I agree with what you said. It seems contradictory to claim that no divisions existed in the Early Church when there had to be councils to combat divisions. Even among those who are generally considered to be the Early Church Fathers by history you will find significant disagreements on some points of doctrine. You will also find disagreement among interpreters of the Early Church as to how to understand certain fragments (e.g. Roger Olsen and Hodge would have it out over whether or not some statements by Irenaeus and Justin Martyr contradict Augustine and later Calvin on issues relating to divine determinism or whether these statements only apply to Gnostic “fate” type determinism since we discussed this in an early post).

      Suffice to think I don’t think the Early Church is always as clear as anyone would like it to be. Despite this I would agree with CMP that there is a core of Christian doctrine that can be made out and those doctrines which arose contrary to it were often quickly condemned.

    • Carrie

      I learn from Atheists, and pagans and non-Christians across the board. So if the goal here is to suggest we not be closed-minded and realize that we can glean truth from many sources outside the Bible or the true body of Christ, I have no problem with it.

      If however it is being said that the RCC is holding to a true Gospel, and we are just not understanding them, then no, I disagree and state plainly that is wrong.

      That isn’t to say that some individuals attending a Catholic church aren’t believers (something that has to be stated to avoid the inevitable red herring of “so you don’ t believe any Catholics are saved?”)

      In terms of contrary practice it is more than the fact that they pray to Saints or even their understanding of the Eucharist. Those things pale in comparison to the out and out grievous offense the institution is guilty of… the absolute butchering of the Gospel.

      Look to the anathema placed on sola fide. That isn’t simply a misunderstanding. Those at Trent were fully aware of what they were doing. And before anyone tries to pull a fast one… V2 doesn’t change anything.

      Sola fide is the very heart of the Gospel. It is one thing to fail to live it out (I am not perfect in my faith, are any of you?). It is an entirely different thing to willfully reject the doctrine and furthermore curse those who hold to it. That is what the RCC did and continue to do.

      So on that point no, there is no room for solidarity with them. And why should there be? Because we come from the same place? We have a common history? Jesus shared a common history with the Pharisees… and?

      Why would we want to identify ourselves with any one person or group of people who so willfully misrepresent the Gospel? What could we possibly gain from it?

    • EricW

      Why Protestants Are Quick to Reject Catholicism – And What Can Be Done About It

      Maybe this post should be titled: “Why Protestants Are Quick to Reject Catholics – And What Can Be Done About It”

      I agree that Protestants can learn from Catholics and from what their religious tradition has taught them about Christianity and the Scriptures. After all, Protestants don’t reject opportunities to learn from Jews and Jewish scholars about both the Old and the New Testament – and contrary to Catholicism, Judaism rejects/denies/refudiates (HT to Sarah Palin) Jesus’ divinity and Messiahship and resurrection.

    • Chris Castaldo

      Hi Lisa, thanks for tackling an important issue. -Chris Castaldo

    • TDC

      Carrie,

      Although I understand the importance of sola fide for many Protestants, I’m surprised that you say that the Eucharist thing pales in comparison.

      Catholics WORSHIP the Eucharist. Either the Eucharist is Jesus or not. If it is not, then this is idolatry. If it is, then you should become Catholic.

      Perhaps I’m misguided here, but it seems to me that idolatry is condemned in the Bible above all other things. Perhaps that’s just because I don’t see sola fide quite as clearly as you do.

      Honestly, I like the idea of ecumenism, but I don’t understand how the more ecumenical Protestants/Catholics can see this as a side issue.

    • The 27th Comrade

      Lisa Robinson;
      Good post, but please pay close attention to this website.

      I feel that Roman Catholicism survives because the things that it has huge stores of things (the pomp, the “endless genealogies”, and—yes—the works) that are attractive to those for whom the only temptation and sin is to not believe in the “foolishness of the cross”.

      If you think that the Roman Catholic Church is basically good, save for grace and so on, you are right. But a nubile young body without a pulse is in mostly the same shape. There is religious gratification to be found in just any system of worship. Only one actually puts Christ and His finished work at the centre. The Pope is good, Tradition is good, but what you want is salvation by faith. Run to the cross, everyone. Run.

    • Lisa Robinson

      “Catholics WORSHIP the Eucharist. Either the Eucharist is Jesus or not. If it is not, then this is idolatry. If it is, then you should become Catholic.”

      Actually, I believe the Catholic would say they are worshipping Christ.

    • TDC

      Oh, I didn’t mean to say otherwise. But Catholics see the Eucharist AS Christ, so they wouldn’t see any distinction between the two. Worshiping the Eucharist, for them, IS worshiping Christ. That’s my point.

      Although, I suppose someone could say that, since they believe they are worshiping Christ, they are not committing idolatry, even if the Eucharist is not Christ. I’m just not sure.

      For what it’s worth, I’m a Catholic, so I’m not trying to bash them. Although I’m a doubting one, so maybe that’s a bias there. But when my faith was more robust, I looked at the Eucharist and bowed to it and worshiped it as my Lord and Savior. Why? Because I believed it was Jesus Himself hidden under the elements of bread and wine.

      If I was wrong to think in such a way, I hope a Catholic will correct me. But that was my understanding. Peter Kreeft has also said that if Catholics are wrong, then they are worshiping bread and wine, so I suspect my understanding is correct.

    • Lisa Robinson

      TDC, then it sounds like you should be Protestant 😉

    • Lisa Robinson

      Michael T

      Suffice to think I don’t think the Early Church is always as clear as anyone would like it to be. Despite this I would agree with CMP that there is a core of Christian doctrine that can be made out and those doctrines which arose contrary to it were often quickly condemned.

      I agree and it is that core doctrine that the church sought to protect. But I think it important to examine Catholic theology against that core doctrine absent of the church practices that are part and parcel of the church. And these practices are related to the doctrine of the church is what I’m trying to get at. Because it is the church that holds the authority and is the interpreter of faith and practice that was handed down. I am not sure that makes Catholicism a separate religion, as Eric W indicated, just one in which authority is derived from more than one source.

    • wm tanksley

      Although, I suppose someone could say that, since they believe they are worshiping Christ, they are not committing idolatry, even if the Eucharist is not Christ. I’m just not sure.

      This is, of course, why the worship of the Host is encouraged by Roman doctrine. But even this is deadly dangerous; God did not carve out any exceptions to His rule that we must not make things to worship them.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      But I think it important to examine Catholic theology against that core doctrine absent of the church practices that are part and parcel of the church. […] I am not sure that makes Catholicism a separate religion, as Eric W indicated, just one in which authority is derived from more than one source.

      Roman Catholic doctrine cannot be examined without noticing that the doctrine can change based on what the Church declares. Past pronouncements that were true cannot suddenly become declared false; but in practice the Roman Church distinguishes multiple levels of pronouncements, where some are unofficial, some are more official, some are instructional, and some are solid dogma. Anything that’s not defined as dogma can be contradicted later by claiming that the person saying it wasn’t speaking for “the Church”.

      For example, look at the relatively new Marian Dogmas. Although the Church (the whole Church, not just the Roman see) has always deeply respected Mary and has sometimes overelaborated her miracles based on mistaken notions of the sinfulness of the body (for example, the unscriptural doctrine of perpetual virginity led some to speculate that Jesus’ birth was miraculous in that Jesus emerged from her womb by teleport), the Roman Church took this to new extremes in declaring these “doctrines” (not hinted at in Scripture nor in apostolic teaching) to be actually dogma, which means that if anyone denies them they automatically deny salvation.

      -Wm

    • Raphaël Pinson

      Hi Lisa,

      I come from a Catholic family, was raised in the RCC (although I also attended a reformed church from time to time), post Vatican II. My family is still RCC, and I’ve had countless arguments with my parents on such subjects.

      I would like to say that Protestantism is not limited to Evangelical Protestantism. Your point on liturgy as a specificity of the RCC is not true, since most traditional protestant churches also have a liturgy. This is the case for example of the Reformed Church (calvinists), and they hold their liturgy as a way to ensure that the service covers all the important points of the doctrine.

      I would heartily agree on your post if it was about Catholics, and I make a strong point in making a big difference between Catholics and Catholicism. Most post-Vatican II Catholics I know (including my family) do not know the history of the Church as much as Protestants do, or even the theological position of the RCC vs Protestantism (at least here in France). Most Catholics I know don’t care about the doctrine of transubstantiation or simply dismiss it as something that doesn’t matter. Most don’t care about priesthood, even when pointed to the words of Paul concerning this subject. While I do know quite a few Catholics who are fervent worshippers of Christ, I would say they are in spite of the RCC, and not thanks to it. It is my belief that the RCC has led many astray, and this belief doesn’t condemn Catholics as individuals.

      Also, I would make a clear distinction between Catholicism and Roman Catholicism. The word “catholic” as you mentioned was used in the first times of Christianity to mean “universal”. The “universal” church became the Roman Catholic Church (in my understanding) when Constantin made it the official religion of the Roman Empire, deciding that Christianity (a religion based on faith) would be the de-facto religion of all citizens of the Roman Empire, allowing lots of pagan traditions to mix with Christianity.

    • Lisa Robinson

      If you think that the Roman Catholic Church is basically good, save for grace and so on, you are right. But a nubile young body without a pulse is in mostly the same shape. There is religious gratification to be found in just any system of worship. Only one actually puts Christ and His finished work at the centre. The Pope is good, Tradition is good, but what you want is salvation by faith. Run to the cross, everyone. Run.

      Are you saying that Roman Catholicism does not teach justification by faith in the finish work on the cross?

    • Carrie

      @ TDC – you said:

      Catholics WORSHIP the Eucharist. Either the Eucharist is Jesus or not. If it is not, then this is idolatry. If it is, then you should become Catholic.

      I say:

      It is idolatrous and worse still leads to Christological heresy. I suppose I made a mistake in downplaying the signficance of it in my eagerness to stress my point regarding sola fide.

      So TDC great point. Getting the answer wrong on Who and What Christ is, is just as bad as getting the answer wrong on what He accomplished.

      @ Lisa – No one would say that the RCC does not teach justification by faith in the finished work on the cross. They do.

      However they don’t teach that solely. They add an entire sacramental system to the work on the cross. That teach that we contribute to our justification.

      In saying that, how then are they teaching that the work was finished? What exactly did Christ finish on the cross according to offical RCC dogma?

    • Carrie

      Also Lisa I noticed you said

      “I am not sure that makes Catholicism a separate religion…”

      Their official position on the Gospel.

    • Dane Parker

      This is an interesting and ironic post, as I have lately been thinking how Catholic contributions have seemed to be more welcome in typically Protestant venues in recent times. For example, as a fan of the Perspectives and Zondervan Counterpoint Series, I have noticed that some of the books (e.g. the “Spirit Baptism” book of the former series, and the “Lord’s Supper” book of the latter) offer Catholic input.

    • Francis Beckwith

      “It is idolatrous and worse still leads to Christological heresy.”

      What heresy is that?

      Ironically, Ignatius of Antioch made just the opposition claim, namely, that those who denied the reality of Christ in the Eucharist were heretics, and connected their heresy to docetism.

      Here’s Ignatius (AD 110):

      Some ignorantly deny Him, or rather have been denied by Him, being the advocates of death rather than of the truth. … For what does any one profit me, if he commends me, but blasphemes my Lord, not confessing that He was [truly] possessed of a body? But he who does not acknowledge this, has in fact altogether denied Him, being enveloped in death. I have not, however, thought good to write the names of such persons, inasmuch as they are unbelievers. Yea, far be it from me to make any mention of them, until they repent and return to [a true belief in] Christ’s passion,…

      Let no man deceive himself. Both the things which are in heaven, and the glorious angels, and rulers, both visible and invisible, if they believe not in the blood of Christ, shall, in consequence, incur condemnation. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. Matthew 19:12 Let not [high] place puff any one up: for that which is worth all is faith and love, to which nothing is to be preferred. But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God. They have no regard for love; no care for the widow, or the orphan, or the oppressed; of the bond, or of the free; of the hungry, or of the thirsty.

      They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again….

      ( http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm )

    • wm tanksley

      Are you saying that Roman Catholicism does not teach justification by faith in the finished work on the cross?

      You have to twist a lot of words to affirm that.

      Obviously their definition of ‘justification’ is different from ours; they define justification to include what we call ‘sanctification’, which means that justification for them is initiated by Christ’s work, but achieved by our meritorious cooperation with His grace (occasionally withdrawing from the Treasury of Merit that I mentioned before). That’s an important difference.

      Much more important is that to the Roman Church, Mass itself is an effectual reenactment of Christ’s sacrifice, an actual re-offering of His body, and the priest is an alter Christus redoing the work that Christ originally did. So the Cross was not finished; it’s redone at every Eucharist, and participation in that is necessary to salvation (or rather, to reject participation is to reject salvation).

      -Wm

    • Francis Beckwith

      Carrie:

      I like you. You seem like a nice person, and you can’t be all bad since you love Bob Dylan (as I do).

      But back off the use of purposely rough language. The word “dogma,” for example, though a perfectly fine word, is only employed by you when you refer to Catholic beliefs. Why is that? Because in our culture today, “dogma” carries with it the connotation of a belief which someone embraces ignorantly and without reason because of some capricious authority. When you refer to your own beliefs as “dogmas,” then I will concede that you are playing fair. (Some Catholic apologists, of course, are just as bad when explaining Protestant beliefs. So, when those snooty Papists make their appearance here, I will correct them as well).

      You seem to not understand what Catholics mean by “sacraments.” They don’t think of it as a “system,” as if it were parts of a grand machine pumping out grace pellets. They are means by which we participate in the divine life. We don’t do anything except submit to Christ. And, mysteriously, the submission itself is a consequence of God’s grace. But grace for the Catholic is real stuff (a divine quality, which is the technical term) that changes nature. So, for example, when we engage in acts of charity, it is God’s grace working through us so that we can become more like Christ. We are not “working our way to heaven,” but rather, heaven is working its way through us, or as the Apostle Paul puts it: “God is at work in you.”

      Carrie, do yourself and favor and read the Catechism on this issue: http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s1c3a2.htm And from there you can read other sources, including the work of my friend, Alan Schreck, Catholic and Christian (Servant Books).

    • Francis Beckwith

      “Much more important is that to the Roman Church, Mass itself is an effectual reenactment of Christ’s sacrifice, an actual re-offering of His body, and the priest is an alter Christus redoing the work that Christ originally did. So the Cross was not finished; it’s redone at every Eucharist, and participation in that is necessary to salvation (or rather, to reject participation is to reject salvation).”

      Wrong. Read the Catechism: “In the epiclesis, the Church asks the Father to send his Holy Spirit (or the power of his blessing) on the bread and wine, so that by his power they may become the body and blood of Jesus Christ and so that those who take part in the Eucharist may be one body and one spirit (some liturgical traditions put the epiclesis after the anamnesis).

      In the institution narrative, the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all.”

      ( http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm )

      I am planning to include a list of these sorts of urban legend beliefs about Catholicism in my contribution to the forthcoming book Journeys of Faith (Zondervan, 2011).

    • bee

      Many misconceptions, I think.
      The Mass is not a re-offering of Christ, it is to participate in the one sacrifice and the entering in the one ongoing heavenly liturgy. And it is not the priests redoing it, it is all Gods doing.
      Sakraments overcome the dimensions of time and space. They all point back to Christ -His death and resurrection- they make Him present -here and now- and they point beyond time to the to perfection and transformation of the world, humanity and the individual believer.
      At every single Mass we are at the foot of the cross, at the empty tomb and we are in heaven with the risen Lord.
      I think, Jeremy Driscoll wrote one of the best books about Mass, it’s called ‘What happends at Mass’ and is easy to read, even if someone is not Catholic.

    • wm tanksley

      Dr. Beckwith, it’s an honor to hear from you.

      I’m glad to see that you’re providing enough context; it’s easy to cherrypick a quote and hide the context, and I’m glad you don’t do that.

      But that context gives the purpose of the quote away. Contrary to your claim, Ignatius is not speaking against people who deny that the wine and bread are transformed into the Body and Blood (an idea he’d probably never heard of, and never wrote about); he’s speaking specifically against the people who deny that Christ had a physical body, the docetists. He doesn’t merely mention the docetists to illustrate the evil of denying that the bread and wine is connected to Christ’s body and blood; he actually is talking about the heresy of docetism. The physicality of the wine and bread revolted them because they recognized that the Church knew it to be a claim that Christ had a truly physical body. The physicality of widows and orphans revolted them, and they did not give to them. None of these problems are features of people who simply deny transubstantiation.

      Note a problem with reading this text your way, when he modifies either the bread or the Flesh by adding “which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again.” If his purpose was to talk about the bread, he’s claiming that the bread suffered and was raised up again (which isn’t true); but he’s talking about Christ, and the bread simply is what the docetists reject because they reject what it represents.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      An example of how easy it is to misread this controversy into the Fathers’ writings is this quote from Tertullian:

      Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,”

      …but the sentence doesn’t end there, because Tertulian wasn’t trying to argue that Christ transformed bread and wine into His body and blood. The sentence continues:

      that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure.

      So Tertullian uses the same phrasing as Ireneus did, both of which are more specific than Christ’s words, but he clarifies immediately that he’s talking about the bread being a figure, not about the bread being the veritable body.

      This similarity in rebuttals is doubtless caused by a similarity in heresy: the docetists must have almost uniformly rejected the Eucharist because they saw it as a confession of Christ enfleshed.

      -Wm

    • Michael L

      Lisa

      Good post. As an ex-RC I’ve experienced this rejection personally as well and see a lot of the same arguments pop up here in the thread.

      Rafael (#37), I grew up RCC in Belgium, not too different from France. For what it’s worth, there is a considerable difference in practice between Europe and the US. I’ve come to notice that over the years.

      It too amazes me the backlash that I have heard from ex-Catholics who have converted to Protestantism who have joined the chorus of nay-sayers against the RCC vocalizing the same opposition as listed above

      Couldn’t agree more. And it unfortunately comes from those who have a limited understanding of actual RCC doctrine. Are there doctrinal differences ? Absolutely. But do we as Protestants tend to throw away the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Yes.

      Just my two pennies

      Mick

    • Francis Beckwith

      Wm:

      I appreciate your kind comments.

      As for the Ignatius quote, you write: “Note a problem with reading this text your way, when he modifies either the bread or the Flesh by adding `which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again.’ If his purpose was to talk about the bread, he’s claiming that the bread suffered and was raised up again (which isn’t true); but he’s talking about Christ, and the bread simply is what the docetists reject because they reject what it represents.”

      Let’s look at the portion of the passage you are assessing:

      “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again”

      Maybe I’m just dense, but when I read this passage I see the following. The doceticists don’t take the Eucharist because they do not believe it be Christ’s flesh, and that flesh is what suffered for our sins. Seems simple to me. But even if your interpretation were legitimate (and I don’t think it is), is the Catholic interpretation obviously wrong? If it isn’t, you at least should concede that the belief in Eucharistic realism is rational to believe, especially since Ignatius was not the only one who held it. By the time you reach the 4th century, it is so uncontroversial that it’s never a point of contention by any Church Council. The Council of Nicea assumes its truth when discussing the administering of the viaticum (canon13) to a dying Christian. Ambrose, Augustine and others write of the Mass, the Eucharist, the priesthood, etc. without a hint of doubt. There are discussions about whether heretical bishops have the charism to perform the Mass, but it’s reality is not in dispute.

    • EricW

      1410 It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

      1411 Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord.

      1412 The essential signs of the Eucharistic sacrament are wheat bread and grape wine, on which the blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked and the priest pronounces the words of consecration spoken by Jesus during the Last Supper: “This is my body which will be given up for you. . . . This is the cup of my blood. . . .”

      1413 By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).

    • Hodge

      Frank,

      I don’t think the quote you provided proves the point you want to make. Ignatius simply says that Docetics don’t partake in the Eucharist because they do not believe it to be the flesh of Christ. In what way is it the flesh of Christ? Ignatius doesn’t say. Instead he simply relates that they don’t believe that Christ came in the flesh and therefore feel no need to partake in the Eucharist. That would be true whether the Eucharist was transubstantiated or consubstatiated or memorial. You’ve reversed the logic here and claimed that he is saying that those who do not partake in the Eucharist do so because they deny that Christ came in the flesh like the Docetics.
      Furthermore, is it not a genetic fallacy to say that one who has the same view as another has the same root understanding and reasoning as the other?
      If I say that Frank Beckwith rejects abortion, and heretics like Mormons reject abortion because they believe spirit babies need to be born and go through the earthly test to become gods, then Frank Beckwith is committing a Mormon fallacy, is that not an erroneous line of argumentation?
      Finally, are you suggesting that Ignatius had the concept of transubstantiation worked out in Aquinas a thousand years later?
      This is sort of like saying that Irenaeus was a Pelagian because he spoke often of free will. The all important question, of course, becomes, “What does he mean by “free-will”? Likewise, what does Ignatius mean by “the flesh of Christ” in reference to the Eucharist? Even memorialists use this language of the communion’s representation. One would not discover their referent simply from the language used. More context within the subject we are addressing is needed.

    • EricW

      My comment/post #51. was to support my statement that the RCC considers the priest’s utterance of the Words of Institution/Consecration as effecting the transubstantiation of the elements of the Eucharist, whereas it is the EOC (Eastern Orthodox Church) which insists that it’s accomplished solely by the Holy Spirit in response to the Epiclesis, the change (EO’s don’t use the term “transubstantiation”) occurring at some indefinite time between the time of the Epiclesis and when the priest and communicants partake of the bread and wine (the bread is crumbled in the cup and both wine and bread are given to the communicant via a golden spoon). The priest’s power/authority to effect the change does not exist in EOC Eucharistology AFAIK.

    • wm tanksley

      Dr. Beckwith, God bless you for rejecting heresy in this, but by saying this you call the anathemas of the council of Trent on yourself.

      Wrong. Read the Catechism…
      In the institution narrative, the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all.”

      This quote’s fine (and there are better ones on topic from the same source), but is the Catechism infallible? The Tridentine anathemas are supposed to be:

      If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema (Council of Trent, session 22, canon 3).

      Here’s another allegedly infallible source:

      As often as the Sacrifice of the Cross in which ‘Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed’ (1 Corinthians. 5:7) is celebrated on the altar (i.e. during the mass), the work of our redemption is carried on (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church).

      I’m not sure whether this one’s infallible, but it seems Ex Cathedra:

      The august sacrifice of the altar, then, is no mere empty commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice, whereby the High Priest by an unbloody immolation offers Himself a most acceptable victim to the Eternal Father, as He did upon the cross (Mediator Dei, Encyclical of Pope Pius XII)

    • Francis Beckwith

      “Finally, are you suggesting that Ignatius had the concept of transubstantiation worked out in Aquinas a thousand years later?”

      No, just as I don’t believe the Chalcedonian formulation of the Incarnation can be found in Ignatius as well, even though he clearly believed in the incarnation.

      “Transubstantiation,” as a philosophical theory of the Eucharist, is rarely found in Eastern Orthodoxy. But the Catholic Church accepts their priesthood as legitimate and its masses efficacious.

      If the belief in Eucharistic realism were unique to Catholicism and depended exclusively on an Aristoteleanism, you would not find it elsewhere.

      Wm: All the quotes from Trent you reproduce here are consistent with the Catechism. In fact, the Catechism quotes Trent 10 times in its explanation of the Eucharist: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm You have to read Trent with Catholic eyes, and this means you can’t read it as if it were a systematic theology book published by Zondervan. Catholics don’t write that way. So, for example, you quote passages from Mediator Dei and the Council of Trent, isolated from their historical context as well as the background beliefs of the Catholics who penned them. It turns out, then, if you had dug a bit deeper in Mediator Dei, you would have found this, a passage that quotes from Trent and is in line with the present catechism: “Christ the Lord, “Eternal Priest according to the order of Melchisedech,” “loving His own who were of the world,” “at the last supper, on the night He was betrayed, wishing to leave His beloved Spouse, the Church, a visible sacrifice such as the nature of men requires, that would re-present the bloody sacrifice offered once on the cross, and perpetuate its memory to the end of time, and whose salutary virtue might be applied in remitting those sins which we daily commit, . . .” (emphasis mine). Again, it is from Mediator Dei quoting Trent.

      This all seems to…

    • Hodge

      “No, just as I don’t believe the Chalcedonian formulation of the Incarnation can be found in Ignatius as well, even though he clearly believed in the incarnation.”

      But wouldn’t this mean that Ignatius’ concept is, therefore, ambiguous, and not necessarily referring to a concept that is expressed in Thomistic transubstantiation? And if so, isn’t this our point (i.e., he believes in the Eucharist. What the Eucharist is is another matter)?

    • Francis Beckwith

      A final word.

      Remember, for the Catholic (and perhaps from some Protestants), though Christ’s death occurred in time and space and thus occurred once and for all, its effects are eternal and not limited by time and space. Thus, all the graces we receive, whether through the sacraments, the prayers of the saints (both in heaven and here), or what we acquire through the works of our Protestant friends (yes, the Catechism maintains that Protestant practices may be a means of grace), all have their source in the self-same Christ and his death. This, we Catholics, call a mystery. It does not bother me if I can’t figure it out perfectly. In fact, if I could, it probably wouldn’t be worth believing.

      One more note to Hodge: the genetic fallacy occurs when you say someone’s wrong because of the origin of their beliefs, which is not always a fallacy. If, for example, I believed in Zeus because my palm reader said I should, pointing out the unreliability of that source is not the genetic fallacy. For that reason, your Mormon illustration doesn’t work, since the claim is that Ignatius held to a rudimentary version of Aquinas’s more elaborate account, just as Chalcedon held to a more elaborate theory of the incarnation that was held in primitive form by the Early Church. It is an argument from development not similarity per se.

      After I linked to Lisa’s post last night, she commented on my blog and asked me to participate in the discussion. I have done that. But I have to move on. I have to prepare for fall classes as well as a host of other things. Shameless plug. You can read about them here: http://web.me.com/francis.beckwith/FrancisBeckwith.com/Speaking.html

      Thank for your queries. ‘Til we meet again…..

    • Francis Beckwith

      I didn’t see Hodge’s last comment, since I was typing at the time. So, let me say this (again, in closing, to be a little Brett Farvreish): Ignatius was not ambiguous about the Eucharist, just as he was not ambiguous about the Incarnation. Both doctrines developed over the centuries. The key conceptual tool is organism, not language. When I see pictures of myself as a 15-year-old I don’t say that that is an ambiguous version of Frank Beckwith. I say that it was an undeveloped version. I am identical to my earlier self, though more mature (and a bit heavier, I am sad to confess, though I still have all my hair).

    • Hodge

      Thanks for the discussion, Frank, as well as the clarification on the genetic fallacy. I’ll, of course, defer to you on that, since that is your expertise.

      I think my issue was that, regardless of Ignatius’ view of the Eucharist, his argument was against docetics rejecting the physical incarnation. His statement then mentioned that they don’t partake in the Eucharist because they reject His physical incarnation. Hence, those who see the Eucharist as something different than Ignatius, even if one were to know what he believed in terms of our current divide over the subject, would not be docetics, since they still partake in the Eucharist. Further, even if they rejected the Eucharist, they may do so for different reasons than the docetics, and hence, not fall under Ignatius’ statement either (although we would all say that those who do so are schismatics and in great sin).

      Thanks again for your participation, Frank. I looked forward to it, as I saw Lisa had asked you on your blog (which of course I always read because of the habit you have for making us all think). 😉 Take care.

    • Francis Beckwith

      I didn’t see Hodge’s penultimate comment, since I was typing at the time. So, let me say this (again, in closing, to be a little Brett Farvreish): Ignatius was not ambiguous about the Eucharist, just as he was not ambiguous about the Incarnation. Both doctrines developed over the centuries. The key conceptual tool is organism, not language. When I see pictures of myself as a 15-year-old I don’t say that that is an ambiguous version of Frank Beckwith. I say that it was an undeveloped version. I am identical to my earlier self, though more mature (and a bit heavier, I am sad to confess, though I still have all my hair).

    • wm tanksley

      Hodge, well spoken; I was trying to express your point about docetism, but you said it correctly.

      There’s another point about patristics… The RCC position on the Church Fathers is inconsistent. They quote from them when their speech vaguely seems to support modern views, but they ignore the historical context (as with the two examples we see about); and then they selectively ignore the Fathers when their views fail to conform to modern RCC teaching. Yes, the Fathers are allowed to be wrong — but this is a Protestant view; according to the Catholic view it must be possible to tell when the Fathers are speaking as a Church and when they’re merely private individuals.

      Yet in reality, the only way to tell when the Fathers are right, according to the RCC, is to ask the modern RCC. And how do you know when the modern RCC is right? There’s no way of knowing.

      For example, the medieval church taught that purgatory was punishment with a duration, and even as recently as 1901 (Leo XIII) the “Sabbatine privilege” was explained to shorten the amount of time in purgatory (as did other indulgences) — and just recently the Pope “explained” that purgatory doesn’t have a duration, but is rather a change of states. A total contradiction!

      There’s a single exception to this “no way of knowing”. The Roman Church has defined a category of knowledge called “dogma”. Contrary to Beckwith’s claim above, the word “dogma” is not an insult used only to refer to Roman Catholic teachings; rather, it’s a technical term defined within the Roman Catholic system. A dogma is an article of knowledge that is certainly true, revealed by God, and beyond doubt. To deny a dogma knowing it to be dogma is to deny God’s truth and to commit a very grave sin — a person actively denying dogma is actively proving what Calvinists might call unregeneration.

      Dogma is a wonderful thing…

    • John B

      Today, James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries has posted Part I of an in depth examination of Lisa’s article here, with Part Two to follow.

      http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=4113

      Highly recommended.

    • Carrie Hunter

      It looks like I missed the party.

      I have had a pretty hectic day and am now only able to reply.

      Hi Frank,

      It is good to talk with you even if it is via comments here at the blog. And yes the Dylan issue is something we will always find agreement on.

      I will address a few things here.

      You said for me to “… back off the use of purposely rough language. The word “dogma,” for example, though a perfectly fine word, is only employed by you when you refer to Catholic beliefs. Why is that?”

      I think perhaps you are mistaking my bluntness for “rough language”. As for my use of the word dogma I only used it once and it wasn’t in the pejorative. It was simply meant to speak to an aspect of Roman Catholic teaching (I think it fair to use the word teaching and dogma interchangeably provided the context allows for it.)

      I have no issue using the word dogma as it pertains to my beliefs. But nothing I have said would have necessitated the use of the word. So I am at a loss as to why you are taking exception to my using it in relation to official RCC teaching?

      As far as the Christological heresy …

      In the RCC view of the Eucharist you have the body of Christ literally being present at the mass. At any and all masses simultaneously. With this being the case it brings into question the type of body Christ has? Transubstantiation makes for a ubiquitous Christ and I don’t see how that can’t be problematic.

      This view necessitates that Christ have some sort of non-human body in order for Him to be in so many places simultaneously. That would be a heresy of the Eutychian variety. I would say with further qualification (that I simply don’t have time for right now) that Trent’s position on the Eucharist is in direct contrast to Chalcedon.

      If Christ does not have the same body that we do, then we are in a heap of trouble. Either He fully represents us or He does not. Being of a different substance than the rest of humanity would make it difficult for him to be truly and wholly “one of us.” And believing he is of a different substance, conflicts with Chalcedon.

      I am well familiar with the catechism pertaining to grace, and justification and merit, which is why I object to it. I know you are familiar enough with the Protestant understanding of sola Fide and going with that, you will understand my objections to the Catholic counterpoint.

      That is all I have time for at present as we are right in the middle of our Monday night Romans class.

      And no need to reply Frank because I see that you said you had to move on. I just wanted to make sure I addressed your comments seeing as how you took the time to contribute to the discussion here (and moreover address me directly).

      Cheers!

      Carrie

    • wm tanksley

      …but dogma should pertain to things which, if rejected, should directly reject salvation. And what has the Roman Catholic church granted the status of dogma?

      Here’s a beautiful summary (I mean it, by the way): http://www.theworkofgod.org/dogmas.htm.

      The first thing they teach is that the main reason to believe anything true is that the Church said it. After that, we see a beautiful list of concepts; but what’s in there?

      Read it… The primacy of Mary is no small thing, it’s not a side issue. It’s a dogma.

      -Wm

    • Micah

      Some things on Carrie’s remarks that I don’t think anyone addressed:

      On sola fide being “the heart of the Gospel” – well, it is according to the evangelical-Protestant understanding. It’s in fact a dogma from that particular tradition that belief-that-one-is-saved is all that it takes to demonstrate/accomplish salvation. (Parenthetical: Nowhere in the Bible can one find this doctrine, a novelty of Luther’s that is nowhere to be found in any Christian writing before the 16th century. He actually added the word “only” to his German translation of the Bible even though it’s absent from the Greek.) It’s only if one understands “faith” as actively excluding any possibility of active response or participation, that then, of course, “works” must then be construed as some kind of “add-on”.

      The way not to be threatened by the coinstantiation of faith and “works” is to at least entertain the Catholic understanding for what it is, which is that faith changes one so that one can then go on to do fruitful works (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10). I doubt that any Protestant but the most hard-nosed Calvinist would disagree with this; it just needs to be understood for what it is. And it does seem that this is the NT’s operative concept of faith as well.

      It’s important to note that the notion of sola fide is sufficient to stave off Pelagianism – it will indeed make sure that no one who understands and believes it is a Pelagian. Sufficient, but not necessary – if one thinks that Catholic doctrine is ipso facto Pelagian, then that’s simply because the standard for “Pelagianism” in use is the evangelical-Protestant one that insists that faith has nothing to with works – but then most of us should agree that that isn’t even the Biblical understanding of faith at all.

    • Micah

      I wrote a pretty substantial comment that I’m not 100% sure got submitted correctly, but in any case, here’s the continuation (pls excuse any redundancy):

      Lisa’s post also asked “What can be done about it?” I actually just blogged about what I would take to be the answer to this question (shameless plug, I know, but it seems to be awfully apropos). Many attempts to understand “the other side” end up committing what can be called “the fallacy of incomplete analysis” – in trying to analyze an aspect of the other side’s system of thought, the analysis is left incomplete because it is one’s own version of a concept that one attempts to plug into where it seems to go in the opposing viewpoint, whereupon that viewpoint is guaranteed to come out looking grotesque. So the lesson is that one should try to understand the whole system of thought for what it’s supposed to be in the first place – one may still find it wanting, but one will at least have properly understood it. Blog post: http://www.upsaid.com/catholicity/index.php?action=viewcom&id=464

      For example, there’s the different operative notions of “faith” – for the Protestant, when one talks about faith in regard to salvation, “works” is actively excluded from consideration. (This will indeed be sufficient – but not necessary – to stave off Pelagianism.) But the Catholic notion doesn’t dichotomize in this way, but includes the works done in faith (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10, in case my previous comment didn’t go through). So it’s not meant to be “either/or”, but “both/and”. What God has put together, let no man put asunder. But if one takes the sola fide notion of faith (Parenthetical: Nowhere to be found in the Bible, it is in fact an innovation of Luther’s and more like a “lens” through which the Bible is read) and plugs it into Catholic doctrine, then of course it will look like you have “faith-plus-works,” as though “works” can only be…

    • Carrie

      wm in the context I made use of the word it simply spoke to the official teaching of the church.

      I could say the teaching that believers and believers alone should be baptized is Baptist dogma. In doing so I am simply stating this is what is officially taught and believed by Baptists.

      I don’t even know why something like this has to even be argued at this point.

      This is the reason I rarely engage here (or anywhere in the blogosphere).

    • Michael

      Lisa said:

      I believe Protestants can be more accepting and understanding of Catholic doctrine and practice.

      Why should we be more accepting or understanding of a false gospel?

      “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted…For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” 2Cr 11:4,13-15

    • wm tanksley

      Carrie, I suspect Frank mixed your posts and my posts up regarding “dogma”. Mine could more easily be taken to disparage “dogma”, although I actually have a high opinion of dogma. My problem is with dogma that’s not actually revealed by God, but rather is counterfeited as such by men in order to avoid God’s truth and gain glory for themselves.

      -Wm

    • EricW

      Carrie:

      So where in your post did you reveal that you were a Bob Dylan fan? I must have missed that. Or maybe it was a simple twist of fate.

    • Carrie

      Haha Eric.

      Dr. Beckwith and I have discussed Dylan a few times.

      First in Atlanta at a lecture, then at ETS, then the times he did Converse with Scholars with us.

      Bob Dylan came up each time I think.

      As of course he does if you get two Dylan fans together!:D

    • Carrie

      I see wm.

      I mistook your post for arguing the definition of dogma. When a discussion gets to arguing over things like that it wears me out. I reacted poorly to your post due to my mistaking it for something it wasn’t. My apologies.

      And I have a high respect for dogma as well.

      I am most certainly dogmatic about the person of Christ, the attributes of the Triune God, and the nature of justification.

    • Francis Beckwith

      Thanks Carrie. I’m sitting here at Starbucks in Waco (sounds like the beginning of a Dylan song?), and it occurred to me that I was a bit too sensitive about your use of the term “dogma.” I apologize for that.

      I think if we were talking in the 19th century, “dogma” would carry with it all the respectable freight it ought to carry. But today, sadly, our enemies, like Hitchens, Dawkins, etc., use it as a term of derision. When a fellow Christian uses it in the cultural context of that misuse, I see it as a version of “poisoning the wells.” But I am delighted that you have dogmas too. Perhaps one day wecan walk our dogmas together. 🙂

      In any event, your comments of the nature of the Eucharist reminded me of Aquinas’ insights on the matter in Summa Theologica. He maintained, quite correctly, that “substantial change” does entail spatial presence, since the things that take up space are the accidents and not the substance. Because substances remain identical to themselves (in contrast to accidents that a substance can lose and gain), the doctrine of transubstantiation does not run afoul of Chalcedon. Here’s Thomas on it in the Summa (specially articles 4, 5, 6): http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4076.htm#article1

      I promise that’s it for me. Gotta get back to writing syllabi for the Fall.

    • EricW

      Quartodeciman.
      Perpetual virginity of Mary.
      How/why/if the bread and wine change.
      Filioque.

      I’ll meet your anathema and raise you two excommunications.

      Is Christ divided? Apparently so.

      Jesus wept.

    • wm tanksley

      When a discussion gets to arguing over things like that it wears me out.

      I completely sympathize, and admit that I’ve done exactly that many times in the past (I’m WAY too nitpicky). Yes, you’re right that my “dogma” post wasn’t addressed to you (I hadn’t even noticed you saying “dogma” at the time I wrote it), nor was I intending to contradict your usage. I was actually trying to explain my own usage of it, since I was pretty sure that Beckwith was reacting to my post about dogma.

      More later. This is a reasonably interesting discussion.

      -Wm

    • EricW

      Stuck inside of Starbucks with the caffeine blues again.

    • Michael T.

      James White (there was a link to his blog earlier) wrote this as his conclusion,

      “Tradition is a wonderfully nebulous term with an amazing array of definitions, depending on context and usage. Examining history does reveal all sorts of developments over time—and some of us believe that examination constantly drives us back to asking the question, “What does Scripture say?” Any student of church history will have a wider appreciation of the breadth of expression of true Christian faith. Any student of Scripture will have the proper boundaries to keep him or her from wandering out of the realm of revealed truth and into the mire of man’s traditions and concepts.”

      Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t this kind of dodge the issue of who gets to interpret Scripture which is in many ways at the heart of this debate? While it is certainly true that the RCC has many times strayed into what, from the perspective of a Protestant like myself, is speculative tradition, they have always maintained that Scripture is the ultimate authority and their traditions do not conflict with their interpretation of Scripture.

      I can and do believe that their traditions conflict with Scripture (hence why I am not RCC) yet even the most educated among us who have spent their entire lives studying the Scripture cannot agree on what it means on many points. The theological positions of James White himself are not shared by the majority of Evangelical theologians many who are equally or more educated then him. Thus unless their interpretations of Scripture can be shown to be completely impossible (which I haven’t seen yet – certainly some that are implausible, but not impossible) we are kinda at an impasse. You have your interpretation and I have mine and because you don’t agree with ME you are an apostate heretic (this goes from Protestant Denomination to Protestant Denomination and from Protestant to Catholic, and from Catholic to Protestant, etc.).

    • EricW

      Yes, and some people who don’t like the impasse or the tension or finally get tired of it all join a communion that has made and makes and will make all the decisions on the big things for them. I recall Malcolm Muggeridge saying as much when he joined the Catholic Church. I.e., he was happy that he didn’t have to wrestle any more with the questions (at least that’s how some news stories reported or quoted him).

      Some chuck it all and leave the faith or enter a semi-agnostic stage.

      James White’s sister, Patty Bonds, converted to Catholicism.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Wow, so many comments and issues to tackle. Thanks all keeping this discussion civil. And a special thanks to Dr. Beckwith for your contributions here.

      Michael T wrote

      Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t this kind of dodge the issue of who gets to interpret Scripture which is in many ways at the heart of this debate? While it is certainly true that the RCC has many times strayed into what, from the perspective of a Protestant like myself, is speculative tradition, they have always maintained that Scripture is the ultimate authority and their traditions do not conflict with their interpretation of Scripture.

      Yes, that is at the heart of the debate and what I was attempting to communicate regarding the authority of the church. As long as Protestants view the RCC through the lens of sola scriptura, the practices of the RCC will necessarily be deemed egregious and inconsistent with scripture because that is where we derive our authority. But if authority rests in the church, it is the churches responsibility to assure that faith and practice is not only consistent with scriptural authority but with apostolic tradition, even for practices that evolved over time and implemented later. That is where I find White’s comment regarding tradition dismissive of the emphasis and authority that the RCC places on the church.

      It is this emphasis that I have grown to appreciate with increasing study, although I am not in total agreement. The RCC places a much higher value on the body of Christ as a visible representation of Christ than us Protestants concede both in faith and practice. And it is a representation that seeks to be faithful to the apostolic tradition, or at least their interpretation of it. There is something to be gleaned there if we’re willing to listen.

      Now there are certain practices that we would deem completely out of step with not only scripture but the interpretation of the apostolic tradition, such as the doctrine of Mariology. Yet, if we consider the development of the doctrine in context of the RCC doctrine of the church, we will at least have to consider the faithfulness to the historic Christian faith that the RCC seeks to uphold. That is what Luther was aggrieved by, that practices had become corrupted and not faithful at all to the witness of scripture or the apostolic tradition.

    • Scott Shaffer

      And I thought the Reformation was a good thing. When I see Martin Luther in heaven I’ll have to remember to tell him that his labors and sacrifices were for naught. I guess I should forget about the 5 solas too.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Scott, not sure how you draw that conclusion based on what I’ve written. I in no way contend that the Reformation was not worth it or that Luther’s sacrifices were in vain.

    • Carrie Hunter

      Hi Frank,

      Any activity in Waco makes good subject matter for a Dylan tune, as the word “Waco” is simply poetic. 🙂

      I am familiar with the Thomistic position on the Eucharist. Which again, due to the fact I do understand it, is why I object to it.

      Aquinas falls short (to put it mildly) in suggesting that Christ’s body changes in any way (which regardless of how it is argued that is exactly what he is doing). I don’t see how this “new substance” that the Thomist model demands does not conflict with Chalcedon. And when I say “new substance: I am speaking to this magical body that Christ is required to have in order for him to be present in the wafer and the wine at just one mass, let alone thousands.

      In short, Jesus will always be our representative. That will never change. If there is some substantial change in his human substance, we lose our representative and are stuck back where we started. He ceases to be the “New Adam”.

      Thinking this through I can say with some hesitation that this again speaks to the stark contrast between the RCC and Protestant views surrounding the role of Christ in our justification.

      Because we as Protestants rely solely upon the person of Christ being our representative (vicariously taking our penalty on the cross, intervening with the Father on our behalf, his righteousness being imputed to us etc) it makes sense that we would balk at the Thomist understanding of The Lord’s Table.

      We do not want a Christ with a body that transforms into something other than a human one (which is what Aquinas’ “substantial change” entails). We can’t have a Christ that does that. Our entire basis of justification depends upon him being 100% human (and 100% divine) at all times in every way.

      Interesting that justification comes into play here. I really am regretting the hasty comments I made yesterday which downplayed the significance of the RCC position on the Eucharist. Thinking it through I can see how it really factors in to the entire debate regarding justification and ultimately the Gospel itself.

      OK back to Boot Camp. Funny enough we are discussing Apollonarianism and Euthycianism at the very moment I type this!

      Thanks for the exchange Frank.

      Hope you can make it up here to Credo for a visit soon. I’ll make you a Luther Latte! 😉

    • Rick

      Scott #80-

      I think you are actually confirming Lisa’s point in the post.

      If we look and consider some of the good in RCC (or EO), that does not mean we are dissing the Reformation.

    • Micah

      In comments #65 and #66 above, I pointed to a way for Protestants to avoid misunderstanding Catholic doctrines as though they were obviously contrary to Scripture (then it was buried in a flurry of rejoinders to previous posts, so some may have missed it).

      Anyway, things that Carrie is saying continue to provide apt material on which the principle of interpretation I spelled out can be used. For example, if it seems that having sacraments entails relying on something other than Christ for our justification, then you’ve imported your own non-sacramental view of imputed justification and tried to plug it into Catholic doctrine, which is guaranteed to come out looking grotesque. What has to be understood is that for the Catholic, Christ being our justification involves something more than simply believing that He is: it is the receiving of the sacraments by which we receive that justification. So according to that view, the sacraments, far from being “works” that we “add” to Christ’s work, are just the channel by which we literally receive Him.

      In other words, the way to understand St. Thomas’s views on the sacraments is that he doesn’t think that they add something foreign to Christ’s work – far from it. Unless you can show that he’s internally inconsistent in his understanding – i.e., without assuming in advance the Protestant view of how justification is imputed/infused – then you simply haven’t understood it.

      The difference between Catholics and Protestants is not in Christ’s role in our justification – this is a very common misconception itself. Both in fact agree that Christ is our justification and we can’t add any unregenerate works to it (the only thing we “contribute” is the works that come from faith, which is ultimately due to God’s work in us – these are the “works” that St. Paul keeps referring to in positive terms). To understand this, one must simply steer clear of the fallacy of…

    • Micah

      (These comment length restrictions are a bit of a pain – but Carrie evinces so many fundamental misunderstandings of Catholic doctrine, that they need to be addressed, particularly given the intent of the original post. Frank seems to have been too busy to do so, but as it happens, I’m not!)

      Carrie seems only able to understand St. Thomas Aquinas’ explanation of the Eucharist in such a way that it conflicts with Chalcedonian Christology. Here’s a suggestion (not meant to be ad hominem) – one could keep in mind that there’s been perhaps no other mind with such broad and deep greater theological understanding as St. Thomas. Now, which seems objectively more likely – that he actually promulgated a doctrine that is inconsistent with orthodox Christology, and didn’t notice it, and neither did any subsequent Catholic theologians, or that you’re just missing something important in your own understanding of it? To put it more starkly, imagine yourself going back in time and pointing out to St. Thomas Aquinas the error of his ways. Which do you think is more likely, that he is in fact wrong and should say “goodness, I never noticed that! I’ve obviously been wrong all this time!”, or that you are simply confused and that he will give you a right schooling?

      Again, this isn’t meant to be ad hominem, it’s just a way to point to the importance of interpreting charitably, even if it might mean that you have to acknowledge that you might be missing something. Unfortunately, many Protestants will just “prooftext” things that they think show a Catholic doctrine contradictory to scripture or whatnot, and then close the book on it (not realizing that they’re already bringing their own preconceptions to the table to begin with). An implication of this standpoint: if it really was that simple, then it would seem that the RCC has perpetuated a vast conspiracy to suppress what the Bible “clearly” teaches. Again, is this more likely than that you’ve simply…

    • EricW

      I know the “change in the bread and wine” viewpoint entered the church(es) somewhat early, but I can’t help but think that it arose as a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what Jesus said and did, including His words in John 6, the “gotcha” verses that RCC apologists are quick to chide Evangelical Protestants for not taking “literally” when they (Evangelical Protestants) otherwise insist that the Bible is to be taken literally where possible.

      But it’s absent from the earliest liturgies (e.g., Addai and Mari), and is not present in The Didache. The idea is foreign to the Passover setting of the Last Supper. I don’t know how or when or why it arose, as well as the idea that the bread and wine are to be offered up on an altar (which is present in Addai and Mari) and the later idea that a priest class had to do and oversee this. Nor do I know where or when they got the idea that “remembrance” (anamnêsis) somehow means more than “remembrance/memorial” in the sense that Jesus actually becomes present in the elements, a (re)calling of the past into present existence, so to speak.

      All I know is that the words and actions of the Last Supper as well as 1 Corinthians 10-11 and John 6 can be understood and explained perfectly well without resorting to insisting that the bread and wine become Jesus Christ body, blood, soul and divinity, a belief and practice that turns Christianity into a Mystery Cult with its anointed and ordained clergy/priestly class standing above the people and between them and God, a place(s)/position(s) that is and belongs to Jesus alone, and which He alone holds.

    • Micah

      And finally, down to brass tacks, I think that specific points that Carrie made in her attempt to understand the Thomistic explanation of the Eucharist need to be addressed. (Again, Carrie, not to be ad hominem, but it just needs to be pointed out that no, you don’t in fact understand St. Thomas on the Eucharist.)

      You said: “We do not want a Christ with a body that transforms into something other than a human one (which is what Aquinas’ “substantial change” entails).” I don’t know what context specifically you’re taking the quotes from, but what St. Thomas does say is that there’s a substantial change in the bread and wine so that it becomes identical with the body and blood of Christ. This does not entail that the body and blood of Christ that are now in heaven become something other than what they are. You might finagle some kind of interpretation like that, but only out of ignorance of what a “substance” is supposed to be. (Again, it would be wise to entertain the thought, if only for the sake of charitable interpretation, that St. Thomas’ understanding of Aristotelian substance, which is the notion he’s explicitly working with here, is more solid than yours.)

      Again to the point of the fallacy of incomplete analysis, if you’re only willing to understand the Eucharist to begin with in Protestant terms according to which it can’t actually literally be the body and blood of Christ, then of course it’s going to seem like an extraneous addition to Christ’s work. All that amounts to is a restatement of the fact that you disagree with the idea, not an argument against it.

    • Micah

      “I know the “change in the bread and wine” viewpoint entered the church(es) somewhat early, but I can’t help but think that it arose as a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what Jesus said and did,”

      Well, the Holy Spirit must’ve been sleeping on the job, then, to allow such a pernicious error to become “orthodoxy” for so long, until finally Luther came along to set us straight, right? It’s only since then, that apparent legitimacy has been given to each person being their own final arbiter of what Scripture really says, that such a thing could be thought remotely plausible.

      If you can overlook the sarcasm, this isn’t meant to be just a potshot or something – it’s a plea to think through the logical consequences of what you’re suggesting, weigh everything together, and think through which bullets you’re willing to bite.

    • Jason D.

      But the Roman Catholic Council of Trent anathematizes us who hold to a true Biblical gospel. And Paul anathematizes (Galatians 1) false gospels.

      CANON 9: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”

      CANON 12: “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified … let him be accursed”

      Canon 14: “If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.”

      I could go on (see also Canon 23, 24, 30 & 33)

      So, it is a nice thought (unity) but it can’t be reconciled with Scripture. We can love them and they can be lovely people, but that doesn’t make them Christians.

    • Carrie Hunter

      I think looking to the cats in the first few centuries of the church as though they had it all figured out is a mistake.

      There was some out and out loopy stuff floating around.

      Considering a large part of the church was under heavy persecution and subsequently unable to get together and talk shop lent itself to weird doctrinal development.

      I think it wise to consider this.

      They didn’t have it all figured out anymore than we do.

      It certainly doesn’t mean that we have not developed a clearer understanding of truth through the past two millennium. Quite the contrary! Our understanding of that which is true continues to strengthen and deepen as God continues to illuminate our hearts and minds with the power of His Holy Spirit.

      If God functions this way in the individual believers life why would we not think He does the same on a collective level (as in with the Body of Christ).

      OK back to work.

      Ciao.

      Carrie

    • Mark

      How are Protestants supposed to accept an institution that says our churches aren’t true churches and do not have the means of salvation?

      Why is it so often Protestants who are trying to make way for the acceptance of Rome without calling for Catholics to reject such positions?

    • bee

      Just some thoughts that came to my mind as I walked past the statue of Jan van Werth this afternoon.
      Was the Reformation all good? I do not know.
      Maybe Luther really was politically naive. Maybe he really only was interested in theology and philosophy. Maybe he learned too late that faith not only moves the hearts of believers, but also armies. Maybe the princes of Europe would have found another reason to wage their wars. Maybe they took the reformation just as an excuse to slaughter two-thirds of the population in southern Germany.
      Maybe…
      But what if not? Does Luther’s „Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders!“ really sound all-good and liberating, when it is echo by the battle cries of warlords?
      Are the Solas worth two or three million lifes?
      What if Luther had found an agreement with Cajetan and joined the catholic reformation? What would Europe look like today? And what would the church would look like today?
      You all write with an ease about the faith that I lack some way. As if the faith would be something private, an opinion or a mental exercise. As if the unity of faith would be a matter of taste. I often ask myself, if -and if -when Europe has ceased to believe. Sometimes, only sometimes I think it was the day on which my ancestors celebated Jan van Werth as a liberator.

    • EricW

      The Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist and the priesthood, which is the center of Catholic faith and practice, is wrong, and more wrong than even Luther was able to recognize. It’s not that Luther went too far. He didn’t go far enough.

      Christ died and rose again to bring forth a New (Hu)man, a New Creation. He established His many-membered body, not another human priesthood that has to stand and intercede on earth for the people. WE are the Temple and Tabernacle and altar. We die daily as Christ lives in us; we don’t re-offer His death continually. We were joined to His death in baptism, but we are joined to His life by His Spirit, which lives in and among us.

      If our Gospel is or has been obscured, it is not because we are hiding it.

    • Micah

      There are so many misconceptions about Catholic doctrine being posted on here that one simply cannot keep up. I wrote several comments that attempted to address them, but after several hours they still haven’t shown up. Perhaps I violated the letter of the law in the “Rules of Engagement” about not “spamming” a post with multiple comments?

      Responding to EricW’s second paragraph in #89 – the Catholic understanding is not that it’s either/or between Christ and a priesthood, it’s both/and. Why do we need a priesthood? Because, as we say, there has to be a church. A mereological sum of individuals with a certain belief is not a church. Now, you might think it does come down to the individual, but understand at least that it is this that marks out the Catholic difference: the emphasis is on the Church, not because we think there’s something over and above Christ that we need.

      “WE are Christ’s body and temple” – indeed, we. But who does “we” refer to? The Protestant reads the word “we” in St. Paul’s epistles and assumes it refers to “anyone who believes these words.” The Catholic assumption (which was the assumption of everyone before the 16th century) is that “we” refers to the Church. Now as I’ve said, a kind of abstract object that refers to the sum total of “believers” is not a Church, on the Catholic view. Yes, the whole Church is in essence a “holy priesthood.” But there’s a difference between that and Priesthood with a capital-P. Without Priests, there’s no church. Without a church, there’s no Church. Without a Church, there are no priests. That’s the Catholic view, in any case, and if one disagrees, one should at least understand what it is one disagrees with. (See also Christ’s words to his apostles that gave them authority: on the Catholic view, that initiated the Church, not just applied to those individuals, after which said authority died out.)

    • EricW

      FWIW, it’s post #93., not #89., that Micah is responding to.

      I’ll let someone else respond to him, because the fact that he states and believes that there is and can be no “church” without a specially-ordained class of (male-only) persons called “Priests” (capital P) means that we are at odds with each other re: the meaning of “church” and the place and need for intermediating human priests (or, rather, “Priests”) in Christ’s Body.

      Christ is our Priest, our High Priest, who having once offered Himself for the putting away of sins has sat down at the right hand of God. Fini.

    • Carrie Hunter

      Nevermind ….

    • Micah

      About four comments that I wrote earlier, mainly responding to statements that Carrie made, have now shown up; thus, the comments being renumbered (earlier comments of mine being ##s 84, 85, 87, and 88).

      So it sounds like the Protestant line being given here to Lisa Robinson’s original query is just basically, “Well, they’re obviously wrong, here’s chapter and verse, so they aren’t really Christians – that’s why!” Is that pretty much it?

      What I’ve tried to offer is a way of understanding Catholic doctrine that at least doesn’t misrepresent it – you can disagree with the internal principles at work, but at least understand what it is that you’re disagreeing with. The upshot is that is simply false that the RCC has a fundamentally different view of justification (rather, it teaches that it has a concrete realization in the sacraments), teaches that we need to “add works” to faith (rather, it teaches that the works that come from God’s gift of faith are part of the salvation process; i.e., sanctification – to think that works are irrelevant is just plain unBiblical), that we need “additional” mediators because Jesus isn’t enough (rather, it teaches that the Church is just the way we come to Jesus, as opposed to on an individual, subjective basis), etc.

    • Carrie

      First off I don’t know how or anyone has time to write these lengthy replies.

      So I will try to do this in short questions and answer as that is all my schedule will permit…

      Micha what kind of body does Christ have that items of food can be transformed into it?

    • Lisa Robinson

      Micah, thank you for that cogent response and clarification. However, please be respectful of the blog rules regarding posting several comments right after another. Summarizing the salient points can be a challenging yet fruitful exercise 😉

      And I especially want to thank you for the clarification on the Thomist view of the Eucharist. I was wrestling a bit with Carrie’s contention that justification was somehow impacted if the host is believed to be a different substance than Christ’s body. While I see her point regarding Euthycianism, it does not appear that you all would believe that is applicable to the hypostatic union as existed during Christ’s earthly ministry whereby a final sacrifice was appropriated on the cross according to Hebrews 10:12. Is that correct? However, I am a bit fuzzy on how that works with transubstitiation unless it is solely for the purpose of participation of the union with Christ on the basis of his final sacrifice and not a dispensation of divine substance needed for an effective Christian life.

    • EricW

      Re: #88.:

      Yes, Micah, I’ve thought through the logical consequences, and they’re not pleasant. They’ve caused me many restless nights and days, because it can raise serious and disturbing questions.

      Was the Holy Spirit sleeping?

      Or were people not listening?

      Or does the Spirit graciously meet people where they are despite their errors of belief and practice, whether Protestant or Catholic?

      God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth.

      Or maybe I should just join Carrie and say “Nevermind….” 🙂

      Pax

    • Michael T.

      Eric W and others,

      I think the thing that the theological issue that causes me to lose the most sleep and should cause us all to lose sleep is the fact that there are theological positions I disagree with and do not hold which crept in very early in church history and persisted for a thousand or more years unchallenged.

      Ultimately I am either left to conclude that either 1) I am not a Christian, 2) Roman Catholics and with them all “Christians” between 300 and 1600 AD were not truly Christians, or 3) the doctrines which divide us though they may distort the Gospel do not impinge upon it’s effectiveness and therefore we are all Christians.

      Obviously I don’t believe 1 to be true or I’d become a Roman Catholic. Option 2 leaves me immensely uncomfortable because one must really question why God would go through all the trouble of establishing His church if it was going to disappear from the face of the Earth 300 years later for the next 1300 years. Where was the Holy Spirit during this time? This leaves me with option 3. If there is another option I’m open to suggestions.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Michael T, once again we are in step. Yes, I agree with your option #3 except would not necessarily contend a distortion but a deviation in interpretation. And that is not necessarily each individual doctrine but how those doctrines fit within the whole system of thought for each tradition.

      Honestly, I have been wrestling with this issue ever since I conducted research for a paper I did last year on the Validity of Sacred Tradition in the Early Church. Because their were deviations in the baseline, it necessarily will lead to the distinctions we see between the traditions. But it starts with asking the question what does faith in Christ look like in its crudest form, as denoted in Acts 16:31 – believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

      It begins with the foundation of the work and person of Christ and how that is transmitted into an authentic Christian life. I may not agree with the Catholic interpretation of dispensation of faith through the church, but neither can I fault the definition since it can represent a legitimate interpretation of the authority established by Christ, especially in consideration of the complete witness of NT scripture regarding the significance of his body (the church). Does that mean that Protestants are wrong? no. But it doesn’t mean that Catholicism is necessarily wrong either for their doctrine does affirm that Christianity is based on faith in Christ, the finished work of the cross and his bodily resurrection. And it bears repeating that it does not mean that everyone who practices Catholicism is a Christian but the same could be said for every Protestant denomination as well.

    • Micah

      Hi Lisa,

      I’m afraid I’m a bit confused by your question! 🙂 (Also, I don’t know what Euthycianism is – that’s a new one for me.) Here’s a shot at answering it: yes, it’s the body that was and is still Christ’s by virtue of the hypostatic union. (What other body would it be?) Christ’s body when? Well at all of the times. We’re already used to thinking of the selfsame substance persisting through different times – me then, me now – in the same way, His body, insofar as it is His, is of the same person at different times – He is fully human, after all – so if all those “bodies” at different times are identical to one another, then so can that substance be found at other places and times too – in principle.

      Most importantly, there is no reason to think of the Real Presence, if it is in fact real, as being “re-sacrificed.” It’s the ONE-TIME sacrifice, re-presented repeatedly in the form of bread and wine. Why do we need it “re-presented repeatedly”? There’s a distinctively Catholic answer to that: because we need Him infused into us continually – it’s not a matter of “getting saved” just by believing that you’re saved – but of continuing to walk faithfully in Him.

      Come to think of it, I think maybe the tendency among Protestants to think of the Eucharist as if it were a “re-sacrifice” is in analogy with the Protestant notion of “getting saved,” all at once – taking the sacrament more than once would be like “getting saved” over and over (again, the illegitimate mixup of concepts by the fallacy of incomplete analysis). But if we see salvation as a process rather than just instantaneous imputation, that does not entail that it means we’re adding our own works “on top of” Christ’s merit. Any forgiveness, any righteousness, comes just from God’s grace and not what we bring to the table beforehand.

    • Carrie

      Lisa my contention is that if Christ’s body is anything other than that of a human one then we are left without accurate representation of mankind.

      The Thomist view of the Eucharist necessitates his body turning into bread and wine or rather the bread and wine becoming his body.

      Unless all humanity possesses bodies which can magically turn into food, then Christ never fully represented us and is not representing us now. That is if the elements do turn into Christ’s body (which is what is being argued).

      If you have a ubiquitous physical body of Christ then we ourselves would have to have ubiquitous bodies.

      Do we possess that quality Lisa?

    • Micah

      Carrie said: “The Thomist view of the Eucharist necessitates his body turning into bread and wine… ”

      No.

      “…or rather the bread and wine becoming his body.”

      Yes. The hosts are then no longer bread and wine, because they have become Christ’s body and blood. The bread and wine retain the “accidental” features of bread and wine after Christ’s body becomes substantially present.

      It occurs to me that if you think “the bread and wine becoming his body” means the same thing as “his body turning into bread and wine,” then there may be just a very simple misunderstanding at work here. “Becoming his body” could be taken to mean that the hosts stay the same but are extrinsically annexed, as it were, onto Christ’s body. But this isn’t what’s meant at all. Rather, it’s that their substance is replaced with the substance of Christ’s body and blood.

      Suppose I turned into a frog: that’s not a case of extending the term “frog” to cover me (which means we would mean something different by “frog” now), but that where once there was me, now there’s a frog. Likewise, it’s not that “we’ve changed the definition of Christ’s body so that we can now call bread and wine Christ’s body and blood,” but where once there was bread and wine, now there is Jesus. That’s the doctrine.

      This quite fascinating video is going around the Catholic blogosphere: even if you feel compelled to think it a hoax, it will at least leave no question as to what Catholics mean when they say they eat and drink the body and blood of Christ – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbg_dhI4XCs

    • Lisa Robinson

      Carrie, I do see what you getting at but I’m not sure it contradicts the humanity of Christ that constituted the final sacrifice. His body was just like ours when he went to the cross, as I believe Catholic doctrine affirms. But I think it raises the question of what the elements mean in terms of that final sacrifice.

    • EricW

      Carrie 102.:

      My understanding of RCC teaching is that the first Transubstantiation occurred at the Last Supper, before Christ had His glorified body. This would further raise your concerns about whether or not He had a body just like ours.

      Michael T. 100.:

      I guess option 4) would be the Orthodox Church (but then you’d have to decide between Eastern, so-called “Oriental,” Nestorian, Arminian, Ethiopian, Coptic, etc.). Also, that’s really just the flip side(s) of option 1).

      To be, or not to be, Catholic: that is the question:
      Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
      The slings and arrows of outrageous Protestantism,
      Or to take arms against its sea of troubles,
      And by opposing end them?

      Restless nights, here I come!

    • Hodge

      To reply to Frank’s last comment. By “ambiguous” I don’t mean that Ignatius’ view is ambiguous just because it is not developed. What I mean is that I can claim his statement as a memorialist, Frank can claim his statement as a believer in transubstantiation, Luther can believe his statement as a consubstantiationist. It is ambiguous in relation to our debate, not Ignatius’ theology of the Eucharist. He may have had it worked out well within his day. The point is that he does not define his statement concerning the flesh of Christ. Memorialists use this language all of the time. We quote Christ saying, “This is My body.” What the statement means is a completely different matter, and Ignatius does not define it for us. Hence, it is ambiguous because we don’t know what he means by it. Frank can suggest that he knows, but Frank’s knowledge comes from his reception of papal authority, not the text itself, which is, as I say again, ambiguous. This stems, of course, from the fact that we are trying to read a debate that came about fifteen hundred years later into Ignatius’ words and trying to discover what he believed about the subject. This is like trying to read the evolution debate into Genesis 1. It is ambiguous as to the time frame and nature of creation in relation to our debate. Hence, many views can claim Genesis 1. The problem is that it most likely supports none of them, since it is not concerned with that debate. Same goes for much of the Fathers.

      And I do have to reiterate that what Ignatius says has nothing to do with what we are talking about. He mentions practice B as a result of belief A in his criticism of belief A, not the other way around.

    • Hodge

      Michael,

      I would, of course, contend with the idea that theology was completely warped between 300-1600 or the RCC is the true Church. That seems like a bit of an oversimplification to me. Both views/presupps to developed views found within the magisterial Reformers and the RCC are represented throughout those time periods. The only ones who should present this dichotomy are those within the radical reformation, solo Scriptura, tradition. They either have to claim such a loss of the Spirit’s guidance, become ultra-relativists when it comes to what they consider secondary doctrine, or become RCC (or reject the faith altogether). This is not a dilemma for some of us.

    • Carrie

      Eric, absolutely. Yes.This makes for a big problem.

      Lisa the humanity of Christ isn’t simply to do with the final sacrifice it is to do with the entirety of Who he is and will continue to be for all eternity. He is the New Adam, something that extends beyond the crucifixion.

      I have no reason to believe that in His glorified state his physical body suddenly becomes ever-present anymore than I have grounds for believing our physical resurrected bodies will become ever-present.

      I am not sure what you are getting at in terms of the elements and how that corresponds to the final sacrifice. Unless you want my opinion of the contribution the elements have to the final sacrifice (which is none). Obviously I believe that as a Protestant.

      Perhaps you can go further with your explanation on that because quite frankly I am confused.

    • EricW

      Carrie: From The Baltimore Catechism:

      http://www.catholicity.com/baltimore-catechism/lesson26.html

      344. When did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?
      Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the night before He died.

      And having taken bread, he gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In like manner he took also the cup after the supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20)

      345. Who were present when Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist?
      When Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist the apostles were present.

      Now when the evening arrived, he came with the Twelve. (Mark 14:17)

      346. How did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?
      Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist in this way: He took bread, blessed and broke it, and giving it to His apostles, said: “Take and eat; this is My body”; then He took a cup of wine, blessed it, and giving it to them, said: “All of you drink of this; for this is My blood of the new covenant which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins”; finally, He gave His apostles the commission: “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

      And having taken bread, he gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In like manner he took also the cup after the supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20)

      347. What happened when Our Lord said: “This is My body . . . this is My blood”?
      When Our Lord said, “This is My body,” the entire substance of the bread was changed into His body; and when He said, “This is My blood,” the entire substance of the wine was changed into His blood.

      (cont’d next post)

    • EricW

      (cont’d)

      Carrie: From The Baltimore Catechism:

      http://www.catholicity.com/baltimore-catechism/lesson26.html

      348. Did anything of the bread and wine remain after their substance had been changed into Our Lord’s body and blood?
      After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into Our Lord’s body and blood, there remained only the appearances of bread and wine.

      . . .

      352. How was Our Lord able to change bread and wine into His body and blood?
      Our Lord was able to change bread and wine into His body and blood by His almighty power.

      All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18)

    • Carrie Hunter

      Eric to use a highly technical theological term …..

      That’s jacked up!

    • EricW

      And back to my earlier statement that the RCC teaches that the priest has the power to effect the change by saying the Words of Institution/Consecration:

      http://www.catholicity.com/baltimore-catechism/lesson26.html

      353. Does this change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continue to be made in the Church?
      The change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continues to be made in the Church by Jesus Christ, through the ministry of His priests.

      354. When did Christ give His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood?
      Christ gave His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood when He made the apostles priests at the Last Supper by saying to them: “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

      355. How do priests exercise their power to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ?
      Priests exercise their power to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ by repeating at the Consecration of the Mass the words of Christ: “This is My Body … this is My blood.”

    • EricW

      Where I come from, we use a different word than “jacked.” 😮

      But, yes, it’s “jacked up.” In your lingo, we’d say it’s JUBAR.

      And one more:

      http://www.catholicity.com/baltimore-catechism/lesson26.html

      356. Why does Christ give us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist?
      Christ gives us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist:

      1.to be offered as a sacrifice commemorating and renewing for all time the sacrifice of the cross;
      2.to be received by the faithful in Holy Communion;
      3.to remain ever on our altars as the proof of His love for us, and to be worshiped by us. (emphasis added)

      Hence, Eucharistic Adoration, the WORSHIP of the wafer as Christ Himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

    • Carrie Hunter

      haha!

      Edited to add…

      I was laughing at the JUBAR comment …

      *Not* the further addition to your post Eric. That is actually a very sad thing.

    • Lisa Robinson

      I am not sure what you are getting at in terms of the elements and how that corresponds to the final sacrifice. Unless you want my opinion of the contribution the elements have to the final sacrifice (which is none). Obviously I believe that as a Protestant.

      Not sure what I’m trying to get at either. Too much multi-tasking 🙁

      But I would agree with that 2nd sentence…as a Protestant

    • Micah

      I think this site must automatically relegate consecutive comments to “spam,” because it’s done so again… I realize the site’s guidelines, but unfortunately I’m trying to respond to multiple people with length-restrictions…!

    • Carrie Hunter

      OK thanks Lisa.

    • wm tanksley

      Ultimately I am either left to conclude that either 1) I am not a Christian, 2) Roman Catholics and with them all “Christians” between 300 and 1600 AD were not truly Christians, or 3) the doctrines which divide us though they may distort the Gospel do not impinge upon it’s effectiveness and therefore we are all Christians.

      This trichotomy assumes that a Church will be either wrong or right, nothing in between. It also assumes that whether or not you’re a Christian depends on what your church teaches you.

      Compare to the preservation of Scripture. We also know that many errors crept into the Scriptures which were not present in the originals, and SOME of the errors were substantial, and probably affected people who had no choice. (In fact, some people had only as much of the Bible as a scholarly person in their neighborhood had memorized or hand-copied as a devotional ritual — probably with errors and devotional insertions).

      Were those people saved?

      The answer doesn’t depend on the quantity of Scripture that was available to them. It depends on whether God changed their heart to believe on Him to be their righteousness, as Abram did (with almost no Scripture, and with no Church).

      The answer also doesn’t depend on the information the Church imparts — although God normally uses that information, and the Church’s negligence in not pursuing it is a grievous error.

      The Church is responsible for protecting and promulgating true information about God and His salvation. If it fails to do so, God will “do something” about it… Be assured God’s plan won’t fail because the Church does. God’s plan didn’t fail because the sons of Israel did; we are grafted into the root from which they naturally grew. If we abandon God’s truth, He will cut us off as He did them.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      Hodge,

      Could you clarify comment 106 because I’m not quite sure what you’re saying?

      I would also note in regards to the magisterial reformers (by which I believe you mean the Lutheran and Reformed traditions) that 1) they don’t have the best track record on remaining true to the Gospel themselves and 2) they don’t agree on many points of doctrine with each other much less the RCC, EO, or Radical Reformers.

    • EricW

      If the Roman Catholic beliefs/doctrines about the Eucharist and the Priest(hood) were side issues, it might be possible for there to be some form of rapprochement between Protestants and Catholics at or around all the core issues of the faith(s).

      E.g., I assume (maybe wrongly) that the LDS Church could dispense with their beliefs about Temple (under)Garments if necessary and/or at some point were this to be an impediment to Protestant-LDS co-communion.

      But these RC beliefs are not only at the core of belief, they in some ways ARE the core beliefs.

      Christ in the Eucharist IS the Gospel for Roman Catholics, according to some speakers (and priests?) on a Catholic radio station a few weeks back.

      The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all the ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.” (CCC 1324)

      Emmanuel = God with us = Christ present body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist and administered to the communicants for 1) union with Christ, 2) separation from sin, 3) wiping away of venial sins, 4) preservation from future mortal sins, and 5) the unity of the Mystical Body, the Eucharist making the Church (CCC 1391-1396).

      Are Protestantism and Roman Catholicism the same religion? That’s a good question.

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      “This trichotomy assumes that a Church will be either wrong or right, nothing in between.”

      I’m not quite sure this is accurate. The third option clearly assumes that the vast majority of churches will teach some things that are correct and some things that are incorrect. The question is to what degree the incorrect teachings destroy the Gospel. My three options may thus be restated with six options as such

      1) The RCC has the only True Gospel and following any other understanding will lead to damnation

      2) The Protestants have the True Gospel (or at least one of our sects does) and the teachings of the RCC completely destroy the True Gospel such that if followed they will lead to damnation

      3) The Protestants have the True Gospel and the teachings of the RCC distort or deviate from the True Gospel, but not to such an extent that if followed they render the Gospel ineffectual

      4) The RCC has the True Gospel, but the Protestants do not distort it or deviate from it to the point that Protestant teachings render it ineffectual.

      5) Neither the RCC or Protestants have the True Gospel and all are damned

      6) Neither the RCC or Protestants teach the True Gospel with 100% accuracy, but neither one is in so great of error as to render the Gospel they teach ineffective.

      I obviously don’t believe 1,4, or 5 since I wouldn’t be a Protestant if I did. Number 2 and 5 both create the problem of having the Church disappear for 1300 years (unless one of the Orthodox Churches has the True Gospel, but that just moves the problems up a step). This leaves 3 and 6 for me. Since I obviously believe that my own beliefs are right (otherwise I wouldn’t believe them) I must go with door number 3. However, the knowledge of my own fallibility, makes me at least entertain number 6.

    • Carrie

      Micha you said:

      “we’ve changed the definition of Christ’s body so that we can now call bread and wine Christ’s body and blood,” but where once there was bread and wine, now there is Jesus. That’s the doctrine.

      Yes I *know* it is the doctrine! I fully understand the Thomistic position on this. Yet you claim I do not.

      I will just ask you this…

      What kind of body does Christ have that it can become bread and wine and then be consumed by thousands (millions) of people simultaneously, across the world?

      This shouldn’t take more than a few hundred characters to answer.

      What kind of body does He have?

    • wm tanksley

      The question is to what degree the incorrect teachings destroy the Gospel. My three options may thus be restated with six options as such: 1) The RCC has the only True Gospel and following any other understanding will lead to damnation

      Your six options still make the same assumption: that the Church controls salvation. They don’t. They support the truth by teaching it (the Church is the ground and pillar of the truth, as Paul said). If they fail to do so, God will work through their church less, but this doesn’t mean that God will stop saving.

      Look at your choice #6:

      neither one is in so great of error as to render the Gospel they teach ineffective.

      “The Gospel they teach” isn’t the power that saves. The Gospel they teach is important to their function as a church, but what saves is the power of God.

      This is, of course, something the Roman Church has to affirm, since it’s what the ancient Church believed from which they wish to derive their authority; but they also have to deny it, substituting instead the idea that the words the Church says (whether teaching or incantation) have power that can save or condemn. And thus, the Roman Catholic Church asks us to decide which of those options we think is right, when the answer is that none of them are right; they’re all beside the point.

      -Wm

    • EricW

      They support the truth by teaching it (the Church is the ground and pillar of the truth, as Paul said).

      Actually, the articles aren’t in the Greek before the words for “pillar” and “ground/support” (in fact, only “truth” in 1 Tim 3:15 is articular) so it may be that he’s calling it “a pillar and support.” The only anarthrous noun that would have to be translated as definite would be “God” in “(an) assembly/church of the living God,” ISTM, though there may in fact be reasons to support treating these nouns as definite. I’d defer to experts in Greek on that.

    • Micah

      Carrie: (comment #124) You’ve lifted my words out mid-sentence so that now it sound like they mean the opposite of what I meant. It’s NOT that “we change the definition of “Christ’s body” so that it includes some bread and wine on Earth.” RATHER, it’s that bread and wine are replaced with the real body and blood of Christ.

      I actually did try to answer your earlier question, which you’ve reiterated, but that comment seems to have gotten lost in the spam pile. What kind of body does Christ have? A human body. How does it find place on millions of altars around the world every day? How did five loaves and two fish get multiplied to feed thousands? How did a virgin conceive a child? How can there be one God in three Persons that are not three Gods? Danged if I know.

      I don’t know if I can prove to you that transubstantiation is logically possible. Even though I have trouble with the idea (I wrestle with it to some extent most times I’m at Mass), and even the word “transubstantiation” doesn’t do much for me, I’m convinced anyway that Jesus founded One Holy and Apostolic Church that “the gates of hell would not prevail against,” and that would consistently teach true doctrine, so the fact that it’s not something I would have come up with is irrelevant. We’ll disagree, of course, on whether the final authority for discerning truth is the Church or the individual.

      If the purpose of inquiry is to refute, one can always find something convincing enough for oneself. But this is a very different motive from “faith seeking understanding.”

    • John

      Lisa: I probably agree with where you trying to go with this, but a two page blog article is not going to overturn 500 years of history on this one. You’re probably going to have to go way deeper on the issues to get people to think and step out of their preexisting prejudices.

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      No one is denying that there is both true believers and false converts in every church or for that matter any religious body in general. There are Muslims who go through the routine of being Muslim because it’s what is expected of them just like there are Baptists who go through the motions of being Baptists because it is what is expected of them without truly believing.

      Also, at least as far as I am concerned, mere mental assent to a list of believes does not a saved person make. Despite this there are some issues I have with what you seem to be saying. It seems that so far as I can tell in your thinking the visible church has no relation to the true church whatsoever. Since it is simply a matter of God choosing at random (at least as far as we know) who to save and who not to one might be just as likely to find a saved person in a Mosque as in the pew of a [insert you’re chosen denomination here] church. Now I know you wouldn’t say this, but I think logically this is where your thinking leads.

      At it’s root the questions here is if someone believes wholeheartedly in the dogmas of the RCC or some Protestant denomination (whether caused by God to believe this or not) can they be a Christian? Can one believe in the Marian Dogmas and be a counted among the saved? Can one believe in the doctrines regarding the Eucharist and be saved?

    • Lisa Robinson

      Michael T, thanks for that helpful list in #123. The point of this post really was to get those who were firmly entrenched in option #2 to at least consider that options #3 and 6 can be a possibility. It would greatly improve how we receive Catholics, I think.

      John (#128), thanks for that comment and I’ll consider it. Just based on the reaction for some it does seem like some dissection is in order.

    • Carrie

      OK Micah.

      Your answer is a human body. And that it’s a mystery.

      Thanks,

      Carrie

    • wm tanksley

      It seems that so far as I can tell in your thinking the visible church has no relation to the true church whatsoever.

      No. The visible church is truly the Church. But we’re not talking about the visible Church; we’re talking about “the Roman Catholic Church” as opposed to “the Protestant Church”. Neither of those is “the visible Church”; the Roman Church is (essentially) a single local church ruled by one Bishop, while the “Protestant Church” is a group of local churches.

      The Visible Church includes people in all the local churches, including Roman, all the branches of EO, all the Protestant denominations and independent churches… I shouldn’t say “all”, there, because some clearly have given up on being a church and are just a social club, but that’s a side issue.

      Since it is simply a matter of God choosing at random (at least as far as we know) who to save and who not to one might be just as likely to find a saved person in a Mosque as in the pew of a [insert your chosen denomination here] church.

      Absolutely not! I affirm that God works through _means_, not through mysticism. My point is that all three or six of your divisions presume that if Christianity becomes institutionally corrupt by losing the Gospel, God then becomes unable to save. No — even in a totally corrupt church God can send people to preach His truth, and where one group (or local church) totally gives up its mission to teach the truth, God will cut them off and graft in another.

      (more…)

    • Lucian

      I know the “change in the bread and wine” viewpoint entered the church(es) somewhat early, but I can’t help but think that it arose as a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what Jesus said and did, including His words in John 6,

      Eric W.,

      Do you know why I think this is unlikely? (And since you’ve been an Orthodox for a number of years, I think you will understand my point). Orthodox Churches are filled to the abuse with icons, and everything about them, and the services we serve therein, is symbolic, sometimes even on multiple parallel levels. As such, we have an extreme awe or reverence for icons and symbols. There’s no such thing in our mind as “mere” icon or “mere” symbol. YET we do NOT believe these holy things actually become the even holier things that they represent: we DO believe that God’s grace is present in them, and works through them… but -as already stated before- we do NOT believe that they’re transformed into that certain something — so WHY would we do that “mistake” for the Eucharist?

      Let me illustrate this with more clarity:

      — we do not believe the icons of Christ and his Saints become or are transformed into them, or into their bodies.

      — we do not believe that the three holy doors in the icon-stand actually become the holy Trinity, nor do we believe that the middle one, which is a double-door, becomes the dual nature of Christ.

      — we do not believe that Bishop is transformed into God the Father, although we believe his monarchical bishoprick represents the Father’s monarchy.

      — we do not believe that the Bishop & his priests are tarnsformed into Christ & his Apostles, although that’s the meaning of this particular liturgical symbolism.

      — we do not believe the (stone-)holy altar is transformed into Christ’s nativity-cave or burial-tomb, although that’s the liturgical significance we attach to it.

      So WHY then did we make that particular mistake ONLY with regards to the Eucharist?

    • Lucian

      … I also wanted to add the Proskomede, where the Priest does and says all these symbolical things to/about the bread, remembering Christ’s sacrifice, but the bread isn’t even changed into His body then (it happens before the Liturgy, during Matins).

      Anyway, I think I’ve made my point.

    • wm tanksley

      At it’s root the questions here is if someone believes wholeheartedly in the dogmas of the RCC or some Protestant denomination (whether caused by God to believe this or not) can they be a Christian? Can one believe in the Marian Dogmas and be a counted among the saved? Can one believe in the doctrines regarding the Eucharist and be saved?

      Those are fair questions, and I do think you’re right to ask them. I don’t think your previous line of questioning — the three or six alternatives — led to these, though. The Three or Six assumed that there is only one church at a time, it’s irreplaceable, and its job is to save people by teaching correct doctrine. Since all three premises are false, the dilemma is also false.

      I’m going to start answering your fair questions by saying that one can be superstitious and wrong and nonetheless saved. One can also sin repeatedly and nonetheless be saved.

      For example, one can break the first and second commandments by worshiping Mary, or putting her in the place only Jesus occupies as the Mediator between God and Man, and still be saved — but the Holy Spirit must be convicting you of your sins in worshiping anyone other than God, and you must repent for forgiveness and rest in the righteousness of Christ — whether you’ve ever heard of that or not.

      I know the official Roman Catholic teaching is more nuanced than this, and I respect that — but the official teaching doesn’t survive on the streets; both priests and laymen are constantly giving to Mary position and work that replaces Christ’s. Researching for this discussion was really eye-opening, and I wasn’t even researching about the Marian dogmas. I should add that one can reverence Mary according to the terms of the Catholic dogmas (minimalist) without sinning (although one’s beliefs would be non-Scriptural and ahistorical). But the dogmas are not the only thing the Roman Church teaches; the doctrines are the truly pernicious things…

    • EricW

      So WHY then did we make that particular mistake ONLY with regards to the Eucharist?

      I don’t know, but it’s a mistaken concept, nevertheless.

      Is it like light, i.e.: Is it a wave, or is it a particle? It’s both and neither.

      To Protestants, it is and behaves like a wave.

      To transubstantiationists and their kin – i.e., Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans – it is and behaves like a particle.

      That’s actually a lousy analogy/comparison, though.

      Maybe it’s like Schroedinger’s theoretical Cat – Can it be both dead and alive at the same time? Can the bread and wine of the Eucharist actually change (whatever that means) into Christ’s body and blood and thereby impart grace, life, forgiveness, etc., to those who communicate in faith and believe this is what happens via a priest’s involvement and/or the Holy Spirit’s doing, and yet also NOT change and be a remembrance and proclamation of Christ’s death, with Christ just as much imparting His Spirit and Life and forgiveness to those who just as strongly believe that it’s bread and wine and no more than that (though the meal of/with bread and wine is by the communicants a remembrance and reconsecration to Jesus with Him as Head of His assembled Body and Head of His assembled Table)?

    • Lucian

      Eric W.,

      Short answer: yes.

      The Fahers, even those before Chalcedon (like Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, for instance), speak of it as a dual reality, both heavenly, as well as earthly:

      For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly, so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity. (Against Heresies, 4, 18, 5; AD 180)

      The same thought can be found in John Damascene as well:

      Now, seeing that this Adam is spiritual, it was meet that both the birth and likewise the food should be spiritual too, but since we are of a double and compound nature, it is meet that both the birth should be double and likewise the food compound. We were therefore given a birth by water and Spirit: I mean, by the holy baptism : and the food is the very bread of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who came down from heaven. […]

      Just as, in the case of baptism, since it is man’s custom to wash himself with water and anoint himself with oil, He connected the grace of the Spirit with the oil and the water and made it the water of regeneration, in like manner since it is man’s custom to eat and to drink water and wine , He connected His divinity with these and made them His body and blood […] not that the body which was received up into the heavens descends, but that the bread itself and the wine are changed into God’s body and blood. […]

      Isaiah saw the coal. (Isaiah 6:6). But coal is not plain wood but wood united with fire: in like manner also the bread of the communion is not plain bread but bread united with divinity. But a body which is united with divinity is not one nature, but has one nature belonging to the body and another belonging to the divinity that is united to it, so that the compound is not one nature but two. […]

    • Lucian

      Maybe it’s like Schroedinger’s theoretical Cat

      …or like that piece of pie in the “Matrix”, into which the French Merovingian inserted a certain code… 8) — how’s THAT for typology? 😀

    • EricW

      Or maybe each and every believer is in his own Fred Alan Wolfe parallel universe and what works in one universe need not work in another universe, but each universe represents and is created by each and every option available for each and every action.

      So in my universe the bread and wine do not change and my reading of Scripture and history as well as my experience confirms and creates this reality. No change, no priests, no need for such. Jesus is Alive and Active and Reigning.

      Whereas in your universe the bread and wine undergo some kind of change and Christ is received by you via them. Priests, Jesus, all is well and all works.

      And you’re in my universe and I’m in yours.

      I think I need to take the blue pill.

    • Lucian

      LOL! …not unless we’re both Buddhists as well, apart from being Christians! 🙂 — to my knowledge, we believe God to be the Creator of all things visible and unvisible, … not ourselves… 😀

      […but now that you’ve mentioned that: I *WAS* actually planning on doing a mean little rant-article on my blog, … something along the lines of: Protestant-Orthodox joint statement on the Eucharist: leaders of both faith-communions have agreed at Geneva that they’re both right in each their respective eucharistical teachings: the Reformed, when saying that “the Eucharist” does NOT become the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, they (obviously) refer to THEIR Eucharist, (not ours); and when we say that it DOES, we also refer (equally-obvious) to OURS, (and not to anyone else’s), so… 😀 — am I just plain evil, or what? 8) ].

      I think I need to take the blue pill.

      Well –now that you’ve brought it up– your last comments DID remind me of a certain movie we once talked about… 😉

    • EricW

      Well –now that you’ve brought it up– your last comments DID remind me of a certain movie we once talked about…

      John Carpenter’s DARK STAR? 😉

      It’s quite metaphysical/philosophical/theological, actually, esp. toward the end.

      “Let there be light.”

      Oh, you mean THAT ONE (ALTERED STATES). Wow. You have quite the memory.

      It’s almost my autobiography, save for the caveman part.

    • Michael L

      I can’t help but grin….. whenever CMP (although it was Lisa this time) uses the word “RCC” or “LDS”, we hit over 100 comments in 3 days….

      Other posts… don’t even hit 100… ever…

      Hot buttons anyone ? 😉

      Mick

    • Lisa Robinson

      Hey Michael L, don’t forget about telling women folk they can’t share the pulpit with men.

      Uh oh, I think I hear the escalating pace of computer keys….

    • Michael L

      Lisa..lol

      Yet an interesting comment…. I was just wondering about women ordination a couple of weeks ago…

      Food for a different post I’m sure…

      Mick

    • EricW

      144. Michael L on 13 Aug 2010 at 9:19 am #
      .
      Lisa..lol
      .
      Yet an interesting comment…. I was just wondering about women ordination a couple of weeks ago…
      .
      Food for a different post I’m sure…
      .
      Mick

      http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/02/why-women-cannot-be-head-pastors/

      1255 comments and waiting for yours…. 😀

    • alexey

      whole thing with tradition in my opinion is slippery slope , similar to Oral Law or Talmud that orthodox jews have , im not sayin that it is all bad we can learn allot from it but it can lead as to accepting this things as infallible! like Jesus said somewhere that yr traditions over rule God’s Laws!

      same with many protestant denominations they take luther or calvin as their laws and stuff like that!

    • […] – Lisa Robinson addresses Protestantism’s quick rejection of Catholicism. […]

    • LUKE1732

      Jesus started a living church. He didn’t write stuff down. Not all of the teaching and practice of his church was written down at first. Some oral tradition is Sacred Tradition.

      “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” 2 Thess 2:15 New International Version (©1984)

      http://www.catholic.com/library/Scripture_and_Tradition.asp

    • Micah

      Alexey: (#146) If it’s a slippery slope one way, it’s a slippery slope the other way too, which can lead to constantly reinventing Christianity with no reference to anything that came before, acting as though the Bible fell into our laps yesterday. There are churches out there that do pretty much that.

      Bottom line: There’s no dichotomy between “Tradition OR the Bible”; it’s a matter of which tradition you go with, and its particular pedigree. Before I understood what Catholics mean by “tradition,” I used to think “scripture and tradition have equal authority” meant you have “scripture” on one hand and then on the other hand something essentially independent of it called “tradition,” with equal “weight.” This just sounded stupid. But for the Catholic Church, the point is not just tradition per se, but the theory and practice that extends all the way back continuously to the Apostles (with natural growth and development along the way). Now understanding what Church Tradition is, the relationship between tradition and scripture now seems to me pretty much like the relationship between a hand and a glove.

    • […] Top Ten Biblical Discoveries in Archaeology – #4 Ketef Hinnom Silver Amulet ScrollLUKE1732 on Why Protestants Are Quick to Reject Catholicism – And What Can Be Done About ItWeek in Review: 08.13.10 | Near Emmaus on Why Protestants Are Quick to Reject Catholicism – […]

    • Dozie

      I came to this late but I categorically reject any kind of talk about the Catholic Church in a manner to suggest that somehow she needs the acceptance of Protestants. The only relevant discussion that can take place between Catholics and Protestants is to invite Protestants home. They left the Church and have formed for themselves graven images of the one true Church. It is the duty of Catholics to show them their condition, in love, and to invite them home. The Catholic Church does not need silly sympathy talks; she will endure to the last.

    • EricW

      151. Dozie on 21 Aug 2010 at 11:47 am #

      I came to this late but I categorically reject any kind of talk about the Catholic Church in a manner to suggest that somehow she needs the acceptance of Protestants. The only relevant discussion that can take place between Catholics and Protestants is to invite Protestants home. They left the Church and have formed for themselves graven images of the one true Church. It is the duty of Catholics to show them their condition, in love, and to invite them home. The Catholic Church does not need silly sympathy talks; she will endure to the last.

      That’s a doozie of a post, Dozie.

      :rolleyes:

      Au contraire, mon frere. It is you and your heretical filioque-spouting and backwards-crossing and unleavened-bread partaking brethren and sistren who need to come home to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Orthodox Church, which has faithfully transmitted and maintained the Apostolic deposit through the centuries against both Romish and Protestantish deviations and heresies and doctrines of demented ones.

      Repent and return. The Eastern Orthodox Church is ready to welcome all her erring and errant children home. Come to Mama (and Papa)!

    • Micah

      EricW,

      from the fact that the Eastern and Roman Churches are not in communion, it does not follow that Protestantism is all on the up-and-up.

      In other words, I take you to be (by use of sarcasm), making the following reductio ad absurdum: “If we take seriously the idea of “going back” to an Apostolic Church, which are you going to choose? The Roman and Eastern churches are not even in communion with each other, and the choice between them is intolerably arbitrary.”

      But it’s not. For starters, which Eastern Orthodox Church? Russian? Greek? Ukrainian? Serbian? One would have to make that choice. But then, the Roman Catholic Church, due to the fact that it has one head, the pope, is not nationally or ethnically defined, but simply catholic: that is, universal.

    • EricW

      @Micah 153.:

      Huh?

    • wm tanksley

      “they have always maintained that Scripture is the ultimate authority and their traditions do not conflict with their interpretation of Scripture.”
      Yes, that is at the heart of the debate and what I was attempting to communicate regarding the authority of the church.

      Lisa, are you agreeing with that statement? In other words, you believe that the Roman Catholic Church places Scripture as “the ultimate authority”? I have to say that if you can show that, I’ll be impressed. Their own dogmas claim that Church authority is superior to Scriptural authority, as the Church is responsible for defining, interpreting, and teaching both Scripture and Tradition. If the Church’s authority includes the authority to define Scripture, then Scripture is not ultimate; in addition, if Tradition is of equal authority to Scripture (as it clearly is in many of the Church’s formal dogmas), and the Church has the authority to pronounce anything to be Tradition (as they proved when they pronounced the Assumption, a doctrine which was present to the only church only in a single otherwise heretical group, and was noted as a peculiarity).

      That is where I find White’s comment regarding tradition dismissive of the emphasis and authority that the RCC places on the church.

      I’m very confused this statement. It sounds like you’re accusing White of “dismissing” a statement when he’s actually explicitly disagreeing with it and arguing against it. If you find his arguments insufficient, argue against them; don’t simply claim that he’s being “dismissive”. Once again: White (and I) disagree with the Church’s claim to have authority above the Scriptures. According to Paul, even an apostle himself would be anathema if he merely preached a different gospel — much less the “successor” of an apostle many hundreds of generations removed.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      More importantly, White also argues that the Roman church is unfaithful to the tradition that they claim to support; they often cite the doctrines that are believed by all the faithful, at all times, everywhere; but in practice they cherry-pick doctrinal support when and where they want it (the Marian Assumption being the most easily proven case, not being documented as being present at all; but even the unitary papacy is a doctrine that was unheard-of at, for example, Nicea — a council that the Roman pontiff couldn’t attend, by the way, and which explicitly restricted his authority to the local church of Rome).

      In much the same way, Rome (and Beckwith, above) cannot accept someone like Ignatius as a teacher with his own message in his own context; rather than simply accept his teaching specifically against the docetists, they have to claim that he’s teaching the same dogma they hold now, even though the philosophical foundation of that dogma is a thousand years from being laid. Yes, if you listen through the anachronistic ears of a modern Rome, you can sort of pretend that he’s saying that the Eucharist is the same as Jesus’ body and blood; but when you read him in his own context, he’s accusing the docetists of rejecting the Eucharist because accepting it would be a concrete sign of their intellectual acceptance of Christ’s real body — and he also accuses them of failing in charitable gifts, probably for a similar reason, that charitable gifts would support physical flesh that their heresy said was evil.

      If you try to read this passage as saying that the elements actually are the flesh of Christ, then you wind up reading that the docetists simply denied this transubstantiation — a ridiculous claim when the root problem with docetism is a complete denial of Christ’s flesh, not a denial of a transformation in the Eucharist. If the docetists were defined by rejection of the transubstantiation, then why would they uniformly refuse to eat?

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Alexey: (#146) If it’s a slippery slope one way, it’s a slippery slope the other way too,

      “Slippery slope” is the name of an argument and the name of an informal fallacy. The way you use it it’s a fallacy — slippery slopes need not be bidirectional.

      which can lead to constantly reinventing Christianity with no reference to anything that came before, acting as though the Bible fell into our laps yesterday. There are churches out there that do pretty much that.

      There are churches that DID that once when they were founded. There are none that I know of that sustain it, although some claim to (for example, churches that claim to have no liturgy); a cultural institution without any tradition is a contradiction in terms.

      Bottom line: There’s no dichotomy between “Tradition OR the Bible”; it’s a matter of which tradition you go with, and its particular pedigree.

      Pedigree is important.

      More in a second…

    • wm tanksley

      But for the Catholic Church, the point is not just tradition per se, but the theory and practice that extends all the way back continuously to the Apostles (with natural growth and development along the way). Now understanding what Church Tradition is, the relationship between tradition and scripture now seems to me pretty much like the relationship between a hand and a glove.

      There’s a problem here. Scripture contains precisely those traditions which have a well-known “pedigree” — that is, they were recorded by an apostle or someone under the direct authority of an apostle, and then they were available to the whole Church. The thing that the RCC calls “tradition” is precisely the opposite of this: it’s teaching that was NOT known to be given from an apostle, NOT known to the entire church. Many of the details of modern Catholic dogma are specifically notable for being denied in the ancient church! I earlier mentioned the sixth canon of the council of Nicea, which limited the authority of Rome: “Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges.”

      So how do you get away with claiming a “pedigree” on precisely the distinctive points for which there is no pedigree whatsoever? All you have is a succession of names — from Pope Gelasius I, who anathematized the oldest attested documents that indirectly referenced the bodily assumption of Mary; through John of Damascus, who propagated the legend in an apparent attempt to imitate the story of Mohammed’s assumption; to (finally) Pope Pius XII declaring it dogma. All officials of the Church; the first and last of whom are in the official succession of popes — but each disagreeing with each other on the content of what is now called a dogma.

      How is this a…

    • wm tanksley

      Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t this kind of dodge the issue of who gets to interpret Scripture which is in many ways at the heart of this debate?

      I disagree that this is at the heart of the debate. It does not touch on the Roman church’s practice of asserting as dogma things which have no scriptural support whatsoever, not even in the most remote interpretation.

      However, setting that aside for the moment, I agree that it is an important issue. Who DOES have the authority to interpret scripture? It seems to me that the answer has to be the same people who have the responsibility of interpreting scripture. Authority and responsibility must be everywhere balanced. So, who has the responsibility to interpret Scripture? It seems to me that the answer is “the one who reads (or hears, or preaches) it.” This places the responsibility most heavily on the preachers and their trainers or leaders; but it inheres also to every single follower. In short, it applies to the Church with a capital C — not solely to the leaders in the hierarchy, although their exclusive job should be to promote true interpretations.

      Now, I grant that the Church leadership, including the Roman hierarchy, has the authority to ensure doctrinal correctness. But this gives them also the responsibility of doing so! And Christ called down many curses on those who had that specific responsibility and did not fulfill it. Yet the Roman church, rather than being eager to prove the righteousness of their interpretation, simply claim that their interpretation is right because of who they are. They claim that they cannot possibly err!

      -Wm

    • Micah

      To wm tanksley’s main points:

      When Lisa said that for the RCC, Scripture is “a supreme authority,” that’s somewhat misleading. Protestants are so used to treating the Bible like it’s *all* we’ve got to go on, that it requires quite a paradigm shift to even understand what the Bible is from within the RCC tradition.

      wm tanksley says the authority to interpret the Bible should be given to the pastors and leaders. Well, the fruits of that approach are clear for all to see. People who ALL seem to take it as their utmost authority disagree all over the place on what it says. It’s ultimately every man for himself to figure out who, if indeed anyone, is right. What you describe as “the Church” is most certainly NOT the Church; it’s not even *a* Church. It’s a scattered sum of individuals trying to figure it out themselves, or else just taking someone’s word for it who has speaking charisma and/or tells them what they want to hear (Matt. 9:36).

      Contra tanksley, “apostolic” does NOT mean holding exclusively to what the Bible explicitly says: If so, the term would be redundant, and we could just say “one holy catholic and Bible-believing church.” But as Lisa has pointed out, don’t be impressed that someone claims to be “Biblical” – all that means is “my interpretation, which is clearly the correct one.” The RCC belief about itself is that IT is apostolic: that Jesus gave authority to the apostles, which was meant to be PASSED DOWN by holy ordination. THIS, plus a papacy, is sufficient to ensure a single unified Church, which Jesus explicitly promised would endure. Apostolic authority is how Scripture got canonized in the first place, as well as other teachings (the “traditions” St. Paul emphasizes) not found explicitly in the NT. For the first few centuries before it was canonized, how could someone say, even in principle, “show me where it says that in the Bible”? No RCC teaching contradicts Scripture (although it may contradict “your…

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      The point I was trying to make is that while it is certainly hopeless circular the RCC believes that the Bible sets them up as an infallible authority to interpret the Bible. Then with that in mind they interpret the Bible to give them that authority.

      I know it is circular and I disagree with it strongly, however I went to a Catholic Law School (I’m Baptist, but it was the only decent option at the time for what I was looking for in a law school). Though many students weren’t RC many were and I had a lot of interesting discussions with students and faculty and even some priests who were RC. Not a single one of them believes that their traditions violate Scripture. Now many will admit that their traditions go beyond Scripture, but they see that as being authority given to them by Scripture to do. So when the Pope declares the perpetual virginity of Mary to be a doctrine for a Roman Catholic this is Biblical in the sense that the Bible gives the Church the power to do this.

      Ultimately in order to unravel the entire thing one has to attack the RCC claim that the Bible gives them this authority (and this is why I am not RCC – I don’t believe the Bible gives a particular hierarchy the authority the RCC claims). Yet this in turn raises the issue of who can authoritatively interpret Scripture. I have made the conclusions that 1) I can interpret Scripture for myself (of course I look at church history and other factors outside of myself – but I still weigh the evidence and determine which factors are conclusive), and 2) Based upon my interpretation the RCC does not have the authority they claim. However, if I am wrong on either of these two counts I’m in trouble. It’s a risk I am willing to take, but it is a risk. For some people (even me – though to a lesser extent then others – I like thinking independently most of the time) there is certainly an attractiveness to having everything settled for you and not having to struggle with things on your own.

    • EricW

      It’s a risk I am willing to take, but it is a risk.

      A risk well worth taking, considering the alternative.

      For some people (even me – though to a lesser extent then others – I like thinking independently most of the time) there is certainly an attractiveness to having everything settled for you and not having to struggle with things on your own.

      Death, too, can be attractive – i.e., no longer having to struggle with the problems of life.

      No, thanks. I prefer the struggle to having some magisterium tell me what and how to think. Call me stubborn. 🙂

    • wm tanksley

      When Lisa said that for the RCC, Scripture is “a supreme authority,” that’s somewhat misleading. Protestants are so used to treating the Bible like it’s *all* we’ve got to go on, that it requires quite a paradigm shift to even understand what the Bible is from within the RCC tradition.

      It was Michael who said that the RCC always held Scripture as “the ultimate authority”, not Lisa. I agree that it’s misleading, and I attempted to disagree with it. I hope I was clear. The RCC does NOT take Scripture as “the ultimate authority”; on the contrary, they hold that the Church is the ultimate authority; Scripture is authoritative essentially because it is directly from the Church. This doesn’t deny authority to the Scriptures (to cut off a common misunderstanding), but it makes it sometimes less directly applicable than that wielded by the current Church (and of course, less enforceable).

      But you badly mischaracterise the Protestant position when you accuse them of treating the Bible “like it’s all we’ve got to go on”. That’s not what Sola Scriptura means at all. In essence, sola scriptura is the converse of the above: rather than Scripture taking form and authority from the Church, the Church takes form and authority from the Scriptures. Again, this does not strip the Church of authority; rather, it makes its authority answerable to the Scriptures.

      wm tanksley says the authority to interpret the Bible should be given to the pastors and leaders.

      That’s more of a twisting than a summary. I actually said that the responsibility rests on “the one who reads”, but I parenthetically added “(or hears, or preaches)”. Naturally, in accordance with Christ’s clear teaching, and common sense, greater responsibility is on the teacher (whether pastor or bishop), but this doesn’t allow the listener to escape: James makes that clear. To be continued…

    • wm tanksley

      “the authority to interpret the Bible should be given”. Well, the fruits of that approach are clear for all to see. People who ALL seem to take it as their utmost authority disagree all over the place on what it says. It’s ultimately every man for himself to figure out who, if indeed anyone, is right.

      Your claim against my explanation is irrelevant and applies against yourself as well. People who claim a religious head disagree on which head it will be (Mormons say a prophet; JWs point to a council; the EO Church points to the collective bishops; and the Roman church points to the Pope). Even counting only those who claim allegiance to the Pope, you have enormous range of dissent; from sedevacantists; through the run-of-the-mill Catholic who listens to and obeys his teaching priest and doesn’t even know that what he’s hearing isn’t, strictly speaking, official; through people who sign petitions advocating new Marian dogmas; to the cardinals themselves; to the antipopes (none currently, unless you agree with the sedevacantists); and of course to the current Pope. And of course, you Catholics have the same Liberal, Postmodern, and Higher Critical problems that we Protestants have.

      So doctrinal diversity is not, in fact, reduced by insisting on a single infallible source, whether the source is human (a Pope) or informational (Scriptures). In fact, Christ may have hinted to us that we will always have poisonous “doctrinal diversity” in the Church, in the parable of the Tares.

      Is it, then, every man for himself? No. We have the Holy Spirit, working through Scriptures, individual wisdom, our peers, our parents, our local church teachers and leaders, and the teachings of the churches in every age. The same as you have.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      What you describe as “the Church” is most certainly NOT the Church; it’s not even *a* Church. It’s a scattered sum of individuals trying to figure it out themselves, or else just taking someone’s word for it who has speaking charisma and/or tells them what they want to hear (Matt. 9:36).

      No — it’s all the people who have been granted repentance and the forgiveness of sins through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and who are predestined by God to be conformed to the image of His Son. Your reductionism proves nothing; the same thing can be said about the Roman church, if one ignores everything that makes the Roman church distinctive as you’ve ignored everything that makes the Church distinctive. Yes, we may be scattered individuals; but by the grace of God we are also MORE than scattered individuals.

      -Wm

    • Micah

      Your claim against my explanation is irrelevant and applies against yourself as well.

      No, it doesn’t. What’s irrelevant is the existence of “cafeteria Catholics” with regard to whether there is such a thing as Church Authority. One may as well point to the prevalence of divorce to show that there’s something intrinsically wrong with traditional heterosexual marriage.

      So doctrinal diversity is not, in fact, reduced by insisting on a single infallible source

      This is demonstrably false. The RCC has a clearly delineated set of doctrines, disagreement from which places one outside orthodoxy. Matters that range outside such doctrines are those within with disagreements are allowed within orthodoxy.

      As far as *which* authority to choose, for those legitimately wanting a objective authority, why cults like JW & LDS don’t choose one that has an unbroken continuous lineage back to the Apostles on whom Jesus founded his Church, you’ll have to ask them (the choice between RCC and EO is a separate issue; I am assuming that they are both at least legitimately apostolic in their pedigree).

      No — it’s all the people who have been granted repentance and the forgiveness of sins through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ…

      You’ve defined the Church purely in terms of a sum of individuals, but why call that a “Church” at all? Does it have any of the intrinsic unity and visible functionality of a Body? Not at all. It would be more honest to bite the bullet and say that there is no Church or that it’s not important.

      Is it, then, every man for himself? No. We have…

      …ultimately, one’s own wisdom to *decide among* all these disagreeing sources, and whether one is indeed being guided by the HS. The alternative: be taught by The Church, to whom Jesus gave authority and promised would endure.

    • wm tanksley

      Contra tanksley, “apostolic” does NOT mean holding exclusively to what the Bible explicitly says: If so, the term would be redundant, and we could just say “one holy catholic and Bible-believing church.”

      That’s true. Note that the Bible supports you in this, for example because most of the Bible (the Old Testament) wasn’t written by apostles.

      But as Lisa has pointed out, don’t be impressed that someone claims to be “Biblical” – all that means is “my interpretation, which is clearly the correct one.”

      No, that’s not “all it means”. It means that you’re claiming to be willing to submit to the Bible. It means, therefore, that anyone who disagrees with you but who also claims to be Biblical can persuade you by showing it to you in the Bible. You yourself have an obligation to submit to the Scriptures, since you claim to be apostolic, and the apostles taught submission to the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament.

      I claim that ‘Apostolic’ means the same thing, but for the teachings of the apostles rather than strictly the text of the Scriptures. (CMP concurs, by the way.) Since the apostles taught us to trust, honor, and obey the Scriptures, being apostolic would imply being Biblical.

      The RCC belief about itself is that IT is apostolic: that Jesus gave authority to the apostles, which was meant to be PASSED DOWN by holy ordination.

      Even if I accept this as a definition of ‘apostolic’ (which I don’t), this is only a partial definition of what it means to be apostolic, because you’re omitting what happens when an ordained minister becomes apostate, as Protestants claim the vast majority of the Roman church’s leadership has. I’ll look next at the plausibility of that Protestant claim (given your claim that Christ promised a preservation of His Church).

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      The RCC belief about itself is that IT is apostolic: that Jesus gave authority to the apostles, which was meant to be PASSED DOWN by holy ordination.

      Let this serve as your definition of “apostolic”, then. You’ve heard mine. The major problem with your definition — only partially addressed in the next sentence — is that it omits the problem of apostasy. And this is exactly the problem here. I don’t claim that the Roman church lacks a line of ordination back to the original apostles; rather, I claim that the line is sullied by apostasy, and thus the current leaders need to repent and return.

      THIS, plus a papacy, is sufficient to ensure a single unified Church, which Jesus explicitly promised would endure.

      You claim that the because Christ promised that the Church will not become apostate, therefore the Roman church will not become apostate; but Christ spoke many times of entire churches and peoples falling away, and yet His purposes would be fulfilled. Revelations directs these warnings at specific churches.

      Apostolic authority is how Scripture got canonized in the first place

      No, apostolic authority is how the New Testament got written, and why the Old Testament is referred to as “scripture”. It was canonized by all the local churches observing the texts which had been observed early and by all (or most) local churches. This inquiry was done sporadically through the early Church, and more commonly as the problem of redactors and false gospels become common (we have evidence of this). The Church did not have to wait for the council of Trent; nor did it at some earlier point authoritatively declare something to be Scripture which was not Scripture before; rather, it accepted the Scripture it was given with authority and signs from the apostles who penned, dictated, or (apparently in the case of Hebrews) spoke it.

      Like many Protestants, I believe we have a fallible canon of infallible writings.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Micah, I also want to challenge your statement that the Pope and Holy Ordination is “sufficient” for a unified church. Given the Roman church’s own internal schisms, and its factual disunity, how can you claim that? What is your definition of “unity” that the Roman Catholic Church meets, but the Church as a whole doesn’t? (If you’re going to submit the question-begging “submission to Rome”, then I return that many or most Catholics don’t submit to Rome; and historically, Rome has been split more than a few times, starting with the very early Church where there was more than one top bishop in Rome.)

      Only one more post to make!

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      For the first few centuries before it was canonized, how could someone say, even in principle, “show me where it says that in the Bible”?

      No council released, nor Pope endorsed, any putatively complete list until Trent. Are you saying that literally none of the Church Fathers who claimed to be citing “Scripture” were actually doing so? When Irenaeus wrote Against Heresies and claimed that in his third book he would “adduce proofs from the Scriptures…” When Athanasius listed the books he recognized as scripture… Both of those were mistaken? Or lying? Or arrogating to themselves authority they didn’t have?

      How does this make sense?

      -Wm

    • Micah

      I have no idea how you’re succeeding in posting consecutive comments; when I tried that earlier I got relegated to the spam file. And now even if I want to post one comment, I have to email Michael to pull it out of the spam pile to post. Consequently, I can’t possibly keep up with you in this particular forum.

      Besides that, the commenting rules for this blog explicitly state that it should *not* be used as a forum, and the comments on this post have gone way past that. In the interests of respecting the blog owner’s wishes, we really need to have this discussion elsewhere. My own blog is actually a place that I would welcome any and all questions about the Catholic Church; in fact, that’s its purpose. Which particular forum is used isn’t really important, I just know that this isn’t supposed to be a forum, and I can’t get it to work well at my end anyway…

    • wm tanksley

      Ultimately in order to unravel the entire thing one has to attack the RCC claim that the Bible gives them this authority.

      Good point. I think it would be better to attack their claim that they hold this authority specially — i.e. in a way that other churches don’t hold — but I see what you meant.

      Yet this in turn raises the issue of who can authoritatively interpret Scripture. I have made the conclusions that 1) I can interpret Scripture for myself

      To a certain extent one HAS to choose which interpretation to accept, of course; even if one sticks with the Roman church, one will have multiple conflicting “authoritative” interpretations of any given doctrine or passage from which one MUST pick a single one. But one need not choose merely between lone-wolf interpretation and the Roman hierarchy; the Bible is clear on the need for trained teachers, and in fact the Holy Spirit gifts some of us (the members of Christ’s body) to be those teachers, so any organized church can conceivably meet that need (not that I’m claiming that ALL churches will).

      2) Based upon my interpretation the RCC does not have the authority they claim. However, if I am wrong on either of these two counts I’m in trouble.

      You may as well worry that you’re in trouble if a group of martians have the authority. The modern Roman church is as foreign to scriptural authority as they are; they have (over the martians) a succession of names, but they disobey the leadership of those past people in order to aggrandize their own power, so therefore they deny the authority of their own past church. The more plausible claim is from the Orthodox church, which accepts the authority of their own past, making their doctrines of authority internally consistent.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I have no idea how you’re succeeding in posting consecutive comments; when I tried that earlier I got relegated to the spam file.

      Huh, good question. I don’t know — it might have to do with my long history here.

      Can you post a link to your blog? Or what are some keywords I could use to find your blog?

      -Wm

    • EricW

      166. Micah on 01 Sep 2010 at 1:28 pm #

      As far as *which* authority to choose, for those legitimately wanting a (sic) objective authority, why cults like JW & LDS don’t choose one that has an unbroken continuous lineage back to the Apostles on whom Jesus founded his Church, you’ll have to ask them (the choice between RCC and EO is a separate issue; I am assuming that they are both at least legitimately apostolic in their pedigree).

      On what “objective” basis can you demonstrate that the RCC is “an objective authority”?

      E.g., while I think one can be objective (i.e., uninfluenced by one’s emotions or subjective opinions or beliefs) when stating what the Biblical text says, because the actual words are what they are in space and time, regardless of how they’re understood or interpreted, to say that one’s church or institution has an authority derived from the Scriptures or its authors or its authors’ authority that is itself an “objective” authority (i.e., an authority that is uninfluenced by emotions or subjective opinions or beliefs), is, I think, to misapply the term “objective.”

    • Michael T.

      Micah

      “I have no idea how you’re succeeding in posting consecutive comments; when I tried that earlier I got relegated to the spam file.”

      I can’t give a specific answer to this because I’m not a admin here. However, having been here for awhile I can give my observation. “Chain posting” is generally prohibited. However, if it is only two posts posted back to back or something like that it will generally be ignored so long as it isn’t continual. Once you post three back to back you are pushing you’re luck.

      It also makes a difference whether or not you’re posts are responses addressed to different people. For instance if I wrote this post to you and then wrote another one right after this directed at something WM or Eric said it would probably be acceptable since I am addressing different issues in my posts even though they are technically back to back. What CMP and the admins seem to be trying to avoid is someone who comes in and decides that this is the appropriate place to post their doctoral dissertation.

    • mbaker

      But isn’t this kind of replacing the original post? And why is that acceptable? I think those who have such a bent that that they have to do this should question their own motive. Sorry, but this is CMP’s blog, whether we always agree with it or not, we are certainly not to think we have to take it over.

      And certainly by the the large number of posts by one person that has certainly become apparent.

      I’d say if your post exceeds the number of words in the original, or is so much better in your eyes, get your own blog, whoever you are.

    • mbaker

      Michael T,

      I am not addressing your posts, which are replying to the comments, but to the one that is spamming this post.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Guys, there is no spamming going on. That is not the reason that Micah’s comments are going to spam.

      Micah, I think there is something about your e-mail address that is keeping your comments going to spam. I have no idea how to correct it. I’ve been detained from jumping back in this discussion but I do the spam queue for comments. Please feel free to continue commenting.

    • mbaker

      Lisa,

      I am not talking about Michah’s comments which are honest questions but the others here that have been taking over the post. That shouldn’t be hard to pick out, at least it isn’t for some of us who have been trying to follow this thread, at least as CMP has laid it out. Is this other poster speaking for him? There has sure been a long discourse of comments that makes one think otherwise.

      Just saying… please let us know the difference.

    • Micah

      Yes, I think Michael’s use of the word “spam” is in the original sense, as in circa ’95 when I started seeing it used on email listservs to mean “internecine conversations conducted by means of hitting “Reply to All” instead of taking it offline.”

      Thanks, Lisa, for the invite to continued commenting, but I still don’t feel comfortable participating in a “hijacking” when the blog’s commenting rules clearly forbid it. The uphill battle of trying to address mushrooming misconceptions and confusions make it beyond any foreseeable wrapping up in this context.

      To wm tanskley’s question, click on my name next to any of my comments. I actually just yesterday posted my “conversion story” from lifelong Protestantism to the RCC. Any and all questions and challenges are more than welcome. Seriously, ask me anything. But first, I would recommend this site/blog: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/ which has a large amount of *excellent* material written by “Reformed” Christians who ended up joining the RCC. Honest seekers will find it an eye-opener, I think.

      Finally, just to address one very important question: by “objective” I mean, has unbroken apostolic succession by holy ordination (both RCC and EO have this; and no, this is not just a “list of names”) and is a single unified institution (oh yes it is; see my comment #166) that is *catholic* (i.e., universal) in not being tied to any particular ethnic origin or nation (unlike the EO).

    • Michael T.

      Mbaker,
      This was Lisa, not CMP’s post so I guess it is up to her to determine whether or not someone is hijacking it.

    • wm tanksley

      And why is that acceptable?

      Nobody’s saying it is acceptable — not even I, who did it. I’m waiting until Micah can tell me his blog’s URL or some keywords I can use to find it…

      -Wm

    • cherylu

      Wm Tanksley,

      To get to Micah’s blog, simply click on his name by the comment #. Try it in his last comment above, #80.

    • Carrie Hunter

      I backed out of this discussion ages ago. I simply didn’t have the time to engage. I have followed along with the comments here and there via email.

      I have seen some excessive posting by some folks and at times it was borderline off point and out of sync with the original blog post. I probably would have closed comments if folks didn’t comply with requests to keep it succinct and on point. But then it’s not my blog post so it wouldn’t be my place to police it.

      I’m actually not as tolerant as Lisa or Michael so God bless ’em. Thankfully, I don’t blog often enough for my lack of tolerance to matter.

      Anyhoo…

      Micah I just emailed you. Perhaps the issue of your comments landing in our spam filter has been resolved.

    • Micah

      Thanks, Carrie, I’ll use that for future commenting (on other posts, where if I want to comment I’ll try to keep it concise!).

      Understand I don’t mean to self-promote here, it’s just that the commenting guidelines say “that’s great you have so much to say; get your own blog,” and, well, I do have one. I would do just email exchanges except that unfortunately I tend to get even more snippy over email, and need to feel that I’m being held accountable in some public forum or other.

    • wm tanksley

      mbaker, did I offend you? Please explain and I’ll be happy to ask forgiveness. Specifically, it looks as though you see my posts as dishonest (post #179). I can understand “overwhelming”, and I do admit that I WAY overposted and will be very careful to control that in the future — but I was not to my knowledge speaking untruthfully.

      -Wm

    • mbaker

      No, Wm, you did not offend me personally, so there is no need to ask for forgiveness. I just found the length of the posts, sometimes 3 a day, a little overwhelming, and at times a bit off topic. I realize that I’m not the blog police, and not trying to be, but it is good for all of us to keep in mind that the rules of this particular blog do state guidelines for the length of comments. That applies to all of us, unless of course, we are the author of the original post. And thanks to Michael T for reminding me that Lisa wrote this post. Sorry for the oversight, Lisa. I realize that she and CMP and others who who author the blog don’t have time to moderate every comment, that’s why out of common courtesy I think we need to self-regulate ourselves when it comes to the length of our comments.

      So no biggie, except for that. Thanks for your concern and your recognition of that. You have made many good points to consider, and while I might not agree with everything all the time, I do respect your attention to detail and the time you spend on doing your research.

    • wm tanksley

      Micah, thank you. I’m preparing a reply, which will follow the intro post at my own mostly-unused blog. If you’d like to post something to correct my initial “take” on the issues, whether at your own blog or as a comment on mine (I think Google automatically detects linkbacks to specific posts, and I’ve enabled that on my blog’s configuration), I’ll be more than happy to alter my outline.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Ok, so I’ve been looking through the comments from the past week, and do see some heavy hands in chain posting. This has been a good conversation but please keep comments to one or 2 at a time. Thanks.

      To this comment here

      The RCC belief about itself is that IT is apostolic: that Jesus gave authority to the apostles, which was meant to be PASSED DOWN by holy ordination. THIS, plus a papacy, is sufficient to ensure a single unified Church, which Jesus explicitly promised would endure. Apostolic authority is how Scripture got canonized in the first place, as well as other teachings (the “traditions” St. Paul emphasizes) not found explicitly in the NT.

      This of course is where we Protestants (yes I am affirmedly one) have to part ways. The apostolic authority is passed down through the teaching by which the church adheres as a matter of faith and practice. Catholics consider the teaching separate from tradition and roll everything under the authority of the church to determine what is compatible with the apostolic tradition. But the apostolic teaching itself should ensure ecclesiastical unity and not necessarily what is dictated through an infallible office that is occupied by fallible men. As I mentioned in the post, while I appreciate the unity the papal office seeks to uphold, I can’t agree with its existence as authoritative representation of apostolic succession.

      But of course, I realize that Protestants and Catholics will never see eye to eye on this issue.

    • Micah

      Alrighty then, so the whack-a-mole game of quashing misconceptions continues… 😉

      Catholics consider the teaching separate from tradition…

      It sounds as though you mean there was a settled deposit of apostolic teaching (i.e., at least roughly, the NT), and then the traditional Church became its official guardian and valid interpreter. But the idea of the NT as a settled deposit of apostolic teaching is a specifically Protestant one, which Catholics don’t share. (This assumption about the NT is so ingrained for Protestants that it’s often very hard for them to recognize it as an assumption. See also the “fallacy of incomplete analysis” that I mentioned earlier.) So it definitely is NOT that “Catholics consider the teaching separate from tradition”; on the contrary, it’s that the whole fabric of written Scripture and (originally unwritten) tradition forms a continuous whole.

      The Protestant objection to the RCC tends to be that they went way beyond their guardianship of the initial settled deposit of the NT and added a bunch of extraneous stuff to it. But the RCC position about itself and its doctrines is that it is all a gradual natural outgrowth of what was implicitly there from the beginning, including gradual canonization of the NT books themselves, and making doctrines explicit as they were fully thought through and systematized; hence, doctrine naturally develops over time, as an oak tree from an acorn. (I myself think this is a much more reasonable picture of historical continuity.)

      But the apostolic teaching itself should ensure ecclesiastical unity and not necessarily what is dictated through an infallible office that is occupied by fallible men.

      And it does – the fact that some disagree with some teachings is no point against it. The alternative would be to please as many people as possible by making doctrine democratically defined.

    • wm tanksley

      It sounds as though you mean there was a settled deposit of apostolic teaching (i.e., at least roughly, the NT), and then the traditional Church became its official guardian and valid interpreter.

      Actually, I thought Lisa put this one VERY well.

      You have to read her in context: she first said that apostolic authority is passed down through the ages as teachings, not as a distinct thing that the Church possesses. Thus, what she’s saying is that unlike Protestants, “Catholics consider the [apostolic] teaching separate from the [apostolic] authority.”

      The modern Roman church holds that they have the authority to define new doctrines, even ones that the apostles were not known to teach (except in hints). This is the meaning of the switch from the medieval doctrine of partim/partim revelation to the modern doctrine of material sufficiency: the medieval Roman church believed that the apostles made one deposit of revelation through two sources (Tradition and Scriptures), while the modern Roman church now believes that the apostles made one primary deposit of revelation (Scripture), and one primary deposit of authority (Tradition), and the two support one another indirectly.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Micah, I wasn’t going to respond here, but you “called me out” on my blog as using a fallacy by saying that “cafeteria Catholics” were the disproof of Roman authority, and you requested a response. (Thank you for your graciousness.) So I posted a response on my blog. In a nutshell, I didn’t intend to imply anything about cafeteria Catholics (and didn’t mention them at all); I was talking about the teaching authorities of the Roman church.

      I’ve also provided a specific example of a Pope who has been infallibly declared to have committed heresy in composing a letter that many Catholics admit has all the external signs of being ex cathedra; my point is that a loyal Catholic can’t tell which statement is infallible and which statement is fallible; they have to use their own judgement.

      -Wm

    • Saskia

      I have to disagree with one point that keeps coming up, which Hodge wrote as
      “but the point of our disagreement is over sola fidei with faith defined apart from the works it produces.”

      I think evangelicals have the same understanding of faith and works that some of the Catholics in this discussion have observed – i.e. that they go hand in hand and you can’t have one without the other.
      I constantly hear evangelicals making this argument.
      I think to condemn a different tradition for framing the same idea in different words is ridiculous.

    • April Carter

      It’s sad that this blog ignores the ecumenical movement, the true history of the Catholic Church (pertaining to its full embrace of apostasy), and ex-Catholics who know what they’re talking about. Catholicism quickly became pagan centuries ago and remains thus. The ecumenical movement was started by compromises- Catholics changed their doctrine to appear more “Christian” and apostates changed the bible/made new versions to appease Catholicism and paganism. Anyone who truly knows Catholicism knows it isn’t Christian. To say it is Christian is to listen to Satan. Praying to Mary, angels, and dead people can never be justified and is idolatry. Going to a priest to have him pray each body part out of hell is foolish and dismisses Jesus and his sacrifice. Purgatory is a lie. At best, Catholicism is equivalent to apostate Christianity. That means Catholics live to please God by following, at best, partial truths. And, of course, many Protestants are following suit and excusing evil.

    • Dr. Jay

      Both Protestantism and Catholicism are built on a long history of intuitive assumptions based on perceptional fallacies which prevent each of these traditions from capturing the ever illusive ontology of the effusive presence of the Thou in juxtaposition to the existential I or community of we in authentic concrete relationships. May I suggest Jesus, pure and simple as the way, the truth, and the life? Hey, it worked for me.

    • becca

      Protestants come up with new traditions of Scripture all the time.” Look at the Pre Trib rapture. An honest look at the Early Church writings one will see that Christians always believed the Church would experience the tribulation.

      A big difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is 1. We at least do look for hints of said teaching in the early church.
      2. We don’t allow “new interpertations” to contradict long held traditions.

      I do want to point out quietly to the person who said they don’t want the Eucharist to be like the Catholics described.

      It is not for us to say what we want the Eucharist to be. Its suppose to be how Christ wants it to be. The Jewish people rejected Jesus as their messiah because they didn’t want a suffering servant.

      Christ is fully human he’s also God, and God is omnipotent. God I suspect is fully everywhere. Its also his glorified body, or bodies may be different too when its glorified.

      The Eucharist was instituted by Christ-for his purposes. And Catholic teaching is he wants us to partake of his body so we can become one with him and more like him. So we can “literally be the temple of the Holy Ghost0. You are what we eat and by partaking of him we can be more like him.

      I became Catholic partly because I realized what I want, what I thought, mattered little. But it was what God wanted and what God thought.

    • JM

      The undercurrent of patronizing tone here, as if it’s Catholicism which has something to contribute, rather than the being the source of truth standing firm against Protestant asininity, is amusing.

    • Jimmy

      Kudo. You are to be commended for your insight and courage.

    • Jim

      Jason, what you fail to see (in my opinion) is that mental assent alone is not enough; true there must be that commitment, but it also takes the efficacy of the Holy Spirit to bring about the New Birth. Otherwise, by just thinking the right thoughts, even those that are acted out (as in good works), would be sufficient. Thus, the contiguity is the Spirit is required to bring about the New Birth. The key to understanding what these canons are contexually saying is the word “alone” is not sufficient. Protestants have a tendency to think in terms of either/or; whereas, both Catholic (and I believe Biblical theology) presents a both/and choice. Take care.

    • Deniece

      Jason, what you fail to see (in my opinion) is that mental assent alone is not enough; true there must be that commitment, but it also takes the efficacy of the Holy Spirit to bring about the New Birth. Otherwise, by just thinking the right thoughts, even those that are acted out (as in good works), would be sufficient. Thus, the contiguity is the Spirit is required to bring about the New Birth. The key to understanding what these canons are contexually saying is the word “alone” is not sufficient. Protestants have a tendency to think in terms of either/or; whereas, both Catholic (and I believe Biblical theology) presents a both/and choice. Take care.

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