Jerome lived from 342-420 AD, and translated the Bible into the Latin Vulgate, and was one of the most famous early church scholars.
“A presbyter, therefore, is the same as a bishop, and before dissensions were introduced into religion by the instigation of the devil, and it was said among the peoples, ‘I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, and I of Cephas,’ Churches were governed by a common council of presbyters; afterwards, when everyone thought that those whom he had baptised were his own, and not Christ’s, it was decreed in the whole world that one chosen out of the presbyters should be placed over the rest, and to whom all care of the Church should belong, that the seeds of schisms might be plucked up. Whosoever thinks that there is no proof from Scripture, but that this is my opinion, that a presbyter and bishop are the same, and that one is a title of age, the other of office, let him read the words of the apostle to the Philippians, saying, ‘Paul and Timotheus, servants of Christ to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi with the bishops and deacons.’” (Jerome, Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, “Commentary on the Epistle to Titus”, PL 26:562-563) And: “Therefore, as we have shown, among the ancients presbyters were the same as bishops; but by degrees, that the plants of dissension might be rooted up, all responsibility was transferred to one person. Therefore, as the presbyters know that it is by the custom of the Church that they are to be subject to him who is placed over them so let the bishops know that they are above presbyters rather by custom than by Divine appointment, and ought to rule the Church in common, following the example of Moses, who, when he alone had power to preside over the people Israel, chose seventy, with the assistance of whom he might judge the people. We see therefore what kind of presbyter or bishop should be ordained.” (Jerome, Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, PL 26:563)
As we mentioned in Part 1 of the Review of Four Witnesses, on page 87, Rod stops the quote of 1 Clement 44 as precisely the exact place that would show that overseers/bishops (Greek: επισκοποι – episcopoi ) is the same office as elders (Greek: πρεσβυτεροι – presbuteroi). This is clear in the earlier New Testament writings, such as Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Timothy 3, 1 Peter 5:1-5, Philippians 1:1. Even other very early non-canonical writings confirm this, such as the Didache 15, and Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book IV, chapter 26, no. 5. “Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. Rod, used a different translation than the one above, but stopped the quote here on page 87 of his book. You can look at the standard ccel.org translation here.
The quote continues: “For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that ye have removed some men of excellent behavior from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and with honor. “ 1 Clement 44
It bears repeating that I still love Rod as a friend and miss his creativity and intellect and friendship. He broke off our friendship years ago, apparently because of his commitments to Roman Catholicism. I appreciate that he said he did not want to debate me anymore because of our friendship. (he did not want to hurt me, and thought 8 years was enough and that I was impossible to convince, etc.) See the many articles I have written I have written about this story. (see also under the category of past articles under “Rod Bennett”.
Somehow I stumbled upon this and I cannot wait until his new book comes out and I can read what he says. He says his “Four More Witnesses are: 1. Hermas (of the Shepherd of Hermas) (140-155 AD), 2. Hippolytus of Rome (died, 235 AD), 3. Clement of Alexandria (died 215 AD), and 4. Origen of Alexandria (253 AD)
Hippolytus of Rome, is the very first clear reference to infant baptism (215 AD) along with Tertullian arguing against infant baptism. (190-200 ?)
Interesting! If you are going to include a heretic like Origen, why not a schismatic like Tertullian? There is much in both Origen and Tertullian to appreciate, and some things to reject for sure. Origen was an amazing scholar, and wrote a lot and even a rich person paid a group of people to follow him around and write everything he said down! (Amazing!) According to scholars and what I have learned, Origen taught the pre-existence of souls (seems really weird), and that even the devil will eventually be saved and that all humans will eventually be saved; and Eusebius reported that he castrated himself ( I realize some scholars dispute that Origen really castrate himself); and also a lot of the very bad allegorical method of interpretation of historical narrative passages and parables come from Origen. I was surprised that he did not choose Tertullian (wrote from around 190-220 AD) and Cyprian (died 258 AD) instead of Hermas and Hippolytus. They wrote much more than Hermas and Hippolytus did! I look forward to his argumentaton. Rod says that Hermas’ views on baptism help us understand it properly.
I look forward to reading Rod’s argumentation and perhaps he will have more than this famous passage in the Shepherd of Hermas:
And I said to him, “I should like to continue my questions.” “Speak on,” said he. And I said, “I heard, sir, some teachers maintain that there is no other repentance than that which takes place, when we descended into the water175 and received remission of our former sins.” He said to me, “That was sound doctrine which you heard; for that is really the case. For he who has received remission of his sins ought not to sin any more, but to live in purity. Since, however, you inquire diligently into all things, I will point this also out to you, not as giving occasion for error to those who are to believe, or have lately believed, in the Lord. For those who have now believed, and those who are to believe, have not repentance for their sins; but they have remission of their previous sins. For to those who have been called before these days, the Lord has set repentance. For the Lord, knowing the heart, and foreknowing all things, knew the weakness of men and the manifold wiles of the devil, that he would inflict some evil on the servants of God, and would act wickedly towards them.176 The Lord, therefore, being merciful, has had mercy on the work of His hand, and has set repentance for them; and He has entrusted to me power over this repentance. And therefore I say to you, that if any one is tempted by the devil, and sins after that great and holy calling in which the Lord has called His people to everlasting life,177 he has opportunity to repent but once. But if he should sin frequently after this, and then repent, to such a man his repentance will be of no avail; for with difficulty will he live.”178 And I said, “Sir, I feel that life has come back to me in listening attentively to these commandments; for I know that I shall be saved, if in future I sin no more.” And he said, “You will be saved, you and all who keep these commandments.”
I must say that that is an amazingly shallow understanding of sin and repentance by this guy Hermas, in saying that after baptism, there is no more repentance for sins committed after baptism. Praise God that the NT teaches us that we will continue to battle against sin until we die (Romans 7:13-25 and into chapter 8; Galatians 5:13-26; Ephesians chapters 5 & 6; Hebrews 12), and that true believers always confess and repent of their sins daily and sometimes all through the day, even after baptism. And praise God that there is continual forgiveness of sins based on Christ’s once for all atonement! Amazing that Hermas wrote this false idea. The NT speaks of believers confessing and repenting of their sins ( 1 John 1:9, see fuller context 1:5-2:2; James 5:13-16) and the meaning of “put off and put on” (Colossians 3:5-11 and Ephesians 4:17-26) is exactly that – to continue to repent of sins, even after baptism.
The First part of Gary Michuta’s program is massive over-exalting of Mary and prayer to Mary! “For Thou canst do all things. Amen. Virgin Most Powerful, Pray for us!” (did he actually pray this first part to Mary? I cannot tell if the “Thou canst do all things” is to the Lord or to Mary. Nevertheless, it is a crazy practice to pray to Mary as “Virgin most powerful”) Roman Catholics give divine attributes to Mary in prayer, even though officially, they deny that they worship Mary. The distinction between dulia, hyper-dulia, and latria disappears when you really look into this stuff.
Gavin Ortlund is right about prayers to the saints and prayers to Mary. Gavin Ortlund gives many examples of unBiblical prayers to Mary that give Mary descriptions of power and praise in prayer that should only be given to God! Gavin Ortlund mentions that someone re-did all the Psalms into prayers to Mary: (sometimes attributed to Bonaventure (1200s AD) Psalterium majus Beatissimae Mariae Virginis, a reworking of the 150 Psalms of the Latin Psalter into prayers to the Virgin Mary!! Wow!! Blasphemous!
Lutheran pastor, Dr. Jordan Cooper is also right on this issue:
The quotes from Athanasius and other Early church fathers is great!
Rod also mentions the Prot-evangelium of James (2nd century) and the idea of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. This is a false writing, not written by James (none of the 3 main guys named “James” in the NT – 2 of the 12 and the Lord’s half brother). This is a Gnostic tinged work that views the baby Jesus as “beaming out of Mary”, not breaking her hymen.
One of the main arguments for the Perpetual Virginity of Mary is the earliest literature that imply the PVM are 2nd century non-Canonical texts (Odes of Solomon may be in 3rd Century) “Gnostic tinged” 3 texts that are apocryphal and non-canonical – 1. The Odes of Solomon, 2. The Ascension of Isaiah (also may be in early 3rd century), and 3. The Proto-Evangelium of James. (a second century work) The Odes of Solomon is particularly offensive in speaking about God the Father in that way! (breasts and milk, etc.) These are clearly Gnostic and Gnostic tinged sources. Baby Jesus “beams out” (Star Trek) of Mary without breaking her hymen. James White spent an entire DL program several years ago reading the Proto-Evangelium of James. The details are also in Dr. White’s book, “Mary: Another Redeemer?” (along with the other issues of Marian piety and practices, doctrines, and dogmas)
Listen here where James White reads the relevant texts that formed the basis of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary: 1. The Proto-Evagelium of James, 2. The Odes of Solomon, 3. The Ascension of Isaiah – all false writings from the 2nd and 3rd Century.
Overall, a Baptist History has to have 3 elements:
1. The Anabaptists – 1500s around Luther and Zwingli and then forward. Most of the Anabaptists were Arminian in theology, except for, apparently, Zwingli’s students.
2. The General Baptists – 1601 (John Smyth and Thomas Helwys) and forward. (This has the most adherents today.) Most of today’s Baptists believe in Perseverance of the Saints (or “Eternal Security”), but have various views on the other 4 points of Calvinism.
3. The Reformed Baptists– around 1644 to (1689 2nd London Baptist Confession) – those that accepted the Westminister Confession of Faith except for infant baptism and Presbyterian (Presbytery, session, like a Council) form of church government. (Calvinistic Baptists)
2 early Anabaptists that are noteable in an overall understanding of Baptist history:
Most of the more well-known Anabaptists were Arminian in their theology (Menno Simons, later the Mennonites came from them) and some were pacifists (believed it is wrong for a Christian to be a soldier or policeman) and some were violent, and some were heretical (Anti-Trinitarian) and some were apocalyptic and crazy with end-time events ideas and even Polygamy. (see the Munster Rebellion – wow! crazy! Listen to James White’s lectures on this – see below.)
2. The Zurich city council executed Felix Manz by drowning! (just because he re-baptized himself and rejected his infant baptism and taught others this.)Zwingli was the pastor of the Reformation in Zurich at that time. It is shocking to me that they drowned him. when I first learned that years ago; I was shocked. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Manz
Note: According to some, Zwingli wrestled with the issue and was open for a time to believer’s baptism, but later became hardened against it. The original and first Anabaptists in Zurich and Switzerland were the former students of Zwingli.p. 189, Believer’s Baptism, edited by Schreiner and Wright (see below) Zwingli had discussions with Balthasar Hubmeier (who was later burned at the stake by the Roman Catholics!)
An early church history where 2 padeobaptists (they both believe in infant baptism), but admit that it was a development after late second century. The first clear reference is Hippolytus around 215 AD and Tertullian around 200 argued against infant baptism.
It seems clear that the dominant method of Baptism in the early centuries was immersion and for believer’s only. (see Justin Martyr’s description of baptism, Ist Apology, 61 around 150-165 AD). (see my earlier articles on this, especially this.) (I give the full quote in that article and link to Justin Martyr’s work at www.ccel.org. Look under others in the category for Baptism and baptismal regeneration for more on Justin Martyr.
Infant baptism started around 200 AD and continued ALONGSIDE of Believer’s baptism until the late 300s and 400s AD and then combined with the State Church (381-392 AD onward under Theodosius 1) and then combined with the idea of priestly ex opere operato powers that with baptizing a baby, the child is justified, saved, sanctified, forgiven (baptismal regeneration) – the combination of infant baptism, baptismal regeneration, ex opere operato priestly powers and the State Church Government, from 400s onward, with exceptions (why did Augustine not get baptized as an infant ?) – the reactions of the first Reformers in the Reformation was because they thought rejecting infant baptism would be disruptive to society and culture. The way governments recorded citizenship was at infant baptism dates and later, the record to get taxes.
Constantine used force against the Donatists in the 314-317 AD, even before Theodosius 1 declared Christianity the state religion around 381-392 AD.
Emperial Edict Against the Donatists In 317 Constantine issued a severe edict against the Donatists: the death penalty would be imposed on anyone who disturbs the peace. A later decree orders the confiscation of Donatist churches. Donatus refused to surrender church properties in Carthage into the hands of Caecilian. Caecilian then appealed to the local Roman authorities.
There is a lack of documentary evidence about what happens next, but it appears that extremists in the Donatist camps took to the streets in violent protests. On March 12, 317 armed forces move in to take Donatist church buildings by force; attacks were made on churches with Donatists defending them. Donatist writings claimed many were killed. While there are no other records, there have been other pieces of evidence that lend some credibility to these reports. It should also be pointed out that the violence only happened in Carthage – in the surrounding regions Donatist bishops were allowed to keep their buildings and their positions. (Frend, pp.159-160)
One of the pejorative names that the early era of Protestant Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, up until the Reformed Baptists came into being) called the Anabaptists was “Donatists!” According to some, they based their punishments on the Anabaptists on the earlier laws and traditions that went all the way back to the 300s and 400s against the Donatists. See the book, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, by Leonard Verduin.
For more Biblical and theological studies on the issue of Baptism:
John Piper’s chapter: Magnify the Meaning of Baptism, in the book, “Brothers, We are not professionals”
Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, by Paul Jewett
A String of Pearls Unstrung, by Fred Malone
The Debate between John MacArthur and R. C. Sproul on Baptism. (search for it on You Tube and you can find it, audio only.)
The 3-4 Debates of James White vs. Presbyterian friends. (Rev. Bill Shishko, 2 with Dr. Gregg Strawbridge (below is the second one), and one with Jeff Volker vs. Gary Johnson and Robert Strimple)
Addendum: I want to make it clear that I love my paedobaptists brothers and sisters in Christ! – Presbyterians (and other conservative Evangelical Protestants (Lutherans, Anglicans, conservative Methodists), who hold to inerrancy and the authority of Scripture) friends and the unity we have in the gospel and Christ. I am learning and benefitting from current conservative Lutherans like Dr. Jordan Cooper. I love Charles Wesley’s hymns, “And Can it Be?” (which is very Calvinistic at root), and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, “Christ the Lord has Risen Today”, and others.
I especially appreciate conservative Presbyterians and their scholarly tradition and excellent systematic theology, from Calvin, Knox and down the line to the great theologians like Jonathan Edwards, the Hodges, B. B. Warfield, John Murray, Louis Berkhof, J. Gresham Machen, and John Gertsner and R. C. Sproul, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Kevin DeYoung, John Frame, Ligon Duncan, etc. and Gregg Strawbridge is a personal friend of mine and we went to seminary together at Columbia International University in 1987-1988. (Gregg and I debated over infant baptism for several hours, several times (?), as I recall, after he was convinced and switched to the paedobaptist position. I love our unity in the gospel, as in the t4g group. www.t4g.org One of my favorite teachers to listen and learn from is R. C. Sproul, who passed away in Dec. of 2017. See Ligonier Ministries. and also “Renewing Your Mind”.
The Canon Question, 2. Canon Revisited, 3. Christianity at the Crossroads (About the Second Century), 4. The Heresy of Orthodoxy, with Andreas Kostenberger. I wish I had the time and money to get somekind of doctorate degree under him!
Another internet friend is James Swan, who runs the web-site, “Beggars All Reformation and Apologetics”, and James was very kind to invite me to write at his blog and many of my older articles are there. I have not been able to have much time to write in recent years, but still value our friendship. Also, the late Steve Hays and others like John Bugay, of Triablogue are other Presbyterians who have meant a lot to me. I hope I have not left anyone out!
So, just to say that this is a secondary issue in comparison to the gospel message of salvation and justification by grace alone through faith alone, but it is important when speaking of discipleship (baptism into a local church membership) and local church authority and church membership. I am grateful for the Protestant Reformation and the freedom from a State Church government and the penalties of being a Baptist.
I want to thank Allan Ruhl for having me on his You Tube channel. The sound quality was not good at times, but hopefully, Lord willing, we can do more of these in the future.
Basically, I mentioned the major Dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church that Protestants disagree with, and that they are “de fide” (of the faith) = required to believe by Roman Catholics in order to be saved. I said these are additions and corruptions to the Biblical gospel message.
I forgot to mention another statement by Pope Boniface VIII, in 1302, in the official document, Unam Sanctum, which is an ex-cathedra statement by a Pope (as defined by the 1870 dogma of Papal Infallibility), and one of the most arrogant claims I have ever read and completely contradicts every thing in the New Testament Scriptures:
“Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Pope Boniface VIII, 1302, Unam Sanctum
What a contradiction to the Gospel of John, the book of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians 3:9; Acts, and 1 Peter and Hebrews, and really, the entire NT!
These Dogmas and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church are additions and corruptions to the faith:
553 AD – the dogma of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary
1215 – the dogma of Transubstantiation
1545-1563 – The Council of Trent. All the Canons of the Council of Trent that anathematized Protestants:
Anathematizing the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone.
Whoever rejects Transubstantiation is Anathema. (eternally condemned – Galatians 1:6-9)
Whoever rejects Purgatory is Anathema.
Whoever rejects Indulgences is Anathema.
Whoever rejects that the Lord’s Supper is a real sacrifice is Anathema.
Whoever says that oral traditions (that the RCC brings out centuries later and claims they are apostolic) are not part of God’s word is Anathema. (Council of Trent rejects Sola Scriptura)
Whoever rejects the Apocrypha books as God-breathed / inspired / canonical – is Anathema.
Only the Roman Catholic Church has authority to interpret the Scriptures.
There are 7 sacraments, not only 2. 5 of them relate to salvation. 1 is for married couples (marriage as a sacrament) and 1 is for clergy (ordination to the priesthood). The other five are stages of the process of salvation until death.
baptism – usually as a baby
2. confirmation – at age 12
3. Confession to a priest and penance
4. Eucharist / Transubstantiation
5. Last rites – before death
1854 – the Immaculate Conception of Mary
1870 – the Infallibility of the Pope
1950 – the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven
These are all additions to the faith and contradict the gospel.
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
So, Allan asked me about Purgatory and I gave him evidence of how one early church father understood 1 Corinthians 3:15 – “. . . he shall be saved, yet so as through fire”
Chrysostom’s comments contradict what most Roman Catholic apologists say as they attempt to muster evidence for Purgatory. Chrysostom’s view was certainly different than Augustines and other western fathers after him, like Gregory 1, bishop of Rome from 590-604 AD.
Chrysostom’s comments on 1 Corinthians 3:15 – Homily IX
In Homily 9:5-6 (very end of 5 into 6) on 1 Corinthians:
And his meaning is, “He himself shall not perish in the same way as his works, passing into nought, but he shall abide in the fire. “He calleth it, however, “Salvation,” you will say; why, that is the cause of his adding, “so as by fire:” since we also used to say, “It is preserved in the fire,” when we speak of those substances which do not immediately burn up and become ashes. For do not at sound of the word fire imagine that those who are burning pass into annihilation. And though he call such punishment Salvation, be not astonished. For his custom is in things which have an ill sound to use fair expressions, and in good things the contrary. For example, the word “Captivity” seems to be the name of an evil thing, but Paul has applied it in a good sense, when he says, “Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. x. 5.) And again, to an evil thing he hath applied a good word, saying, “Sin reigned,” (Rom. v. 21.) here surely the term “reigning” is rather of auspicious sound. And so here in saying, “he shall be saved,” he hath but darkly hinted at the intensity of the penalty: as if he had said, “But himself shall remain forever in punishment.”
John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople (died 407 AD)
This idea is confirmed by a Greek / Eastern Orthodox website:
An Eastern Orthodox official website that explains Chyrsostom’s comment further:
“In explanation of the Apostle’s words, they quoted the commentary of S. John Chrysostom, who, using the word fire, gives it the meaning of an eternal, and not temporary, purgatorial fire; explains the words wood, hay, stubble, in the sense of bad deeds, as food for the eternal fire; the word day, as meaning the day of the last judgment; and the words saved yet so as by fire, as meaning the preservation and continuance of the sinner’s existence while suffering punishment. Keeping to this explanation, they reject the other explanation given by S. Augustine, founded on the words shall be saved, which he understood in the sense of bliss, and consequently gave quite another meaning to all this quotation. “It is very right to suppose,” wrote the Orthodox teachers, “that the Greeks should understand Greek words better than foreigners. Consequently, if we cannot prove that any one of those saints, who spoke the Greek language, explains the Apostle’s words, written in Greek, in a sense different to that given by the blessed John, then surely we must agree with the majority of these Church celebrities.” The expressions sothenai, sozesthai, and soteria, used by heathen writers, mean in our language continuance, existence (diamenein, einai.) The very idea of the Apostle’s words shows this. As fire naturally destroys, whereas those who are doomed to eternal fire are not destroyed, the Apostle says that they continue in fire, preserving and continuing their existence, though at the same time they are being burned by fire. To prove the truth of such an explanation of these words by the Apostle, (ver. 11, 15,) they make the following remarks: The Apostle divides all that is built upon the proposed foundation into two parts, never even hinting of any third, middle part. By gold, silver, stones, he means virtues; by hay, wood, stubble, that which is contrary to virtue, i. e., bad works. “Your doctrine,” they continued to tell the Latins, “would perhaps have had some foundation if he (the Apostle) had divided bad works into two kinds, and bad said that one kind is purified by God, and the other worthy of eternal punishment. But he made no such division; simply naming the works entitling man to eternal bliss, i.e., virtues, and those meriting eternal punishment, i.e., sins. After which he says, ‘Every man’s work shall be made manifest,’ and shows when this will happen, pointing to that last day, when God will render unto all according to their merits: ‘For the day,’ he says, ‘shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire.’ Evidently, this is the day of the second coming of Christ, the coming age, the day so called in a particular sense, or as opposed to the present life, which is but night. This is the day when He will come in glory, and a fiery stream shall precede Him. (Dan. vii. 10; Ps. 1. 3; xcvii. 3; 2 S. Pet. iii. 12, 15.) All this shows us that S. Paul speaks here of the last day, and of the eternal fire prepared for sinners. ‘This fire,’ says he, ‘shall try every man’s work of what sort it is,’ enlightening some works, and burning others with the workers. But when the evil deed will be destroyed by fire, the evil doers will not be destroyed also, but will continue their existence in the fire, and suffer eternally.”
A commenter who goes by Settler’s Lament wrote in the comment box at You Tube:
I really appreciate the conversation Ken Temple had here so I hope this doesn’t come across as hostile but his assertion that Catholics since the Middle Ages always believed that Purgatory was strictly literal and involved physical fire and this was changed by Vatican II and modern Catholics is simply untrue. The Catholic Encyclopedia 1917 says on Purgatory: “[T]here is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful” (Denzinger, “Enchiridon”, 983). Further than this the definitions of the Church do not go,” The decree here from Trent is notably much broader then the strict literal and physical view. Pretty much all it says is that purgatory exists and the works of the faithful help the souls in it. And, as the Catholic Encyclopedia says from 50 years before Vatican II, the “further than this the definitions of the Church do not go.” Summa Theologica (though this section was not written by Saint Thomas IIRC) also deals with the question of if the fire of purgatory is literal and the answer it comes to is ‘we don’t know.’ The Council of Florence also intentionally excluded any mention of literal fire from its definition on purgatory. This is actually in part due to Mark of Ephesus, who is often falsely claimed to have denied purgatory but, he actually affirmed it, his issue again was with the literal fire which is what he did deny. The Eastern Orthodox Synod of Jerusalem (1672) also affirmed Purgatory in a way which is entirely consistent with the above quoted dogmatic definition of the Catholic Church. I am not claiming that the literal view wasn’t more popular in the past and less popular now. That is true but, that view was never dogmatized and even at its height it was hardly the only view among Catholics.
Thanks Settler’s Lament! No, it does not come across as hostile at all. Thanks for educating us on more of the minute details. I want to be accurate, so I appreciate your pointing these things out. I guess the bigger issue I was trying to communicate is that the doctrine of Purgatory along with time in purgatory and years, decades, centuries, along with all the money raised for building St. Peter’s Cathedral, And ALONG with Indulgences to get less time in purgatory, all of this, with the treasury of merit and prayers to Mary and the saints, etc. was taught for centuries – from the time of the Crusades (1095-1299) all the way to Luther’s protest (1517 & forward). Allan Ruhl admitted to me that Cardinal Robert Bellarmine taught and believed that people’s time in purgatory could be very long; was a long time, even sometimes centuries in Purgatory. If the RCC taught for centuries that some do spend centuries in purgatory doing “satis passio” (suffering of atonement), what is the nature of that purging ? I was not saying the literal fire was changed after Vatican 2; I was trying to communicate that there is lots of time, decades, centuries in purgatory and along with indulgences, time can get lessened in purgatory; and that Post Vatican 2 Theology and modern RC apologetics (Jimmy Akin, Tim Staples, others) seem to say “it is just a final rush of cleansing after death before being allowed to enter into heaven” (could be just a few seconds, ? ) This is the change I was trying to communicate. my point was that for centuries the regular RCs were taught that Purgatory was suffering (and even today Satis Passio = “suffering of atonement” or – “suffering that satisfies” that one has to do himself/ herself) and indulgences still exist today in RC Dogma. The only thing that was reformed was Tetzel’s (and others) crass selling of the written certificate for money. (“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs”) Satis passio is still in the dogma today and that is a massive contradiction to Hebrews chapters 7, 8, 9 , Hebrews 10:10-14 – the once for all atonement and sacrifice for sins. For more details on a Protestant assessment of this, see chapter 12, The Roman Catholic Controversy, James White, pp.181-196) Also google his debates vs. 1. RC father Peter Stravinskas, and vs.2. Tim Staples (twice) and also vs. 3. Robert Sungenis and also on 4. Indulgences, vs. Peter Williams. (that one really combines the issues well) Mark of Ephesus Did deny purgatory – “On the errors of the Latins” ( 4 sermons) (according to archpriest Josiah Trenham (see Rock and Sand parts 1-2, and his book by the same title, and “An Orthodox Perspective of Roman Catholicism” ( 3 videos on You Tube – maybe in other videos also; here is a link to one of them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6zXs_cUSjQ As I recall, from memory, father Trenham and others said the EO later did agree with Purgatory for a while, but then later changed that. The EO don’t have infallibility doctrine, so they can admit when they get something wrong. (smile) even with the reforms and the modern emphasis that is so different than what was taught for centuries, it is still, in the opinion of most historic Evangelical Protestant Faith, a monstrous doctrine and dogma, that contradicts the promises of eternal life in the gospel of grace.
We talked about other things, such as Simeon Stylites (390-459 AD), who is famous for living on top of a pillar for 37 years. His disciples had to bring him some food and water, just to keep living, and he had to use a bucket to urinate and defecate and send the bucket down by a rope. I maintain that this man was mentally ill and a nut and violated Colossians 2:20-23 and the book of Galatians. “Monkery” was clearly not Biblical, as Martin Luther finally realized. Why would anyone go to the lengths that Simeon Stylites went to, if he was not trying to earn God’s favor or love or earn his salvation?
A first, before he started to live on a pillar, he was a monk in a communal monestery with other monks. His bed was full of worms because of his austere asceticism. Apparently, he never took a bath or washed his clothes; and a rope he wore around his clothing grew into his skin and worms also grew in his sores. He stank terribly and was expelled from the monastery because the other monks could not handle the stench. That is when he began to live up on a pillar.
There were worms eating on the putrefied flesh of the saint’s thigh – and it is recorded that Simeon said to the worms: “Eat from what the Lord has given you.” (The Lives of Simeon Stylites, Translated and with Introduction, by Robert Doran, p. 44, 64, 94)
Not only is what he did a violation of the book of Galatians, but also it is a clear violation of Colossians 2:20-23:
20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
A commenter named Antonio wrote:
Ken comes across as a earnest christian however there’s at least a couple of points where reformers coherence fails- 1. If as Ken said, the christology of the Church in the third, fourth fifth centuries was spot on that means that the Holy Spirit was indeed guiding the Church (e.g. 1Jn4:2) how is it possible then that the Church, during that same time, got everyone else wrong, starting with the canon of Scriptures (when even protestant accept the determination of the NT canon). 2. If Jesus promised the “gates of hell shall never prevail”, how is it possible that doctrines shared by the universal Church east, west, north south, since early the Church on sacraments, the eucharist, intercession of the saints and the BV Mary, apostolic succession and priesthood etc be wrong for centuries until the supposed enlightenment of a german monk. PS: the word “represent” or “symbol” are an addition to the words of Jesus referring to the eucharist which He would have used if He wanted to say just that
The NT canon – the early church got that right; and the Deity of Christ and the Trinity; and many things; not “every thing else”. Disagreement with “sacramental” stuff does not constitute total apostasy and does not make Jesus’ promise in Matthew 16:18 fail. “the gates of hades” = death, the second death, meaning true believers persevere. It does not mean local churches cannot fail and go apostate or liberal or be conquered. (Islam conquered much of Byzantine Empire and many churches disappeared from history) , liberal theology in modern last 200 years -those denominations that think LGBTQ is not sin are apostate and gone) Athanasius said, “they (the Arian heretics) have the buildings, but you/we have the faith” (a fragment, Festal Letter 29) true apostolic succession is the passing down of sound doctrine of the apostles, not an office of presbyter-bishop. Jesus was in His incarnational body when He said the words (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; I Cor. 11), so the disciples at the historical event of the Last supper, could not have eaten His flesh or drank His blood. No transubstantiation. spiritual presence IS real presence. Eucharist is a wonderful word, meaning “thanksgiving” – we thank the Lord and remember His once for all atonement for sin. (after examining our hearts and life and confession of sins)
churches that deny Deity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the resurrection, inspiration & infallibility of Scripture, the reality of eternal hell; and say that LGBTQ is not sin – they are apostate and not Christian at all. They have buildings, but do not have “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” Jude 3. the apostle Paul rebuked the Galatian churches harshly: I am amazed that have so quickly deserted Him who called you . . . Galatians 1:6, and read to verse 9. the churches in Rev. 2-3 were conquered by Islam and their lamp stands were taken away, but the last verse of each section to each church says, “the one who” (perseveres, conquers, etc.- those individuals are the ones who show themselves to be true believers and the gates of hades / the second death has no power over them, which is what Jesus meant in Matthew 16:18 “the second death has no power over them” see Revelation 2:11; Rev. 20:6; 20:14; 21:8 “Death and hades were thrown into the lake of fire; this is the second death, the lake of fire” – Rev. 20:14
Can physical matter (water, bread, relics, icons, statues, rituals, pilgrimages) cause regeneration or increase in sanctifying grace to come into our souls?
My comments here are responses to Jay Dyer’s Response to Vocab Malone’s criticism of Eastern Orthodoxy and Chrismation. (see the 3 videos later in post). I agree with Vocab’s views overall, except I do sincerely think he made 2 overall mistakes in his critique. (see below) Vocab has a winsome demeanor and I benefitted from his programs on James White’s Alpha and Omega / Dividing Line in 2016 (several shows) about the cultic groups, the “Black Hebrew Israelites”.
Before commenting on the issue of the subject of this post, the EO principle that “Jesus’ incarnation sanctified physical matter”, let me say that there are 2 overall things that Jay Dyer said that is right and where Vocab Malone was wrong on. (Though I agree with Vocab Malone’s Reformed Theology and that it is Biblical and EO is not Biblical where it disagrees with Protestant Reformed Faith. I will confess that I am trying to study and understand the theological background of the Filoque clause and theology of it – it is very challenging to think through; and understand why the EO makes such a big deal about it; even beyond the fact that it seemed wrong for the western Latin church to add it to the creed without at least having consultations and meetings with the eastern bishops and provinces.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, in the videos that Vocab Malone was critiquing, has every right to condemn all other churches and doctrines if they want to in their baptismal and chrismation services. Dyer was right to point out that Vocab Malone seemed to imply that “it was mean” of the EO to require renouncing doctrines that they consider wrong.
Jay Dyer was right, from the Eastern Orthodox perspective, on what the issues concerning the Filoque (“and the Son”) clause (that was added to the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed in the west in the 500s AD) means – the issue is about the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity, before time, before creation; it is not about the relational aspects of the Holy Spirit with the Son and the Father in history, or in redemption, or the “economic Trinity” (economia – how the persons interact in history – for example, The Father sent the Son into the world in history, the incarnation; The Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit to believers at Pentecost. (John 14, 16, Acts 2:33-36) Vocab was confusing the historical relations vs. the eternal relations in the essence of the Trinity in eternity past. The difficulty is that the only way we know about the “persons” / hypostasis theology in eternity past, is from the Biblical statements of the economic Trinity in relations in history and time – the Father sends the Son into the world, the Spirit sanctifies, guides, inspires prophets and apostles. The Father and the Son send the Spirit into believers at Pentecost and convert the soul at the point of conversion. John 16:7; Acts 2:33-36 – Jesus ascends to heaven and receives the Spirit from the Father and then the Spirit is poured out on the church in history. This is a good basic article of the Filoque clause theology at Triablogue, by the late Steve Hays.
But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.
Theologians use the term “ economic” (translated in NT as: plan, stewardship, management, administration, from “household management”, etc.) to explain “relations of the persons of the Trinity to creation” or “relations of the persons to the plan of salvation”, or how God interacts between the persons of the Trinity in time, as opposed to the eternal Ontological Trinity within God in eternity past.
Because the only way we know about and have come to believe and begin to understand by faith the Trinity, and the 3 persons in eternity pasts, is because of God entering into Time in the incarnation of the Son (John 1, Philippians 2; Hebrews 1, Colossians 1) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (John 14-16; Acts 2) (both time and relational events) – it is because of the economic Trinity that we understand the ontological Trinity (the three persons in eternity past.) Because the term “person” or “hupostasis” / ‘υποστασις is not specifically used in the NT (Muslims and JWs and other Unitarians object to this terminology) for the persons of the Trinity (But it is used to express “nature”, “substance”, “essence”, as in Hebrews 1:3. (Christ is the exact representation of the Father’s nature) – The way I explain the term of “hupostasis” ‘υποστασις (person /persons) of the Trinity is by the Scriptural data of phrases like, “The Father loves the Son”, “the Father sends the Son”, “the Son sends the Spirit”, “The Spirit intercedes with groans too deep for words”, “to lie to the Holy Spirit”, “the love of the Spirit”, “the fellowship of the Spirit”, “you have lied to God; you have lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-5); etc. These are relational and person terms that are the Scriptural data behind the theology of hupostasis / persona and what Tertullian and the Cappodocian fathers and Augustine and others recognized.
We sometimes get hung up on why theology uses the word “economic” rather than just saying it as “the relations of the persons of the Trinity in time to the plan of salvation”. Theologians chose that word “economia” because of the meaning of the word, “plan”, management, strategy, administration, etc. in “the plan of salvation” or “the plan of redemption”, and it is in history and time.
These questions come up a lot as I teach Iranian Christians who are former Muslims, as they are learning more and more about the Trinity and church history and historical theology.
I have 8 + pages of front and back notes that I took from Jay Dyer’s response. Eventually, Lord willing, I want to comment on more, and work through the whole video of Jay Dyer and EO deacon Ananias, but for now, I just want focus on the EO concept of “Christ’s incarnation sanctifies matter”.
All of that was preliminary before my main topic of this post!
In the first video (Jay Dyer’s response), At the beginning, after Vocab Malone criticized Eastern Orthodoxy for its view of baptismal regeneration and take on John 3:5; Jay Dyer responded and said, “When Christ became incarnate He sanctified matter, as the fathers say, so He empowered matter to have the uncreated energies to be able to effect what they signify” (around the 6 minute mark) – Where is this in the fathers? Apparently that is a phrase from John of Damascus (675-749 AD), who was the first to write a full response on the defense of icons.
I am not talking about the earlier church statements about “theosis” (especially, Irenaeus, Athanasius) – which from a Biblical understanding, is the process of sanctification, holiness, perseverance, being confirmed to the image of Christ, & glorification in heaven, since Protestant theology understands those Scriptural concepts, but expresses what Irenaeus and Athanasius meant in different words (partakers of the Divine nature – 2 Peter 1:4; being conformed to the image of Christ – Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:18 (being changed from one degree of glory to another, as we look to Christ), and glorified in heaven – Romans 8:30-31; Philippians 3:20-21, John 17; Rev. 21-22) but is it really true “Christ’s incarnation sanctified all matter”? Did Christ sanctify all physical matter? Does the incarnation empower water to cleanse the soul and bread to become the flesh of Christ and relics and graves of saints to give off sanctifying energy to believers? Does Christ’s incarnation give power for a physical icon to give off sanctifying energy to you as you stare at it for hours?
And furthermore, where is this concept in Scripture?
Where does Scripture say that water can cleanse the soul and that bread and wine physically become the flesh of Jesus and blood of Jesus (and as Roman Catholics believe, we are to worship those consecrated elements), or that kissing an icon, or staring at it for hours and praying to the saint in heaven gives grace or visiting a grave or touching relics gives grace?
God uses suffering and the trials and tribulations of this life to conform us to Christ and build character in us (Romans 5:3-5) and to cause us to persevere (James 1:2-5), and God uses Scripture, prayer, church, other believers, but where does it say that physical matter can give us grace or cause regeneration?
Jay Dyer’s comment about paper and ink and sounds in the airwaves are somehow the same thing – giving grace to Evangelicals – That was kind of silly to say that the Protestant view of grace and sanctification coming through truth communicated to the mind – that somehow we believe paper and ink and sounds of words (when preaching and teaching) cause grace. The Scriptures emphasize hearing truth, hearing it with the ear and then in the mind, but even more in the soul / spirit (“the eyes of your heart” – Ephesians 1:18; “he who has ears to hear, let him hear”); wisdom, thinking, learning, meditation, teaching, apologetics, prayer, surrender, etc. – God uses the preached word as we hear (Romans 10:13-15) and the written word as we read, study, think, meditate, apply and obey. The Holy Spirit uses the truths in our minds to enter into our souls. “renew your mind” (Romans 12:1-2), “be renewed in the Spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:22-24); “meditate in the law of God day and night (Psalm 1), the law of God and word of God are my meditation all the day (Psalm 119), etc.
“Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven”. Jesus to Peter, see Matthew 16:13-18
Where is the principle that physical matter can cause grace or sanctification or regeneration?
It seems to me to be a massive jump from the incarnation of Christ – God the eternal Son became a man, which Protestants agree with (John 1:1-5 and 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), to “Christ sanctifies physical matter” (bread, wine, water, relics, icons, incense, candles, graves of dead saints, etc.) Water is a creation blessing in Genesis 1:2; it does not seem to have a connection to baptismal waters also, even though Tertullian (and others later) did make that connection.
Physical matter is already good within itself, as a creation blessing – the body, food, air, water, sex (only within covenant of marriage), marriage, sleep, rest, trees, plants, etc. (Genesis 1-2; 1 Timothy 4) It is a jump to understand rightly that the body and bread and wine and water as good within themselves, per se; but then to say that when a priest performs a ritual service of water baptism or Eucharist service with bread and wine, that those physical elements actually cause grace or salvation or regeneration to come into the soul.
Jay Dyre dismissed the Calvinistic concept that the Holy Spirit does a secret work of regeneration before water baptism – yet, that is exactly what John 3:8-10, and the entire NT teaches! (in the context of John 3:1-7 & 8-10 – the Spirit’s work is mysterious, unseen (verse 8 – like the wind, it is invisible and “you don’t know where He comes from”) and sovereign (“He blows where He wishes”!) The fact that Jesus expects Nicodemus to understand His point demonstrates that Jesus is referring to Ezekiel 36:25-27 and the return from exile (see verse 24 and also Ezekiel chapter 37) and the spiritual cleansing that God will do in the hearts of His people in causing them to repent of idolatry. 1 Thessalonians 1:9 also demonstrates this – “how you turned from idols to serve the living and true God”. The teaching of the NT that we are slaves to sin (John 8:34), dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3) and unable to choose Christ (John 6:44, 65; John 8:43; 47) unless God grants repentance demonstrates this. (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 2 Corinthians 4:6) God has to open the heart on the inside when a person hears the gospel, in order to respond in repentance and faith. (Acts 16:14 – “The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to respond to the things Paul was preaching”) Jesus kept saying to the Pharisees that they were unable to understand because they were not “of God” and could not hear / understand. (John 8:43, 47) – because they were slaves of sin – John 8:34. (see context of John 8:31-36) Only the Son can set us free from bondage to sin. (John 8:36; Romans 6:6-22)
Acts 15:8-9 – “cleansing their hearts by faith” would seem to contradict the EO and RC understanding of baptismal regeneration, as does 1 Peter 3:21 – “not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience”. (Jay skipped that phrase) He quoted the first phrase of this verse, “corresponding to that, baptism now saves you . . . “; which if a person hears just that, and does not read the context and the rest of the verse, it will lead to bad interpretations.
Jay quoted Acts 2:38 and Titus 3:5 to bolster his position on baptismal regeneration. See the side bar category of “baptismal regeneration” of this blog, for many articles on how to properly understand those 2 verses and others that are usually used. See also my article, “External Forms of true religion can be abused”.
There is a lot more to comment on, but this should do for now, as it is getting too big of a post. I encourage everyone to watch and listen to all three videos. I hope to comment on more of this later, Lord willing. See Vocab Malone’s critique of Eastern Orthodoxy here in 2 videos: I listened once and pretty much agreed with Vocab Malone on his critique, except for the first 2 points (above at beginning) where I think Dyer was right. The bottom video about a Calvinistic Patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril Lucaris, 1572-1638 is very interesting. I had heard of this man before and also want to comment more on that later, as time allows.
I found this at an Eastern Orthodox website: (the Orthodox Church in America)
We celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy, but it needs to be a real celebration of the integrity of the Gospel message. The triumph over iconoclasm has an essential point of faith: by His Incarnation, Jesus Christ sanctified matter. We can paint a picture of God Incarnate, and experience His Presence in and through venerating the icon. We can partake of His life by eating the bread and wine of His Body and Blood; we are immersed into His life in Baptism, anointed with the Holy Spirit in Chrismation, and made part of His Body. The world itself, matter, is sanctified by Christ’s Coming, and becomes a means of communion with God. And we ourselves, in this body, in this life, here and now, are sanctified and made holy, partakers of the life of God. Salvation is about life here and now, not “fire insurance” for after death! In Christ, all things are made new. “For He has brought us up to heaven, and endowed us with His Kingdom which is to come.” This is Good News! (my embolding for emphasis)
When Protestants quote 1 Clement 32 to demonstrate “Sola Fide” in the early church, the Roman Catholic apologist answers back with 1 Clement 30.
But see the context!
When he says in I Clement 30, “being justified by works and not by words”, he is not teaching justification by the merit of good works as the Roman Catholic apologist claims, for that would also contradict what he wrote in paragraph 31, and 32 and 10, quoting Genesis 15:6
, that Abraham was justified by faith, and not good works. Rather, he is teaching the same thing that James taught in James chapter 2, verses 14-26, that good works are the result and vindicate and prove that someone has true faith. Just words are not enough that real faith is there. Real faith is living and active and results in good works. Here, Clement uses the meaning of “justify” as in Matthew 11:19
– in the sense of “prove” or “vindicate” or “show to be true”. The context makes it clear. At the beginning of I Clement 30, he writes, “Seeing then that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all the things that pertain to holiness, forsaking slander, disgusting and impure embraces, drunkenness and rioting, and detestable lusts, abominable adultery, detestable pride.” We are the portion of the Holy One, we have the reality; God’s grace has first changed us, by grace alone, through faith alone; therefore, we can now do good works. This is similar to Colossians 3:12
, “Since, as those who have been chosen, holy, beloved, put on a heart of compassion, patience, humility, . . . “ This is fully compatible with good protestant teaching, that calls for holiness from those who have made a profession of faith and claim to be believers.
Clement also has an early statement on justification by faith apart from good works wrought by us within us.
“All these, therefore, were highly honored, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
The same application of this video and my arguments can be made to Evangelicals who are tempted to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy or Oriental Orthodoxy or the Assyrian Church of the East.
This is an excellent analysis of how Roman Catholics use extreme skepticism and issues of unity and church history to work on sensitive Evangelical Protestants who are not grounded in the Word, the Scriptures, church history, and historical theology.
This guy who put this together ( “A Goy for Jesus”) is to be commended for sharp analysis.
What he describes in his video is what I was trying to get at years ago by what I write below. “A Goy for Jesus” analyzed it better, but below I repeat my musings from an earlier article I wrote at “Beggar’s All” years ago.
The video describes my friend Rod Bennett and his methods of trying to work his “Jedi Mind trick” on me for 8 years; and his book Four Witnesses and his struggles with doubt about church history, the canon, which interpretation, which church is right, etc. He went through the same kinds of doubts and hyper-skepticism that John Henry Cardinal Newman, Scott Hahn, Chesterton, Peter Kreeft, the Called to Communion folks led by Bryan Cross who puts philosophy and overwhelms people with intellectual formal logic and Latin and obfuscation. and pretty much all former Protestants who have crossed the Tiber and become Roman Catholic have gone through. In a way, this could be “Review of Rod Bennett’s book, Four Witnesses, Part 3”.
Though I don’t agree with some of what he writes at his blog, on this issue of Sola Scriptura and the canon and uncertainty, C. Michael Patton wrote an excellent article on Sola Scriptura and the Canon here a while back, with a classic picture of Bill Murray from the movie, “What about Bob?”
By the way, it turns out, in the movie, Bob had a better ethical and moral character and loveable personality than the character played by Richard Dreyfuss. (an arrogant narcissist) That is not the point about what C. Michael Patton makes. (see below)
This part of C. Michael Patton’s article was especially good in shooting down the typical Roman Catholic method of trying to sow doubt and confusion into the mind of sensitive Protestants who also enjoy church history, who take seriously the Biblical doctrine of the church and unity; and who take historical theology seriously.
“We have a term that we use for people who require infallible certainty about everything: “mentally ill.” Remember What About Bob? He was mentally ill because he made decisions based on the improbability factor. Because it was a possibility that something bad could happen to him if he stepped outside his house, he assumed it would happen. There are degrees of probability. We act according to degrees of probability. Simply because it is a possibility that the sun will not rise tomorrow does not mean that it is a probability that it won’t. C. Michael Patton
I am not saying that all Roman Catholics are mentally ill; but I am just agreeing that that kind of skepticism leads to such instability that it leads people astray from the truth, and it could possibly lead to mental illness. I hope sensitive people learn to cope with this world better and please don’t commit suicide!! If anyone sensitive and melancholy is reading this, realize the Bob character is better than the Dreyfuss character and get help and please don’t harm yourself!
The same argument can be made about uncertainty about the canon and interpretation of Scripture.
Just because there is a possibility that we are wrong (being fallible), does not mean that it is a probability. Therefore, we look to the evidence for the degree of probability concerning Scripture. The smoke screen of epistemological certainty that seems to be provided by having a living infallible authority (Magisterium) disappears when we realize that we all start with fallibility. No one would claim personal infallibility. Therefore it is possible for all of us to be wrong. We all have to start with personal fallible engagement in any issue. Therefore, any belief in an infallible living authority could be wrong. As Geisler and MacKenzie put it, “The supposed need for an infallible magisterium is an epistemically insufficient basis for rising above the level of probable knowledge. Catholic scholars admit, as they must, that they do not have infallible evidence that there is an infallible teaching magisterium. They have merely what even they believe to be only probable arguments. But if this is the case, then epistemically or apologetically there is no more than a probable basis for Catholics to believe that a supposedly infallible pronouncement [either about the canon or interpretation of the canon] of their church is true” (Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences, p. 216).” C. Michael Patton
Concerning the search for “feelings of Nostagia”, I wrote these comments, with some updated editing.
nostalgia – 1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past. 2. The condition of being homesick; homesickness.
Scott and Kimberly Hahn – “Rome, Sweet Home” – you can feel the emotional appeal and longing for nostalgia here.
Rod Bennett, author of Four Witnesses: the Early Church in Her Own Words (Ignatius Press, 2002) (who was one of my best friends for years; one of my groomsmen in my wedding; after 8 years of debate, after he informed me of his decision to convert to Rome; he told me he wanted to debate no more. We debated from 1996-2004 by email and phone and face to face in many 3 to 5 hour discussions/arguments/informal debate.)
Rod had this same longing for nostalgia – connection to history, old architecture, pilgrimages, grave sites; heroes of the past (martyrs, saints), wars of chivalry, knights, and rescuing princesses; and he also longed for unity and perfection and ultimate authority. (some of that is not bad, as long as we are balanced and come back to reality to today and let the Scriptures be our stabilizing comfort by the power of the Holy Spirit.)
He used John Henry Cardinal Newman and G. K. Chesterton types of arguments a lot. Interesting that the Roman Catholic author that John Bugay cited above in “A word about intellectual converts”, says, “Newman probably is the one who started that mess . . . “
Interesting that that cradle Roman Catholic that John Bugay cited looks at all the nostalgia and Newman methods as a negative thing; and he doesn’t sound too sure or positive about pope Pius IX.
But also, they seem to long for perfection here on earth – for example – the dissillusionment with pastors and churches and disunity in history and denominations comes from this root of longing for perfection here on earth, which is delusional.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we had a living voice, someone who could walk into the room and say “thus says the Lord” someone who could tell us what the right interpretation is and solve all the disunity problems in Protestant denominationalism?” Rod Bennett (this is basically what he would say to me, from memory of many talks with him over those 8 years.)
Tim Staples also reflects this “nostalgia” and said similar things about a living voice that can walk into the room and solve disunity problems, in his debates and discussions with James White on the Bible Answer Man program and in debates – he has the same nostalgia.Rod Bennett’s uncertainty about the right interpretation and disillusionment over disunity in Protestantism reminded me of what C. Micheal Patton wrote about the radical skepticism of doubting everything and obsession to know for sure, to require infallible certainty; and the illustration from the movie, “What About Bob?”, with Bill Murray. The picture of Bill Murray from the movie is worth a thousand words.
“We have a term that we use for people who require infallible certainty about everything: “mentally ill.” Remember What About Bob? He was mentally ill because he made decisions based on the improbability factor. Because it was a possibility that something bad could happen to him if he stepped outside his house, he assumed it would happen. There are degrees of probability. We act according to degrees of probability. Simply because it is a possibility that the sun will not rise tomorrow does not mean that it is a probability that it won’t.”
C. Michael Patton (see link above)
That seems to be the root issue for the RC apologetic – this “how do you know for sure?” questions. Peter Kreeft, as I recall, used the same kind of argument, when another friend of mine contacted him about doubts about church history, the canon, assurance, how to know the right interpretation, etc. with statements like, “What if the canon was not right?” “What if your interpretation is not right?”” How do you know for sure you have the right books or the right interpretation?””How do you know for sure you are in the right church?” It is all based on epistemology and the search for knowing for sure. Somehow, the pope and infallible church claim gives them comfort.It is a false assurance.
It is the nature of epistemology and “how do you know what you know?” that is the Roman Catholic apologetic tactic. The Roman Catholics, especially the former Protestant like the Called to Communion folks, are just using a very clever tool in their churches’ apologetic kit. It is what happened to Newman; it is Descartes methodology in RCC terminology and dressed up in Cardinal’s clothes, so to speak.
Notice Ephesians 3:12 – “in whom, we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.” The Bible gives us all the confidence we need:
“to write and orderly account for you . . . ” . . . so that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught”. Luke 1:1-4 ESV
NIV = “certainty”
NASB says “so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you have know you have eternal life.” I John 5:13
2 Peter 1:12-21 and 3:1 (read and meditate on these verses) also communicate from Peter himself, who according to the RC church is the first Pope, yet before he dies, he does not mention anything about the bishop or elders or church leadership and he does not say “ask them for assurance” or “trust in them for the right interpretation”, etc. – he leaves a letter so that the believers will have something to teach them and remind them of the truth and because he did write it down, he says, “therefore we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts . . .” (2 Peter 1:19)
Roman Catholics will say “you only have a “fair amount of certainty”.
I disagree. It is rather the highest amount of certainty that God expects from humans who will be reading His God-breathed Scriptures. There are many other passages – John 20:30-31“these have been written that you may know”. God never expects us humans to have “infallible certainty” in our feelings or souls, etc. That category of “infallibility” is not even within our subjective feelings and knowledge. Rather, we have reasonable and sufficient certainty by reading the Scriptures and by the power of the Holy Spirit communicating that assurance to us.
With the clear teaching of Scripture, I don’t understand the creation of another level of extra-certainty, which is superfluous of the whole infallible RC church/magisterium/pope/ etc. We have all the certainty that God requires.
And in fact, because of the mistakes and the errors and the false doctrines that have been added to the Scriptures (Marian dogmas, penance, treasury of merit, indulgences, purgatory, NT priests, Apocryphal books, prayers for the dead, alms giving and good works as required conditions for salvation; infant baptismal regeneration, transubstantiation and bowing down to the consecrated host of bread and wine; praying to statues and icons; having other mediators beyond the one mediator (contradiction to 1 Tim. 2:5) – these things actually take away confidence and assurance and certainty and create a trust in man-made traditions. So, the Roman Catholic “certainty” is not a certainty at all for me, even though it claims “infallible certainty”, it does not inspire a stronger certainty at all for me.
In Roman Catholic Apologetics, (and also Eastern Orthodoxy), in defending “Baptismal Regeneration”, a lot is made of Justin Martyr’s section on baptism in his First Apology, 61. My friend Rod Bennett made a lot of his argument on that in his and with me personally, debating him for about 8 years. (1996-2004) But see here for a different take on that.
“For Isaiah did not send you to a bath, there to wash away murder and other sins, which not even all the water of the sea were sufficient to purge; but, as might have been expected, this was that saving bath of the olden time which followed those who repented, and who no longer were purified by the blood of goats and of sheep, or by the ashes of an heifer, or by the offerings of fine flour, but by faith through the blood of Christ, and through His death, who died for this very reason, as Isaiah himself said, when he spake thus:
. . . bolding is my emphasis Then Justin quotes from Isaiah 52:10 all the way to 54:6, including all of Isaiah 53.
Then, after quoting from Isaiah 52, 53, and 54, he says in chapter 14 of Dialogue with Trypho:
“By reason, therefore, of this laver of repentance and knowledge of God, which has been ordained on account of the transgression of God’s people, as Isaiah cries, we have believed, and testify that that very baptism which he announced is alone able to purify those who have repented; and this is the water of life. But the cisterns which you have dug for yourselves are broken and profitless to you. For what is the use of that baptism which cleanses the flesh and body alone? Baptize the soul from wrath and from covetousness, from envy, and from hatred; and, lo! the body is pure. For this is the symbolic significance of unleavened bread, that you do not commit the old deeds of wicked leaven. But you have understood all things in a carnal sense, and you suppose it to be piety if you do such things, while your souls are filled with deceit, and, in short, with every wickedness. . . .
The section of Isaiah 52:10-54:6 that is in between the two sections which I have put above:
‘The Lord shall make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the nations and the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. Depart ye, depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, and touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her, be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, for ye go not with haste. For the Lord shall go before you; and the Lord, the God of Israel, shall gather you together. Behold, my servant shall deal prudently; and He shall be exalted, and be greatly glorified. As many were astonished at Thee, so Thy form and Thy glory shall be marred more than men. So shall many nations be astonished at Him, and the kings shall shut their mouths; for that which had not been told them concerning Him shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider. Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We have announced Him as a child before Him, as a root in a dry ground. He hath no form or comeliness, and when we saw Him He had no form or beauty; but His form is dishonoured, and fails more than the sons of men. He is a man in affliction, and acquainted with bearing sickness, because His face has been turned away; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. He bears our sins, and is distressed for us; and we esteemed Him to be in toil and in affliction, and in evil treatment. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. With His stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray. Every man has turned to his own way; and the Lord laid on Him our iniquities, and by reason of His oppression He opens not His mouth. He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before her shearer is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth. In His humiliation His judgment was taken away. And who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth. Because of the transgressions of my people He came unto death. And I will give the wicked for His grave, and the rich for His death, because He committed no iniquity, and deceit was not found in His mouth. And the Lord wills to purify Him from affliction. If he has been given for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed. And the Lord wills to take His soul away from trouble, to show Him light, and to form Him in understanding, to justify the righteous One who serves many well. And He shall bear our sins; therefore He shall inherit many, and shall divide the spoil of the strong, because His soul was delivered to death; and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bare the sins of many, and was delivered for their transgression. Sing, O barren, who bearest not; break forth and cry aloud, thou who dost not travail in pain: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife. For the Lord said, Enlarge the place of thy tent and of thy curtains; fix them, spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; stretch forth to thy right and thy left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and thou shalt make the desolate cities to be inherited. Fear not because thou art ashamed, neither be thou confounded because thou hast been reproached; for thou shalt forget everlasting shame, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood, because the Lord has made a name for Himself, and He who has redeemed thee shall be called through the whole earth the God of Israel. The Lord has called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, as a woman hated from her youth.’
Isaiah 52:10 to 54:6, as quoted by Justin Martyr, around 150 AD.
The emphasis of Justin Martyr seems to agree with 1 Peter 3:21, that it is the appeal to God for a good conscience (repentance and faith) that saves, not the water, and that baptism is an external picture and symbol of the internal reality of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13) Water baptism is a sign and seal of a person who truly repents and trusts Christ and the result is that they will want to be baptized in a local church in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (see Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Cor. 13:14; Romans 6:1-7) It is like good works – they are the necessary fruit and result of true faith, as in James 2:14-26. Water baptism is a result of regeneration, not the cause of it; because a truly converted person wants to follow Jesus in discipleship, obedience, and local church growth. A person who claims to be converted and has an attitude of “I will not be baptized” or “I don’t want to join a local church”; or “just me and my Bible” private attitude, these are indications that the conversion is not a real conversion.
“cleansing their hearts by faith” Peter in Acts 15:8-9 (the suppossed first “Pope”)
When there is true faith (Romans chapters 3-5; Galatians, the whole book), the person wants to follow the Lord in baptism in a Biblical local church. (Romans 6; Galatians 3:27)
Be sure to read my many other articles about Baptismal Regeneration (click on the side bar)
This was an excellent debate where James White explains and defends the doctrine of the Trinity vs. a Muslim named Jake Brancatella, who uses worldly human philosophy over God’s Revelation (the New Testament). God has revealed Himself in history through prophets and apostles and books, written Scriptures. When we say “revelation”, we are not talking about the book of Revelation only, but all of the 66 books of holy Scripture. The Doctrine of the Trinity is based on Scriptural teaching. See the category of “the doctrine of the Trinity” and the Deity of Christ in the side bar for more.
Jake’s argument is a contradiction to Islam, since the Qur’an affirms the previous Scriptures as revelation from God (Surah 5:47; 5:68; 10:94; 3:3), both the New Testament Gospel message and the Old Testamant, even though Muhammad and the early Muslims did not know the content of the true Injeel الانجیل (gospel in Arabic). See many other posts I have made about Islam, Muslims, the Word of God, and how the Qur’an actually unwittingly confirms the Bible. (see the categories in the side bar, especially the “Bible is not corrupted”)
It is clear that the Qur’an wrongly thought the Christians were saying the Trinity is “God, Jesus, and His mother Mary”. (Surah 5:116 and Surah 5:72-75 and also 6:101 and 112 and 19:88-92 – the Qur’an seems to think that the Christians taught that God had sex with Mary and pro-created Jesus, which is also wrong and a blasphemy and shows that the true Allah did not inspire the Qur’an, but the true God would have known about the doctrines of the Deity of Christ, the Sonship of Christ, the Trinity, etc.
Another important aspect of sharing the gospel with Muslims is usually, one does not start with the doctrine of the Trinity. James White did with Jake, as they both already talk about this doctrine on line and they are all over the internet. But when you meet a Muslim, the average Muslim does not study this issue deeply. But more and more, because of the internet, they are studying what Christians believe about the Trinity. A Muslim may ask you up front early, “What is the Trinity?” or “Why do you worship three gods?” or “Why do you call Jesus the Son of God?”
It is important to start with terms that a Muslim might understand, for example, the Qur’an does indeed call Jesus “the Word” of God, which reminds us of John 1:1 that Jesus is the eternal Word, the logos ( λογος ); even though they also deny His Deity and deny the incarnation. Even in a main verse that the Qur’an denies Jesus is God and denies the Trinity (Surah 4:171), it also affirms that Jesus is “the word” or “His Word” کلمه (Word کلمت in Arabic, Kalimeh or Kalamat الكلمة, or Kalameh (Farsi) in Surah 4:171.
John 1:1 in Arabic:
في البدء كان الكلمة والكلمة كان عند الله وكان الكلمة الله.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:1 in Farsi:
از ازل کلمه بود، کلمه با خدا بود و کلمه خود خدا بود.
This verse in the Qur’an (Surah 4:171) also says that Jesus is “a spirit” from Him (from God). It is saying that Jesus’ essence is Spirit. These are 2 things you can start with in by mentioning (calling Jesus “the Word” and “a Spirit from God”, in your friendship with a Muslim and then have them read John 1:1-5 and 1:14 in their own language. Then you can go from there as the conversation will take you into deeper details.
O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion1 or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.
Surah 4:171 in the Saheeh International English translation (translating Ruh روح as “soul” is not exact. The next 2 English translations are more precise on this:
O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease! (it is) better for you! – Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.
O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.