25 March 2009

Establish Elders [1]

by Frank Turk

Before we get kicked off here today, I'm engaging Stuart Wood on the topic of limited atonement at the D-Blog. I promised him I would link here at TeamPyro to that exchange, and there you go.

Phil: Stuart is very concerned that you yourself read that exchange. Please take note.

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you - if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
I had one thing I was going to write about today as we take baby steps in Titus, but given Dan's post yesterday, I'm going to go a different direction today for one purpose only: to eliminate any free time any of you have for the next 24 hours.

See: Dan popped open the Catholic Apologetics can of worms, and in God's sovereignty it turns out that we have a very interesting statement here from Paul who, we would all agree, was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as he wrote to Titus.

And it turns out that Paul told Titus to "appoint elders in every town as I directed you".

One of the things I find striking here is that Paul did not instruct Titus to establish priests is every town in order to set things right -- Paul told him to appoint or establish "πρεσβυτέρους" in every town.

Now, you can interpret that word a lot of ways, but let me suggest something to you: it is a lot more than a stretch to interpret that word to mean, “infallible interpreter of the word”. And here’s why I say that – Paul is here warning Titus to establish elders who are inherently trustworthy, not in whom will be invested some supernatural funny hat which makes them unquestionable and inherently unable to err.

And notice further: that if we roll through Paul’s instruction to Titus, it is required of the elder to “hold firm to the word as taught”, not invested in him – meaning he has an obligation to conform to the apostolic teaching – and not that the elder has the authority or reshape or reinterpret the word as he sees fit.

Now, here’s the Catholic rebuttal to this statement:

That’s a misrepresentation of the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the magisterium, because of course no individual priest is infallible in and of himself. He is tasked with holding true to the doctrines as-taught and promulgated by the Pope and the Bishops. So in actuality, we would agree with you that this passage calls for the local priest to be a trustworthy man.

But here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church actually says, right in the prologue, paragraph 9:
The ministry of catechesis draws ever fresh energy from the councils. The Council of Trent is a noteworthy example of this. It gave catechesis priority in its constitutions and decrees. It lies at the origin of the Roman Catechism, which is also known by the name of that council and which is a work of the first rank as a summary of Christian teaching. . . ." The Council of Trent initiated a remarkable organization of the Church's catechesis. Thanks to the work of holy bishops and theologians such as St. Peter Canisius, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo or St. Robert Bellarmine, it occasioned the publication of numerous catechisms.
That the current CCC thinks so highly of Trent also ought to give anyone reading this little post a wake-up call to those who think that Trent is a sort of historical artifact. But my point is not really that your local priest is an unreliable man – he is probably as reliable as the average non-Catholic preacher in any local congregation of about the same size as the parish of the priest we are comparing to. Which, you know, whatever. That’s really a meta-objective of this series – to convict guys like that of what they need to get after for Christ’s sake.

My point is actually that Paul wasn’t building an organ of infallible transmission in calling Titus to call trustworthy men: he was instructing Titus to establish elders who would be a hedge against the natural tendency of men to corrupt the teaching of God’s word.

Paul doesn’t give Titus the authority to “draw fresh energy” into what was taught to him, nor does he really advise that the elders do such a thing, either. Paul thinks that elders have a duty not to innovate the word, but to remain faithful to it. That’s a far cry from what actually happens in the Catholic Magisterium – and you have to admit that if the bishops and priests of Catholicism are the true children of the common faith between Paul and Titus, they ought to be doing at least the basics of what Paul here instructed Titus to make sure that they do.


FX Turk said...

I can admit that my primary purpose in posting this one today was to use that Nun graphic which Phil invented.


Gary said...

Great post!

I think, however, that the magesterium-killer for me isn't any one particular text, but the clear testimony of Scripture across the entire bible. Scripture over and over and over screams, "These are the Words of God; Heed the Words of God." You can hardly point to a passage that doesn't say this in some way. But there are very few passages that could even remotely be construed as "These are the Words of God; Heed the Words of the Magesterium."

Psalm 119 and countless other texts make no sense if I can only understand God's Word through a magesterium.

FX Turk said...

Gary -- I think you're right, but only because Scripture doesn't just ignore the question of infallible men: it chips away at it in almost every single chapter and every single book.

But greater still is the question of where salvation comes from, and how it comes to men. That's a far more important question -- it's just not the question we are kicking around here at TeamPyro today.

Sir Brass said...

Love the nun-graphic, Phil!

And what a great use it was, Frank. Excellent post and excellent point well made.

And also, another point your devout RC Patrick Madrid or Steve Ray or Tim Staples would make is exactly that your local evangelical pastor is about as reliable as your local RC priest, and that inherent unreliablility is why there are 30,000+ denominations.

Not that I believe that crock (about the 30k+ denominations.....it's patently false) or that stretch, but it is one of their arguments.

Anonymous said...

Great graphic! Mother Angelica would have worked too.

For an example of Stuart's positions see this comment and beyond.

Be glad you have word limits. :-)

Frank, I remember going over this passage with Catlicks over at C**M. It's a good post, but you're just a Babdist.


Kimberly said...

Hi Frank,

Thanks for putting some information on yesterday's meta about what the catechism does say. I have no clue and I was waiting for someone to educate me about my inaccuracies. I guess I expected it to be someone who actually practices practices these things.

Also, love the nun pic.

Kimberly said...

oops. That should have been just one practice.

Brad said...

Nice deconstruction, Frank.

DJP said...

Really good, Frank.

Stefan Ewing said...

So the RC catechism itself is a Tridentine response to the Reformation?

FX Turk said...


You're a sharp guy. Let's see if any Catholic advocates will put a hand to that clear statement from the CCC.

VasqueZ81 said...

Nice post Mr. Frank,

It just seems to go back to the Roman Church's position on tradition. How can the magesterium infallibly interpret both scripture and tradition and not have one contradict the other? It seem that the Roman Church places more priority with their position with the "big hats" than anyhting else. Thanks for the Info!

Phil Johnson said...


1. Assure Stuart that I have seen and will continue to read his exchange with you on your debate blog.

2. Nice use of the nun graphic. Every now and then I throw something bizarre into the pool of available graphics to see what you and Dan will do with it. You guys are very inventive. Well played.

Anonymous said...

Does that mean you'll let me replace Pecadillo?? I'm ready =)

Stuart Wood said...

I just want to thank Frank for being true to his word in posting a link to our debate. It is important to understand, though, that the debate (discussion) is not just about the doctrine of limited atonement. Rather it is about the necessary implications that that doctrine has upon the definition of the Gospel itself. My assertion is that the doctrine of limited atonement changes the definition of the one and only true saving Gospel.

This is vitally important for everyone to understand. I will not debate it here on this blog, but I would invite everybody to please follow it on the link that Frank has provided for you.

Also, my whole case can be easily seen and reviewed in my second to last post (blue box) on the debate site, entitled "Limited Atonement = Another (heteros) Gospel".

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Stuart Wood

FX Turk said...

It seems the post has left the blogosphere with its hand over its mouth ...

... oh wait -- the left coast doesn't go to lunch until 2 more hours from now.

Solameanie said...

I probably should have posted this yesterday, but I had a Catholic friend tell me once that the idea of "infallibility" is only when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, on a matter of faith. Supposedly the Pope hasn't spoken ex cathedra very much. A papal encyclical, for example, is not typically ex cathedra. Is this true?

For the record, even if it is true, I still don't buy papal infallibility -- ex cathedra or no ex cathedra.

Stefan Ewing said...


Sharp as a marble, some days.

Carl said...

Here are some questions I've been wondering: from where did the term "priest" originate in regards to the RCC? And how did the RCC initially justify the use of the term instead of something like "elder" or "teacher"?

naturgesetz said...

Solameanie — Your Catholic friend was basically right. And it is true that encyclicals are not considered "ex cathedra." But chastened by yesterday's request for sources (which works in both directions, btw) and encouraged by Frank's excellent example, I give you an excerpt from the Catechism of The Catholic Church in the section on the article of the creed referring to the Church.


871 "The Christian faithful are those who, inasmuch as they have been incorporated in Christ through Baptism, have been constituted as the people of God; for this reason, since they have become sharers in Christ's priestly, prophetic, and royal office in their own manner, they are called to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world, in accord with the condition proper to each one."385

872 "In virtue of their rebirth in Christ there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality with regard to dignity and the activity whereby all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ in accord with each one's own condition and function."386

873 The very differences which the Lord has willed to put between the members of his body serve its unity and mission. For "in the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in his name and by his power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly office of Christ; they have therefore, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole People of God."387 Finally, "from both groups [hierarchy and laity] there exist Christian faithful who are consecrated to God in their own special manner and serve the salvific mission of the Church through the profession of the evangelical counsels."388


Why the ecclesial ministry?

874 Christ is himself the source of ministry in the Church. He instituted the Church. He gave her authority and mission, orientation and goal:

In order to shepherd the People of God and to increase its numbers without cease, Christ the Lord set up in his Church a variety of offices which aim at the good of the whole body. the holders of office, who are invested with a sacred power, are, in fact, dedicated to promoting the interests of their brethren, so that all who belong to the People of God . . . may attain to salvation.389

875 "How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? and how are they to hear without a preacher? and how can men preach unless they are sent?"390 No one - no individual and no community - can proclaim the Gospel to himself: "Faith comes from what is heard."391 No one can give himself the mandate and the mission to proclaim the Gospel. the one sent by the Lord does not speak and act on his own authority, but by virtue of Christ's authority; not as a member of the community, but speaking to it in the name of Christ. No one can bestow grace on himself; it must be given and offered. This fact presupposes ministers of grace, authorized and empowered by Christ. From him, they receive the mission and faculty ("the sacred power") to act in persona Christi Capitis. the ministry in which Christ's emissaries do and give by God's grace what they cannot do and give by their own powers, is called a "sacrament" by the Church's tradition. Indeed, the ministry of the Church is conferred by a special sacrament.

876 Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character as service. Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly "slaves of Christ,"392 in the image of him who freely took "the form of a slave" for us.393 Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all.394

877 Likewise, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a collegial character. In fact, from the beginning of his ministry, the Lord Jesus instituted the Twelve as "the seeds of the new Israel and the beginning of the sacred hierarchy."395 Chosen together, they were also sent out together, and their fraternal unity would be at the service of the fraternal communion of all the faithful: they would reflect and witness to the communion of the divine persons.396 For this reason every bishop exercises his ministry from within the episcopal college, in communion with the bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter and head of the college. So also priests exercise their ministry from within the presbyterium of the diocese, under the direction of their bishop.

878 Finally, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a personal character. Although Chnst's ministers act in communion with one another, they also always act in a personal way. Each one is called personally: "You, follow me"397 in order to be a personal witness within the common mission, to bear personal responsibility before him who gives the mission, acting "in his person" and for other persons: "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ..."; "I absolve you...."

879 Sacramental ministry in the Church, then, is at once a collegial and a personal service, exercised in the name of Christ. This is evidenced by the bonds between the episcopal college and its head, the successor of St. Peter, and in the relationship between the bishop's pastoral responsibility for his particular church and the common solicitude of the episcopal college for the universal Church.

The episcopal college and its head, the Pope

880 When Christ instituted the Twelve, "he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them."398 Just as "by the Lord's institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another."399

881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the "rock" of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock.400 "The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head."401 This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church's very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful."402 "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered."403

883 "The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head." As such, this college has "supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff."404

884 "The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council."405 But "there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's successor."406

885 "This college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the People of God; and of the unity of the flock of Christ, in so far as it is assembled under one head."407

886 "The individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches."408 As such, they "exercise their pastoral office over the portion of the People of God assigned to them,"409 assisted by priests and deacons. But, as a member of the episcopal college, each bishop shares in the concern for all the Churches.410 The bishops exercise this care first "by ruling well their own Churches as portions of the universal Church," and so contributing "to the welfare of the whole Mystical Body, which, from another point of view, is a corporate body of Churches."411 They extend it especially to the poor,412 to those persecuted for the faith, as well as to missionaries who are working throughout the world.

887 Neighboring particular Churches who share the same culture form ecclesiastical provinces or larger groupings called patriarchates or regions.413 The bishops of these groupings can meet in synods or provincial councils. "In a like fashion, the episcopal conferences at the present time are in a position to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegiate spirit."414

The teaching office

888 Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task "to preach the Gospel of God to all men," in keeping with the Lord's command.415 They are "heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers" of the apostolic faith "endowed with the authority of Christ."416

889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a "supernatural sense of faith" the People of God, under the guidance of the Church's living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."417

890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. the exercise of this charism takes several forms:

891 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.... the infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421

892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent"422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.


934 "Among the Christian faithful by divine institution there exist in the Church sacred ministers, who are also called clerics in law, and other Christian faithful who are also called laity." In both groups there are those Christian faithful who, professing the evangelical counsels, are consecrated to God and so serve the Church's saving mission (cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 207 # 1, 2).

935 To proclaim the faith and to plant his reign, Christ sends his apostles and their successors. He gives them a share in his own mission. From him they receive the power to act in his person.

936 The Lord made St. Peter the visible foundation of his Church. He entrusted the keys of the Church to him. the bishop of the Church of Rome, successor to St. Peter, is "head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church on earth" (⇒ CIC, can. 331).

937 The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, "supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls" (CD 2).

938 The Bishops, established by the Holy Spirit, succeed the apostles. They are "the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches" (LG 23).

939 Helped by the priests, their co-workers, and by the deacons, the bishops have the duty of authentically teaching the faith, celebrating divine worship, above all the Eucharist, and guiding their Churches as true pastors. Their responsibility also includes concern for all the Churches, with and under the Pope.

940 "The characteristic of the lay state being a life led in the midst of the world and of secular affairs, lay people are called by God to make of their apostolate, through the vigor of their Christian spirit, a leaven in the world" (AA 2 # 2).

941 Lay people share in Christ's priesthood: ever more united with him, they exhibit the grace of Baptism and Confirmation in all dimensions of their personal family, social and ecclesial lives, and so fulfill the call to holiness addressed to all the baptized.

942 By virtue of their prophetic mission, lay people "are called . . . to be witnesses to Christ in all circumstances and at the very heart of the community of mankind" (GS 43 # 4).

943 By virtue of their kingly mission, lay people have the power to uproot the rule of sin within themselves and in the world, by their self-denial and holiness of life (cf. LG 36).

944 The life consecrated to God is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church.

945 Already destined for him through Baptism, the person who surrenders himself to the God he loves above all else thereby consecrates himself more intimately to God's service and to the good of the whole Church.

385 ⇒ CIC, Can. 204 para 1; Cf. LG 31.

386 ⇒ CIC, Can. 208; Cf. LG 32.

387 AA 2.

388 ⇒ CIC, Can. 207 # 2.

389 LG 18.

390 Rom 10:14:15.

391 ⇒ Rom 10:17.

392 Cf. ⇒ Rom 1:1.

393 ⇒ Phil 2:7.

394 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 9:19.

395 AG 5.

396 Cf. ⇒ Jn 17:21-23.

397 ⇒ Jn 21:22; Cf. ⇒ Mt 4:19. ⇒ 21; ⇒ Jn 1:4[ETML:C/].

398 LG 19; cf. ⇒ Lk 6:13; ⇒ Jn 21:15-17.

399 LG 22; cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 330.

400 Cf. ⇒ Mt 16:18-19; ⇒ Jn 21:15-17.

401 LG 22 # 2.

402 LG 23.

403 LG 22; cf. CD 2,9.

404 LG 22; cf. ⇒ CIC, can 336.

405 ⇒ CIC, can. 337 # 1.

406 LG 22.

407 LG 22.

408 LG 23.

409 LG 23.

410 Cf. CD 3.

411 LG 23.

412 Cf. ⇒ Gal 2:10.

413 Cf. Apostolic Constitutions 34.

414 LG 23 # 3.

415 PO 4; cf. ⇒ Mk 16:15.

416 LG 25.

417 LG 12; cf. DV 10.

418 LG 25; cf. Vatican Council I: DS 3074.

419 DV 10 # 2.

420 LG 25 # 2.

421 Cf. LG 25.

422 LG 25.

The most relevant parts begin at No. 888, but I left in the preceding material to make it clearer.

As I read it, the ex cathedra pronouncements are what the first sentence of No. 891 refers to. But you see that there is a wider infallibility attaching to the college of bishops (but not an individual bishop on his own). And there is also an "ordinary Magisterium" which, while not strictly infallible, is reliable because of the work of the Holy Spirit. For what it's wort, I've also included the footnotes. CIC is the Code of Canon Law. I believe the other non-scriptural items, other than the ancient Apostolic Constitutions, are documents of the Second Vatican Council.

I wish I could have given you the Nos. about the laity as well, but it's a little off topic and would have made this comment too long. I encourage you to follow Frank's Link and look it up for yourself.

Nash Equilibrium said...

If a Roman Catholic from the year 1500 who believed in the ex cathedra, infallible sayings of the Pope could be transported to the here and now, he'd be pretty confused as to why the ex cathedra, infallible sayings of the Pope were so different now than they were in his day.

That said, I think the Pope is a nice man. Or at least, as nice as any other man who goes traveling about the world dressed in a fancy bathrobe.

naturgesetz said...

The Catechism of the Catholic Church cites the passage quoted in the post, along with four other brief passages of scripture and a passage from St Clement of Rome in support of the following. "The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry."

I would add that "presbuteros" is the word from which the English "priest" is derived. Therefore I find the assertion that elders are not priests is overreaching. Similarly overseers are "episkopoi" from which we derive the word "bishops".

But that is not so important as the point that clearly it is the office of the overseer/bishop to correct errors in doctrine. To me that is the Magisterium. It is on a small scale, because the Church was on a small scale. But they were authoritative, as I read it.

naturgesetz said...

And I think if you continue through the rest of the chapter and look at 2:1 and 2:15 it is even more obvious that the episkopos teaches with authority.

naturgesetz said...

Some examples, stratagem?

And be sure that they all meet the criteria for infallibility.

Sir Brass said...

solameanie, from what I understand, an encyclical is ex cathedra and is therefore infallible.....except when the RCC doesn't want it to be ;).

Yeah, that makes about as much sense as the anathema against Sola Fide does in Trent.

pastorbrianculver said...

Nice post Frank! I love the nun picture. I have been gone for a couple of months due to health issues. I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for posting it!

Strong Tower said...

"to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry."

Where did they ever appoint another to fill any empty eldership in the council of twelve? It doesn't appear anywhere in Scripture.

But they were authoritative, as I read it." No they weren't. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians:I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? Paul restricts even himself to the Word of God as the only measure of authority. Even his words had to be measured by what was written.

"I would add that "presbuteros" is the word from which the English "priest" is derived."

Not actually. There is no direct indisputable linkage to the term, etymologically. If fact it would be a little misassigned since a word in the Greek existed for priest: hiereus. Throughout the NT a clear difference is maintained between two, beside. The stark difference in the performance of the office also argues against the transliteration of the term. No where does the prebuteros make sacrifices. Only the hiereus does. So it wouldn't even be likely that the term for one considered under the ministry of grace be called priest.

Sir Brass said...

ST, what about the choosing of Judas Iscariot's replacement by lot casting for those meeting the prerequisites?

Eric said...


Your verbose catechism quote contains some of the most convoluted lines of reasoning and man-made doctrine that I have ever had the displeasure to read.

I particularly despise the part that says the pope has "full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered." I can see this as nothing other than assuming the power and authority, assigned only to Jesus Christ, head of the church.

If your catechism quote was intended to educate, it accomplished its purpose, as I am now even more educated as to how far from clear Scriptural instruction the RCC can be found.

I mean you personally no disrespect, and I pray that all who are enslaved by RCC doctrine will one day be free from bondage.

naturgesetz said...

Strong Tower — "Where did they ever appoint another to fill any empty eldership in the council of twelve? It doesn't appear anywhere in Scripture." See Acts 1:15-26.

As for presbuteros giving us the word priest, it's only a tangent, but the recognized authority on English etymology, Skeat, states very directly that the word is contracted from Latin presbyter, which is clearly a transliteration of presbuteros. Argue until the cows come home if you want to about what the word means, but the etymological derivation is clear. Same for bishop and episcopos.

Sir Brass, please cite a Catholic authority for your assertion that encyclicals are considered infallible. I can assure you that in 66 years as a Catholic, to my memory I have never been told that they are, and the quote from the Catechism which I posted does not say so.

Sir Brass said...

I could be wrong. If am, then I am. I do not know the ins and outs of RCism...but have heard enough of some tightly held traditions that are in such direct contradiction to scripture that it is clear that RCism is another gospel and is therefore anathema.

If I'm wrong on the encyclicals, then I apologize and retract that particular statement about them.

Kimberly said...


In reference to this:

"Where did they ever appoint another to fill any empty eldership in the council of twelve? It doesn't appear anywhere in Scripture."

Below is a specific example of this being done. From what I have read however I do not believe that an appointment such as this one is noted in the Word to have occurred anywhere else, so it seems to be unique to this situation.

15In those days Peter stood up among the believers[c] (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17he was one of our number and shared in this ministry."
18(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20"For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms,
" 'May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,'[d] and,
" 'May another take his place of leadership.'[e] 21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection."

FX Turk said...

You people have no idea how much I hate Roman Catholic apologetics. There is no other encounter in which, to refute one statement from an opposing advocate, you need an etymological dictionary, a book on the history of the world, a Greek lexicon, the complete set of documents from the Vatican archives, and half a day to debunk all the absurdity.

I am going to post only one or two rebuttals here because frankly, nobody is going to change their mind either way. Consider my comments here informational.

DJP said...


Only book you don't need — in fact, it's counter-productive — is a Bible.

Kimberly said...

Frank - That's funny. I was actually just thinking that very same thing when I got to your comment.

Nash Equilibrium said...

1) Do I have to use Google Image Search for you? I'm sure you can find plenty of examples of where the pope looks like he's wearing a bathrobe. Just search 'pope bathrobe' - that should do it. :-/

2) Now if you're talking about examples of ever-changing ex cathedra church teaching: Is this really a fertile discussion, since every time the RCC reverses itself, they claim that the previous encyclical was not ex cathedra, and you are a RCC apologist naively accepting of everything they say? Probably not fertile, in my opinion.

Perhaps (for example) you are not aware of the RCC-sponsored pogroms against the Jews that were authorized by the popes? These were done on such a massive scale and with full papal authorization. Hence neither you nor any of the RCC can hide behind the technicalities of whether it was or wasn't 'ex cathedra'. No man of God who was somehow imbued with a special helping of the Holy Spirit (as the RCC claims the Pope is) could have ruled over such a murderous undertaking, whether it was the widespread spirit of his particular age, or not.

I'm sure you know, ex cathedra originally referred to anything the pope said when he was seated on his throne, and only later became a technicality by which embarrassing RCC teachings could be explained away once it was apparent to all that they were crackpot rulings to begin with.

naturgesetz said...

stratagem — The problem is that people persist in misunderstanding the doctrine of papal infallibility as meaning that everything every pope says is considered infallible. If they would actually study up on it, they could clearly see that it is not so. But then, of course, they would lose the argument which they mistakenly think refutes the doctrine.

If you want to argue against the doctrine, you have to argue against the actual doctrine, not against a misunderstanding or a deliberate caricature.

naturgesetz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
naturgesetz said...

That was a duplicate post I deleted.

Sir Brass — "I could be wrong. If am, then I am. I do not know the ins and outs of RCism...but have heard enough of some tightly held traditions that are in such direct contradiction to scripture that it is clear that RCism is another gospel and is therefore anathema.

If I'm wrong on the encyclicals, then I apologize and retract that particular statement about them."

You're a good man.

donsands said...

"That’s a far cry from what actually happens in the Catholic Magisterium"

And why is it the Poep and bishops kepping changing the rules of being a Catholic?

You can't eat meaton Friday. You can eat meat on Friday. Women have to have their heads covered. Women don't have to have their heads covered. And on and on it goes.
Catholicism is way to confusing, and such is the wisdom of religious humans.

Very good post.

My heart is so full of gratefulness to our Lord for His Holy Word to us. What a treasure. What an unspeakable gift the Word is to us from a loving heavenly Father of spirits (Hebrews 12:9), who loves us and disciplines us, and builds us up, as He sets us apart by His Word which is truth.

Stefan Ewing said...

If we're going to discuss ecclesiastical hierarchies and apostolic succession...

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem or the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch probably have a more plausible claim to direct continuity with the original Apostles than have the Bishop of Rome (or the Patriarch of Constantinople, for that matter).

Sir Brass said...

You're willing to say that even though I am in total agreement with Frank and Dan here that the gospel presented by Rome and her Lord the Pope is anathema to the gospel preached by my Lord Jesus the Christ?

FX Turk said...


Rather than wade through all of this, let me ask you one question which the Magisterium ought to have answered a long time ago. If it has answered it, it will be a pretty good test of Magisterial Infallibility.

The Question:

If we consider a good and faithful catholic, a confessional protestant who believes in sola fide and sola scriptura, a practicing and faithful jew, and a devout muslim, and they are all killed instantaneously at the same moment by some common accident, can we know for certain that any of them have gone to hell?

I know the question of being actually saved is pretty complex for your system of religion, but the guidelines by which one winds up in hell are allegedly not.

Can we know for certain that any of these people have gone to hell? I think that Magisterium has spoken out of both sides of its mouth on this one and you'll find conflicting infallible declarations on this, but I'll let you answer and then we'll review the evidence.

Nash Equilibrium said...

So, then, which of the points I have made, are you arguing against? Are you arguing that the popes didn't authorize murderous pogroms at numerous times in history? Are you instead arguing that the one you say is the pre-eminent man of God could initiate such sin and still effectively lead God's church and represent the Holy Spirit? Or, are you rather arguing that these pogroms were justified? It's hard to tell just what you are saying with regard to the substance of what I've said.

I'm sure you realize that even within the RCC there is not universal or clear understanding of when the pope is or is not proclaiming infallibly. That is why most people DON'T CARE what the RCC teaches about infallibility: it is something that can be turned on or off to suit the moment, after the fact. So, you can't hide behind the technicality you are trying to hide behind, since it can't even be defined.

The pope is what he does - just like every other leader and human being.

naturgesetz said...

Sir Brass — I was referring to the devotion to truth which led to to post the comment I quoted.

You believe what you honestly believe. (I honestly believe you are mistaken in thinking that Rome preaches a different Gospel from that of Jesus Christ, but I will not try to persuade you of my belief at this point.) It is good that you seek to know the truth and to follow it as you honestly apprehend it. I do not believe that salvation is a matter of passing a theology test, but of accepting God's gift of salvation in Christ Jesus, however well or poorly we may understand the theology involved.

So yeah, you're a good man.

Bobby Grow said...

Since Frank opened this thread up with a link to the Debate Blog on "limited atonement;" I thought I would recommend a book called "Scottish Theology," by T. F. Torrance (it's $90 unfortunately). It highlights theology, historically, that actually agrees with Wood (on the objective "creational" notion of election and the extent of the atonement, vs. the subjective appropriation).

Thus far, I'd say Stuart has the advantage . . . although I disagree with his claim that "limited atonement" necessarily changes the Gospel --- instead it straight-jackets it into a logico-causal frame that does not reflect a true and dynamic trinitarian understanding of the Gospel.

I think the Incarnation itself completely destroys any notion of "limited atonement;" but that's for another day of development (see T. F. Torrance's new book: Incarantion).

danny2 said...

franks last question to naturgesetz has been dodged for the last two days.

he will call those who claim he believes another gospel than the true saving gospel a "good man." and fellow advocate P.U. will wish us all the peace of Christ even though he should believe we deny Christ by denying his "church."

i say we freeze the blog comments until naturgesetz actually deals with frank's question.

naturgesetz said...

stratagem — I'm not learned enough in world history to dispute whether or not pose authorized pogroms or if so how many. What I'm saying is that they have nothing to do with the doctrine of papal infallibility. Infallibility does not imply impeccability.

The Squirrel said...

I find it interesting that, of all the examples of extra-Biblical RCC teachings given both yesterday and today, the only two that our guests have taken a shot at are baptismal regeneration and papal infallibility. And, IMO, those shots fall far short of the mark.

The Squirrel

Nash Equilibrium said...

Naturgesetz: you write
I'm not learned enough in world history to dispute whether or not [popes] authorized pogroms or if so how many. What I'm saying is that they have nothing to do with the doctrine of papal infallibility. Infallibility does not imply impeccability. end quote

Well, perhaps you should learn about this, because it has everything to do with the infallibility of the RCC - and its doctrine. I presume the RCC's past actions are indicative of its doctrines and beliefs, correct?

Besides, there are other doctrines besides papal infallibility that demand your attention. If you want to talk doctrine, how about:

But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (1 John 2:11, ESV)

Simply put, if a pope of any age could initiate the wholesale murder of the Jews (or any other group), then according to the infallible doctrine above, he is in darkness. Not in the light. Why follow such a man?

David Kyle said...

I'm not real smart or anything and I don't have a degree or am steeped in Catholic doctrine, but I hear you Catholic guys saying the Pope can be fallible sometimes.

How then can you be certain he is ever speaking infallibly when he says he is?

Maybe he was just wrong... you know fallible.

Stuart Wood said...

Just so everyone can follow it, I have now put up my second question for Frank on the debate blog.


I also want to thank Phil for taking the time to read our discussion. Thanks, too, to Bobby Grow for his commendation.

Pastor Stuart Wood

Strong Tower said...

ST, what about the choosing of Judas Iscariot's replacement by lot casting for those meeting the prerequisites?

Sorry for the confusion. Yes this one. The point is that the twelve are a distinct group and though we have the Scripture testifying that other Apostles died, no others were appointed. Beside that: "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Unless they're sitting upon one anothers' laps, there are only twelve in the merry little band. Their name was the Twelve in Scripture and there are no others in that Counsel. Judas was, after all, not what we might call a true member and surely not infallible. As is typical of the kind, natur has only isolated a text in defense of his error. He did not answer the more direct appeal against him in Paul's opposition to any individual other than Christ, the Word, being the foundation. Funny that Paul didn't say that Peter was the foundation if that is how petra was to be understood...funny that it is feminine, too. Which probably means its referent was also, like aletheia, maybe? Nah, too contextual...

greglong said...

Papal infallibility from Vatican II:

And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith,(166) by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals.(42*) And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. (Lumen Gentium 25)

They are "irreformable," but here's the escape clause:

An infallible teaching by a pope or ecumenical council can contradict previous Church teachings, as long as they were not themselves taught infallibly. In this case, the previous fallible teachings are immediately made void.


Of course, an infallible teaching cannot contradict a previous infallible teaching, including the infallible teachings of the Holy Bible or Holy Tradition. Also, due to the sensus fidelium, an infallible teaching cannot be subsequently contradicted by the Catholic Church, even if that subsequent teaching is in itself fallible.

DJP said...

Wellnow, at least that's all cleared up!

The Solve-Everything Dogma With A Thousand Holes.

donsands said...

"I think the Incarnation itself completely destroys any notion of "limited atonement;"

I think just the opposite. "His name will be Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins."

Jesus came to seek and save His lost sheep, and die for them. Some are not His sheep, and so they do not believe. His sheep hear Him, and they know His voice and will follow Him.
Jesus was the Lamb of God from the foundations of the world, for His people.
His love and atonement was definite for sure.

DJP said...

Don, Stuart, everyone: this is Frank's meta, and he can overrule, but....

I don't want Stuart doing a Hi-I'm-Lou-Martuneac-Read-My-Book on every meta about his personal hobby horse. So, let's stick to the topic.

Unless, I say, Frank overrules me.

The Squirrel said...

Papal Infallibility = "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! The Great Oz has spoken!"

The Squirrel

Bobby Grow said...

The fact that Frank linked to that debate makes the "topic" of this thread commensurate with at least two prongs of consideration:

1.) The current topic under discussion at the debate-blog (limited atonement and Stuart and Frank's views on that).

2.) And then his exposition on Titus, and "Nuns" and such.

But I agree, Frank has the final say!

P. S.

Here's Pyromaniac's rule #4:

On-topic comments only. If you have other stuff to say to one of us, send an e-mail.

naturgesetz said...

Frank — "Can we know for certain that any of these people have gone to hell?" I don't know of any magisterial answer to this question.

Of course, there is the classic doctrine, "Outside the Church there is no salvation." (Extra Ecclesiam, nulla salus.)

But in the 1940's Fr. Leonard Feeney, a chaplain at Harvard University began to preach that all non-Catholics would certainly go to hell. Then Archbishop Cushing inquired about this of the Holy Office in Rome (now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and got a reply which said that "this dogma is to be understood as the Church itself understands it." Later it said that no one who knows that the Catholic Church has been established by Christ and refuses to enter it will be saved. But the Church is necessary for salvation "by divine decree, not by intrinsic necessity." One can be in the Church by desire, even by implicit desire.

Well, the Holy Office isn't infallible. But since then, and going back to Pius XII's encyclical on the church as mystical Body of Christ, there has been a line of thinking which sees a possibility of salvation for people who are invincibly ignorant of the truth of Christianity, but who live by the grace that God, in his universal salfivic will, gives them.

More recently, the CDF, in its Declaration "Dominus Jesus" "on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church," states at one point, "Furthermore, the salvific action of Jesus Christ, with and through his Spirit, extends beyond the visible boundaries of the Church to all humanity. Speaking of the paschal mystery, in which Christ even now associates the believer to himself in a living manner in the Spirit and gives him the hope of resurrection, the Council states: “All this holds true not only for Christians but also for all men of good will in whose hearts grace is active invisibly. For since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery”.

Later, "In conclusion, the action of the Spirit is not outside or parallel to the action of Christ. There is only one salvific economy of the One and Triune God, realized in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, actualized with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, and extended in its salvific value to all humanity and to the entire universe: “No one, therefore, can enter into communion with God except through Christ, by the working of the Holy Spirit”."
Then "It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God."
And "To state the inseparable relationship between Christ and the kingdom is not to overlook the fact that the kingdom of God — even if considered in its historical phase — is not identified with the Church in her visible and social reality. In fact, “the action of Christ and the Spirit outside the Church's visible boundaries” must not be excluded."
Further, "Above all else, it must be firmly believed that “the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door”.77 This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God (cf. 1 Tim 2:4); “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for this salvation”.78"

And then — here it comes — "For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, “salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit”;81 it has a relationship with the Church, which “according to the plan of the Father, has her origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit”.82

21. With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.83"

Sorry to have to give so much, but I think a bald statement that there seems to be no infallible teaching on the question but the official non-infallible position is that we can't know for certain that any of the four would go to hell would be too abrupt and unexplained, and would, of course, be only my say-so.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Strong Tower said...

"John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you."

Along with the fact that Paul was sent as an Apostle to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews, it is far fetched to believe that there is one counsel of control, and one "official" church through which we must enter. Interesting that Jesus claims that he is the door, not his bride, that we are engrafted to Him and not to her, and Hebrews confirms that he is the way, the vail of his flesh, the temple, opened through his sacrifice.

If anything, with Peter stationed at Jerusalem and Paul sent to Rome, if the RCC claims Peter as its first Papa, then they are really the eastern church. Then again, Peter was rebuked by Paul, and Paul dismissed the counsel of Jerusalem as having any authority outside of the Gospel (Scripture). I would take it, then, that the RCC actually rejects Jesus' rebuke to those who would deny that the Gospel could be found outside the authority of the Twelve.

Just trying to understand the last post by natur: there is only one way to be saved and that is to come to Christ by the RCC, but the reality is that God's saving will is really univeralistic and gounded upon the inherent goodness in man, and saves despite Christ's limiting faith in him alone, but still, some how, they must enter through THE CHURCH? And it is all a BIG MYSTERY.

This guy should join Wood. MYSTERY can expain just about everyting.

Stefan Ewing said...

I read that paragraph as "Mysteriously [to us], some people actually come to faith in Christ apart from the 'One True Church.'"


My verification word is "splambu." I have no idea what that means, but I like the sound of it.

Strong Tower said...

splambu- is a word compilation synthesis for splint ambulation. If your reasoner is sprained, by applying a thought splint you can make any limping argument walk like it was a good one.

Brad said...

I've been quietly waiting for your response to Frank's question, and while I deeply appreciate the thorough and sincere reply, you just perfectly proved Frank's hidden point.

In other words, I got whiplash reading through the contradictions and I'm troubled that you don't find them all that troubling. Peace.


FX Turk said...

There were only two answers you could give, naturgesetz:

"I don't know" and "no". "Yes" is untenable using the official magisterial teachings.

And that said, the myth of the infallible magisterium is, frankly, exploded. If the magisterium has not taught what the fate of the muslim and the Jew is apart from Christ, its infallibility is frankly about things which have no bearing on faith and practice.

Sir Brass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Brass said...

My previous post (deleted) did not specify who it addressed. here it is, again, with the proper addressing :).

Naturgesetz, you said,
"I do not believe that salvation is a matter of passing a theology test, but of accepting God's gift of salvation in Christ Jesus, however well or poorly we may understand the theology involved."

I don't believe either that salvation is a matter of passing a theology test. However, there are some things which are so antithetical to the gospel such that if a person embraces them and still says he is a Christian then he is lying about being a Christian. Such things include gross idolatry. Elevating a mere human woman to a position which only Christ fulfills, adoring bread and wine as if they were Christ Himself, and declaring anathema things explicitly taught in terms of how one is truly justified before God in favor of a gospel of works are things which do this, and a truly saved person who is truly trusting in Christ for his or her salvation can never truly or fully give assent to these things.

However, Roman Catholicism declares these things to be true and taught in scripture. It condemns sola fide (a concept which Paul clearly teaches in the book of Romans and is shown throughout both old and new testaments to be the means by which all men at all times have been made right before God), worships (though says it simply gives respect in a non-religious context....aka latria/dulia debate. See the James White/William Albrecht exchanges) Mary and the Host (in eucharistic mass), etc.

The bishop of rome would have more credibility among protestants if he were to repent of the anti-biblical heresies the Catholic church has embraced and advocate the true doctrine. I'd still be against the infallible authority, and there would still be questions about whether or not he is usurping the Holy Spirit's rightful place as the Vicar of Christ on Earth, but teaching RIGHT doctrine would go a long way.

Begin rejecting the gross heresies that Rome considers to be essential, and we might believe your claim to be saved by faith in Christ :). When you claim to be saved by faith in Christ alone, you agree with our savior. But when you say that you cannot be justified apart from works, that is where you greatly depart from Scripture. Scripture says that works are essential for showing proof of a certain reality, and that is justification. One cannot be sanctified before he is justified lest salvation be considered to be something he is justly worthy of receiving from God. But so that God may be glorified, we are saved apart from any works, so that God's mercy may be made clear. To teach otherwise is to rob God of His justly due glory. However, in sanctification, which is still fully a work of His, our nature is now right with God and it performs works which are in agreement with God and in contrast to our dead-in-sin past-self we glorify God with our works after justification.

Or, as the Reformers rightly taught, "Man is justified by faith alone, but not by the faith which is alone." Works are the response to justification by faith alone. Just like the sound your engine makes does not start your engine, but is the response your engine gives to it coming to life. So if you do not hear your engine starting, then no matter how your dashboard may be lighting up, you know that your engine hasn't started. But it was not that sound which started the engine. So it is with works and justification as taught in the scriptures.

Also, thank you for your courteous words. I hope this is a sign that an honest exchange is beginning to develop.

donsands said...

"So, let's stick to the topic."


Rick Frueh said...

I guess the college of cardinals would have to be infallible as well since they choose the popes. And I guess the bishops would have to be infallible since they are elevated to cardinals. And I guess the priests would have to...never mind.

The spiral staircase of Catholic hierarchy can only be substantiated by using the common catechism while simultaneously avoiding the New Testament. The easy litmus test of papal infallibility is revealed when they teach salvation by works.

Case closed.

naturgesetz said...

Frank — "If the magisterium has not taught what the fate of the muslim and the Jew is apart from Christ, its infallibility is frankly about things which have no bearing on faith and practice."

This is less than self-evident. Less charitably put, it looks to me like a non-sequitur. The only thing that has any bearing on faith and practice is the eternal fate of the Jew and muslim apart from Christ?

Besides, the answer of the non-infallible magisterium is that we cannot know whether the Jew and the Muslim are apart from Christ. It is because of this that we do not know their fate. We know that if they are truly apart from Christ, they are lost. But we cannot restrict God's actions to outward appearances. What we know is that if they are saved, they are saved in Christ and that God gives his grace as he wills. So the assumption that they are apart from Christ is gratuitous.

naturgesetz said...

Sir Brass — We worship the consecrated Host because Jesus told us it is himself in John 6 and his words at the Last Supper. You perhaps choose to interpret these passages other than literally. But I think it goes too far to accuse us of gross heresy when we believe, along with centuries of unanimity in Christendom, that the elements of the Lord's Supper are truly his Body and Blood.

You recognize that your accusation concerning Mary is your interpretation and contrary to our intent or our understanding of what we do. Again, I think it goes too far to accuse us of gross heresy if the worst you can say is that we are doing things which unbeknownst to us have a reality contrary to our intent.

And again, the wordsmithing of the relation between faith and works is a matter of such fine points that it hardly seems to me that anyone who understands that a Christian's life includes both can plausibly be accused of gross heresy. The Church anathematizes Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. But you have to read Paul in the light of James and the parable of the judgment of the nations, and the many times Jesus says that one must keep the commandments if one is to inherit eternal life.

So while I can see how, for one reason or another, you may disagree with our doctrines or the phrasing used to express them, I cannot agree that we are in gross heresy. In fact, of course, I don't think we're in heresy at all.

Chad V. said...

Rom 3:28
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

The apostle Paul doesn't agree with you. You are in gross heresy.

Chad V. said...

Eph 2:8-9

For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift o God, not of works so that no one may boast.

naturgesetz said...

Chad V. — if the passage you quote and similar words of Paul were all that there was in scripture on the topic, you might have a point. But they must be read in the light of such other passages as
Matthew 19:17 "If you would *enter* life, keep the commandments." Emphasis added

Matthew 25:34-43.

John 14:15 "If you love me you will keep my commandments."

John 15:10 "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love."

1 John 5:3 "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments."

and of course James 2:14-26

The point is you can't ignore the passages which speak of the necessity of works. It is the work of theologians to try to parse the subtleties of the relation between faith and works. What is clear from these passages, as well as the others where Jesus an Paul command certain behaviors is that faith and works must both be part of the life of the Christian. Any reading of scripture which ignores either the faith passages or the works passages will lead to a distorted theology. And again, the fine points of the precise wording that best expresses the elusive relationship are a matter for the trained theologians. Suffice it to recognize that the Christian needs both, and that the Catholic Church does not teach that works alone suffice for salvation. As I said to Sir Brass, The Catholic Church anathematizes both Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism.

Chad V. said...

Rom 3:20

For by works of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

NoLongerBlind said...


Two simple, straightforward questions for you:

Suppose that I am a non-christian, i.e., a muslim or a buddhist, or whatever, it really doesn't matter.

I meet you, find out that you profess to be a "follower of Jesus Christ" -- a Christian -- and I ask you:

1. "What must I do to be saved?"

2. "How can I know if I really am saved?"

What would your answers be?

Chad V. said...

I never said the RCC teaches that works alone save. The RCC teaches that works plus faith save.

The bible says that we are justified by faith. Our works do not contribute to our salvation. Only Christ's finished work is our merit before God. By His work we are saved. That's why your gospel is false.

Gal 2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Rom 5:19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

Sir Brass said...

Naturgesetz, to set scripture against itself is less than honest if you truly believe it to be the Word of God. God does NOT contradict Himself in His Word. Also, James does not contradict Paul in any way. James states that by his works he SHOWS his faith, not that by his works he gains (in some extent) his salvation.

Also, when Christ is talking about being perfect, He is setting the standard to which we HAVE to attain if we are to be justified by works of the law. He is declaring the eternal impossible standard for us to hurdle if we are to make it on our own. Only Christ could be perfect, and thus in Him only is our righteousness.

Remember, that according to the works of the law and the jewish "magisterium", the apostle Paul (then the Pharisee Saul) was perfectly justified. Yet, Paul rightly calls those works skubalon, and nothing higher. Our works are utterly USELESS for our justification.

Remember those famous words of scripture, "The righteous shall live by faith." They performed works in response to their faith, yet it was not by their works that God declared them righteous. Remember that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him righteousness. Abraham was saved by faith, not by his subsequent obedience in faith.

Human works are attested by scripture to have even LESS of an impact on one's salvation as putting cat ears on a human baby makes him a kitten.

By grace we were saved through faith, not by works so that no man may boast.

That is one of many of Holy Scripture's attestations to salvation by grace alone through faith. The RCC says that it counts Holy Scripture as infallible, yet it contradicts it directly by anathematizing that which Paul wrote. That is the very definition of double-minded.

The RCC councils declared a gospel different from that preached, and as Paul said, if even HE or others preached a different gospel that that different gospel, no matter WHO it came from was anathema. That most assuredly includes Trent, etc., etc.

The reformers clearly stood with scripture in condemning Rome for heresy and false teaching. And in a very real sense, the Westminster Confession was right in calling the Pope the anti-christ. Now, history bears out so far that the pope is not THE anti-christ, but in so far as he persists on enforcing Trent and other damnable documents he is operating in the spirit of the anti-Christ, not to mention usurper over consciences that rightly belongs to the Holy Spirit.

And as such, we who know the truth are calling those wedded to Rome to leave said harlot and join with the bridgegroom as part of the bride of Christ. Christ turns NO ONE away who comes to Him by faith. Turn from Rome and her councils, and embrace Christ and His mercy and grace.

naturgesetz said...

1. You must have faith* in the Lord Jesus.
*Faith being a reliance on the word of God which tells us that he is Lord and Savior who died and rose for our salvation and which transforms our lives by bringing us to repentance for sin and conversion of life. (It's not just an intellectual assent to certain doctrines. It is transformative if it's real.)

2. You can't "know" for a mathematical certitude, since God alone reads hearts; but if you are conscious of having a saving, life-altering faith — if you are *living* your faith — you have a secure hope of salvation.

There is of course plenty of room for explanation of what these answers mean, and there are other ways one could express it. But I think they'll do for starters

NoLongerBlind said...

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."

Any good works that we, as believers do - which shows our faith to be living faith, not dead faith, devoid of works, as in James 2:17 - were prepared (beforehand) by God for us to do, unto His glory, not our gain; good works merely validate genuine, saving faith.

NoLongerBlind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NoLongerBlind said...

Naturgesetz - Thank you for answering my questions.

As to your answer #2, the Apostle John, in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, stated rather clearly that "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13)

So, it would seem that knowing is not only possible, but actually something that our Heavenly Father desires for His children.

Chad V. said...

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24

Chad V. said...

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13

NoLongerBlind said...

Chad V--we'd make a good tag team!

Chad V. said...

No Longer Blind

Absolutely! Any time.

Brad said...

There is of course plenty of room for explanation of what these answers mean, and there are other ways one could express it. But I think they'll do for starters

natur, this is nonsense.

Yes, there is a difference between the heart of the individual and the heart of the collective. Jesus discouraged us from saying "Akim, you Muslim, you will burn in hell." But he doesn't discourage us from drawing inevitable conclusions from the truth that "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him" - ergo, true Muslims do not believe in Jesus, therefore, true Muslims face the fires of hell. This doesn't require a great deal of noodling to get it right, unless, of course, you're forced to defend a system that claims it cannot be wrong when, in fact, it has been proven wrong time and time again. You can't defend "there is no salvation outside the church" for half-a-dozen centuries and then say, oops, well, it's really open to multiple interpretations - just because the CC caught a whiff of a change in the political winds and cried out "the times they are a changin'." The doctrines of infallibility drove the stake the in ground and now RCC apologists have suddenly bent like pretzels to say what's there at face value really isn't there at all.

It's maddening as much as it is madness.

NoLongerBlind said...

Naturgesetz, as much as I'm enjoying our dialogue, I'm off to sleep, since it's tomorrow already here in NJ, and seeing as I'm a bit younger than you, I have an earlier bed-time! =;)

BTW, your answers weren't - on the surface, anyways - what the official RCC "Trentian" dogma would assert. But, I'm sure you're aware of that.....

naturgesetz said...

Sir Brass — scripture does not contradict scripture. But all scripture must be understood in the light of the rest of scripture. So to read certain verses in a way which effectively nullifies others is to misread the scripture.

And the canon of Trent to which I think you refer is not a repudiation of Paul's teaching, but of a misreading of it. It says, "If anyone says that a sinful man is justified by faith alone, meaning that no other cooperation is required to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not at all necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his will: let him be anathema." So it is not condemning what St. Paul said, but a very specific interpretation of what St. Paul said, and only that specific interpretation. For further insight, you can read chapters 6, "The Manner of Preparation," 7, "The Nature and the Causes of the Justification of a Sinner,"8, "The Correct Meaning of the Statement: The Sinner Is Gratuitously Justified by Faith," and 11, "The Observance of the Commandments: Its Necessity and Possibility," of the Decree on Justification, which concludes with the canons anathematizing doctrines contrary to those set forth in the various chapters. So Trent says that it is true that sinners are justified by faith, but that the saying can be misunderstood.

Chad V. said...

And once again;
Rom 3:28
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Chad V. said...

Now, I'm off to bed too, nighty-night.

naturgesetz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
naturgesetz said...

It is getting late here on the East Coast, and so good night to all.

philness said...


From a salvation stand point think of faith as the opposite of work. If God substitutes Himself for your sins and you offer your good deeds and works as having some sort of value in conjunction to His work. I think He would be pretty upset with that. Think how much more upset He would be if there existed a manufacturing facility that produced a large assortment of works and good deeds.

You know, good works and deeds aren’t bad in of themselves for they represent or identify us to one another. But as soon as a chair person in this manufacturing facility is declared and special redeeming values are given to these good works and deeds there is a problem. Now competition is created and the free substitute becomes devalued and attention is placed on another, further limiting the substitution to even fewer.

FX Turk said...

And that's all the Catholic apologetics I can stomach, folks. Thread closed.