"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Does the Bible say the Church rejected St. Paul and immediately apostatized?

In the context of the Catholic claim to succession, Kendra cites verses in scripture showing people “rejecting the truth within the church since before the church even began.”

My response which I will defend here is twofold:

One, that these verses do not show that the Church was “plunged into the long dark ages for more than a thousand years”.

And two, these verses do not show the Catholic conception of apostolic succession to be false.

The verses are from this article:
Here is the pertinent paragraph:

“Nevertheless, the devil also seems to have scored a great victory in that he instigated a deadly hatred, against the human teller of this secret. It is very important to see that from the time he told this mystery, Paul was forsaken by many of his old friends. Study carefully Philippians 2:20 and 21; Colossians 4:11; II Timothy 1:15; II Timothy 4:10; II Timothy 4:17; Ephesians 6:19 and 20. The great apostasy which plunged the Church in the long dark ages for more than a thousand years, commenced with the rejection of Paul’s message, mystery and ministry. At least eighty per cent of the confusion and delusion of our troubled days is also directly attributable to the same cause.”

First, I will admit that these verses showing very early apostasy are *consistent* with there being “The great apostasy which plunged the Church in[to] the long dark ages for more than a thousand years, commenced with the rejection of Paul’s message, mystery and ministry.”

But they do not prove any such thing happened, and they are also consistent with a quite opposite situation with a faithful remnant of a Church under severe persecution (what I would say), which is what we find in the scripture (St. John) and in the late 1st and early 2nd century with men like Pope St. Clement (90’s) and St. Ignatius (107). These men also speak extensively about unity and apostasy. Clement does so to the SAME Corinthian church Paul had written to! That right there shows that the Corinthians had not apostatized even as late as the 90’s. In 107 Ignatius writes to 6 different churches (including Ephesus, where St. John had been) that had not apostatized. And as far as these apostates rejecting Paul in some *specific* way, no, because every single other (I’m pretty sure) New Testament writer besides Paul gives examples of or speaks against apostasy. For instance if we look at 1John, which was probably written in the 90’s, he also talks about apostates and “anti-christs”. 30 years after Paul’s death there are still Christians apostatizing, just like today. Also Paul nowhere implies in these verses the apostasy is universal (could effect the entire Church.)

These verses do not prove a mass apostasy started with Paul any more than the rich young ruler leaving Jesus or many of his disciples who leave Him in John 6 proves that that was the point of a great apostasy, or that the apostles abandoning him on the cross proves it. We all can agree that in the early church before and after Paul there was apostasy. No one denies that, but the entire NT taken as a whole paints a picture of a Church losing apostates yet surviving intact.

Second, these verses do not show the succession (which we clearly see in scripture) to have been broken or to not be in effect in the NT. One of the great things about succession is that it shines light like a laser on apostasy. In fact it is the only way to objectively identify apostasy. When multiple men claim to speak with the authority of God and all use scripture to back their claims, succession can show us who is legit and who is not. The actual scriptural proofs for succession are not the topic here, so I wont side track.

My point is merely to say that these verses are consistent with apostolic succession and in no way disprove it or show it to not be in effect in NT times. Apostolic succession does not imply there will not be apostasy from the Church, in fact it assumes it! It is an objective way of identifying the Church and who seperates from the Church. Those who do not even claim apostolic succession (such as you Pauline Dispensationalists) generally have some other way of determining if they are an apostate. (for your denomination I believe it would be something on the order of "not recieving the free gift of God's grace") But history (even right away in NT history) has shown that abandoning physical apostolic succession and the teaching of the apostles is what makes an apostate. That is why John says “they went out from us”, and why Paul says he hands people over to Satan. There is a positional change, not just merely a change of doctrinal opinion, but a change in *who’s authority* the apostate is under. From the apostles and their successors they leave to go to some other authority.

I will comment briefly on a few of the verses:

Here is a link to Biblegateway with the scriptures all on the same page for reference:


Phil. 2:20-21: “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Paul is highly recommending Timothy, one of the faithful men whom he has ordained in the line of succession. His point is not to say the whole Church is apostate, but that Bishop Timothy is a diamond in the rough. (Btw, in 2 Tim. 2:2 Paul give the first four generations of apostolic succession.)

Col. 4:11: “and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.” He is talking about those “fellow workers” he is working with directly, face to face. He is not implying everyone else is apostate. Side note: Notice he is working for the “Kingdom” program as well, which is the only NT program.

1Tim. 1:15: “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.” Paul is talking about those who have left him to rot in prison, as the following verses show. He is not saying that every believer in all of Asia (Turkey) has apostatized.

2 Tim. 4:10, 17: (The writer of the article meant 16, not 17 I think) Again Paul is merely talking about those who have abandoned him in prison. As verse 9, and 10-15 put into context. There is no “Great Apostasy” that is “commencing with the rejection of Paul’s message”. Just in chapter 4 alone, Paul mentions 14 people by name that are not apostate, he mentions a whole household, plus 5 cities (including “all the brethren” at Rome, including the future pope Linus who is also mentioned) including Ephesus and Corinth which have non-apostate churches.

Eph. 6:19-20 I am at a loss. I don’t understand how this verse relates even a little bit. Paul asks for prayer that he may boldly preach the gospel. How does that relate? Perhaps it was mis-cited?

I set out to show two points. And I think I have shown here how #1 these verses *do not* prove that “The great apostasy […] plunged the Church into the long dark ages for more than a thousand years, commenc[ing] with the rejection of Paul’s message, mystery and ministry.” And that #2, they do not in any way contradict the clear NT teaching on apostolic succession. Even if half the NT Church apostatized, there still was a sizeable Church that we see (in the NT and early Christian writings) handing down the apostolic faith.

At the very least, someone inclined to use these verses as reason to believe that a “Great Apostasy” began directly after Paul must concede that it is quite reasonable for others to disagree about that particular interpretation even based on scripture alone. (The vast majority of Protestants disagree vigorously with that interpretation) If we include post NT history which shows a continuing faithful church directly seeded by the apostles…


...the case becomes even more undeniable.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Humor for non-fundamentalists (whether Protestant or Catholic)

"Augustine instigated persecutions against the Bible-believing Donatists who were striving to maintain pure churches after the apostolic faith."
Did you feel your head rotate 360? Bible believing Donatists? Yes that is a real quote. Of course they would hate what the Donatists believed as much as what the Catholics did. Evangelicals are so cute sometimes when they write this kind of stuff! Yes it is sad, but I know you want to hear more. You wont believe what the article says about Irenaeus!
I stumbled upon this article while doing a little research about Hyper-Dispensationalism and found this gem of an article full of hi-larious fundie quotes and one liners slandering the church fathers. If you have read ... well, any... church father, I mean any amount of any of them, you will love this article! Even Reformed people will love it! One refreshing thing for me though... they admit what many Protestants don't like to about saints like Irenaeus:

"He taught the Catholic heresy of “real presence,” saying, “The Eucharist becomes the body of Christ.”

Ahhh, good clean fun.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Did the Church in the "Dark Ages" keep the Bible from the people?

I was recently told in front of a large group of people, (with impressionable women and children present) that the Catholic Church kept the Bible out of the peoples hands in the "Dark Ages". I responded that that was a bald lie with not even a hint of truth, and that in fact the opposite was the case, and that I could provide proof of that fact. At that time I was asked to provide that proof, which I will now do. Unfortunately, my guess is that only one or two of those present will take the time necessary (15-30 minutes) to read this response and the recommended reading. So the damage is most likely done. They quite possibly will be repeating the same fanciful tale a decade from now. Lord have mercy on that kind of slander that grows legs and not ears. If one has the time to make uninformed statements, they should have the time to be corrected and repent of their ignorance and defamation. In my experience however, it is rarely done. As St. James says in Ch. 3 of his letter:
"For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."

Saying that the institutional Catholic Church, the sole religious authority of an entire continent for the thousand years of the medieval period, was keeping the bible away from people either physically or by preventing translation into their vernacular language is a big, bold claim. One that should pop out of the history books if true (or if false). And if true, the Catholic Church would have been gravely evil. But if false, it would be quite a slander for someone to claim this. Of course this is a common narrative for Protestants though and is often just repeated without inquiry. It has become part of the "founding myth" of Protestants who fancy themselves the protectors and promoters of the Bible. So lets briefly examine the claim. I will pass on a couple links that if read will leave absolutely no doubt in the mind of a serious human being of good will that the claim is false.
Henry Graham's Where We Got the Bible is what I found most helpful. Chapters 9-12 are amazing. But if you only have a half hour or so, chapter 11 is an absolute must. If you cant take the time to read Ch. 11, please do not comment here or broach the topic with me ever again. I will not play games with the truth. And like I said, to make big statements but not wish to engage critically about them is just slimy. Better to not pontificate at all than to throw empty words of slander out there with no proof. So I encourage any Protestant reader here to read chapter 11.
Here is the opening paragraph and some passages from chapter 11 with my emphasis.
...people who could read at all in the Middle Ages could read Latin: [DM: the Latin Vulgate was widely available of course] hence there was little need for the Church to issue the Scriptures in any other language. But as a matter of fact she did in many countries put the Scriptures in the hands of her children in their own tongue. (I) We know from history that there were popular translations of the Bible and Gospels in Spanish, Italian, Danish, French, Norwegian, Polish, Bohemian and Hungarian for the Catholics of those lands before the days of printing, but we shall confine ourselves to England, so as to refute once more the common fallacy that John Wycliff was the first to place an English translation of the Scriptures in the hands of the English people in 1382.

Here (from Ch. 11) is a taste of what St. Thomas More had to say about the topic in the 16th century (my emphasis):
Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England under Henry VIII who says: 'The whole Bible long before Wycliff's day was by virtuous and well-learned men translated into the English tongue, and by good and godly people with devotion and soberness well and reverently read' (Dialogues III). Again, 'The clergy keep no Bibles from the laity but such translations as be either not yet approved for good, or such as be already reproved for naught (i.e., bad, naughty) as Wycliff's was. For, as for old ones that were before Wycliff's days, they remain lawful and be in some folks' hand. I myself have seen, and can show you, Bibles, fair and old which have been known and seen by the Bishop of the Diocese, and left in laymen's hands and women's too, such as he knew for good and Catholic folk, that used them with soberness and devotion.'

(2) But you will say, that is the witness of a Roman Catholic. Well, I shall advance Protestant testimony also...

[dm: Next is where the myth breaks down badly. The translators of the Authorized Version explode it themselves (my emphasis): ]

The translators of the Authorised Version, in their 'Preface', referring to previous translations of the Scriptures into the language of the people, make the following important statements. After speaking of the Greek and Latin Versions, they proceed:

'The godly-learned were not content to have the Scriptures in the language which themselves understood, Greek and Latin ... but also for the behoof and edifying of the unlearned which hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and had souls to be saved as well as they, they provided translations into the Vulgar for their countrymen, insomuch that most nations under Heaven did shortly after their conversion hear Christ speaking unto them in their Mother tongue, not by the voice of their minister only but also by the written word translated.'
Now, as all these nations were certainly converted by the Roman Catholic Church, for there was then no other to send missionaries to convert anybody, this is really a valuable admission. The Translators of 1611, then, after enumerating many converted nations that had the Vernacular Scriptures, come to the case of England, and include it among the others.
'Much about that time,' they say (1360), even in our King Richard the Second's days, John Trevisa translated them into English, and many English Bibles in written hand are yet to be seen that divers translated, as it is very probable, in that age . ... So that, to have the Scriptures in the mother tongue is not a quaint conceit lately taken up, either by the Lord Cromwell in England [or others] ... but hath been thought upon, and put in practice of old, even from the first times of the conversion of any nation.'
This testimony, from the Preface, (too little known) of their own Authorised Bible, ought surely to carry some weight with well disposed Protestants.

So having read at least chapter 11 you can now admit this fantasy of the medieval Catholic Church squirrelling away the scripture is false and that the opposite is the case, the Catholic Church was the guardian and disseminator of the Scriptures in the Middle Ages, as even the King James preface says.
Feel free to comment below.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Preliminary questions to "two gospels" discussion

Jed and Kendra,

I have gone through the document you linked, at http://www.matthewmcgee.org/dispguid.html, and it is a really good (but brief) summary. It is an overview full of lots of statements. And that is fine, it was not attempting to go in depth on any of them. I would like to continue on the topic of the different gospels of Paul and Peter if you are game. Would the other articles on the Matthew Mcgee site be in line with your thinking? If not, how not? Also is there any "exceptions you guys take to Stam. Anything in his book you would not agree with? And please, if you don't want to go into all this, please let me know and I will not go into it with you. (although I will still be going into it, but perhaps less informed than if you or Doug or someone engaged me on it first)

As a preliminary question to the (Disp. of law/Disp. of grace) conversation (which I am still in process of further researching if you have other resources to offer), I want to know if we agree on something or not. My claim is this:

All interpretive methods (paradigms) in Protestantism which rely on the concept of sola Scriptura are on the same level of authority. Put another way, there is no principled reason to choose one method over another, other than personal conviction of the methods reliability.

I don't mean this as an insult in any way, it seems just to be true. But I think it will help me understand your epistemology more to know if you agree with this statement or not. If we get too bogged down and can't agree very much on the epistemology, we could just set it aside. But otherwise it will help me narrow the focus of my questions.

Could I try an experiment to show you where I am coming from here? Read the following link from a Reformed perspective. If you don’t have time, then just read my excerpts below. I think these statements are common to all Protestant interpretive paradigms. I will put in red the parts I think you would replace with other more "Mid-Acts Dispensational" words. See if you find this as interesting as I do:


“At first glance, it is apparent that the Bible is a very complex book: it was written in three different languages, by dozens of human authors, over the course of many centuries, and in a wide variety of styles and genres. However, beneath this dauntingly complicated surface, there must be a unified purpose and message; … So what is that unified message of the Bible?... the idea which most rigorously allows the Bible itself to indicate its own major emphases and underlying structural elements, is commonly called Covenant Theology.”

However, the sad truth is that, in contemporary Evangelicalism, many believers have only a very fuzzy understanding (at best) of this helpful and biblically-faithful way of understanding the over-arching message of the scriptures. And yet, in the author's experience, there are few teachings which will enable a Christian to make better and more fruitful use of his scripture-reading than the basic components of Covenant Theology – understand these few, scriptural themes, and you will be able to mark out and follow the general flow of the unfolding saga of redemptive history, as recorded in God's Word.”

“Basically, Covenant Theology attempts to unfold the biblical story with constant reference to the universal display and glorification of God…”

Covenant Theology differs from other systems in that it sees the biblical structure giving great weight and importance to a series of divine covenants. These covenants are like the framework of a house – without them, all the doctrines and stories in the Bible fall down into a hopelessly confused jumble of unrelated bits of information.”…

“So what are these covenants? Theologians speak, first, of a Covenant of Redemption, made between the members of the Godhead; second, of a Covenant of Works, made between God and man; and third, of a Covenant of Grace; which is basically a repetition to man of the first Covenant of Works, with the added proviso that a Redeemer would be provided to fulfill the required works in the place of all covenant-members, as their federal head. Let's look at each of these three covenants in a little more detail…”

O.k. so what I think is interesting is that the language here (minus the red) is almost identical to what I read from Traditional Dispensationalists, Mid-Acts Dispensationalists, Lutherans, Methodists, etc, etc. Not to even mention more unorthodox people like Harold Camping or worse weirdos.

Now here is a selection from the Matthew McGee article you linked:
"One aspect of the context which is often overlooked is the dispensation. God has provided His Word in the Bible in several different dispensations. Every Bible passage is written in the context of one dispensation or another. Therefore, proper understanding of the different dispensations is needed in order to understand the context of each Bible passage. After becoming aware of this need, many Bible students will then ask about how they can determine which dispensation any particular Bible passage is under, so that they can more fully comprehend the context of the passage."
There are some obvious similarities in their views of the superiority and simplicity of their interpretive method, but of course the results of those methods are quite different.
The following are some facts I think are uncontroversial. If you disagree with these facts, please, by all means tell me, but honestly they seem to be obviously true to anyone who looks at the evidence. So, concerning the proponents of the various Protestant interpretive paradigms:

1. They all (using the same language) claim that their method is clear and biblical.
2. They all claim their method "gets to the bottom" of things, and simplifies interpretation by focusing on some key interpretive principle that other Christians have ignored or missed. (covenants for Reformed, dispensations for Dispensationalists, Law/gospel for Lutherans the quadrilateral for Methodists, etc.).
3.They generally claim other Christians "just don't understand" their interpretive method, and if they did, would adopt it.
4. They all can be assumed to have good motives, to be followers of Christ, and to have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, they all desire the truth of God's infallible word, and are using the method of interpretation that they truly and honestly believe gets closest to the truth of the scripture.
5. They all pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit to properly interpret.
6. They all can be assumed to have studied the other methods of interpretation and found them to not be the right ones.
7. They all believe ONLY the Bible is authoritative for faith and practice.
8. They all disagree on how to interpret the bible at key points of doctrine, and they all disagree on what those doctrines actually are. (they take different roads, and find different destinations.)

So to summarize, do you agree with my statement at the beginning of the post, and do you agree with these 8 statements?


David Meyer
P.S. If we continue the conversation, I will try to keep things short. Staying on topic will really help me with that.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Longish reply to Bob

You said:

“I imagine that the table is fenced on both sides - to the detriment of both.”

Hmm, I’m not sure I am smelling what you are cooking here Bob. Why is it a detriment or a bad thing? Is it a bad thing if your Pastor or my Priest sees a guy with a shirt that says “I’m a Mormon” or “I am an active homosexual” and denies him access to the sacraments (or ordinance in your current case)? No way. That is a good thing. The sacraments are given through the Church, to members of the Church (with the exception of baptism). What possible good does it do to profane Christ’s Body and Blood by giving it to someone who openly places themselves outside of the Church founded by Christ, or openly confesses heresy? And why is that the new assumed orthodoxy for evangelicals? The Reformers would bristle at your idea of open communion as being rank heresy, because they knew that the true church must confess the same faith, and heretics must be expelled just as Jesus, John, Paul, etc. tell us to.
Communing heretics does not bring more unity to Christians, it only waters down the faith to a common denominator of easy belief that gets more and more watered down all the time. What about Mormons Bob, should I reach out to Mormons and go chomp their bits of wonder bread in their “church” on Sunday morning? Should I let them receive the same precious Eucharist I receive from the Priest in the Catholic Church when St. Paul explicitly says it will bring them condemnation to eat it? I hope I don’t hate them enough to kill their soul that way.

No offense Bob, but in your congregation there is no sacrifice of Christ on Sunday morning. There is no Mass. There is no sacramental apostolic succession, no transubstantiation. I mean, it is not an insult, that is what they believe. So how could I go there in place of the Mass? By their own admission, they believe the bread they eat and juice (I can’t imagine it is wine) they drink (who knows how often… once a month?) is merely a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice, and has no saving power as a sacrament. Not only that, but there would be no sacramental confession in your church. So in all these ways I could just not even take part. There is no access to the grace of God for me there (according to Catholic belief). Even Jed barely could. As soon as the sermon got around to the great commission, Jed would tell you that your pastor is not rightly dividing the word, and has the biblical programs all mixed up, that the 4 gospels are written only to Jews, and not to us. He would also say that you shouldnt water baptize… again different program. Although he would commune on the bread with you… because he does not view it as a sacrament, does not view it as the flesh of Christ, and does not view it as infusing sanctifying grace into the soul of the willing receiver. So yes, you and Jed could commune together because he (and you?) is a Zwinglian when it comes to the Eucharist. For some reason you think non-Zwinglians should just give up their firmly held convictions and commune with you. (Even many Lutherans and Anglicans would be on my team here btw, not just Catholics and Orthodox)

You said:

“As far as Catholicism (or Protestantism) being a lie - I don't think that the question is valid.”

Well, you are wrong. Here is how. Catholicism claims a set of beliefs we will call “X”, and they believe it to be absolutely true. No argument there I assume. Protestant groups each claim various doctrines, but let’s focus on just one… I like oatmeal so how about Quakers. Quakers are no Papists, so you will agree that they believe “Y” which could be stated in terms of “NOT X”. And they believe “NOT X” to be true.
So we have X and –X. Bob, X does not equal –X. One is right and one is wrong, OR both are wrong, but there is no third option Bob. Agreed? Therefore one or both of these creeds (Catholic or Quaker) is a lie. Therefore the question is quite valid.

“It can be easily proven that protestants believe / do / behave contrary to God's will.”

I agree.

“Their doctrines have flaws, their assertions are wrong, and it shows in what they believe and how they live their lives.”

I agree the doctrines are wrong, but I think their lives could be messed up even with perfect doctrine.

“The fact that there are so many denominations proves that all protestants are failed human beings.”

I disagree. These are two separate questions and your conclusion does not follow from the premise. If all Protestants were united with the same creed under …say, Lutheranism, they would still all be failed humans. So therefore whether they are united or divided, either situation leads to the result you say division leads to. Therefore those criteria (unity or disunity) do not bear on whether they are failed people. Also I would rephrase and say “The fact that there are so many denominations proves that sola scriptura cannot provide an authoritative source of unity”. That is a statement that we can prove from history.

“Unfortunately, the same can also be said of Roman Catholics.”

Some can, some can’t.

“Their doctrines have been (and still are) flawed,”

Not true. With no examples provided, I chalk this up to mere assertion. The Church has never proclaimed a false doctrine to be believed by the faithful. Never. If you take the time to try to find even one instance, you might end up Catholic like I did. It is absolutely a miracle that in 2000 years of history, with (some) pimping, murderous, lying, thieving Popes, that no doctrines ever taught by the Magisterium have ever contradicted each other. Knowing human nature is fallen, this is one of the best proofs of Christ leading His Church and keeping her from error. There is NO OTHER example of anything close to this situation in history. If you can find one, I am all ears.

“their assertions are wrong, and it shows in what they believe and how they live their lives.”

Perhaps individuals, but the Church as a whole is spotless and does not lie. The one holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church is all of those 4 things, while individuals will always have sin of course.

“The fact that the reformation happened proves that Roman Catholics are failed human beings.”

This is true in a sense, because the people who left were Roman Catholics who turned their back on the Church founded by Christ, so yes, they failed. It is also true that every Roman Cathiolic (or other eastern Catholics) are all sinners and fail daily to live for Christ, this does not need to be proved, I fully admit it and it is part of Catholic doctrine. I just went to confession on Sunday morning and the Priest gave me quite a penance, so believe me, I know I suck dude. But in the way I think you mean it, the statement is not true. Your conclusion does not follow from the premise. For instance, If I were to say “The fact that the Donatist schism happened in the 4th century proves that Roman Catholics are failed human beings.”, I don’t think you would agree. The Donatists were the ones at fault, and were heretics by nearly any Protestant reckoning. They chose to separate from the Catholic Church, and therefore the Church is not to blame. In fact, the Church (post-Donatist schism) could theoretically be sinless, and the Donatists could still have left. Likewise if the Church could have said or done something loving to woo the Donatists back, but individuals in the Church chose in their sin and pride to not do so, that would not mean that the Churches doctrine was false, or that the Church was at fault for the sin of the Donatists, any more than a girl dressing scantily means rape is ok.

“My contention through this is that it isn't the RC's vs P's. We are all collectively and currently the Church universal and indivisible, the bride of Christ.”
If you only read and answer one thing in my extended rant here, let it be this please:

If the Church as you conceive it was NOT “the Church universal and indivisible” but instead was actually fragmented and divisible, what would look different?

Thought experiment Bob. Let’s say I take you to an insane asylum (where I reside btw tehe..hehe) and introduce you to a man who says he is Barack Obama. I then tell the man “Hey bud, pretend for just a moment you are wrong and you are not Barack Obama. What would be different?” So the man looks around and sees guys in pajamas drooling and playing checkers and peeing their pants and yelling. He checks his wallet for his ID and it says “Biff Jones”, he thinks back to where he was born, and his parents were white and from Canada. He calls for the secret service to arrest you and me and no one shows up. “hmm,” he thinks, “If I were wrong, and I really weren’t Obama, nothing would be different than they are right now. Things would be just like this.” If he is thinking properly, this should be a clue to him that there is a very good chance he is not Barack Obama. Unless an elaborate brainwashing, plastic surgery, and body switch scenario was perpetrated by the CIA, which is just not plausible. (unless your one on those wako 9-11 truthers… hehe just kidding Bob)

So I ask you again Bob:
“If the Church as you conceive it was NOT “the Church universal [catholic] and indivisible” but instead was actually fragmented and divisible, what would look different?”

I think you are forced to answer “nothing”. And if that is the answer, you need to consider that your conception of what constitutes the Church is must be wrong. In a fragmented Church you would expect to find contradictory doctrines set forth as both being true. In your conception of the Church, that is what you find Bob. If you consider Catholics part of your Church, then it is even more provable. Example: Catholics believe as a matter of faith that the elements become the actual Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Christ when the priest says the words of consecration. Zwinglians (Evangelicals are nearly all Zwinglians), who you would say are in the Church, believe that is not true, and is actually idolatry. So you conception of the Church has both of these (and many more) disagreeing bodies in the ONE Church. It looks exactly like a fragmented, divisible Church. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck… it’s a duck Bob.

For myself, when I ask the question:
“If the “Church” as the Catholic Church conceives herself was NOT “the Church universal and indivisible” but instead was actually fragmented and divisible, what would look different?”
There are A TON of differences. First off, there would have to be different creeds and different doctrines being proclaimed by various bishops as necessary to believe. There would have to be no Magisterium, no records of sacramental apostolic succession, no Pope who all his brother bishops are unified with. There would have to be contradictory dogmas that I could point to within the one Catholic Church.

But I can’t point to any of that. And you can’t accuse the Catholic Church of any of that. You may not like some of it’s doctrines, but you can’t deny that the whole Catholic Church (minus the desenters present in any group) affirms them and is united under the Pope, and can point historically to physical succession from the Apostles, and has ONE creed and ONE belief about the Eucharist, and ONE belief about salvation, Church government, Sacraments, etc…

“The fact that saving grace is evident in both the RC and P churches proves that at the very least the holy spirit is present and working in both factions.”
The Catholic Church agrees 100% (And so do I)
“This is the same holy spirit that preserves its church - apparently without regard to denomination.”

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Your conception of the Church is one where contradictory truths are within the one Church Bob. That is not a work of the Holy Spirit. It is almost mathematical how easy it is to show that: Multiple “truths”=oxymoron=false=Not a work of the Holy Spirit=Not the Church. Your conception of the Church is false. The Church will always be one. 1John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

By the mere fact of a group separating from or remaining separated from the Church, they show themselves to not be in the unity of the one Church.
I think you are conflating the fact that the Spirit can work in someone’s life with that being the way we identify the Church. The Spirit can work in a Muslims life to draw him to Christ, yet they are not yet in the Church. The Church is identified in the Nicene creed as “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.” The council fathers who wrote those words specifically pointing out 4 VISIBLE things to look for to identify the Church. To make those words fit your model of the Church, you need to make all 4 of them INVISIBLE. Think about it Bob, here is the Protestant definition of these identifiers:

ONE: Not really one visibly or with common doctrines or hierarchy, but “one” in some sort of invisible “spiritual” way where nobody can really see it.
HOLY: We don’t really need to venerate the communion of Saints as being the holy ones among us, in fact we are all saints AND sinners at the same time, it is a sort of “invisible” holiness of Christ that covers us that no one can see.
CATHOLIC [universal]: The Church is wherever people who “believe in Jesus” and show fruit of having some amount of the Holy Spirit, so that means it is universal. But not Mormons, JW’s, etc. because their fruit is not from the Spirit and the don’t really believe in Jesus. So really “universal” means invisible and everywhere, mushed around the globe in a “spiritual” way that can only be verified one person at a time.
APOSTOLIC: The true Church always agrees with what I think the Apostolic doctrine was. So Mormons are not in the Church because their doctrine does not agree with my conception of the Apostles doctrine. “Apostolic” does NOT mean (like Catholics believe) that sacramental apostolic succession will preserve the Apostles doctrine.

“Not believing lies is a part of the sanctification process. That process has lead you to the RC church. I don't think my sanctification is taking me in the same direction.”

One of us is dreadfully wrong Bob, we can’t both be right, although we could both be wrong. But we cannot both be standing in the truth. So the one (or both) of us who is believing a lie, that lie cannot be part of their sanctification.

You quoted me saying:

"I really believe the Catholic Church is the only hope for humanity"

Then you said:
“I don't. I believe that Christ is the only hope for humanity”

Again, it is not either/or. When Paul raised from the dead that kid who fell from the window, was it either Paul or Jesus that healed the boy? No way. It does not have to be seen in that either/or context. With the proper understanding of the relationship between Jesus and Paul, It is both/and. So when I say the Catholic Church is the only hope, I am saying that Jesus, working through His supernatural Body, the Church, is the only hope.

“and he does not confine his workings to the RC church.”

Yes He does. All grace that comes from God flows from the Father, to Christ, to Mary, to the Catholic Church, then to the recipient here on earth. Any working of the Holy Spirit, all salvation, all grace, all sanctification comes from the Church. Even the Westminster Confession says all salvation comes through “the Church” as they conceived it. This is nothing new. So if we see people coming to know Christ through a Mormon or Assemby of God or Presbyterian missionary, those graces and that salvation have flowed through the institutional Catholic Church whose head is the Pope in Rome, the vicar of Christ on earth. My baptism on a lake boat launch by an Assemblies of God Pastor, unwittingly to him, was done under the authority of and through the Catholic Church. Again, seeing the Holy Spirit work is not evidence that an organization belongs to the Church. There are Muslim charities which do much good, and that good is from the Holy Spirit, but they are not the Church.

Re: 1 Peter 2 you said:
“It is our confession that causes us to be rocks.”

Again the either/or fallacy will come into play here. Yes, when we make that confession, we become rocks, I don’t deny it. And Peter’s confession IS the rock. And Jesus IS the Rock. And PETER IS the rock as well. But which rock has all authority? Which rock has the keys to administrate that authority? Please tell me that you have them Bob. I am itching to hear that! But of course we don’t. Peter was given them. HE is the rock upon which the Church is built in the sense of having Christ’s delegated authority. Just as Christ is the Rock upon which the Church is built. Just as Peter’s confession is the rock upon which the Church is built. And if you want to join in and say you are a rock in the foundation because of your common confession with Peter, go ahead. As much as you are a faithful member of Christ’s Body, you build up the Church and support it… great, you ROCK ON dude. But there is an elephant in your rocky living room Barney Rubble: You can’t say you have the keys to the kingdom of heaven, because the rock of Peter has them. You could not possibly be that cocky to say Christ is giving Bob Brenton the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven in Matt. 16. (with authority to bind and loose “whatsoever”). That would be David Koresh weird. So again, the either/or thing is not how Catholics view this topic. (or justification/sanctification, Scripture/Tradition, faith/works, Grace/obedience)

God ALWAYS makes the first move in Catholic theology. Whether in salvation in giving us grace to be able to respond to Him, or in Justification by actually infusing us with sanctifying grace and making us holy. It is all about Christ and His work in His Church. And Christ has ALL authority in heaven and earth. That does not conflict with the successor of Peter being Christ’s “prime minister”.

And if the Papacy was not being supernaturally protected from teaching error and from dissolving, why is it here after 2000 years? It takes a lot of na├»ve trust in the goodness of man to believe that sinful men, unguided by the Holy Spirit, could keep the largest single human organization running under the authority of one (sometimes quite incompetent and evil) man for 2000 years! And it is still growing! I don’t have the stomach to believe humanity could accomplish that unaided by God Himself.

Sorry for the long reply, but I wanted to cover all the points you brought up. I hope Deb and the lil’ ones are doing good and all is well for you. Peace to you bro.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Conversation with Jed, Kendra and Bob continued...

Jed you said:

"All authority was transferred (for our dispensation) to Paul."

The early Church and all that the fathers wrote extensively in direct contradiction to that. I think that you will need to explain that somehow. But in the meantime, lets assume for sake of argument that all the writings of the Chruch outside of scripture was all just rank heresy.

 Consider the direct language of the following scriptures which I think you and Stam will heartily agree show Peter recieving all the authority of Christ on earth to lead His Church.

Matt. 16:17-19 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Stam (he has done his homework) gives the Old Testament reasoning behind the keys and interprets this surprisingly like a Catholic! (I have NEVER seen a Protestant interpret it this way or even use this verse from Isaiah. Good for Stam):

Isaiah 22:20-24 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne [seat, or cathedra] to his father's house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.

Jn. 20:21-23 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Jn. 21:15-17 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
and my favorite:

Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you [all the apostles] as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Remember Jed, you hold to sola scriptura, not me. so let's be clear here, I don't need to prove my case from the scripture for my position to be internally consistent. For me, the Tradition of the early church and the last 2000 years carries a lot of weight alongside scripture, and obviously the current magisterium does as well. But you do need to unambiguously show your position from the 66 books you hold to be scripture.

So considering the direct language of these and other scriptures where the keys are given to Peter (which, wondrously, you agree with!), what similar scriptures are there showing that, as you say, "All authority was transferred (for our dispensation) to Paul." ? I gave you my best, and have more waiting in the wings if you want them. So give me your best, most clear and explicit exegesis.



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Reply to my Nephew Jed on Facebook

Here is the video I could not put in the comments:

Jed you said:
Except logic would ask if there are 13 apostles the 12 and Paul why would you send the 12 to minister to a 2 million people and the other guy (or two if you want to be specific and include Barnabas) to 1 billion? And how can it be a misuse ...of scripture when Paul repetitively make a big deal of being the apostle to the gentiles.

Rom 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

1Ti 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

2Ti 1:11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

He also specifically mentions that he has a special message.

1Co 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

Eph 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

Col 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

The word dispensation is the Greek word Oikonomia which means rules of administration.
Facebook stinks for these sort of conversations. I cant even figure out how to link to our conversation over there. I am linking to my blog so I can use bold and quoteblocks and such. You said: “why would you send the 12 to minister to a 2 million people and the other guy ... to 1 billion?” I don't know. It wasn't me who sent them. ;-) Why did God make mosquitoes? Doesn't seem “logical” to me, but He did. What are you saying here though, I am not sure?
I think there is an error of assumption in your question though Jed, that the 12 and Paul have separate ministries to the point of different gospels. Just because Paul is sent to the gentiles does not mean he is is exclusively ministering to gentiles. And we see in scripture he is not. He always goes to the synagogue first when coming to a town. He preaches to many Jews AND gentiles the same message of grace in Christ. (which includes repentance and is also called the gospel of the kingdom by him)...”testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21) Acts 20 is an awesome example of this. Read the whole portion of v17-32 and it is real clear. I will bold the sections I think are very pertinent to our discussion.

From Miletus he (St. Paul) sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:17-32).

Notice that for Paul, the "gospel of the grace of God" and the "kingdom of God" are the same thing. Not only that, but Paul's gospel includes repentance. So "Paul's gospel" is the same as "peter's gospel". The only difference is one of mission. Paul's mission was to go to the gentiles, something that was revealed to him, yes. And something that was a mystery. It was also revealed to Peter of course in the incident with Peter preaching to Cornelius (a gentile), and was quite a mystery to him as well.

You said:
And how can it be a misuse ...of scripture when Paul repetitively make a big deal of being the apostle to the gentiles.
The misuse I was referring to was Stam in chapter 9 of Things that Differ When all Galatians 2 says is that Peter, James and John "gave to me [Paul] and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship: that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision:" and it also shows how Paul corrected Peter's hypocrisy.

I then said:
That is a lot to get out of that verse. Just because they are focusing on different groups of people does not mean there are 2 "programs" or gospels any more than being a missionary to Borneo means there is a special "Borneo" program different from other gospels. This is simply a misuse of scripture.
So I stand by my statement that that is a misuse. It is reading into the scripture to say they preached different gospels in Gal. 2. Even the "withstood Peter to the face" part of Gal. 2 merely shows hypocrisy on Peter's part. Where in the world does it show a handing on of (or losing of) the authority of the keys? Where does it show that different gospels were being preached? All it shows is that Paul and Barn were sent to preach the ONE gospel to to gentiles. Other than the Stam scripture in Gal.2, the scriptures you give show that Paul's mission was to the gentiles. You are right Jed when you say:
"Paul repetitively make a big deal of being the apostle to the gentiles."

Yes, yes, yes he does make a big deal about it. And I can't think of any Christians who deny that he is the apostle to the gentiles! But what he does not do is say that his apostleship is to preach a different gospel, which really is the only disagreement between your religion and mine (and other non-ultra-dispensationalist Christians) The scripture you give simply do not show what you need to show: that he had a unique gospel in its content and not merely in it's recipients. I really think this is what you are trying to show right? Here are the verses you give one by one followed by my comment:
Rom 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
His calling is to go to the gentiles, and that it is an important calling. Nothing here about a different gospel from that of Peter and the 12. Next one:

1Ti 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
His mission is to preach, and to be an Apostle, and to go to the gentiles. Nothing here about a different gospel from that of Peter and the 12. Next one:

2Ti 1:11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
Again, his mission is to preach, and to be an Apostle, and to go to the gentiles. Nothing here about a different gospel from that of Peter and the 12.

These next scriptures you preface with the following:
"He also specifically mentions that he has a special message:"

So let's see the special (by which I will assume you mean different) message.

1Co 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
So he is a minister of the gospel. I mean, he even says THE gospel! Nothing here about a different gospel from that of Peter and the 12.

Eph 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
Again, he has been given the task of "dispensing" or administering, or preaching THE gospel to the gentiles. Who disagrees with that? Nothing here about a different gospel from that of Peter and the 12.
Col 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
Same as the other verses, he has been made a minister of the gospel. Is he special? Yes. He is one of the greatest men who have ever lived! He was given one of the most important tasks ever given to anyone, to bring gentiles into the Church. But nothing here about a different gospel from that of Peter and the 12.

So I think I have shown that the verses you provided do not say what you think they say (that Paul preached a different gospel from that of Peter and the 12). In addition I provided evidence from Acts 20 showing that Paul's gospel included repentance, was called the gospel of the kingdom AND the gospel of grace, was aimed at Jews AND gentiles, and was described as being received from God, all written to the same bishops of the same local church, in the same chapter of scripture. I'll throw in Acts 26:20:

First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

But to get back to the original point of all this, none of what you provided shows how the keys were lost by Peter. If you say (with Stam) that Peter had the keys at some point, I think you need to show when they were lost. Paul pointing out Peters hypocrisy did not somehow do it. Paul being given a mission to the preach the gospel to gentiles does not do it. So what does it? When did Peter lose the keys?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Can't wait for this in November

Here is an excerpt from the "Catholicism" series being aired on PBS this fall. Father Barron is great. I can't wait.