Friday, March 16, 2007

What Year Was Your Denomination Founded?

Couldn't resist: Find Out The History of Your Church. (Warning, the historical accuracy of this list may cause some to accuse it of a Catholic bias)

13 comments:

Amber said...

The first non-denominational church in America was Kenilworth Union Church, Kenilworth, Illinois, according to Wikipedia. I called to see when they were founded and they said 1891. To my knowledge, this is the best guess to the start of non-denominationalism, which is the faith "tradition" I come from.

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

I was a little suspicious about that one, but I didnt know it went back that far! Thanks for clearing it up.

Kenny Pearce said...

There are a couple of other suspect lines.

First, one cannot determine, without a lot of theological/ecclesiological assumptions, just who broke away from whom in the Great Schism. (Also, a minor point - it is impossible to assign a specific year to the Great Schism - there were periods of schism before 1054 and periods of reunion after.) Stating things this way cannot reasonably be called "historical accuracy" because there's nothing historically objective about this claim. Actually, to say that the modern Roman Catholic Church (or any other modern church) is the same Church that was founded by Jesus is a claim that needs a great deal of defense, and I suspect the required defense goes far beyond mere study of history, because no church has perfect continuity of organization with that one. If, however, we were to study it on the basis of organizational continuity as objectively historically verifiable and nothing else, the Eastern Orthodox Church would almost certainly score higher than the Roman Catholic Church, because there is no evidence whatsoever that Peter ever claimed the type of authority the Papacy has claimed for itself over the past thousand years. (And there are many other instances of the Catholic hierarchy making claims of authority that exceed any claim known to have been made by the early church.)

Second, it is simply false to say that "Born Again" is a church group founded in the 1970s. "Born Again" is what Jesus says you must be in order to "see the Kingdom of God," i.e. in order to be a Christian at all (John 3:3).

Protestants of course do not believe in the doctrine of apostolic succession, at least not in the sense Catholics and Orthodox do, so it doesn't particularly matter to us when the particular institutional church we belong to was founded. If you could argue that the views represented by some church do not predate some particular era, that would be a claim that mattered.

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Thanks for the comments Kenny.

The great schism is a fairly objective schism of the East & West. The year 1054 points to a most pronounced climax of the (not merely recent) tensions that had existed between the East & the Western parts of the Catholic Church. Congregations did break off and rejoin the Catholic Church prior to 1054 but that year is accepted among historians as when we can semi-officially point to a split.

Now as for who broke off from who, sure thats debatable but remember, the Church split. This is very different from the reformation. The Church did not split during the reformation, the reformers formed a new tradition. Eastern Orthodox Christians still have valid sacraments whereas Protestants do not (according to the Catholic Church) therefore it is a much different situation than the Reformation.

The Orthodox, like Catholics maintain... well.. orthodoxy. We differ only a few very small issues (outside of Church government) and the split was over government and not over theology. In other words, no one started teaching a new doctrine like Martin Luther.

Lastly, as James Likoudos (author of "Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism" and former Greek Orthodox (now Catholic) says, there is no such thing as the 'Eastern Orthodox Church' as you called it. There are only churchES, as the different churches and patriarchates disagree on various issues between themselves. Also, the Orthodox churches (and dont get me wrong I love them) have a strong tendency to nationalize. You cant remove the "Russian" from the Russian Orthodox churches. But the Catholic Church is the Catholic Church whether in Charlotte, NC or in Quiapo, Philippines (I know, I've been to masses in both places)

Now as for whether the Roman Catholic Church is the same as the one started by Jesus is not up for discussion. It is an objective fact that the Catholic Church extends to Christ. If you talk to an Eastern Orthodox person, they will tell you they split from the West because they 'wanted to stay the same' and Rome 'wanted to change'. But the changes in the Church which developed over the centuries can all be historically monitored. Did the Church at one time lack a modern day understanding of the papacy? Sure they did. Doesnt prove a thing. The Church didnt always have a modern day perspective of the Trinity either!

What did Christ say? 'the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants'. If you were to find a church that looked like the early Church, you could rest assured you've stumbled into a group of heretics!

The early Church was entirely (not mostly) Jewish, they kept Torah, they didnt believe in the Trinity (not like we do anyhow), they barely understood Christ's divinity, they had no official structure, they had no official canon, they operated on word of mouth etc.. etc...

But instead of staying in the ground, a seed grows. Likewise, the Church, the new Israel, the bride of Christ grows as well.

So yes, it could be argued that the hierarchy of the Eastern churches more closely resembles the Church (of about 90AD - 350AD) the question then comes down to interpretation of key Scripture passages (namely those in Matthew 16)

"If, however, we were to study it on the basis of organizational continuity as objectively historically verifiable and nothing else, the Eastern Orthodox Church would almost certainly score higher than the Roman Catholic Church, because there is no evidence whatsoever that Peter ever claimed the type of authority the Papacy has claimed for itself over the past thousand years"

I appreciate your points but this statement could hardly be any more false. From Bruce Shelley (unambiguously anti-Catholic Protestant historian) on page 133 of his book "Church History in Plain Language:

"the concept of papal rule of the whole church was established by slow and painful stages. Leo is a major figure in that process because he provides for the first time the biblical and theological bases of the papal claim."

Aside from the objective fact that Mr. Shelley is entirely wrong on that point, even if we take his anti-Catholic position, it still puts the beginning of unequivocal papal claims no later than 460 AD. Much much too early for your above statement to be true. Even if we use that as a starting point, the Catholic Church has claim to nearly 600 years of uninterrupted, papal rule and Church structure acting in almost exactly the same way as it does today. Again, there were many "papists" before this including the Protestant's beloved Saint Augustine (yes there's a reason why he's a saint):

"[In] the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should.... With you, where there is none of these things to attract or keep me.... No one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion.... For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church." (Against the Epistle of Manichaeus [Contra Epistolam Manichaei Quam Vacant Fundamenti.)

and his predecessor, Saint Ambrose:

"It is Peter himself that He says, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.' Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church, no death is there, but life eternal." (Commentaries on Twelve of David's Psalms 40,30)

Both of these predating Mr. Shelley's attempt to discredit the orthodox of papal authority. This of course speaks nothing of Saint Clement (1st century) and his letter to the Corinthians in which he demands obedience to the Church at Rome (and this while St. John is still alive!)

So now there are plenty of resources you can go to on this discussion. Here is a Orthodox vs Catholic debate:

http://www.a2z.org/acts/articles/primacy/

Now I have spent much more time on your comments about Eastern Orthodoxy because, they're a lot closer to the truth.

Born Again - Im not sure what he's referring to when he says that. Its obviously not a denomination that I know of, but side note; in the Philippines they call evangelicals "Born Agains" ... So we're probably talking semantics here.

"If you could argue that the views represented by some church do not predate some particular era, that would be a claim that mattered."

Thats like taking candy from a baby! EVERY (not some or a few) but EVERY doctrine which distinguishes Protestants from Catholics extends no further back than.. when they were invented. Sola Fide was invented by Martin Luther. This is plainly admitted by even pro-Luther scholars such as Heiko Oberman who said that it can be certain that this doctrine is found no where in writing before Martin Luther.

There is only a sliver of evidence that anyone ever believed in such a thing. That would be in James' epistle where he explicitly condemns the heresy. (We would assume some are believing in it since he mentioned it but we have no written evidence of anyone teaching such).

sola scriptura obviously originated with Luther. Such a belief would be anachronistic to the extreme at any point in time preceding Guttenberg.

Rejection of infant baptism, rejection of real presence, rejection of regenerative baptism, pre-trib rapture, once saved always saved etc.. all of these are objectively young beliefs.

It is historically verifiable that infants were baptized as early as the second century and we have very good reason to believe that they were baptized in the first as well. It is absolutely undeniable that the Early Church believed in the Real Presence and in a regenerative baptism. The early Christians werent unanimous on all things, but they were certainly unanimous on those two things. This is just a historical fact and most Protestant scholars will openly admit that.

Now, on Apostolic Succession, from a 21st century, American Protestant perspective, it might not seem very important. But to the early Church, this doctrine was of extreme importance. (Literally life and death since they lived and died by the gospel that they received). Their only means of authority was 'apostolic succession'. Its impossible to overestimate the importance of this doctrine to the early Church (especially the pre-nicaean Church which is what I am most interested in)

Anyway, loved your comments, they really got my gears turning!

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Sorry let me correct myself. I misread your statement;

"there is no evidence whatsoever that Peter ever claimed the type of authority the Papacy has claimed for itself over the past thousand years"

I thought you were saying that the early popes didnt claim the authority that the Papacy has claimed for itself over the past thousand years. Still my points stand and you'd have to extend your range from 1000 to at least 1540 (by the most anti-Catholic standards)

Amber said...

Also, note that Calvary Chapel is a non-denominational church... :)

The problem with non-denominational-ism is that no two non-denom churches will think alike either... Essentially, they are a denomination with thousands of denominations inside them....

Kenny Pearce said...

Wow! Thanks for the lengthy response! I don't know that my grasp of church history is good enough to respond in detail to everything you've said, nor do I probably have time, but there are certain things that it would definitely be useful to respond to.

(1) It is agreed that the Great Schism represented a split within the Church, whereas the Reformation was for the most part the formation of new churches with complete organizational discontinuity from the old. The only possible exception of which I am aware is that of Zwingli, who was a priest recognized with Rome and whose congregation went into schism with him. However, these sorts of mechanical or formal issues relating to the structure of the visible Church are simply not important from the perspective of Protestant theology. You assume a Roman Catholic ecclesiology when you make this an argument against any Protestant group, and a Roman Catholic ecclesiology is a substantive thesis which your opponent denies, and therefore needs substantive defense.

(2) You say " the split [i.e. the Great Schism] was over government and not over theology." Certainly papism was the most important issue associated with the schism, but there were other issues as well. Many Orthodox theologians regarded the filioque as theologically wrong, in addition to the Pope having no authority to insert it into the Creed. Also, the Eastern Orthodox Church [on a side-note: I recognize the truth in your statement about there being no "Eastern Orthodox Church" per se, but the collection of churches which have full communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople are customarily referred to by this term, and they do have broad agreement on a great many issues, and recognize one another's legitimacy - at least for the most part, there are a few disputed cases] rightly or wrongly viewed Rome as making the claim that the souls of the saved are punished for their earthly sins while in Purgatory, and this was regarded as a heresy. Finally, Timothy Ware has argued quite compellingly that another major issue in the Schism, one which is not usually noted, was a radical change in theological method on the part of the West: namely, Scholasticism. To say that the Schism was over church government is more or less correct, but oversimplified. To say that it was not over theology is false.

(3) You say "It is an objective fact that the Catholic Church extends to Christ." But this is exactly what we are disputing in the case of the Schism! One might claim that both the RCC and the EOC extend to Christ, as also do the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, etc., and then I would not dispute this claim. That is, all of these churches can trace their history back to the time of Christ, because all of them have a common initial segment of history. It is also historically verifiable that the episcopal see of Rome extends continuously back (on a fairly loose definition of "continuously, to account for the so-called "Babylonian Captivity" and similar chaos) at least to Clement and probably to Peter. Either of these claims I would not dispute. However, the claim that the RCC uniquely extends back to Christ I take to be quite suspect.

(4) I was taught in a Greek Orthodox history/theology class (the textbook was Timothy Ware's The Orthodox Church, and I believe this claim was in there, but I don't actually have a copy of the book to check) that until the 11th century no pope claimed to have power to interfere in the affairs of the other patriarchs and, once this claim was made, the Schism followed rather quickly. The one exception was a canon of one of the councils which gave the pope the authority to order a re-trial for a bishop who had been removed, but the retrial was still conducted by other bishops from the area, and not under the control of the pope. In short, I was taught that no pope claimed universal authority over all Christendom until the 11th century, and I was taught this by Orthodox, not Protestant, sources. That's where my 1000 years number comes from. (Incidentally, it is also my understanding that the doctrine that the Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra was only promulgated officially in the 19th century, and only 2 such statements have ever been made.)

(5) I fail to see the Papism in this Augustine quotation. I agree, however, that the verse in question refers specifically to Peter, and Protestant interpretations to the contrary are absurd (due to the etymology of Peter's name). However, I have never been able to see how this justifies the claims of Papism. Even if Peter is "first among equals" (as the Orthodox would say), and even if he has a successor (I regard both of these claims as somewhat suspect), this doesn't get you full-blown Papism or anything like it. All Ambrose says is that this verse refers to Peter; that isn't an endorsement of Papism as the RCC came to understand it.

(6) I haven't read 1 Clement but have every intention of doing so. Could you produce the relevant quotation please?

(7) I've already listed a number of doctrines associated with the Schism which are Protestant complaints against Catholicism (papism, purgatory, excessive reliance on Aristotle). Additionally, there can be no dispute that iconoclasm predates the Reformation.

Sola Gratia and Sola Fide are taken from Paul, almost verbatim: "For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God's gift - not from works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) I'm not particularly attached to the details of Luther's or Calvin's interpretations, but certainly some form of these doctrines is present - fundamentally so! - in Paul's teaching.

What on earth do you mean by saying that Sola Scripture would have been anachronistic before Gutenberg? Just because not everyone has direct access to the Scriptures doesn't mean that the Scriptures do not serve as the sole basis of doctrine. It certainly would have been anachronistic before canonization! But I fail to see what Gutenberg has to do with anything. If Sola Scriptura consitutes a total rejection of tradition, then I concede that it is both novel and false. If, however, it simply means that all doctrine must derive ultimately (whether by mediation of tradition or not) from the Scripture, or that only the Scripture is a perfect and complete account of the divine revelation, or that only Scripture has total and absolute authority, or something like that, there are early church precedents. I don't have time to dig them up right now, but if you don't believe me I'll make time to look for them some time soon.

My Orthodoxy professor, who was interested in defending infant baptism, told me that there wasn't any solid evidence for widespread infant baptism prior to the 6th century (though, if I recall correctly, he did say that it was done in cases where the infant seemed likely to die). It is known, for instance, that Constantine was baptized only on his death bed, despite his mother being a Christian, and there are other such cases. Can you produce documentation of this practice occurring in the 2nd century? If so, can you show that it was standard practice?

I'm not very familiar with early church beliefs on Eucharistic theology, but I am aware that they took quite strong views, and that this is something I personally need to consider very seriously. I wouldn't be surprised if they all believed in the Real Presence, but I'm quite certain that they didn't believe in transubstantiation, because transubstantiation is incoherent on the Platonist metaphysical understanding held by most Christian thinkers prior to Anselm.

(8) I am somewhat more familiar with the views on apostolic succession of the early Christians, and I'm not convinced that it justifies the views held by the Catholic and Orhtodox churches, but I don't have time to argue this right now.

I also don't have time to proofread this post, so I'm sorry about any typos or lack of clarity in the above. Thank you for your detailed and well-reasoned responses.

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

In response:

2) I understand the differences in the filioque and there has been some productive dialogue between the two orthodox faiths resulting in a great deal of consent on the issue as I understand it in recent years. I agree that this was a part of it. But, regardless of how you look at it, the wording of the filioque is extremely trivial when compared with something like sola fide etc...

As for the union of the Eastern churches, like I said nearly all of them are inches away from Roman Catholic doctrine.

As for purgatory, the doctrine of purgatory may have pissed some people in the East off, but it is by no means a significant dividing point between us. While yes, the east and west have different understandings of it traditionally and the word 'purgatory' is a Latin exclusive word, this doesn't mean we have fundamental disagreements on it. As for a Catholic perspective, we believe that it is purging (hence the name) our sins not punishment of our sins. It is the front porch of Heaven, the final fire we must pass through before entering in full communion with God. The Orthodox see the 'suffering' aspect of it as part of the 'pain' of separation (or lack of full communion) with God as they undergo what they call "final theosis" (at least according to Wikipedia). Admittedly, I am not as familiar with the subjects as I should be in regards to Eastern Orthodoxy so thanks for bringing this up it will spur me on to research more. But one overarching point that I DO understand about the issue is that the schism between us is much more about authority and much less about theology. The theological differences are infinitesimal and semantic.

Here's an essay from James Akin, I will be reading it (and other stuff) myself as soon as I get a chance.

3) Im not disputing that the Orthodox Church also extends back to Christ, I agree that it does.

4) Before we discuss whether the papacy looked like it does now in the first 1000 years of Christianity, we need to agree on what the papacy looks like now. To think of the papacy as a religious dictatorship would be a distortion to say the least. Obviously, the pope is more than 'the first among equals' to a Catholic, but bishops themselves have tremendous authority and autonomy as I understand it.

In the 1st century Church, hierarchy wasnt needed. It became progressively necessary however and the bishop - priest - deacon system that we (Catholic & Orthodox) have today was in place by the beginning of the 2nd century even by admission of the afore mentioned Protestant historian.

Again, drawing from his book; as the Church grew, disagreements arose. At first, Jerusalem was naturally the center of Christianity but that changed after 70 AD. The center moved into three cities (which the Orthodox agree with) Antioch, Alexandria & Rome. This 'patriarchate' style rule worked for a while, but eventually disagreements arose between these Churches. Rome argued that she should have the final word because of St. Peter etc... and eventually won out. Again, all this is paraphrased from Bruce Shelley's book (and he doesnt agree with the papacy obviously).

Another point about those three Churches - why were they seen to be preeminent among other Christian cities? Population? Early proselytizing? No, because St. Peter was associated - he was the first bishop of Antioch ordaining St. Evodius & his successor St. Ignatius and his disciple St. Mark was the first bishop of Alexandria. And tradition puts St. Peter in Rome in the early 40s as her first bishop and he certainly was martyred there.

So did Peter see himself as a 'pope'? No, not in so many words. Neither did Linus, Anacletus or Clement. But did Peter act as pope? In Acts 15 he did. And Clement did as well in regards to the 1st century dispute in Corinth.

As for papal infallibility, I dont think it's in the scope of this discussion to tackle that. You are right about the 19th century date for the official dogma, but Im not sure about the second part (only being used twice) (although I've often heard the same thing). I've also heard its not really true or at least misleading. The pope is not impeccable though and he does sin, does make mistakes just like the rest of us (but arguably less than most ;) )

5) Again I think part of the issue (not all) is the understanding of what "full blown papism" is. Now I dont intend to say that the early Church understood that the papacy was going to be exactly like it is today. I dont think they ever envisioned a "Vatican" per se. That doesnt prove that the Vatican is not a true heir to the Church though.

Now you said:

"All Ambrose says is that this verse refers to Peter"

But what Ambrose actually says is this:

"Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church, no death is there, but life eternal."

And who would need Doctors of the Church to tell us that the phrase "you are Peter" is talking about "Peter" anyway?

Likewise, Augustine doesnt merely paint a picture of a Peter whos a little superior than the rest of the apostles (and lets be honest, if theres ANY difference between him and the others, the only view that makes sense is the Catholic one) but rather Augustine points to Peter as the shepherd of Christ's sheep. And indeed what else did Christ mean when He told Peter 3 times to feed His sheep?

Listen to John Chrysostom in the 4th century:

He saith to him, "Feed my sheep". Why does He pass over the others and speak of the sheep to Peter? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the head of the choir. For this reason Paul went up to see him rather than the others. And also to show him that he must have confidence now that his denial had been purged away. He entrusts him with the rule [prostasia] over the brethren. . . . If anyone should say "Why then was it James who received the See of Jerusalem?", I should reply that He made Peter the teacher not of that see but of the whole world. "

6) He opens the epistle:
"The church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied."

...

"The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God"

(It is through apostolic authority passed on to him (them) that he is saying these things)

"Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry."

(Just to make sure; Apostolic Succession - 1st century)

...

"If, however, any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and serious danger;"

...

"Joy and gladness will you afford us, if you become obedient to the words written by us and through the Holy Spirit root out the lawless wrath of your jealousy according to the intercession which we have made for peace and unity in this letter."

Again, this is 1st century while (most historians would agree) one of the apostles is still alive.

7) You're right about iconoclasm predating the reformation. In fact, I have several posts on my blog on this topic. Iconoclasm was heresy already settled. Protestant rejection of Mary as the Theotokos is a regurgitation of the Nestorian heresy. Sola fida was a regurgitation of a 1st century unnamed heresy because it was squashed so quickly. Much of Protestant culture (not necessarily doctrine) echoes Catharism or even Gnosticism - (physical/ritual/material BAD spiritual/emotional/intangible GOOD)

8) Sola gratia - Im not sure of the full implications of this doctrine so I cant fully debate the finer details of it. Suffice it to say that the Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by Gods grace alone. Always has.

Sola Fide - in this verse Paul says we are saved by faith. Catholics agree (thats why we included his epistle in the bible). The modern Protestant understanding of 'sola fide' is very close to the Catholic teaching on the subject (exemplified in the recent mutual statement produced by the Catholic Church and the Lutherans). Much of it is semantic now. But the original heresy which Luther taught was quite different.

Luther taught that merely by believing that Christ rose from the dead, you were instantly saved and forgiven of all sins past present and future. This is the sola fide that the Church condemned and still does. It requires more than an intellectual assent (or even an emotional one) to enter the kingdom of God.

Sola Scriptura is definitely more anachronistic pre-canon than pre-printing press you're right. But it is paramount to the argument to understand the obvious mindset of those before the press. The Scriptures were of enormous magnitude, they did not exist in a book you carry around with you at work and you didnt own one privately unless you were extremely wealthy. That is why I believe it is anachronistic to think anyone would have believed in sola scriptura before bibles were readily available for everyone.

Its objective though, that no one did.

Ok I have to get to bed Im gonna finish my reply tomorrow. Hehe

Thanks for the interesting discussion. Peace of our Lord be with you.

Kenny Pearce said...

Some responses:

You say "the bishop - priest - deacon system that we (Catholic & Orthodox) have today was in place by the beginning of the 2nd century." This is not disputed (though the details of the dating may be - the terms episkopos and presbuteros, 'bishop' and 'deacon' respectively are used interchangeably in the NT and I was under the impression that it wasn't until the late 2nd/early 3rd century that we have clear cases of a distinction between the two; but this is all details).

The honorary place of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem has been continuously recognized all along (by the East - of course only up to the Schism by the West, excepting the Latin Patriarchs during the Crusades), though there was later a sort of ranking of patriarchs developed, and Jerusalem ended up toward the bottom (with Rome first and Constantinople second).

You say "if theres ANY difference between him [Peter] and the others, the only view that makes sense is the Catholic one," but this simply isn't so. There are a number of other logical possibilities which must be considered. Here are some examples:
(1) Peter doesn't have a successor
(2) Peter's position didn't involve actual authority, but only informal leadership
(3) The putative successors of Peter have forfeited their authority either by overstepping its bounds or by slipping into heresy (many Orthodox would say something like this).
(4) The current Pope of Rome is not actually the rightful successor of Peter (though since, to my knowledge, no one else is claiming this particular distinction at present, this last view would be extremely difficult to defend).

More examples could be constructed.

The Clement quotation certainly shows that the idea of apostolic succession in some form is already present. This I am not disputing. I'm still not convinced it shows what you are trying to make it show, though.

"If, however, any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and serious danger." - Clement doesn't state that this is because of his position as bishop as Rome; presumably it's because the things he has to say are important divinely revealed truths. He doesn't say "if any shall disobey us" but "if any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us." Furthermore, the epistle is addressed from the Church of Rome, not from Clement himself, so it cannot be seen as some kind of early Papal encyclical or something.

Protestants do not deny Mary as Theotokos. Calvin happened to be unhappy with the Latin translation of that phrase which was used (in English, "Mother of God," which is different than translating directly from the Greek which gets us "God-bearer" or "the One who Gives Birth to God;" I understand that Calvin thought "Mother of God" might be misunderstood to have ontological implications or something), but all Protestants (or at least all reasonably orthodox Protestants - it's hard to make generalizations about chaotic religious movements with no central authority) hold that Mary was indeed Theotokos - that is, that it was truly God that she bore. Luther, as I understand it, even affirmed the entirety of the Ave Maria, excepting the very end, "pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death." What Protestants do not hold is that Mary as a result is deserving of "veneration" or should be prayed to. These are two totally different issues. That Christ was God from the womb is what the Council of Ephesus sought to establish, and this Protestants hold without reservation.

Much of Protestant culture is a mess, as is much of Catholic culture. If a Catholic wants to say that Protestants are Gnostic, or whatever, based on cultural elements that occur in certain churches, but are not part of its doctrine, a Protestant could easily respond by pulling out a series of examples to show that Catholics are Pagan (consider, for instance, the popular Catholicism of Ireland, which includes a large collection of superstitious beliefs about "the fairies"). This argument would not, however, be edifying. It would be much better to restrict ourselves to Catholicism in the ideal as against Protestantism in the ideal.

Sola gratia/sola fide - what Protestants continue to deny by these claims is that the physical act of receiving the sacraments is necessary or sufficient for salvation. I agree that Luther was wrong about almost everything (I am in fact not a big Luther fan - I would rather talk about Zwingli, Calvin, and Wesley and forget about Luther altogether). Historically (arguably in Luther) sola gratia/sola fide has sometimes become an excuse for antinomianism which is, of course, a heresy. However, the view about necessity and sufficiency of the sacraments is a legitimate Protestant-Catholic dispute, and one where Protestants are better in line with Pauline theology than Catholics (see the Pauline theory of justification presented at great length in the entire epistle to the Romans).

I'm in the process of reading Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana, and I came across a very good passage with regard to the view of Scripture that he held at that time, even while canonization was more or less still in process (the view, if I recall correctly, is that the canonical Scriptures contain all the theology we need to know, which is certainly a form of sola scriptura). I think there were some similar remarks about the writings of the apostles more generally that I've seen even from the ante-Nicene Fathers, but I don't remember for sure. I'll try to look these up and post them later today, either here or on my own blog (I'll post a link here if the latter).

Kenny Pearce said...

I should also note (and then I've got to get some work done) that there's a recent pair of posts (first on Parableman, then on my blog) on the historicity of the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, which will probably be relevant to questions about the historicity of sola scriptura. Actually, the Parableman post quotes Augustine saying:

"I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error ... As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason. I believe, my brother, that this is your own opinion as well as mine."

I've been very concerned the last year or so with how best to complete the sentence (that is, with the question "Scripture alone ... what?"). Here Augustine completes it "Scripture alone among written documents is inerrant and completely divinely authoritative." Augustine thinks Jerome agrees with him, too. That could work. I'll try to find the De Doctrina Christiana quote later.

Kenny Pearce said...

I've now got a discussion of whether Augustine advocates a Sola Scriptura doctrine up on my blog.

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Ok Im gonna finish my response from yesterday, then respond to your new one then head on over to your blog to check out your post. Let me see how quickly i can do that.

Infant Baptism - I dont know what your professor meant by "widespread" but regardless, the early Church fathers certainly affirmed infant baptism. It is very arguable that this practice extends back to the 1st century - (entire households being baptized) and my Patron Saint, Polycarp said he had followed Christ for 85 years (the entire duration of his life) which many say point to his own infant baptism (which would have been 69 or 70 AD.

Irenaeus says in the second century:
"‘And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]" (Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]).

Thus affirming (like all other early Christians) the regenerative nature of baptism and then elsewhere says:

"He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age" (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]).

Thus showing that infants also can receive this regeneration.

Hippolytus early 3rd century:

"Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them"

Origen (mid 2nd century):
"Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. . . . In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous" (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]).

"The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit" (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]).

And it just gets more and more dense from there. So, Im not sure what your professor meant by that. Its hard to fathom that he would be so unaware of these quotes.

We know it was being practiced, and we know that the great saints of the Church affirmed it (the same ones who forged the doctrines of .. the Trinity for example).. So if anyone WASNT doing it, it was likely small heretical groups.

Catholic Answers on Infant Baptism

Proving something was a standard practice in the second century is very difficult.

Can you explain in more detail what you mean by saying you're quite certain that they didnt believe in transubstantiation?

Which is easier to believe, that God became man and this man is God; fully both, or that bread has become God while retaining it's accidents?

If the earlier Christians believed one, they can believe the other. And they did (at least according to their writings). I have several posts on it so you can check those out or check out other sources far more worthy than mine.

----------------------- end of original unfinished reply -------


As for the bishop system - I dont agree that the terms are used interchangeably in the NT, but I certainly wouldnt die on that hill; its very debatable in the NT. But the terms you mentioned are 'bishop' and 'priest' not bishop and deacon. Diakonos is the for deacon. The 'episkopos' literally meant 'overseer' and is often translated as such by Protestant versions though it has traditionally been translated as bishop. We're talking semantics now. The office of the 'episkopos' overseer, bishop, whatever you want to call it - functions more or less the same. Yes the hierarchy developed.

And I realize it is debatable as to whether or not the words are used interchangeably. A similar objection is brought up by Protestants to St. Clement's 1st century letter in which he appears to use the terms interchangeably as well since all throughout his epistle he refers to "priests" & "deacons" but in one paragraph he refers to "bishops" & "deacons".

The line of argument is that he would mention all 3 if he saw it as the bishop - priest - deacon system we have today. Again - not a hill im willing to die on but its not a settled issue.

Now the 2nd century date I point to (and Bruce Shelley among other Protestant scholars have conceded this) is 107AD right at the beginning when St. Ignatius writes his epistles.

"As therefore the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and presbyters"

"Be on your guard, therefore, against such persons. And this will be the case with you if you are not puffed up, and continue in intimate union with Jesus Christ our God, and the bishop, and the enactments of the apostles. He that is within the altar is pure, but he that is without is not pure; that is, he who does anything apart from the bishop, and presbytery, and deacons, such a man is not pure in his conscience."

Here's my post on St. Ignatius' view of Church hierarchy.

Alternative Petrine Possibilities:

(1) Peter doesn't have a successor
(2) Peter's position didn't involve actual authority, but only informal leadership
(3) The putative successors of Peter have forfeited their authority either by overstepping its bounds or by slipping into heresy (many Orthodox would say something like this).
(4) The current Pope of Rome is not actually the rightful successor of Peter (though since, to my knowledge, no one else is claiming this particular distinction at present, this last view would be extremely difficult to defend).

1) Thats not a possibility, he does have a successor - the possibility would be - 'his successor doesnt hold his authority' I cant tell my boss he's doesnt hold the authority of the owner of the company because he didnt start it. He IS the heir. He DOES have the authority.

2) Thats possible, but Jesus seemed to think otherwise "whatever you bind on earth" - "I give you(singular) the keys"... And the entirety of Christendom obeyed his final edict (by the power of the Holy Spirit) when (as the only one of the original 12 to speak in the book of Acts) he gave the speech in Jerusalem Acts 15.

The early Church fathers certainly believed that he had authority thats beyond even ANY question, and I think its very clear that they believed his successors had the same authority (by the mid - late 4th century)

3) this is a possibility, but I would find it hard to believe that Christ would write a blank check as it were of such magnitude "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven" whereas God is not able to lie, how would He say such a thing were He not confident that by the power of the Holy Spirit, the See would be protected from error? (not that the popes have been perfect) And also - "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it"

- the chair of Peter is the fulfillment of the chair of Moses which Jesus said the Jewish authorities sat in when He said "do what they say and not what they do"
and affirmed their authority.

4) Actually there are a few dissident Catholic groups claiming that. Theres a man in Colorado or Utah or somewhere who has been elected 'pope' by a group. Remember the Arian heresy? They are still around. There is such a thing as the "Arian Catholic church" who believe they are they heirs to the see of Peter. They have their own pope as well.

Many heretical groups have broken off. The remarkable and unique thing about the Eastern schism, is that the Eastern Orthodox churches have maintained Orthodoxy like no other group has. I have a great admiration for the Eastern churches because of that.

As some of them already have been reunited with the Catholic Church, it is our prayer that someday all of us will (including Protestants).

As for the Clementine quote and whether it shows what I want to show, I'm not saying that Clement thought he was 'pope' or that he ruled Christendom. I think it does show that the Church of Rome felt it held authority over the Church at Corinth.

As for Mariology, it is a very difficult and complex doctrine. It would take a long time to get into why I believe that Protestant rejection of Mariology (and my own up until about a year ago) has a Nestorian flavor to it so i'll just drop that point.

Point well taken about the comparison of cultures. You're right theres a lot of abuses and heretical things going on in the Catholic Church (believe me I know it very well!) So it was a bad point to bring up... But I still insist that there is Gnostic undertones in some of the Protestant traditions - especially the ones influenced by Puritans.

As for "Pauline theology" thats just it, you cant reduce the NT to Paul. He wrote a minority of it, and if you read his teachings like Protestants read it, they are terribly incompatible with the rest of Scripture. Read in context with the rest of sacred Scripture, his writings make perfect sense.

Again, Catholics believe we are saved 'by grace through faith'. Yes, we believe sacraments bestow grace and affirm their necessity as Jesus taught:

"I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."

The Church does not have the authority to deny Christ's words and like St. Cyril said in 350 AD:

"Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt? Since he himself has said quite categorically, This is my blood, who would dare to question and say that it is not his blood?"

So to a Catholic, this isnt really up for discussion.

Great quotes from Augustine. I'll head to your blog to respond.

Thanks again for the great discussion!

Kenny Pearce said...

The deacon thing was, of course, a typo. I meant to say "elder." (Incidentally: I was always confused about where the whole "priest" thing came from, and how this was supposed to come out of the Bible, until I travelled to Greece, where they still call their "priests" presbyteroi, when speaking Greek. Before this, it never occurred to me that the "priests" were supposed to be Biblical "elders!" Furthermore, it turns out that we get a Medieval corruption "prester" (as in the legend of "Prester John"), which morphs into "priester" in a number of Germanic languages, whence English "priest." At any rate, despite the etymological connection, 'elder' is a more accurate translation of the Greek into modern English than the word 'priest.') I think we're pretty much in agreement as far as what happened in Church government at the diocese level, and I would in fact agree that the EOC is closer to the Biblical model than most Protestant churches, and some Protestant churches have models of church government that are just out to lunch. The RCC model is, in my opinion, pretty close on levels lower than the Papacy. I don't know of any church that is governed in the manner I think the Bible teaches, although I know that there are real scholars who think the same thing I do about what it is the Bible teaches.

The rest of this needs more detailed discussion. Some time in the next few days I plan to put a post up to try to separate out the individual issues at stake are so they can be discussed separately and we don't get overwhelmed by trying to deal with every Catholic-Protestant disagreement at once. Thank you for this very interesting discussion.