Five Loaves And Two Fish

by Jimmy Akin

in Bible


Loaves-fishes-tilapia002
Right now in the Sunday liturgy we're working our way through John 6, which contains the feeding of the 5,000 (John's version of it) and the Bread of Life discourse.

Last Sunday contained the feeding of the 5,000, and I was annoyed when the priest at the Mass I was attending emphasized a perceived "sharing" aspect of the passage. 

He didn't go so far as to fully subvert the miracle. That is, he didn't say that it was a "miracle of sharing" where people's hearts were moved to share what they had rather than hording it for themselves–a repudiation of the physical miracle that occurred.

But he seemed to be skirting the edge of that idea, without saying anything that would explicity mandate this interpretation.

What he did do was emphasize the idea of sharing, and particularly the generosity of the little boy with the five loaves and two fishes.

This Sunday there was a new priest, and he did the same thing. He didn't spend as much time on feeding (that was last week's reading, natch), but he did stress the generosity of the little boy sharing his lunch.

He also misinterpreted the loaves as probably like rolls instead of probably like pitas or tortillas in form, though we can let that pass.

What I find annoying is all the confident talk about how the miracle occurred because the little boy was selflessly willing to share his lunch.

Not only does that make it sound like God's omnipotence would have been hamstrung if the little boy had said no, and thus giving the little boy's action way too much credit in an ontological sense, it's also giving the little boy undeserved credit in the generosity department.

First of all, who says this was the little boy's lunch–or dinner for that matter?

Five loaves of bread, even if they aren't as big as what you'd buy in a modern supermarket, and two fish, even if they're relatively small, is way too much food for a little boy in that time and culture to have for a single meal. It was too much for a full grown adult to have for a single meal. (When was the last time you had five pitas and two fish for lunch?)

Of course, the boy might have brought food for more than one meal, not knowing how long he'd be at the event, but is there another, better explanation that might be suggested by the text?

Let's look at it. Here is the text in the squishy NAB (so there can be no argument I'm pulling something out of the text that shouldn't have been obvious to the priests just from reading the lectionary version):

When Jesus raised his eyes
and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip,
Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”

He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered him,
Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”

One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?” 

This isn't exegetical rocket science.

The topic that Our Lord has introduced is where can they buy enough food for the crowd, not how they can get people to share or how they can find somebody who has a little bit of food to share. The topic is buying food.

If you look at the Greek, the verb is agorazo, which means things like "attend market," "do business," "buy or sell," etc. It's a specifically commercial, marketplace term, not a more general one like "get" or "find." So the NAB gets it right with rendering it "buy."

The theme of buying is thus carried on in the conversation, with Philip and Andrew pointing out problems for the proposal.

First, Philip points out the huge expense of feeding the crowd–presumably because the disciples don't have that much money in the purse.

Andrew then carries the theme forward by pointing out a source where food can be bought–the little boy–but that the source doesn't have enough food for the crowd. (Incidentally, he may have started with more but have already sold the rest of what he had.)

It makes much more sense, given the context and the flow of the conversation, to see the little boy not as a local who happened to pack an extraordinarily large amount of food for him to eat at the day's event but as an enterprising young salesman who brought food to where he knew there would be a lot of people spending the day and he could sell it.

Like the kids who swarm over Israel's holy sites to this day trying to sell trinkets or snacks or bottled water to the pilgrims who have shown up for religious reasons.

Jesus' crowds were bound to attract such kids, and Andrew happened to spot one.

Presumably, then, before the miracle of the feeding the disciples paid the little boy for his five loaves and two fishes.

That's not a dead certainty. Of course, I'm sure that they didn't steal them from the little boy, and while it's possible that he was overcome by religious feeling and simply donated them (or decided not to charge once he saw them being multiplied), given that his interest in bringing them to the site was probably commercial, it's not unreasonable to infer that he was paid for them.

We're not told one way or the other, but given the clear buying and selling theme in the text, preachers ought not be rhapsodizing about the generosity of the little boy or how he was willing to share with others or how without his act of sharing the miracle might not have occurred.

If anything, the miracle might have had to start with another source of food if the little boy hadn't been paid for his wares.

Of course, the above doesn't amount to a proof. It could be that the little boy had brought a surprisingly large amount of food for himself and then, for unknown reasons, mentioned this to Andrew and then generously shared it with Jesus and the disciples.

But this isn't the way the text reads.

And it's just annoying when preachers get so wrapped up in a sickly sweet, Hallmark card spirituality that they go off rhapsodizing about human sharing and generosity in a way that flies in the face of the text.

The point here is that God did a miracle through Jesus, not that a little boy was generous.

Sheesh!

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{ 71 comments }

BillyHW August 2, 2009 at 7:35 pm

You’re not suggesting, Jimmy, that the enterprising little boy lacked the necessary openness, in a world context, to forms of economic activity marked by quotas of gratuitousness and communion, are you?

Logan August 2, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Thanks for the post Jimmy. I too got the exact (and I mean exact) homily you described.
And I was curious if the boy sharing was actually point the point.
Now I know, and knowing is half the battle!

Richard August 2, 2009 at 8:29 pm

I got the miracle of the sharing homily not just the generosity of the boy.

ams August 2, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Having a son named Andrew, I’ve always found it interesting that it was Andrew that ‘offered’ the little boy’s food. I had missed that before we gave our son that name…

Kate August 2, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I was blessed. . .not only did our priests stress the miraculous nature of the events, they actually said that the renderings by ‘some misguided scholars’ to make it into a ‘miracle of sharing’ was BALDERDASH.

Shane August 2, 2009 at 9:07 pm

I was pleased with the homily I got. The priest approached it in a way similar to what Jimmy and others are mentioning, but also very distinct.
He emphasized that Jesus did this miracle, but he didn’t ignore the little boy, either. His point was ultimately that when we give all that we have, even if it’s hardly anything at all, Christ can accomplish infinitely more with it.
In this case, the little boy had only the 5 loaves and 2 fishes to give, yet because he gave what he had, Christ was able to feed 5,000. When we as Christ’s people give what we are able to, even if it’s woefully little, Christ will do tremendous things with that. What matters is that we’re open to giving of ourselves fully to the Lord.
So when the man who doesn’t know how to find Genesis in the Bible is open to trying to answer an atheists questions, God can use that man to convert the person, etc.
Now of course, God could bring that atheist to conversion even if that man refuses to be His instrument. However, the issue of letting God use us is important as well. One of the great mysteries of the faith is this tension between the fact that God doesn’t need us for anything and yet, to paraphrase St. Paul, if there is no one to do God’s work, then how will He get any of it done?of our faith.
Also, if boy was there to sell as Jimmy suggests and did not simply have the food and donate it, then this particular homily would need to be adjusted, but the overall principle is still there.
Having had a week to think about the homily, I actually think it was quite good for the one very important reason that it brings the message of the Gospel reading down to where the rubber hits the road and how we, as God’s people, can shape our lives around the Gospel.
I very much love the type of homily that is exhibitionary – that is, which explains the readings, what is going on in them, what they say about Christ, the Church, or otherwise. In fact, I think these types of homilies are *vastly* underused. Normally, what I think most of us are used to are homilies with more exhortation – this is how this Gospel tells us to live.
However, when it comes to the feeding of the 5,000, I think what most people have gotten have been either bad homilies which exhort – we should share – or good homilies which exhibit. I would suspect that there haven’t been many good homilies on this Gospel which exhorts, and so I very much appreciate what this priest did. He rightly honored Christ’s miracle, yet he also gave us something to apply to our daily lives in it.
My two cents on that in any case!

Josey Wales August 2, 2009 at 9:41 pm

The sharing school of thought might have a hard time with 2 Kings 4 where a similar miracle is performed in order that the widow might sell the results of the miracle to pay off creditors and the miracle clearly proceeds only from God though neighbors have shared their vessels so that she could sell the miraculous oil…but it is the oil not the vessels which multiplies:
” 2 Kings
Chapter 4
1 A certain woman, the widow of one of the guild prophets, complained to Elisha: “My husband, your servant, is dead. You know that he was a God-fearing man, yet now his creditor has come to take my two children as his slaves.”
2
“How can I help you?” Elisha answered her. “Tell me what you have in the house.” “This servant of yours has nothing in the house but a jug of oil,” she replied.
3
“Go out,” he said, “borrow vessels from all your neighbors–as many empty vessels as you can.
4
Then come back and close the door on yourself and your children; pour the oil into all the vessels, and as each is filled, set it aside.”
5
She went and did so, closing the door on herself and her children. As they handed her the vessels, she would pour in oil.
6
When all the vessels were filled, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” “There is none left,” he answered her. And then the oil stopped.
7
She went and told the man of God, who said, “Go and sell the oil to pay off your creditor; with what remains, you and your children can live.”

Georgette August 3, 2009 at 2:22 am

Oh man, I so agree with you, Jimmy! We get the same exact homily — all the way over here in India, year after year! They must be reading it online somewhere as they “prepare” for their homily. It totally undermines The Miracle.

Pete August 3, 2009 at 2:26 am

We have a new deacon and his first homily was last week. We got the full blown “shared, previously hidden, group lunch” deal. No apologies from this guy. I came to this parish 14 years ago to escape such Amchurch lunacy and here comes John Shelby Spong in disguise!
My ex-Catholic wife was with me. 10 steps out the door she says: “That kind of homiletics is why I left the Catholic Church.” I could have punched the guy’s lights out!

The Masked Chicken August 3, 2009 at 5:41 am

Okay, what’s the provenence on this materialistic explanation? Sounds like something from the German school (circa 1900). Also, what did they do with the leftovers? If there had been “sharing,” wouldn’t people have asked for doggie bags?
The Chicken

Terth August 3, 2009 at 5:45 am

This is one reason why I seek out the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass. Sure, I’ve heard several hard-line, “unless you say the Novus Ordo is invalid, you’re loony” kind of homilies; but mostly I’ve heard…wait for it…homilies where you don’t have to go check if what the priest said is right. I’ve been called on in Catholic morality and the Scriptures have been explained thoughtfully, but not Hallmarky.
The reform of the reform is in progress. Oremus.

Bill August 3, 2009 at 6:31 am

I also got a deacon whose first time homily skirted the ‘caring and sharing’ interpretation. I was surprised and disappointed. But to stray off topic just a bit: It always seemed to me that this particular miracle was one of the harder ones to visualize. How, exactly, did it look? Were they working their way through the crowd tearing off chunks of the loaves and what was left in their hands just regenerated before their eyes? Were they handing them out from a sack of some sort and every time they reached in there was more than before?
At Canna there were jugs of water and the next time they checked them they had wine. No less spectacular or significant but it’s easy to visualize the narrative. Jesus touches someone and they heal, etc. I can picture how those would look if you were present at the time.
But here, the act of multiplication, right before the eyes of everyone in attendance, seems so extraordinary and yet so linguistically banal, with a narrative style that seems almost deliberately vague. ‘He took five loaves and two fish and fed 5000′. Wait. What?
I wonder if that narrative style is the stumbling block for some people that gives rise to ‘sharing’ interpretation.

SDG August 3, 2009 at 6:35 am

The reason modernists strain to reinterpret this particular miracle is, of course, that it appears in all four gospels (and in two gospels more than once) and so enjoys a strong presumption of historicity. They don’t have to work so hard at the wedding at Cana or the raising of Lazarus, for instance, because they’re only in John.
In my current parish I would never hear the modernist reinterpretation — our priests are very solid so we don’t have to deal with that junk. But I confess that Jimmy’s exegetical rebuttal never occurred to me before. Brilliant!
And BillyHW is brilliant also! :D
Incidentally, Chicken, I’ve heard it said that the twelve “baskets” of leftovers the disciples gathered weren’t large hamper-size baskets, but personal dinner-bowl sized baskets — and so the leftovers were in fact the twelve disciples’ own dinners. (Of course, at the feeding of the 4,000 the disciples only gathered seven baskets of leftovers, not twelve, so not sure what to make of that.)

Barbara August 3, 2009 at 7:09 am

My priest mentioned the connection between the multiplication of loaves that Elisha performed in 2 Kings 4, and how both multiplication events, as well as the manna in the desert, all pointed to the Eucharist. He also pointed to the fact that in John, unlike the synoptic accounts, it is mentioned that Jesus multiplies barley loaves, which is the same type that Elisha multiplied, so the Jewish readers of John’s Gospel would immediately see the connection between the prophet Elisha and Jesus.

EaglesNest August 3, 2009 at 8:19 am

My plaudits to you Jimmy. I agree completely with you on the hoky, always feel good, commercial homilies. All fluff. My priest delivers excellent homilies so I can’t complain. Not all homilies are supposed to make you feel good. They’re supposed to instruct, explain, apply, and give you the Truth.
But also, I believe your post can be generalized to homilies that unintentionally (I hope) dilute the message in order to appeal to a bigger mass of people. Or at least that’s one of the reasons why I think it’s done.
People who take their religion seriously can spot omissions and vagueness pretty well. I remember watching a catechesis Fr. Corapi was giving to adults and he communicated that point very well. We want Truth not hollow, gilded Barney moments. It really is vexing and I’m glad you expressed that. Thanks!

SDG August 3, 2009 at 8:28 am

P.S. Checking my handy Synopsis of the Four Gospels, I see that the Synoptics also mention buying food — and Mark and Luke read very much as if the Twelve have bought the five loaves and two fish for their own consumption — presumably from the boy mentioned in John. (Of course if five loaves and two fish are too much for a boy, they’re far too little for thirteen men — but if it was all that the boy had to sell, it was a start.)
In all three Synoptics (and thus all four Gospels) the Twelve use the same word agorazo in urging Jesus to “send them away to go into the country and villages to buy something to eat” (with slight variations, e.g., Luke also mentions lodging).
In all three Synpotics Jesus answers, “You give them something to eat.” In both Mark and Luke, the disciples’ response includes a reference to money: In Mark, they say, “Shall we go and buy 200 denarii worth of bread and give them to eat?”; and when Jesus asks how many loaves they have (“Go and see”) they say, “Five, and two fish.” Luke condenses this reply: “We have no more than five loaves and two fish — unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” (Matthew condenses even further, omitting all mention of money at this stage: “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”)
Once again, the Gospels don’t state that the disciples bought the loaves and fishes on the spot, but that reading certainly makes sense. In Mark the disciples are talking about buying bread for the multitudes, and Jesus sends them to find out how much bread they have — and they have to go and check before reporting back to him. Are they seeing how much is on hand from an available vendor? (Has he already sold off more that he brought with him?) As for Luke, the wording there could quite easily mean something like “We can only buy so much — we’ve bought this for ourselves; you don’t expect us to buy more for everyone else, do you?”
Combined with John’s indication that the disciples hadn’t brought the food with them, and that Gospel’s emphasis on the need to buy food, the circumstantial evidence that the disciples bought the loaves and fishes on the spot, presumably for themselves, looks pretty significant.

JohnE August 3, 2009 at 8:31 am

Whenever I read this gospel before the Sunday Mass, I always wonder too if we’re going to get the miracle of sharing homily and think how realistic it would be to be interpreted in that way. I imagine all the people in the gospel scene and the apostles being concerned that they be dismissed so they could get some food. Obviously the apostles had not gotten the whiff of fish that the people had been hiding under their garments all day, or the fish and bread vendors hawking their wares to the crowd (“Tilapia! Get your fresh baked tilapia!”). Then after Jesus blesses the five loaves and two fish and has the apostles start passing them out, everyone smiles at each other and pulls out the fish and bread they had been hiding all day.
What I don’t get, is why do some people want to downplay the miracle? Do they not believe in miracles or do they think downplaying the miracle makes the story more believable for others (it actually makes it comical and less believable to me)? Or that Jesus really is trying to teach about sharing and a miracle distracts us from the lesson?

David B. August 3, 2009 at 8:57 am

SDG,
Who is the author of your “Synopsis of the Four Gospels”? Just curious.

David B. August 3, 2009 at 9:00 am

Oh, and good post, Jimmy. Unfortunately, I got a similar homily last week when I couldn’t make it to Mass at my regular parish.

SDG August 3, 2009 at 9:07 am

“Who is the author of your “Synopsis of the Four Gospels”? Just curious.”

Kurt Aland is the editor. It’s got the Greek and English facing each other on opposite pages, eight columns across every spread.
Yes, it’s pretty expensive. It was a required textbook for classes at St. Charles Borromeo.

Jimmy Akin August 3, 2009 at 9:35 am

I’m waiting for the audiobook version.
And kudos to BillyHW! LOL!

Shane August 3, 2009 at 11:00 am

Other arguments against the sharing interpretation:
First, John introduces the scene by saying that the people were following Jesus “because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.” Then, at the end of the miracle, he tells us that, “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’” There is an association established between the signs Christ did on the sick – the healing of the blind, the raising of the dead, the curing of decade old illnesses, etc. – and this action with the loaves. The people followed Christ because of these clearly miraculous signs, and they now lump this event into the same category.
Second, in Matthew’s record of the feeding of the *four* thousand, a second food-multiplication miracle, Jesus eliminates all doubt, saying, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
There are at least three pieces of information here that are important. First, the crowd has been with Christ now in the wilderness for three days. Any food which they had brought would have been eaten by now. Second, Jesus explicitly says that they have nothing to eat. To interpret the passage in a way such that the people *do* have something to eat would mean Jesus was in error, or did not know what he was talking about, or even worse, a liar who says this knowing He will then teach them to share. Third, Christ is worried that the people will *faint* from hunger if He does not feed them now, and so by Christ’s words, they clearly are not hiding anything which could be made to be shared.
Now none of this will mean anything to those who do not believe in the omnipotence of Christ or who don’t believe He performed any miracles healing the people either, but it should be enough for those otherwise good priests and deacons who *do* believe in miracles and whatnot but for whatever reason are smitten by the sharing interpretation.

The Masked Chicken August 3, 2009 at 11:34 am

Oh, com’on – 5000 people = approx. 8000 fish and the people (not the fish!) were walking in the heat for three days…people would have been able to smell the fish by that time. The apostles would not have asked where they were going to get the food. They would have been able to smell it (I assume the fish would have been salted).
The Chicken

Shane August 3, 2009 at 11:38 am

There is also another interpretation to the feeding of the 5,000 that occurred to me a few years ago and I’ve been kicking around in my head since then. Now first, it is not to be understood *instead* of the traditional interpretations, but along with them, and second, it’s just my personal speculation and I hold it in now high esteem beyond that.
However, when I look at this miracle, I see a depiction of the entire Church and of Her Sacraments. It is most easily seen in Mark’s telling:
“Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied.”
First, Christ has the people divided into smaller groups to be waited on by the apostles, just as the Christian faithful are divided up into smaller churches to be led by their bishops.
Second, the 5 loaves represent the “regular” Sacraments of healing and initiation, while the two fish represent the Sacraments of service – marriage and holy orders.
Bread is the most basic of foods. It is, to put it one way, the minimum we need to live. It’s carbohydrates – energy, and nothing much more. In the same way, the Sacraments of initiation and of healing are the minimum we need to have spiritual life. They give us the life of Christ so that we may have that supernatural life. Bread, like these Sacraments, gets people through their daily lives alive.
Fish, on the other hand, is more than just basic. Fish is protein, and it builds up our bodies while giving us savor which we enjoy. In the same way, marriage and holy orders build up our lives in Christ, giving them a greater fullness and adding a savor to our lives as we find great fulfillment in living the vocation Christ has given us.
Also, consider how bread requires, essentially, no preparation, whereas fish does. Give a man bread, and he can eat immediately, just as – in a general sense – a man can receive the first 5 Sacraments with no preparation. (Of course, there is preparation that goes into these things, such as examining one’s conscience before Confession or rightly disposing oneself to receive Communion, but I speak here of preparation in juxtaposition to what is required for the Sacraments of Service).
On the other hand, fish requires much preparation. It must have the skin, or scales, removed, just as we must remove those external scales from our lives as we begin to consider our vocation. Without doing this, we cannot even hope to eat the fish, or to enter into marriage, the priesthood, or religious life (which, though it is not a Sacrament, I include here in an associated way). Then, fish must have the bones removed, lest we choke on them when eating it, just as we must work to remove some of the deeper imperfections in our souls, or else they will cause us to choke once we do enter into our vocations. Finally, fish must be cooked over fire so as to remove and disease, just as we must subject ourselves to that Divine fire of self-sacrifice to work out impurities so that our service to others will be healthy, rather than harmful, when we respond to God’s call.
Third and finally, note how the food is distributed to these groups of people. The apostles are charged with distributing the loaves, just as the bishops themselves provide these 5 Sacraments to their dioceses. However, Christ Himself distributes the fish, just as it is Christ Himself who gives us our vocation, calling us to that which He wills for us.
So, it may be nonsense, but that is part of what I see in the feeding of the 5,000.

The Masked Chicken August 3, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Dear Shane,
One could also comment that getting the people to sit (or recline) in a groups together is not only a type for the churchs/bishops, but even in the posture of reception (the early Church, apparently, received the Eucharist sitting down).
Also, Christians were known by the “fish” symbol from early on which represented Christ and Jesus is also the bread of life, so these two symbols are pointing forward to the Christ, himself, which, then must also point to the Eucharist. Notice that Jesus does this miracle in the context of a meal and that he prefaces the multiplication by a prayer, such as would later happen in the Mass. he also tells the apostle to, “feed them, yourselves,” which is another foreshadowing of the priesthood.
The multiplication of the fish and loaves is also a type for the growth of the Church. Just as loaves and fish would appear, miraculously, just so would the Eucharist multiply across the world as the Church grew.
You wrote:
Bread is the most basic of foods. It is, to put it one way, the minimum we need to live…Fish, on the other hand, is more than just basic.
You really need both carbohydrates and proteins. While it is true that the body can make carbohydrates out of fats and proteins, it can’t easily go the other direction and make proteins out of carbohydrates.
The loaves and fishes also call to mind the loaves made of manna and the fish call to mind the vocations of the apostles who would become fishers of men.
The Chicken

Liam August 3, 2009 at 3:48 pm

The boy was an Objectivist. He traded in his self-interest. Altruism is an illusion.
(Sarcasm alert.)

Liam August 3, 2009 at 3:49 pm

The boy was obviously an Objectivist. He traded in his self-interest. Altruism is an illusion.
(Sarcasm alert.)

Maureen August 3, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Jesus was in favor of people being enterprising; He just wanted His disciples to be enterprising on behalf of the Kingdom. So yeah, I can totally see Him being pleased that Andrew scoped out the vendor, and happy to make use of boughten food at hand.
The real question, then, is whether the little boy is related to Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, the ur-vendor. And whether he was selling Fish-onna-Stick. :)
That’s interesting about the widow and the oil. The part about creditors and slaves is cut out of the lectionary reading, IIRC. I don’t remember ever hearing that.

Ty August 3, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Yes, I heard the same homily about how it was a miracle that people didn’t keep the food to themselves. It seemed as if the priest was downplaying the whole event. I really think that the Lord performed a miracle of multiplication. If he had not, then why were there leftovers?

Mariadas August 3, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Very interesting insights indeed.
I have some questions:
John’s gospel does not use the word ‘ate’(the synoptics do). Did the 5000 people eat the barley loaves and fish or did they take ‘home’.
Secondly, where did they get twelve baskets in the wilderness?
My feeling is that all the people who followed Jesus had their own food, fish and water with them in their travelling bags/baskets.
s.mariadas

Theresa August 4, 2009 at 3:34 am

AMEN!!! I also received (again) the same cold pablum sermon on sunday. Thankyou for your explanation on this AWESOME miracle of our Lord.

The Masked Chicken August 4, 2009 at 4:47 am

Dear S. Mariadas,
The whole point of this post is to indicate that this was not the case. Jesus performed a miracle in, essentially, creating or re-arranging matter to make bread and fish that did not already exist.
They probably borrowed the baskets from the people, which were probably not very deep.
They ate the loaves and fish. It is not really possible to have left-overs without eating. It also said in Scripture that they ate their fill [Matt 14:20].
The Chicken

Mike Walsh August 4, 2009 at 6:00 am

I have always felt that the miraculous nature of the event is vindicated by its failure: presented with this amazing performance, the people completely miss the point and try to make Jesus a king, for which reason he flees from them. Politicians make their careers by providing the goods like this, but Jesus wanted no part of that kind of power. The meaning of the event is provided by his Eucharistic teaching: “I Am the Bread of Life” –a teaching even his closest disciples would not begin to grasp until he broke bread on the night before he died. Miracles are not merely raw exercises of power, they have always a teaching function. The contribution of the boy may simply be that A: grace works through nature (and all that implies) and B: miracles validate faith. Jesus miracles always occurr in the presence of faith, validating those who put their trust –however tentatively — in Him. Notably, Jesus could work few miracles among his own village and people.

peregrinator August 4, 2009 at 7:19 am

Ugh, I’m sorry anyone had to sit through the “sharing” interpretation of this Gospel.
And kudos to you, Jimmy, for pointing out the inconsistency of “sharing” with the original text.
I think many forms of higher education in the country (including seminary education) have failed, in that they promulgate the notion that any interpretation of a text is as good as another, and the intpreter has little to no responsibility to make sure his interpretation is, in fact, supported by the original.
I was fortunate to hear homily not unlike the one Shane described. Not perhaps the most rhetorically skillful homily I’ve ever heard, but very good.
The pastor of my current parish had been preaching in a “trust in God” vein, and pointed out that the disciples were (indirectly) asked to fill a need that they were inequipped to fill. In fact, they could not even purchase the means to fill that need.
However, Christ takes what they could purchase, (or provide) the five loaves and two fish, and supplies all that is lacking.
The pastor’s point being that when one faces a situation for which one is not equipped, one should meet it with what one has and trust Christ to supply what is lacking.

Rosemarie August 4, 2009 at 7:20 am

+J.M.J+
MaskedChicken asks:
>>>Okay, what’s the provenence on this materialistic explanation?
I know the late William Barclay, a Protestant scholar and theologian, promoted that interpretation. I don’t know whether he originated it or got it from someone else.
JohnE asks:
>>>What I don’t get, is why do some people want to downplay the miracle? Do they not believe in miracles or do they think downplaying the miracle makes the story more believable for others (snip)
I think it’s more than just the desire to downplay the miraculous and supernatural – though that’s no doubt part of it (it’s also the reason why Barclay liked that novel interpretation, since he tended to give natural “explanations” of Christ’s miracles).
It has more to do with the Eucharistic implications of the miracle. Some Modernists want to replace belief in transubstatiation and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with a mere “celebration of community.” They downgrade the multiplication of the loaves and fish from a supernatural miracle to a natural “communal sharing” event because it fits that agenda. If the *true* miracle of the loaves and fishes was a “miracle of sharing” rather than supernatural multiplication of bread, then the *true* miracle of the Mass is also a “miracle of sharing” in a gathered community rather than transubstantiation.
In Jesu et Maria,

Mike Walsh August 4, 2009 at 7:41 am

Furthermore:
The “Hallmark Card” approach is basically an attempt to defend the validity of this Gospel by trying to make it plausible to the materialists that so intimidate the average clerical slaphead. As a consequence, they reduce the truth of it to a banal moralizing. Such dimbulbs haven’t even the wit to see the plain literary sense of the text, which clearly argues for a miraculous event, pointedly misinterpreted by those for whom it was intended. Thus they can’t even argue for a deeper meaning of the sort available to any decent work of literature. They are as ignorant of art as they are of science.

Rosemarie August 4, 2009 at 7:47 am

+J.M.J+
I went ahead and found the relevant quote from Barclay’s commentary on Matt. 14:13-21 in GoogleBooks. After saying that some people are okay with a supernatural understanding of the miracles of Jesus, he then says:
“There are those who see in this miracle something which in a sense is perfectly natural, and yet which in another sense is a real miracle, and which in any sense is very precious. Picture the scene. There is a crowd; it is late, and they are hungry. But was it really likely that the vast majority of that crowd would set out around the lake without any food at all? Would they not take something with them, however little? Now it was evening and they were hungry. But they were also selfish. And no one would produce what they had, in case they had to share it and left themselves without enough. Then Jesus took the lead. Such as he and his disciples had, he began to share with a blessing and an invitation and a smile. And thereupon all began to share, and before they knew what was happening, there was enough and more than enough for all.
If this is what happened, it was not the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes; it was the miracle of the changing of selfish people into generous people at the touch of Christ. It was the miracle of the birth of love in grudging hearts. It was the miracle of changed men and women with something of Christ in them to banish their selfishness. If that is so, then in the realest sense Christ fed them with himself and sent his Spirit to dwell within their hearts.
It does not matter how we understand this miracle, One thing is sure – when Christ is there, the weary find rest and the hungry soul is fed”
(William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew: Chapters 11-28, pp. 120-121.)
As others have pointed out, according to the Gospels the people had been with Jesus for three days already. So any food they had brought with them initially would have no doubt been eaten by then – or gone bad, for that matter.
In Jesu et Maria,

John August 4, 2009 at 12:37 pm

My wife and I were out of town that weekend and attended a tiny mission church near Mendocino, CA. In his homily, the priest there talked about how amazed the boy’s mother must have been when he came back and told her what had happened with the fish sandwiches he’d left home with.
Oh, and it was also the first time I’ve ever heard “Kumbaya” actually played in church!

ukok August 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm

We were blessed to hear this homily from Fr. Michael.

MikeD August 4, 2009 at 1:03 pm

I got a similar homily as Shane. Our pastor pointed out what the Lord can do with the gifts that we give him. The implication was the boy gifted the loaves and fish. He was sure to point out that the 5,000 number counted only men and not women and children. He did tie the miracle this in to the Eucharist.
What I’ve gleaned from the post and comments may be an additional take. I wonder if Philip had already discussed with the other apostles the purchase of food from the boy using their disciples common purse. Jesus may have been teaching the apostles and their successors to take care of the flock first. This would explain the 12 baskets left over in so much as each apostle received a full portion even after all were fed.

Steve Burdick August 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Another connection from 2nd Kings, is to look at 1st Kings 17. the Prophet Elijah’s first miracle was to the widow who gave her last food, flour and oil, to feed him (after he was called by God. Her flour and oil did not run dry until the drought/famine was over and fed the widow and her son. Elisha called by God to assist Elijah, asked for a “double portion of the blessing that God gave to Elijah. Now with elisha, 5 loves feed 100. (the promise of the bounty of the Father)The 2 greatest prophets Elijah and Elisha, known to all the people was now vastly surmounted by Christ, who feeds thousands (up to the entirety of humanity). The people immediately knew him to be the Messiah and wanted to make him an earthly king.

JohnE August 5, 2009 at 7:38 am

Barclay: “Then Jesus took the lead. Such as he and his disciples had, he began to share with a blessing and an invitation and a smile.”
Ahhh, so Halmarky. Actually, more like malarky. It sure seems to fit in with the flowers and butterflies and effeminate Jesus I got in CCD though.
Turn to the left and smile, turn to the right and smile, and then with puppy-dog eyes offer the loaves and fish to the people. The people all go “ahhhh”, as in “how precious” and collectively do the same, turning to the left and smiling, turning to the right and smiling, and then opening their garments to pull out some sashimi footlongs they had been hiding all day.
Yeah, that’s almost as believable as the actual miracle. And that’s why they later followed Jesus looking for more free bread, because Jesus always seems to remind them that they do have food already — tucked away somewhere in their garments.

Rosemarie August 9, 2009 at 7:59 am

+J.M.J+
The thought just struck me: If teaching selfish people to share is a “miracle,” then Kindergarten teachers perform miracles equal to those of Christ every day throughout the world.
In Jesu et Maria,

Lucien Syme August 10, 2009 at 9:20 am

I had never thought the boy had sold the fish and bread even though it was right there in the text. As simple as it may seem that was very enlightening.
A couple of questions from the end of the post. Did Jesus do the miracle or did God do one through Him? Or is that the same thing?

bill912 August 10, 2009 at 9:26 am

Jesus IS God.

Dannyboy August 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm

The whole issue can be solved by attending an Evangelical Church.
“Such is the unity which the Roman Catholic Church so often and so tauntingly contrasts with what she is pleased to term “Protestant disunion.” As a corporation, having its head at Rome, and stretching its limbs to the extremities of the earth, she is of gigantic bulk and imposing appearance; but, closely examined, she is seen to be an assemblage of heterogeneous materials, held together simply by the compression of force. It is a coercive power from without, not an attractive influence from within, that gives her being and form…It is combination, not incorporation; union, not unity, that characterizes the Church of Rome. It is the unity of dead matter, not the unity of a living body, whose several members, though performing various functions, obeys one will and form one whole. It is not the spiritual and living unity promised to the Church of God, which preserves the liberty of all, at the same time that it makes all ONE: it is a unity that degrades the understanding, supersedes rational inquiry, and annihilates private judgment. It leaves no room for conviction, and therefore no room for faith. It is a unity that extorts from all submission to one infallible head, that compels all to a participation in one monstrous and idolatrous rite, and that enchains the intellect of all to a farrago of contradictory, absurd, and blasphemous opinions. This is the unity of Rome.”
-J.A. Wylie, The Papacy, Book 2 ch.2

bill912 August 18, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to spew your bigotry by quoting another ignorant bigot who knows nothing about the Catholic Church, and which has no relevance to the post on which you spewed it.

Dannyboy August 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I bet I know more about Catholicism that you do :-) The question is how much do you know about Catholicism?

bill912 August 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm

BTW, what you qouted makes absolutely no rational argument and offers no evidence; it is a tirade of name-calling, nothing more. It makes Wylie sound intellectually bankrupt, as though he let his emotions do his thinking for him.

SDG August 18, 2009 at 1:44 pm

“The whole issue can be solved by attending an Evangelical Church.”

Where, of course, “Evangelical church” is defined as “church that agrees with me.” Well, of course, if you find a church that agrees with you, why then you don’t have to worry about the pastor saying things you disagree with.
Of course, in an Evangelical church you might get the right interpretation of the feeding of the 5000, but you’re essentially guaranteed to get the wrong interpretation of the Bread of Life discourse.

bill912 August 18, 2009 at 1:51 pm

My Spidey-sense is telling me that Dannyboy is Greg/oneil using a different handle.

SDG August 18, 2009 at 2:39 pm

At any rate Dannyboy is using different handles. Dannyboy, please honor house rules by picking a handle and sticking with it.

I bet I know more about Catholicism that you do :-) The question is how much do you know about Catholicism?

Is that the question? I’m sure we can come up with a better and more important question than that.

Oneil August 18, 2009 at 3:33 pm

SDG,
The other option is that the RCC provides the wrong interpretation on the feeding the 5000 and the Bread of Life discourse. Throw in Purgatory and you have 3 strikes and you are out.

Tim J. August 18, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Oneil and Danny Boy and Greg all seem to make a habit of jumping around to different ISPs.
Here’s an idea. Ban all of him.
He vomits bile against the Church, because his delicate stomach is not used to solid food. He has no consistent philosophy that he can articulate or even understand, so he is far more comfortable on the attack. That way, he doesn’t ever have to stop and think.
He’s afraid, perhaps, that if he stops talking his brain will start working.

SDG August 18, 2009 at 7:38 pm

“The other option is that the RCC provides the wrong interpretation on the feeding the 5000 and the Bread of Life discourse.”

No, that is not an option, it is a lie. Lies are not options, because God is Truth.

Oneil August 19, 2009 at 4:55 am

Roman Catholicism according to Barrett has a total of 223 denominations within her, which can be broken down into four major groups: “(1) Catholic Pentecostals (Roman Catholics involved in the organized Catholic Charismatic Renewal) (2) Christo-Pagans (Latin American Roman Catholics who combine folk-Catholicism with traditional Amerindian paganism) (3) Evangelical Catholics (Roman Catholics who also regard themselves as Evangelicals) and (4) Spiritist Catholics (Roman Catholics who are active in organized high or low spiritism, including syncretic spirit-possession cults). And of course, this list can be supplemented by distinctions between moderate Roman Catholics (represented by almost all Roman Catholic scholars), Conservative Roman Catholics (represented by Scott Hahn and most Roman Catholic apologists), Traditionalist Roman Catholics (represented by apologist Gerry Matatics), and Sedevacantist Roman Catholics .’- Barrett
So, SDG, you accuse Evangelicals of attending churches that agree with them. I make the assertion you are doing the same. By using your private interpretation, you probably went from Catholic church to Catholic church until you found one that agreed with your doctrine. Again an example of the pot calling the kettle black.

SDG August 19, 2009 at 6:30 am

“Roman Catholicism according to Barrett has a total of 223 denominations within her”

This is the sort of statement for which the term “arrant nonsense” was coined. To see this, it may not be necessary to do much more than ask for the definition of the term “denomination.”
Even the basic fourfold division Barrett attempts is ridiculous. Fatally, none of his categories has any reference whatsoever to the Magisterium! E.g., Barrett would probably classify me as an “Evangelical Catholic,” but what I really am is an assenting (or non-dissenting) Catholic.
IOW, the real poles within Catholicism are “assent” vs. “dissent.” Barrett’s blindness to this obvious fact is a symptom of his insistence on imposing a Protestant model (denominationalism) on the Catholic Church.

“So, SDG, you accuse Evangelicals of attending churches that agree with them.”

I did no such thing. I said that attempting to “resolve the issue” (i.e., avoid hearing something problematic from the pulpit) simply by “attending an Evangelical church” requires you to define “Evangelical” as “church that agrees with me.”

“I make the assertion you are doing the same. By using your private interpretation, you probably went from Catholic church to Catholic church until you found one that agreed with your doctrine.”

Even if that were true, which is isn’t, it still wouldn’t be “the same,” because I submit my understanding to the Church, not the other way around.

“Again an example of the pot calling the kettle black.”

Since I neither made the accusation you thought nor fit the description you allege (i.e., I didn’t call the kettle black and I’m not the pot you allege), the blackness in question would seem to be in the eye of the beholder.

Oneil August 19, 2009 at 7:13 am

SDG,
Your mistake is that you have submitted to a Church. I on the other hand have submitted to Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and my fellow Evangelical Christians. Consequently, as commanded by the Bible, I test the spirits for not every spirit is of God. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD… So by using reason I find it utterly illogical for Peter to have been a Pope in Rome. Let me show you and TimJ some sound reasoning.
Why I don’t believe Peter was in Rome?
Near 45 A.D., we find Peter being cast into prison at Jerusalem (Acts 12:3, 4). In 49 A.D., he was still in Jerusalem, this time attending the Jerusalem Council. About 51 A.D., he was in Antioch of Syria where he got into differences with Paul because he wouldn’t sit or eat with Gentiles. Strange that the “Roman bishop” would have nothing to do with Gentiles in 51 A.D.! Later in about 66 A.D., we find him in the city of Babylon among the Jews (I Pet. 5:13). Remember that Peter was the Apostle to the circumsized. Why was he in Babylon? Because history shows that there were as many Jews in the Mesopotamian areas in Christ’s time as there were in Palestine. It is no wonder we find him in the East. (According to Josephus, Rome only had a small number of Jews). Perhaps this is the reason why scholars say Peter’s writings are strongly Aramaic in flavor, the type of Aramaic spoken in Babylon. Why of course! Peter was familiar with their dialect. If you offer Revelation as a citation for proof that Babylon refers to Rome, I will provide a 30 page dissertation to refute this assertion. Babylon in Revelation is a reference to Jerusalem and her apostasy, not Rome. I don’t believe the RCC or Rome is a reference to the whore spoken about in the Book of Revelation.
So test the spirits and show me proof that Peter was in Rome during the time that newAdvent.com claims. I have studied the Bible instead of watching movies or studying the fine art of Beer drinking. As the Bible says, “Study to show thyself approved to God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Tim 2:15″

SDG August 19, 2009 at 8:31 am

“Your mistake is that you have submitted to a Church.”

I do submit to the Church, that is, I submit to Christ. The church is Christ. She is “His body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:23). Christ is the fullness of the Father; the church is the fullness of Christ.
When Jesus appeared to Saul he did not say “Why are you persecuting my church?” but “Why are you persecuting me?” Likewise, Jesus told his followers, “He who hears you hears me; he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16). One who “refuses to listen even to the church” is to be treated as an outsider (Matt 18:18).
The Church is “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). St. Paul tells us that Jesus himself is the sole foundation (1 Cor 3:11, but he also tells us that the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph 2:20), just like the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev 21:14). And Jesus himself tells us that he himself builds the Church on the rock — as mainstream Evangelical scholarship acknowledges — of St. Peter, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matt 16).
BTW, the heavenly Jerusalem is also Christ’s bride, just like the church (cf. Eph 5, 2 Cor 11:2, Rev. 21:2). Unless Jesus has multiple brides, and unless the apostles are foundations for multiple structures, the church is at least closely identified with the heavenly Jerusalem, which Scripture calls our mother (Gal 4:26; cf. Rev 12:17). No wonder Cyprian said “He cannot have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother.” Will you not have the church as your mother? Or will you not submit to your mother, as your Father wills?

SDG August 19, 2009 at 8:43 am

“Let me show you and TimJ some sound reasoning.”

Why don’t you start by defining “denomination”?

“So test the spirits and show me proof that Peter was in Rome during the time that newAdvent.com claims.”

Do you consider the Gospels to be written by the men whose names they bear? The patristic evidence for Peter coming to Rome is as strong or stronger, as again mainstream Evangelical patrologists recognize — indeed, among mainstream scholars (Evangelical as well as Catholic) the authorship of the Gospels is far more controverted than Peter’s Roman sojourn.

“I have studied the Bible instead of watching movies or studying the fine art of Beer drinking.”

Well, my religious studies MA area of concentration is sacred scripture (NT focus), so I’ve studied the Bible too. But I don’t see the point of putting other people down for their interests. Fraternal charity and respect are more important than Bible study, and certainly much more important than movies or beer.

Tim J. August 19, 2009 at 8:44 am

“I do submit to the Church, that is, I submit to Christ. The church is Christ.”
You beat me to it, SDG.
Refusing to submit to the authority of the Church is refusing to submit to Christ.

Oneil August 19, 2009 at 9:48 am

I gladly submit to my Pastor and my Church. Every healthy Protestant submits to both. However if his Pastor or Church violate the teachings of Christ or the Bible he is obligated to leave that church.
Clearly Jesus can not have two Brides. Christ only mentioned one Bride! Our debate exists because either Catholicism or Evangelicalism is His bride, but NOT both.
The Bible does not tell me to submit to a Magisterium – so I don’t! It is interesting to note that Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses both claim to have infallible Magisteriums and expect their followers to submit. History has shown the Catholic, Mormon, and JW Magisteriums far from infallible, thus I must conclude that this model of authority is an attempt to usurp the TRUE church. The TRUE church needs no earthly head for Christ is its Spiritual Head. The adage that Absolute Power corrupts absolutely has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout European Papal history. Therefore Christ never intended any authority beyond the local church level. The Bishop is overseer only at the local church level. If you read Schaff you will see that this is the ONLY model of the Early Church before 300AD.
Catholics love to throw out the canard that Sola Scriptura leads to fracturing, but this is false.
Division within Protestantism is not due to sola Scriptura. Rather, it is due to a lack of adherence to it. Usually, a division will be caused because some refuse to believe true Biblical teaching over their institutionalized traditions which they have been taught since childhood. This was what caused the first division within Protestantism, between the Lutherans and the Reformed.

Oneil August 19, 2009 at 9:58 am

I have never seen TimJ apologize for any of his insults. Typically he will dish out an insult but will not be able to take one.
Again explain to me how Peter could be the 1st Pope.
“We honor Peter and in fact some of our churches are named after him, but he was not the first pope, nor was he Roman Catholic. If you read his first letter, you will see that he did not teach a Roman hierarchy, but that all Christians are royal priests. The same keys given to Peter in Matthew 16 are given to the whole church of believers in Matthew 18″- WELS Q&A, a Lutheran Website

Tim J. August 19, 2009 at 10:17 am

Oh, honestly, Oneil/Greg/DannyBoy, etc…, it’s not as if you really want answers…
But here are a few. Read them, if you want answers.
“The Church Fathers, those Christians closest to the apostles in time, culture, and theological background, clearly understood that Jesus promised to build the Church on Peter, as the following passages show…”
http://www.catholic.com/library/Origins_of_Peter_as_Pope.asp
“After the original release of Boettner’s book, evidence had mounted to the point that Pope Paul VI was able to announce officially something that had been discussed in archaeological literature and religious publications for years: that the actual tomb of the first pope had been identified conclusively, that his remains were apparently present, and that in the vicinity of his tomb were inscriptions identifying the place as Peter’s burial site, meaning early Christians knew that the prince of the apostles was there.”
http://www.catholic.com/library/Was_Peter_in_Rome.asp
Now, as the topic of this thread has NOTHING TO DO with repeated demands that Catholics ONCE AGAIN prove the papacy and answer every fantastical objection against it… let’s drop it.

Oneil August 19, 2009 at 10:31 am

SDG,
I don’t want to go into a 100 page dissertation refuting the Patristics and liberal ‘Bible’[sic] scholars. Suffice it to say, that most Conservative Evangelical scholars and the bulk of historic Protestantism never questioned the authors of the Gospels or the Epistles( except Hebrews).
A good overview on denominationalism see Wikipedia( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_denomination). Notice a denomination does not necessarily mean differences in doctrine. Most denominations are created because of administrative and geographical issues instead of Theological issues.

SDG August 19, 2009 at 10:36 am

“Division within Protestantism is not due to sola Scriptura. Rather, it is due to a lack of adherence to it.”

You can believe that by blind faith if you want to, but experience tells a different story. I grew up in the Christian Reformed Church, which was and is almost paralyzed by crippling debates about “women in church office.” Anyone who believes that the Bible speaks so clearly to this issue that the issue is only adherence, not interpretation, is an ideologue more interested in his doctrine of the Bible than in the reality that there are equally devout, honest, sincere, learned, Bible-believing Christians on both sides of the issue who honestly disagree about what the Bible says.
Or take infant baptism — not an issue that we worried about within the CRC, of course, but an issue for which, again, you will find equally devout, honest, sincere, learned, Bible-believing Christians on both sides. My father did his pastoral dissertation on infant baptism, and I know the arguments about as well as anyone, I guess. But anyone who claims that the Bible is crystal clear on this issue, and everyone on one side or the other of this issue is simply failing to adhere to sola scriptura, is someone selling something I ain’t buying.

“If you read his first letter, you will see that he did not teach a Roman hierarchy, but that all Christians are royal priests. The same keys given to Peter in Matthew 16 are given to the whole church of believers in Matthew 18″

Well, I mentioned rock, not keys, but if you want to talk keys, the comment you quote from the Lutheran website is a theological response, not a critical exegetical one. Matthew 18 does not mention keys. The key background for the keys in Matthew 16 is Isaiah 22, where it refers to the unique authority of the chief steward of the Davidic household. The privilege Jesus gives to Peter in Matthew 16 is unique, as many Evangelical scholars recognize.
That said, Tim J is right, it’s time to rein in the off-topic discussion. If you want to talk papacy, find an appropriate place to do it. That place is not here. Further perpetuation of the discussion in this thread will be deleted. (Yes, I get the last word in this combox: You challenged, I answered, the end.)

SDG August 19, 2009 at 10:44 am

Some more clean-up:

“I don’t want to go into a 100 page dissertation refuting the Patristics and liberal ‘Bible’[sic] scholars. Suffice it to say, that most Conservative Evangelical scholars and the bulk of historic Protestantism never questioned the authors of the Gospels or the Epistles( except Hebrews). “

“Liberal”? I thought they were “moderate,” as per your citation from Barrett. But once again you can define “Conservative Evangelical” to mean whatever group of scholars you like, and then say that they say whatever you want them to.

“A good overview on denominationalism see Wikipedia( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_denomination). Notice a denomination does not necessarily mean differences in doctrine. Most denominations are created because of administrative and geographical issues instead of Theological issues.”

Hence the arrant nonsense of Barrett’s thesis about hundreds of “denominations” within Catholicism, unless you want to define, like, the 21 particular Churches within Catholicism as “denominations.” Thanks for clearing that up.
Again: I’m responding here because challenged here. For further discussion, find an appropriate combox.

Oneil August 19, 2009 at 10:51 am

[OFF-TOPIC COMMENTS DELETED]

SDG August 19, 2009 at 10:59 am

Oneil, please follow Da Rulz regarding combox topicality, among other things, if you wish to be welcome to participate on this blog.

The Sarge August 19, 2009 at 11:44 am

“Division within Protestantism is not due to sola Scriptura. Rather, it is due to a lack of adherence to (my interpretation of) it”.

SDG August 19, 2009 at 11:50 am

Let’s drop the off-topic discussion please. Thanks.

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