The Age of the World–Part I

by Jimmy Akin

in Science

A subject that comes up from time to time is how old the world is–either the earth or the cosmos as a whole.

The responses to this question are typically divided into the well-known "old" and "young" camps, the former holding that the earth and the cosmos are billions of years old and the second holding that they are a few thousand or perhaps tens of thousands of years old. So, depending on just how many thousands or billions of years you posit, there are four to six orders of magnitude separating the two schools of thought.

In a short series of posts, I'd like to look at some magisterial texts that have a bearing on this question and offer a few thoughts on them.

The first thought, before I even get to the magisterial texts, is that both positions are compatible with the Catholic faith. You can be a good Catholic and hold that the universe is thousands or millions or billions or trillions or quadrillions or other numbers of years old. The Church does not teach any particular age or age-range for the earth or the cosmos. You can follow the evidence where you think it leads.

This is because the Magisterium has determined that the question of the ages of the earth and the cosmos are principally scientific questions that are not (or at least that do not appear to be) settled by the sources of faith.

This may not always have been so. I would not be at all surprised if there are past papal, curial, or conciliar texts that do indicate an age-range for the earth or the cosmos as part of ordinary magisterial teaching, perhaps in the thousands or tens of thousands of years range. 

In fact, if a reader knows of such passages, I'd love to see them.

Such a prior position, at least of itself, would not pose a problem for the Church's current determination since ordinary magisterial teaching is nondefinitive and thus can be revised, as with the case of the Church removing the theological speculation of limbo from its ordinary teaching while still allowing the theory of limbo to be held (a rather striking parallel for what might be the case on the age of the world question).

However that may be, recent magisterial statements have made it clear that the age of the world is an open question and we are not limited to the thousands or tens of thousands of years age-range.

We will look at some of these texts in this series.

A second thing I'd like to point out before going to the first text is that the Magisterium's current judgment that this is primarily a scientific question puts the Magisterium in an interesting position in terms of how to articulate the position.

Of course, they could always say, "This is a scientific question; the sources of faith don't determine it," and leave it at that, but they usually aren't that concise in how they answer such questions. They want to say a little more about it, and so what they often do is express openness to the modern scientific view but without making a formal endorsement of this view as correct (i.e., "The universe is billions of years old, as modern science tells us").

It's good that they don't take that extra step because science can get things wrong and, after getting their fingers burned with Ptolemaic astronomy, they don't want to lock believers into having to accept a particular scientific account that might one day be proven wrong.

So that's all to the good.

Here is how the Catechism handles the question:

283 The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man.These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers. With Solomon they can say: "It is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements. . . for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me."

Here the Catechism takes an appreciative stance toward recent scientific studies on the question but without mentioning any particular numbers. It doesn't say anything about billions of years.

Yet surely that is what it has in mind. It could not be credibly claimed that the "many scientific studies" it refers to are ones being done at the Institution for Creation Research in El Cajon, California–or by similar young earth/young universe groups.

Surely it has in mind mainstream scientific studies which point to an old earth, and older universe, and some kind of evolutionary process working through the development of life forms and the appearance of man.

But note: None of those things are points of faith.

The results of particular scientific studies or the claims of particular scientific theories (e.g., evolution) are scientific matters, not things taught in the sources of faith.

As a result, these studies and claims cannot be binding on believers are matters of faith. And so one can be a good Catholic (good in his faith) even if he rejects all of them. If you accept the modern scientific account then you might ju
dge such a person a bad scientist (or at least badly informed on scientific matters) but not a bad Catholic.

This means that what we have in the first sentence of paragraph 283 of the Catechism is not per se a doctrine of the Church. Instead, it is a pastoral expression that seeks to appreciate and respect the findings of modern science without imposing them on the faithful as matters of faith.

That's not unusual. There are quite a number of places in the Catechism that are best classified as pastoral expressions rather than per se doctrinal or dogmatic ones. 

There are also, of course, loads of doctrinal and dogmatic ones. (This is, after all, a catechism!)

It is important, when dealing with questions like this, to have an awareness of the fact that the Catechism uses different modes of expression. What particular mode is being used in a particular passage must be determined by the text itself as well as an awareness of the dynamics of the question theologically, as the above illustrates.

Next . . . another text.

If you liked this post, you should join Jimmy's Secret Information Club to get more great info!


What is the Secret Information Club?I value your email privacy

{ 468 comments }

Oneil August 20, 2009 at 2:55 pm

All I want to know is do you believe in a historical Noah and a historical Universal Deluge that occurred within the last 10,000 years?

Lee August 20, 2009 at 3:23 pm

A long time ago, a scholarly friend of mine and a Priest friend of mine were talking about the creation .vs. the fossil record.
At one point in the discussion my Priest friend (Fr. Joe) posed a some questions to my Scholar friend (Froggy), which I found enlightening.
Joe: According to the Bible God is All Knowing and All Powerful, given that he could have created everything in one millionth of one second, could he not?
Froggy: Well, given the definition of All Powerful, yes I suppose so.
Joe: Then, why Six days and a Day of rest? Would an all Powerful being need to rest?
Froggy: No, rest would be a more of a choice to an All Powerful Being not a need.
Joe: If that is the case, then might not the reason be to be an Example for Man? To keep one day in seven reserved?

Benedict August 20, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Great post, Jimmy! Thanks for the info.

joye August 20, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Yay, theology! *waves flag*
Could you clarify a little about when the ordinary magisterium is not infallible? I seem to remember from RCIA that the ordinary magisterium is infallible in thing that have been “consistently taught”, such as Christ’s divinity and the all male priesthood. What qualifies as “consistently taught”? Does that mean that they have to have been taught since the apostles?
Basically, why is limbo/the age of the earth/etc changeable, but not something like… the concept of indulgences? Just as an example. Or maybe that is changeable/not necessary to believe?
Or, if you’ve already talked about this, you can link me.
TIA :D

Jimmy Akin August 20, 2009 at 5:35 pm

joye: I’ll see what I can do along those lines once I’ve got the age of the universe series finished (3 or so posts).

BillyHW August 20, 2009 at 5:45 pm

If an omnipotent God can create something out of nothing, then it is no more difficult for Him to create a universe that is already in a mature state, as a universe that is in an immature state. Science and archaeology can only tell us that the universe and the earth has the appearance of age, based on the assumption that the universe came into existence in an immature state. They cannot tell us absolutely whether it does or does not. That is really a philosophical and theological question.
The trouble is so many scientists (and devotees of scientism) are terrible philosophers and theologians (not to mention arrogant, prideful, know-it-alls). They incorrectly think that science is the only type of worthwhile knowledge, and misapply scientific answers to questions that are simply outside of the realm of science. They could really do with a hefty dose of humility. It would do ‘em a lot of good. But they are only interested in using science as a bludgeon against religion. (There are also some on the other side of the debate who are so obtuse as to completely deny that God and the authors of Sacred Scripture were capable of speaking in figurative language, but they are far fewer in number and do not hold any positions of power and influence in academia or the media.)
As for me, after being a devotee of scientism in my youth (hey, it always seemed to work for the crew of Star Trek!), have come to accept the fact that I simply do not know.
I think the young universe hypothesis has a couple of things going against it. Firstly it would require that some things (like Dinosaur bones, or star light, though that depends on where you put the actual age of the universe) were “planted” there by God, which can seem a little bit like deception on His part. After all, why would God give the universe an appearance of age, when in fact it is young? Secondly, it kind of takes away from the “wonder” of creation if things like these magnificent creatures (or the early stages of the Big Bang and the formation of the first stars and galaxies, if you put creation back further) didn’t actually exist. If you’re going to create a world full of wondrous things, it helps if they actually existed in the first place.
The old universe hypothesis also has a few strikes going against it. The deception charge against God can also be leveled here, when you consider that so much of humanity, up until the last century or two has believed in a young universe based largely on God’s own word in the Bible.
The question is probably even a moot point anyways if there were no sentient creatures around to be aware of the existence of an early, primordial universe.
If I were able to choose one over the other, though, my preference would absolutely be for a 6000 year old world that was created in exactly six, twenty-four hour days, just to be able to see the look on Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens’ face on the Last Day when they find out the truth!

BillyHW August 20, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I’m also glad that the Church doesn’t force us into one position or the other, as Jimmy pointed out.

Oneil August 21, 2009 at 5:32 am

BillyHW,
Do you believe in an actual historical person name Noah who built a real Ark?

studdunker August 21, 2009 at 6:56 am

My only thought on this is everyone should harken back to Job chapters 38-40. Specifically, 38:4 and 40:8. I know that will not please many scientists and maybe would not have pleased me in my younger days. I am an engineer and like most of us I have become used to having an answer for everything. I think that may not be the best way, my wife and I have taken to saying our rosary on the deck in the early morning twilight and seeing the abundance of wildlife that continues its daily trek through life with no care whether the earth is 10,000 or 10 million years old but with the sure knowledge that God will provide. Maybe it’s time for me to imitate Job and speak no more and just have faith in God.
As for Noah, I can believe in a historical Noah and a Great flood, but did it actually cover the “Whole” earth, I don’t know that it needed to, Just the world that Noah knew.

SDG August 21, 2009 at 7:18 am

“Do you believe in an actual historical person name Noah who built a real Ark?”

Oneil, I will address this question in a stand-alone post in the near future. Watch this blog.

MikeD August 21, 2009 at 9:32 am

Great Post Jimmy and great comments BillyHW and studdunker!
God could have created a world with the appearance of age. Of course we have statements in the Bible like Gal. 4:4 “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” [emphasis mine - not in the original ;-) ] Of course, this does not definitively settle the issue but for me it seems a strong indication that God did not fiddle with the historical record.
I think only the most literal view of the Bible can come away with the young earth theory. It seems that to calculate the age of the earth as young, a Biblical reader must assume the historical exactness of not just Genesis but of all the other texts as well.
God could have created the world 6,000 years ago, 10,000 years ago or other. The problem with this view is the attempt to get an exact time from inexact calculations.
From a non-Christian young earth point of view, God could have created the world 1,000 years ago. From a Christian point of view the 1,000 year theory is unacceptable since this would imply that Christ did not “really” become man but a universe was created in which it appeared to have happened.
So it seems to me that God worked in the fullness of time and the world really is as it appears to be.

The Masked Chicken August 21, 2009 at 9:57 am

The debate over the age of the earth is an extension of the problem of memory and history (there must be a name for the phenomenon I will describe, below). If you don’t know anyone who is 2000 years old, then prove that the Bible is 2000 years old. After all, God could have created the Bible 200 years ago, complete with historical records indicating a 2000 year old age and since there are no persons 200 years old who are living, there is no way to prove otherwise.
Actually, come to think of it, this is a sophisticated form of the Argumentum ad Ignorantiam, where lack of proof is taken to be proof.
God could have created the earth 6000 years ago, complete with historical artifacts and we could not absolutely refute this argument unless we had a witness who was more than 6000 years old whom we trusted. The most important question in the discussion of the earth’s age and the one on which it stands or falls is: what constitutes a valid witness? Answer that question and we will be one step closer to resolving the creation question.
As Catholics, we believe that God can neither deceive nor be deceived. Hence, we cannot believe that God would create a deceptive history of the world. Thus, one should, logically, reject the idea that God created the world 6000 years, ago, with evidence indicating that it were millions of years older, just so we could be deceived or deceive ourselves. God does not test by deception, nor by pitting apparent geological truth against Biblical truth. Might there not be a third alternative?
The Chicken

Matt Weber August 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm

The Age of Appearance view has the advantage of preserving a literal reading of Genesis 1, but this is its only virtue, and its only reason for existence. It’s possible God created the world in a wink with a story that never really happened, but this can only be stated dogmatically, as it is unverifiable by any independent source outside of the Bible. Even if there were a 7000 year old dude for us to consult, it wouldn’t matter as he would have been created with memories intact just like everything else and wouldn’t know the difference.
Adam and Eve might give us more trouble. It’s plausible that Adam was created as a baby and simply nursed somehow by God, but I don’t see any way that Eve could have been created similarly. She would have been a full grown woman, albeit possibly without a fake remembered history of childhood. But then you raise questions of what age meant before the Fall, and what exactly God intended the pre-Fall Earth to look like.

BillyHW August 21, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Do you believe in an actual historical person name Noah who built a real Ark?
If I say yes, will that make your head explode? :)

Oneil August 21, 2009 at 3:25 pm

BillyHW,
I am a Physicist by academic training so I have a very specific position. However being a Protestant, I don’t feel free to share my position until I hear from a few Catholics.

SDG August 21, 2009 at 4:12 pm

“I am a Physicist by academic training so I have a very specific position.”

Hm. Not sure I see how physics training specifically affects the issues around the historicity of Noah. (Or did you mean a very specific position on whether your head would explode? Or perhaps your head is in a very specific position that would affect its likelihood of exploding or not?)
FWIW, we have a resident physicist here, so that could be an interesting discussion.

” However being a Protestant, I don’t feel free to share my position until I hear from a few Catholics.”

I’m somewhat baffled why that would be. I wouldn’t feel inhibited as a Catholic sharing my views in a room full of Protestants I hadn’t heard from yet.

The Masked Chicken August 21, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Dear Oneil,
Do you believe in an actual historical person name Noah who built a real Ark?
Have you asked this question before on this blog, because I remember reading it by you or someone else. I will let SDG answer in detail, but, to give a short answer, of course, Catholics have historically believed in a real Noah and a real ark. Do you think St. Peter and St. Paul, who were real persons, would hold and teach something involving a what, a mere allegorical figure? The Church Fatheres took pains to show that Noah and the flood is a type for baptism. There are many passages in Scripture that discuss Noah as a real person, including: Jesus, in the book of Matthew:
Matt 24: 36 – 39 Mat 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,
and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
The author of Hebrews:
Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, took heed and constructed an ark for the saving of his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which comes by faith. [RSV]
and St. Peter:
1 Pet 3: 18 -22 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit;
in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison,
who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him. [RSV]
2 Pet 2: 4 – 5 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast [them] down to hell, and delivered [them] into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth [person], a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on the subject:
The covenant with Noah
56 After the unity of the human race was shattered by sin God at once sought to save humanity part by part. the covenant with Noah after the flood gives expression to the principle of the divine economy toward the “nations”, in other words, towards men grouped “in their lands, each with (its) own language, by their families, in their nations”.9
57 This state of division into many nations, each entrusted by divine providence to the guardianship of angels, is at once cosmic, social and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen humanity10 united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own unity as at Babel.11 But, because of sin, both polytheism and the idolatry of the nation and of its rulers constantly threaten this provisional economy with the perversion of paganism.12
58 The covenant with Noah remains in force during the times of the Gentiles, until the universal proclamation of the Gospel.13 The Bible venerates several great figures among the Gentiles: Abel the just, the king-priest Melchisedek – a figure of Christ – and the upright “Noah, Daniel, and Job”.14 Scripture thus expresses the heights of sanctity that can be reached by those who live according to the covenant of Noah, waiting for Christ to “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad”.15
Now, if you want to use this as a springboard to discuss other issues of Biblical literalness (I’m not saying you are), then this would fall into a different post. The specifics regarding when, where, and how Noah lived are covered in Scripture, but are awaiting a rediscovery by modern science. Many Popes have spoken favorably of an historical Noah, but, to my knowledge, it is not a matter of dogma, per se (someone correct me if I am wrong). Most older Catholics probably hold Noah to be a real person; some younger persons possibly hold him to be a typological figure. There has been a lot of distortion in both theology and archeology in presenting historical subjects to people in recent times, as both miracles and historical events have been denied.
I have no idea why you would be reluctant to share you opinions with a Catholic audience. I think the people, here, are about as knowledgeable a group as you are likely to find in a Catholic on-line blog. Catholics have a bit more leeway and nuance than most Protestants in our Biblical exegesis, but holding Noah to be a real person is not likely to upset anyone, here, since, I suspect, many hold the same opinion (including, myself).
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken August 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Dear Oneil,
Finding Noah’s Ark is not likely to convince some people of the Faith anymore than already-known archeological discoveries or evidence of miracles.
If you mean to posit that because Noah lived and the time of the Flood can be determined and these facts establish Scripture as a timeline, there would be some problems with that that can be discussed. I will await your more detailed response to the posts you have read, since I don’t know exactly what you are getting at by asking the question about Noah.
The Chicken

Skygor August 21, 2009 at 6:54 pm

On Deception:
I recall from somewhere that “to tell someone a truth they cannot handle is the same as telling them a lie.” (Just try telling a five year old anything complicated and see how they dig in their heels going “la la la”.)
As such if we have an old Earth this conflicts with Man’s understanding of Genesis for a period of time. However God always works -with- people. In our infancy he gave us a Covenant, then the Law, then His Son (and Judgment eventually). He could have just started with his Son, or better yet Joshua some riot gear so he could take Canaan non-lethally and avoid this issues of Judeo-Christians having a violent history.
But to what purpose of complete modern scientific knowledge if Man is having trouble living to age 13?

Oneil August 21, 2009 at 8:06 pm

This question is the primary reason I left the Catholic church. At this juncture I want to see what other peoples opinion are. So again I ask, Do you(plural) believe in a historical Noah and a flood that covered the entire Earth? Or do you believe it is only an allegory or some late addition to the Old Testament?

Jimmy Akin August 21, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Oneil, we’ll get to that question in another post. Not this one. Please no off-topic posting.

mrteachersir August 21, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Not to continue the rabbit-hole, but I think there are some relevant issues with what Oneil is asking. For one, I remember in a geology class learning about places where immense pressure and heat (as in volcanic eruption sites and such) have altered the normal geologic contours that normally tell us of the age of the earth.
In said class, it was also discussed that as a result of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, coal had formed at the bottom of the lake. Modern science holds that coal is formed over millions of years, yet here is coal forming in a matter of days.
In addition, in places in the United States and elsewhere, the geologic record reveals evidence of an intense flood that actually makes the geologic record appear older than it actually was. According to my teacher (I forget her name), that flood was about 6000-8000 years ago.
It could be that rather than God deceiving us, we are deceiving ourselves by placing such enormous stock in our fancy technology. One would think that the “older” the instrument tests, the more inaccurate its results become.

Jimmy Akin August 21, 2009 at 11:34 pm

mrteachersir: If we continue down the rabbit-hole in this thread (discussing the Flood rather than the age of the earth) I will have to start deleting comments, and I will close the combox if I have to.

ukok August 22, 2009 at 5:24 am

I don’t know much about such things, and I don’t have a need for definitive answers, all I know is that God created the world and I am thankful that He did. I leave the ins and outs to others, to scientists and theologians and more knowledgeable or interested folk than I. I’m satisfied in the knowledge that ‘God did it’. Having said that, this is a good post and informative to those who would otherwise not know that they are free to believe whichever ‘argument’ they choose, pertaining to the age of the world.

The Masked Chicken August 22, 2009 at 5:42 am

Dear Jimmy,
My apologies for enlarging the rabbit hole to the point where it could swollow a truck. I thought the issue of Noah was tangentially related to the age of the earth, so I answered Oneils’s question. I will leave the tangent for another post. My apologies.
The Chicken

Jimmy Akin August 22, 2009 at 9:00 am

No problem, Chicken!

Julian Fondren August 22, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Truncated and superficial over time: Young Earth; truncated and superficial over space: Small Universe.
In 3d video games you can sometimes break the illusion in two ways: you can find the end of the world, beyond which is unrendered nothingness; you can fall through a crack in the world, into a bottomless abyss.
So scientists seem to be doing a good job of showing how God isn’t like a lazy, hardware-limited programmer.

Thomas E. Vaughan August 23, 2009 at 8:03 am

In his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, Galileo famously claimed
that each of the book of nature and the book of revelation speaks the
truth. The two books cannot contradict one another because there is
only one truth. There does seem to be some merit to this approach.
After all, there is much that one can know through the use of reason
applied to sense experience and apart from revelation.
When one tries to use this idea as Galileo did, however, a problem
arises. A scientific theory can be proved false but can never be proved
true. Even if there could exist a scientific theory that is a true
description of nature—and this seems unlikely to me—then there is
still no authority that can tell us if we happen to stumble upon that
true scientific theory. The truth to be found in the book of nature is
surely not that any particular scientific theory, dreamed up by man for
his own convenience, is the actual rule that governs nature. We can
read observational truths in the book nature, that a history of
experiments has produced a certain history of sense experiences. But a
scientific theory to explain the observational truths is not itself in
the book of nature. By reading the book of nature and thinking, we can
know that God exists, but one cannot know that a scientific theory is
true. No doubt due to the mercy of God, the universe is so constructed
as to admit approximate description by one or another scientific theory.
We take advantage of this in order to arrange things in the world
according to our desires. But we should have some humility and realize
that our scientific theories do not allow us perfectly and truly to see
the structure of nature.
According to the best theory that we have right now, the Earth orbits
the Sun, and the universe is more than ten billion years old. Neither
of these, though, is a statement of truth about the nature of the
physical world. If one remembers that the best momentary theory, no
matter how useful for engineering, is not a proper object of
belief—for it could some day be proved false by future
observations—then, from that point of view, at least some of the
controversy disappears.
However, if one did assert, on the basis of revelation, that the
universe is at most a few thousand years old, then there would still be
the need to reconcile this assertion with the fact that the best
theories suggest a contradictory view. It is not so simple as
dismissing a theory as a mere theory. Yes, general relativity is a mere
physical theory and thereby not a proper object of belief, but the fact
that the same basic theory underlies both a successful engineering
project like the Global Positioning System and an estimate of the age of
the universe, all in a consistent way, should give any serious
investigator pause. Moreover, when Lord Kelvin posited the lifetime of
the Sun on the basis of the theory of slow collapse and the release of
gravitational potential energy, he concluded that life on earth might
have been illuminated by sunlight for as much as 20 million years or so.
But the geologists of the time already required theories of a much
longer time scale in order explain their observations. With the advent
of the theory of nuclear fusion (whose practical application allowed the
building of really powerful bombs), the lifetime of the Sun was brought
into consistency with that of the geological theory. The problem now is
that the most successful theories from many distinct branches of science
all point to the same basic idea, that the universe and things in it
(like the earth) are billions of years old.
One idea for reconciliation with a young-cosmos view based on revelation
is to appeal to the brokenness of nature as a result of the Fall. The
proponent of an old cosmos might be tempted to argue that, were one to
accept a young cosmos on the basis of revelation, then the apparent
convergence on an old age of the universe in the most recent best
theories would amount to a deception on the part of God. But it could
be that the best theories are all wrong about the age of the universe
because nature is broken. If, in the Fall, nature fell along with man,
then it could be that man’s best understanding of nature does not lead
him inexorably to right conclusions about things such as the age of the
cosmos.
In any event, it is at least possible, however unlikely it might
presently appear, that a future set of best scientific theories would
suggest a younger cosmos.

Tom P. August 23, 2009 at 11:36 am

I find the position that God made a young universe that appears old to be particularly untenable. Having accepted it, there’s no coherent way to reject the idea that He created the universe a nanosecond before my earliest memory. It appears to me to be the start of a slippery slope into solipsism.

Mary August 23, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Nah, he created the universe a nanosecond ago. What? You think he couldn’t create your memories, too?

Leo August 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm

I’m puzzled by why there are so many more young-earthers and evolution-deniers in the US, compared with other industrialised countries with free education. There are enough well-organized young-earthers and evolution-deniers to be a seriously force in the US. While mainstream Christians in the rest of the industrialized world sigh or laugh at the scientifically ignorant crankiness of their US brethren.
I wonder if this is connected with the US never having had an established church, to set the standard for orthodoxy or rebellion. Perhaps the idea that each man can be his own Pope, gives many people the idea that they can be their own Einstein too. The idea that my scientific opinion is just as valid as Einstein’s.
I think most young-earthers believe that their medical opinion is not as valid as that of someone who has spent many years studying surgery at a recognized institution. Yet they think they know more about physics, astronomy, geology and biology than the overwhelming consensus of those who have studied these disciplines for many years. Many dismiss that consensus as part of a global scientific conspiracy or groupthink.

BillyHW August 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I find the position that God made a young universe that appears old to be particularly untenable. Having accepted it, there’s no coherent way to reject the idea that He created the universe a nanosecond before my earliest memory. It appears to me to be the start of a slippery slope into solipsism.
—-
Nah, he created the universe a nanosecond ago. What? You think he couldn’t create your memories, too?
—-
That’s certainly a possibility for God, but the very idea that He would plant memories into people sounds particularly horrific to me. But as long as the universe was created prior to the existence of any sentient beings, it really makes no difference to us whether the universe has actual age or just the appearance of age. We could never know the difference.

bill912 August 23, 2009 at 5:06 pm

I think Mary was making a joke.

Thomas E. Vaughan August 23, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Tom P. wrote:
>
> I find the position that God made a young universe that appears
> old to be particularly untenable. Having accepted it, there’s
> no coherent way to reject the idea that He created the universe
> a nanosecond before my earliest memory.
If one adopted the idea of the young universe because one
perceives an authoritative teaching on the matter, then there is
a perfectly coherent way to reject the idea that time began just
before one’s earliest memory.
Such a recent beginning of time would be just as untenable as a
ten-billion-year-old universe.
> It appears to me to be the start of a slippery slope into
> solipsism.
Excellent alliteration!
However, if one’s position derives from the teaching of an
external, objective authority, then one avoids solipsism.
The question is really just whether there exists an authoritative
teaching that happens to contradict what our best current
theories suggest.
I am unconvinced that a Catholic is obligated to adopt a
young-Earth view, but there are those who make the case for an
authoritative teaching that could never be revoked. I hope that
Jimmy in his upcoming posts on this will shed some good light on
the matter.

Oneil August 24, 2009 at 3:26 am

Chicken,
So far I have been very disappointed in everyones comments regarding the age of the Universe. Most everyone is throwing around inane comments that add little value to the discussion. The best comments only rise to the level of sophistry. Several people are just shooting off their mouths without seriously considering the consequences of their opinion. Furthermore their comments show me that they spend very little time reading their Bible. So if I were to freely express my opinion, at least 2 of the members of this blog would get upset and then complain to Jimmy to have me banned.

The Masked Chicken August 24, 2009 at 5:15 am

Dear Oneil,
You would not get banned for espousing a literalist view of Scripture. You might get yelled at of getting off of the subject (as we started to, above). Catholics, by the way, are free to hold a literal view of Scripture.
By the way, Thomas Vaughn has a Ph.d in astrophysics. I don’t think his opinion is sophitic.
The Chicken

Barbara August 24, 2009 at 6:33 am

Here are a few of my thoughts (for what they are worth):
Fr. Mitch Pacwa described a Jewish Mishnah tractate in which Gen. 1:3-4 is describing the creation of the angels (“let there be light”), and then casting the disobedient angels out of heaven (“He separated the light from the darkeness”). Since angels are often thought of as beings of light, the way I understand the creation account in Genesis is that it is a very real event couched in rather poetic language.
However, it is in Romans that I think ‘creation out of nothing’ (ex nihilo) is the most strongly supported: 5:12 and 8:19-22. All of creation was subjected to the effect of sin and death. If there was no death before the fall, then whether creation was 6 days, 6 months, or 6 years, it was not a very long time. No sin, no death. Everything that was created, lived until The Fall.
After A&E were created, there would have been a relatively short period of time before they sinned, because they had been given the command to be fruitful and multiply. If they had delayed in carrying out a command of God, they would have committed the sin of ommission. Plus the fact that unless God had held the devil back, he would have wasted no time in tempting Eve.

Thomas E. Vaughan August 24, 2009 at 6:56 am

Leo, you bring up an interesting point.
Scientific authority can and does exist, but it is also widely
misunderstood, even by scientists. The only real authority that a
scientific community can possess is to identify what the best current
theory is. The community does not have the authority to say that a
theory is a true description of nature. Still, the authority to
identify the theory that best fits all of the observations to date is a
right authority that can sometimes be present in a scientific community.
This authority is present only when there is a consensus among those who
are working and publishing directly in the relevant area. So there is
some gray area and room for interpretion in the meaning of “consensus”
and in the meaning of “to work in the relevant area”.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that each of several distinct scientific
communities makes an authoritative case for an old cosmos, and each case
corresonds to a theory within the proper sphere of that community.
There are communities from cosmology to stellar interiors to biology to
geology.
So I agree with you that everyone should admit that right scientific
authority proclaims that the best scientific theories suggest an old
universe.
But there are really essentially two conditions with respect to the
young-universe view. On the one hand, one may admit that through
science the universe appears to be old, but one may nevertheless hold to
a young-universe view. This is an interesting position, but it does not
trouble me.
On the other hand, one may hold a young-universe view and then go on to
deny that the best scientific theories at present do suggest an old
universe. This seems to me to be what you are criticizing. This
denial, which seems disrespectful of right authority, or which invokes a
vast conspiracy, is one that should be criticized. But we should not
criticize a young-universe view per se.
Chicken, you are too kind. When I read Oneil’s comment, I immediately
felt some embarrassment at perhaps not being diligent enough to root out
all of the sophistry from my posts.

Thomas E. Vaughan August 24, 2009 at 8:36 am

Leo,
In concluding the second-to-last paragraph in my previous message, I
think that what I wrote is wrong.
A scientific theory is ruled out when it does not fit the observations.
I’ve not seen any young-universe scientific theory that fits all current
observations. That’s why only old-universe theories remain.
But the belief that the universe is young is not the same as the belief
in any particular scientific theory. No one should believe in a
scientific theory, as if it were the truth.
The real question at this point in history is whether the universe truly
is young, regardless of how it might appear.
We can not rule out a young universe on the basis of science, even if we
can rule out every young-universe theory that has so far been put forth.

Maureen August 24, 2009 at 9:45 am

So Eden was a little bubble universe supported by grace, and when Adam and Eve sinned, the bubble universe “popped”. The effects of sin spread through the universe, reaching forward and back billions and zillions of years — just as the effects of the Crucifixion and Resurrection did, later on. Death came into a universe that was far older than death, making even the oldest parts of the universe subject to Bad Stuff.
And if I can think of stuff like that in three seconds, don’t you think that God setting up Creation did something even niftier?
Honestly, though, even St. Augustine said that it was likely that the days in Genesis were longer than a thousand years (if I remember correctly). He explained that a thousand years just equalled “a very very long time”.

The Masked Chicken August 24, 2009 at 10:15 am

Dear Oneil,
You wrote:
Furthermore their comments show me that they spend very little time reading their Bible.
Should one not be able to arrive at the correct age of the earth independently of Scripture? There is, after all, only one correct age for the earth. In other words, Scripture and science are looking at the same earth.
I am not sure how one is to find the correct age of the earth in Scripture without making some exegetical assumptions. In any case, Catholics are permitted to hold that God made the earth in 6 literal days and that the earth is 6000 years old (although this is harder to defend from Scripture, proper) or, better, a young earth hypothesis. They are also allowed to hold that the days in Genesis are eras and that the earth is 3 billion years old. The first important thing to clear up is that God made the earth, directly or indirectly, however he did it. Everything else, after that is arguable.
I see no conflict between reading Scripture and doing science. I think that everyone who reads this blog reads Scripture – most, daily. Ideally, if one is talking about the age of the earth, one would take into account all sources of knowledge, both revealed and natural.
Thomas Vaughan,
There are different sources of knowledge and, as I mentioned above, each of these is a witness to truth. Since God does not deceive, the whole question of old and young earth boils down to what one accepts as being a warranted and valid witness. We can divide the population who has an opinion on the earth’s age into two camps: the witness of nature and the witness of revelation. The witness of nature and the witness of revelation can contradict each other on the surface (more about this in my next post if this topic doesn’t violate the thread topic), but not at a metaphysical level. Let us divide the group of people who have an opinion (only God knows the truth, absolutely) on the age of the earth into two sets: R, the set of those who hold to revelation and set N, the set of those who hold to nature as warranted witnesses. The first questions: can these two sets overlap?
More, later (if this topic does not violate the thread).
The Chicken
The Chicken

Oneil August 24, 2009 at 10:35 am

Chicken,
I appreciate your comments and would like to comment further. However, I know how the moderate thinks and there is currently no grace for me to expound. So I will wait for the appropriate time.

Thomas E. Vaughan August 24, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Maureen,
I like the way you think.
Chicken,
In my opinion, the Earth is probably around four billion years old, and
time itself has probably been going for about 13 billion years or so.
No one, however, can rightly claim to *know* that the Earth is more than
a billion years old, at least not as he can claim to *know* that Jesus
died and rose again.
The former is merely a matter of opinion; the latter is not merely a
matter of opinion.
There is no way to be certain about what is suggested by a scientific
theory. I have grown skeptical of the idea that a scientific
theory—however useful it may be—imparts any *knowledge* at all,
though a scientific theory may be good for engineering and may neatly
summarize the history of sense experiences gained by experiments to
date.
What if, along a line similar to the one in Maureen’s comment, Adam and
Eve existed initially in a universe only a few days old? Perhaps their
sin changed things so that afterward the broken universe, still
constrained by God’s mercy to present itself to man in a way that he
could comprehend, now appeared nevertheless, due to the effect of sin,
to be billions of years old. There might yet be a truest sense in which
the cosmos is only a few thousand years old.
So I have some sympathy for one who feels compelled by the authority of
the Church to believe in a young cosmos, even if the Church has not
recently exercised any authority on that issue. I am nevertheless
hopeful, for the benefit of such a one, that Jimmy might lay out some
good arguments why one need not be so constrained by fear of error as to
deny even the possibility of an old cosmos.

SDG August 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Oneil, you write:

“So far I have been very disappointed in everyones comments regarding the age of the Universe. Most everyone is throwing around inane comments that add little value to the discussion. The best comments only rise to the level of sophistry. Several people are just shooting off their mouths without seriously considering the consequences of their opinion. Furthermore their comments show me that they spend very little time reading their Bible. So if I were to freely express my opinion, at least 2 of the members of this blog would get upset and then complain to Jimmy to have me banned….”

and then you write:

“However, I know how the moderate thinks and there is currently no grace for me to expound.”

Of all the things that occur to me to say in response to this, I will try extending you some grace. And the form that it will take is this: a suggestion that you try extending grace to others.
Stop second-guessing what everyone else is up to and will do. Step out in good faith and hope for good faith in others.
Or, if you judge conflict to be unhelpful and silence more gracious, then be silent about your silence and gracious in your grace, rather than being all like, “Y’all can’t handle the truth!” Even if it were true, it seems likely less helpful than open conflict.
That Jesus spoke in parables to those to whom the mysteries of the kingdom had not been given was something Jesus confided to the disciples, i.e., to whom the mysteries of the kingdom had been given; he wasn’t sitting around telling the crowds that they were getting parables because it was not to them that the mysteries of the kingdom had been given.
He who has hears, let him hear.

Oneil August 24, 2009 at 2:19 pm

SDG,
Jimmy Akin is the author of this thread, so your words don’t hold much weight. I tried to bring up an honest question, which I thought was very relevant to the discussion and was soundly shot down.

SDG August 24, 2009 at 3:09 pm

“I tried to bring up an honest question, which I thought was very relevant to the discussion and was soundly shot down.”

What question? The one about Noah, or some other question?
If you mean the Noah question, you weren’t shot down at all. The collective response from me and from Jimmy was effectively, “That’s a fine question, let’s give it an appropriate hearing in its own post/combox soon (but let’s not get bogged down with it here).”
This combox is about a specific question, magisterial teaching and the age of the world. The historicity of Noah is definitely a related question, but a separate one that Jimmy has elected not to entertain in this space.
That doesn’t mean your question is shot down. It means cool your jets, your question is coming.
Nothing Jimmy or I wrote gives you any reason to fear to share whatever views you have on the actual topic at hand, the age of the earth, would get you any grief.
It could be me, but it seems as if you may be eager to be a martyr, though I see no torches and pitchforks in the offing. Stop jumping the gun and chill out.

The Masked Chicken August 24, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Dear Thomas Vaughan (TV or Thomas, from now on?),
You wrote:
No one, however, can rightly claim to *know* that the Earth is more than
a billion years old, at least not as he can claim to *know* that Jesus
died and rose again.
The former is merely a matter of opinion; the latter is not merely a
matter of opinion.

Again, this comes back to the matter of witnesses and their warrant. Witnesses do not have to be living people. They can be the testimony of rocks. The question is, what is their warrant – the justification for the acceptance of their claims. Once one has a set of acceptable warrants, one then has a belief once the warrants are accepted. Connected, consistent beliefs then may be linked together to form a belief system.
If an apostle had said that Jesus were six feet tall and then later said he were five feet tall, the warrant for accepting the witness of the apostle, say, for the Resurrection, would be voided. Likewise, if some measurement of a physical property were one thing, today, and another, tomorrow, without changing any other conditions, then the warrant for accepting the witness of the physical phenomenon would be voided. Both of the above cases assumes that no extraordinary conditions changed the original witness or the phenomenon being observed.
Witness can only be witnesses if they state observations in repeatable ways.
Science is a belief system. It is subject to belief revision.
In the debate between science and theology, many people make the mistake of thinking that science discovers the truth. It does not. It discovers useful things. I tell my students that science is like looking for the bullseye on a dartboard by systematically eliminating all of the regions that aren’t the bullseye, but I am simplifying, way too much. To begin with, we don’t know the size of the bullseye; we don’t know the size of the size of the darts; we don’t really even know how much of the dartboard is eliminated when an hypothesis is falsified. In fact, we do not know how close we are to the bullseye and we never can know, from a natural perspective. What we have is more and more useful knowledge, not a better and better description of the dartboard. I say useful knowledge, because the knowledge of one dartboard links to the knowledge of another dartboard until a vague outline of the tavern housing the dartboards emerge. As long as nature doesn’t demand that we give up our delusions that the multiple dart throws have given us, the observations can be useful. One can take a drink just as easily in a bar as in a doctors office. That one is in a bar or a doctors office is immaterial as long as my dart throws have told me that I am permitted to take a drink, there, and that is the practical thing I am trying to do.
Science does not discover the truth. It doesn’t even discover the false. It simply insists on the consistent, which is a much weaker criteria.
Theology doesn’t discover the truth, but, rather, has it handed to it on a platter. Once again, however, one has to make sure that it is, in fact, a platter that one has been handed and that the platter contains what it says it does. This involves, not a search for the truth, but an insistent on consistency. If God is truth, then he must be consistent (a point that Pope Benedict got grilled over in his Regensberg address). We cannot know God as he is in this life, but we can know the shadow of his truth in the natural world in this life, which is his consistency.
Thus, at the most foundational level, science and theology are both looking for the same thing – consistency within nature, which is all we have to work with, in this life.
Unless one is willing to abandon Aristotelian logic, consistency is consistency; non-contradiction is non-contradiction, be it in science or theology. If science and theology must both insist on consistency within the natural world (take note: miracles do not violate consistency in nature because, a) they are supernatural, and b) because they may be added to data in the natural world without contradicting it), then they aim at the same thing.
Now, a false revelation is false at an ontological level which we humans cannot touch, but if it is false, it must display that falsehood by an inconsistency in nature. Likewise, a true revelation, which must display its truth in nature. One may, on the surface, seem to have a consistent theological revelation that seems inconsistent within scientific knowledge, such as Jesus walking on water, but walking on water is only inconsistent for mere matter. Jesus can walk on water, so, by belief expansion, one can then discover that Jesus is more than merely a man. Two theological and scientific facts that appear to be inconsistent will lead to one of three cases: 1) the scientific observation is inconsistent within science, 2) the theological observation is inconsistent within theology, or 3) the science or theology must expand their beliefs to include the other fact without contradiction.
That natural science and theology would use the same underlying principles follows from the fact that theology is a science, as St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out. The warrant for accepting theological facts is based on the nature of who God is; the warrant for accepting scientific facts is based on what the physical world is. Theology is a higher science because it uses more ontologically clear and simple data, but it is subject to less empirical testing. Theology is more liable to the errors of imagination while science is more liable to the errors of measurement.
This long-winded digression basically is saying that the whole argument of the age of the earth based on a contradiction between Scripture and science is impossible, at the deepest level. Errors in theology or errors in science may make it seem as if Scripture contradicts science, but at the deepest level, they must be consistent with each other, otherwise, no rational discourse about nature is possible.
If the universe is at all knowable, it must be knowable through its consistency; if God is at all knowable, he must be knowable through his consistency, including the things he has made.
So much for the age of the earth. Least reading this post take almost as long as the age of the earth, I just want to finish by saying that Maureen’s Bubble Theory of the Fall has interesting ramifications. If the sense of time expanded after the fall, why did it not contract after the Resurrection? Is the expansion rate a constant such that every new baby who inherits sin pushes the expansion a little farther outward and thus making time appear to advance? Is there a relationship between time and sin? Does baptism cause a slowing down in the expansion rate. See – science and theology can go together. I could found a new discipline: theoretical theology.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken August 24, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Dear Oneil,
You wrote:
I tried to bring up an honest question, which I thought was very relevant to the discussion and was soundly shot down.
You asked the question without linking it to the main topic, thus making it seem as if it were off-topic. You didn’t get shot down, per se. Since the way you stated it made it seem off-topic, Jimmy simply asked you to wait to introduce the subject in a more appropriate post.
If you had directly linked Noah to the topic at hand (something you can still do), Jimmy would not have said anything. Such a topic can be linked to the age of the earth, but, if I am not mistaken, Jimmy said:
In a short series of posts, I’d like to look at some magisterial texts that have a bearing on this question and offer a few thoughts on them.
The main focus of this post is the Church’s teaching on the age of the earth, not a defense of one position or the other using Biblical exegesis, which is where Noah’s Ark might come in. Otherwise, the thread might get changed to a discussion on Biblical warrants instead of explicating what the Church teaches. Arguing young earth vs. old earth or science vs. Scripture. is not, properly speaking, the topic of this post (Jimmy can correct me if I am wrong), but rather, what the Church teaches is a permissible interpretation.
Thomas Vaughan and I were discussing the philosophy of science, above, because we (he and I) always get on this subject when topics of science are brought up (we’ve been having this discussion, off and on across threads for at least a year or two, so we are just catching each other up) and while it does not conform to the post topic, directly, it does provide useful background – at least that’s my excuse for hijacking the thread a little. At least I cited St. Thomas Aquinas :) In fact, Thomas and I have been known to have our own little discussion on the relationship between science and religion in the middle of a thread and quite hijack it, for which I have had to apologize. I have to apologize for my long post, above, on the relationship between science and theology, yet, again. While it was fun to write, it, also, doesn’t strictly, conform to the topic of the post.
Jimmy is not out to ban people. Take a stab at the topic. If what you want to post veers off topic, but you are sincere, Jimmy, Tim J., or SDG will let you know and you can try another comment until it feels right.
I would love to discuss Noah’s Ark and biblical history and I suspect that the topic might come up in a post in a little while. For now, this post is centering on Catholic interpretations.
Since I may be off-base in my interpretation, I will shut up, now and let the people who know speak.
The Chicken

Oneil August 24, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Chicken,
In the interest of avoiding being overly technical I will make a few statements. I want to keep this at the lay physics level and avoid complex theories of reference frames and Manifolds. So let the Physicists cut me some slack.
First, A Scientific law, example gravity, assumes that this law applies universally in all areas of the universe.
Secondly, Science also assumes that laws can not change over time. Thus if the law of gravity is true then it must have been true in the past, present, and future.
Now my Theological speculations. Before the fall the laws of Physics were different, especially the laws of Thermodynamics. Why? Entropy as it exists today, was functionally different or even non-existent before the fall. Entropy explains why things rust, decay and die. Therefore Adams sin changed the laws of Physics.
Thermodynamics, BTW, is one of the most important tools in Astrophysics, thus I make the claim Astrophysics or Geology can not describe the universe/earth before the fall. In other words, Astrophysics or Geology is incapable in making predictions about the age of the Universe or Earth.
In light of this dilemma, I refer to the Bible. Since the Genealogy from Adam to Noah and then to Abraham is very specific, it can be calculated that Adam lived around 10,000 years ago. Since man was God’s crowning achievement, it is doubtful that it took him billions or millions of years to do this. So I tend to think the earth and universe is around 10,000 years old.

SDG August 24, 2009 at 8:09 pm

“So I tend to think the earth and universe is around 10,000 years old.”

You hoser wack job. This blog doesn’t need your kind. Get lost.
…juuuust kidding. Carry on.

Foxfier August 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Oneil-
You might want to research a bit more on gravity if you’re going to us it in lectures– Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation is known to be idealized, Newton himself called it a theory (and wasn’t comfortable with it) and doesn’t apply in situations like uneven gravitational fields, which is why it’s been replaced by the general theory of relativity.
Even though it may not be relevant to your point, it will distract folks and make them wonder what else you didn’t look deeply into.

Oneil August 25, 2009 at 5:11 am

Foxfier,
If I need to defend my Physics knowledge I am more than equipped. I am quite familiar with General Relativity and used to be a specialist in Tensor Physics. I gave my disclaimer in the beginning of my post to avoid my points degenerating into a diatribe on physics.

SDG August 25, 2009 at 5:27 am

Oneil, how would your theory predict thermodynamics and order would behave in a prelapsarian world? What differences would you expect to observe?
Would stars age and die just as they do now in a lapsarian world of entropy? How would your theory address the death of stars millions of light-years away (i.e., millions of years ago)?
They seem to have behaved in a way consistent with the known laws of entropy and thermodynamics, yet they would certainly have done so in a prelapsarian context, on your timetable.

The Masked Chicken August 25, 2009 at 5:48 am

See Oneil, no one is dismissing you. Here’s hoping for a lively discussion. I have to go to class, but I will return to challenge this statement:
Secondly, Science also assumes that laws can not change over time. Thus if the law of gravity is true then it must have been true in the past, present, and future.
This is a highly contentious area in astrophysics ever since Dirac’s large number hypothesis. Some measurements have argued that the values of the fundamental constants are changing. General relativity is not my field (no pun intended), but I have had tensor theory. I suspect Thomas Vaughan has, too. Let’s try not to make the discussion too technical and keep in mind the overall Catholic theological intentions.
The Chicken

Barbara August 25, 2009 at 6:08 am

Let’s try not to make the discussion too technical
Yeah, on this 400th. anniversary of Galileo perfecting the telescope (he didn’t exactly invent it, but he was the first to use it for astronomy), let’s remember that some of us did not exactly excel at astrophysics. 8-|

Oneil August 25, 2009 at 6:22 am

Chicken,
The reason I qualified my initial statement is to avoid the a can of worms that are opened with Dirac’s LNH. At this juncture I will not bite on that.
SDG,
I will answer your question as follows. Thermodynamics is based on statistics and the counting of states in which a particle( atom, molecule, electron, etc.) can reside. One of the laws of Physics is the principle of least action. Least action( or Calculus of Variation) explains why a telephone wire hangs the way it does. So, my belief, is that the law of least action has been true before and after the fall. I believe this is the only law that has been invariant since the creation of the Universe. Furthermore I believe that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil increased the number of states of all particles in the universe. So what does this mean in laymens terms. Before Adam’s sin you could create a fire without the tree buring up( see for example Moses and the burning bush). I know I am going to get disowned by my Physics brethren for this statement, but I will say it: I also believe that the speed of light was faster before the fall and slowed down after the fall. Why? In Physics Space and Time are inseparable( ie 4 dimensional universe). Before the fall Space and Time were separable so the speed of light was at least different if not faster.
Furthermore because Adam’s sin affected the whole universe, I don’t think that God would allow other civilizations to be affected by our sin. Consequently, I don’t think there is life on other planets.
Okay, I wait for the flame war!

Tim J. August 25, 2009 at 6:49 am

“Now my Theological speculations. Before the fall the laws of Physics were different, especially the laws of Thermodynamics. Why? Entropy as it exists today, was functionally different or even non-existent before the fall. Entropy explains why things rust, decay and die. Therefore Adams sin changed the laws of Physics.”
Now, see? I really find this kind of idea quite poetically appealing. Not that anyone could ever actually know whether it was true, but it is appealing.
I don’t think it is the kind of thing, though, that anyone could reasonably expect that others MUST believe. Postulating a universe wherein entropy and thermodynamics don’t exist or function very differently than they do now is really almost like postulating a separate universe entirely. I don’t know that matter could exist as we know it without them.
However, I am not a physicist, and I don’t even play one on TV.
Like Ukok said above, I don’t need to know the whys and wherefores of how it all fits together at that level, I only trust that God continues to take an active and interested role in his creation.
Speaking as an artist, I have always seen that the universe had the character of a work of art, and not an accident (which I think is what the ID folks are driving at, however clumsily).

bill912 August 25, 2009 at 7:23 am

You’re in good company, Tim. Tolkien wrote of creation as a song and C.S. Lewis referred to it as “The Great Dance”.

The Masked Chicken August 25, 2009 at 8:28 am

Back in the day (when I had hair), I was working on developing a time-dependent statistical thermodynamics, so I am quite familiar with this argument. Ilya Prigogine, the Nobel laureate was doing similar work, but he was much farther along. I was looking using the application of the Calculus of Variations (specifically, Fermat’s Least Time Theory) to look at the statistical evolution of systems.
You are assuming the Lagrangian or least action principle is linear over time, but time-evolution equations in open systems (such as the universe) are governed by far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics, not the traditional statistical mechanics you mention, which only, strictly speaking, works in closed systems. What you are talking about is a class of equations called evolution equations. You are assuming the evolution equations for entropy are linear (and this is true in closed systems without external forcing), but these tend to be non-linear in open system and are modeled using time-lagged intergo-differential equations (after Richard Bellman, who first developed the theory). These are very non-linear. These types of evolution equations seem to account for why time only evolves in one direction, why matter seems to clump together, etc.. There are other linear and non-linear classes of evolution equations which show up in biology and chemistry.
Can these evolution equations be run in reverse? In classical linear statistical mechanics and even classical non-linear statistical mechanics, sure, but in quantum statistics, you run into the Planck Time limit, where physical laws become undefined.
In layman’s term, your hypothesis that the Least Action Principle remains constant over time (or the process of entropy change, to use another example you cite), cannot be proven before the Planck Time. You are making a hypothesis that may be true, but cannot be proven. Essentially, your argument amounts to a leap of faith that physical laws are constant beyond the Planck Time barrier.
The theory of a radical change before and after the Fall is certainly correct in terms of the state of the souls of Adam and Eve, but is it true of nature? Even using Scripture as a starting point, it seems that the stars and the sun did not change, since Adam and Eve were able tp plant crops before and after, so either both the sun and the chemical properties of cellular respiration dramatically changed, together, or at most, God tweeked things so they weren’t as efficient.
I would guess more of a tweek on nature than the massive change you are proposing.
Your idea about expanding omega in the Maxwell-Boltzmann equation after the fall is interesting, but if such a thing happened, I suspect, again, it was a small change, not a radical one, because energy transfer would have been radically affected.
Have to go. Too much technical talk. Sorry, everyone.
The Chicken

SDG August 25, 2009 at 8:36 am

“Okay, I wait for the flame war!”

Your continued faith in your low expectations for civil discourse on this block, in the ongoing absence of warranting evidence, is remarkable.
If we accept your speculations regardingthe prelapsarian speed of light, that would certainly have implications for, e.g., the age of the universe and the temporal remoteness of interstellar events witnessed millions of light-years away. Perhaps the light that we see now from stars millions of light-years away was originally traveling faster than lightspeed when it left those stars, and so covered the distance in a shorter time than we would project from the known speed of light.
However, my specific question had to do with entropy and the death of stars. If rust and other destructive processes (e.g., consumption of burning wood) in our entropy-bound world are consequences of the Fall, would stars age and die in a prelapsarian world?
If not, the apparent death of stars millions of light-years away would seem to pose a difficulty for your thesis. Even if prelapsarian starlight moved faster than known lightspeed, beginning with the fall starlight would presumably slow to known lightspeed.
Thus, if stars began dying only in a postlapsarian world, we should not be able to observe stars dying more than about 10,000 light-years away. The light from dying stars that are further away would not have time at postlapsarian lightspeed to reach us. We should be able to see such distant stars, if at all, only in their prelapsarian glory, from light that moved within range of what is now our 10,000 light-year window of visibility at prelapsarian speed before slowing down to postlapsarian lightspeed.
So if we can witness stars dying millions of lightyears away, their deaths might be less temporally remote than we might suppose based on known lightspeed, but it is not clear how they could be postlapsarian events.

Tim J. August 25, 2009 at 9:46 am

The thing is, as I understand it, every star is constantly “dying” from the moment the fusion process begins. It is the nature of such reactions to use fuel, so it would be a logical impossibility for a star to continue in that state indefinitely, unless God miraculously and continually renewed the process.
Every star – by its nature – must be on its way to becoming a cold burned out lump, or else a black hole. A star that consumes fuel without end simply doesn’t make sense to me, intuitively.

SDG August 25, 2009 at 10:07 am

Tim J: I’m not sure I don’t agree with you (follow that?), but Oneil’s thesis is that prelapsarian wood could burn without being consumed, and granted that it doesn’t seem unreasonable that prelapsarian stars also would shine without aging and dying.

Tim J. August 25, 2009 at 10:34 am

“…I’m not sure I don’t agree with you (follow that?), but Oneil’s thesis is that prelapsarian wood could burn without being consumed…”
I’m way out of my depth, here. Granted, this is not a question of what God COULD do (there was the Burning Bush, after all), but of what it seems most likely he DID do. I don’t at all even begin to grasp the idea of burning without consuming fuel (without miraculous intervention), so I will happily shut my mouth until I see something I DO understand and can respond to. :-)

Oneil August 25, 2009 at 10:46 am

SDG,
That last comment about flame wars was for the Physics’ geeks who might object to my thesis.
My theory would say that the Sun would shine without aging and dying. Let me explain this to first order. I mentioned that non-Classical mechanics and statistical mechanics use the mathematics of 4 dimensions ( 7 dimensional spaces if we include momentum). Classical mechanics decouples the spacetime continuum problem. Therefore the earth revolving around the sun is a classic problem in classical physics*(the 2-body problem) and this problem is independent of entropy. So I will be so bold to say that classical physics was applicable before the fall( and still valid) and statistical quantum mechanics was invoked after the fall. Thus classical mechanics would say the earth days were 24 hours long because this time is measured by the earth revolving around its axis and is not dependent upon the speed of light. So I believe that the Universe was created in six 24 hour periods.
After the fall certain stars exploded and light from these exploding stars reached earth. However the speed of light decayed over a period of centuries until it asymptotically arrived at our current value of 300,000km/sec.
Again I am not an Astrophysicist, only a Physicist, so there could be some contradiction here.

SDG August 25, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Well, objecting and flaming are two different things.
hm.
Supernovae have been detected as far as 10 to 11 billion light-years away. If these stars really went nova less than 10 thousand years ago, it would follow (if I can do simple math, which is far from certain) that the light from the novae must have reached Earth something like a million times faster than expected.
If for most of that time — let’s suppose 9,000 years — light had actually slowed down to known lightspeed, so that the speedy arrival was due to an initial immediately postlapsarian period — let’s suppose a millennium — of greater-than-normal but decaying lightspeed, it would follow that for that first millennium light must have averaged something like ten million times today’s lightspeed.
To average ten million times known lightspeed at a decaying rate of speed during that the first millennium, the earliest speeds (e.g., during the first postlapsarian century) must have been greatly in excess of ten million times known lightspeed.
For instance, if we suppose that deceleration began immediately and either occurred at something like a linear rate or at a declining curve, initial postlapsarian speeds could easily have been anywhere from twenty or thirty million times known lightspeed to as much as a billion times or more, if the rate of decline were steeper (or if the fall were more recent than 10,000 years ago, etc.).
FWIW, that is a really astonishing decay — at least seven or eight orders of magnitude. As a point of comparison, the human lifespan only decayed about one order of magnitude from the ages of the antediluvian patriarchs to the time of, say, Abraham, i.e., a decline of only 10 to 1, as opposed to, say, 50 million to 1. How curious that human sin would have so much more of a dramatic effect on the speed of light than on the human lifespan!
Not that I expect you to balk from such numbers, if your theory requires them and if you believe it is required by the word of God. I’m just having fun thinking it through. The Chicken and others can take this line of thought further than I can.
I do wonder what predictions we might be able to predicate on this hypothesis, or what evidence if any might support or oppose it. In other words, does your theory have any explanatory power regarding the material universe in any other respect than harmonizing it with a literal interpretation of Genesis 1?
P.S. I wonder what light would have looked like decelerating at such a dramatic rate. Surely there would have to be some sort of spectral shift, akin to the Doppler effect with sound.

Mary August 25, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Secondly, Science also assumes that laws can not change over time. Thus if the law of gravity is true then it must have been true in the past, present, and future.
This is a highly contentious area in astrophysics ever since Dirac’s large number hypothesis. Some measurements have argued that the values of the fundamental constants are changing

Then they aren’t fundamental constants.
Things fall at a different rate on the earth and on the moon, but that’s because of the different circumstances in which real fundamental constants operate.

Mary August 25, 2009 at 1:07 pm

I think Mary was making a joke.
Mary was making a point. Namely, that having granted that God can create something with a history that didn’t actually occur, you have no grounds to select one date as the real start over another.

SDG August 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm

“Then they aren’t fundamental constants. Things fall at a different rate on the earth and on the moon, but that’s because of the different circumstances in which real fundamental constants operate.”

Well, FWIW, the rate of gravitation on the earth and on the moon are both regarded as functions of the gravitational constant. The controversy the Chicken is referring to would seem to call into question whether what we call the “gravitational constant” is really as constant as we think it is.

Oneil August 25, 2009 at 1:43 pm

SDG,
For a movie reviewer, your Physics is quite good. Kudos!!
The slowing down of light would explain why the universe appears to be expanding at an accelerating rate. Again this is a theory and would never survive peer review since it is so ad hoc. Nevertheless this is the one I use to reconcile Biblical data with Astronomical data.
The other reason I hypothesize that light slowed down is that light is often a symbol of purity. Before the fall the Universe was perfect and without sin. Thus light in its purity would be able to travel almost instantly to the corners of the universe. When Adam sinned, this light became ‘less pure’ and was not able to penetrate the far reaches of the universe. Thus the reason the universe is now filled with dark matter. There might not have been any dark matter before the fall.

Foxfier August 25, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Oneil-
it doesn’t matter if you can defend your knowledge, it’s a better idea to just avoid side-roads if you’re trying to be effective.
Kind of like the permutations of Godwin’s law– even if folks are wearing SS uniforms, speaking with German accents and require swastika tattoos to join, it’s going to distract from a discussion of why their dehumanization of a sub-group is wrong if you call them Nazis.
Not to mention the folks who will ignore you off the bat, without asking you to explain, if you make a mistake like that. (I feel an urge to go into a long simile comparing it to dressing in a manner that blends in to a company when you’re there applying for a job, so they’ll pay attention to your quals instead of your clothes, but I think that’s the lack of sleep talking….)

The Masked Chicken August 25, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Dear SDG,
Actually, Oneil could be correct in a number of different scenarios. Light, immediately after cosmic inflation, would have appeared to travel faster than the current speed of light for a short time, if I am not mistaken (Thomas Vaughan can correct me). Alternately, there are variable speed of light theories in competition with the cosmic inflation model that postulate that the speed of light was 10^60 times faster in the early universe. If the Garden of Eden existed before the Big Bang, then the stars could be where they are because of Inflation or a variable (falling) speed of light that occurred after the Big Bang.
It seems, however, that Oneil is proposing that the Garden of Eden existed after the Big Bang and Inflation, so it is proper to ask: are there no remnants of the effects of the pre-Fall in nature? If light took 8 minutes to travel form the sun to the earth, does this mean that the seed of light was the same as today or was the structure of space changed after the Fall (space and time separated, as Oneil postulates – one of many hypothesis that could produce the same result)
The fact (?) that the earth rotated around the sun every 24 hours, assuming simple Newtonian rotation of the earth, moon, and sun, and with the same flux as today, even the fact that the sun were yellowish (which can be proven by the fact that the food plants were green, as stated in Genesis, and chlorophyll absorbs, maximally, at about 665 nm – the yellow end of the spectrum and very close to the Hydrogen alpha line of 653.5 nm, also yellow/green), means that physical processes could not have been all that different in the Garden of Eden than today.
Here’s the thing, this does not mean that the values of physical constants such as the speed of light had to be what they are, today, in order for the physical processes to look the same. There could have been a dramatic change in the value of any of the physical constants as long as the non-dimensional units (ratios of constants that cancel out units leaving pure numbers) didn’t change. If the value of the mass of the electron or the speed of light doubled after the fall, as long as the fine structure constant stayed the same (some other constants would also have to change to allow this), then we would never know of these changes because physical processes would look the same. Perhaps God tweeked the non-dimensional values just slightly away from perfection but within the range for human life to continue after the Fall.
So, Oneil may be correct, but it would be very difficult to prove since our measuring apparati would be similarly affected.
What I have are comments at the level of much lower energy physics.
1. Adam and Eve were told [gen 1:29 - 30]:
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.
And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Now if you want to postulate that entropy or entropy change did not exist before the Fall, then that is dead wrong as the quote above proves. To eat green plants for food must have meant that Adam and Eve had to digest the food to obtain energy and digestion implies a change (increase) in entropy. There must have been at least pockets of entropy change otherwise the food would not be digested (a form of wearing away).
2. Walking on the earth, we assume, took place because of friction, but friction is a dissipative force. Where did that energy go? If there were dissipative forces, such as friction or wind resistance, then no perpetual motion machine of the second kind would be allowed and this implies that the second law of thermodynamics (the entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium tends to increase) would hold. Thus, from these sorts of arguments, it can be seen that some form of entropy must have existed before the Fall as well as the second law of thermodynamics.
3. May one assume that the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy) held? I suspect the reason that Oneil mentioned the Lagrangian or the Least Action Principle was because he wanted to invoke Noether’s Theorem, which, simply put, states that where there is symmetry (as defined mathematically) in a physical system there is a conservation law. The First Law of Thermodynamics is a conservation law and a direct consequence of time invariance. If the First Law held in Eden, then by Noether’s theorem, it existed after the Fall.
I have already proven that the Second Law of Thermodynamics held by referring to processes describe in Scripture and the case for the properties of the sun. The fact that Adam had to till the Garden implies no perpetual motion machine of the first kind were possible (otherwise, why didn’t God just give Adam one and why didn’t Adam know about one, since he had the gift of infused knowledge?), so we may assume that the First Law of Thermodynamics also held.
These two facts seem to argue against Oneils speculation:
Now my Theological speculations. Before the fall the laws of Physics were different, especially the laws of Thermodynamics. Why? Entropy as it exists today, was functionally different or even non-existent before the fall. Entropy explains why things rust, decay and die.
As Eddington put it (quoted in Wikipedia article on The Second Law of Thermodynamics):
“The law that entropy always increases, holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation — well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.” — Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)
However, things were different in other ways. Adam possessed the preternatural gifts of integrity (free from concupiscence), immortality (would not die), and infused Knowledge (non-mediated knowledge of the physical universe). Being immortal imply the need not to eat or does it?
Some more questions for discussion:
1. Why did Adam need to eat if he were immortal? Does this imply anything about the Second Law of Thermodynamics?
2. Fire is not mentioned in the garden of Eden. Did fire exist before the Fall? Is it right to link the burning bush with Eden? By the way, I can think of other mechanisms to account for the burning bush other than a change in maximum number of quantum statistical states that still allows entropy to exist in the Garden of Eden.
3. Did non-equilibrium processes exist in the Garden of Eden? Chaos, in the mathematical sense, certainly did, because leaves were blown by the wind (a choatic process).
Oneil has raised some speculative issues that bear on the age of the earth. I have tried to show that some of them could argue for a young universe (the speed of light problem), but others probably do not (the entropy problem). These are useful speculations and one may still derive either young or old earth ages from them.
Question: is there a killer observation that can be used to prove one or the other? I propose that we start from the other end – with God, himself. Does what we know of God argue one way or the other?
By the way, I also don’t think there are aliens in the universe, but for other reasons than science.
I don’t know if any of my rambling make any sense. I seem to be having a problem sleeping, again, take my comments as made while half- asleep.
The Chicken

Benson August 25, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Hey folks! Before my comment I just want to say how much I love this blog, the amazing minds who contribute to it, and most of all the Robo Catholic–Mr. Akin. I’m an aspiring catholic who, though not yet enrolled in the RCIA program, finds great delight in the intellectual heritage of the Catholic Church…I just can’t get enough of it! I have been studying the Catechism for some time now so my extra finite knowledge comes almost entirely from it. The Catechism speaks about the difference between moral and physical evil. Physical evil, from what I understand, is so drastically less harmful than moral evil that it can barely be called evil at all; indeed it seems to only even qualify as evil when it is somehow connected to or compared with the effects of moral evil. This is because the universe was created in a state of “being perfected”: it was created imperfect with the intention that it will gradually reach perfection with us and through us. This means that those elements that are less perfect “give way” to the more perfect. It is from this process of perfecting or “giving way” that we seem to see the effects of physical evil. Now I’m not suggesting (nor is the Catechism) that God created evil of any kind: it is due to OUR fallen nature that the perfecting of the universe harms us at all (e.g. bad weather, leprosy, asteroid strike, etc). From what I gather, the tree of life in the garden is a symbol (and perhaps a historical reality–I don’t know) of that primordial union with God that gave Adam and Eve the graces of original holiness and original justice, which totally preserved and protected them from the “physical evil” that was still a part of the perfecting universe around them. Thus animals grew old and died, tidal waves battered the shores of distant lands, but, in the garden, Adam and Eve were fine because of there original union with god. This also seems to be what the symbolism of the Sabbath is all about: God created beasts AND man on the sixth day, and then raised man up on the seventh to the ontological dignity of creatures in the image and likeness of Himself. So what I’m trying to get at here (quite pitifully I might add) is that when man fell, he lost his right to eat of the tree of life and he lost his “seventh day” status, thereby reducing himself to the sixth day where he is subject to decay (physical evil). It was the original graces that had set man above and apart from the destructive forces of the perfecting universe, which are only destructive to him as a direct result of the MORAL evil that he freely choose. According to this school of thought (which I believe is the jist of the catechism‘s as well), I don’t see how the speed of light or the death of stars or the effects of fire or a tornado has anything to do with our fallen nature, outside of how affected we are by them without the supernatural protection of the tree of life (original holiness/justice). Surely, the “apparent” age of the universe is not due to our sin, but rather it shows us just how much perfecting had to occur before God was willing to introduce the summit of His creation–man. If we truly believe that we ARE the summit of the universe, then the immense expanse of it all and the oceans of time present in it before us can only prove to us just how much God is willing to do FOR us. And all of this, even before stooping down to our level and doing OUR work for us!

Oneil August 25, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Chicken,
1. I am proposing that the Big Bang occurred after the fall.
2. I agree the Adam had to eat food which is an entropic process. This is why I made an reference to the number of states (Omega) being less than they are today. Thus fruit can be eaten, while meat can not be eaten because number of states of meat is effectively zero.
3. I know there is a lot of bad physics in my conjecture but anyhow it makes for interesting discussion.
BTW, what do teach?
Oneil

Oneil August 25, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I guess to bring my thoughts to a close. I believe it is foundational for a Christian to believe that Adam and Eve were real people and they lived between 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. I think that this is non-negotiable.
The age of the universe is secondary, however I think it is best to consider a young universe instead of placing unfound trust in scientism. So I will stand by my 10,000 year old universe.

Mary August 25, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Well, FWIW, the rate of gravitation on the earth and on the moon are both regarded as functions of the gravitational constant. The controversy the Chicken is referring to would seem to call into question whether what we call the “gravitational constant” is really as constant as we think it is.

And?
You seem to miss the entire point of the analogy, which is if it varied over time, it is, like the different rates, dependent on a real constant, underlying it.

SDG August 25, 2009 at 6:13 pm

“You seem to miss the entire point of the analogy, which is if it varied over time, it is, like the different rates, dependent on a real constant, underlying it.”

What analogy?
How do you know there’s a real constant underlying the gravitational “constant,” if the “constant” varies? How do you know there are any universal constants? Perhaps literally everything that exists in time-space is relative and shifting.

The Masked Chicken August 25, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Mary,
The Large Number Hypothesis says that the ratio of certain universal constants is roughly a constant. Constants within the ratio may vary. If the LNH ratio varies over time, then this does not necessarily imply a meta-constant, although it could.
Oneil,
You wrote:
I believe it is foundational for a Christian to believe that Adam and Eve were real people and they lived between 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. I think that this is non-negotiable.
Catholics are required, as a point of Faith, to hold that Adam and Eve were real persons. This from the papal encyclical, Humani Generis ( 1950):
For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which through generation is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.[12]
As for the age of the earth, more leeway is allowed.
As for omega being less than today, I’ll have to think about that, since it has certain implications. I don’t know if meat can be as compartmentalized via statistical mechanics, since atoms are atoms and carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. make up both plants and animals.
Actually, I just resolved the issue: certainly, in fact, there were animals (they are mentioned in Scripture). The prohibition on eating them cannot be related to a statistical process.
Omega could still be less, but if so, probably not too much less or if selective, then this would seem to be a supernatural act of God. I haven’t thought through what such a decrease might mean, although one effect would be that the temperature would be hotter in the Garden of Eden than a regular garden of the same size, if the sun gave the same radiational flux as today, because the energy would have fewer states to be distributed among.
The Masked Chicken

The Masked Chicken August 25, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Thomas Vaughan, Hans, where are you? This discussion is right up your alleys.
The Chicken

Tim J. August 25, 2009 at 7:11 pm

I’m just having a ball watching. It’s better than a ball game.
O’neil, I appreciate your recent contributions to this thread. As Chicken pointed out, faithful Catholics are pretty much required to acknowledge a literal Adam and Eve (though I don’t think there is any real insistence on their *names* being literal).

Oneil August 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Chicken,
According to Genesis the Earth had a firmament which may have provided a metal shield around the earth, which filtered out some of the sun light. Furthermore I believe this firmament, after the fall, became the Northern Lights. The firmament allowed a higher temperature on earth causing the poles of the Earth to be tropical. Also the atmospheric pressure was probably higher, which allowed larger land animals to roam the earth than today.
Anyhow I better leave this alone before someone revokes my Physics degree :-)
I still would like to know what you teach!

The Masked Chicken August 25, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Oneil,
I’m called the Masked Chicken for a reason, you know…actually, its because I’m an idiot in my civilian identity. I have to run through chicken coops and don my disguise to become merely stupid.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken August 25, 2009 at 7:34 pm

The firmament allowed a higher temperature on earth
The firmament would have blocked solar radiation and the temperature would have gone down.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken August 25, 2009 at 7:35 pm

I’m going to bed. See you all, tomorrow, Lord willing. I hope to read many more posts by then.
The Chicken

Oneil August 25, 2009 at 7:48 pm

The firmament would have allowed a type of green house effect so even with diminished sunlight the temperature would have been higher.

Oneil August 25, 2009 at 7:52 pm

TimJ,
My question is not if Catholics are required to believe in a literal Adam or Eve. The question is are they required to believe that Adam and Eve lived 6000 years ago. This may not appear important to you at this point, but at a later time I will explain why this is very important.

Brother Cadfael August 26, 2009 at 7:33 am

Oneil,
I think this is clear from the above, but in case it is not, Catholics are not required to believe as an article of faith that Adam and Eve lived 6000 years ago. That they lived – yes. When they lived – no.

The Masked Chicken August 26, 2009 at 10:05 am

Actually, we can be more specific:
Catholics are required to believe the truth.
Scripture contains a truth about the time of the origin of Adam and Eve, but whether it is the truth determined by some Protestant exegetes of the past, such as Bishop Ussher, who first came up with the 6000 year figure in the late 17th century, or more modern exegetes – until that true is more precisely determined, all that anyone, rightly can say is that there is a truth in the text.
As soon as the Church can make a pronouncement of that truth at the level of dogma, then Catholics will be required to assent to that pronouncement. Until then, in humility, we are free to believe whatever does not contradict the dogmas that already exist.
It does not contradict dogma for a Catholic to hold that Adam existed 6000 years ago and it does not contradict dogma, as far as we know to this date, to assume a different date (perhaps 1000 years earlier or 10,000 years earlier).
Because we do not hold to the principle of private interpretation, we may hold to our interpretations until a dogmatic statement (or at last an authoritative statement such as in a Papal Encyclical) is made. This is to safeguard the truth.
One thing we do know: whenever Adam existed, he had properties which set him apart from the rest of creation because he was the first to receive a rational soul. In a sense, this does limit science to a terminus ad quo (starting date), because before a certain date there would have been no “man” capable of receiving a rational soul. At what point did such a man exist? No one knows, for sure, not scientists, not even Biblical exegetes, because of the problems with dealing with ancient texts, be they written in papyrii or in rocks. Ussher did the best he could using the data of Scripture, but if he were my graduate student, I would find many grounds for criticizing his date. I could also find grounds to criticize some scientists in both the young earth and old earth camps.
Essentially, the jury is still out on when Adam lived and there is no use denying that. Scripture contains the truth, either directly or obliquely, but that truth must be properly interpreted. So far, no authority (real authority) has been able to make that pronouncement. Until such time as that is possible (God, in his mercy may aid us to know or not – such knowledge is not necessary for salvation, after all), we must hold our opinions (for that is what they are) as possibilities, only.
One thing we know for sure: God cannot deceive. On this principle, I, personally reject the idea that God created a young earth with old fossils. I do not reject the idea that God created a young earth with young fossils that somehow got artificially aged.
So, Oneil, I don’t know whether you want to continue talking to us poor uncertain Catholics, but while we hold to the truth of Adam’s existence as a real man, we cannot say that we yet know when he lived in a dogmatic sense, only a provisional one. That seems eminently sensible and humble to me. We Catholics, in matters of dogma, need to speak with one voice. We cannot allow the multiplicity of voices, sometimes the same, sometimes slightly different, sometimes very different, that make pronouncements on issues of Faith and morals that exist among our Protestant brethren. I hope you understand and will forgive us.
The Chicken

SDG August 26, 2009 at 10:23 am

“Catholics are required to believe the truth.”

This seems a bit glib. Not all truths are knowable. Not all knowable truths are knowable to all. It is not always even knowable, or knowable to all, whether a particular truth is knowable.
Catholics are required to believe those truths that are known to have been revealed and/or definitively proposed as articles of Catholic faith. In addition, Catholics are required to be honest and to conform their belief to truth as best they can. In that sense, not only Catholics but all men are required to believe the truth, when and where it is knowable to them.

“Scripture contains a truth about the time of the origin of Adam and Eve, but whether it is the truth determined by some Protestant exegetes of the past, such as Bishop Ussher, who first came up with the 6000 year figure in the late 17th century, or more modern exegetes – until that true is more precisely determined, all that anyone, rightly can say is that there is a truth in the text.”

Whether scripture contains such a truth seems to me as open to question as what said truth, if it exists, would be.

Marty August 26, 2009 at 10:36 am

Tru dat, SDG. Though Genesis has a timeline (this happened, and it happened before that and after that), and some parts of the timeline have some (possibly elastic) units of measure associated with them, it would seem a stretch to believe that the point of the timeline was to give us a way of measuring the Earth’s age. Though, maybe that fact is in there somewhere. Of course, it would be in there if it were essential for our salvation. In which case, many of us moderns would be in trouble for arguing our way out of believing in the old, traditional timeframe. But putting that aside, the Bible doesn’t pronounce on everything, does it? Or will we find the answer to the Riemann Hypothesis buried somewhere in the book of Numbers?

The Masked Chicken August 26, 2009 at 11:21 am

“Catholics are required to believe the truth.”
This seems a bit glib.

Hmm…I think I agree with your assessment. Perhaps I should have restated that, but as I seem to have messed up the rest of the analysis, I think I’ll just demure.
I was trying to be too polite and avoid polemics, but in the process I went overboard. Perhaps there was a good reason that my Internet connection was down, today :)
The Chicken

Oneil August 26, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Chicken,
When I was a Catholic, I could not stand the never ending wishy – washiness. It seemed everything was a mystery without clear explanation. I felt like I was constantly in the fog of deceit.
If Catholics are not required to believe an age for Adam and Eve are thy allowed to believe that Adam evolved from Monkeys? Or that Adam was a type of Neanderthal Man?
Or is it possible to believe that Adam lived millions of years ago and was the father of ‘Lucy’ or some other missing link?
Clearly there must be some boundaries.

SDG August 26, 2009 at 1:56 pm

“When I was a Catholic, I could not stand the never ending wishy – washiness. It seemed everything was a mystery without clear explanation. I felt like I was constantly in the fog of deceit. “

This paragraph uses parallel construction to associate, and effectively conflate, three distinct terms: (a) “never ending wishy-washiness,” (b) “mystery without clear explanation,” and (c) “fog of deceit.”
This is confusion. Even the term “fog of deceit” suggests a bogus association of deceit with ambiguity or unclarity. In reality, deceit can just as easily be clear and specific as ambiguous and unclear. There is nothing specially fine about clarity if it is not true, or about ambiguity and lacunae if it represents the actual state of our knowledge.
There is nothing foggy or unclear about the Muslim teaching on the Trinity, but it is deceit. In fact, the doctrine of the Trinity itself is surrounded by a fog of mystery into which we can barely penetrate.
When will the world end? How many will be saved? Will we eat or wear clothes in the resurrection? If so, what sort of food and what sort of clothing? Or, to go back to creation, what language did Adam and Eve speak? What color was their skin and their hair? Where exactly was Adam when the snake was talking to Eve? What exactly would have happened if Adam and Eve hadn’t listened to the serpent?
Would you believe I could answer all of these questions for you with great clarity and precision? I could, of course, but my answers would either be lies, or would at least go beyond the knowledge that God has actually vouchsafed us.

“If Catholics are not required to believe an age for Adam and Eve are thy allowed to believe that Adam evolved from Monkeys? Or that Adam was a type of Neanderthal Man? … Clearly there must be some boundaries.”

There are.
The Catholic Church teaches that the creation of man in God’s image does not refer to a naturalistic process of development, but to a divine act of grace. God created man in original justice, but man fell from this state through the misuse of his free will, rejecting his creator and preferring to serve himself. By this act, man brought death and discord into the human story.
So man’s creation in God’s image, and the fall, are real historical events, not just metaphors for human specialness or human wretchedness, loss of innocence, etc., etc.
I see nothing wishy-washy about that. It may not go as far as you’d like, but your preferences do not determine the parameters of divine revelation. Your account may be “clearer”; it does not follow that it is better.

Oneil August 26, 2009 at 4:40 pm

SDG,
My former Priest said that Adam was probably a kind of Neanderthal man that had God’s Spirit infused him. This was his attempt at reconciling evolution with Genesis 1 &2. I remember telling my Protestant friends this and I received a round of guffaws.
It is odd that the Church can give a lot of detail regarding the Eucharist, but very little about the age of Adam. Especially since there is more written about Adam than the Eucharist.
So let me ask you, how many years has it been since Adam & Eve?

Mary August 26, 2009 at 6:18 pm

So let me ask you, how many years has it been since Adam & Eve?
So let me ask you — of what possible use would knowing that be to working out your salvation in fear and trembling?

Mary August 26, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Catholics are required to believe the truth.
Nope.
The truth which has been dogmatically defined, yes. Prior to such definition, you are required to take reasonable efforts to inform yourself; after that, you can plead invincible ignorance. Hence, St. Ignatius of Antioch was not a heretic for thinking the Shepherd of Hermas Scipture, but Martin Luther was for describing the Letter of James as an “epistle of straw.”

Oneil August 26, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Mary,
These are the type of responses that caused me to finally leave the Catholic Church. You ask an honest question to a Protestant he will answer. Ask a Catholic and he will respond by asking you some irrelevant question. My conclusion is Catholics have built a house of straw consisting of much legalism, sacramentalism, and Papal Bulls.
Protestants could give an answer to my question above and back it up very convincingly. Catholics( Priests, Jesuits, Bishops, and CCD instructors), who claim to be entrusted with the Bible are incapable of giving a cogent response. Is sophistry the key to Catholic Theology?
So Mary what I hear you saying is that you have no clue when Adam and Eve lived. Furthermore you are saying that you don’t trust your own ability in finding out this information on your own. So it seems to me that you are a blind guide. So why should I go to church with you?

SDG August 26, 2009 at 6:52 pm

“You ask an honest question to a Protestant he will answer. Ask a Catholic and he will respond by asking you some irrelevant question.”

Sheer nonsense, and obviously nonsense based on the evidence of this combox alone. It depends on the question, and on the Catholic, or Protestant. Also, responding to a question with a question is not necessarily invalid. It’s how Jesus fielded the question about what authority he had for preaching in Luke 20.
Let me tell you one of the reasons I left Protestantism for Catholicism. I asked any number of Protestant pastors, including my CRC ordained father (now Catholic), “What does Jesus mean in John 20:23 about what sins the apostles forgive being forgiven and what sins they retain being retained?” Not a single one answered by actually predicating the verb “forgive” on the subject “the apostles.”
Let’s hear your response. What does Jesus mean in John 20:23?

“So Mary what I hear you saying is that you have no clue when Adam and Eve lived. Furthermore you are saying that you don’t trust your own ability in finding out this information on your own. So it seems to me that you are a blind guide. So why should I go to church with you?”

Your question presupposes that God wished to make known to us, definitively, when Adam and Eve lived. If He did not — if he wished to leave it, like so many other things, a question about which honest Christians could reach different conclusions — then Mary is right to humbly acknowledge the limits of our knowledge, and you are wrong to pretend to definitive knowledge that God has not given.
Who is truly the blind guide? Remember the words of Jesus: “If you were blind, you would have no sin, but since you say ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

Oneil August 26, 2009 at 7:06 pm

SDG,
It would be courteous to answer my question first. My question is a lot simpler than yours.

SDG August 26, 2009 at 7:09 pm

“It would be courteous to answer my question first. My question is a lot simpler than yours.”

Really? My question is about the meaning of one single Bible verse. Your question is about an exegetical meta-question that would minimally require hours and hours of carefully combing through the Bible, performing careful calculations, etc., and that’s prescinding from the exegetical questions involved.

Marty August 26, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Oneil,
Are Catholics required to have an answer to every question? I think both SDG and Mr. Chicken have given you the best answers they can regarding the age of the Earth. There is no required belief on this. The Church doesn’t know. If it did, it would tell you that answer. If a Catholic has his own answer, it is an opinion. SOme of your respondents have opinions on the age of the Earth and that of Adam and Eve. Others don’t. There’s been no dodging on this. Lot’s of discussion, but forthrightness. Why should people be dogmatic (small “d”) about that which they do not know?
Here’s a question for you: There seems to be a very strong reason why you think the age of Adam and Eve is a linchpin of faith. But you are being very coy with us. Why is it so important to you to know when Adam and Eve were around?

SDG August 26, 2009 at 7:21 pm

That said, your question has the virtue of being more remotely on-topic (mine is completely off-topic), and I am happy to answer your question.
I believe that in Genesis 1-3 God did not intend to give us definitive, historically datable access to events prior to the time of Abraham. Genesis 1-3 does attest real events that actually happened, particularly with respect to the creation of the universe, the creation of man and the fall, but not in a way that is definitively historically datable.

The Masked Chicken August 26, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Dear Oneil,
You wrote:
My former Priest said that Adam was probably a kind of Neanderthal man that had God’s Spirit infused him. This was his attempt at reconciling evolution with Genesis 1 &2. I remember telling my Protestant friends this and I received a round of guffaws.
The priest gave a poor summary of the teaching in Humani Generis. Adam was not a Neanderthal. He was the first man. Neanderthals are not men.
God clearly made many things (living beings) before man and I am sure that not all of them are explicitly listed in Genesis. God could have made a pre-cursor that resembled man during that period, but this creature would still not be a man, Adam was the first man.
What your friends do not seem to understand is the metaphysics of the soul and body. A man is not a man because he resembles a man or because he can even think (in that case, an ancephalic baby would not be human), but he is a man by virtue of having a rational soul. Adam was the first man to have a rational soul. All living creatures have souls. Plants have a vegetative soul; animals have a sensitive or animal soul; only man has a rational soul which allows it to bear the divine image.
This is the proper sense of Gen 2: 7:
then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Your Protestant friends were poorly informed, since these notions have a long pedigree. The priest was wrong in his misapplication of Humani Generis, but his mistake was easily clarified by a moment of thought.
You wrote:
If Catholics are not required to believe an age for Adam and Eve are thy allowed to believe that Adam evolved from Monkeys? Or that Adam was a type of Neanderthal Man?
Or is it possible to believe that Adam lived millions of years ago and was the father of ‘Lucy’ or some other missing link?

These question conflate a number of different issues: 1) the nature of Adam, 2) Adam’s creation, 3) Adam’s progeny. They are not all linked to the dating of Adam.
Adam was the first of his class – a being with a rational soul. As I pointed out, God created many living things before Adam, but none in which it was seen fit to deposit the divine image, which is what is meant by a rational soul. As such, Adam was not a Neanderthal, since Jesus did not come in the form of a Neanderthal. Jesus came in the same form as Adam.
Secondly, Adam as “the man,” was created by a divine initiative, by a special act of God. When that happened is not as essential as that it happened. In other words, it is crucial that God was the one who created Adam in the manner of a human. When he did it does not affect that he did it. It is a sin not to believe that God created Adam. How he did it is somewhat unclear in all of the details from Scripture, but Scripture goes to great pains to make it clear that God did it. Just as we do not know exactly how God constructed Jesus in Mary’s womb from the beginning, we are not given a detailed instruction of how God created Adam. In both cases, however, it is dogmatic that God was the creator of these new beings. Do we know the exact moment when Jesus was conceived? No. We have some definite region of time, but asking Scripture to be so detailed is often asking for something beyond its immediate purpose.
Once Adam existed, his progeny were only and exclusively men (using the word, “men,” in the linguistically inclusive sense as a representative of members of the human race). No, Lucy could not have been a progeny of Adam, since Lucy was not a human.
How God chose to get to the point of having someone to whom he could impart a rational soul depends, ultimately, on what exegesis one is allowed for the Genesis narrative. Depending on whether on takes a hyper-literal reading of Genesis or an more allegorical reading, one could arrive at the conclusion: a) God created Adam out the literal dust of the earth 6000 years, ago, or b) that God allowed natural forces to develop (form) Adam out of the dust of the earth until such time as a rational soul could be imparted. Scripture does not give details on how God formed man from the dust of the earth. It merely says that he did. It is reading into the text to say that we conclusively know the process. The text also does not say how God created birds, either. It does say that it we he who created them.
As such, until you can prove beyond doubt a correct interpretation of the “forming” process that God used to make creatures, the subject is still open to speculation within the boundaries that I mentioned, above.
The comparison to Eucharistic theology is not valid because the details regarding the Eucharist are: a) a matter of recent history, b) subject to many witnesses, c) subject to detailed comments by Jesus, d) within the continuous history of the Church, 5) subject to commentary by the apostles so as to make clear the theology, 6) subject to the commentary and lived experience of the Church Fathers, 7) subject to maturation in their understanding as the Church grows into the fullness of Christ.
Historical research and the interpretation of documents is something that is not always as simple as it seems. It hardly seems a make-or-break matter to the Faith when Adam lived. What is crucial is that Adam was unique and made by God and how he lived and subsequently fell. When he lived does not have the ability to harm these dogmas unless one ties them with a strangle-hold to a not merely literal (since this can encompass many descriptive forms) interpretation of Scripture, but a rigid lab manual type interpretation of Scripture. If one’s faith lives or dies by the date that Adam lived as if that could influence how he lived, then this is mixing the physical and the metaphysical in ways they were never meant to mix.
It may well be that Adam lived 6000 years, ago. If this is the case, then, fine. If he lived 6000 years ago, but took a million years to get there (to be formed), then how does that affect anything. What seems to be important is that he lived and he fell. One could make the case that it had to be within some recent (relatively) time because oral records were passed on to the author of Genesis. This is something that could not have happened over a million years, so far as I understand oral transmission of historical data. This still does not allow for a precise date, only a relative era.
Just because Bishop Ussher came to a 6000 year figure does not mean that he had the gift of supernatural insight in the interpretation of Scripture. His is a possible conclusion and Catholics may hold it in good conscience. What else to you want? When Adam lived is not a matter of metaphysics. It is a matter of history. How events are put together to form a history is a matter than can be complex, especially when matters of private interpretation are present. If the Church is more circumspect in assigning a definite age to Adam, it is because the matter is not so clearcut as simply reading the Bible and tracing geneologies. It is a matter that is secondary to the larger picture unless, as I said, above, one ties the Faith to a strictly literal reading of Scripture.
Just my opinions.
The Chicken

Benson August 26, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Thank you, SDG, that’s the sort of comment I was waiting for! I just don’t understand why there are those who think that the Bible MUST tell us everything we ever wanted to know. I suppose it should also be able to tell us where our car keys have gone, how to make the perfect egg salad sandwich, or perhaps which lottery numbers to play. God has clearly given us His inspired Word as a great tool, but we have to know what the tool is made for before we can properly use it. When we truly understand where the sacred canon came from and how it was always meant to be utilized, suddenly the Church’s authoritative definitions reguarding it (and her silence in selective areas) make so much sense. If scripture alone was the pillar and bulwark of the truth, then it should clearly describe for us the correct way of interpreting it…but then, I’ve never heard of a self-interpreting book.

Oneil August 26, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I am amazed that nobody can answer a simple question. How long ago did Adam live? The only acceptable answer is a number or range of numbers between 0 and infinity. After providing a number, your answer can be supported by the corresponding prose.
Also another question for SDG. Do you believe that men such as Methuselah lived to be 969 years old?

Thomas E. Vaughan August 26, 2009 at 10:04 pm

So many interesting comments have been written since I had the chance to
visit here!
Oneil, you didn’t address your question to me, but I can’t
resist. Despite some evidence that homo erectus seems to have
controlled fire a million years ago, I tend to think that Adam and Eve
must have lived at some time within the last 100,000 years, possibly
much more recently than that.
Chicken,
You seem to think that we should be able to derive the correct age of
earth independently of Scripture. But I think that this is not so.
As SDG has pointed out, God has left certain things indeterminate in
revelation. Surely He has also—at least as a consequence of the Fall
if not in the original design—left certain aspects of the physical
world inscrutable with respect to physical examination. It is entirely
possible that the age of the earth and/or the age of the cosmos is
something that we can not know.
One can through sense perception apprehend the form of an apple, to know
what it is. But it seems to me that neither Newtonian gravity nor
general relativity is a true form that resides both in the mind of the
perceiver and, as a cause of its being, in the thing perceived. Each of
those theories is fundamentally a guess. Yet only through the
combination of general relativity with (certainly false) approximations
and still other abstract theories can we arrive at a model by which we
infer the age of the cosmos.
The amazing agreement of the standard cosmological model with a wide
range of observational data tempts one to make a philosophical error, to
believe that the age of the cosmos is given by the best fit of the
model’s parameters to the obervational data.
From my point of view, the philosophically correct position is rather to
conclude that, because of the science, a 13-billion-year age for the
cosmos remains an interesting possibility. The observational data might
rule out alternative scientific models, but the data can’t rule out
alternative ages, not even a young age (were a good argument produced
for the revelation of a young age).
You spent some time discussing the warrant of each witness. You make
some good points there. My concern, however, is that we also consider
the nature of the proposition offered by the witness. The nature of the
best theoretical proposition offered by the scientist is that of a guess
for which the argument is at best inductively strong. The nature of the
best proposition offered by the theologian is that of a certain truth
for which the argument is deductively valid. I do not mean to imply
that the theologian is competent to tell with certainty the age of the
cosmos (though this is a formal possibility), but I do mean to suggest
that the scientist is incompetent to tell with certainty the age of the
cosmos.
The best scientific theory merely suggests a possible structure for
nature, a structure consistent with the data gathered so far. But there
are many widely divergent structures consistent with those data. We
choose the simplest guess so far produced that explains the data that we
have. As the random errors on the data become smaller because of
technological improvement, subtle systematic effects will require
refinements in the standard model until, at some point, no refinement
will do. A radically different theoretical structure will be required
to explain the data. The difference between an observation predicted by
general relativity and one predicted by special relativity is in most
circumstances very small and subtle. But in a special-relativistic
space, there is no preferred reference frame. However, in a general
relativistic cosmology, there is a preferred reference frame (in which
the CMB is isotropic). So there can be huge differences in the implied
structure of nature between two models that, for practical purposes,
produce tiny differences in the predictions of the outcomes of local
experiments. The point is that, even as successive theories better and
better fit smaller and smaller subtleties in the data, there can still
be radically different structures for nature implied from one theory in
the sequence to the next. And this can radically affect things like the
estimate of the age of the universe, or whether the universe, from the
model’s point of view, even has a finite age.
You mention that science can be a consistent belief system. I don’t
doubt that. I think, however, that it is a mistake to make scientific
theory a belief system. One should not believe a proposition that is
incapable of being true. It seems to me OK to admit into my belief
system the various repeatable scientific experiments and which
sense-experiential outcome is associated with each. It would even seem
OK to believe that a scientific theory is good for keeping those
associations straight. It seems wrong, however, to go so far as to
believe that a scientific theory is really what nature *is* in some
aspect, but this is what is happening all over the place.
I’m sure that I have written far too much. I should like to comment on
some of the other posts relating to particulars of physical theory. I
might get to it, but I feel that I owe much to the Chicken, who has been
so kind to me.

SDG August 27, 2009 at 4:11 am

“I am amazed that nobody can answer a simple question. How long ago did Adam live? The only acceptable answer is a number or range of numbers between 0 and infinity.”

Your rhetorical conceits are growing wearying, Oneil. Which of the following statements do you deny?
(a) There are some things the Bible tells us and some things it doesn’t.
(b) No one but God can determine a priori which things the Bible must tell us and which things it need not tell us.
(c) On some points, though not on everything, honest Christians may legitimately reach different conclusions about the meaning and implications of what the Bible tells us.
Unless you deny one or more of those statements, you cannot determine a priori that “The only acceptable answer is a number or range of numbers,” etc. You cannot logically exclude the possibility that an acceptable answer is “I don’t think the Bible tells us that.”
Now, if you give full scope to “a range of numbers,” an acceptable answer might be “between 50,000 and 5,000 years ago.” But even then it’s not possible to determine in advance that anyone reading the Bible ought to be able to come up with such a range.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 4:25 am

SDG,
I will answer your off topic question. Please answer my questions.
John 20:23 is a discussion of the Great Commission (see Matt. 28:16-20). In passages with similar language such as Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, the context is church discipline and spiritual authority ( i.e. binding and loosing). Here in John 20:23 the context is evangelism.
The second part of each conditional clause in this verse is in the passive voice and the perfect tense in the Greek text. The passive voice indicates that someone has already done the forgiving or retaining. That person must be God since He alone has the authority to do that (Matt. 9:2-3; Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21). The perfect tense indicates that the action has continuing effects; the sins stand forgiven or retained. Thus grammatically speaking this sentence does not give the Apostles(those who are sent)/Disciples to arbitrarily forgive or condemn anyone they like.
Jesus appears to have been saying that when His disciples went to others with the message of salvation, as He had done, some people would believe and others would not. Reaction to their ministry would be the same as reaction to His. He viewed their forgiving and retaining the sins of their listeners as the actions of God’s agents.
Jesus had done this in( John 9:39-41), and now His disciples would continue His ministry in like fashion. Thus their ministry would be a continuation of His ministry relative to the forgiveness of sins, as it would be a demonstration of the Spirit’s enabling.
This too applies to all succeeding generations of Jesus’ disciples since Jesus was still talking about the disciples’ mission. Furthermore the disciples were supposed to make disciples. Thus any believer, today, who is a disciple has the power to bind, loose, and forgive sins.

bill912 August 27, 2009 at 4:31 am

“I am amazed that nobody can answer a simple question”…that God declined to give us the information to accurately answer.
“Your rhetorical conceits are growing wearying…” Hobby Horses have that affect on me, too.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 4:34 am

Bill912,
You have grown weary on me many moons ago as well. If you can’t say something constructive than why not keep silent.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 4:44 am

SDG,
You often quote Catholic teaching Authority as the reason that an approximate date of Adam’s origin can not be given.
My Teaching authority, Evangelical Free Church, says that an approximate date can be given. This date is in the range of 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Likewise Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness have their own ‘infallible’ teaching authorities. So whose teaching authority is correct?
Again at some point everyone must make a private interpretation to which teaching authority they want to submit to. I argue that if you choose the wrong teaching authority you risk going to Hell. There is no way in Heaven that both Catholics and Protestants can both be teaching authorities ordained of God.
So to call Catholic and Protestants separated brethren makes as much sense as calling Catholics and Mormons separated brethren. Believing in the first few Church Councils does not define a person as a Christian, since the Nestorians believed in the Trinity and were soundly excommunicated.
So how old do you think Methuselah was? This is a personal question and it does not matter if the Catholic church has a position on it. The Catholic Church does not have a position on blowing your nose, but I am sure you do it as necessary.

Jeb Protestant August 27, 2009 at 4:46 am

Steve,
So you would dissent from this statement from a former member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission?
http://tinyurl.com/nykt6s
____
The study of literary genres encouraged by the Church (#19) has in fact enabled scholars to see that religious teaching in the early chapters of the Bible is expressed under the guise of historical writing. These chapters are no more historical writing than is Little Red Riding Hood; the truths they convey are wholly different. So, referring to the first 11 chapters of Genesis, The Gift of Scripture affirms ‘though they may contain some historical traces, the primary purpose was to provide religious teaching’ (#28). It follows this up with a neat little list of the important and profound truths on the dual human condition of dignity and of failure which are taught in these chapters. In all these ways the reader of these chapters is led to a deeper self-knowledge, and to a richer understanding of the personal relationship of dependence on the source of all being. I only regret that some loss of nerve led to the inclusion of ‘though they may contain some historical traces’. There is no suggestion of ‘historical traces’ in the passage of the Pontifical Biblical Commission document cited as authority for this qualification.
____
JP

Marty August 27, 2009 at 5:07 am

I am amazed that nobody can answer a simple question. How long ago did Adam live? The only acceptable answer is a number or range of numbers between 0 and infinity. After providing a number, your answer can be supported by the corresponding prose.
Oniel: Whom are you addressing with this question? It’s been made crystal clear that the Catholic Church does not answer this question (nor does it have one), and that it is not a matter that the faithful need have an opinion on, though many do. It is not essential to faith. Yet you continue to be coy, saying something along the lines of (I am paraphrasing) “You (the group? SDG?) tell me how old Adam is and then I will tell you why you’re wrong, tell you why I think this is important.”
The group does not know. Some of the group do not care. Some of the group have opinions, none as precise as what you seem to desire. The Church has not told us it’s important. What’s hard about this?

Tim J. August 27, 2009 at 5:10 am

Jeb, it is not possible to “dissent” from a private opinion, which is what you pasted above. One may agree or disagree. Dissent has nothing to do with it one way or another.

Jeb Protestant August 27, 2009 at 5:14 am

Tim,
I’m not using “dissent” as a precise theological term. I meant only “disagree.”
But I’m curious: do you believe Wansbrough’s position is contrary to Catholic teaching?
-JP

Tim J. August 27, 2009 at 5:14 am

“Jesus appears to have been saying that when His disciples went to others with the message of salvation, as He had done, some people would believe and others would not. Reaction to their ministry would be the same as reaction to His. He viewed their forgiving and retaining the sins of their listeners as the actions of God’s agents.”
How in the world does any honest person wrench THAT meaning from the text, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven. If you retain them they are retained.”?????
And YOU lecture us about sophistry? You hardly need a bible, Oneil, if you can make it mean anything you like.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 5:21 am

SDG,
I don’t deny any of the statements you cited above. I claim that Catholics are incapable of rightly dividing the word of Truth. They are as clueless as the Sadducees and Pharisees before them.
Thomas E Vaughan,
The CMB being isotropic is partly why I became a born-again Christian. As a graduate student I worked in the Lab of Arno Penzias for one summer. I found it odd that the CMB( cosmic microwave background = big bang background radiation) is uniform in all directions. This could indicate that we are at the center of the universe. Statistically given the size of the universe that seems unlikely. Thus it caused me to think about the origin of life and thus upon my return to school I asked my Priest about the Origin of life and Noah’s Ark.
Therefore my model of the Universe is that the Earth is at the center of the Universe, the big bang occurred after the fall, and the speed of light decayed rapidly to arrive at the constant we now have. Classical physics is and was valid before and after the fall. The Space-Time Continuum is a result of the Fall, since I don’t think Adam’s physical body( ie physical space) was bound by time until after the fall.Initially all the classic constants of Physics are actually meta-constants. I know I sound like a Physics heretic, but these are my thoughts. Anyhow, since I am a more practical sort, I soon switched to non-linear optics and information theory.

Tim J. August 27, 2009 at 5:29 am

“I’m not using “dissent” as a precise theological term. I meant only “disagree.”"
Okay. Then I do disagree with Wansbrough, yes. The fact that hyper-literalism is a mistake does not mean that there can be no mistake in the opposite direction… let’s call it hyper-symbolism or spiritualizing of the text.
Contrary to Catholic teaching? Not knowing in more detail what Wansbrough actually means, I couldn’t say. Catholics are required (as far as I know) to give assent to a literal Adam & Eve (though not by those names), which would seem to be problematic for Wansbrough’s position as it is given above.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 5:30 am

Marty,
What is your opinion on when Adam lived? Your Opinion not Catholic Teaching! Also how old was Methuselah? Your Opinion not Catholic Teaching.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 5:47 am

TimJ,
The problem is that you probably don’t speak any other language than English or Spanish. Both of these languages including German and Latin have similar grammatical structures. Greek and Russian have similar grammar. Since I can read and speak some Russian and am fluent in English and German, it makes it easier for me to understand these Grammatical nuances.
So I stand my assertion, Catholics, Pharisee, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and liberal Protestants do NOT know how to read the Bible correctly. Thus they are incapable of being valid teaching authorities.

Tim J. August 27, 2009 at 5:58 am

“…it makes it easier for me to understand these Grammatical nuances. ”
Except that there are no grammatical nuances there, apart from what you are projecting into the text.
This is what makes me crazy about those who claim to take a hyper-literal view of scripture… they do it only selectively, demanding that we assent to some exact number for the age of the earth or of Methuselah, and then when they have a bit of plain speech from the Lord Jesus himself, they tie themselves into nuanced knots denying the obvious meaning of the text. They HAVE to, because to accept the plain meaning of the text would leave their ecclesiology in tatters.
Okay, I get it…
Evangelical Prot Nuance = Good
Catholic Nuance = Evil

SDG August 27, 2009 at 6:34 am

Jeb Protestant:

“So you would dissent from this statement from a former member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission?”

I find the comparison of the early chapters of Genesis to Little Red Riding Hood to be profoundly misleading and unhelpful, yes.
There is a strict literary sense in which I would agree that the early chapters of Genesis are “not history,” insofar as “history” as a disciplinary term refers to the study, documentation and interpretation of actual human events based on empirical evidence, primarily eyewitness memory/reports preserved in written or oral testimony, as well as archaeological and other evidence.
In that sense, the Gospels are, literarily, historical documents, because they are works of human reportage as well as divinely inspired accounts.
But Genesis 1 would not be a historical document in this sense, even if the six days of creation occurred exactly as narrated and the account was directly revealed by God to Moses (or whoever wrote Genesis). They would reveal actual events, but not by means of the discipline of history.
However, insofar as “history” simply refers to real events, the Catholic faith obliges us to believe that the biblical story of creation, the creation of man and the fall attest real events, and in that sense the comments in question are unhelpful.

SDG August 27, 2009 at 7:10 am

“I don’t deny any of the statements you cited above.”

Then you cannot logically insist, a priori, that the Bible must necessarily definitively tell us how long ago Adam lived, and you cannot insist that the only valid answer to your question is a date or a range of dates.
You must acknowledge that for at least some questions a reasonable answer may be “I don’t think the Bible definitively answers that question,” and you cannot logically exclude the possibility that such questions may include “How long ago did Adam live?”

“My Teaching authority, Evangelical Free Church, says that an approximate date can be given. This date is in the range of 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.”

I have no quarrel with that answer. But as soon as you bring in your church’s teaching authority, you are no longer relying exclusively on God’s word, and you cannot claim on the basis of your church’s teaching authority that no one basing themselves on God’s word without accepting your church’s teaching authority could possibly reach a different conclusion.

“What is your opinion on when Adam lived? Your Opinion not Catholic Teaching! Also how old was Methuselah? Your Opinion not Catholic Teaching.”

My opinion is twofold: (a) Scripturally, my opinion is that the Bible does not definitively tell us how long ago Adam lived. (b) Scientifically, my opinion is that Adam probably lived something like 50,000 years ago. On Methuselah and the other pre-Abrahamic patriarchs, my opinion is that those long ages are probably mythical, and that we cannot definitively know anything about Methuselah.

“Since I can read and speak some Russian and am fluent in English and German, it makes it easier for me to understand these Grammatical nuances. So I stand my assertion, Catholics, Pharisee, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and liberal Protestants do NOT know how to read the Bible correctly. Thus they are incapable of being valid teaching authorities.”

Since you bring it up, what’s your native language? Your English is fine, but a little awkward.
Your meta-claim that Catholics “do not know how to read the Bible correctly” is simply indefensible. I can’t see that you have even offered any argument for it. Argue particular points, but do not make sweeping indefensible claims like this if you wish to be welcome here.

“Thus any believer, today, who is a disciple has the power to bind, loose, and forgive sins.”

Really? You have the power to forgive my sins?

bill bannon August 27, 2009 at 7:11 am

Oneil
You seem to imply that Protestants all take Genesis literally when in fact modern biblical scholarship of a demythologizing type was born within Protestantism. Is it possible you should be using the word “fundamentalism” for your group rather than “Protestant”. Last week the Lutheran allowed for gays in committed relationships to be clergy. Does not sound they take Romans 1 literally.
So I think you really mean “fundamentalists” rather than “Protestants”.

Benson August 27, 2009 at 7:18 am

If Catholics don’t know how to read the Bible, then the Holy Spirit must not have lead Christians into much truth over the last twenty centuries. Perhaps Christ meant that we would be deceived for a great many centuries, and THEN would be lead into all truth–yes, that must be it.

Lucien Syme August 27, 2009 at 7:25 am

This was a rather interesting thread in particular watching Oneil go through all his steps in finally getting to his point. The Catholic Church is false because it can’t answer everything in a dogmatic statement. This is an understandable objection, we are after all dogmatic by nature – we want the truth.
The fact that Protestantism waters down every clear passage in the New Testament which agrees with the Catholic teaching regarding the Sacraments I would think should give Oneil some troubles intellectually.
Either Baptism saves or it doesn’t. Either the Eucharist is the real body and blood of the Lord or it isn’t. Either men have been empowered to forgive or sins or they haven’t. Those elements of the Faith seem to take precedence over the Age of Creation. If my sins are not forgiven when I confess to my priest I am going to hell after all.
However, nothing seems as wishy-washy to me as the Protestant teaching on what constitutes the authentic Church (there is nothing more agnostic in fact).
St. Paul taught the Church is the body of Christ and we learn in St. Matthew that it is the Kingdom of Heaven, someone was put in charge (keys were given and everything). Sounds pretty mystical and physical to me.
But according to most who fall outside the confines of the Catholic Church claim that the Church constitutes all believers in Jesus but not an actual Kingdom. They want one aspect (mystical) without the other (physical) I would think both would be necessary for true lovers of dogma.
There is quite a bit of undefined articles regarding the faith in the Church but more of them outside of Her – quite a bit more. Which makes sense if the Holy Spirit guides the Church and has not been broken up into different pieces of lumber.
So Oneil I would invite you again to become part of the wishy-washy yet dogmatic Church that Christ founded with His Own Precious Blood. Not something to take lightly!

Marty August 27, 2009 at 7:28 am

Oniel, you started out being coy, and thankfully you’re now more direct. I will be direct and concise in response. You seem to have a hyper-literalist view of Scriptural exegesis. And it also seems to come not only from your particular Protestant Church, but also is mixed in with your own idiosyncratic interpretations, as noted by others above. These “give away the store”. It is you and your needs that are coming forth. For, as has also been noted, there is no self-interpreting book. Hyper-literalism is a chimera. You are projecting yourself and your needs into any such endeavor.
You mention the difficulty in privileging a particular faith’s exegesis, and I agree there are many problems in attempting to justify any faith’s claim to authority. One thing that the Catholic Church has is the Tradition. Christ did not give us the Scripture (directly). But he did give us the Tradition, or at least he jump-started it. He “interpreted” Scripture for the Apostles, both by his life’s example, and in some cases directly (at the Transfiguration, over supper at Emmaus). It is what aids us in interpreting the Scripture. Christ gave the Apostles these “keys”, and they have passed them on through various means (Apostolic succession and teaching). The Church’s authority in this way derives from Christ.
I’ve had a feeling from Comment 1 that your bud of arch coyness would blossom and bloom in the way that it has, so I will not continue responding, except to answer your last question to me: I have no idea how long ago Adam lived. It was at the time Man became Man, probably in the last 100,000 years or so. I do not think it was as recent as 10,000 years ago. I think Methuselah lived a long time, but doubt it was anywhere near 900+ years.
BTW, Jimmy has promised to write more on the topic of the age of the world soon, but already has written quite a bit here.

The Masked Chicken August 27, 2009 at 7:34 am

Dear Thomas,
You wrote:
You seem to think that we should be able to derive the correct age of
earth independently of Scripture. But I think that this is not so.

I don’t believe that the age of the earth can be determined independently of Scripture, just that the age determined in Scripture and the age as determined by science cannot, ultimately, contradict each other.
The observational data might
rule out alternative scientific models, but the data can’t rule out
alternative ages, not even a young age (were a good argument produced
for the revelation of a young age).

Agreed.
My concern, however, is that we also consider
the nature of the proposition offered by the witness. The nature of the
best theoretical proposition offered by the scientist is that of a guess
for which the argument is at best inductively strong. The nature of the
best proposition offered by the theologian is that of a certain truth
for which the argument is deductively valid. I do not mean to imply
that the theologian is competent to tell with certainty the age of the
cosmos (though this is a formal possibility), but I do mean to suggest
that the scientist is incompetent to tell with certainty the age of the
cosmos.

The theology may be deductively valid, but the premises, which include the interpretation of Scripture are contingent, so really their conclusion is true only within modal logic, which allows for something to be contingently true.
You mention that science can be a consistent belief system. I don’t
doubt that. I think, however, that it is a mistake to make scientific
theory a belief system. One should not believe a proposition that is
incapable of being true. It seems to me OK to admit into my belief
system the various repeatable scientific experiments and which
sense-experiential outcome is associated with each. It would even seem
OK to believe that a scientific theory is good for keeping those
associations straight. It seems wrong, however, to go so far as to
believe that a scientific theory is really what nature *is* in some
aspect, but this is what is happening all over the place.

A belief system is not a truth system. Beliefs are always contingent. Certainly and truth are not usually contingent (although they can be in certain cases).
The Chicken

c matt August 27, 2009 at 7:56 am

As we say in the legal biz, “I don’t know” is a perfectly good answer when you really don’t know.

The Masked Chicken August 27, 2009 at 7:59 am

Dear Oneil,
Yo wrote:
You [SDG? my comment] often quote Catholic teaching Authority as the reason that an approximate date of Adam’s origin can not be given.
My Teaching authority, Evangelical Free Church, says that an approximate date can be given. This date is in the range of 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Oy. Both groups have access to the same book. One person claims this groups interprets correctly; another person says this group interprets correctly. By all means, let’s start insulting each other’s authorities. There are some Catholic scholars who read/speak twelve languages including Biblical Hebrew and Greek. There are also Protestant scholars who have the same background. People of the same background have come to different conclusions. Let’s not start getting personal, if possible.
Permit me to remind everyone that the topic of this post is what Catholics are permitted to believe regarding the age of the earth. Catholic are permitted to hold a 6000 year age of the earth, so it becomes impossible to characterize all Catholics as being opposed to the fundamentalist Protestant interpretation of Scripture. They may not be as insistent on this as the fundamentalist Protestants who hold to this, because for Catholics, this is a secondary issue, but they may hold it.
Rapidly, this discussion is veering into areas not directly concerned with the topic. May we, with everyone’s permission, table the discussion of the age of Biblical Old Testament persons until the Noah post which will be coming in a few days/weeks? Otherwise, I think these comments will quickly degenerate into the, “my religion is better than your religion, nah nah…” type of contentious arguments that flood so many blogs out there. I guess I am appealing for a reasonable and reasoned, charitable discussion of the age of the earth which respects although possibly disagrees with the Catholic current position.
So much for my attempts to be a peacemaker.
The Chicken

c matt August 27, 2009 at 8:02 am

What does Jesus mean in John 20:23?
That, and the semantic gymnastics (semnastics?)that they go through with “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church” always make for good entertainment.

Foxfier August 27, 2009 at 9:02 am

Oneil, why are you set on picking a fight while accusing everyone of being against you?
People offer theories, statements or possibilities to answer question after question for you, you respond by claiming the theories are bad (Gee, some Protestant teens laughed at a theory! It’s surely disproven.)
Yet when someone asks a single question of you, you claim they are rude.
(Never mind that there is a long tradition of answering a question with a question, in both Classic and Jewish traditions.)
Worse yet, their question has a LOT more bearing on salvation than yours– I’m pretty sure neither Catholic nor Protestant believes in a pre-heaven history quiz.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 9:09 am

Let me just make one comment before returning to the age of the Universe question.
Anyone who has study the science of hermeneutics will know that I am not a ‘literalist’ when it comes to Biblical interpretation. Again many on this blog are flat out ignorant when it comes to the Science of Hermeneutics so they make silly statements.
Regarding the idea of church. Catholics require historical continuity, so do Protestants. Protestants view the continuity as a Markov Process. Given a church in the nth generation it faithfully passes its tradition to the n+1st generation. The n+1st generation does not need to know about the n-1st generation. Thus by induction we can see that the 1st generation taught it to the 2nd generation and so on, demonstrating historical continuity. Thus Protestants demonstrate a continuity just like Catholics do, except ours is a Markovian Process, while Catholics claim it by defining a Singularity , i.e.in the Papacy.
Regarding Sacramental theology. This is an invention of Tertullian because of he probably could not read Greek or Hebrew. Furthermore the concept does not come from Jews, Hellenist Jews, Greeks or Early Christians. Sacraments is a concept that comes from the Roman Military. Old Testament Jews were non-sacramental just like the Apostles and modern Evangelicals.

bill bannon August 27, 2009 at 9:49 am

When in your Markovian Process did some Protestants start seeing sodomy as OK if committment is present? Was there an approximage date that this happened? I’m flat out ignorant in this area.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 10:09 am

Bill,
The Ensemble of Protestant churches consists of Orthodox as well as heretical groups. It is the responsibility of every believer to find the Orthodox Protestant groups. By following the historical-grammatical hermeneutic, sola scriptura, and good discipleship, one would never get involved with a Sodomy preaching church. The Lutherans that are pro-Sodomy are the same Lutherans that wrote the Catholics-Evangelicals together document with Richard Neuhaus. These Lutherans had long been rejected by Orthodox Protestants.
This is no different than me bringing up the liberal and homosexual bishops from Milwaukee and other dioceses. Only a fool, be he Protestant or Catholic, would submit or take Sacraments from a homosexual or child-molesting priest.

Lucien Syme August 27, 2009 at 10:18 am

The invention of the Sacraments came from Tertullian? Because he was a Roman? Better yet why not because he was a lawyer? Even better still why not because he became a schismatic?
He also came up with terminology to describe the Trinity. Did he come up with the Trinity? Or did his language used to describe the reality seem clear to most in the Church?
The Bible clearly teaches, through St. John and St. Paul, the reality of the Eucharist being the body and blood of the Lord. The Holy Spirit has left it up to the Church to describe the hidden reality (for our benefit). Since that teaching hasn’t changed in the Catholic Church, like it had to in Protestant-lands after all there is no valid priests to confect the Eucharist, we can enjoy actual continuity on the issues that Jesus made explicit for our salvation I will give my favorite one here:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; [54] he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. [55] For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. [56] He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. [57] As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. [58] This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever”
There is very little continuity in Protestantism, no matter what kind of diagram you draw up for it. Yours was a little confusing, after all I am not scientifically minded, but I do believe that Jesus could found a Church that would be able to last and teach dogma. I am an optimist when it comes to the Lord.
So yet again I urge you to consider the Catholic Church, your excuse for leaving was not irrelevant but a little superficial. There have been many people REALLY hurt by the sinfulness of the people in the Church not just the ignorance of the priesthood. Many of them stay inside loving Christ through their suffering; I can’t imagine leaving my home and Jesus in the Eucharist because they couldn’t tell me how old the planet is.

SDG August 27, 2009 at 10:20 am

“Regarding the idea of church. Catholics require historical continuity, so do Protestants. Protestants view the continuity as a Markov Process. “

Anyone who says “Protestants view X this way” is, by and large, just being silly. There is no one way that “Protestants” view pretty much anything. Once again, Oneil, you’re using “Protestants” to mean “Protestants like me.”
Wikipedia defines “Markov process” as “a mathematical model for the random evolution of a memoryless system, that is, one for which the likelihood of a given future state, at any given moment, depends only on its present state, and not on any past states.” Are you sure that’s the most felicitous term for what you mean?
I’ll grant that many forms of Protestantism seem to be “memoryless systems,” and while I don’t know about evolving randomly, certainly the bit about future states depending only on present states and not past states seems appropriate. But I suspect you meant something else.

“Given a church in the nth generation it faithfully passes its tradition to the n+1st generation. The n+1st generation does not need to know about the n-1st generation.”

“A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matt 5:14). Therefore, whatever is hidden is not a city on a hill.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and lots of others all posit imaginary histories in which people Just Like Them preserved the true faith invisibly, hidden in caves and secret valleys, without leaving any trace on the historical record. Why not one more? The Catholic Church has always been out there, like a city on a hill.

“Regarding Sacramental theology. This is an invention of Tertullian”

Because of course Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Theophilus of Antioch and so forth were only joshing about baptism, the Eucharist and the episcopacy and priesthood. So is the NT when it says things like “baptism now saves you,” “buried with Christ in baptism,” “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink,” etc. (P.S. We know you aren’t a literalist about those verses.)

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 10:21 am

Marty,
Jimmy Akin says, “Though the majority of Church Fathers took the six days of creation as being six literal days, there was not moral unanimity among them on this question. ”
Also Jesus and the Apostles indicated that they believed in six literal days of creation.
So I ask my Catholic friends, who is more faithful to Living Tradition regarding the Age of the Universe? It seems to me the Orthodox Protestant is!!!
This is an example of numerous inconsistencies exhibited by the RCC which caused me to leave.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 10:32 am

SDG,
Clearly I was using the Markovian Process as an analogy. I should have been more clear that the n+1st generation does not need to know about the n-1st generation and just leave it at that. Sola Scriptura Protestants( which the Sodomy Lutherans are not) believe that all necessary Church truth can be re-derived if needed.
The TRUE church has always been visible and was in various incarnations manifest in the Donatists, Montanists, Waldensians, early Celtic Christianity, Hussites, and other independent groups.
I have dealt with the Reformed Church at numerous occasions and they are example of a church with correct doctrine devoid of the Holy Spirit. The RCC is a church with incorrect doctrine and devoid of the Holy Spirit. The TRUE church needs both correct doctrine + Holy Spirit.
If a person can’t recognize if the Holy Spirit is operating in his church than this is sufficient proof that he/she is not a Christian.

SDG August 27, 2009 at 10:33 am

“So I ask my Catholic friends, who is more faithful to Living Tradition regarding the Age of the Universe? It seems to me the Orthodox Protestant is!!!”

The obvious catch being, of course, that (a) “Orthodox Protestant” means only “Protestant who agrees with me,” and (b) plenty of Catholics would agree with you too. So in both Catholicism and Protestantism there are many who agree with you, and many who disagree. Both Catholicism and Protestantism allow for both positions.

“This is an example of numerous inconsistencies exhibited by the RCC which caused me to leave. “

Despite the fact that that same “Living Tradition” to which you boast faithfulness regarding the age of the universe is even more emphatic about baptismal regeneration, the ministerial priesthood, the eucharistic sacrifice, the apostolic succession of bishops, and so on. Those beliefs, much more than the six days of creation, defines the faith of the early Fathers. If not gnats, you are at least straining at day flies while swallowing camels.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 10:33 am

SDG,
Still waiting on your opinion about the age of Methuselah?

SDG August 27, 2009 at 10:46 am

“The TRUE church has always been visible and was in various incarnations manifest in the Donatists, Montanists, Waldensians, early Celtic Christianity, Hussites, and other independent groups.”

Oh dear, that old saw? Which of the first four groups rejected Tertullian’s sacramental theology, please? And what evidence do you have for your claim?

“I have dealt with the Reformed Church at numerous occasions and they are example of a church with correct doctrine devoid of the Holy Spirit.”

On behalf of my Reformed relatives and friends, I denounce your presumptuous judgmentalism. The Holy Spirit blows where he wills, and I have found him in the Reformed Church.

“The RCC is a church with incorrect doctrine and devoid of the Holy Spirit.”

That does it. I have given you a lot of leeway, and you just keep abusing it.
This is the last sweepingly presumptuous, judgmental statement I will permit from you on this blog.
For the good of your soul I urge you to repent of your presumption.
For the good of this blog, I will disinvite you from further participation if you cannot exhibit more restraint, judiciousness and, well, what I’m going to call pneumatic humility. You’re either capable of it or you aren’t.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 10:50 am

SDG,
Some of the greatest Bible Scholars come from the Reformed tradition. Many read the church fathers and drew different conclusions.
For example Jerome made it fairly clear that he did not approve of the Apocrypha and also believed in a symbolic interpretation of the Eucharist. This is very consistent with modern Evangelicals. Jerome considered his church father predecessor as men of inferior intellect. Thus on two points he is more Protestant than Catholic.

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 11:01 am

SDG,
Tertullian is the first person that ever gave any hint of infant-baptism; and he argued against it, strongly, encouraging delay of the administration of it, according to every one’s age, condition, and disposition.
So Orthodox Protestants say, the church strayed from the original teaching very quickly and created a false church by the 4th century. This false church later became the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic. However the TRUE church has always been faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, which is no ministerial priesthood, no Pope, no Eucharistic Sacrifice, no Transubstantiation, no veneration of Saints, no Eucharistic Adoration, and no Apocrypha.
For example the heresy of Arianism is now found in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The heresy of 4th Century are now bound up in the Roman Catholic Church. Being Old does not mean your correct!

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 11:10 am

SDG,
The statement about the Reformed is from close friends who are now Evangelical Free.
Again I apologize for offending you.

SDG August 27, 2009 at 11:25 am

“For example Jerome made it fairly clear that he did not approve of the Apocrypha and also believed in a symbolic interpretation of the Eucharist.”

St. Jerome did NOT affirm a symbolic interpretation of the Eucharist. He certainly did not reject or contradict the teaching of other early Fathers on the Real Presence, which it is hard to imagine him not doing if he disagreed. (He certainly wasn’t shy about vocally disagreeing with other early Christians on other points.) Here is what Jerome said, from his commentary on Ephesians:

Indeed the blood and flesh of Christ are to be understood in two ways, either that spiritual and divine flesh and blood of which he himself said, ‘My flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink’ and ‘Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have eternal life’; or that flesh which was crucified, and that blood which was poured forth by the work of the soldier’s lance. According to this distinction, a difference of flesh and blood is also to be understood in the case of the saints, such that one kind is the flesh that will see the kingdom of God, another kind that which cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

Jerome calls the Eucharist the “spiritual and divine” body and blood of Christ (thereby indicating that John 6 Jesus is speaking of the Eucharist). He does draw a distinction between this “spiritual and divine” eucharistic flesh and blood and the mortal flesh and blood that was offered on the cross — but then proceeds to use this very distinction to explain the difference between the mortal flesh and blood of the saints on earth, which cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and the “spiritual and divine” flesh and blood of the resurrection, which will see the kingdom of God.
Is that a “symbolic” relationship? Are our resurrected bodies merely figures or tropes for our earthly bodies, a lovely story or symbol of a purely natural reality? Or are resurrected bodies the redemption, transformation and glorification of our earthly bodies?
Nothing here indicates a “symbolic” interpretation of the Eucharist. To claim otherwise seems to me indefensible.

“Tertullian is the first person that ever gave any hint of infant-baptism”

That statement is too strong. There are certainly “hints” before Tertullian.

“However the TRUE church has always been faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, which is no ministerial priesthood, no Pope, no Eucharistic Sacrifice, no Transubstantiation, no veneration of Saints, no Eucharistic Adoration, and no Apocrypha.”

No evidence of any such Christian group existing in the first millennium can be produced. Name the group you would like to champion, any group from any century or period, and let’s examine the evidence.

“I apologize for offending you.”

Accepted, and gladly. (Ex-X’s are often the harshest anti-X’s, though there are exceptions.)

The Masked Chicken August 27, 2009 at 11:58 am

Dear All,
As the topic of this post is the age of the earth and how this is reflected in Catholic teaching and as the comments here have veer into the question of which Church/Ecclesial body is correct, I will have to be content to take my leave, even though there are many interesting points I would like to address. I am doing this because I know if I stay, I will be tempted to enter the discussion with Oneil, thus prolonging the off-topic discussion.
I, for one, do not want to see Oneil banned by Jimmy for violating one of Da Rulz because the thread has veered off. I hope to help him stay around until his topic gets brought up in a more appropriate post (on Noah?). I think if I enter the fray I might be responsible for causing Oneil to sin by disregarding Jimmy’s wishes which he mentioned, above.
I’ll keep reading and if the topic comes back to one closer to the original, I’ll start posting, again. I have already side-tracked the thread in the Adam discussion by posting at length, for which I apologize, but it seems to me that the deviation is getting increasingly larger and so I want to do what I can to prevent any dire consequences. I know that SDG is in the middle of the arguments, which might make things okay. If so, let me know and I will jump right back in, but for now, I am removing myself so as to avoid giving scandal.
The Chicken

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Quotes by church fathers that would indicate a symbolic Eucharist.
1. Justin Martyr ,150AD, unleavened bread as a ‘remembrance of His being made flesh’, and ‘in remembrance of His own blood’ – no reference to the literal.
“Now it is evident, that in this prophecy [Isa 33:13-19] to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks.” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, ch 70)
2. Augustine quotes Cyprian as saying that the juice is offered in remembrance as a type and foreshadow of the blood of Christ:
“”Observe” he (Cyprian) says, in presenting the cup, to maintain the custom handed down to us from the Lord, and to do nothing that our Lord has not first done for us: so that the cup which is offered in remembrance of Him should be mixed with wine. For, as Christ says, ‘I am the true vine,’ it follows that the blood of Christ is wine, not water; and the cup cannot appear to contain His blood by which we are redeemed and quickened, if the wine be absent; for by the wine is the blood of Christ typified, that blood which is foreshadowed and proclaimed in all the types and declarations of Scripture.” (Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, book 4, ch 21, quoting Cyprian)
3. Tertullian, 200AD states that the bread is a symbol of the body of Christ:
“Taking bread and distributing it to his disciples he made it his own body by saying, “This is my body,” that is a “figure of my body.” On the other hand, there would not have been a figure unless there was a true body.” (Tertullian, Against Marcion IV. 40)
4. You are correct about Jerome, I was mistaken. Jerome is one for your camp and not mine.
5. Nevertheless many church fathers believed in a symbolic Eucharist. There was no consensus among the fathers so Protestants felt free to reopen the debate. This leaves us at the authority question. The Evangelical Free Church in fellowship with other Orthodox Protestants sees the Eucharist as symbolic. Furthermore Paul uses the word remembrance not sacrifice when referring to the Eucharist. So my first impression is that a remembrance is symbolic, not a type of sacrifice.

bill bannon August 27, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Oneil
Go down to the second posting by Tristan Cross and he gives Augustine quotes that say the opposite of what you posted:
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=5491645
Arguing from the Fathers is a dicey affair unless they are unanimous in a given area. And if one googles enough, one can find them saying something different than the proposed quotes simply because A. they were not infallible and B. they could change within a lifetime….thus the Church does not feel bound to them absolutely in many matters where unanimity is absent.

SDG August 27, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Oneil, every one of the Fathers you cite supposedly in defense of a symbolic interpretation of the Eucharist also makes robustly realistic statements about the Eucharist actually being Jesus’ body and blood.
For example, here’s more context from St. Ignatius:

We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus (First Apology, 66).

Justin Martyr also affirms the eucharistic sacrifice:

God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [minor prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: ‘I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the Gentiles … [Mal. 1:10–11]. He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians] who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 41 [A.D. 155]).

Funny that you quote Tertullian, considering that you consider him the father of sacramental theology. He writes:

[T]here is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed [in baptism], in order that the soul may be cleansed … the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands [in confirmation], that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds [in the Eucharist] on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God (The Resurrection of the Dead 8 [A.D. 210]).

Regarding Augustine, Bill Bannon has already noted that Augustine could use realistic Eucharistic language as well as more symbolic-sounding language:

Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands” (Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10 [A.D. 405]).
I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. … That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ (Sermons 227 [A.D. 411]).

What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction” (ibid., 272).

Also, Augustine on the eucharistic sacrifice:

In the sacrament he is immolated for the people not only on every Easter Solemnity but on every day; and a man would not be lying if, when asked, he were to reply that Christ is being immolated. For if sacraments had not a likeness to those things of which they are sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all; and they generally take the names of those same things by reason of this likeness” (Letters 98:9 [A.D. 412]).

“For when he says in another book, which is called Ecclesiastes, ‘There is no good for a man except that he should eat and drink’ [Eccles. 2:24], what can he be more credibly understood to say [prophetically] than what belongs to the participation of this table which the Mediator of the New Testament himself, the priest after the order of Melchizedek, furnishes with his own body and blood? For that sacrifice has succeeded all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were slain as a shadow of what was to come … Because, instead of all these sacrifices and oblations, his body is offered and is served up to the partakers of it” (The City of God 17:20 [A.D. 419]).

On St. Paul, let’s talk some other time about the eucharistic-sacrificial implications of 1 Corinthians 10.

Lucien Syme August 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Oneil,
Answer for us one question: If the Evangelical Free Church spoke out unanimously and told all its followers to refrain from contraception would you obey?
Obedience to the Church seemed important to St. Paul. It is the true mark of faith for anyone.

SDG August 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm

What is also remarkable is that what with all these fathers going around loudly proclaiming this strong, realistic eucharistic teaching both regarding the Real Presence and regarding the eucharistic sacrifice, there is no evidence of any Christians anywhere ever raising their voices to dissent from or denounce the sacramental, sacrificial interpretation of the Eucharist that was common in the church.
You might possibly try to dig up a few fathers here and there who might have said some stuff that doesn’t sound as robustly sacramental as some other Fathers (though as we’ve seen that’s a dodgy business since those same fathers could turn around and hit you with strongly sacramental, sacrificial teaching).
But if there were any Christians out there who actually rejected the teaching that was going around — who believed it was a mistake to view the Eucharist as really the body and blood of Christ, not just a symbol, and certainly not a sacrifice — isn’t it remarkable that there is no record of them expressing their dissenting views?
Even if we speculate (and it would only be speculation) that such Christians might have existed, but that their writings were suppressed by the Catholic establishment, isn’t it remarkable that there seems to be no evidence of their existence even in the writings of Catholic fathers, who would surely have been vocal in their criticism of such a dissenting view, had they been aware of it?

Oneil August 27, 2009 at 1:26 pm

SDG,
I am very familiar with the quote from Tertullian. First the square brackets are not in the original. Second, read Chapter 13 and you will see what he means by that quote. Reading Jurgens only obfuscates the fathers.
Augustine had about 3 to 5 opinions on any doctrine so you can prove anything from his words. This is why Protestants and Catholics both claim him.
Lucien,
First, I do not practice birth control! Second, I submit to the elders of the church.
What throws me for a loop is all the Catholics in Mortal sin taking communion and the slack attitude towards Confession. My observation is that 80-90% of all Catholics are in mortal sin and don’t seem to care.
—- I would like to declare a stop to the sidebar conversations.

SDG August 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

“I am very familiar with the quote from Tertullian. First the square brackets are not in the original. Second, read Chapter 13 and you will see what he means by that quote. Reading Jurgens only obfuscates the fathers.”

(a) I know the square brackets are added, but I think they’re convincingly clarificatory (do you think Tertullian, the father of sacramental theology according to you, isn’t talking about the sacraments here?). (b) I have read chapter 13, curious what difference you think it makes here. (c) Simply saying “Reading Jurgens only obfuscates the fathers” is hardly convincing.

“Augustine had about 3 to 5 opinions on any doctrine so you can prove anything from his words. This is why Protestants and Catholics both claim him.”

Hey, you quoted him first. But you’re hardly being just to Augustine.

“What throws me for a loop is all the Catholics in Mortal sin taking communion and the slack attitude towards Confession. My observation is that 80-90% of all Catholics are in mortal sin and don’t seem to care. “

I don’t think you know that much about 80-90% of all Catholics. This treads dangerously close to sweeping judgmentalism territory. But I will certainly agree that the practice of many Catholics is scandalous and disheartening.
And many Protestants too, even in the “purest” mini-denominations. FWIW, my brother, a very conservative, devout Protestant, was an enthusiastic member of a small, very conservative Presbyterian church with an associated school where my brother taught. He was deeply discouraged when it turned out that (IIRC) the pastor was embezzling funds from the church (or the school?), or something.
I know, it wasn’t Evangelical Free. FWIW, I attended an Evangelical Free church for awhile. Sin happens everywhere.

“I would like to declare a stop to the sidebar conversations.”

I’m willing to quit here if you are. :)

The Masked Chicken August 27, 2009 at 6:56 pm

To return to the subject of the post, here is an old address of Pope Pius XII to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (1951). In it, he says:
50. It has, besides, followed the course and the direction of cosmic developments, and, just as it was able to get a glimpse of the term toward which these developments were inexorably leading, so also has it pointed to their beginning in time some five billion years ago. Thus, with that concreteness which is characteristic of physical proofs, it has confirmed the contingency of the universe and also the well-founded deduction as to the epoch when the cosmos came forth from the hands of the Creator.
51. Hence, creation took place in time. Therefore, there is a Creator. Therefore, God exists! Although it is neither explicit nor complete, this is the reply we were awaiting from science, and which the present human generation is awaiting from it. It is a reply which bursts forth from nature and calm consideration of only one aspect of the universe; namely, its mutability. But this is already enough to make the entire human race, which is the peak and the rational expression of both the macrocosm and the microcosm, become conscious of its exalted Maker, realize that it belongs to Him in space and in time and then, falling on its knees before His sovereign majesty, begin to invoke His name: Rerum, Deus, tenax vigor,-Immotus in te permanens, — Lucis diurnae tempora successibus determinans (Hymn for None).
(A free English translation is: “O God, creation’s secret force/Thyself unmoved, yet motion’s source/Who from the morn till evening’s ray/Through every change dost guide the day.”)
52. The knowledge of God as sole Creator, now shared by many modern scientists, is indeed, the extreme limit to which human reason can attain. Nevertheless, as you are well aware, it does not constitute the last frontier of truth. In harmonious cooperation, because all three are instruments of truth, like rays of the same sun, science, philosophy, and, with still greater reason, Revelation, contemplate the substance of this Creator whom science has met along its path unveil His outlines and point out His features.

Tomorrow is the feast day of St. Augustine. I, personally, think he might agree.
Note: the above encyclical is not infallible. It only shows the mind of the Pope just before the space age, but it is interesting reading. Some of the science has been superseded since then, but it does show that the Pope was trying to reconcile science and revelation back then.
Pope John Paul II also wrote a letter in 1988 to the director of the Vatican Observatory (Fr. Coyne, SJ) which deserves thought for its commonets on the relationship between theology and science.
The Chicken

Thomas E. Vaughan August 27, 2009 at 10:01 pm

The Chicken wrote:
>
> I don’t believe that the age of the earth can be determined
> independently of Scripture, just that the age determined in Scripture
> and the age as determined by science cannot, ultimately, contradict
> each other.
Perhaps I am just too slow, but I am puzzled by your statement.
You imply that the age of the earth (or the age of the cosmos) can be
determined by science, but not independently of Scripture. The age
would depend on Scripture only if Scripture had something substantial to
say about the age. But it might not. Further, science cannot determine
the age of the cosmos, even if we have a not-yet-ruled-out theory
according to which the random error on the best-fit age is at the
one-percent level. Such a theory, no matter how well it fits the
present data, is not a determiner of the age. Such an amazingly good
theory is rather just a suggester of an age.
> The theology may be deductively valid, but the premises, which include
> the interpretation of Scripture are contingent, so really their
> conclusion is true only within modal logic, which allows for something
> to be contingently true.
If you look again at what I wrote, you will see that I was contrasting
the best (strongest) theoretical proposition from science against the
best proposition from theology. Not only is the best theological
proposition deductively valid, it is sound.
> A belief system is not a truth system. Beliefs are always contingent.
> Certainly and truth are not usually contingent (although they can be
> in certain cases).
Of course one may hold some beliefs that are not demonstrably true. I
do not deny that. One may choose to believe something that might be
true, contingent on other, uncertain propositions.
However, one should not adopt into one’s belief system a proposition
that simply cannot be true.
I am exploring the idea that a scientific theory could never be true.
At the moment I am inclined toward this idea, according to which no
scientific theory ought ever to be believed.
No scientific theory ought to be part of a belief system, even if it be
popular in the world for an educated person to adopt a belief system
that includes a network of scientific theories as a part of a belief
system.
Yes, a scientific theory that is not yet ruled out remains a possibility
with respect to the data gathered so far, but, beyond the observational
data, there are philosophical reasons why a scientific theory could
never be a true description of nature. For example, there is the idea
that nature is somehow deeply unified so that every physical theory errs
in the distinctions that it makes among things.
Even under my restriction, however, science still provides certain
beliefs. The principle of natural uniformity, taken as a postulate,
leads one to conclude that every experiment, whose sense-experiential
results are independently repeatable, represents a knowable truth about
nature. However, one properly stops short of believing that a theory,
connecting and explaining several of these repeatable results, is itself
a true description of the structure of nature.
Oneil,
A CMB that is uniform except for a velocity-induced dipole moment and
except for inhomogeneities on the scale of the dominant acoustic modes
at the time of decoupling, near the surface of last scattering, is not
at all unlikely, given a universe that is well described by general
relativity with small perturbations on very simply boundary conditions.
So I don’t see why the observation of a nearly isotropic CMB would
prompt you to become a born-again Christian.
Your discussion with your priest about Noah does seem unfortunate, but
the failure of one’s priest neither identifies his religion as being
false nor justifies one’s abandonment of that religion.
Your adoption of a geocentric view is a bit odd these days, but one
cannot prove the geocentric view wrong by physical means. Despite the
fact that I think it wrong to adopt any scientific theory as if it could
be true, I still think that the best scientific theories suggest in
their parameters real possibilities for things like the age of the
universe. I urge you to consider whether any of your physical
hypotheses could be ruled out by observations. If so, and if you hold
them still, then you are making a mistake in my view. If not, then your
hypotheses are not really scientific, and you are not a physics heretic.

Oneil August 28, 2009 at 4:08 am

Thomas E Vaughan + Chicken,
Let me clarify that I am not wedded to any of my physical theories. So I am open to anyone of them being refuted by observation. However after my brief collaboration with Astrophysists, I came to realize that they had more Ansaetze( starting points ) than one could shake a stick at. Thus I concluded that Astrophysics is part pseudo-science, science fiction, and hyperbole. Furthermore the metaphysical biases among these scientist really got my goat so I pursued Optical Physics and Information Theory instead.
This is all to say that I believe the best available data supports a geocentric model of the universe. So why do I draw this conclusion?
This finally leads into my discussion of my personal Epistemology. First as a Physicist I am a big fan of Ockam’s Razor since it is a type of Metaphysical Least Action Principle. Using this Principle, I don’t like to discuss topics that can not be broken down into some form of formal logic( specifically modal logic or lambda calculus).
Furthermore since Catholics love Scholasticism which is inherently a type of deductive logic and science is a type of inductive logic, the statements from the Papal Academy of Sciences is verbose worthless drivel. Metaphysically speaking there will always be a tension between deductive and inductive logic. As a Christian deductive logic will take precedence over inductive logic.
So how does this all apply to the reconciling of Biblical data with Scientific data? For example the Bible is the Word of God(Tautology) and it is consistent in defining the age of various individuals such as Moses, Kings of Israel, and other events. Using the Ansatz that the Bible is the verbal Plenary and infallible, it becomes necessary and sufficient, using deductive logic, to believe that Adam lived 6000 to 10,000 years ago. Ussher was the first to imploy this deductive logic to the Bible and build a Bible timeline. So Catholics who do not subscribe to a sub 10,000 year old age for Adam are poor Scholastics. This same deductive logic can be applied to Noah and Flood. And lack of rigor by my Priest and the Jesuits on staff is the initial reason I left the Catholic Church.

Jeb Protestant August 28, 2009 at 4:54 am

Mr. Bannon,
The “Lutherans” who approved sodomy last week are the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, which is a modernist group. It does not reflect Luther’s teaching or that of conservative Lutheran groups such as the WELS or LCMS.
The ELCA is a member of the Lutheran World Federation which signed the notorious agreement on justification with Rome. I haven’t heard that Rome or the US bishops will stop their ecumenical love fest with the ELCA or LWF.
I wouldn’t dialogue with the ELCA. So who is accusing whom of compromise?
-JP

Oneil August 28, 2009 at 5:18 am

Mr. Bannon,
The Protestant model of church dis-fellowships a heretic by removing him from the church. Unfortunately the heretic can begin his own church. Therefore it is foundational to have the Holy Spirit and use private interpretation to determine if a church is orthodox or not.
The Catholic model is often to keep the heretic in the fold or reassign him to a different position. The modern Jesuits are good example of heretics in the Catholic church. Thus the perceived unity in Catholicism is only superficial while the unity among Orthodox Protestants is much deeper.
Thus the Protestant model of a Priesthood of Believers who Assemble( Ekklesia) is the only biblical model of church.

The Masked Chicken August 28, 2009 at 6:06 am

Dear Thomas,
You wrote:
You imply that the age of the earth (or the age of the cosmos) can be
determined by science, but not independently of Scripture. The age
would depend on Scripture only if Scripture had something substantial to
say about the age. But it might not. Further, science cannot determine
the age of the cosmos, even if we have a not-yet-ruled-out theory
according to which the random error on the best-fit age is at the
one-percent level. Such a theory, no matter how well it fits the
present data, is not a determiner of the age. Such an amazingly good
theory is rather just a suggester of an age.

As I tried to show, above, science does not determine truth (a point you seem to be getting to, also), but rather practical or useful indformation. At its best, it produces consistent information, at least for a time, until an incosistency is discovered and we progress to a deeper level of consistency. Consistency, however, is not truth unless the consistency is ultimate. The only ultimate, consistency is God.
Scripture may or may not say anything about the age of the earth. I simply say that since it was written by God through men, it casnnot be inconsistent with science at the deepest level. If it says nothing about the age of the earht, the overlap set is the null set, but that is still not a contradiction.
Oneil,
Ockham’s razor denies two of the four types of causes, formal, material, efficient, and final, specifically, formal and final causes. Since God is the final cause, Ockham’s razor, implicitly, denies God and became the tool of choice for a materialistic science that developed during the later Medieval and Renaissance period.
Also,
You wrote:
For example the Bible is the Word of God(Tautology)
A tautology doesn’t strictly speaking, contain a truth value (this can be proven from Tarski’s T theorem), so one cannot start from a tautology and prove a truth.
The Chicken

bill bannon August 28, 2009 at 7:14 am

Oneil
I am flat out ignorant of Protestantism except that wherever I find it, I find divorce which arguably historically Protestantism made rampant in the West and such a trend had zero to do with the Holy Spirit….unless you can name me a denomination which believes divorce merits damnation. And I find “once saved always saved” which is a recipe for not working out one’s salvation in fear and trembling….why bother.
Catholicism has annullments which in most centuries were minuscule and simply said: are meant for where a vow never existed at all in God’s eyes due to one or both people being incapable of a vow for hidden reasons like high functional but constant insanity (some high functionals are perfectly capable of a vow and are so capable that they never go for help).
The Jesuits are sometimes in theological trouble (the recent Karl Rahner conference at the Lateran was in part to discuss whether he erred anywhere…the CDF 2nd in command, Archbishop Amato, said no) and at other times they…the Jesuits… are the leaders of the Church beforehand as was the case in the ancestral Chinese rites where they were defeated for centuries but a modern Pope ruled that they had in fact been prescient and the Franciscans and Dominicans then were less so having won that battle back then and lost China in doing so. If I believe e.g. that it is reasonable to believe my parents to be in Heaven by now, I can ask them (conditional on that) to pray for my intentions.
The ancestral rites then just needed tweaking.
The Jesuits were also way ahead of the Church in fighting the slavery which Pope Nicholas V in 1452-4 and several other Popes made very likely in Brazil in Dum Diversas and Romanus Pontifex (confirmed by three subsequent Popes). They ..the Jesuits…protected in enclaves natives from being captured by Catholic Bandeirantes or slave hunting groups in Brazil.
PS…I believe in self critical-Catholicism….a movement one can see in Vatican II in those places in which it referred to the Church as having its perfection only at the end of time (and not when several Renaissance Popes were avoiding birth control the wrong way…Alexander VI and Julius II..6 children and 3 children respectively).
The Catholic Church is the true Church and is always less in performance than its leaders claim since most of its leaders have been
Italian which culture is used to confidence and perhaps to a little too much braggadocio.

bill bannon August 28, 2009 at 7:46 am

Jeb
Dialogue to reach agreement in certain areas is not compromise. You do it within marriage all the time if you are married and if you are not married, think long and hard about a dialogue-less marriage and how it would contravene Ephesians’ “be subject to one another”…notwithstanding in disputed areas that the male should have final say but not pre-dialogue-pre-final say.

Oneil August 28, 2009 at 8:43 am

Chicken,
I was worried that Ockham’s Razor would invariably beget a discussion concerning nominalism. Let me just say that I am not a nominalist. Also let me say that I am not an Aristotelian or Thomist and leave it that.
Bannon,
If you want to avoid divorce become a Hindu. They seem to have the lowest divorce rate. Or even better don’t get married.
Your concept of church is not the one intended by the New Testament. The Catholic model is more equivalent to the Old Testament Temple model. While the word Ekklesia is more like the Old Testament Synagogue model. Hence Protestant churches are more like a NT Synagogue than a temple. This is why Catholics and Orthodox Protestants can never come to any agreement. Obviously only one of us can be correct. Having studied ecclesiology at great length it is clear that Catholics throw out ad hominems when they say Protestants do not have an ecclesiology.
So Bill, I would do more homework if I were you.

Foxfier August 28, 2009 at 8:59 am

Your concept of church is not the one intended by the New Testament.
Any support for your claims?

Lucien Syme August 28, 2009 at 10:24 am

So now more evidence comes out, Oneil has left the fold of Christ because of ignorant priests and lousy Jesuits. There is no shortage of either I am afraid.
However, if I were to judge all diagrams by your ealier diagram of the Markovian process (in which truth is transmitted through the Church) I would have to rule out all diagrams for the future.
Jesus never promised a perfect Church, the reverse actually is detailed in Matthew chapter 13, but He did promise the gates of hell would never prevail against it. No matter how many ignorant priests and lousy Jesuits it might contain.

Oneil August 28, 2009 at 10:35 am

Foxfier,
The two Hebrew nouns employed to identify the congregation of Israel are qahal and edah . The former is employed especially in the postexilic writings, whereas the latter is used especially in Numbers. The Synagogue was created by the scribes after the exile as the primary place of worship and study of scripture. The Temple after it was rebuilt was the place for sacrifices.
The Greek noun ekklesia, that is, its being derived from ek, ‘out of,’ and kalein, ‘to call,’ and hence the idea of the church as being ‘called out of the world by God’.
The Greek noun ekklesia is used 96 times in the Septuagint( Old Testament written in Greek) . It usually, though not always, is the translation for qahal, which is used 120 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. So the Ekklesia is an assembly of called out ones. Protestants believe the sacrificial system ended with Christ( hence the Eucharist can ONLY be a memorial NOT a sacrifice). This is why Paul specifically uses the word Memorial/Rememberance regarding the Eucharist. If there is no sacrifice than there is no need for a temple. Therefore the only thing remaining is the Synagogue. So Orthodox Protestants church services exposition of the scriptures and worship, like that of the Synagogue before it. Also notice that Peter and Paul usually went to the Synagogues to find converts for Christ. These Jews would be very familiar with the Synagogue and Paul often emphasizes the end of the sacrificial model so the only conclusion is that the Synagogue model is the correct ecclesiology. And the gates of hell have never prevailed over the Synagogue model. Furthermore the Temple model has been destroyed for almost 2000 years.

bill912 August 28, 2009 at 10:37 am

The worst it has ever been for our priests was on the first Holy Thursday, when all of our Lord’s priests failed Him: one betrayed Him, one denied Him, one declined to speak up for Him during His trial before the Sanhedrin, and the other nine ran away. It has never been that bad for our priests since that night.

Lucien Syme August 28, 2009 at 10:39 am

Sorry I forgot to tell you earlier Oneil. Since this is St. Augustine’s Feast Day, I thought I should let you know that I asked him to pray for your conversion back to the Catholic Church.
Which brings me to another point, when Augustine of Hippo finally was converted to Christ he did a most un-Protestant thing – he became CATHOLIC eventually even a Bishop. There was no shortage of heretical groups around at the time but he specifically became CATHOLIC and turned his intellect against those heretics – and did a mighty fine job of it. He celebrated Mass, was obedient to the bishop of Rome and died in the fold of Christ.
Please do me another diagram showing how the name Catholic has changed over the past 1,700 years so I can get dizzy again.

bill bannon August 28, 2009 at 11:22 am

Oneil
Moses killed the lay rebels Dathan and Abiram and Peter killed the lay rebels Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) and thus the structure of having one man as head is repeated and signed most ominously in the NT Church. But you missed that due to your studies on the synagogue versus the temple.
There is no repeated series of sacrifices in the Mass; there is the one sacrifice of Christ “made present” in each Mass…and foreseen in Malachi 1:11 (watch for caps)…”For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, AND A PURE OFFERING (which could only be Christ..my parenthesis); for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.”
There is no “pure offering” in history outside that of Christ and all sacrifices that are a participation in His one sacrifice.
You were called out of the world but also out of marriage’s permanence which is meant in Christian times to “sign” the permanence of Christ’s love for the Church. You guys broke that sign and its meaning.
The gates of hell prevailed over your “synagogue” by allowing adultery…how?…. by allowing divorce and remarriage since Christ allowed what in effect is separation for infidelity but He elsewhere added that he who divorces and remarries commits adultery. Paul’s Pauline privilege as we call it was about the non baptized having not had a sacrament of Matrimony (like the Jews) and thus their converted partner being free.
So the gates of hell did prevail over Protestantism in this area but there is what is called a “sincere erroneous conscience” wherein Christians can be very wrong in actions while being innocent before God and such are many of you throughout the centuries (we had a series of Popes who coerced burning heretics at the stake by secular rulers after 1252 and those Popes may have been innocent though erroneous in God’s eyes since John Paul II condemned all torture as intrinsically evil though he did that in a non infallible context and may have overstated the case both there and with slavery).
Heck…if my house burned down, I’d want to live near Amish…not near Catholics. So in various aspects of life, the separated brethern are superior as the Amish are in community reliability. When my mom was dying for 5 weeks, both Protestants and Mass attendant Catholics treated her to very few or no visits in some cases… and I’m sure the Amish and Mennonites would not have let that happen. That is why the NT says “esteem one another as your superiors” and Catholics must recognize areas in which they could learn better behaviour from separated brethern but vice versa also.

Oneil August 28, 2009 at 11:29 am

Lucien Syme,
I am glad you asked that question. Here is an exerpt from one of my Sunday School classes.
In the later patristic age four specific characteristics or marks were ascribed to the ‘Catholic’ Church in distinction from heretical and/or schismatic groups, namely, unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity. The classic formulation of these marks was made by Optatus (4th cent.), the Catholic bishop of Milevis in Numidia(Tunisia/Carthage North Africa), who wrote against the Donatists( a type of Early Protestants).
Now contrasting the difference between Catholics and Protestants :
1. Unity
According to the Roman Catholic perspective, the oneness of the church is primarily oneness of submission to and communion with the bishop of Rome. Protestants are prone to understand the church’s oneness or unity in terms of oneness of fellowship(koinonia) (John 17:21) with an emphasis on love and the operation of the Holy Spirit.
2. Holiness
The holiness of the church in the Roman Catholic interpretation usually centers in the possession of holy sacraments and of holy persons(saints). Protestants tend to understand the holiness of the church as the set-apartness of its members
to the worship and service of the triune God that stops short of an infallible institution and sinless of its members.
3. Catholicity
The church’s catholicity or universality in Roman Catholic ecclesiology means primarily universal spatial extension; this meaning is traceable from Ignatius of Antioch to Augustine of Hippo. Protestant theology has interpreted catholicity in relation to the invisible church of the elect, i.e. those who are Born-Again by sola-fide.
4. Apostolicity
Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglo-Catholic interpretations of the church’s apostolicity coalesce in the doctrine of apostolic succession, namely, that today’s bishops are in an unbroken succession of bishops from the apostles, and hence both the church and the bishops derive their validity and teaching from such succession Roman Catholicism, however, adds to apostolic succession the necessity of the Petrine primacy and succession and of papal infallibility. Eastern Orthodoxy instead holds to pentarchy, or the equality of the patriarchates of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Protestants, on the other hand, are more inclined to interpret apostolicity as a succession of faith (fiducia) or of service (diakonia) and hold to the supremecy of scripture.
So in a nutshell, Protestants consider themselves catholic, which means ‘universal’. Thus the ‘Markovian Process’ is a universal method of perpetuating the Gospel message and being faithful to the teachings of the Apostles.
Unfortunately the RCC has coopted the word catholic by making it big C ‘Catholic’.

Foxfier August 28, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Oneil -
to quote folks more educated than :
3. The central action of Christian worship, the Eucharistic celebration, is likewise linked historically with Jewish ritual. The term for Church, ecclesia, like the original sense of the word synagogue, is an equivalent for the Hebrew keneset or kenessiyah (assembly). The Christian understanding of ecclesia is based on the biblical understanding of qahal as the formal “gathering” of the people of God. The Christian ordo (order of worship) is an exact rendering of the earliest rabbinic idea of prayer, called a seder, that is, an “order” of service. Moreover, the Christian ordo takes its form and structure from the Jewish seder: the Liturgy of the Word, with its alternating biblical readings, doxologies, and blessings; and the liturgical form of the Eucharist, rooted in Jewish meal liturgy, with its blessings over bread and wine. Theologically, the Christian concept of anamnesis coincides with the Jewish understanding of zikkaron (memorial reenactment). Applied to the Passover celebration, zikkaron refers to the fact that God’s saving deed is not only recalled but actually relived through the ritual meal. The synoptic gospels present Jesus as instituting the Eucharist during a Passover seder celebrated with his followers, giving to it a new and distinctly Christian “memory.”

Oneil August 28, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Foxfier,
We disagree on what constitutes zikkaron. This Hebrew word is translated as mnemosunon not anamnesis. Thus zikkaron was used during the Old Testament sacrifices, while Paul coined a new word to distinguish from sacrifice i.e, anamnesis which is more of a reminiscing about a past event.
“Anamnesis” is used in Christianity in reference to the Eucharist. This has its origin in Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me” (Ancient Greek: “τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν”, (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25) – wikipedia
“Memorial” occurs in the New Testament as the translation of mnemosunon, “a token of remembrance”(Matthew 26:13 Mark 14:9 Acts 10:4, “Thy prayers and thine alms are gone up for a memorial before God,” which suggests the sense in which “memorial” was used in the sacrificial ritual, and also the “better sacrifices” of the new dispensation).-Bible Encyclopedia

The Masked Chicken August 28, 2009 at 1:19 pm

One dumb question, one question of interest, and one slight comment:
1: If the earth were, say 4 billion years old, how would Moses have written it? This question cuts both ways :)
2. Does everyone know what a Markov Process is? Markov processes are probably not the best way to represent historical information transfer in human populations (otherwise, historians would have caught on to using them years ago) because of the inherent noise (used in a general sense for encoding, semantic, transmission, random, or time-dependent noise) both within the present state of each matrix point (personal storage of information) and the information transfer process (word of mouth, mostly). They can be used better in memoryless systems that don’t directly connect past, present, and, future by some sort of continuous process (such as information transfer in molecular dynamics), but a better way to represent historical information transfer (as opposed to other types of information transfer which are more amenable to a Morkov process) might be to use a reaction-diffusion schema. I haven’t seen any papers on the subject, but it should be quite feasible. Hey, maybe the science geeks in the crowd could lay aside our differences and write a paper on the subject. Few, if any, papers have been written using this type of mathematics to describe either historical linguistic transmission (oral transmission) or theological transmission. Ohhh, publication…
3. Rats. I got so caught up in things that I forgot my slight comment. The debates on these sorts of issues can become so heated that momentary distractions to give one time to regain perspective can be useful, otherwise, people usually forget that there are real people on the other end of those words and swords are drawn, there’s blood, burning, and in general, it tends to ruin the conversation.
Oh well, maybe I’ll remember my slight comment, later. I have some ear/throat infection, so I’m not at my best, today. Maybe I need to see my vet :)
The Chicken

Lucien Syme August 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Oneil,
Nice Sunday school lesson, it wasn’t in the form of the diagram which helped but was a bit of an oversimplification. The majority of your argument I have heard before and it contains some valid points with the main exception being “Unity” which seems to be a bit of a misnomer when applied to Protestantism.
In terms of unity I do believe that Augustine (who was Catholic “BIG C and little c”) and the Bishops of Rome have always emphasized love for God and others to be the true sign of the Church. The Catholic (Big C) Church has done a great deal for the poor since its inception and continues through to this day. Not that Protestants and others don’t either but Catholics have a longer history of doing so.
Also submission is an expression of love if one does it sincerely. It helps to actually have something or someone to submit to (e.g. The Pope and the bishops united to him on matters of faith and morals) instead of your own private judgment which as sharp as it might be could still lead you away from God like it did to Luther, Calvin and the other revolutionists.
The true reformers stayed within the Church, at times suffering persecution sometimes having to stand up to Popes, but they stayed the course and were submissive. That is unity! There is no real unity without love and there is no real unity without submission. Jesus loved His Father and was submissive to His will.
Only division came about after the revolution of the 16th century for those Protestant countries and their newly formed state-religions and it is only getting worse. The old agnostic version of the spiritual “church” is a fantasy with no grounding in the bible or in Christian history. It is nice to know that there are many believers in Jesus Christ in the world, it is comforting, it makes us feel nice at Christmas and Easter but the reality is that Jesus is the head of the Church.
If that head has led us down this road of division and disagreement about what constitutes the true Church (I seem to remember Jesus founding the Church on Peter the rock) then His Holy Spirit failed.
As a Catholic I would have to say that; but as a Protestant I suppose I wouldn’t I could just state that the Holy Spirit operates only at the personal level but not at the ecclesial level.
However that is contradicted by Scripture, take for example the Council of Jerusalem, so from that I would have to come up with a scenario (or a diagram) for when the Church got so messed up that God started over with Martin Luther or some other great unitive character from the revolution of the 16th century.

The Masked Chicken August 28, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Oh, I hope I didn’t, above, prematurely cite the Papal papers that Jimmy might be planning to use in part II (they are relatively obscure and one of the is not exactly on target, so I doubt it). I also hope I didn’t re-ignite hostilities after Oneil and SDG agreed to a mutual cease-fire, above, sigh. If either one or both of these is the case, I apologize.
The Chicken

Lucien Syme August 28, 2009 at 1:38 pm

One more point before I have to do work (the horror); regarding the Roman Catholic Church coopting the name Catholic.
After the split of the East and West it was the Eastern Churches that adopted a different the term Orthodox to distinguish itself from the West.
After the ruptures of the revolutions of the 16th Century it was those churches that adopted different terms to distinguish themselves from the Roman Church.
It was a necessity for them to do so but not for the Church, she has always been and always will be Catholic with a Big C and catholic with a little c.
Possesion being 9/10ths of the law I suppose.

Oneil August 28, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Chicken,
I have to make this short. The wife is saying enough!
The Greek Septuagint translates the Hebrew Word Yom as day. The Greek could have used the word Aion meaning age, but it did not. In Genesis 1 there is a clear delineation between morning and evening. So the only reasonable conclusion is that this must be some type of solar day of 24 hours. Furthermore it is doubtful that animals and plants, which were created before man could survive darkness for longer than a few weeks. So I tend to think, using deductive reasoning that this must be a 24 hour period.
So if Moses were referring to a 4 billion year Universe he would have had to remove the language of morning and evening and remove the ordinal on the word yom.

Lucien Syme August 28, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Well I for one am going to miss you Oneil, once the wife says “enough” I know we won’t hear from you again.
Just remember that Jesus in the Eucharist is waiting for you to be reconciled to Him and His Church. If you truly experience Him in the Blessed Sacrament you will never doubt again. You may have difficulties from time to time with the sinful and ignorant people that seem to bring down the Church but He is mainly interested in you and changing your sinfulness (and my sinfulness) so that we can lift the Church up.
He really did rise from the dead and ascend into heaven. He really started a Church and promised that it wouldn’t fail.

The Masked Chicken August 28, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Dear Oneil,
You didn’t see my smiley face after the question? I know about the yom question to some extent. I was trying to make a joke by saying that if the earth had been 4 billion years old, the Hebrew numbering system would not have let Moses write it down. Now I’ve had to explain the joke, so its ruined, ruined, I say :(
Enjoy the time off with the wife (you can blame us for keeping you from giving her the attention she needs) and survive the work.
The Chicken

Benson August 28, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Back in the day, I was browsing through the religion section of a bookstore (quite accidentally, I recall), and I noticed a little book I believe was called The Fall of Man (I think) by Ratzinger. I thumbed through it and, to my complete shock, I realized that he seemed to be supporting an evolutionary model of creation. Being a former luke warm Evangelical turned agnostic, I simply had no idea that any major Christian denomination supported such a view–especially the mother of them all, catholicism. Needless to say, this realization was a huge step in my on going conversion. That being said, I haven’t seen that little book since. If anyone out there owns it/knows about it, I would love to know if it contains any info or opinions about the age of the universe. I’m very curious as to what good ol’ Benedict thinks about it. Thanks in advance!

Lucien Syme August 28, 2009 at 5:17 pm

I believe you are referencing “In the Beginning…: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall” by Pope Benedict XVI.
I haven’t read it but have always wanted to. This one reviewer on Amazon put it very well:
“This set of homilies on the first chapters of Genesis, in continuity with the great encyclical Humani Generis by Pope Pius XII, sets forth the Catholic approach, which is neither fundamentalist nor rationalist. For example, how long is one of these days of creation? The fundamentalist says 24 hours or you’re damned. The rationalist says billions of years or you’re a fool. The Catholic says: Just as long as God wanted it to be, and not a minute more or less. How does the timeless God experience time? Not as we do.

Jeb Protestant August 28, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Mr. Bannon,
We are getting off-topic here, but you would support the pope signing a joint statement with Fred Phelps, Muhammadens, the JWs and the Masons about the importance of monotheism?
-JP

Benson August 28, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Thanks for the reply, Lucien. Wow! – just reading that review really puts things back into perspective: the contrast between the “fundamentalist” and the “rationalist” seems to be summed up right here in this discusion. The phrase: “just as long as God wanted it to be,” already makes me feel at ease again.
I look forward to Jimmy’s next post; perhaps he has some stellar quotes in his arsenal from that very work (or if anyone else has any, please throw them at me).
Thanks again!

bill bannon August 28, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Jeb
Actually I pray for Jehovah’s Witnesses all the time because I am struck by how much work they do for an absurd position so that I pray for their salvation always. I fear Christ’s words to the pharisees therein: “you traverse sea and land to make one convert and once you do, you make him two fold more a son of hell than you yourselves.” Catholics by and large do not do any evangelistic work but the reasons for that are complex and involve what Arnold Toynbee saw as aspects of an arrested culture in Catholicism on which he was correct…mimesis carried too far and thus depleting a culture of initiative.
Islam I have virtually no regard for and think that our Vatican II was remiss in not stating something as to their shortcomings rather than leaving people with the impression that they were nice. The Medieval Councils were more truthful.
Johm Paul kissing the Koran was very unfortunate since I’m sure he never read it and it explicitly defames the Trinity and Christ as the Son of God in addition to being anti-semitical. If they are present and triangulate me, I sleep near a Mossberg….3″ shells.
A weakness of our Catholicism is that Popes are surrounded by people who do not have Paul’s sand wherein in Galatians, he “resisted Peter to his face for he was deserving of blame”. Augustine said we need “grace and rebuke” to grow not just one of those and our Popes never have rebuke along with grace because everyone near them wants to keep their position or advance. Paul made tents and so was not dependent on Peter for paying his bills. Our Cardinals are.
So no…I even as Catholic am tired of theater and would rather see Popes stop with the documents and get on TV and debate 24/7…which is what Christ would do in this modern age having written nothing even in His age.

Lucien Syme August 28, 2009 at 7:38 pm

I would think that JW’s and Mormon’s are easier to convert to the truth of Christ’s Church than most Protestants.
The former acknowledge an authority on earth other than their own private judgment of Scripture.
They are all in error don’t get me wrong but for the most part once you recognize that you need for a Shepherd (and not just your own understanding) to lead you after all:
“He who hears you, hears me, and he who rejects, you reject me…” That was stated to the Apostles but most Protestants think it was stated directly to them so we have around what 400 million Shepherds – Yikes.
Henceforth I would think that that humble position would allow God’s grace to work more powerfully in your life once the authentic Gospel would be placed before you.

Oneil August 29, 2009 at 2:56 am

Bill,
Since we are off topic I can say this now. Your comment of Ananias and Saphira is incorrect. The account of this in Acts chapter 5, Ananias and his wife Saphira were struck dead for what most people would view as a trivial matter. They told a lie. PETER DID NOT kill them.
I deal with many artists( I do like your paintings :-) ) and have found many struggle with depression, mood swings, and lack of clarity of thought. The best solution for helping you get clarity is by reading the book of John 3 times and then attending an Orthodox Protestant church for 9 weeks. When you do this you will then be able to properly understand at least one book of the Bible and also properly understand what Protestants believe.
Lucien,
Again you misunderstand Protestants. Every Protestant is a sheep NOT a shepherd. Every church has a Pastor who is the shepherd of his flock. Every Pastor is also in submission to the Elders of the church. I would encourage you also to read the book of John 3 times and attend an Orthodox Protestant church for 9 weeks. Only then can you make a proper judgment on Protestants.
Personally I would love to debate Ratzinger. Most of his encyclicals reek of sophistry. If one of the leaders of the Evangelical Free Church stated that Muslims and Christians worship the same god, he would be run out of town so fast it would make your head spin. Heretics must always be purged. In the Old Testament the PEOPLE were responsible in stoning false prophets. In Catholicism the people are helpless in defending themselves against bad clergy. In the Old Testament the Jews were REQUIRED to stone Homosexuals and child molesters, regardless if they were a Priest or Prophet. Since God is unchanging, why did John Paul II tolerate homosexual clergy and child molesters? Why were they not excommunicated at a minimum?
Catholics love to give the shibboleth that Peter is head of the church. I have asked people to prove this statement by using the church fathers and Bible. Nobody has been able to do this. Even history shows that the Eastern Orthodox who are as old as the Roman Catholics don’t believe that statement. So if Peter is not head of the church than Catholics would have to admit they are in a cult. So Lucien and Bill prove to me that Peter was the first Pope, or are you just suckeling at the teat of JPII and Benedict XVI?

Oneil August 29, 2009 at 4:17 am

My mistake. :-( I should have said: Catholics love to give the shibboleth that Peter is the rock upon whom Christ built His church.

The Masked Chicken August 29, 2009 at 5:26 am

Oneil,
There are many comments I would like to make on non-age-of-earth related point you have raised over the course of the off-topic discussion (some of your points can be explained), but I am trying to obey Jimmy’s wishes, so I will wait until a better oportunity avails itself.
The Chicken

bill bannon August 29, 2009 at 5:30 am

Oneil
Thanks for the free therapy. No…I would have mood swings if I did not have a Mossberg in this part of the NY harbor….pretty houses…roses of sharon…sycamores…but with touring NAS fans with glocks now and then.
Clarity??? Try reading Acts 5 again. The couple lied you noted. You didn’t note that they lied to the Holy Spirit according to Peter who you apparently ignore even within scripture when he talks. Both Moses and Peter were violent men pre-leadership. In both cases, God then pruned them of their ego and in both cases, He made previously violent men the one leader of His people since their previous violence involved protective instincts in both cases. Then He had each carry out a killing of lay rebels using this time their mouths and His power rather than their own. Check both accounts and try to imagine the persons dying at the minute they did without the words of Moses and Peter.

Lucien Syme August 29, 2009 at 6:13 am

Sorry Oneil,
I thought you would be obedient to your wife when she stated “enough” had I known you would return to this thread I wouldn’t have dared to state my opinion against this 150 year old invisible Evangelical orthodox Protestant church you have been so lucky to stumble upon by the repetitive reading of a chapter of a Catholic (Big C) book (i.e. the Bible).
But since you think me a life-long Catholic I need to inform you that I am not but only a recent convert to the Church founded on the rock of Peter.
I escaped from Potluck Protestantism after reading the Gospel of John chapter 3, right after reading the Gospel of John chapters 1 & 2, and then proceeded with the rest of the book along with the NT and most of the OT. There is nothing more Catholic than the NIV Bible or KJV Bible or any version of the Bible for that matter.
Not one of your arguments has been persuasive. They pretty much all fail the common sense test with the exception of those that are in agreement with Church teaching.
From your Markovian diagrams, to your anger at the ignorant priests (and lousy Jesuits) and to your usage of the word Shibboleth (please do tell me the context in which you mean this word) to impress us. The only impression I gather from it is that you are an unpersuasive pedantic.
In the end I will take my 2,000 year old tradition over your 150 year old tradition.
Catholics believe that Jesus is the Rock but at the same time Peter was too the Rock, we listen to our Lord and His Church on this matter as with other matters. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you”

Oneil August 29, 2009 at 6:51 am

Lucien,
First I am not a hen-pecked husband. My wife, usually, does not mind me rattling sabers with people on this blog.
To get the thread back on track let me ask you a question. How old do you think the earth and or universe is? Also did Methuselah live more than 900 years?

Lucien Syme August 29, 2009 at 6:52 am

Oneil, at the risk of being quite pedantic myself, I must correct the following sentence:
“The only impression I have gathered from this entire thread is that you are an unpersuasive pedant.”

The Masked Chicken August 29, 2009 at 7:13 am

How old do you think the earth and or universe is
Lets start with some consensus building: do we all agree the universe is older than the earth?
The Chicken

Jeb Protestant August 29, 2009 at 7:29 am

I’m watching the funeral of Teddy the K. Even the Cardinal is there. Good to see that the Catholic Church doesn’t compromise, unlike us benighted prots.
At least Fred Phelps is there.

Lucien Syme August 29, 2009 at 7:53 am

Oneil,
If you could have taken directions from the get go there wouldn’t be more than 40 associated comments with this topic, so I thank you for the multiple changes of direction you have wildly steered us through.
The constant changing of topics is a common technique taught in Protestant evangelization, I have witnessed it personally. The old: If you can’t persuade by Scripture, try tradition. If you can’t persuade by tradition, try reason (or diagrams). If you can’t persuade by reason, try private sentiment. If you can’t persuade by private sentiment, try skepticism. Then start the cycle all over again, never once allow a critiquing of your own positions by the other person. (loosely citing Orestes Augustus Brownson)
But most people do get tired of that kind of thinking, it is exhausting and also I doubt if it gets someone to heaven (you or the evangelized).
So I would think dwelling on the age of the world could prove damaging to the spread of the Good News in general but acceptable to the proliferation of this thread.
The Good News the Apostles preached wasn’t, “Hey guess what: there was a dome over the earth before the Fall.” It was more like, “Hey guess what: God came to the Earth and died, but rose again. He started a Church and gave us His flesh to eat, we can be forgiven by God if we enter into His life through THAT Church.”
But to answer your questions I would say 1) The Earth and the Universe are as old as God has made them and not a second older 2) Methuselah died at the age of 969
I see nothing wrong with accepting the position that people lived longer in early historic times as recorded in the bible.
I see nothing wrong with accepting the position that others might be significantly skeptical of that conclusion and could still be authentically Catholic while not accepting it. There has been various biblical studies on numerology but I have never dived into them to discredit or give them credit.
For all we know there may be someone alive on the earth right now older than Methuselah, I haven’t met them and would be highly skeptical of those kinds of claims but couldn’t conclusively prove it false. God does give extraordinary graces from time to time.

Lucien Syme August 29, 2009 at 8:09 am

Oh and one last thing I didn’t mean to imply that you were hen-pecked Oneil.
I just assumed that you took the words of St. Paul and Scripture seriously (Eph. 5:21) “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Obedience is a hard trait to adhere to and practice, I agree, I just wish that the 16th century Augustinian monk Martin Luther could have practiced it better.

George G. August 29, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I was going to read through this threat, but it’s crazy-long, so no thank you. Also, I’m not caught up on the science of everything-in-the-whole-frakking-universe, or whatever. I’ll just state my position on the age of the world/universe, and then you internet people can tell me that I need to bone up on my quantum physics, or something.
I believe that it is generally reasonable to trust my senses. That is, I believe that things are usually as they seem, and, so, I tend to believe what I see (hear, smell, feel, etc.). However, I also believe that my senses can fail me, but that any such failure would be on me, and not the outside world. This is why I also believe it is best to be prudent, and not to jump to conclusions until I feel I am informed about the subject at hand.
Now, I am only human, and it would be impossible for me to be informed about everything under the sun, much less for me to make any decisions about the many things about which I know nothing. So, I have to defer to people who are informed and, therefore, are able to make reasonable judgments. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
I defer to mainstream science when it comes to questions like the age of the universe for a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t think it contradicts my faith in any way. Secondly, because I generally extend my empirical/experiential outlook to other people, and assume they are not crazy or lying or mistaken, unless I have reason to believe so. Thirdly, and sort of obviously, science is the application of an empirical principle. Scientists observe, and then draw conclusions to explain what they observe.
The problem with what I’ve read here is that people are building theories to explain away what has been observed by the professional observers, rather than simply taking the evidence at face value. I don’t do that. I have to assume that scientists are expertly doing their jobs, and therefore, know what they are talking about when they tell me that the world is in fact very, very old.
I’m sure someone will bring up the inerrancy of scripture, or something, so I’ll just say that truth does not contradict truth, and if my reading of the bible contradicts what I observe in reality, then I have to assume that my reading is wrong. That is, unless some authority tells me otherwise.

Oneil August 29, 2009 at 6:59 pm

George,
You admit that you are neither a Scientist nor a Theologian, so it seems your not remotely in a position to make a sound decision. I am a Scientist and a Theologian and agree that truth can never contradict truth. Yet, there is a lot of bad science and bad theology being foisted upon ignorant people.
As God says in the Bible, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.”- Hosea 4:6
There will be a lot of well meaning Catholic in Hell because they failed to determine the correct authority. If a Church does not require its members to believe in Methuselah being 969 years old then they really can’t require them to be anti-birth control or believe in Transubstantiation.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.-Prov 14:12

George G. August 29, 2009 at 8:35 pm

@Oneil
“You admit that you are neither a Scientist nor a Theologian, so it seems your not remotely in a position to make a sound decision.”
I know! Whatever will I do? Interesting use of the uppercase, by the way.
“I am a Scientist and a Theologian and agree that truth can never contradict truth. Yet, there is a lot of bad science and bad theology being foisted upon ignorant people.”
I’ll take your word for it. I really wouldn’t know, as I’m in no position to make a sound decision. However, it does seem that the vast majority of your peers would disagree with you. I’m sure that you can understand how someone in my lowly position would find you less than credible, given the circumstances.
“As God says in the Bible, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.”- Hosea 4:6″
This verse seems to be part of an indictment against the priests of Israel for not doing their job and letting the people fall into sin. But, I guess I get what you mean. Knowledge is good. I don’t think anyone said otherwise. . .
“There will be a lot of well meaning Catholic in Hell because they failed to determine the correct authority.”
I’m not sure anyone in hell could be described as “well meaning.” I’m not sure I know what you mean by “correct authority,” given your position on many other things. And, I’m not sure this is on topic.
“If a Church does not require its members to believe in Methuselah being 969 years old then they really can’t require them to be anti-birth control or believe in Transubstantiation.”
What the what? This doesn’t make any sort of sense at all. I’m not a Scientist nor a Theologian, but I know a leap in logic when I see it.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.-Prov 14:12″
Right back at you.

Oneil August 30, 2009 at 3:42 am

George,
I am simply stating that Private Judgment is required in determining the correct teaching authority. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, and most Protestant Churches claim they are the correct teaching authority. So you must have used some private judgment to determine that JW’s or Mormons were flat out wrong.
I have read Genesis at least 30 times and it is obvious that the author, Moses, outlined a genealogy from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Joseph. The fact is that the church for 1900 years believed that these were actual genealogies and that Methuselah was indeed 969 years old. So it seems that Roman Catholics, liberal Protestants, and atheists are the ones that actually deny the teaching of 1900 years of Church history. Personally, if my teaching authority were to contradict 1900 years of church history then I would be very skeptical of her other teachings. Remember the church is the bulwark of truth. So either the church was a bunch of idiots for 1900 years and then finally got it right or the other way around. Thus at a minimum the ages of Adam, Methuselah, Noah, and Abraham are very important issues.

Lucien Syme August 30, 2009 at 11:11 am

Oneil, I do not doubt your credentials as both Scientist and Theologian. I myself am a poet. Not a published poet, not a particularly good poet, not even one who knows how to spell well but that does not keep me from truly being one.
But let us get one thing clear here, in cyberspace (at Mr. Akins Blog) you are simply a fellow expressing his opinion; without citations at times, without charity much of the time and without clarity most of the time.
So in your capacity as Scientist and Theologian, or better understood here at JimmyAkin.org in your capacity as a fellow human being with an opinion, please cite a Catechism reference where I can find my beloved Church teaching me that I can’t believe in the genealogies in Genesis nor the literal age of Methuselah.
The fact that the literal age of the universe (and of Methuselah) is not the basis of the teachings of the Catholic Church is modeled after the fact that Jesus spent NO time on it in His preaching.
As soon as my beloved Church officially teaches that Jesus is not really there in the Eucharist, I will know that the great apostasy has happened. As soon as my beloved Church officially teaches that Jesus did not die for our sins, I will know that the great apostasy has happened. As soon as my beloved Church officially teaches that Jesus did not start a Church and found it on Peter, I will know that the great apostasy has indeed happened.
Until that time I will go on believing in her, studying theology critically when it is presented in an unofficial manner and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.
Oneil, as with many heresies the focus of the Gospel is no longer about Jesus and what He said we should do (e.g. become holy) but about a particular aspect of it (and in your case an irrelevant one at that) drained of its full meaning; sometimes to the detriment of fulfilling the Lord’s command to become holy.
I repeat my question to you: Can you cite a Catechism reference where I can find official Church teaching that I can’t believe in the genealogies in Genesis nor the literal age of Methuselah?

George G. August 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm

@Oneil
“I am simply stating that Private Judgment is required in determining the correct teaching authority.”
Sure. But, how does one do that? For example, how does a pleb like me “privately judge,” say, big bang theory, or relativity, or string theory? How can anyone expect me to do such a thing? Obviously, I have to defer to people who know what they are talking about.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, and most Protestant Churches claim they are the correct teaching authority. So you must have used some private judgment to determine that JW’s or Mormons were flat out wrong.”
Well, I haven’t really bothered about the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or any other churches. But, obviously, I’ve come to believe that the Catholic Church is what it claims to be, through some process I guess you could call “private judgment.” You make it sound as if we’re all alone on our own little private islands, or something.
“I have read Genesis at least 30 times and it is obvious that the author, Moses, outlined a genealogy from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Joseph. The fact is that the church for 1900 years believed that these were actual genealogies and that Methuselah was indeed 969 years old.”
I don’t think the Church denies that those are genealogies in Genesis. Or that Methuselah was 969 years old. It just doesn’t have anything to say on the subject. Why should it? Frankly, whatever age Methuselah was doesn’t matter. It has no bearing on our salvation. None.
“[...] deny the teaching of 1900 years of Church history.”
Show me how the age of Methuselah was a teaching for 1900 years. I’m sure they often assumed a literal reading of the text back in the day, because why wouldn’t they? But that doesn’t make it a “teaching.”
“Remember the church is the bulwark of truth.”
I’ll remember that.
“So either the church was a bunch of idiots for 1900 years and then finally got it right or the other way around.”
Good grief. Misunderstandings and mistakes don’t make people idiots. And, as I said, show me where “the church” held your understanding of Genesis up as official “teaching.”
“Thus at a minimum the ages of Adam, Methuselah, Noah, and Abraham are very important issues.”
No. They’re not. Of all the things in scripture, those are among the least important.

Oneil August 30, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Lucien Syme,
Let me give you an analogy. I am going to create a religious group called Goober Christian Church. The Goobers only have two statements of faith. They believe in the Trinity and believe in Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. On everything else they have no comment and allow there members to believe in anything they want. Some of these members believe that the Bible is the Word of God, others believe it is just an extended allegory.
As you see everyone you and I would be doctrinally in agreement with the Goobers and there would be no basis for friction since every other doctrine is optional.
Similarly the Catholic church has made many doctrines optional that should be foundational. The genealogy from Adam to Joseph being one of them. Thus you are correct the Catechism does not explicitly deny Methuselah being 969 years old, however implicitly she does.
Similarly the RCC did not make Transubstantiation mandatory doctrine until 1215AD. Therefore you could easily be a Proto-Protestant within the Catholic church until this time, because most Catholic doctrine was relatively benign until this Council. I claim the 4th Lateran Council is and was the seed that lead to the Reformation 300 years later. During this time the Waldensians, Hussites, and Anabaptists sprouted. Transubstantiation is THE Doctrine that is MOST offensive to Protestants. So I have no problem if someone says, that I am going to Hell for not believing in Transubstantiation, because that shows they understand how foundational that doctrine is to Catholicism. However, if that doctrine is wrong they should understand they are practicing idolatry and deserve the punishment of Hell for such a pagan practice. This is doctrine is absolutely devise just like the Trinity versus Arianism. Only a fool thinks that Orthodox Protestants and Orthodox Catholics can ever come to some Ecumenical truce.

Bill Tingley August 30, 2009 at 6:54 pm

This is a little late in the conversation, but it does go to the original issue raised by Jimmy. I think Catholics, by applying a little Thomist ontology to the matter of when the world began, can see how God’s creation of the world is both a recent AND an ancient event. The key is making a distinction between that which occurred in eternity and that which occurred within time. With that in mind, consider the following speculations.
God created the Garden of Eden for Man, whose purpose is to freely love his Creator. This act of creation can be understood as relatively recent in time, say 6,000 years ago for the sake of argument. But Creation was not bound within time before the Fall. The Garden was eternal because God made Man perfect in the pursuit of his purpose to freely love Him.
But to truly love another requires free will. Man used his free will against God by choosing not to love Him, and so sinned. Thus, the Fall. Man’s sin wounded Creation and made it imperfect. To imperfect a thing is to deconstruct its actualization into potency. Creation had been perfect in its goodness. The Fall destroyed this actualization of goodness and reduced it to potency. This deconstruction unfolded backward as time, as all actualizations of goodness reduced to potencies until these potencies in turn reduced to nothingness. Nothingness is the epitome of evil because it is the complete and utter deprivation of goodness. (Hence, we are called to battle Satan who seeks Creation’s annihilation, its return to nothingness.)
This wounding of Creation we now observe, through science, as the 13-billion-year “history” of the universe starting with the Big Bang. This “history” did not exist before the Fall, but does exist now. It is not an illusion. It is not an egregious misreading of the physical evidence. It is the consequence of the Fall: Man’s original sin which wounded Creation, reducing the actualization of its goodness to potency, forcing it out of eternity, and so constraining it within time.
The good news is that since the Fall, Creation’s potency for goodness has remained. Indeed, much of its actualization of goodness remained. For Creation remained God’s work despite Man’s vandalization of it; and God continues to sustain it. Therefore, the healing of Creation began immediately after the Fall, which has unfolded as the history of salvation, of which Christ’s Resurrection is the central event, and will continue until Creation is completely healed upon the advent of the Second Coming — i.e, the End of Time.
In summary, if we think of the sequence of events in eternity as a vertical chain of cause and effect, we can think of the Fall as the flattening out of Creation as a horizontal chain of cause and effect — i.e., the passagae of time. So the Fall is the intersection of these vertical and horizontal chains. Along the perspective of the horizontal chain, upon which we are constrained, the Fall is a recent event, but Creation (observed as the Big Bang) is an extremely ancient one. However, that horizontal chain of events did not exist until after the Fall.
Regards,
Bill Tingley

Thomas E. Vaughan August 30, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Bill Tingley,
It is interesting to imagine that, after the Fall, Adam and Eve suddenly found themselves in a broken world with a deep history, in broken bodies that appear to be the products of an evolutionary process.
But it would seem as though Adam and Eve could have lived no more recently than the appearance of art, apparently at least 30,000 years ago.

Lucien Syme August 30, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Oneil,
You make all the standard Fundamentalist arguments against the doctrines of the Catholic Church I am starting to have doubts you were ever a member of the Catholic Church. Although I think the same charge was made against John Calvin and Martin Luther and unfortunately they too had been members.
Luckily I doubt if all your efforts here will have the same kind of negative impact on the Church that those heretics had on her.
Now please cite the particular passage in the Catechism where it IMPLICITLY denies the literal age of Methuselah. I must press you on this one simply because you have made this issue so foundational to your argument in your unofficial capacity as Scientific Theologian of the 150 year old orthodox Evangelical Protestant church.
Regarding Transubstantiation, nice change of topic here – that is from the Fundamentalist handbook of apologetics so let me open up my own apologetics handbook: The words used to describe the reality of the Eucharistic presence of our Lord which take affect after the words of consecration were not officially promulgated until 1215 AD. The belief in the real presence was there from the beginning; much like the belief in Jesus as true God and true man as well as the Trinity. Up until that point the need to elaborate on it officially wasn’t necessary. That argument is so superficial you did much better drawing poor Tertullian into the fray stating he came up with the concept of Sacraments.
Sorry to say, with all your complaining here in cyberspace, I still doubt if the Catholic Church is going to address this issue doctrinally at Vatican III. You can always ask for Mary’s (The Mother of your Lord and Savior) prayers on the subject but since the age of Methuselah was NEVER mentioned by her divine Son or His Apostles – PERIOD – I would not say too many Rosary’s over it. If you were ever a Catholic you should know how to pray the Rosary, it predates your church by 6 centuries.
Get a Catechism, spend time before the Lord in His Eucharistic Presence, reading it and get back with us for part II. We have now crossed over the 200 comment threshold so my work is done here.
Unless of course you come up with that IMPLICIT remark denying the literal age of Methuselah in the Catechism and how I am required to implicitly deny it.

George G. August 30, 2009 at 8:43 pm

@Oneil
“Similarly the Catholic church has made many doctrines optional that should be foundational. The genealogy from Adam to Joseph being one of them.”
Who are you to say what should or should not be foundational? You’ve been going on and on about how we’re all wrong, but you’ve never really explained why. You’ve given me, at least, no reason to even entertain the thought that Methuselah was literally 969 years old, except for some vague assertions about church history that, frankly, I can make no sense of. But, I’m not a Scientist or a Theologian.
Explain your position to me slowly, systematically, and simply (alliteration for the win!). Don’t use your fancy words of fanciness. Lead me through your thought process, step by step. And, be precise. I really want to know how you’ve come to believe what you do.
“Similarly the RCC did not make Transubstantiation mandatory doctrine until 1215AD.”
Whoa! That’s not true. Just because a doctrine wasn’t formally hashed out until some council doesn’t mean it wasn’t fully believed by the Church before that time.
“Transubstantiation is THE Doctrine that is MOST offensive to Protestants.”
You keep talking about “Protestants” like they’re one homogeneous group. That’s weird.
“So I have no problem if someone says, that I am going to Hell for not believing in Transubstantiation, because that shows they understand how foundational that doctrine is to Catholicism.”
Good grief. I wouldn’t know if you’re going to hell or not. I just know that you’re wrong.
“However, if that doctrine is wrong they should understand they are practicing idolatry and deserve the punishment of Hell for such a pagan practice.”
Pagan? Really?
“This is doctrine is absolutely devise just like the Trinity versus Arianism. Only a fool thinks that Orthodox Protestants and Orthodox Catholics can ever come to some Ecumenical truce.”
I’m gonna guess that your first language is German, because of the way you capitalize odd words.
Anyway. What the balls is an “Orthodox Protestant?”
No truce, eh? Bummer.

SDG August 31, 2009 at 4:39 am

“Personally, if my teaching authority were to contradict 1900 years of church history then I would be very skeptical of her other teachings.”

So the Evangelical Free denomination maintains the pre-1930 Christian unanimity against contraception?

“Transubstantiation is THE Doctrine that is MOST offensive to Protestants.”

That is silly. Traditional Lutherans, Anglicans and even Calvinists are closer to the Catholic Church on transubstantiation than to Zwinglian symbolists. For most doctrinally serious, conservative Protestants, the key sticking point is the Eucharistic sacrifice, and with it the ministerial priesthood — not transubstantiation.

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 5:47 am

SDG,
The Evangelical Free church separates doctrine from a practice. Catholics do the same. There is no doctrine that requires Priests to be celibate, this is a practice. Similarly the EFC does not have a doctrine on Contraception.
I agree with you that Eucharistic sacrifice and ministerial priesthood are more contentious issues. Thanks for the correction.
George,
You admit that there is much you don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know how to help you. As the Bible says, my People perish for lack of knowledge…” The Catholic Priests have a done a poor job in disciplining you. So it is difficult to direct a person when they have no compass or knowledge of Christianity. Many Catholics think it is normal to be ignorant of spiritual things and just leave the ‘heavy lifting’ to the priest. The Evangelical Free Church tells all their members that it is their responsibility to be educated lest they risk their soul to the fires of Hell.
Maybe the following will help you, and maybe not.
Westerners tend to include a serious cultural bias when reading any Oriental Document such as the Bible. Westerners have a tendency to separate dogma with action, which is foreign to Jewish culture.
So for example, the EFC states an internal change( born-again) must be accompanied by an outward action( baptism). Thus baptism is only effective if accompanied by being born-again.
I will admit that many Protestants, because of their Western thinking, separate the outward and thus delay baptism for years. Peter spoke to Jews who understood the necessity of the born-again event to be followed up by baptism. Catholics tend to over emphasize the outward action without the necessity of the inward change preceding it. Protestants often the exact opposite.
Regarding Protestants. There are basically 3 filters needed to capture about 98% of all Protestants.
1. Do they believe that the Bible is the Verbal Plenary Inspired Scriptures. If not they are basically a social club no better than atheists. Otherwise: they fall into two camps.
2. Calvinist
3. Or Arminian
- Today most Calvinists consider Arminians as brothers in the Lord – and visa versa.
No Protestant believes in a ministerial priesthood or a the sacrifice of the Eucharist.

SDG August 31, 2009 at 6:26 am

“Similarly the EFC does not have a doctrine on Contraception.”

So for 19 centuries Christian witness was unanimous in condemning contraceptive sex as an abomination and a crime against marriage, and all the Reformers and Protestant traditions agreed until 1930, when the Anglicans first opened the door for permitting contraception under some circumstances (while still paying lip service to traditional Christian objections), but now today the EFC doesn’t have any position on contraception at all?
Isn’t not having a position the same as not objecting, which is the same as tacit acceptance? Isn’t that the same argument you make regarding the Catholic Church’s non-condemnation of non-literal/historical readings of Genesis 1-11?
I think whether contraception is unchastity is much more important for Christians to know than whether Adam lived 5,000 or 50,000 years ago. This is not doctrine vs. practice, this is basic Christian morality. Christians need to know what is moral and what is not. Your church apparently isn’t teaching them.

“So for example, the EFC states an internal change( born-again) must be accompanied by an outward action( baptism). Thus baptism is only effective if accompanied by being born-again. “

Thereby explicitly rejecting the unanimous witness of the early Church that being born again and baptism are in fact one and the same. Not a single father indicates that baptism must be “accompanied” by being born again, as if they were two different things. Not one. You falsely said before that you could prove anything from Augustine, but I’d like to see you try to prove this one.

Lucien Syme August 31, 2009 at 7:29 am

Oneil,
Have you come up with the Catechism reference yet?
The one that implicitly denies the literal age of Methusaleh and also implies I am not free as a Catholic to believe in his literal age. That one.
Do try to dodge the question. It is the only one even closely related to this threads topic.
Focus!

bill912 August 31, 2009 at 7:29 am

“Not a single father indicates that baptism must be ‘accompanied’ by being born again, as if they were two different things. Not one.”
Well said, SDG. Now,if that statement were not true, it would be easy to prove false. All one would need do is find a quote from any father of the Church that clearly contradicts it. None will be found.

Foxfier August 31, 2009 at 7:59 am

Oneil-
You’re committing a fallacy called “Appeal to Authority” when you try to make others shut up by saying “I’m a scientist and theologian, and you’re not!”
Highly ironic, given that we follow a carpenter, rather than a great high priest, who chose fishermen and soldiers and even tax collectors, rather than high philosophers or great priests and princes to spread his word.
Also highly ironic, in that both the scientist and theologian are supposed to rest on the value of their arguments and truth of their sayings, not on what title they can claim.
I must agree with Lucien Syme’s summation of your behavior here: you are simply a fellow expressing his opinion; without citations at times, without charity much of the time and without clarity most of the time.

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 8:07 am

SDG,
I will make my case first by stating a case for Sola Scriptura, Peter not in Rome, and then Justification by faith. These are excerpts from several of my Sunday School classes.
Church Father who made a case for sola scriptura.
Athanasius 325 AD:
1.”the sacred and inspired Scriptures are sufficient to declare the truth” (Athanasius, Against the Heathen, part 1, 1, 3)
2. Athanasius states that in defending doctrine, the scriptures are all-sufficient! In the Arian theological wars, Athanasius uses scripture not tradition as a first line of attack! “Now one might write at great length concerning these things, if one desired to go rate details respecting them; for the impiety and perverseness of heresies will appear to be manifold and various, and the craft of the deceivers to be very terrible. But since holy Scripture is of all things most sufficient for us, therefore recommending to those who desire to know more of these matters, to read the Divine word, I now hasten to set before you that which most claims attention, and for the sake of which principally I have written these things.” (Athanasius, To the Bishops of Egypt, Ch 1, 4)
You see a pattern with Athanasius, in that he states scripture as being all-sufficient to teach the truth. No appeal is made to tradition.
Peter NOT in Rome.
3. So the question should be where was Peter?
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 CIRCUMCISED. 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. Perhaps this is the reason why scholars say Peter’s writings are strongly Aramaic in flavor, the type of Aramaic spoken in Babylon.
Also observe Peter never mentions himself as Pope and addresses the people as a Royal Priesthood.
1 Peter 2:5–9 is a reference to Exodus 19:6: “and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” This text indicates the coming of a universal priesthood in the Old Covenant. This type of language would make sense for the exiled Jews still living in Babylon. They would understand what priest meant. Paul does not use such language in Romans because the Gentiles were not Jews and would not understand such an analogy.( 1 Peter was written from Babylon, Iraq)
So at a minimum Peter should have used language that indicated he was some type of New High Priest – which he did not!
As a point of Reference the book of Romans was written in the mid 50′s and of the 28 greeted by Paul there is not one mention of Peter. So Biblical evidence makes a strong case that the Roman church was never started by Peter.
Justification.
Clement of Rome: “Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honored, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ANF: Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 32.
Jerome (347-420) on Romans 10:3: “God justifies by faith alone.” (Deus ex sola fide justificat). In Epistolam Ad Romanos, Caput X, v. 3, PL 30:692D.
Jerome (347-420): “He who with all his spirit has placed his faith in Christ, even if he die in sin, shall by his faith live forever.” Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1984), p. 61.
Pope Boniface to Caesarius: “[Phil. 1:29]–it appears obvious that our faith in Christ, like all good things, comes to individuals from the gift of divine grace and not from the power of human nature. We rejoice that your brotherhood perceived this truth in accordance with catholic faith, when a council of some bishops of Gaul was held. As you have indicated, they decided unanimously that our faith in Christ is conferred on men by the intervention of divine grace. They added that there is absolutely nothing good in God’s eyes that anyone can wish, begin, do, or complete without the grace of God, for as our Savior said, “Without me you can do nothing” [John 15:5]. For it is both a certainty and an article of catholic faith that in all good things, the greatest of which is faith, divine mercy intervenes for us when we are not yet willing [to believe], so that we might become willing; it remains in us when we are willing [to believe]; and it follows us so that we remain in faith.” William E. Klingshirn, trans., Caesarius of Arles: Life, Testament, Letters, Letter 20 – Pope Boniface to Caesarius; 2 (Liverpool: University Press, 1994), p. 125.
So the 3 Cardinal doctrines of Sola Scriptura, non-Ministerial Priesthood, and Justification by Faith can be seen in the Church Fathers and careful reading of Scripture.
Finally to quote Athanasius. Athanasius called the church fathers ‘men of little intellect’. ( See Athanasius, On the Incarnation)

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 8:18 am

[RULE 1 VIOLATIONS DELETED]

Lucien Syme August 31, 2009 at 8:50 am

Oneil,
Stay focused all of your credibility as an unofficial Scientific Theologian of the 150 year old orthodox Evangelical Protestant church is at stake.
You claimed to have an implicit remark from the official teaching office of the Catholic Church stating that we are not free, as Catholics, to believe Methuselah lived to the ripe old age of 969 (or the genealogy from Adam to Joseph). I agreed with you on the point that yes Methuselah lived to 969, one Catholic with an orthodox Protestant, but you can not back up the claim below.
I quote you, “Similarly the Catholic church has made many doctrines optional that should be foundational. The genealogy from Adam to Joseph being one of them. Thus you are correct the Catechism does not explicitly deny Methuselah being 969 years old, however implicitly she does.”
Where is this implicit remark?

Tim J. August 31, 2009 at 9:08 am

Oneil, I hate to disappoint you, but the quotes you gave from the Church fathers don’t “prove” anything like what you seem to think they do, and your use of them only reveals how little you understand either them or the teaching of the Church in areas like justification or baptism.
Is that how you go about bible study, as well? That is, if a passage does not explicitly reject your opinion, then that means the passage really supports your opinion?

SDG August 31, 2009 at 9:10 am

Oneil: What does any of that have to do with the questions I put to you, regarding contraception and baptismal regeneration?
Here is why your arguments fail.
1. Sola scriptura does not teach merely that scripture is sufficient (that view, the material sufficiency of scripture, is compatible with Catholicism), but that scripture alone is authoritative, and by extension that apostolic tradition is not also necessary.
You quote Athanasius on the sufficiency of scripture, and say “No appeal is made to tradition.” Except when it is — when Athanasius does affirm the necessity of keeping the apostolic traditions:

Again we write, again keeping to the apostolic traditions, we remind each other when we come together for prayer; and keeping the feast in common, with one mouth we truly give thanks to the Lord. Thus giving thanks unto him, and being followers of the saints, ‘we shall make our praise in the Lord all the day,’ as the psalmist says. So, when we rightly keep the feast, we shall be counted worthy of that joy which is in heaven (Festal Letters 2:7).

But you are blessed, who by faith are in the Church, dwell upon the foundations of the faith, and have full satisfaction, even the highest degree of faith which remains among you unshaken. For it has come down to you from apostolic tradition, and frequently accursed envy has wished to unsettle it, but has not been able (ibid., 29).

2. Your comments on Peter in Rome I pass over: It is enough that most Protestant historians of the early church recognize the strength of the case here. The perversity of accepting apostolic tradition regarding the traditional authorship of the Gospels but rejecting the stronger tradition regarding Peter in Rome is unworthy of serious rebuttal.
3. There are excellent reasons why Peter did not apply priestly language to himself. They are in fact the same reasons that Jesus did not call himself a high priest, and 26 out of 27 books of the NT avoid calling Jesus a priest. More on that some other time.
4. Catholic theology has often made use of the phrase “justification by faith alone,” but it understands this differently from Luther. Jerome, for example, is not on your side: He believes in justification through baptism, administered to infants to wash them of original sin. He also indicates that we are justified by the virtues we have acquired by grace, even when they are incomplete or imperfect:

Similarly [God] has given different rules and various virtues, all of which we cannot possess at the same time. Hence it happens that a virtue which in one person takes the chief place, or is found in perfection, in another is but partial; and yet, he is not to blame who has not all excellence, nor is he condemned for lacking that which he has not; but he is justified through what he does possess. (Against the Pelagians [1:21]

5. Finally, I think you’ve misused Athanasius’s line about “men of little intellect” long enough. It is a rhetorical conceit, akin to Paul’s phrase about “the foolish things of the world” or Paul’s denigration of his own rhetorical skills, in order to magnify Christ by saying “What we have accomplished is not by our natural abilities, but by the power of God.”
In other words, Athanasius does not mean “Don’t listen to the Christians.” He means the opposite: They are speaking God’s words, not their own.
Why don’t you answer the question about your church and contraception or baptismal regeneration?

Bill Tingley August 31, 2009 at 10:00 am

Thomas,
You wrote: “But it would seem as though Adam and Eve could have lived no more recently than the appearance of art, apparently at least 30,000 years ago.”
That would be reasonable. I haven’t a firm opinion on the matter.
Regards,
Bill

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 10:02 am

SDG,
I agree that Catholics and Protestants have a different understanding what constitutes faith. This is why we can use some of the same church fathers to bolster our case and you can use the same quotes to bolster your case. The problem is that they were not as systematic as we probably would both like.
The EFC understands that legislating morality is a two edged sword. On the one hand it can be very good, on the other hand it can quickly lead to legalism and further division. The Reformed have been in a huge legalistic battle regarding the ordination of women. Personally, I don’t think it is wise to ordain women, but I can’t say it is unbiblical. So I prefer to encourage women to exercise their gift under the headship of a male ordained minister. In this fashion she is not a stumbling block to men or women.
Similarly, avoiding contraception is something learned as one matures in Christ. Therefore the EFC tries to remove the legalism, so people can focus on Christ. Human nature tends to focus on the rules instead of the change of heart that is generated by a relationship with Christ.
In the past certain Evangelical churches preached against movies, alcohol, music, short skirts, hair lengths, jewelry, etc. Did any of this make people more Christ like? Doubtful! Therefore by focusing on discipleship and Bible study we hope to illicit the desired result of obedience to Christ.
As a practical example: My wife, would wear lots of jewelry, which really annoyed me. However as I began teaching her the Bible, she gradually changed. Similarly, I was always opposed to birth control, while she was neutral on the subject, but over time she has come around, and we have never practiced it.
Lucien,
I cite SDG as proof of the Vatican implicitly denying Methuselah living to 969 years of age. He has a Masters Degree in Bible, NT or Theology( he can correct me)from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Seminary and states that he does not believe that Methuselah lived to 969 years of age. Therefore if one of the few conservative Catholic Seminaries does not teach that one must explicitly believe in an age of 969 years, than it is implicitly denying the dates mentioned in Genesis.

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 10:07 am

SDG,
Baptismal regeneration is very simple.
1. Born again by faith regenerates the spirit.
2. Baptism puts to death the old man( ie soul or nature) and regenerates the new man( new soul, new nature). See Colossians.
3. Physical death than gives us a New Body in Heaven.
Unfortunately Catholics don’t properly teach that we are a tri-partate being of body, soul, spirit.

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 10:30 am

SDG,
Finally when I see a big sign in every Catholic church that says, ‘If you practice Birth control or believe in Abortion you are in Mortal Sin, please refrain from Communion’, I may considering returning!

Lucien Syme August 31, 2009 at 10:37 am

Oneil,
I do hope that is an attempt at humor and not a serious reply. I actually laughed out loud.
But then again many of your replies have been quite humorous even though they were probably meant to be serious.
Since you can not produce this citation I must insist that you recant your earlier statement. The Catholic Church in her official capacity does not teach that the genealogies in Genesis can not be taken literally.
Otherwise, we can only take all of your statements in the figurative sense from this point forward. Admit you were wrong on this point.
And as fellow lovers of Dogma, and certainly no lovers of hen-pecked Theologians, we can both agree to agree that Methuselah lived to 969 years old.
And being this is foundational to your theology; one more hurdle is out of the way for the reunification of the Catholic Church and the 150 year old orthodox Evangelical Protestant church.
How is that for Ecumenism!

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 10:55 am

Lucien,
Yes, I was trying to be humorous. However, I am somewhat serious. My Viking blood does not handle blatant inconsistencies well. Catholic pro-death government officials get excluded from the Eucharist, when the people that voted for them are sitting in the Catholic pews are going up for Communion. It makes no sense and this is the stuff that makes honest people go ballistic.
My best friend who was Catholic married a Jew and the Jesuit marrying them said, ‘…you can raise your children in both faiths…’ Needless to say, that Jesuit need a serious tongue lashing.
I normally don’t have a problem admitting that I am wrong. Yes, the Catholic church allows a person to believe in a 969 year old Methuselah. They just don’t make it mandatory!

SDG August 31, 2009 at 11:01 am

“Similarly, avoiding contraception is something learned as one matures in Christ. Therefore the EFC tries to remove the legalism, so people can focus on Christ. Human nature tends to focus on the rules instead of the change of heart that is generated by a relationship with Christ. “

Does the EFC take the same non-legalistic approach to adultery and fornication? If not, why is unchastity in the form of contraception different? The Reformers weren’t too timid to call sin sin.
Your jewelry counter-example seems very revealing to me. Is that what you think of contraception? It’s tacky and unbecoming?

“1. Born again by faith regenerates the spirit.
2. Baptism puts to death the old man( ie soul or nature) and regenerates the new man( new soul, new nature).”

I repeat: Produce any evidence you can of this idea of being born again by faith apart from baptism from the early Fathers.

“Finally when I see a big sign in every Catholic church that says, ‘If you practice Birth control or believe in Abortion you are in Mortal Sin, please refrain from Communion’, I may considering returning!”

The bottom line is: The Catholic teaching is there for any obedient Catholic who wants to know the truth and avoid sin. That teaching isn’t there for obedient members of the EFC, many of whom then fall into sin for lack of a teaching that does not exist.
In other words, if you are a Catholic and contracept, it’s because you haven’t bothered to find out what your church teaches or because you don’t care. If you belong to the EFC, even if you care what your church teaches and try to find out, you won’t learn that contraception is unchaste.
That, in part, is why I am a Catholic: Because I know the same teachings will be there for my children and grandchildren, if they care to know the truth.

Lucien Syme August 31, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Thank you Oneil for the admission, a commendable thing to do!
I too am dogmatic by nature so I understand your predisposition for clarity hopefully this humble admission on your part will help pave the way for additional barriers to fall between our respective churches.
I must ask however an additional question.
How is it that since the Jesuits are in such a sorry state (not something one will dispute with you here, I think most of us would agree) that it has completely driven you to being apparently in disagreement with every single doctrine of the Catholic Church? Jesus never promised that the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against the Jesuits but against His Church.
I could understand someone falling away on one issue and some quasi-related issues but you seem to disagree with every single issue (e.g. Sacraments, Justification, Priesthood, etc.).

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 12:15 pm

SDG,
Space and time do not permit for a detailed proof of the Justification by faith according to the church fathers. But let me outline how I approached the subject.
1. I read a lot of Martin Chemnitz and Heinrich Bullinger as relating to the Church Fathers.
2. One quickly discovers that the Church fathers have an incorrect understanding of the Old Testament Law and how it relates to faith. This muddies their understanding of justification and righteousness.
3. Chemnitz puts the fathers in a fairly good light especially Augustine who had a general belief in justification by faith.
4. Chemnitz goes hard after the Scholastics. The Scholastics are the ones who really messed up the doctrine of justification, hence Thomas Aquinas being excommunicated by the Bishop of Paris for heretical teaching.
5. By reanalyzing scripture it becomes clear that Protestant doctrine is more focused on who Christ is and what an authentic Christian is than legislating moral values. Morality can never be legislated otherwise Christ would have become a political leader.
6. As a Protestant I am not beholden to the Church fathers. Especially since the later church fathers never felt beholden to their predecessors. Scripture if read often enough becomes self referencing and then clear via illumination of the Holy Spirit.
7. Just a thought that I have asked several Priest, multitudes of Jesuits, and two Bishops. If Christ is 100% man, and is seated at the right hand of the Father as the first born of many brethren, how can he clone himself in the form of the Eucharist 100 million times every Sunday. By cloning himself he would longer exhibit the properties of a man( who is localized) and no longer be at the right hand of the Father? Christ said, ‘he would not return until the Last Days’.
Note: Jesus is 100% God, but He has chosen to limit himself for the rest of Eternity in the form of a Man. Thus Jesus can not be everywhere at once, thus He gave us the Holy Spirit.
8. Also why did the Catholic church violate the Biblical mandate of drinking from the Cup for several centuries?

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Lucien,
I used to have a traveling Consulting job in the 90′s. Since I was single at the time, I would basically live out of suitcase and visit Churches on Weekends. It did not matter if they were Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. During this time I was trying to get back in touch with the Catholic Church, so I approached the Priests in various locals. Several of them would say, we are equipped for Pastoral ministry not deep Theology, so consult the Jesuits. So I went to 7 or 8 Jesuit retreats. Each one from Pennsylvania, to Lousiana, to California, to Arizona was a cesspool of iniquity. My experience was that about 50% of them were flat out Atheists.
It was beyond me that the Catholic church would not through these guys out. The Protestants at least would not tolerate such nonsense. So over many years of confusion I rigorously studied every religion and every doctrine. After becoming born again, I got married. During my years of searching, I knew that I should not get married otherwise I would bring too much baggage into the relationship. So as a result I am blessed with a young wife who loves her slightly older husband, and visa versa.
Now before I was a Christian, I did not drink, smoke, do drugs, or chase women( or men- have to say that now a days). I enjoyed being single, reading, and pursuing theology and science.
So after extensive study, I understand better than most the origin of the large gap between Protestants and Catholics. This conflict began way before the Reformation. Just look at the East West split in 1054 AD. Catholics don’t bring this up much, but it rests on issues started in the 7th century. So putting the blame on Luther is a convenient scapegoat for those who don’t want to do thorough historical analysis.

George G. August 31, 2009 at 12:45 pm

@Oneil
“You admit that there is much you don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know how to help you.”
I’m a lost cause, am I?
Of course there’s a lot I don’t know. That will always be the case. Most people would say there’s a lot they don’t know. But, trust me, my brain is fully functional. I make due just fine.
“As the Bible says, my People perish for lack of knowledge…” The Catholic Priests have a done a poor job in disciplining you. So it is difficult to direct a person when they have no compass or knowledge of Christianity.”
I don’t think that “lack of knowledge” line means quite what you think it means. I’m fairly certain that God does not intend for all of us to be scientists and theologians. That would be impossible.
Disciplining me? Whatever the means. As I said, I believe the Church is what she claims to be. And, I’m in it. So, somebody did something right.
My “compass” is just fine. And, my knowledge of Christianity is more than adequate. I think you’re just avoiding me now.
“Many Catholics think it is normal to be ignorant of spiritual things and just leave the ‘heavy lifting’ to the priest.”
Maybe many Catholics do. I don’t. I don’t think anyone here does. Don’t concern yourself with what “many Catholics” do. We are open to whatever you have to say. But, it would be nice if you could answer some of our questions, like, at all.
“The Evangelical Free Church tells all their members that it is their responsibility to be educated lest they risk their soul to the fires of Hell.”
That’s nice.
“Westerners tend to include a serious cultural bias when reading any Oriental Document such as the Bible. Westerners have a tendency to separate dogma with action, which is foreign to Jewish culture.
So for example, the EFC states an internal change( born-again) must be accompanied by an outward action( baptism). Thus baptism is only effective if accompanied by being born-again.

So, you separate baptism from being born-again? Catholics believe the two are one in the same.
“Regarding Protestants.”
I wasn’t asking about Protestantism. I was more interested in how you came to reading the bible in the particular way that you do.

SDG August 31, 2009 at 1:18 pm

“1. I read a lot of Martin Chemnitz and Heinrich Bullinger as relating to the Church Fathers.”

How nice for you. I’ve read a lot too, but I like to think about what God’s plan is for the vast majority of mankind who hasn’t got the time or resources to read so much. Somehow they have to come to an understanding of what God expects for them and how they’re meant to understand God’s word, and “read a lot of Martin Chemnitz and Heinrich Bullinger” can’t be the prescription.
My conclusion is that God wants us to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit in the church. So when people approach the faith of the early church with a hermeneutic of suspicion, I approach them with a hermeneutic of suspicion.
A lot of Protestant Bible scholarship since Chemnitz and Bullinger has shed new light on the biblical theme of justification. May I suggest you try reading James D. G. Dunn, E. Sanders, Dale Moody and N. T. Wright? Even if you don’t agree with them on every point, they offer a number of important challenges to traditional Protestant ideas.

“Morality can never be legislated otherwise Christ would have become a political leader.”

This is the sort of thing people say when they don’t want to commit to a definite moral teaching, like on contraception. It is not the way people talk when they are discussing moral issues they are comfortable talking about, like adultery or murder.

“As a Protestant I am not beholden to the Church fathers. Especially since the later church fathers never felt beholden to their predecessors. “

Riiight. Never. All the stuff about maintaining the traditions they received was just window dressing.

“Scripture if read often enough becomes self referencing and then clear via illumination of the Holy Spirit. “

Except to those dunderheaded Church fathers, apparently. (Depending on what “self referencing” is supposed to mean.)
So, you really think that all the pedobaptists and whichever side is wrong on the ordination of women (?) just haven’t read scripture often enough to get to the “illumination of the Holy Spirit” phase? That’s what separates you from wise, holy and learned pedobaptist Christians (Bible scholars, pastors, teachers, etc.): You’ve gotten to the “illumination of the Holy Spirit” phase of Bible rereading, and they haven’t?
And you don’t realize that however often “often enough” is in this case, it must be some number so astronomically huge (if so many Bible scholars, pastors and teachers have never gotten to it, that God can’t possibly expect it of the ordinary Christian in the pews? How much leisure time do you think the average Christian has on his hands, anyway?
What exactly is God’s plan for those who can’t complete the “read scripture over and over until it becomes self referencing and then clear via illumination of the Holy Spirit” school of exegesis (never mind reading a lot of Martin Chemnitz and Heinrich Bullinger)? How are they supposed to know what God wants them to do?

“Just a thought that I have asked several Priest, multitudes of Jesuits, and two Bishops. If Christ is 100% man, and is seated at the right hand of the Father as the first born of many brethren, how can he clone himself in the form of the Eucharist 100 million times every Sunday.”

Presumably they all laughed (charitably, we hope) at your misunderstanding?
Because Jesus does not clone himself at all. Nor does he biolocate, reincarnate, or otherwise make himself localized in more than one place. His body is locally present only in heaven, not on earth. When the priest elevates the host, Christ is not elevated in space; when the priest fractures the host, Christ is not divided; when the host is consumed, Christ is not devoured. Apparently you don’t understand the teaching you reject.

“Also why did the Catholic church violate the Biblical mandate of drinking from the Cup for several centuries? “

The Church has never violated this mandate. The cup has been drunk at every valid and licitly celebrated Mass in Church history.

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 1:19 pm

George,
There are 3 major schools of Biblical interpretation. I use the same school that the Orthodox Jews use for Biblical interpretation. This is called the Historical Grammatical Approach( see wikipedia). Catholics have used the 4 senses of Scripture approach as well as the Historical-Critical approach, used by Jerome and the School of Antioch. I object to the later two. The 4 senses was created by Philo a Hellenistic Jew in Alexandria and heavily used by Origen and Augustine. The Historical-Critical is taught in many modern Catholic and liberal Protestant Seminaries. Wrong hermeneutics leads to wrong theology. These hermeneutics are orthogonal to each other( i.e you can’t mix and match, pick one stick with it).
I also tried to trust my Priests, but they basically could not answer my questions, they said go to Jesuits, which forced me to become a Bible Scholar and Theologian. The world is a mess and unfortunately we can’t blindly trust our authorities. I was blessed by God with a good mind so this made the task easier for me. I am sympathetic with those who have not been blessed with the same gift for intellectual pursuits. I do work out 3 times a week to keep the body fit, bench 300 pounds, but I can barely pound a nail in straight.

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Oops!!! I fat fingered something above. Jerome and the School of Antioch used the Historical-Grammatical approach, NOT the Historical-Critical.

SDG August 31, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Oneil:

“There are 3 major schools of Biblical interpretation. I use the same school that the Orthodox Jews use for Biblical interpretation. This is called the Historical Grammatical Approach( see wikipedia). Catholics have used the 4 senses of Scripture approach as well as the Historical-Critical approach, used by Jerome and the School of Antioch. I object to the later two. The 4 senses was created by Philo a Hellenistic Jew in Alexandria and heavily used by Origen and Augustine. The Historical-Critical is taught in many modern Catholic and liberal Protestant Seminaries. Wrong hermeneutics leads to wrong theology. These hermeneutics are orthogonal to each other( i.e you can’t mix and match, pick one stick with it).”

Quoth Wikipedia:

The historical-grammatical method is a Christian hermeneutics process that strives to discover the Biblical author’s original intended meaning in the text. [1] It is the primary method of interpretation for scholars in the major branches of Christianity: Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox.[2] [3] The terms grammatico-historical, historico-grammatical and historical-cultural are regarded as synonymous with historical-grammatical.

FWIW, the article inaccurately states that “the historical-critical method minimizes both authorial intent and the significance of the text.” The method itself does no such thing, although some practitioners do.

Lucien Syme August 31, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Thanks for the recap Oneil it does provide some insights into your journey.
One of the first things after my conversion (which contained mystical, emotional & intellectual elements) that the Holy Spirit led me through was that the Catholic Church is always going to be under such brutal attacks both from within and without.
This reality isn’t advertised much but the Catholic Church in America is just starting to dig itself out from under the weight of inept heterodox seminaries, lousy religious orders and getting rid of the homosexual element in the priesthood; attacks from Satan trying his best to wreck the Bride of Christ.
Unfortunately it is not a quick process but Catholics have the mechanism in place to make it happen – over in Rome. You ran into the wrong catechesis, if you had run into Fr. Corapi things might have been different for you. You could have both bench pressed 300 lbs. and hit nails in straight together while pointing out the errors of Calvinism.
Once say the ELCA and Anglicans denominations embrace women priests and homosexual clergy there is nothing left but disintegration and disbursement at the macro level and micro level. If I have a practicing homosexual and/or heterodox priest assigned to my parish, there is recourse to higher authority. Maybe not the stoning of the OT or at your church but I can rest assured a change will occur.
If I hadn’t been led to an orthodox Catholic priest as my spiritual director it would have been much harder. Had I run across a heterodox Jesuit (or worse a homosexual Jesuit) in my pursuit I might be where you are now. Fighting against the Church instead of embracing her.
It is much better on the other side accepting the limitations of the situation (i.e. The Weeds) as well as accepting the benefits of the situation (i.e. The Wheat).
What other Church can claim members as diverse as Oscar Wilde and Mother Theresa of Calcutta? What other Church can continue to get the world’s attention when the world has given up on Christ’s return? What other Church can have such Weeds in it and still prosper (seemingly die and rise again & again)?
Having to humbly accept that I can’t figure everything out but that the Holy Spirit will clue me in when things are amiss is a lot easier for me in maintaining the peace of Christ. Knowing that the truth of the Church isn’t up to me but up to Jesus so I can worry about growing in humility and holiness, without which I can’t have real intimacy with God.
The 150 year old orthodox Evangelical Protestant church has had some success but is very dependant upon the material success of the United States of America and its influence in foreign affairs. Once that is gone (and it is going!) its influence will wane and that old (yet somehow always new) Roman Catholic Church will be cranking along in history because her story is divinely attached to His-story.

George G. August 31, 2009 at 2:26 pm

@Oneil
I don’t see how the historical-grammatical approach and the four senses approach are incompatible. In fact, one of the “senses” is the literal sense, by which is meant, “what the author intended to convey.”

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 3:05 pm

George,
To properly explain would be a course in hermeneutic. But let me say that there is some overlap between the 3 approaches. The problem arises when certain verses in the Bible are not as clear as others. The 3 hermeneutical principles will lead to 3 different and contradictory statements.
Thus Catholics have used all 3 throughout history and thus have an abundance of opinion on some of the more difficult points of scripture. By using the historical grammatical it is possible to remove some the more esoteric interpretations of Origen and Augustine.

SDG August 31, 2009 at 4:48 pm

“To properly explain would be a course in hermeneutic. But let me say that there is some overlap between the 3 approaches. The problem arises when certain verses in the Bible are not as clear as others. The 3 hermeneutical principles will lead to 3 different and contradictory statements.”

Only three different and contradictory statements? Why so few? The truth is that it is possible to have as many contradictory statements as you have exegetes, not methods. Even three conservative Protestant exegetes all seeking the literal sense (what you call the historical-grammatical method) can easily arrive at three contradictory interpretations. Reliance on one method does not eliminate contradictory interpretations.

“Thus Catholics have used all 3 throughout history and thus have an abundance of opinion on some of the more difficult points of scripture.”

As do Protestants, and even conservative, Evangelical Protestants all seeking to practice sola scriptura within a historical-critical context. By contrast, Catholics who merely practice their rule of faith (the Word of God in scripture and tradition, rightly interpreted by the Magisterium) enjoy a much greater unity on all matters of faith and morals.

George G. August 31, 2009 at 6:23 pm

@Oneil
To properly explain would be a course in hermeneutic.
Well, OK. Can you tell me then how you’ve come to the conclusion that the firmament was a metal dome, or whatever? Or, was that a joke?
I don’t need a course. I just want to see how you reason through some of these questions, as opposed to just barking out some seemingly random opinion. If you’re really concerned that we’re in error, you’d show us our error, rather than just state it.
“Thus Catholics have used all 3 throughout history and thus have an abundance of opinion on some of the more difficult points of scripture.”
Really? Because, from my perspective, the Catholic Church has been amazingly consistent. “This is my body” has always meant “this is my body” and not, I don’t know, “flying rainbow space monkey.”

bill912 August 31, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Yup. In 2,000 years, while there has been doctrine that has been understood and explained more clearly, there has never been a contradiction in the Church’s teachings on Faith (what we are to believe) or Morals (how we are to behave). None.

The Masked Chicken August 31, 2009 at 6:57 pm

There have been so many points and counterpoints in this discussion that I don’t know where to begin. I would like to stick to the topic, now long abandoned, of the age of the earth.
To begin with, the interpretation of texts, especially ancient texts is, generally, a job best left to experts. There are experts on both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide. They have come to different conclusions as to the interpretation of some passages of Scripture, which would seem to be impossible if the Holy Spirit were the only factor involved. If two people look at 2 + 2 and one determines the answer is 5 and the other is 7, how do either one know which is right or if either one has found the correct answer? Some factor other than the Holy Spirit must be involved to bring this state about. That answer is man.
Don’t give me nonsense about self-referencing of the text. That is logical nonsense. Texts do not self-authenticate, period and that is a matter that is not really debatable, since such a situation would very quickly lead to begging the question or paradox within the text.
The only way to avoid a paradox is to have a meta-logical law that is able to isolate truth within the text. That meta-logical law must be stated from outside of the text. Hermeneutics is not a meta-logical law. It is a way of argumentation. Properly speaking, there is only one reasonable source of a meta-logical law for the interpretation of a text: from its creator, although some secondary source can create a law that stands inside of the first law blocking the actual meta-law from being realized .
The only one who can give a meta-law for the interpretation of Scripture is the one who wrote Scripture, namely, God (or someone authorized to speak for him), however, any man can intercept the meta-law at a slightly lower level and insert a weaker meta-law and thus, act as a substitute authority.
The correct question to ask in the interpretation of any text is, “What is the mind of the writer?” If Christ were here in the flesh, we could ask him. To say that he has left the Holy Spirit as a substitute is correct, but a half-truth. The Holy Spirit does not speak on his own. He speaks the words he has heard which are Christs. To say that the Holy Spirit leads one to truth has been so misinterpreted over the centuries that it is pathetic. The Holy Spirit leads one to Christ, who is the Truth, who is all Truth. Asking the Holy Spirit what a particular passage of Scripture means is a wrong use of the Holy Spirit and he was never intended to do this. To do so is to ask for a revelation and that age has passed with the death of St. John.
Scripture is consistent, but that consistency must be judged from outside of the texts. When the Bereans were commended by St. Paul for being noble-minded, he did so, not because they were examining Scripture to see if it were consistent, but to see if St. Paul’s revelation were consistent with Scripture. St. Paul had posited a meta-law for the interpretation of Scripture and the Bereans found that it was consistent with how Scripture could be read. They did not interpose their won interpretation or their own consistency on Scripture, which would be to create their own secondary meta-law, but they accepted St. Paul as being a spokesman for Christ and found their consistency in that.
Those who want to posit sola scriptura are creating a secondary meta-law, a new revelation, as it were for how to interpret Scripture. The era of revelation ended with the death of St. John, so this method is clearly opposed to what Christ and the Holy Spirit intended. There are no new revelations, there is only maintenance of the existing revelation. To whom did Christ entrust to maintain the existing revelation? The apostles. To whom did the apostles entrust to maintain the existing revelation? That is the whole point. We should not and cannot look to Scripture for how to interpret Scripture. We must look for a continuity in the existing revelation. Once such a continuity goes hidden (as some Protestants clam), all is lost because it is impossible to reestablish contact except by another revelation which tells which stream of continuity is correct and such new revelation would require the second coming of at least the apostles, if not Christ, himself. Therefore, Christ must have made it so that the stream of continuity would never be lost from view, completely. The stream cannot belong to an invisible Church because one would need revelation to point out the correct members.
When the Church speaks about Scripture, she does not do so from revelation, but from continuity, a visible continuity. This maintenance of the meta-logical law spoken by Christ for the interpretation of Scripture, being an echo of revelation, does not belong to man and does not belong to a hermeneutical method, which deals with the consistency within the text, but not the consistency of the interpretation of the text. Such methods can make arguments, but saying that a particular argument is true belongs to a St. Paul or Christ, or a delegated authority, just as St. Paul was able to commend the Bereans’s arguments.
Now, any such authority is not required to speak until an appropriate time. St. Paul compared some people’s understanding of doctrine to children who could only drink milk. When they were stronger and the time were right, they would be given a more mature understanding. The Church is growing into the maturity of the body of Christ. Just as some parts of the body develop faster than others, so some areas of doctrine develop faster than others. Just because one can see that one has two feet as a child does no mean that one can predict how large they will be when fully developed.
The Church acknowledges that God made the universe; the exact size of the days is something she will have to wait for until doctrine develops fully in that area. People who want all of the answers in Scripture, immediately, are, in effect, demanding that the Church spring, full -born and fully developed, into existence. That is not the way Christ deals with individuals. There is no reason to think that this is how Christ deals with his Church. At this point, the Catholic Church is able to see the toes and hands that made the universe, but how long they were will take a little longer to see.
This is as close as I can come to sticking to the topic and yet trying to get to some of the other issues addressed in the posts. I could be more specific about actual interpretation of text (I am, among other things, an historian and have had to deal with these issues), but that would take me into the thick of the non-topic discussion.
The Chicken

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 8:02 pm

George,
If you read the Church fathers you will see an abundance of opinions. The Popes and Anti-Popes had contradictory positions on a variety of topics. Pope Gelasius refuted the Assumption of Mary( this was first mentioned in a Gnostic Text). The Council of Constance forbade the laity from taking from the Cup of Blessing. In modern times the discussion on Limbo has gone back and forth. The list is endless.
Insight into my reasoning process. Starting point is that everyone is biased and twists history and doctrine in their favor. History shows that Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and Catholics have been at each others throats at various times. So I go to each group and ask them why they believe what they believe and ask what is wrong with the other group. Do this once, rinse :=), and repeat 2 more times. In short order you will have a good understanding of what they have in common and what their differences are. If you have greater intellectual capacity begin to read books from each group. Also if your unsure about something go speak with Orthodox Jews. I remember asking them if they believed in sacraments. They said, Only Pagan cultures practiced sacraments. This was later confirmed by Cardinal Newman. Since God is unchanging it is impossible for him to introduce a doctrine unless it was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. The Incarnation, justification, non-minsterial priesthood are all foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Contrary to what Catholics say, there is no foreshadowing of sacraments. Manna is not a sacrament! Hanukkah and Passover and other Jewish feasts are not sacraments. The Incarnation does not prove sacraments either.
So how does a Catholic figure out whom to believe? I stand by simplest solution, even if I get a lot of grief for it. Read the book of John 3 times and go to a Orthodox Protestant church for 9 consecutive weeks. Why? The TRUE church consists of correct doctrine, unity, fellowship, and proper worship. All of this can be experienced at an Orthodox Protestant church and will allow the Holy Spirit to speak into your life.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but with this outline you can make significant progress in 6 months. As I have discovered, most people don’t care about truth. They just exist in their drab lives hoping that the next life will be better – maybe it will and maybe it won’t depending if you go to Heaven or Hell!

Oneil August 31, 2009 at 8:19 pm

George,
After more research you will find that many errors in Catholicism are directly the result of poor translations of the original Greek into Latin. The African fathers had multitudes of Latin Bibles with many variant readings. Jerome was tasked to create a uniform edition from all these variations, hence the term Latin Vulgate( as in common language). However Latin was not uniform throughout the empire, especially during the time of the fall of Rome and the attack of the Visigoths.
The Reformation knew that the Latin Vulgate was riddled with errors. So they went to the original texts and created new translations. The printing press with updated translations in the local languages is what fueled the Reformation. Much bad Catholic theology and forged decretals were exposed by virtue of the printing press and sound scholarship. As Scholarship exploded upon the scene, the Reformers began a heavy assault on the Catholic church. So she had to create a new doctrine of Tradition, saying it was on par with Scripture. By studying how key words such as righteousness, justification, sanctification, covenant, priest, presbyter, deacon, bishop are used in the Bible the Reformers discovered that the Latin fathers made many errors.
In a nutshell the Reformers removed 1200 years of barnacles to return to the tradition and purity of the 1st century church.

bill912 August 31, 2009 at 8:33 pm

“Starting point is that everyone is biased and twists history and doctrine in their favor.”
With that one sentence, he spoke volumes about himself. Some people think that everyone else does what they do: there are liars who think everyone lies, cheaters who think everyone cheats, and thieves who think everyone steals.

George G. August 31, 2009 at 10:15 pm

@Oneil
“If you read the Church fathers you will see an abundance of opinions. The Popes and Anti-Popes had contradictory positions on a variety of topics. Pope Gelasius refuted the Assumption of Mary( this was first mentioned in a Gnostic Text). The Council of Constance forbade the laity from taking from the Cup of Blessing. In modern times the discussion on Limbo has gone back and forth. The list is endless.”
I’ll take your word for it. As I said before, just because some matter of faith hasn’t been completely hashed out and defined, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been consistently believed. I’d also add that just because some issue is being hashed out doesn’t mean that it’s a matter of faith, such as with Limbo.
“Insight into my reasoning process. Starting point is that everyone is biased and twists history and doctrine in their favor.”
Ew. That’s not very charitable.
“History shows that Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and Catholics have been at each others throats at various times. So I go to each group and ask them why they believe what they believe and ask what is wrong with the other group. Do this once, rinse :=), and repeat 2 more times. In short order you will have a good understanding of what they have in common and what their differences are.”
Well, I guess that depends who you’re talking to. I’m not sure how this would help you determine what is actually true. Did you just pick the one you liked most?
And, this isn’t really what I asked.
“If you have greater intellectual capacity begin to read books from each group. Also if your unsure about something go speak with Orthodox Jews.”
Thanks, I guess. Not what I asked, though.
“I remember asking them if they believed in sacraments. They said, Only Pagan cultures practiced sacraments. This was later confirmed by Cardinal Newman.”
Why would you ask some non-Catholics about Catholic sacraments? Of course they’re going to disagree with the Church.
Also, show me where Cardinal Newman said that the sacraments are pagan.
“Since God is unchanging it is impossible for him to introduce a doctrine unless it was foreshadowed in the Old Testament.”
It’s impossible? I’m sorry, but who are you to tell God what he can and cannot do?
“Contrary to what Catholics say, there is no foreshadowing of sacraments.”
Says you.
“Manna is not a sacrament! Hanukkah and Passover and other Jewish feasts are not sacraments. The Incarnation does not prove sacraments either.”
You’re ranting.
“Read the book of John 3 times and go to a Orthodox Protestant church for 9 consecutive weeks. Why? The TRUE church consists of correct doctrine, unity, fellowship, and proper worship. All of this can be experienced at an Orthodox Protestant church and will allow the Holy Spirit to speak into your life.”
How does any of this tell me anything about anything? What is an “Orthodox Protestant” church? Correct doctrine, unity, fellowship, proper worship? Sounds great! But, how would I figure all that out if I approached life as you do, and assumed that everyone was full of deceit?
“I know it sounds like a lot of work, but with this outline you can make significant progress in 6 months.”
You make it sound like a diet.
“As I have discovered, most people don’t care about truth. They just exist in their drab lives hoping that the next life will be better – maybe it will and maybe it won’t depending if you go to Heaven or Hell!”
Well, I completely disagree. I think people are much smarter and more concerned with truth than you give them credit for.

George G. August 31, 2009 at 11:10 pm

@Oneil
“After more research you will find that many errors in Catholicism are directly the result of poor translations of the original Greek into Latin.”
So, once I learn Latin and New Testament Greek and delve into some ancient manuscripts, the real Christianity will be revealed to me? Terrific.

Oneil September 1, 2009 at 4:49 am

George,
Look what Wikipedia has to say about Eusebius. It basically says he is a dishonest historian.( see below). If you think the Catholic church never created a forged document than your naive.
Here is a list of few forged documents.
Apostolic Constitutions
“Apostolic Canons”
Liber Pontificalis, ie. The Pope Sylvester Forgeries
“Donation Of Constantine”
The “Symmachian Forgeries”
The “False Decretals” Forgeries
The Forged Decretum Of Gratian
“Notwithstanding the great influence of his works on others, Eusebius was not himself a great historian[11]. His treatment of heresy, for example, is limited, and he knew very little about the Western church. The panegyrical tone of the Life of Constantine has grated on modern sensibilities. Nor was he always critical about the material that he reproduces; he includes in the “Ecclesiastical History” letters supplied to him by a Syriac source purporting to be written back and forth between King Abgar and Jesus.
# Jacob Burckhardt (19th century cultural historian) dismissed Eusebus as “the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity”.
# Questions were long raised by scholars[who?] about whether all the documents in the Life of Constantine were authentic.[citation needed]
# Other critics of Eusebius’ work cite the panegyrical tone of the Vita, plus the omission of internal Christian conflicts in the Canones, as reasons to interpret his writing with caution[16].”- Wikipedia Eusebius
The reason for going to the Orthodox Jews was to determine how Theology would change once the Messiah came. So I asked if the Messiah would introduce a sacramental system upon His arrival. The Rabbi mentioned that God judged the Old Testament Jews for sacramental worship in the Old Testament. Many pagan cultures believed that when their god is physically present in a statue or amulet that it is evidence of sacramentalism. The burning bush and the Holy of Holies, Tent of Meeting all had the physical presence of God. None of these indicate sacraments.
So it is not about picking what I like. It is picking through Christianity mixed with the flotsam of human tradition.
My experience is that people are much more biased than I am. If I know nothing than I don’t foolishly interject my opinion. I patiently wait until I can ask a good question.

SDG September 1, 2009 at 5:14 am

“Pope Gelasius refuted the Assumption of Mary( this was first mentioned in a Gnostic Text).”

Source? I’m aware of Pope Gelasius condemning documents that may have mentioned the Assumption as well as other things, but that’s not the same as refuting the Assumption itself. Please source your claim.

“Look what Wikipedia has to say about Eusebius. It basically says he is a dishonest historian.( see below).”

You mean, using the historical-critical method? And how many historical critics who dismiss Eusebius would accept the historical value of the Gospels? How honest is it of you to rely on historical-critical methods to debunk Eusebius while dismissing historical criticism for the Gospels?
It’s worth noting that Eusebius was first impugned in the fourth century by Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus (the Apostate), who called him “The wretched Eusebius” — and who also called Christianity itself “the fabrication of the Galilaeans … a fiction of men composed by wickedness.”
The attack on Eusebius is in significant part motivated by the attack on the historicity of Jesus Christ. Mitchell Logan in Christian Mythology Unveiled (1842) attacked the authenticity of Eusebius’s quotation of Josephus regarding Jesus — the point being that according to Logan Josephus never did mention Jesus.
I’m not defending the complete historical reliability of Eusebius. I’m just saying you are blatantly employing a double standard. Trust the historical critics when they attack Eusebius, but dismiss them when they attack the Gospels. Either the method has validity or it doesn’t.

“The reason for going to the Orthodox Jews was to determine how Theology would change once the Messiah came. So I asked if the Messiah would introduce a sacramental system upon His arrival.”

You’re joking, right? Because the Messiah’s coming wouldn’t be a paradigm-shifting event that came in ways that no one was expecting, right?
Did you ask the Orthodox Jews if the Messiah would reveal that God was a Trinity? Did you ask them if the Messiah would actually be God in the flesh? I bet they knew the right answer to that one.

“The Rabbi mentioned that God judged the Old Testament Jews for sacramental worship in the Old Testament.”

But the Rabbi was totally cool with the idea of worshiping a man, right? (That’s prescinding from the reality that sacraments are a specifically Christian idea, just like the Trinity, partial parallels to pre-Christian traditions notwithstanding, and so sacraments did not exist in the OT period.)

“My experience is that people are much more biased than I am.”

Hey! That’s my experience too! Wow, small world. :-)

Oneil September 1, 2009 at 5:49 am

George,
I’ll make it very simple Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox can NOT all be the church that Christ built. The Devil knowing full would work like crazy to create some counterfeit church. Therefore the only logical conclusion is that 2 of the 3 churches are counterfeit.
So here is a simple test. If a church says that Muslims and Christians worship the same god then you know it is apostate. Now you only need to search between two groups.

SDG September 1, 2009 at 6:44 am

“So here is a simple test.”

And we just know it’s a good test, because Oneil is much less biased than other people!

Oneil September 1, 2009 at 6:51 am

Ireneus, Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose and others church fathers said nothing about the Assumption of Mary. Writing in 377 A.D., the church father Epiphanius states that no-one knows Mary’s end.
In the sixth century, Pope Hormisdas also condemned as heretics those authors who taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. Later Hormisdas was declared a heretic.
So what can one conclude from this. Later Popes and councils can overrule previous Popes and Councils. So it stands to reason that the Reformers have the right to overrule the previous millennium of Catholic Popes and Councils.
When Rome fell in the 5th century, Europe entered the Dark Ages until the Renaissance. During the Dark Ages Europeans no longer practiced sanitation or good scholarship, it was overrun by Muslims and many early church documents were lost. The price of Paper soared and as such fewer books were produced during this time than in the 4th century. Finally with the advent of the printing press, the stove, and more stable governments, scholarship could flourish again. This is why Catholicism is a reflection of the Medieval church, while Protestants are a reflection of the Ancient Church.

Tim J. September 1, 2009 at 6:55 am

“How honest is it of you to rely on historical-critical methods to debunk Eusebius while dismissing historical criticism for the Gospels?”
It doesn’t matter, SDG. Any convenient stick is good enough to beat on the Catholic Church. It doesn’t have to make sense.
This is getting really tedious.
You know, Oneil, when I was an Evangelical Prot, I worked very closely every day with a Jehovah’s Witness. We argued constantly, though not in an unfriendly way. One day, though, we got onto the subject of the Catholic Church and on that one subject *alone* we were in complete agreement… the Church was the worst of the world’s false religions because it made the most substantial claim to be the only really true one. The fact that the claims of the Church seemed so well grounded in history made it EVEN WORSE!… a conspiracy of truly mammoth proportions, clearly a Satanic plot.
Yes, we agreed completely that, in spite of all our differences, the Catholic Church was rotten clear through. There was a nod of agreement, a moment or two of awkward silence and then a change of subject. That one momentary glance, that awkward silence, gave me pause, I can tell you. It became one of many small things – avenues of God’s grace – that eventually brought me into full communion the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Thanks be to God.

Oneil September 1, 2009 at 7:00 am

Historical critical is completely valid when applied to Eusebius. Let me explain. The initial assumption of this approach is that the book was created by man and not God. Since the Bible is the Word of God it was not created by man, so the historical critical method does not apply here. If a book is created by man than the historical critical method does apply. This is why one can not flagrantly mix hermeneutical methods.

Tim J. September 1, 2009 at 7:05 am

“…Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox can NOT all be the church that Christ built.”
Well, you are right about that.
However, the Catholic Church allows the possibility that people may be joined to her in ways unknown to us or even to themselves. God can save whoever he likes and will get no complaint from me, so I remain open to calling you “brother”.
In as much as you maintain the truth of the Trinity, the virgin birth, the atoning power of Christ’s death on the cross, the bodily resurrection of Christ, inspired and infallible scripture and other basic tenets of the faith, you owe it to the Catholic Church who alone preserved and handed on all these things.
In that sense, you and millions like you are Catholic and simply don’t know it.
Cheers,

SDG September 1, 2009 at 7:20 am

“In the sixth century, Pope Hormisdas also condemned as heretics those authors who taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. Later Hormisdas was declared a heretic. “

Oneil, at some point the “fling mud at the wall and hope some of it sticks” tactic has got to end. Previously you claimed that Pope Gelasius “refuted” the Assumption of Mary and that Cardinal Newman confirmed that pagan cultures practiced sacraments — all claims you have yet to provide any documentation for.
What exactly did Pope Hormisdas say about the Assumption, and where? Who “declared” Hormisdas a heretic? I’m not aware that any Roman Pontiff has ever been shown to be personally guilty of heresy.
Document your claims NOW or stop throwing mud. Period. Do not throw one more mudball until you have documented or repudiated each of the claims above. It is bad for your soul and like Tim J said it’s getting tiresome.
One minute you say “Personally, if my teaching authority were to contradict 1900 years of church history then I would be very skeptical of her other teachings” — but when it’s pointed out that your treaching authority does contradict 1900 years of church history, then you’re all, “As a Protestant I am not beholden to the Church fathers.” You happily debunk Eusebius by citing historical critics who would be only too happy to dismantle the Gospels after lunch. You think Catholic Eucharistic teaching involves some kind of cloning or multi-localization of the Incarnation, and don’t respond when it’s pointed out that it isn’t.
You debunk Catholic sacraments by supposedly asking an Orthodox rabbi about “how Theology would change once the Messiah came,” never mind that the same “method” would equally debunk the Incarnation and the Trinity. You make up “simple tests” like “Any church that disagrees with the EFC about Muslims worshiping another god is ‘apostate’” (thereby indicating that you don’t know the difference between heresy and apostasy).
You’re very cynical when it comes to other people, in their drab lives, uncaring about truth, weighed down by their biases, twisting the truth — not like you, the scientist, the truth-seeker, devouring Chemnitz and Bullinger for breakfast and debunking Eusebius after lunch.
You’re a regular Diogenes, aren’t you? Except I don’t think Diogenes was so dishonest as to exempt himself from human dishonesty. Diogenes’s search for the honest man never would have gotten out his front door if Diogenes thought he could find him in his mirror.
Surely you are the man, and wisdom will die with you (cf. Job 12:2).

Tim J. September 1, 2009 at 7:49 am

Everyone is biased, except me.
Oneil, it takes my breath away how you can be so erudite and reasonable on some issues (at least in your discussion, if not your conclusions) and on others you seem to abandon logic altogether in favor of broad and obvious sophistry.
You accept that there is no simple, easy answer as to the definition of things like “space” or “matter”, because you know a little about the complexities of these things, and know better than to accept over-simple explanations.
What makes you think that the truth regarding eternal things is going to be any simpler? What makes you expect simple, grade-school level answers to questions regarding God’s revelation of Himself and His plan for mankind?
We get tired, sometimes, and want to cut corners. It is the search for simple answers to hard questions that leads to every kind of apostasy and heresy.
“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.”
Christ is right where he has been since the Church was founded. Don’t let yourself be put off by the fact that the birds of the air come and nest in the branches of the Church. If you think the Real, True Church is supposed to be free of sinners, controversy and strife, read the book of Acts. Read the epistles.
Having sinners in the Church does not undo the nature of the Church, does not change what it is.

Oneil September 1, 2009 at 7:53 am

SDG,
Maybe I should have been more precise in saying a heretic and an apostate. The words are slightly different but they both apply to ‘the simple test’.
Regarding the church fathers: I will cite Tertullian as my source for being anti-infant baptism. Since he was closer to the Early church than Augustine, I will assume Augustine was wrong. I will also cite the Didache( 1st century) which gives instructions on baptism and does not mention Infants in that discussion. Thus any subsequent discussion infant baptism is novel doctrine, evidence that Augustine did not heed the Didache or the church father before him Tertullian.
I will cite both Cyprian and Tertullian as people opposed to some centralized Papacy.
Using the Principle of first reference I will cite the writing in 377 AD of the church father Epiphanius, who states that no-one knows Mary’s end. You admit Gelasius refuted a gnostic text on the Assumption of Mary. Would this not have been the best time to formulate a doctrine on the Assumption Mary. Just like Arianism lead to the formalization of the doctrine of the Trinity. Conflict in the church is what lead to the formation of more precise doctrine. So Gelasius should have said the Gnostic text is spurious but it is correct in the Assumption of Mary.
Cardinal Newman admits in his book that; the “temples, incense, oil lamps, votive offerings, holy water, Holidays, and seasons of devotion, processions, blessings of the fields, sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure (of priests, munks and nuns), images, and statues… are all of PAGAN ORIGIN.” -The Development of the Christian Religion Cardinal Newman p.359
Confiding then in the power of Christianity to resist the infection of evil, and to transmute the instruments and appendages of demon worship to an evangelical use… the rulers of the church from early times were prepared should occasion arise, to adopt, or imitate, or sanction the existing rites and customs of the populace.” -Development of Christian Doctrine, Cardinal Newman. p. 372
“The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; holy water; asylums [hermitages, monasteries and convents]; [pagan] holy-days, processions, sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images, . . . and the Kyrie Eleison.”–Cardinal J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 1920 edition, p.373

bill912 September 1, 2009 at 8:03 am

“Cardinal Newman admits in his book that…are all of pagan origin.”
Not by anything that was quoted above. The word, “pagan”, in his last paragraph is a convenient addition to the Cardinal Newman quote.

bill912 September 1, 2009 at 8:05 am

His ellipsis in the third to last paragraph is interesting.

Oneil September 1, 2009 at 8:13 am

SDG,
You criticize others for making ad hominems, but you do the same. I am not a skeptic or cynic, ask my wife! My friends consider me a very positive person. I do know that people tend to be people pleasers and avoid conflict. Also people are often not very rigorous in their discussions of Theology or Science. My best friend, btw, is a Catholic and we intellectually fight at least 2 times a week. We enjoy it and it keep us sharp. His wife hates it, my wife finds it very intellectually stimulating.
So tell me why I should trust Augustine over Tertullian regarding Infant Baptism?
Also the Dark Ages caused many documents to be lost. So is it not possible that we do NOT have a COMPLETE record of all the Christian practices of the first 500 years?
2 Tim 3:16 -17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Notice Paul tells Timothy only needs the scriptures for EVERY good work. Timothy does not need anything else to be THOROUGHLY equipped.

Lucien Syme September 1, 2009 at 8:13 am

Oneil and I had made such great strides in the reunification of the Catholic Church and the 150 year old orthodox Evangelical Protestant church. We had reached a milestone in fact, not fiction, and now you are all jeopardizing any hope of reconciliation. He had reached out in humility admitting a wrong he had perpetrated.
He admitted he was in error on a point about Catholic teaching, written in the haste of a foul Viking mood.
He admitted he can bench press 300 lbs.
He admitted he can hit a nail in straight (whatever that means).
He admitted to not being hen-pecked by his lovely “much younger” wife.
I admit I am a little envious of his ability to bench press 300 lbs., his capable carpentry skills (assuming ‘hitting the nail in straight’ wasn’t a hidden quasi-sexual reference) and his ‘younger wife’ after all mine is older than by 4 years.
But the one thing I am not envious of is his skills as Viking Scientist and Theologian.
You have all pointed out so many inconsistencies in his logic (let alone his intellectual integrity) that any reply to him is becoming quite comical. Oneil is becoming more and more of a caricature at ever turn of the standard fuzzy-headed Fundamentalist railing against the Catholic Church. So comical indeed that I think something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Let me cut to the chase, I have a theory that this Oneil character (or caricature) is none other than our hero Jimmy Akin having a bit of fun with us.
Think about it:
Who looks more like a Viking than Jimmy?
Who doubts that Jimmy can bench press 300 lbs?
Who thinks ‘hitting the nail’ could be a hidden reference to his ability to answer questions succinctly and charitably on Catholic Answers?
Please now Jimmy (or Oneil) let us off the hook. Are you having fun with your fans?

M. L. Martin September 1, 2009 at 8:20 am

Bill912–I believe the ellipsis in the quote from Newman’s Essay is typically used to gloss over the fact that “wedding rings” are also in the list.

Tim J. September 1, 2009 at 8:32 am

Oneil, God invented priests and temples and altars and sacrifices and feast days… or have you not ever read Leviticus?
If these things were bad in themselves, would God have *commanded* his people to adopt them?
This is not to say that the old forms have not been superseded, but if you hold temples, sacrifices and a ministerial priesthood to be of evil, pagan origin, you will have to take your complaint to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who seems to disagree with you.

M. L. Martin September 1, 2009 at 8:38 am

And I see that ONeill left the wedding rings in the quote after all. So, do ‘Orthodox Protestants’ no longer exchange rings?

SDG September 1, 2009 at 8:41 am

Oneil,
Your claim was “Only Pagan cultures practiced sacraments. This was later confirmed by Cardinal Newman.” The Cardinal Newman quotation you provided does not mention practicing sacraments, so it would seem your claim was in error.
Incidentally, here is the complete quotation (including “the ring in marriage,” frequently omitted by anti-Catholic apologists):

The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church.

You are free to disagree that these practices were “sanctified by their adoption into the Church,” of course, but if you are wearing a wedding ring you are implicated in the same enumeration of “pagan origin” practices.
Among other things, you also have yet to document or repudiate your claim that Popes Pope Gelasius and Hormisdas explicitly attacked the Assumption or those who taught it, or that Gelasius himself was declared a heretic by parties yet unidentified. By backing into an apparent argument from silence (“Would this not have been the best time to formulate a doctrine on the Assumption Mary”) you seem to be tacitly acknowledging that you don’t have documentation of your claim, which means you ought to repudiate it.
I accept that you are probably a decent fellow in regular life whom I wouldn’t mind having for a next-door neighbor, and I’m happy to hear that your wife would back you up (happy the man who lives with an agreeable and supportive wife). But I can’t overlook comments like “My experience is that people are much more biased than I am.” The best face I can put on it is that it was an over-excited rhetorical flourish; my next best guess is that you’re really that innocently naive and unreflective. After that come less charitable suppositions I’d rather not make.

SDG September 1, 2009 at 8:53 am

BTW, Tertullian was not a proto-proponent of modern Anabapist / “believer baptism” theology. While he recommends delaying baptism, he doesn’t reject infant baptism as wrong or invalid: He doesn’t question that a baptized infant is truly baptized, nor does he suggest that baptized babies should later be re-baptized as believers on the grounds that infant baptism isn’t really baptism.
On the contrary, Tertullian’s concern is precisely that baptism does work such momentous changes in an infant that it may be better to defer it to a later date. So his very argument tacitly acknowledges the validity of infant baptism — as well as attesting that infant baptism was in fact being practiced, by other Christians who agreed with Tertullian about the efficacy of infant baptism but did not agree with his prudential concerns.
BTW, similar prudential concerns were cited by those recommending deferring baptism not only till after infancy, but even till the moment of death. So, just as some Christians like Tertullian felt it was prudent not to be baptized in infancy, other Christians felt it was prudent not to be baptized at all until one was on one’s death bed.
The early Church, however, eventually rejected this prudential reasoning in both cases, concluding that the baptism was a good that should be received as soon as practicable.

Tim J. September 1, 2009 at 9:23 am

What I want to know is if Oneil’s church has repudiated the use of the evil, pagan Gregorian calendar, with it’s days and months named for various pagan gods;
Sunday – literally “Sun Day” for the god Sol
Monday – “Moon Day”
Tuesday – (Norse) “Tyr’s Day”
Wednesday – (Norse) “Wodan’s (or Odin’s) Day
Thursday – (Norse) “Thor’s Day”
Friday – (Norse) “Frige’s (or Freya’s) Day”
Saturday – (Roman) “Saturn’s Day”
How can any body of believers that recognizes this pagan calendar be the Church that Christ Founded?!
Please reassure me, Oneil, that you refuse to use these awful, demonic terms in your daily speech, or organize your days according to this infernal pattern. Rid your homes of the Satanic influence of these pagan artifacts, friends, before it’s too late!

SDG September 1, 2009 at 9:24 am

Here is the relevant bit from Tertullian’s discussion of baptism:

It follows that deferment of baptism is more profitable, in accordance with each person’s character and attitude, and even age: and especially so as regards children. For what need is there, if there really is no need, for even their sponsors to be brought into peril, seeing they may possibly themselves fail of their promises by death, or be deceived by the subsequent development of an evil disposition?

It is true our Lord says, Forbid them not to come to me [Mt 19:14]. So let them come, when they are growing up, when they are learning, when they are being taught what they are coming to : let them be made Christians when they have become competent to know Christ. Why should innocent infancy come with haste to the remission of sins?

Note, first, that Tertullian only speaks of delaying baptism as “more profitable.” He does not condemn or reject infant baptism; does not say that pedobaptism is unprofitable, only that [in his opinion!] delayed baptism is more profitable.
He also does not say that the practice is a novelty, that it is not in accordance with apostolic tradition, or that it is not biblical. Given his resistance to the practice, his restraint on these points would seem to amount to tacit acknowledgment that the practice was widespread and well-established.
And he certainly does not deny — in fact, he expressly indicates — that infants who are baptized are really baptized, and everything that comes with it.
I find it interesting, too, that Tertullian feels he must mention and counter Matthew 19:14 (“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them”) in connection with his resistance to infant baptism. I doubt he supplied that objection on his own; it suggests that already in the second century this text was being used to support the established practice of bringing children to Jesus by baptism.

Lucien Syme September 1, 2009 at 10:22 am

Oneil being either a Viking or Jimmy Akin, is probably okay with the pagan terms for our current calendar days Tuesday through Friday since they are Norse in origin.
I for one am in favor of changing any of the other days (Saturday through Monday) if it will bring about reconcilation between our respective churches.

Oneil September 1, 2009 at 11:16 am

Lucien,
You are correct, we Vikings prefer to have all our days of the week named after Norse gods. Akin is probably a Scottish or Irish name. Vikings had ferocious battles with the Scots and Irish.
Back to baptism. Since I listen to Paul’s instruction to Timothy, which says the Bible is sufficient for every instruction pertaining to righteousness. It seems reasonable that every generation can derive its teaching on baptism from the Bible.
Catholics suggest that some babies were baptized in those households as an act of solidarity. The father, they say, served as a surrogate for the faith of the children. Surrogate faith? What is that? You mean I can believe, and my child is saved by my faith? That’s not what the New Testament teaches. That is a severe challenge to individual salvation as well as an insertion into the text because no babies are ever mentioned and no babies are ever mentioned being baptized. Look at these three:
1. Cornelius’ house—Acts 10. The gospel was preached by Peter, Cornelius heard it…it says, “They all heard the Word…they believed it…the Spirit fell…they were all baptized.” All heard, all believed, the Spirit came on all, they were all baptized.
2. In the jailer’s house,Acts 16, it says, “All heard the gospel…all were baptized.”
3.Acts 18, at the house of Crispus, “All believed…all were baptized.”
They all hear the gospel, they all believe, they all receive the Spirit, they all are baptized. That excludes infants because infants can not hear and believe. The Household then is defined as ‘those capable of hearing, understanding, believing.’
In Stephanas’ Household, which is in I Cor 1, it says, “All who were baptized were devoted to the ministry of the saints.” Babies can’t be devoted to the ministry of the saints. It says, “All who were baptized were helping in the spiritual work of the church.” This is impossible for infants.
So using the Principle of First Reference I refute every Church father that is not faithful to the Scriptures. This is basically consistent with Athanasius’ philosophy.
So if Catholics, according to Cardinal Newman, added Pagan practices to the church, Protestants should have the right to remove them!

SDG September 1, 2009 at 11:43 am

Oneil,
You are, of course, misusing 2 Tim 3:16, as Newman demonstrated long ago:

It is quite evident that this passage furnishes no argument whatever that the Sacred Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for, although Sacred Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still it is not said to be sufficient. The Apostle requires the aid of Tradition (2 Thess. 2:15). Moreover, the Apostle here refers to the Scriptures which Timothy was taught in his infancy. Now, a good part of the New Testament was not written in his boyhood. Some of the Catholic Epistles were not written even when St. Paul wrote this, and none of the Books of the New Testament were then placed on the canon of the Scripture books. He refers, then, to the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and if the argument from this passage proved anything, it would prove too much, that the Scriptures of the New Testament were not necessary for a rule of faith.

But this old anti-Catholic saw is hardly worth going into.
Final notice. If you post again, on any subject, without either documenting or repudiating the specific claims on which you have been repeatedly challenged — that Cardinal Newman confirmed that pagan cultures practiced sacraments; that Popes Gelasius and Hormisdas explicitly attacked the Assumption or those who taught it, that Gelasius himself was declared a heretic (ostensibly by some competent Catholic authority) — your comments will be summarily removed.
I’d also like to see you respond to my comments on Tertullian’s real position on infant baptism; the pagan origin of wedding rings; and the significance of your rabbinic critique of sacraments vs. a rabbinic take on the Incarnation and Trinity.

Nicholas Jagneaux September 1, 2009 at 12:56 pm

I have been edified by the exchanges on this post. I don’t have much (if anything) to add.
But I do want to point out that Oneil is wrong about something. He writes:
You mean I can believe, and my child is saved by my faith? That’s not what the New Testament teaches.
Actually, that is what the New Testament teaches. Please forgive me for know knowing the exact verses to cite, but in the Synoptics you’ll find the story of the centurion’s servant healed because of the centurion’s faith; Jairus’ daughter who was healed because of her father’s faith; and woman whose faith saved her daughter.
Oneil and others might object, saying that bringing them back to life is not the same as *saving* them. However, Jesus used physical healing (as with the paralytic whose friends — not even family — had faith) to demonstrate spiritual healing.
Regardless, there is clear evidence that Jesus allowed the faith of others to serve as a surrogate for the person who is sick.
For me, this is clear. And, I figured it out on my own. This wasn’t something I learned (that I can remember) in some Catholic catechism class. So, was I inspired by the Holy Spirit to that conclusion? Or am I deceiving myself?

Oneil September 1, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Nicholas,
You are deceiving yourself.
SDG,
My interpretation is that Tertullian is being pastoral. To avoid offending his audience he is trying to encourage them to believers baptism by saying it is more profitable. His statements are too vague and unsystematic to determine what he actually meant. Thus Catholics and Protestants can read the same church father and draw completely different conclusions.
My statement regarding Cardinal Newman stating Jews as non-sacramental comes from one of my Catholic friends books. Unfortunately, I don’t have this book available. So I will concede that point until I have the actual reference.
My statement about Orthodox Jews not believing in Sacraments is based on personal experience as stated in my previous post. That event occurred almost 15 years ago.
A. D. Nock (Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences XI 174.) says: There are fundamental differences in pagan and Christian sacraments. Pagan sacraments turn on the liberating or creating of an immortal element in the individual with a view to the hereafter but with no effective change of the moral self for the purposes of living. Christian sacraments, in their earliest phase, turned entirely on corporate participation in the new order, for which all were alike unfitted by nature.
Pope Honorius was excommunicated as a heretic,not Pope
Hormisdas, at the 6th ecumenical council. Since Gelasius does not explicitly condemn Mary’s Assumption, I will concede that point to make the following statement.
The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the first genuine written references to the Assumption come from authors who lived in the sixth century.
“If we consult genuine writings in the East, it is mentioned by St. John of Damascus, St. Modestus of Jerusalem and others. In the West, St. Gregory of Tours (De gloria mart., I, iv) mentions it first.
St. Gregory lived in the sixth century, while St John Damascene belongs to the eight. Thus for several centuries in the early Church, there is no mention by the church fathers of the bodily assumption of Mary. Irenaeus, Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose and the Bible make no mention of it. Writing in 377 A.D., church father Epiphanius states that no-one knows Mary’s end. Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. 78.10-11, 23. Cited by Juniper Carol, OFM, Mariology, vol. II, pp. 139-40
Okay I hope that ties up the loose ends.
Now I ask you how did you determine that Roman Catholicism, not the Eastern Orthodox, is the true church?

Nicholas Jagneaux September 1, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Oneil,
I don’t think I am deceived. I may be wrong to draw an analogy between the physical healings (which occurred through the faith of family/friends) and spiritual salvation. But, I think I am headed in the right direction.
Luckily, the authority of the Catholic Church provides me with the guidance that I need.
I pray for the unity of all Christians — for you and for me.

The Masked Chicken September 1, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Dear Oneil,
Should geologists/astrophysicists just pack up and go home now that Scripture, in your opinion, has stated the age of the earth? Should they even bother with studying the morphological evolution of the earth and the universe? Is their science less noble than low energy physics or biology?
Just out of curiosity, does Scripture mention anything about the cause of illnesses such as colds? In fact, name one Biblical character who had a cold? May we accept that colds do not exist because they are not mentioned in Scripture?
Apparently, it did not rain during Jesus’s life, because rain in Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Gospels.
Not everything about nature is contained in the Bible. Why would it have been more important for God to tell us about the age of the universe than about germs? Had Scripture told us about germs, the transmission of diseases, and their treatments in a less roundabout fashion (leprosy was treated by banishment) how many people might have lived? Apparently, God does want man to progress in knowledge and there are things he did not tell us.
The Chicken

Lucien Syme September 1, 2009 at 5:05 pm

From Oneil: “Now I ask you how did you determine that Roman Catholicism, not the Eastern Orthodox, is the true church?”
From the Bible: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.”
I have read that verse at least 30 times and the Holy Spirit spoke to me.
That was your advice and methodology regarding John 3 and Genesis, so that should suffice for my determination of that question too.
Unless you are now willing to admit that maybe there could and should be a better way to determine the meaning of Scripture.
But if you do admit that, then you also poke holes in your earlier advice and methodology. You need to be consistent otherwise you will lose your unofficial title of Viking Scientific Theologian.

Oneil September 1, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Lucien,
I was very specific in that you must read John 3 times. I did not say you should read Matthew. Matthew is written to a Jewish audience, which requires a background as a Jew to fully understand. Similarly I did not say read Genesis. Genesis is a more advanced topic. So you did not follow my instructions to the letter. You also must attend a Protestant church for 9 consecutive weeks.
The quote about the Peter being the rock, I will answer in another post.
Chicken,
I am not sure what you are saying. Maybe your making a veiled insult. So I will say that the Bible never said pigs can’t fly or where Michael Jackson lost his other glove. So I am not sure what your point is. Science is first and foremost a philosophy that can be helpful or not. Personally, I think much of Astrophysics and Evolutionary Biology is pure speculation and not a science.
However regarding doctrine the Bible is specific enough.
Infant baptism was practiced by pagan cultures. The church did a poor job of discipling( has not changed in 2000 years) and people wanted to baptize their children. Pastors, were overwhelmed, and the practice crept into the church. Systematic theology has removed these barnacles, but Catholics are wedded to their tradition. We each make our bed and risk the consequences. Paul basically called the Judaizers non-Christians, so I don’t have a problem calling Catholics or Eastern Orthodox non-Christians. And it does not bother my Viking sensibilities to be considered a heretic by Catholics. As the Bible says, I rather you be hot or cold, but if your lukewarm I will spit you out.
I know that the Bible is a two edged sword that divides between joint and marrow, soul and spirit and makes all the church fathers pale in comparison. The church fathers were good pastors, poor theologians, and had weak understand of Covenantal Theology. They got the Trinity and hypostatic union right, but dropped the ball when it came to separating soul and spirit, justification by faith, and the ordinances of the church.

Tim J. September 1, 2009 at 6:01 pm

“The church did a poor job of discipling( has not changed in 2000 years) and people wanted to baptize their children. Pastors, were overwhelmed, and the practice crept into the church.”
Be honest… your just making this up as you go, aren’t you? I mean, what actual evidence is there to support these airy speculations?

Lucien Syme September 1, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Oneil,
From Oneil: “I was very specific in that you must read John 3 times. I did not say you should read Matthew. Matthew is written to a Jewish audience, which requires a background as a Jew to fully understand. Similarly I did not say read Genesis. Genesis is a more advanced topic. So you did not follow my instructions to the letter. You also must attend a Protestant church for 9 consecutive weeks.
I only hope those were ALL attempts at humor otherwise I can only recommend you start taking medication containing lithium.
FYI I have been attending a Protestant church (with my wife) for years now much more than the 9 consecutive weeks recommended here and I only grow more convinced every consecutive week that Protestantism (in general)will last for 3 more generations – tops.
They tend to make even less sense than you, if that is possible but in all fairness to you I do not speak Viking.

Oneil September 1, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Lucien Syme,
Sorry, let me put my sword back in the holster. Please DO tell me which Protestant church you attend. You don’t have to give me the actual name, just the denomination will be sufficient.

SDG September 1, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Oneil,
I accept your provisional retractions regarding Newman on sacraments and Hormisdas’s supposed heresy.
You still have neither documented nor repudiated your claims that that Popes Gelasius and Hormisdas explicitly attacked the Assumption or those who taught it.
You still have not addressed the substance of my rebuttal of your interview with the rabbis.
On Tertullian, there is no evidence whatsoever for your “pastoral” supposition, which is at best speculation rather than an “interpretation” because there is no actual evidence to support it. The most you can claim for your “interpretation” is that Tertullian doesn’t outright contradict it.
Statements like “Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the ‘remission of sins?’” do not appear to suffer from hopeless ambiguity. If nothing else, Tertullian plainly indicates that (a) young children are innocent and yet (b) in baptism they receive the remission of sins.
Likewise, “one who is not trusted with earthly substance is trusted with divine” indicates that in baptism children do receive what is divine. Again, “If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay” indicates that baptism in all its “weighty import” is indeed conferred in the baptism of children.
And, again, Tertullian’s very apologetic indicates that the practice was widespread and well-established … and Tertullian was the first to raise even this mild objection to it.
Nicolas:

“I don’t think I am deceived. “

However, Oneil is not as biased as you are, so you should take his word for it.
Tim J:

“Be honest… your just making this up as you go, aren’t you? I mean, what actual evidence is there to support these airy speculations?”

Yes, he is. No such evidence exists.

George G. September 2, 2009 at 12:28 am

@Oneil
I’ll just respond to a few things.
Look what Wikipedia has to say about Eusebius.
I don’t give a flying fart about Eusebius. Why did Eusebius creep into this conversation? What does he have to do with anything?
Also, if you believe everyone is biased and twists history, why do you believe anything that you read at all?
“If you think the Catholic church never created a forged document than your naive.”
Well, that’s better than being biased, I suppose.
“Many pagan cultures believed that when their god is physically present in a statue or amulet that it is evidence of sacramentalism.”
I took a Greek Mythology class a few years ago. At one point, the professor tried to convince the class that Christianity was just a Greco-Roman mystery religion, one of many that were floating around at the time. She explained, that like all mystery religions, Christianity had an initiation ritual, that it had a dying and rising god at the centre of it’s worship, and that it preached a paradise after death. You remind me of her.
“It is picking through Christianity mixed with the flotsam of human tradition.”
Sounds exhausting.
“My experience is that people are much more biased than I am.”
O. . . K. . .
“If I know nothing than I don’t foolishly interject my opinion.”
Uh huh.
“I’ll make it very simple Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox can NOT all be the church that Christ built.”
Right. I agree.
Wait. You think Christ founded the Protestant church(es)? Again, you talk about them like they’re one thing.
“So here is a simple test.”
Now it’s simple? What happened to being a Scientist and Theologian?
“If a church says that Muslims and Christians worship the same god then you know it is apostate.
That’s the litmus test, eh? Well, good news! I just started the Church of the Flying Rainbow Space Monkey, and you’ll be happy to know that we don’t believe that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. I’m saved!
“Now you only need to search between two groups.”
Just all the non-Catholic Christian groups? Yeah, that really narrows it down. Again, that sounds very pick-and-choose to me.
“When Rome fell in the 5th century, Europe entered the Dark Ages until the Renaissance.”
Oh, dear. Are you from the 18th century? Most modern Medievalists would completely disagree with you on this one.
“So using the Principle of First Reference I refute every Church father that is not faithful to the Scriptures.”
Well, that seems awfully arbitrary.
“The church fathers were good pastors, poor theologians. . .”
Wow. Given that they’re much closer to Jesus’ time and culture, it seems reasonable to me to assume that they had a good idea of what they were talking about.

Lucien Syme September 2, 2009 at 5:43 am

Oneil,
I attend an Evangelical non-denominational church every Sunday with my wife (and only because of her)right after going to Mass. I do also try to get to Mass everyday with the usual exception being on Saturdays (unless there is a Marian feast or Holy Day).
Her church started in 1970 AD and has many good people in it, they are trying hard to live the Gospel as they understand it.
The Catholic Church was started in 0 AD and has many good people in it, they are trying hard to live the Gospel as they understand it.
There are the occasional weeds at my wife’s chuch, they tend to go back to being Baptist. :)
There are the occasional weeds in the Catholic Church they tend to start a movement while staying in the Church trying to bring it down. :(

Oneil September 2, 2009 at 6:49 am

Lucien,
With the little detail you have given me, I am assuming that you are going to a seeker friendly church. These churches can be very doctrinally light. So here is my proposal. There is a link below, please do the test.(Do NOT click the Chick Tract stuff in the upper left. That will only upset you!) Hopefully we can discuss afterward.
Two Question Test
Was that helpful in explaining the Gospel message?

SDG September 2, 2009 at 7:16 am

Oneil,
The test is not particularly helpful.
To the first question about whether you believe you will go to heaven when you die, I answered “Yes” (the “correct” response). But I could just as easily have answered “I hope so,” as St. Paul does: “Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God” (Rom 5:2). Yet the test makers would have considered this a “wrong” answer.
To the second question about why you hope to go to heaven, I answered “Other” (the “correct” response), since I hope to go to heaven because I have received new life in Jesus. But I could just as easily have answered “I keep the 10 commandments” or “I’m basically a good person,” since the NT tells us that those who do evil will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, and that God will render to every man according to his works, giving eternal life for those who seek immortality by persistence in doing good, etc. Of course I believe that I am basically a good person because I have been justified, and that I fulfill the law because Christ fulfills it in me. But they are still valid answers, even though the test makers would have considered them “wrong.”
The test didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know as a faithful Catholic, although I could probably tell the test makers a thing or two. What makes you think Lucien or any faithful Catholic needs or could benefit from this test?
Do you plan on documenting or repudiating your claims about Popes Gelasius and Hormisdas attacking the Assumption at some point?

Tim J. September 2, 2009 at 7:20 am

Oneil, you seem to be under the impression that people don’t understand your views and so reject them. The fact is that we have no problem understanding your views. In fact, it is BECAUSE we understand them that we reject them as false.
How did you imagine that directing people to that corny web page was going to help your argument?
Again, this is precisely how “Oneil” (only his latest alias) has performed in the past. He makes a ridiculous charge against the Church, it gets swatted down, and he throws out ten even more preposterous charges.

The Masked Chicken September 2, 2009 at 8:52 am

Dear Oneil,
You wrote:
Chicken,
I am not sure what you are saying. Maybe your making a veiled insult.

No. I was simply asking a question. Which is more important for the salvation of man: knowing the age of the earth or knowing about bacteria? If you answer the age of the earth, then, could you speculate why? Using Scripture to answer questions about the age of the earth should mean that one can use Scripture to answer questions about bacteria. If not, why not? Did not God create both (there are good bacteria, you know).
I try noy to insult combox commenters. I do, occasionally, get frustrated at them and when that frustration spills over into my comments, I apologize (if I realize my rudeness). I have no reason to insult you. The discussion has been interesting, so far, if a bit side-tracked.
The Chicken

John September 2, 2009 at 8:52 am

“I would not be at all surprised if there are past papal, curial, or conciliar texts that do indicate an age-range for the earth or the cosmos as part of ordinary magisterial teaching”
Although not directly related to the age of the earth, the church’s former attitude toward science is well illustrated in the cases involving Galileo and Copernicus. If you could provide an explanation of those cases, it would be helpful.

The Masked Chicken September 2, 2009 at 8:54 am

That should read:
I try not to insult combox commenters.
Of course, I may, occasionally make them frustrated.
The Chicken

Lucien Syme September 2, 2009 at 9:00 am

Tim J.
If you all are telling me that Oneil is not an actual Viking Scientific Theologian from the 150 year old orthodox Evangelical Protestant church, please clue me into his real person (or previous AKA’s).
I had already suggested Oneil is Jimmy Akin’s alter ego, a claim he has not refuted (Jimmy not Oneil).
Jimmy did some investigation regarding Jack Chick some years back so this connection is yet another clue to me that Oneil is in fact Jimmy Akin; trying to wreck his blog, laughing at us all in the process and preparing for tomorrow’s show.
Who knows maybe Jack reached Jimmy with the authentic Gospel message?

Oneil September 2, 2009 at 10:09 am

‘The first express witness in the West to a genuine assumption comes to us in an apocryphal Gospel, the Transitus Beatae Mariae of Pseudo–Melito’ (Juniper Carol, O.F.M. ed., Mariology, Vol. l (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1957), p. 149).
“In the list of apocryphal writings which are to be rejected Gelasius signifies the following work: Liber qui apellatur Transitus, id est Assumptio Sanctae Mariae, Apocryphus (Pope Gelasius 1, Epistle 42, Migne Series, M.P.L. vol. 59, Col. 162). This specifically means the Transitus writing of the assumption of Mary. At the end of the decree he states that this and all the other listed literature is heretical and that their authors and teachings and all who adhere to them are condemned and placed under eternal anathema which is indissoluble. And he places the Transitus literature in the same category as the heretics and writings of Arius, Simon Magus, Marcion, Apollinaris, Valentinus and Pelagius. These are his comments… “- See http://www.christiantruth.com/assumption.html
Thus no church father before this time discusses the Assumption. So tell me how could the church declare in 1950, infallibly no less, that the Assumption occurred? What you are saying is the church fathers were all clueless about Mary and the Pope Pius XII had some divine revelation. Talk about stretching credulity and testing sensibilities.
So I want to hear how Catholics rationalize this dilemma.

Oneil September 2, 2009 at 10:23 am

Chicken,
My Thesis is very simple.
1. If you can not properly determine the Age of Adam or Methuselah using the Bible then you are not in the position to ‘rightly divide the Word of Truth’.
2. If you don’t divide the Word of Truth correctly on the basic stuff, then you can not be trusted in interpreting the more important discussions such as righteousness, justification, and salvation.
As an Example SDG speaks volumes about his spiritual condition in his response to my ‘Two Question Test’ post. Unfortunately, I would probably get banned if I laid his statements all out.

SDG September 2, 2009 at 10:40 am

Oneil:
Your original claim was that “Pope Gelasius refuted the Assumption of Mary( this was first mentioned in a Gnostic Text).” What you now indicate is that Pope Gelasius rejected as heretical a(n apparently non-extant) text treating the Assumption of Mary, which is something else entirely.
Unless Gelasius tells us why the text is heretical, we don’t know the reason he rejected it. Certainly claiming that a text is heretical does not equate to rejecting everything in the text (many heretical texts contain a good deal of truth). Nor does it amount to condemning all other texts that overlap in any way with the heretical text. Thus, I can only conclude that your original claim cannot be documented.
Although you have not yet attempted to document your claim that “Pope Hormisdas also condemned as heretics those authors who taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary,” I suspect it will turn out the same way: Hormisdas condemned some people as heretics, and guess what, they taught the Assumption! But that doesn’t mean he condemned them for teaching the Assumption.
It thus appears that these two charges, like your other claims regarding Cardinal Newman on the sacraments and the pronouncement of heresy against Gelasius, are charges of straw.
Much like your speculation, completely without any evidence at all, of overwhelmed second-century pastors inventing infant baptism cuz they just didn’t know what oh what to do with the hordes of common people bringing babies to church.
And your speculation, again without evidence, that Tertullian was really an Anabaptist who talked as if he believed that infant baptism worked cuz he wanted to be pastoral.
And your idea that people who disagree with you about infant baptism and women’s ordination just haven’t read the Bible enough times to get the illumination of the Spirit to see it all your way.
And your idea that 2 Tim 3:16 teaches sola scriptura. Etc., etc., etc.

“If you can not properly determine the Age of Adam or Methuselah using the Bible then you are not in the position to ‘rightly divide the Word of Truth’.”

Only if you presuppose what you cannot know a priori, that questions which the Bible does not answer definitively (which you admit exist) necessarily do not include the ages of Adam or Methuselah. I know that’s how you interpret Genesis. So what you are really saying boils down to “Based on my interpretation, you don’t know how to interpret the Bible.” Ever heard of arguing in a circle?

“As an Example SDG speaks volumes about his spiritual condition in his response to my ‘Two Question Test’ post. Unfortunately, I would probably get banned if I laid his statements all out.”

Which probably speaks volumes about your spiritual condition, alas. I am sorry, brother.

George G. September 2, 2009 at 10:59 am

@Oneil
“The church fathers were good pastors, poor theologians. . .” and “What you are saying is the church fathers were all clueless. . .”
OK, you can’t claim that the Church Father’s were poor theologians and then turn around and use them as proof of your position against the Assumption. Either they reliably know what they are talking about or they don’t.
“1. If you can not properly determine the Age of Adam or Methuselah using the Bible then you are not in the position to ‘rightly divide the Word of Truth’.
2. If you don’t divide the Word of Truth correctly on the basic stuff, then you can not be trusted in interpreting the more important discussions such as righteousness, justification, and salvation.”

How you read the Bible is the question I was trying to ask you above. You assume a literalistic reading of certain passages, but you’ve never explained why, except to say that if we don’t read as you do, we’re in error.
Also, I went to that site you posted, and it doesn’t seem like the answers you select actually matter.

Lucien Syme September 2, 2009 at 11:47 am

Oneil,
I went to Jack Chick’s website and went through the questions. It was unfortunately not very convincing both the website and you claim you must find a church that teaches 100% what the bible claims to be true.
But the bible is very complex (it is living after all – in a spiritual sense) and can not ever be used as an effective tool of Christian unification simply because of the fact that it is such an effective tool of Christian disunity. The devil proved pretty capable of twisting the meaning of Scripture in his encounter with our Lord.
We need guides to teach us these things and the Catholic Church has proven to be the best guide. Many of the Protestant churches have to jump all around the bible to build cases for their theology (i.e. Once Saved Always Saved).
The Catholic Church follows the rules the best because they are her rules; there is no jumping here, there and everywhere. The Church has never claimed that the bible alone is sufficient for everyone to reach salvation because the bible came from the Church. You have to enter into the life of the Church to fully experience the life of Jesus, to enter into His Body and be a part of the Kingdom.
My life since the beginning of my conversion to the Catholic Church can be summed up by the following excerpt from Acts Chapter 2:
“[36] Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” [37] Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” [38] And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [39] For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” [40] And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” [41] So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. [42] And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
The Eucharist (breaking of bread), of course, being the source and summit of my life now. I have genuinely experienced Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, not just intellectually He has touched my body, soul and spirit.
He has convicted me of all the obstacles (my sinfulness) that are currently in my way of deeper intimacy with Him both at Communion and just sitting with Him in the pews at Adoration (or when the Tabernacle is not opened).
I do hope you will find it in your heart to be open to Jesus in the Eucharist – again – if you really were ever Catholic.
This Real Presence is what moves the world (whether it knows it or not) to want to improve, we just have to be willing to listen and obey.

Oneil September 2, 2009 at 11:48 am

George,
Many people claim that Orthodox Protestants read the Bible literally. First you need to define literally.
The Bible is composed of many genres of literature, from poetry, to parable, to history, to prophecy, to peoples thoughts, similes, metaphors, etc. So you can’t read it all literally. So one must use the right tool for the right job, meaning use the correct hermeneutic for the corresponding genre. The bulk of Genesis, for example, is in the historical genre.
Does that answer your question?

Oneil September 2, 2009 at 11:51 am

SDG,
I still would like to know how you would explain Pope Pius XII speaking infallibly regarding the Assumption?
The Bible comands us to test the spirits. So I am looking for an explanation, maybe I have missed something.

Lucien Syme September 2, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Come on people we only need four more posts to reach 300 comments, most of them trivial, but milestones in cyberspace are still milestones.

The Masked Chicken September 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm

The bulk of Genesis, for example, is in the historical genre.
You know this, how? Metaphor is classically included in the literal sense.
The Chicken

George G. September 2, 2009 at 2:14 pm

@Oneil
Many people claim that Orthodox Protestants read the Bible literally. First you need to define literally.
By “literalistically,” I mean reading in a way that doesn’t go beyond the surface meaning of the words. So, when Jesus says to cut off a hand if it causes one to sin, a literalist reader might think he’s actually suggesting that we lop off body parts.
“The Bible is composed of many genres of literature, from poetry, to parable, to history, to prophecy, to peoples thoughts, similes, metaphors, etc. So you can’t read it all literally.”
Yes, I agree.
“The bulk of Genesis, for example, is in the historical genre.”
Fine. So, when you read that Methuselah was 969 years old, you take that statement at face value. That’s not really my problem. What I don’t understand is why you speak as though the whole Bible, or even Christianity itself, hinges on reading Genesis in this particular way. Why does it matter?
Does that answer your question?
Somewhat.

SDG September 2, 2009 at 2:46 pm

“The bulk of Genesis, for example, is in the historical genre.”

Define “bulk of Genesis.” If you mean “chapters 12-50,” I would still demur from calling it “history” in the same sense that the Gospels are history, but if you mean anything prior to Genesis 12 then I would disagree outright. Even if the events happened exactly as reported, it isn’t history in the literary-genre sense. I need to write a post on this soon…

SDG September 2, 2009 at 2:52 pm

“I still would like to know how you would explain Pope Pius XII speaking infallibly regarding the Assumption?”

I’ll see what I can do for you, but you need to man up regarding your own claims first. We have established that you can’t document your claims regarding Newman and sacraments and the anathematizing of Gelasius. You seem to have tacitly admitted that you don’t really have documentation that Gelasius said anything against the Assumption itself, or against people who taught the Assumption per se — only against one particular, apparently non-extant text the grounds for condemnation of which we don’t know. So those three claims are toast.
That leaves your still-undocumented claim that “Pope Hormisdas also condemned as heretics those authors who taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary,” which of course seems to imply that they were condemned as heretics for teaching the Assumption. Can you document that one, or do we just add it to the pile without further ado, along with your undocumented claims about the historical origins of infant baptism and your undefended interpretation of Tertullian on infant baptism?

Kiran September 2, 2009 at 4:44 pm

I don’t see how a Thomist could maintain the idea that natures changed as a result of the fall. Cf. Thomas on the vegetarianism of lions.
Of course, Thomism isn’t dogma.

Oneil September 2, 2009 at 8:34 pm

SDG,
Pope Gelasius explicitly condemns the authors as well as their writings and the teachings which they promote and all who follow them. And significantly, this entire decree and its condemnation was reaffirmed by Pope Hormisdas in the sixth century around A.D. 520. (Migne Vol. 62. Col.537-542). These facts prove that the early Church viewed the assumption teaching, not as a legitimate expression of the pious belief of the faithful but as a heresy worthy of condemnation. There are those who question the authority of the so-called Gelasian decree on historical grounds saying that it is spuriously attributed to Gelasius. However, the Roman Catholic authorities Denzinger, Charles Joseph Hefele, W. A. Jurgens and the New Catholic Encyclopedia all affirm that the decree derives from Pope Gelasius, and Pope Nicholas I in a letter to the bishops of Gaul (c. 865 A.D.) officially quotes from this decree and attributes its authorship to Gelasius.
- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2317949/posts. Unless one of us speaks French there is no way to arbitrate this any further. I am assuming that my source is correctly quoting Migne, who was a French Catholic Priest.
It is interesting on how you want to make Tertullian the sticking point for Infant Baptism. You don’t want to tackle the 4 points that I raised from Scripture. Scripture, not Tertullian, is the Protestant rule of faith. Tertullian is an example of showing that infant baptism was not a universal practice. Corruption crept into the church this is obvious, especially if she is sanctifying pagan practices( according to Neumann).
Protestants can spin the data one way and Catholics can spin it another way. How does one arbitrate? My approach is to re-derive everything from scripture. Yours is to trust the Magisterium. One of us is right and the other wrong.

Kiran September 2, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Umm.. Who or what is an Orthodox protestant? Is, for instance, the New Perspective on Paul, orthodox or not? Why? or Why not?
How can someone who denies pretty much all of Luther (the Real Presence, the forgiveness of sins, the veneration of Mary, the co-operation of the believer) call themselves an Orthodox protestant?
Second question, how does one interpret anything in the Scriptures? You have one version, for instance, not only of what the Scriptures are saying on several things (sacraments, so on). You have another. Who is to judge? Why should anybody accept what you have to say?
My basic point is outside of an interpreting community, statements simply do not have a literal meaning.

Kiran September 2, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Example: “Thatfatcow” (and remember, before some obscure monks decided to add punctuation and spacing in between words in the 8th century, that is all you would have read) could be a statement about a woman expressing anger, a statement pointing to a specific fat bovine, or simply a philosophical illustration about hermeneutics, to list but three interpretations.

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 5:20 am

Kiran,
To explain my position fully would require me writing a 1000 page book. I have studied Theology for close to 20 years.
The New perspective on Paul is pure garbage. It totally undermines the central doctrine of the Atonement and Justification by Faith. Jesus warned that there would be many false teachers, this is an example of one.
Most people don’t want to take the time to properly equip themselves to be theologians. In today’s age if you are not a theologian it is almost impossible to be protected against false doctrine. Consequently, people through up their hands in futility and say I will just believe in Church X because they like the Pastor, or the history of the church, or this is how they were raised.
Therefore the casual ‘Christian’ is in a serious pickle. Regardless of ones view the Reformation was primarily fueled by Theology as applied to Biblical Interpretation.
Again I don’t ask anyone to believe me. I challenge people to search the scriptures to see if what I am saying is true. Again, IF the scriptures are not complete, as pertaining to Theology, than they are fairly worthless. If they are complete, then there is no need to appeal to church fathers.
If I claim to be a Physicist and say 1 + 1 = 3 then you would have to question if I knew anything about Physics or Math. Similarly when the Catholic Church states that Muslims and Catholics worship the same god, I have to question if they know anything about Theology.
So unless you are willing to devote serious time into the effort of rigorous theological study I can not help.

Tim J. September 3, 2009 at 5:32 am

“I have studied Theology for close to 20 years.”
So, you’ve formally studied theology? Where? Under whom? Do you have a degree?

The Masked Chicken September 3, 2009 at 5:37 am

In today’s age if you are not a theologian it is almost impossible to be protected against false doctrine.
…and even if you are a theologian…
Note: this comment is not directed against Oneil. It is a general comment about the sorry disarray of some modern theology.
On this question, however, Oneil, how do you expect a layman to become a theologian? There is a lot of pop theology and pop physics out there, but reading either one can lead one to false conclusions. What training do you recommend for an amateur theologian? I know what I would recommend. Perhaps we can compare notes.
The Chicken

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 5:55 am

TimJ,
I have a Masters in Theology from a recognized Seminary. I am working on the Doctorate of Theology part time. Currently writing 3 Theology books as part of my Sabbatical. My wife is correcting my English. :-)
Chicken,
I would like to hear your approach to studying Theology first.

SDG September 3, 2009 at 6:40 am

Oneil,
As it happens, I have a close friend who (a) is a reference librarian and (b) reads French and Latin. I’m sure I can get some first-hand info on what Migne says soon.
You don’t say which author(s), writing(s) or teaching(s) Gelasius condemns. You don’t say what Gelasius says at all.
FWIW, of the Gelasian decree Wikipedia says only that it includes “a catalogue of the ‘apocrypha’ and other writings which are to be rejected.”
At this point I am skeptical whether the Gelasian decree singles out either (a) the doctrine or teaching of the Assumption or (b) any/all authors or writings that treat the Assumption per se (as opposed to some particular apocryphal work that might be condemned for any number of reasons).
Hopefully a final answer soon.
On Tertullian, I’m only responding to what you wrote, which I find indefensible and bereft of evidence. If you want to leave what you wrote undefended and turn to scripture, I’m fine with that.
OTOH, I have long said, years before I became a Catholic, that on the subject of infant baptism vs. believer baptism, there is a paucity of scriptural evidence. So not only can “Protestants can spin the data one way and Catholics can spin it another way,” as you keep saying, but also Protestant pedobaptists can spin the data one way and Protestant Anabaptists can spin it another way — and both of them can claim the same method of arbitration, to “re-derive everything from scripture.” What do you do with that?
I know, pedobaptists just haven’t re-read scripture often enough to arrive at the illumination of the Spirit and come to see it your way, right? It was complacent, self-serving attitudes like that that drove me as a young Protestant to consider the claims of the Catholic Church.

The Masked Chicken September 3, 2009 at 7:29 am

Unless one of us speaks French there is no way to arbitrate this any further. I am assuming that my source is correctly quoting Migne, who was a French Catholic Priest.
As far as what I would recommend in the study of theology, it is hard to say, because there are various levels. Since my background is in academia, I would be more prone to suggest a systematic approach. How much time would a layman have to learn languages, learn how to approach history, the various schools of historical thought, how to use statistics, etc. I can suggest a course of self-study or a more systematic formal study under the tutelage of a scholar. How much of a theologian does one need to be in order to be protected against false doctrine?
I have actually used Migne and the Scriptorum (for Eastern texts), since there are texts relevant to one of my academic areas in them and I have access to a large research library and a theological consortium composed three seminary libraries: Catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist. Migne collected the texts in Latin. I haven’t used it in a while, but at most the introductory material is in French, but if memory serves, even that is in Latin.
You do know that Migne is online?

The Masked Chicken September 3, 2009 at 7:36 am

Here is another site that does not require registration (I think).
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken September 3, 2009 at 7:40 am

Here is the parent site for the non-login Migne

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 9:06 am

SDG,
Catholics must also consider that Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, and Syrian Orthodox make similar claims regarding unity, apostolic, and continuity. So my observation is that there are many claims, so how is an honest person to arbitrate. Christ promised to protect His Word, so if Jews could derive all Levitical law from the Old Testament it seems to me that all Christian doctrine can be derived from the Bible.
So my approach was initially to go among Presbyterian, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Baptist, and Pentecostals and ask them scriptural evidence for their doctrine. After 5 years of this methodology I became quite confident in who believed what and why.
This is the reason I became a Protestant:-)

SDG September 3, 2009 at 9:09 am

Oneil:

From my Latin-reading reference librarian friend, N.M. Note particularly the paragraph in bold.

Migne is the nineteenth-century editor and publisher of early Christian texts. There is no French in his publications; they are entirely in Greek and Latin. Generally he just collected and re-printed the text; there’s usually no commentary.

One of the difficulties using Migne is that there are multiple printing editions. So when one has a citation to volume 47, you have to know which edition. It’s usually better to cite by the actual author (in this case, Gelasius, or the 496 Council of Rome). This webpage (perhaps created by your interlocutor) accurately reprints the particular pages from Migne.

You are absolutely correct that what is being condemned here is a particular written work, not every specific teaching in that work. Thirteen lines above the Transitus (id est Assumptio sanctae Mariae), you will see another work entitled Liber de Nativitate [al. Infantia] Salvatoris. “Gelasius” no more condemned the Church’s teaching on the assumption of Mary than he condemned the Church’s teaching on the nativity of the Saviour.

I am not sure why your interlocutor writes, “However, the Roman Catholic authorities Denzinger, Charles Joseph Hefele, W. A. Jurgens and the New Catholic Encyclopedia all affirm that the decree derives from Pope Gelasius”. This is manifestly inaccurate.

The English version of Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (Herder, 1955): “An enumeration of the canonical books similar to that, which we have placed under Damasus is accustomed in certain codices to be set before the special Decree of Gelasius. Nevertheless among others it is no longer read in this place.”

New Catholic Encyclopedia in the article on “Bible, III” (1967 edition, II, 395): “The so-called Decree of Gelasius, reputedly written in 382 [i.e. under Damasus - N.M.], contains a list of all 27 NT books. Its authenticity, however, is disputed.”

New Catholic Encyclopedia in the article on “Gelasian Decree” (2002 edition, VI, 119): “So-called. … A compilation of documents of probably different periods, it is thought by many scholars to have been put together privately by a cleric of southern Gaul or northern Italy at the beginning of the 6th century.”

For what Hefele wrote about 1870, see page 42 and following in this work.

Even in his time, things were very unclear.

Jurgens says, “It is now commonly held that the part of the Gelasian Decree dealing with the accepted canon of Scripture is an authentic work of the Council of Rome of 382 A.D., and that Gelasius edited it again at the end of the fifth century, adding to it the catalog of the rejected books, the apocrypha.”

In discussions of the Gelasian decree, it is often unclear to which part the authors are referring.

Sometimes it is unclear exactly which work or part of a work is being received or condemned in the Gelasian decree. The decree receives “opuscula B. Cypriani martyris et Carthaginensis episcopi, in omnibus”, but rejects “Liber qui appellatur Poenitentia sancti Cypriani” and “Opuscula Tatii [al. Tharsi seu Tascii] Cypriani”. It receives “chronica Eusebii Caesariensis”, but rejects “Historia Eusebii Pamphili”.

So there you have it. Authorship questions aside, if you claim that Gelasius (or whoever compiled the list of apocrypha) condemned the Assumption of Mary because he rejected the Transitus, you must also conclude that he rejected the Nativity of the Savior because he rejected the Liber de Nativitate [al. Infantia] Salvatoris. It is manifestly a specific apocryphal work, not the entire topic of that work, that is here rejected. Your argument fails.

Dave Mueller September 3, 2009 at 9:32 am

oneil,
You are making an assumption that knowing exactly when Adam and Eve lived is crucial to our Faith. Please justify that assumption.
Sure, it would be nice to know that, and many other things, such as who the Nephilim were…our minds are naturally curious. But do these things help us to attain salvation in Jesus Christ…apparently not, otherwise God would have made the answer clear.

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 10:07 am

SDG,
Good, I stand corrected. Nevertheless, the Assumption of Mary is first mentioned in this Apocryphal work. So this still brings up the question how can I trust the doctrine of the Assumption, proclaimed in 1950, if the first mention is from an Aprocryphal work?

Tim J. September 3, 2009 at 10:28 am

“Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, and Syrian Orthodox make similar claims regarding unity, apostolic, and continuity”
I don’t think the Catholic church challenges the apostolic nature of these bodies. I think the disunity, particularly of the various Orthodox churches, has only become more evident over time.
The papacy turns out to be a practical necessity as well as a mandate of Sacred Tradition.

Tim J. September 3, 2009 at 10:31 am

“I have a Masters in Theology from a recognized Seminary”
May I ask which one?

SDG September 3, 2009 at 10:36 am

“Good, I stand corrected. Nevertheless, the Assumption of Mary is first mentioned in this Apocryphal work. So this still brings up the question how can I trust the doctrine of the Assumption, proclaimed in 1950, if the first mention is from an Aprocryphal work?”

Good for you, Oneil. You went out on a limb with those claims, so I’m glad you can admit you made a mistake.
I’ll try to answer your question (and other questions you’ve asked) in the near future.

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 10:38 am

When Adam and Eve lived is important but not crucial to our faith. The discussion on Adam and Eve is a good litmus test to know if somebody is talking utter nonsense.
Simple test.
1. Claim Muslims and Catholics worship same god.
2. Claim things about Adam and Eve inconsistent with the Bible
3. It is safe to assume if 1 and 2 occur then you can disqualify them as a valid teaching authority.
Chicken,
I agree with the Systematic Theology approach. I have Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Pentecostal tomes in my library. I compare and contrast them regularly.
Either the Catholic Eucharist is the greatest miracle or the greatest deception in Christendom. There are no other options. Because of this issue, unity with Evangelical Protestants and Catholics will NEVER occur. Both can not be correct!

SDG September 3, 2009 at 11:41 am

“Either the Catholic Eucharist is the greatest miracle or the greatest deception in Christendom. “

Amen to that, Oneil!

“Because of this issue, unity with Evangelical Protestants and Catholics will NEVER occur.”

Complete unity is impossible without conversion on one side or the other, yes. That’s not to say that no real unity exists, or that we can’t come closer to achieving unity in imperfect but real degrees. Whatever anyone may say to the contrary, all Christians are reborn to new life in Christ, and thus have Christ as their head. Even though visible and doctrinal unity is lacking, the love of Christ the Savior and the Holy Trinity remains a real bond of unity, one we should seek to strengthen.
Sorry if you disagree, Oneil. :)

Lucien Syme September 3, 2009 at 11:44 am

Oneil,
I think I like you better than the rest of the commentators here at JimmyAkin.org. You do not let a silly thing like logic get in the way of a good argument.
That is where everyone else goes wrong in their interactions with you here; they actually think you want to discuss things logically and that in seeing an error in your logic you might embrace their opinion.
I too am an illogical man, unreasonable at times quite frankly; after all I do not let something which is authentically un-proveable get in the way of my Faith.
All ‘revealed’ religion is un-proveable but at the same time it rarely can be disproven; it is a good paradox which leads to great discussions (not that this has been a particularly great discussion).
At the end of it we have to look upon our respective traditions (Traditions & traditions in Catholic terminology) and decide I will take my 2,000 year old traditions over your 150 year old traditions.
But since this is now the unofficial official commbox of Fundamentalism versus Catholicism I would like you opinion on something.
Do please read the following excerpt regarding Fundamentalism by the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s 1994 document THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE IN THE CHURCH (part I. F)
http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.htm#3
To me it is a good, but brief, overview of the history of Fundamentalism as an approach for interpretation to Scripture. If there are any deficiencies or distortions (i.e. untruthful or contradictory statements) let me know. I plan on using the reference in the near future but would like to flesh it out a bit with some criticism.

SDG September 3, 2009 at 11:50 am

“Simple test.

1. Claim Muslims and Catholics worship same god.
2. Claim things about Adam and Eve inconsistent with the Bible
3. It is safe to assume if 1 and 2 occur then you can disqualify them as a valid teaching authority.”

It’s just silly to call this a “test.” All it “tests” for is who disagrees with you on questions you picked and graded yourself. Look, here’s a “test” I just made up for disqualifying teaching authorities:
1. Unscriptural claim of sola scriptura.
2. Deny biblical teaching regarding authoritative tradition.
3. Deny biblical teaching about possibility of falling from grace.
etc.

George G. September 3, 2009 at 12:08 pm

@Oneil
In today’s age if you are not a theologian it is almost impossible to be protected against false doctrine.
Well, then the world is doomed. Why would Jesus set up such a stupid system? Why would God make it so difficult to know him?

SDG September 3, 2009 at 12:25 pm

“Well, then the world is doomed. Why would Jesus set up such a stupid system? Why would God make it so difficult to know him?”

Indeed. Salvation for the elect, where the elect ⊂ the intelligentsia. Grace for guys who work out three times a week and read a lot of Chemnitz and Bullinger.

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Lucien,
I will make this real simple. Yes, there existed stupid fundamentalists in 1895. Do these churches exist, yes they do. However I know for a fact that Presbyterians(PCA), Evangelical Free, the Assemblies of God, most non-Denominational Churches, Church of God, Church of Christ, and many others use the Historical-Grammatical hermeneutic. Thus they have created a strawman. Notice that this document( I searched it) NEVER uses historical-grammatical. Why because the heavy hitters in Orthodox Protestantism use this approach.
I guess I never understand people. Everyone is biased, so that is why I went to many denominations and listened to why they thought they were right and everyone else was wrong. This is the best way to cut to the chase. Trying to understand Protestant Hermeneutics from a Catholic is like [RULE 1 VIOLATION DELETED]

Tim J. September 3, 2009 at 12:35 pm

I get it!
The bible is self-evident and perspicuous… but you also need to be a theologian to understand it, because it’s so confusing.

SDG September 3, 2009 at 12:44 pm

ONEIL: You just crossed a Line That Shall Not Be Crossed. I’ve deleted your Rule 1 violation. DO NOT LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN.

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 12:50 pm

I don’t see how that is a rule violation.

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Lucien,
my deleted sentence in politically correct speech is: like learning soccer from a tennis coach.

SDG September 3, 2009 at 12:55 pm

ONEIL: I’m very sure our host (Jimmy) will feel very strongly that any line of thought in any way approaching the form “Catholics : Protestants :: Nazis : Jews” will be ipso facto grounds for disinviting from the blog.
Give a wide berth to Godwin’s Law. Thank you.

SDG September 3, 2009 at 12:56 pm

“my deleted sentence in politically correct speech is: like learning soccer from a tennis coach.”

What is trying to understand Catholic hermeneutics from a Protestant like?

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 1:02 pm

TimJ,
Historical Grammatical is self evident to a lot of Protestant denominations. When I went to churches, I would always ask what denomination to you belong or with whom are you affiliated.
Go to 3 or 4 of the denominations I listed above and you will get nearly identical doctrine. From my perspective there is one Cardinal Doctrine that many Christian’s miss:
That is that God operates through Covenants. He does not operate through Dispensations( Baptists) or Sacraments( Catholics).

SDG September 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm

“From my perspective there is one Cardinal Doctrine that many Christian’s miss: That is that God operates through Covenants. He does not operate through Dispensations( Baptists) or Sacraments( Catholics). “

Those are two doctrines, not one. Many who agree with you on the first — including traditional Lutherans, Calvinists and Anglicans as well as Catholics — disagree with you on the second. (We also agree with you on the importance of the literal sense, or historical-grammatical method.)
Because many Protestants, sharing your same commitment to historical-grammatical method and sola scriptura, nevertheless disagree with you on that second cardinal doctrine, it is hard to see how even theologians can be thought to be protected from the danger of false doctrine.
The same biblical data is spun one way by non-sacramental Protestants like you, another way by sacramental Protestants. You can’t both be right. Even theologians disagree which solution is correct.
How do you arbitrate that? How is the ordinary man in the pew, lacking the resources and leisure you enjoy, meant to arbitrate it?

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 1:31 pm

SDG,
In Seminary( I will not mention the name, but you probably heard of it) we only mention that Catholics and liberal Protestants use the Historical-Critical hermeneutic. Catholics add the 4 senses of scripture based on Philo,Origen, and Augustine. As Orthodox Protestants our major enemy is liberal Protestants so we tend to focus on refuting the Historical-Critical hermeneutic. Liberal Protestants are bigger threat to the gospel message than Catholics.
The EFC sees many Catholics come into our fold. Since most Catholics complain that they are not being taught in the Catholic church, we don’t have to fight hermeneutical battles. My biggest battles, personally, have been with the Methodists. John Wesley would go postal if he knew what was going in their churches.
I say all that to encourage people to be responsible for their salvation and find a church that teaches the Bible using the Historical Grammatical Hermeneutic. So any of the Churches I mentioned would be in full communion with the EFC. Teach a different hermeneutic then not in communion.

Lucien Syme September 3, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Oneil,
That is a very good point regarding Wesley. He believed that Baptism actually accomplishes what it says in the bible (Bold claim!) yet many people who consider their theology to be heavily influenced by Wesley no longer believe that claim.
Protestants not following their Protestant Forefathers, in doctrine or practice, is one of the many reasons I came to the conclusion Protestants were the ones who had veered off course. They left the safety of Peter’s boat for their own boat; I believe it was called the RMS Titanic.
In other words the mindset that “Hey, there is no tradition like a new tradition!” is untenable if you prefer continuity in your Christianity.
This does not take into account the perfectly orthodox Protestant church which avoids the pitfalls of Fundamentalism (e.g. literalistic interpretation of the creation account) and also the pitfalls of the liberal Historical-Critical (e.g. everything is symbolic including John 6) approach to interpretation of Scripture which you do belong to.
I am close to giving in on the point that apparently Augustine of Hippo was a Bishop of your church even though he was Catholic.
But earlier in your previous boasting (I mean posting) you stated you had tomes of Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic theological books which you cross-referenced in your vast Viking theological studies.
How come now you refuse to look at this simple paragraph from this document and give a valid criticism?
Your previous response was not one for the Theological journals, I can assure you. You would need to elaborate on your reasons why Protestant and Catholic theologians can not ever come to any consistent conclusions.
Further, the document THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE IN THE CHURCH was not written in any kind of polemic sense. It was written for Catholic theologians as reference points when they approach Scripture to perform exegesis. You just assumed, hopefully because of your volatile Viking blood, that the Pontifical Biblical Commission approached the bible from your prospective; which is combative but not cognizant.

Oneil September 3, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Lucien,
You need to ask me a specific question. I tell my wife I am not a mind reader.
The EFC uses only the Historical-Grammatical approach in its interpretation of the Bible in the Church. So this document from the Pontifical Biblical Commission is either incomplete or possibly polemical.
You said, “How come now you refuse to look at this simple paragraph from this document and give a valid criticism? ” Not sure what you are referring to.

Kiran September 3, 2009 at 10:32 pm

My question is why should I accept your Church?

Oneil September 4, 2009 at 4:48 am

Kiran,
When I was a Catholic one of the most nagging things on my conscience was knowing if I am going to Heaven or Not. Catholics would say there is no assurance of salvation, one must rely on the mercy of God. Protestants would say that your inner man can know for certain if one is going to Heaven. This occurs when you are born again. Initially I dismissed that as Protestant gibberish. Nevertheless, I spent much time talking to the Orthodox Protestants who could explain this both theologically and experientially.
For SDG’s benefit I am not a Calvinist. Calvinism, which teaches ‘once saved – always saved’ is incorrect doctrine. One can have the knowledge of the assurance of salvation, but due to certain sins( they depend on the believer, their are no specific ones)lose ones salvation. Once one has this assurance of Salvation it makes it much easier to sort through the morass of bad theology coming from both Protestants and Catholics.
BTW, the EFC believes Baptism is efficacious but only after the person is born-again. Before this event it is only efficacious in getting a person wet. Thus in Orthodox Protestantism, Justification is an initial Event and Sanctification is an initial event + process. Justification must preceded Sanctification. Baptism is NOT what defines Justification. Baptism is part of sanctification.
So if one wants to live with nagging doubt, remain Catholic. If one wants to get delivered from doubt come visit my Church.

SDG September 4, 2009 at 6:57 am

“So if one wants to live with nagging doubt, remain Catholic. If one wants to get delivered from doubt come visit my Church.”

Your church offers positive certainty of salvation, predicated on fallible interpretations of men. My Church offers confident hope of salvation, predicated on the divinely guaranteed interpretation of the Magisterium. I find the latter more assuring than the former.
I don’t live with nagging doubt. I live in peaceful trust, as distinct from presumption.

Lucien Syme September 4, 2009 at 9:44 am

Oneil,
The only doubt I have been delivered from (after communicating with you) is that there is, in fact, consistency in ANY branch of the Protestant tree when it comes to determining correct doctrine.
There is a reason for that, the Holy Spirit is not working through Protestantism as it does through the magisterial office of the Bishop of Rome and the Bishops united to him (c.f. the Council of Jerusalem).
You have done a good job of detailing the deficiencies of the unorthodox Protestants (as you call them) but have still not be able to consistently articulate the views of orthodox Protestants (again as you call them) when it comes to determining correct doctrine.
You constantly change methodologies to suit your approaches when presented with Scripture that we are trying to evaluate.
You told us before to read John 3 a certain amount of times so we could clearly understand Baptismal regeneration from your perspective. But when presented with a point for Petrine primacy from the Gospel of Matthew you told us we had to put on a different hat (a yarmulke I believe) to understand that Scripture passage.
There is nothing wrong with the Historical Grammatical method when your presuppositions are logical and consistent. For that matter there is nothing wrong with the Historical Critical method again if your presuppositions are logical and consistent. But that is the crux of the problem we have such a hard time being logical and consistent when our views are challenged or when we are inventing new views (like Luther, Calvin & other heretics have done).
The Catholic Church can withstand the assaults, so can the bible because it is her book, of others constantly ridiculing her doctrines and practices. It has continued to prosper under these conditions for 2,000 years; the gates of hell are straining but can not quite prevail against her.
That is assurance, not doubt, I can assure you! Though I doubt you will be convinced.
But getting back to my earlier point regarding the document THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE IN THE CHURCH: Please (if you wish) give me a succinct criticism of the paragraph dealing with a Fundamentalist approach presented by the Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC). I thought you would be able to add something to it or take something away, as the case may be. Did the PBC do a good job in presenting the Fundamentalist approach? What source could you recommend if I wanted to go deeper on the history of the Fundamentalist approach or the Historical Grammatical one for that matter?
You, of course, are under no obligation to do so. I just thought since you profess such a wealth of knowledge that you could add something to it. But since you are working so hard on your 3 theological books while bench pressing 300 lbs. I understand you may not have the time.

Tim J. September 4, 2009 at 10:22 am

“In Seminary( I will not mention the name, but you probably heard of it)…”
I don’t mean to pick nits, but what’s the harm in knowing where you took your theology degrees?
It’s not run out of a strip mall or anything like that, is it? Like THIS ONE?…
http://www.shields-research.org/Novak/CES/ces.htm

The Masked Chicken September 4, 2009 at 11:53 am

Dear Tim J.,
To be fair, I think Oneil just wants his privacy.
The Chicken

Lucien Syme September 4, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Tim J.
That was funny and amazing. The Mormons exposing the roots of James White’s Seminary education.
Assuming it was correct that would make you think twice about believing his arguments or believing he can spell.

Tim J. September 4, 2009 at 12:10 pm

I can understand that, Chicken. It’s just that I don’t know very many people who would self-describe as a “theologian”.
He need not answer, but he did present himself as a theologian for purposes of discussion, here. I will just have to reserve judgment on that claim unless I have more information.

Oneil September 4, 2009 at 4:13 pm

TimJ,
I want my privacy. I will say that aome people would not be pleased with me debating with Catholics. This is a blog, not an academic debate, so why should I throw around credentials that may only get me in trouble in my professional life.
I don’t understand why you would get upset with the ‘self-described’ term of Theologian. If someone claims to be self described Medical Doctor that gives me more confidence that I can challenge him on any topic pertaining to Medicine.
Lucien,
What the document says about fundamentalism is accurate. I could add, but since I am a ‘self-described’ Theologian why bother.

Lucien Syme September 4, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Now Oneil,
That does not fit with your Viking temperament.
Rise above the words used to discredit you and let your own words discredit you.

Foxfier September 4, 2009 at 6:04 pm

This is a blog, not an academic debate, so why should I throw around credentials that may only get me in trouble in my professional life.
Because you’re the one who brought them up and are trying to use them as a bludgeon?
If I am able to say I served at China Lake and on the Essex, yet still be fairly sure that no-one is going to get at my family, the school you graduated from should be equally safe– unless it was only open for a few years, or has an astronomically small number of graduates.

Lucien Syme September 4, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Hi Oneil,
Was there anything that didn’t bother you about being Catholic? Be honest are you still secretly devoted to Mary like Luther was?
Using Richard P. McBrien to discredit anything in Catholicism is a little like using Rudolf K. Bultmann to discredit your version of orthodox Protestantism. McBrien is not the hot-bed of Catholic orthodox theology; he is more of a self-professed theologian if you will.
I too looked into those verses you cited in reaching your conclusion but I found that the other verses in favor of Petrine Primacy (I can cite those for you if you like) outweighed any possible objection.
My favorite story of Peter though was when he walked on the water to Jesus, which cinched it for me. He gave the first Christian sermon after Pentecost and converted 3,000, not as many as Jesus feed but not too bad for the Rock. He was put in charge of feeding the sheep and tending the lambs by Jesus after His resurrection. Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail and after he returned to Jesus he would have to aid his brothers. He is always mentioned first among the Apostles.
Now to me this Primacy did not necessarily translate to the office of Pope but it let me see clearly that Peter was truly who Jesus founded the Church upon. There are now many Protestant scholars who do not object to Petrine Primacy. They do not tend to think the primacy of his office was passed on to any additional Bishop of Rome. But I imagine you will not consider them orthodox Protestants so the point is mute.
But to me, if Augustine who overcame a lot of intellectual objections to Christianity in general believed in the Primacy of Peter and the office of the Pope, I felt out of humility I could do the same. History presented by Catholic scholars showed the list of Popes going all the way back. I wasn’t there so I can’t account for them all I have to take people like Augustine into account and decide do I trust his opinion on this matter?
I did and do.
I have heard several different versions whether those early Christian letters were authentic or not and which ones. I can not decide arbitrarily to dismiss all the letters as invalid that contain views that disagree with my theology. I also can’t investigate the matter myself to the degree that I should if I were a Scientific Theologian. Again I have to trust people and accept their word.
As long as they do not have contradictions in their logic and explanations I tend to trust them. That is where I run into most of my objections to Protestant history and doctrines.
I could never think that a Church founded by Jesus Christ would have split into three branches (Catholic, Orthodox & Protestant) – all with three different heads contradicting each other.
I do not accept that the Church is something other than what Jesus professed it would be; founded on the Rock of Peter – He gave him the keys to the Kingdom. As a consequence I do not have to do mental gymnastics to justify Petrine Primacy and the office of the Pope.

M. L. Martin September 4, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Oneil–You are aware that the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent, while a valuable resource, is over 80 years old? Scholarship has proceeded since then.
A note on the Cyprian quote–I took a course on the History and Theology of the Papacy three years ago, and the professor said that recent scholarship suggested that the second quote was the earlier version, and that Cyprian had revised it later on after disputing with the Papacy (I think it was over the rebaptism of heretics).

SDG September 5, 2009 at 5:13 am

Oneil:
I was looking forward all night to refuting your lame reasons for rejecting the Petrine primacy.
But then I woke up this morning, and you had posted a lot more junk, and then I realized you were just copying and pasting large chunks of content from anti-Catholic websites and passing them off as your own, unacknowledged.
I don’t know what they call that at your seminary, but around these parts we consider that plagiarism. I’ve removed the two offending posts.
Do your own homework. Our time is as valuable as yours.
P.S. Regarding your first lame, plagiarized reason for rejecting the Petrine primacy, off the top of my head I can think of at least three or four reasons why the disciples could have been arguing at the Last Supper over who was the greatest even though Jesus had already made Peter his chief steward. Are you telling me you can’t think of one?

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 6:16 am

SDG,
I know all the authors of the disputed texts. They have given me free license to repost. Some of us post on multiple blogs.:-)
But to make you happy I will rephrase:
Evidence that Paul could be the first Pope,
Paul was not married, Paul is mentioned more than Peter in the book of Acts, Paul wrote more of the NT than Peter, Paul claimed he did not need to submit to any Apostle( 2Cor 11:5), Peter referenced Paul writings in 2 Peter 3:15-16, Scripture states Paul being in Rome while Peter is never mentioned being in Rome. Peter went to Babylon which is Babylon, Iraq.
So my conclusion if I were Catholic is that Paul is the first Pope not Peter.

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 6:30 am

SDG,
Please explain why Matt 16 and Matt 18 both refer to binding and loosing. First it is mentioned to Peter than to all the Apostles. So how do you prove that this authority is UNIQUE to Peter and not all Apostles?

SDG September 5, 2009 at 7:38 am

“I know all the authors of the disputed texts. They have given me free license to repost.”

So what? That would make it not theft, but it’s still deceit: presenting large chunks of someone else’s words in such a way that other people will think they were your own words. Plagiarism with permission is still plagiarism.
Also, I have better things to do in life than answer every lame argument from every anti-Catholic website that you could possibly cut and paste. Respect my time.
I notice you don’t answer my question. Can you or can you not think of a reason why the apostles might have argued at the Last Supper about which was the greatest even if Jesus had previously named Peter chief steward? You posted the argument: Do you think it’s hole-free, or can you spot the holes yourself?
You know, you don’t act like a person used to academic or scholarly standards. You make uncritical use of other people’s erroneous arguments, you are shown to be wrong again and again, yet you never seem embarrassed or acknowledge having fallen short of the standards to which a theologian ought to hold himself.
If you presented yourself as a regular guy passionately convinced of a point of view and interested in clashing with the other point of view, I would be happy to correct you respectfully and gently time and time again. But when you have someone who claims to be a seminary graduate, a theologian, a scientist, what have you, who (among other things):
1. trots out transparently worthless charges about popes condemning the Assumption of Mary;
2. actually cites 2 Timothy 3:16 as if it taught sola scriptura;
3. pastes a link to a lame Fundamentalist website to help explain the Gospel to Catholics;
4. presents evidence-free speculation about infant baptism as if it were historical fact;
5. says things like “people are much more biased than I am”;
6. doesn’t understand why cutting and pasting large chunks of other people’s content without attribution is dodgy;
etc., etc., etc., well, let’s just say it’s hard to know what to think.

“Evidence that Paul could be the first Pope”

You are going about it backwards. The question is not: “We have this institution of the papacy so who was the first pope?” The question is: What do we find in the NT regarding, e.g., the apostles Peter and Paul?
The answer is that while Peter and Paul each enjoy a unique prestige in the NT, Paul has a preeminence of activity, while Peter has a preeminence of a different sort. Peter’s preeminence is attested in every strand of NT tradition: Synoptic, Johannine, Pauline.
Moreover, it is attested in a particularly striking way in the oldest extant Christian credal formula, the resurrection formula of 1 Corinthians 15, which explicitly states that Christ appeared “first to Cephas, the Twelve,” and “last of all” to Paul, who here calls himself “the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle.”
Paul’s dominance in the second half of the book of Acts is solely because the story leaves the Twelve behind. As long as the college of the Twelve is onstage, as it were, Peter dominates the narrative more than all the other apostles put together. So Peter is presented as uniquely the leader of the apostles, while Paul is presented as a unique church leader, but not in a leadership capacity among the apostles.

“Please explain why Matt 16 and Matt 18 both refer to binding and loosing. First it is mentioned to Peter than to all the Apostles. So how do you prove that this authority is UNIQUE to Peter and not all Apostles?”

In two ways.
First, precisely because in Matthew 16 this authority is given to Peter alone, while in Matthew 18 it is given to the apostles as a group. It is not given individually to Andrew, James, John and so forth; it is given to the apostles in a collegiate manner.
Only to Peter does Jesus say, “What thou (second person singular) shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The others are told, “What ye (second person plural) bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
(Compare Jesus’ address to Peter in Luke’s Last Supper: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have ye (second person plural), that he might sift ye like wheat, but I have prayed for thee (second person singular), that thy faith may not fail; and when thou hast turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32). In both passages, Jesus speaks of something that pertains to all the Twelve, but nevertheless singles out Peter and gives him a singular role.)
Second, because in Matthew 16 Jesus confers more than the power to bind and loose. He gives Peter the keys of the kingdom, not mentioned in Matthew 18, a reference to the authority of the chief steward of the son of David, as per Isaiah 22:22, and names Peter the rock on which Christ will build his church.
Note that, once again, all of the apostles collectively are called the foundation on which the church is built in Ephesians 2:20, but only Peter is singled out among the apostles as the foundation in his own person.
In both cases, as in the resurrection appearances in 1 Corinthians 15 and in the first half of Acts, we see Peter in a representative capacity, representing in himself the whole college of the Twelve, a role to which Paul never pretends.

Lucien Syme September 5, 2009 at 7:43 am

Oneil,
Peter was literally in Babylon (Iraq) when he wrote his letter? Was Babylon still Babylon at the time of the Apostles? Or was it called something else?
Peter was named Simon and Jesus changed his name to Peter (Cephas) the rock. Then he founded His Church upon Him. Refute that please, oh and the keys!
I knew you were using superficial answers (from anti-Catholic sources) but assumed out of Christian charity that you were at least typing them. Not just cutting and pasting, with or without permission, that is pretty weak.
For a Viking I would think that unacceptable.
You still have not offered any logical argument that Peter did not have primacy. Since Paul wrote more than any other Apostle he could have been the Pope? That is a weak point as well as the rest of them. I think you know it too. Just admit he had primacy but then build a case that that power didn’t apply to the rest of the Bishops of Rome.
I always like the story Paul told in Galatians Chapter 2 as another proof of Paul’s respect and submission to Peter. Paradoxically it comes in the form of a rebuke that Paul delivers to “Cephas’ face”:
[11] But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. [12] For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. [13] And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity.
[14] But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Paul is telling the Galatians that he had to correct Peter on this issue and he even boasted “to his face” instead of behind his back and “said to Cephas before them all” instead of alone and after the fact.
Paul was right in rebuking Peter on this issue it does nothing to lessen Peter’s primacy to me it strengthens the case. If I wanted to convince the Galatians that I was speaking truthfully on a subject it would help my case if I told them that I had to correct the Rock on an issue (the very one that applied to them) to his face.
Come up with something tangible or novel you have provided neither above.

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 8:53 am

Lucien,
Good you have researched both sides of the Petrine Primacy debate. So clearly we are at an impass. Protestants and Catholics both can use the same data and spin it to support their positions.
Then I ask you a simple multiple choice question? Do you deserve to go to Hell when you die? Yes or No
SDG,
How do you explain that the Eastern Orthodox do not recognize the Papacy?

SDG September 5, 2009 at 9:06 am

“How do you explain that the Eastern Orthodox do not recognize the Papacy?”

That is a good question, one I am happy to answer. Is it all you have to say at this time? Nothing else in response to anything else I said?
Family coming over soon, shan’t have more time to play today.

Tim J. September 5, 2009 at 9:10 am

“well, let’s just say it’s hard to know what to think… ”
Not really!
Look, it’s abundantly clear that Oneil/Greg/whatever does not ask questions in order to find answers, he asks questions in order to avoid dealing with previous answers.
It’s obvious he does not argue in good faith, and for that reason I think the thread should be closed or Oneil banned… again (he’s been given the boot before, but can’t seem to stay away).
This thread (like all he has haunted in the past) has become something like a running sore. I’m all for instructing the ignorant, but not for casting pearls before swine.

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 9:44 am

Regarding the Keys:
To the Church in Philadelphia
7″To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. Revelation3:7(NIV) .
Protestants think the Keys( plural) belong to Peter and the Apostles and the key( singular) of David Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7 is something different. Only Christ has the Key of David, but the keys to the kingdom belong to all Christians.
But Jesus gave a special name to Peter, James and John. Paul had his name changed, so did Abraham Sarah, and Jacob. Peter was probably the oldest of the Apostles and thus is listed first several times. However in Galatians 2:9, 1 Corinthians 1:12 and John 1:44 he is not listed first.
Lucien,
Everyone that is a member of a Protestant church is at some level anti-Catholic. If they were pro-Catholic they would convert to Catholicism. So at some level your anti-Protestant.
Please read Milton Terry’s book on Bible Hermeneutics it is one of the best on this topic. There are others but that one is in the public domain.
The key to my conversion to the EFC was the hermeneutical frameworks. Baptist( typically Fundamentalist hermeneutic), EFC( historical Grammatical) and Catholic( Historical-Critical, and 4 senses ). The historical-grammatical seemed to be the most internally consistent. This approach did not need to make statements that said Genesis 1-11 is an allegory and Genesis 12-50 is history, it gave overwhelming evidence that it is history.

Lucien Syme September 5, 2009 at 9:54 am

Oneil,
The passage from Revelation does not take anything away from the passage in Matt 16. That key that Jesus will eternally hold was given to Peter.
The Sons of Thunder is not an individual salutation but given to both. I don’t recall in any of the others books of the NT people referring to James and John as the sons of thunder. Paul had a Roman name and Saul was his Jewish name, Jesus never changed it he held dual citizenship.
Now please count all the times Peter is named first and all the times he spoke for the group of the Apostles.
I will look into Milton Terry’s book though – thanks.
Again I ask you was there anything in the Catholic Church that you did agree with? Or become obedient or devoted to?

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 10:01 am

SDG,
You cite 1 Cor 15 as some evidence of support for Petrine Supremacy.
However Jesus appeared to people in the following order, Mary Magdalene, Cleopas and someone else on the way to Emmaus , Peter, rest of the disciples, and Saul/Paul( not sure when), and 500 others. I guess maybe Mary Magdalene has Supremacy?

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 10:03 am

Lucien,
I asked a specific question: ‘Do you believe that you deserve to go to Hell when you die? Yes or No.’
Your answer will help me explain my next point.

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 10:27 am

Lucien,
When I was a Catholic, I was a very good one. I mentioned that I did not drink, fornicate, swear, or do drugs. I would go to Mass every Sunday and try to make every Holy Day of Obligation( rarely missed one). I would go to Confession/Penance regularly. In High School and College, I was the stallworth Catholic.
Of course there are many things that I agree with that are taught by the Catholic church. The problem is that most Americans are trained to think about what we have in common and not what divides us. This is the result of a pluralistic culture attacking our sensibilities. Most liberal Protestants and liberal Catholics are more interested in ‘diversity’ or political correctness than the TRUTH. Look the Bishop of Scranton was basically forced out by liberal Catholics. So how does this apply to our discussion.
Paul rejected the Judaizers, who held every Orthodox Doctrine and added in addition the requirement for Circumcision. Paul flatly rejected them from being members of the Body of Christ. Similarly it is our differences that causes me to reject Catholicism as any valid form of Christian Church.
Yet, I have listed a multitude of objections, but most Americans are only thinking about what Protestants and Catholics have in common. Well that shows that a person is not thinking like Paul and also explains why that person does not understand the Bible. Every person has taken their personal bias and read it back into the Bible. Hermeneutics is the only way to remove personal biases from our reading of scripture.

SDG September 5, 2009 at 11:17 am

“But Jesus gave a special name to Peter, James and John. Paul had his name changed, so did Abraham Sarah, and Jacob. “

These short sentences contain a popular misconception unsupported by scripture. Someone who has been to seminary should be able to spot it. Oneil, do you know what it is?

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 12:47 pm

SDG,
I went to a Protestant Seminary, so I will not discuss all the misconceptions that you hold. Had you gone to a Protestant seminary you would understand that the Catholic understanding of Matt 16. Augustine and Jerome both had a Protestant understanding of Matt 16.
If Peter really means the Rock which made him the chief of Apostles, it would contradict Ephesians 2:20, which says that the church’s foundation is the apostles and prophets, instead of Peter alone.
Ephesians 2:20- And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
I am not sure what your point is, so enlighten me.

Lucien Syme September 5, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Oneil,
As far as I know you never asked me that question regarding eternal salvation directly. It was contained in the Jack Chick website if that is what you were referring to indirectly.
When I confess my sins in the Sacrament of Penance and hear the words of absolution I know they are forgiven. If I can refrain from mortal sin and then die I would trust in my salvation. If I (God forbid) give in to mortal sin and then die I would have no trust in my salvation.
In either case, if my intellect is about me, I will cry out at death, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!” As well as many appeals to Mary to pray for me to her divine Son.
I am definitely not from the camp that believes we are all in the same Church. I know exactly what divides Protestants and Catholic (as well as Eastern Orthodox). The issue is authority and how to be submissive to that genuinely ordained authority.
The Catholic Church continues to preach the authority of the Bishop of Rome, Orthodox and Protestants decided to walk away from unity (or run away in the case of Protestantism). The unity they walked away from was guaranteed by the authority of the Pope.
The Eastern Orthodox Churches are stuck in the past (albeit a liturgically rich and beautiful past) but usually constrained in growth by their native tongue.
The Mainline Protestant Ecclesial communities are in complete disarray with doctrine and practice (there is no authority to guide them) and splitting faster with each successive generation.
The Evangelical denominations keep trying to reinvent the wheel with each generation to get back to the true church, (but again they have no authority to guide them) however it tends to fail to be passed on to the next generation because they will disagree with their former pastors regarding doctrine and practice.
Again Evangelical churches are dependent upon the material success of the USA. Once America has fallen it will dry up quickly. It is a blip on the radar of Christian History – that church you belong to.
Either way you cut it Oneil, you never made any substantial case against Petrine primacy.
I would accept something from Scripture to the effect of Jesus stating elsewhere, “You are James and John, but I call sons of thunder, and on these sons of thunder I will build my Church.” Or Jesus stating, “You are Saul but I call you Paul, tend my lambs and feed my sheep!” But barring these kinds of definitive statements I can not see ignoring 2,000 years of Christian History.
I truly hope you were never able to approach the Eucharist, believing He was there, and then just walked away from Him because of bad catechesis and homilies. Have you ever considered that railing against the Church is simply a way for you to justify this horrible decision?
Many people who fall away from the Church tend to do just that, whatever the reason they left. I would think that there is genuinely no peace in their souls. How could there be if you are always having to make things up or misrepresent true teachings?
Those who do not repent – resent!

SDG September 5, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Oneil: Tell me more about Paul’s name change.

“If Peter really means the Rock which made him the chief of Apostles, it would contradict Ephesians 2:20, which says that the church’s foundation is the apostles and prophets, instead of Peter alone.”

Really? So then Ephesians 2:20 contradicts 1 Corinthians 3:11, which says that there can be no other foundation than Jesus Christ? Does Paul contradict himself in Ephesians by making the apostles and prophets “another” foundation?

“Augustine and Jerome both had a Protestant understanding of Matt 16. “

Really? Are you sure you want to go to the wall for that one?

“Had you gone to a Protestant seminary you would understand”

FWIW, I spent a lot of time in Protestant seminaries. My dad graduated from one, too.

George G. September 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm

@Oneil
“Then I ask you a simple multiple choice question? Do you deserve to go to Hell when you die? Yes or No”
What the frack? Another bizarre attempt to change the conversation.
Why don’t you just simply answer the questions you’re asked? And, why do you ask questions that have nothing to do with anything that’s being discussed? You come off as really dishonest. Frankly, I don’t believe you’re an academic of any sort.
“EFC”
Ugh. You talk about the bloody EFC like it’s the pope.

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 3:02 pm

SDG,
“How do you explain that the Eastern Orthodox do not recognize the Papacy?”
Also explain why the first mention of the Assumption of Mary comes from a Apocryphal text. Why was it not mentioned by any preceding church father?
George,
I have answered the bulk of questions. That question was not directed at you, so why does it bother you so much?
Lucien,
1. Since you did not answer Yes or No, I am going to assume that No, you don’t think you deserve Hell when you die, assuming you avoid mortal sin before death.
2. For further discussion on the keys, see the following link. http://www.christiantruth.com/mt16.html . I am sure you are familiar with it.
3. I mentioned that it was a chain of events that lead me to leave the Catholic church. The Jesuits are typically the big scholars in American Catholicism. Their liberalism and atheism made me question the Catholic Church. I can excuse a well meaning Priest for not knowing about the dating of Adam and Eve, but when you talk to almost one hundred clergy, a trend emerges.
Your comment about Orthodox Protestants being a blip on the radar of history. I would disagree. Active Pentecostals outnumber active Catholics in Argentina and Brazil.
And for what it is worth, I have personally seen the Ignatian Epistles and have seen the many interpolations. This was the final straw that pushed me over the top.
As Catholic Answers says,
“The oldest collection of the writings of St. Ignatius known to have existed was that made use of by the historian Eusebius in the first half of the fourth century, but which unfortunately is no longer extant. It was made up of the seven letters written by Ignatius whilst on his way to Rome; These letters were addressed to the Christians
* of Ephesus (Pros Ephesious);
* of Magnesia (Magnesieusin);
* of Tralles (Trallianois);
* of Rome (Pros Romaious);
* of Philadelphia (Philadelpheusin);
* of Smyrna (Smyrnaiois); and
* to Polycarp (Pros Polykarpon).
We find these seven mentioned not only by Eusebius (Church History III.36) but also by St. Jerome (De viris illust., c. xvi). Of later collections of Ignatian letters which have been preserved, the oldest is known as the “long recension”. This collection, the author of which is unknown, dates from the latter part of the fourth century. It contains the seven genuine and six spurious letters, but even the genuine epistles were greatly interpolated to lend weight to the personal views of its author. For this reason they are incapable of bearing witness to the original form.” – newAdvent.com
This confirms my own observations that it one can not separate the genuine from subsequent revisions.

SDG September 5, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Oneil: Dialogue is a two-way street. You seem to have given up responding to what I say, and are merely throwing stuff out. I promise you this mode of interaction will not continue long.

M. L. Martin September 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Oneil–Your claims to education would be more believable if you could cite actual sources instead of relying on (often anti-Catholic) websites, and didn’t confuse Catholic Answers with New Advent.

The Masked Chicken September 5, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Dear Tim J.,
I think I caught the cold you had. I didn’t know one could catch a cold over the Internet :)
Couldn’t you at least have sent me a bowl of vegetable soup along with the cold? No chicken soup, please. The thought of eating one of my relatives might make me sicker.
SDG,
Wasn’t there a really old movie entitled The Age of the World, or was that Mel Brooks, or am I just hallucinating from the cold? Hey, at least my question has something to do with the post!
The Virus-haunted/Cold-Infested Chicken

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 4:17 pm

SDG,
I have answered a lot of your questions. You have barely answered any of mine. I keep waiting on an answer to the Eastern Orthodox and Mary question. Until that time, I thought I was free to move on.
Martin,
My quote is correct. I apologize for saying Catholic Answers. I am watching football! I never claimed to be an academic. My professional life is outside of Academia. As mentioned before I think Academia is slow, boring,pedantic, and underfunded.

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 4:21 pm

SDG,
You said:
Really? So then Ephesians 2:20 contradicts 1 Corinthians 3:11, which says that there can be no other foundation than Jesus Christ? Does Paul contradict himself in Ephesians by making the apostles and prophets “another” foundation?
Answer: Synecdoche!

George G. September 5, 2009 at 4:51 pm

“That question was not directed at you, so why does it bother you so much?”
Because bothersome things bother me. And, of course it was directed at me. You mess with my Church you mess with me. That’s just how it is.

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 5:39 pm

George,
Then I will ask you the same question: ‘Do you deserve to go to Hell when you die?’ Yes or No. I am not casting judgment on Catholics, I am trying to understand what you think. I would ask the same question of Protestants in my church.

George G. September 5, 2009 at 5:51 pm

@Oneil
I don’t really know if I’ll go to hell or not. I certainly don’t intend to. All I can do is try to do God’s will, and if I do that, I’m sure hell will be handily avoided.

SDG September 5, 2009 at 6:27 pm

“I have answered a lot of your questions. You have barely answered any of mine.”

Are you freaking kidding me? What the heck else have I done in this thread but respond to you? I’ve tried to address almost every question and argument you’ve thrown at me — even the the two I’ve deferred anwering for lack of time, which I said were good questions that I hoped to get to soon.
You, OTOH, totally ignore question after repeated question — not defer for time constraints, but ignore while you continue to post additional challenges.
Just on this screen alone, I’ve addressed your questions/claims on all of the following points (not always phrased in the form of a question, but that’s not my fault):

“Please explain why Matt 16 and Matt 18 both refer to binding and loosing. First it is mentioned to Peter than to all the Apostles. So how do you prove that this authority is UNIQUE to Peter and not all Apostles?”
“Evidence that Paul could be the first Pope”
“If Peter really means the Rock which made him the chief of Apostles, it would contradict Ephesians 2:20, which says that the church’s foundation is the apostles and prophets, instead of Peter alone.”
Your claims about Gelasius and Hormisdas
Your plagiarized question about why the disciples would be arguing about who was the greatest

Whereas on this screen you’ve ignored me on all of the following:

“off the top of my head I can think of at least three or four reasons why the disciples could have been arguing at the Last Supper over who was the greatest even though Jesus had already made Peter his chief steward. Are you telling me you can’t think of one?”
“Can you or can you not think of a reason why the apostles might have argued at the Last Supper about which was the greatest even if Jesus had previously named Peter chief steward? You posted the argument: Do you think it’s hole-free, or can you spot the holes yourself? “
“Tell me more about Paul’s name change.”
“Are you sure you want to go to the wall” about Augustine and Jerome’s “Protestant” view of Matthew 16?
“The same biblical data is spun one way by non-sacramental Protestants like you, another way by sacramental Protestants. You can’t both be right. Even theologians disagree which solution is correct. How do you arbitrate that? How is the ordinary man in the pew, lacking the resources and leisure you enjoy, meant to arbitrate it?”
“So not only can ‘Protestants can spin the data one way and Catholics can spin it another way,’ as you keep saying, but also Protestant pedobaptists can spin the data one way and Protestant Anabaptists can spin it another way — and both of them can claim the same method of arbitration, to ‘re-derive everything from scripture.’ What do you do with that?”
“I know, pedobaptists just haven’t re-read scripture often enough to arrive at the illumination of the Spirit and come to see it your way, right?”

Now, regarding the answer you did give to one of my questions:

“Synecdoche!”

Good for you. And there is your own question about Matthew 16 answered.
Jesus is the sole foundation. The apostles and prophets collectively (joined with Christ) are the foundation. Peter (head of the apostles) is the foundation. There is no contradiction.
Are you going to acknowledge that your objection has been answered? Are you going to admit that you were wrong about Paul’s name being changed? Are you going to face the question about your Last Supper argument? Are you ever going to answer the recurring question about significant disagreements even among Protestants practicing the same hermeneutic and the same rule of faith?
For my part, I still hope to address your two questions, substantially for the benefit of others reading this thread. So I’m not ignoring you. I’m just busy, and too busy to spend all my time answering every question of yours while giving you a free pass on all the questions of mine you ignore.
BTW, since you seem to think it’s an important question:

“Do you deserve to go to Hell when you die?”

Yes, and no. Any mortal sins I have committed are worthy of hell. But the new creation that I am in Christ does not merit hell. If, please God, I die in the state of grace, animated by Christ’s life, my soul radiant with the light of heaven, that which I shall be at that time will not deserve eternal separation from God. But this happy condition will not be by my own achievement in myself, be only by virtue of the gratuitous and unmerited grace by which I was rescued from my wretched original condition, saved from a life of death and slavery in sin, and elevated to the life of grace and divine sonship.

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 7:05 pm

“Can you or can you not think of a reason why the apostles might have argued at the Last Supper about which was the greatest even if Jesus had previously named Peter chief steward? I don’t see anywhere in Scripture that he was named the chief steward. So I did not answer. I apply the reasoning that Peter was called the ‘Pebble’ because he had small amounts of faith, probably more than the other Apostles, except John. Matt 16 shows Peter figured out that Christ was the Messiah before the other Disciples. They figured this out sometime before Matt 18. This is why they asked who would be the greatest.
“Tell me more about Paul’s name change.” – probably done by Paul or God gave him a new name to distance himself from the past. Paul means small. So he felt he was least of the Apostles, as in reference to him being grateful for being forgiven of much.
“Are you sure you want to go to the wall” about
Augustine and Jerome’s “Protestant” view of Matthew 16?
See my previous link for the Augustine recanting the Petrine supremacy later in life. Jerome is a long debate and I will give you that one.
“The same biblical data is spun one way by non-sacramental Protestants like you, another way by sacramental Protestants. You can’t both be right. Even theologians disagree which solution is correct. How do you arbitrate that? How is the ordinary man in the pew, lacking the resources and leisure you enjoy, meant to arbitrate it?” - Not really my problem. Truth is Truth, does not matter if the average person can’t figure it out. The road is narrow and there are few that find it. So the vast majority will probably be in Hell. It was true that Planes can fly since the beginning of creation. However we had to wait till 1901 before the Wright Brothers discovered this truth. This truth was hidden for at least 5900 years.
So not only can “Protestants can spin the data one way and Catholics can spin it another way,” as you keep saying, but also Protestant pedobaptists can spin the data one way and Protestant Anabaptists can spin it another way — and both of them can claim the same method of arbitration, to “re-derive everything from scripture.” What do you do with that? ‘I admit my journey took 10 years. But it can be done.
I know, pedobaptists just haven’t re-read scripture often enough to arrive at the illumination of the Spirit and come to see it your way, right? That is correct. R.C Sproul and Luther, both argued from Tradition not scripture to defend paedobaptism. They are both inconsistent in their logic and hermeneutical frameworks. The Reformed need to jettison both Calvinism and pedobaptism.

Oneil September 5, 2009 at 7:09 pm

SDG,
Regarding the Last Supper, I have no other answer than the one that I gave you. Clearly they were not looking to Peter for leadership. Peter denied Christ 3 times, I sure would not have put a lot of trust in him either.
Again I see no evidence for Peter being supreme. James was the head of the church in Jerusalem, not Peter.

George G. September 5, 2009 at 7:40 pm

@Oneil
“Truth is Truth, does not matter if the average person can’t figure it out. The road is narrow and there are few that find it. So the vast majority will probably be in Hell.”
Lovely. So, you are one of the elite few who can work his way to heaven through study? Just as God intended, right?
You’ve turned God into an arbitrary a-hole who only cares about definitions and formulas and diagrams. You’re super smart and bookish, though, so I guess it suits you just fine.

Lucien Syme September 5, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Oneil,
I see no proof points that Peter wasn’t supreme but a lot of valid points that he was; which have been cited over and over to you but you have been unable to answer effectively. You have changed the subject multiply times but to no avail – persistence in ignorance is not meritorious it is simply sad.
You have the burden of proof in this instance because all of Christian history witnesses to this primacy in the office and person of the Pope. I will remain unconvinced unless you provide something amazing.
I agree with Augustine and Aquinas on this issue if they could be obedient to the Pope I should be too.
I will admit one thing though I answered one of your questions incorrectly earlier. Since it was framed negatively I couldn’t reason quite clearly on it.
I do not deserve to go to heaven, I deserve hell (framed in the negative), God has been so merciful to me – it is amazing. He called me from the depths of hell in my conversion and that is where I deserve to be.
Luckily Jesus rose from the dead, gave us His flesh to eat (as well as the other Sacraments – Baptism washed all 35 years of sins away) and started His Church on the Rock of Peter. So I have the opportunity to know the truth, live in God’s strength and will and go to heaven (or escape hell).

SDG September 5, 2009 at 8:38 pm

“I don’t see anywhere in Scripture that he was named the chief steward. So I did not answer.”

Then you evidently forgot or didn’t understand your own argument, or rather the argument you plagiarized. Let me refresh your memory.
The argument you posted takes the form of a syllogism, with a thought experiment in the major premise:
P1. If Jesus had conferred special status or authority to Peter, the other apostles would not have been arguing over who was the greatest.
P2. But the other apostles were arguing over who was the greatest.
C. Therefore Jesus did not confer special status or authority to Peter.
My challenge to you is: Do you think that P1 is valid? Is the thought experiment compelling? Is it logically sound that if Jesus did confer special status or authority to Peter, we can safely conclude that the other apostles would not have been arguing over who was the greatest? Or is it possible that the apostles might still have been arguing over who was the greatest even if Jesus had conferred special status or authority to Peter, in which case the argument fails?
Retreating to the claim “I don’t see where in scripture Jesus did confer special status or authority to Peter” is insufficient. It begs the question; that Jesus conferred no such authority is precisely what the syllogism means to establish.
You posted the argument. Do you stand by the premise, or not? Is it really the case that you cannot imagine any reasons why the apostles might still have been arguing over who was the greatest even if Jesus had conferred special status or authority to Peter?

“Truth is Truth, does not matter if the average person can’t figure it out.”

It matters to Jesus, who died for every average person, and is not willing that any should perish. How extraordinary that he should go through all that trouble on the cross, and then leave the way barred to those of insufficient education and leisure. I didn’t know God had a preferential option for the intelligentsia — that he chose the wise things of the world to confound the foolish. How noocratic of him.
At least you answered the question — as appalling as your answer is.

“probably done by Paul or God gave him a new name to distance himself from the past.”

Where in scripture do you find any hint of that? AFAIK, scholarly consensus is essentially unanimous that Paul simply used two names, one Hebrew as a Jew and one Greek as a Roman citizen. All Acts tells us is that Saul “was also called Paul.” No hint of a name change at all. It’s as apocryphal as the horse Paul was supposedly knocked off.
Do you really think the scholars are all wrong on that one? If so, on the basis of what scriptural evidence?

“See my previous link for the Augustine recanting the Petrine supremacy later in life.”

Augustine recanted the Petrine supremacy? He said it was false? That’s the thesis you want to stand by? Is that your final answer?

Oneil September 6, 2009 at 4:42 am

SDG,
So what I hear you saying is that nobody can create a syllogism or an argument that proves Peter is supreme. I agree with that. However the burden is upon Catholics. Catholics claim Peter is pope so they need to provide convincing data that he is, otherwise they are falling into the trap of adding to scripture, which is sin. My daddy use to say where their is smoke their is fire. I have shown that there is a lot of smoke that Catholics can’t coverup regarding Peter and the Papacy. The fire is surely there. Again prove to me that Peter is supreme.
Your lame argument that you is in singular in Matt 16, while you is in the plural Matt18 proves absolutely nothing. I see you never been to any meetings where the boss is trying to motivate the employees. When the boss uses the plural everyone knows that it is really being directed at the individual. So keys, binding and loosing first to Peter than each individual disciple then to every Christian.( so first to one, then to 11, then to the whole world; gospel first to Jerusalem, then to Judea, then the whole world). So I have the authority to bind and loose. This seems logical since there is no ministerial priesthood. Christ’s kingdom is based on properly understanding the logos( the written Word) and Rhema( operating by revelation from the Holy Spirit.) If you have these two things you will move mountains.
The Bible makes a strong case to show Peter never ministered in Rome before 51AD, since he would not eat with Gentiles in 51 AD. Again you have not offered a rebutal to these charges. Almost everything regarding Peter’s life according to Catholics is apocryphal. These legends spread over centuries. Then when Rome fell and the Muslims invaded the West these legends became gospel. I would love to see quotes that Peter was physically present in Rome. Notice Paul had written Romans before arriving in Rome. Peter may have sent ministers to Rome, which is different than being physically present. So I want to hear specific church fathers quote that Peter was physically present in Rome. Also let us make it more interesting they must refer to more than him being crucified in Rome.
I will give you the point of Paul, since there is not enough information, since I have heard that argument before. Not everyone had a Greek name and it is doubtful that someone who was groomed to be a member of the Sanhedrin had a Greek name, but I will give you that one.
Yes, I will claim that Augustine recanted the Petrine Supremacy and refer to the link. If you can add anything that new than we can debate that after you answer my two previous questions.

Oneil September 6, 2009 at 5:28 am

Lucien,
I spent 18 months with the Eastern Orthodox and they definitely don’t see Peter as supreme. So for you to say that ALL history bears witness to the supremacy of Peter, than you are a poor scholar. I told you I went to all the major denomination over a 10 year period and heard all the arguments.
The issue is that it is too scary to consider what would happen if Peter was not Pope. The whole Catholic framework crumbles if Peter is not Pope. Many people are cowards and refuse to investigate the other side of the argument. The Eastern Orthodox Patristic scholar showed me the original Ignatian Epistles and it is clear they have been doctored. Nobody knows what the original says. According to my Patristic Scholar friend, much of the Patristic literature has also been interpolated( modified) and nobody is sure what many of the originals said.
The only solution is to avoid deception is to rise up and become a Theologian. You may be smarter than me, especially since I have a degree from Mickey Mouse Theological Seminary, spell better, and have better grammar. You probably can do it in under 5 years.
You answered correctly, we all deserve to go to Hell. The proper procedure for going to Heaven is believe, repent, and be baptized in that Order. This is a non-Abelian( non-commutative) process. This can only be done when God introduces godly sorrow not worldly sorrow. For godly sorrow achieves the purposes of God.
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” {2 Corinthians 7:10) If this has not occurred in your life, you are destined for Hell. Mortal sins are the traditions of man. All sin separates from God and is punishable by death. Mortal sin is a Medieval invention.

M. L. Martin September 6, 2009 at 7:35 am

otherwise they are falling into the trap of adding to scripture, which is sin.
Your lame argument that you is in singular in Matt 16, while you is in the plural Matt18 proves absolutely nothing. I see you never been to any meetings where the boss is trying to motivate the employees. When the boss uses the plural everyone knows that it is really being directed at the individual.
So when we interpret Scripture, it’s “adding to scripture”, but when you do it, it’s just plain hermeneutics?
Christ’s kingdom is based on properly understanding the logos( the written Word) and Rhema( operating by revelation from the Holy Spirit.)
This sounds suspiciously Gnostic . . .
The only solution is to avoid deception is to rise up and become a Theologian. You may be smarter than me, especially since I have a degree from Mickey Mouse Theological Seminary, spell better, and have better grammar. You probably can do it in under 5 years.
Decidedly gnostic. So the gates of Hell have prevailed against the Church? And salvation is only available to those who seek the hidden wisdom?
And what about those of us who are working on becoming Catholic theologians? Is it possible for us to be saved, or are we doomed to Hell for pursuing the way of salvation wrongly? ;-)

Oneil September 6, 2009 at 10:48 am

M.L. Martin,
Logos and Rhema are biblical words. The reason you don’t understand them is that you don’t have a full understanding of Ecclesiology. The Bible says, ‘my people perish for lack of knowledge’. If you want to remain ignorant that is your choice, but be prepared to pay the consequences. My church is bursting with ex-Catholics, who all claim that they are now being properly discipled. Many of these people are blue-collar people without college education.
I have outlined 9 major points why I don’t think Peter is supreme. As a review.
1. The Bible predicts that Christ would be the rock in Isaiah 8:14, Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22. These prophecies are confirmed in 1 Corinthians 10:4. Tell me why Christ would build his church upon a weak, cowardly and sinful man. There is no prophecy that Peter was that rock. There are prophecies of John the Baptist, but NONE of Peter. Peter realized that Christ was the Rock by revelation from the Holy Spirit, confirmed by Peter’s confession.
2. Paul wrote 12-13 books, while Peter only 2 books in the NT.
3. The Epistle 1 Peter was written in 62 AD, so after 30 years of Ministry, Peter only refers to himself as Apostle and Elder. See: 1 Peter 1:1, 5:1-3.
4. Peter was married
5. The extensive internal evidence that Peter was not in Rome because he would not eat with Gentiles(51AD)
6. The Eastern Orthodox, who are as old as the Catholics, not recognizing Peter’s supremacy.
7. Paul rebuking Peter.
8. James as head of the Jerusalem church. The first church in existence( see Acts).
9. Church fathers have been heavily interpolated( modified). I gave two examples of Ignatius and Cyprian.
The Bible warns us in Colossians 2:8 -” Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” How can I be protected unless I have the gospel. Christ only promised to protect the Universal church and the Bible. Local churches come and go, Denominations come and go, but the Universal Church has alway been protected. That Universal church has always used sola scriptura and sola fide. Luther and Calvin did not go far enough in their Reforms and still kept the tradition of men in their denominations.

George G. September 6, 2009 at 11:12 am

@Oneil
“So what I hear you saying is that nobody can create a syllogism or an argument that proves Peter is supreme.”
Dude. He’s saying that you created an argument to prove that Peter did not have any special authority. He rejected the premise of your argument. You replied by repeating that Peter did not have any special authority. You can’t do that. You can’t assume what you set out to prove with your argument. What you can do is say “OK, that’s a bad argument” and then try a different argument. Or, you can stubbornly insist that your argument is sound, even when everyone in the room rejects it.
Or, you can ignore what everyone is saying, and jump to another subject, and insist that if we’re not all super smart theologians, we’re going straight to hell.
“The issue is that it is too scary to consider what would happen if Peter was not Pope.”
Oh, you wanna go there? I could just as easily throw the charge back at you that you’re too scared to consider that the claims of the Catholic Church might be true. But, I don’t think we want to go around psychologizing each other. It’s not very helpful.
Also, you talk about the Eastern Orthodox as if they’re one thing. They’re not.
“I . . . have better grammar”
I wouldn’t boast about this if I were you. Just sayin’.

SDG September 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm

“So what I hear you saying is that nobody can create a syllogism or an argument that proves Peter is supreme.”

Whoa. Um. Did anyone else hear me saying that? Anyone? Bueller? (No, I see George G. got the point, and I rather suspect most other readers did too.)
No reading comprehension bonus points for you, Oneil. Feel free to take another stab at it, otherwise I will consider your plagiarized argument abandoned without defense.

“Your lame argument that you is in singular in Matt 16, while you is in the plural Matt18 proves absolutely nothing. I see you never been to any meetings where the boss is trying to motivate the employees. When the boss uses the plural everyone knows that it is really being directed at the individual.”

Even if that were plausible, it still wouldn’t explain why Jesus singled out Peter first, why he addressed “the keys of the kingdom” only to Peter, why he prayed only for Peter when Satan was after all the Twelve, etc.

“I will give you the point of Paul, since there is not enough information”

This is a significant concession, because in reality Jesus pronouncing a new name on Simon as Peter is a significant event that is indeed parallel to the renaming of Abraham and Sarah in the OT, and indicates a unique role in the plan of salvation. As with Abraham, Peter’s name was changed by God, and so his identity was changed, and with that change came a new role in God’s plan. Nothing similar happened with Paul, or with James and John (nobody ever called them anything but James and John; “Boanerges” was a collective nickname, not a new name).

“You cite 1 Cor 15 as some evidence of support for Petrine Supremacy. However Jesus appeared to people in the following order, Mary Magdalene, Cleopas and someone else on the way to Emmaus, Peter, rest of the disciples, and Saul/Paul( not sure when), and 500 others. I guess maybe Mary Magdalene has Supremacy?”

Correction: Paul lists the 500 others before himself, not after. The credal formula in 1 Corinthians 15 begins with Cephas, then the Twelve. Mary Magdalene is not mentioned here. In part, surely, because her testimony as a woman was not legally valid. Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene is a special privilege that does bespeak a special relationship he had with her, but it is not a relationship that the credal formula chose to commemorate, i.e., it is not of credal significance. The initial appearance to Peter, prior to the Twelve, was deemed worthy of commemoration in this credal form bespeaks a special relationship between Peter and Christ that is of credal significance, especially in light of the primacy ascribed to Peter throughout the rest of the NT tradition.

“Yes, I will claim that Augustine recanted the Petrine Supremacy and refer to the link.”

Since that’s your final answer, let’s dismantle yet another one of your half-baked arguments culled from an anti-Catholic website.
The claim is based on a passage from Augustine’s Retractationes (“Reconsiderations” or “Second Thoughts” — not “Retractions”), which Mr. Webster (whose arguments have proven so reliable until now!) would like to spin as a “repudiation” of Augustine’s previous teaching. However, there are a number of problems.
Here is what Augustine writes in the Retratationes:

“I mentioned somewhere with reference to the apostle Peter that ‘the Church is founded upon him as upon a rock.’ This meaning is also sung by many lips in the lines of blessed Ambrose, where, speaking of the domestic cock, he says: ‘When it crows, he, the rock of the Church, absolves from sin.’ But I realize that I have since frequently explained the words of our Lord: ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church’, to the effect that they should be understood as referring to him Peter confessed when he said: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’, and as meaning that Peter having been named after this rock, figured the person of the Church, which is built upon this rock and has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven. For what was said to him was not ‘Thou art rock’, but ‘Thou art Peter’. But the rock was Christ, having confessed whom (even as the whole Church confesses) Simon was named Peter. Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct, let the reader choose.”

Some important points:
1. Notice what Augustine does not even mention in this passage: the primacy of Peter. This is a subject about which Augustine has been very clear in the past, but in this passage he is only concerned with a much more limited exegetical question of whether, in Matthew 16:18, when Jesus speaks of building his church on a rock, he means Peter personally, or some other rock.
This exegetical question about the meaning of “petra” in Matthew 16:18 is hardly equivalent to the whole of Petrine primacy in Augustine’s teaching. Here are some of the things Augustine wrote:

“Among these [apostles] Peter alone almost everywhere deserved to represent the whole Church. Because of that representation of the Church, which only he bore, he deserved to hear ‘I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven’” (Sermon 295).

“So then, this self-same Peter, blessed by being surnamed Rock from the Rock, representing the person of the Church, holding chief place in the apostolic ranks (Sermon 76).”

“Some things are said which seem to relate especially to the apostle Peter, and yet are not clear in their meaning unless referred to the Church, which he is acknowledged to have represented in a figure on account of the primacy which he bore among the disciples. Such is ‘I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ and other similar passages. In the same way, Judas represents those Jews who were Christ’s enemies” (Commentary on Psalm 108 1 [A.D. 415]).

“Who is ignorant that the first of the apostles is the most blessed Peter?” (Commentary on John 56:1 [A.D. 416]).

That Augustine affirmed Peter’s primacy is so clear that even Webster, in the very website you link to, admits, “Augustine states that Peter is the first and head of the apostles and that he holds a primacy,” and later adds, “In Augustine’s view, Peter holds a primacy or preeminence.
Webster quickly goes on to offer some interpretive spin: “However he does not interpret that primacy in a Roman Catholic sense” and “none of this applies to him in a jurisdictional sense.” However, the primary question right now has to do with the foundational issue that Peter had a primacy. What that primacy means or how it is understood is an important question, but not one with direct bearing on the immediate issue of what Augustine repudiated or did not repudiate in a passage of the Retratationes that doesn’t even mention the subject.
Augustine never says “Maybe it was a mistake to say that the most blessed Peter was first of the Apostles, that he represents the whole church, that he bears a primacy among the apostles,” etc. Never mentions it, at least not in the passage quoted here. Therefore, the passage does not attest any repudiation of Peter’s primacy.
2. On the subject of the “rock” in Matthew 16, Webster wants to argue that Augustine essentially says, “Early on I said that Peter was the rock, but ever since I’ve maintained that Christ was the rock.” Note that to do this Webster misleadingly omits part of the passage in which Augustine acknowledges that that “many lips” have sung the understanding of Peter as the rock, including Augustine’s own beloved mentor “blessed Ambrose.”
Clearly Augustine continues to take the “Peter is the rock” interpretation seriously; and, crucially, after presenting both interpretations, he merely says, “Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct, let the reader choose.”
He doesn’t say, “I repudiate the first interpretation sung by many lips including blessed Ambrose.” No term equivalent to “repudiate,” “renounce” or “reject” appears anywhere in the passage.
Regarding the second interpretation, Augustine merely says, “I realize that I have since frequently explained the words of the Lord” that way. He doesn’t say “I realize that this is the correct understanding.” He doesn’t even say that one is clearly right and the other clearly wrong. He makes it a question of which is more “likely,” and leaves it to the reader to decide.
I think it is reasonable to conclude that Augustine preferred the non-Petrine reading of “rock,” that he considered that interpretation more “likely.” That is not the same as “repudiating” the other.
So. The claim that the quotation from the Retratationes demonstrates that “Augustine recanted the Petrine Supremacy” is false, first, because Augustine does not mention Petrine primacy, and, second, because Augustine does not “recant” the Petrine interpretation of the “rock,” but merely sets both interpretations side by side, indicating that he has often taken the latter view, and concludes, “Let the reader decide.”
So, we can add “Augustine recanted the Petrine Supremacy” and “Jerome held a Protestant view of Matthew 16″ to the ever-growing list of failed arguments you’ve tried out here.
Rider: For some time now there has been a strong consensus among Evangelical scripture scholars that Jesus does indeed refer to Peter as the rock on which the church is built. This consensus includes the likes of F. F. Bruce, D. A. Carson, W. F. Albright and R. T. France. I am not aware of any scholars of this caliber who still support the view that Jesus means “a different rock” (recommended reading).
Having said all that, I am now reasonably content to leave all remaining sleeping dogs where they lie and try to answer your unanswered questions, if you can refrain from provoking me with further low-hanging fruit in the way of arguments begging to be ripped apart. Just restrain yourself for a short time, don’t say anything silly, and I’ll see about answering your other questions. Can you do that for me? Thanks ever.

Oneil September 6, 2009 at 12:52 pm

George,
SDG is the one that introduced the syllogism. I am merely stating that he needs to produce a syllogism that proves that Peter is Supreme. All he did is create a strawman argument and proved nothing.

SDG September 6, 2009 at 1:10 pm

(Apparently, the answer is no.)

“SDG is the one that introduced the syllogism.”

Listen very carefully, Oneil: The syllogism was a paraphrase of your own argument. The one you copied and pasted from another website.
Here is your argument which you copied and pasted:

If Jesus had clearly given Peter supreme authority over all the apostles, then the other apostles would have known it, however, at the “Last Supper” a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest (Luke 22:24). They clearly did not interpret Jesus’ words to mean that Peter was the “greatest” among them or else they would not have argued about it.

All I did in my syllogism was to restate your argument in my own words, to map out the inner structure of your argument in syllogistic form, viz:

The argument you posted takes the form of a syllogism, with a thought experiment in the major premise:
P1. If Jesus had conferred special status or authority to Peter, the other apostles would not have been arguing over who was the greatest.
P2. But the other apostles were arguing over who was the greatest.
C. Therefore Jesus did not confer special status or authority to Peter.

Capisce? The argument of the syllogism is your argument. I merely mapped out the logical form. I don’t think I can make it any clearer than that.
You say I created a strawman. I say you are the strawman, or at least your argument is an argument of straw, accurately set forth in the syllogism as I formulated it. If you say otherwise, explain to me wherein the syllogism above fails to account for the real structure of the argument you posted.
After that (to refresh your memory further), I challenged you regarding the soundness of your argument’s major premise. To revert to the original wording of your own cut-and-paste, I challenged you on the claim that the other apostles “clearly did not interpret Jesus’ words to mean that Peter was the “greatest” among them or else they would not have argued about it.” Your words (or rather someone else’s words which you posted here).
My challenge to you was: “Is it logically sound that if Jesus did confer special status or authority to Peter, we can safely conclude that the other apostles would not have been arguing over who was the greatest? Or is it possible that the apostles might still have been arguing over who was the greatest even if Jesus had conferred special status or authority to Peter, in which case the argument fails? … Is it really the case that you cannot imagine any reasons why the apostles might still have been arguing over who was the greatest even if Jesus had conferred special status or authority to Peter?”
Is that a question you can answer, or not? Regardless, I do plan to answer your questions soon, if nothing else comes along first that I feel the need to respond to.

George G. September 6, 2009 at 1:37 pm

@Oneil
He put your own argument in the form of a syllogism. But, that’s not the point.
The point is that you can’t make an argument, have it rejected, and then turn around and be all “whatever, I still reject the papacy!” Obviously your position is what it is. We already know that. But, you can’t make an argument that assumes the conclusion. If you’re not convinced by his counter argument, that’s fine, but you need to explain why. You need to either counter the his argument, or acknowledge that your argument is poor and try something else.
“I am merely stating that he needs to produce a syllogism that proves that Peter is Supreme.”
Also, this. When did this happen? You stated no such thing until just now, as far as I can see. You don’t really address his arguments and then expect him to come up with something else?

Oneil September 6, 2009 at 1:58 pm

SDG,
Again I am not going to bite on your sophistry. Socratic logic is so flawed and this it reeks of Jesuit sophistry.
The Socratic method forces a person into a yes response. Then follow up with a similar question, then repeat as necessary, until you can essentially force an opponent to concede to your point.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllogistic_fallacy
So all you have done is use sophistry to create a syllogistic fallacy.
All I am stating is that there is not any positive evidence in the Bible that any of the Apostles considered Peter supreme. To support my claim I bring up that the Disciples had a dispute who would be greatest. What this proves is that Catholics have not provided any internal Biblical evidence that Peter is Supreme. The burden is upon the Catholic to prove Peter is supreme, not the Protestant.

SDG September 6, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Wow.
Just wow.
Did you even read the article about syllogistic fallacies?
A syllogism is not a fallacy. There is no specific fallacy called “the syllogistic fallacy,” like where someone constructs a syllogism and you say “That’s the syllogistic fallacy!”
A fallacy is a specific type of logical flaw in a syllogism. To diagnose a syllogistic fallacy, you use … logic. You show that a syllogistic fallacy has occurred by showing what is wrong with the would-be syllogism. You can’t just say “Syllogistic fallacy! Sophistry!” and act as if you’ve somehow scored a point.
And the really retarded thing here is that I didn’t even propose a syllogism. It’s just your argument.
And then you go on to say “To support my claim I bring up that the Disciples had a dispute who would be greatest. What this proves is that Catholics have not provided any internal Biblical evidence that Peter is Supreme.”
Really??? It does? The disciples disputing who would be the greatest proves … that Catholics have not provided any internal Biblical evidence that Peter is Supreme“?????
What the heck? Lemme tell you something, Socratic reasoning has its limitations, but it beats the hell out of non sequiturs and illogic.
BTW, what’s this “burden of proof” thing you bring up? Sounds like sophistic reasoning to me! Show me in the Bible where it talks about “burden of proof”!!!!
P.S. If you ever stop putting your feet in your mouth long enough, I may just get around to answering your questions.

Terry September 6, 2009 at 2:37 pm

All I did in my syllogism was to restate your argument in my own words
To be fair, did your words/challenge not also alter his argument, changing “clearly given Peter supreme authority” to merely “conferred special status”? One can “confer special status” without it being “clearly given supreme authority”. Not all that is “conferred” is “clearly given” (in eveyone’s view) and not all “special status” is “supreme authority”.
To perhaps restate his argument more closely…
If Jesus had clearly given supreme authority to Peter (in the view of the other apostles), the other apostles would have known it.
But because the other apostles were arguing over who was the greatest, this means the other apostles did not know that Peter had supreme authority.
Therefore Jesus did not clearly give supreme authority to Peter (in the view of the other apostles).

M. L. Martin September 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm

The problem with Oneil’s argument is that it assumes the Apostles understood all of Our Lord’s utterances at the time of the Last Supper. I would say this is not necessarily the case; John 13:7 (on the Washing of the Feet:
“What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand”), 14:8-10, and 16:12-32 stongly suggest otherwise.
Oneil–I should have been clearer. What struck me as Gnostic in your earlier post was the emphasis on “understanding” instead of faith or charity, not the use of the terms Logos and Rhema. This felt especially strong with the

M. L. Martin September 6, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Oops–post got cut off. To restate the second half:
Oneil–I should have been clearer. What struck me as Gnostic in your earlier post was the emphasis on “understanding” instead of faith or charity, not the use of the terms Logos and Rhema. This Gnostic tone felt especially strong in the implication that “unless a man become a theologian, he cannot be saved.”

George G. September 6, 2009 at 2:54 pm

@Oneil
“To support my claim I bring up that the Disciples had a dispute who would be greatest. What this proves is that Catholics have not provided any internal Biblical evidence that Peter is Supreme.”
Gwah? How do these two sentences even go together?
You don’t think that maybe they excluded Peter from their little dispute, since his position as their head was already established by Jesus? Or, maybe, that they were just boneheads who got carried away by their dumb conversation?

Oneil September 6, 2009 at 2:58 pm

SDG,
Now that we have established syllogisms have their weaknesses, let us continue:
So what we have concluded from this discussion is that the disciples had a dispute at the Last Supper on who would be the greatest. We can also conclude that at that moment in time they did not think Peter Supreme. The question if Peter was made Supreme by Christ is a different question.
Would you agree with that? If not, explain.
So if Catholics claim to have the only valid Magisterium than they need to prove that Peter was the first Pope. If they can’t, then Protestants have just as valid a model of Church as Catholics.

SDG September 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Oneil, I’m done talking logic with you. It’s like talking musical theory with a tone-deaf man.
However, I do think it’s worth responding to this challenge from Terry (or “B” as I like to call him):

“To be fair, did your words/challenge not also alter his argument, changing “clearly given Peter supreme authority” to merely “conferred special status”? One can “confer special status” without it being “clearly given supreme authority”. Not all that is “conferred” is “clearly given” (in eveyone’s view) and not all “special status” is “supreme authority”.”

Fair enough, B. Those are appropriate nuances worth exploring.
The problem is that the argument in its original form implicitly poses a false dichotomy, first overstating what could be reasonably inferred from a Catholic reading of Matthew 16 (i.e., “Jesus clearly gave surpreme authority to Peter and all the disciples would have understood this”) and then debunking that semi-strawman, with the implicit bogus conclusion “Therefore Jesus did nothing at all special for Peter.” My paraphrase did nudge the argument in the direction of what I consider more reasonable starting grounds (“special status” might have been too hard a nudge).
Perhaps I can help address any ambiguity there by responding to Oneil’s latest question:

“So what we have concluded from this discussion is that the disciples had a dispute at the Last Supper on who would be the greatest. We can also conclude that at that moment in time they did not think Peter Supreme. The question if Peter was made Supreme by Christ is a different question. Would you agree with that? If not, explain.”

Okay.
My view is that in Matthew 16 Jesus
1. ceremoniously renames Simon as Peter in terms that clearly indicate a unique and divinely ordained new role in the plan of salvation, akin to the renaming of Abraham;
2. indicates his specific intention for Peter to play a unique foundational role in the new people of God; and
3. commissions Peter as chief steward to the final Son of David, on the model of the office indicated in Isaiah 22:22. (In Matthew 18 Jesus goes on to name the rest of the apostles stewards as well, but Peter’s role of chief steward remains unique.)
I would further contend that the other disciples would generally have understood from this that Peter was in line to be, as it were, Jesus’ right-hand man in the coming kingdom — that Jesus intended Peter to stand in a uniquely privileged administrative relationship to Jesus himself in the kingdom. (It is perhaps worth adding that the idea of “the kingdom” many of the disciples would have had would probably have included such ideas as a renewed monarchy in Jerusalem, victory over the Romans, the restoration of the Shekinah glory to the Temple, the vindication of Israel to the nations, etc.)
I don’t see that I am obliged to maintain that Jesus’ intention for Peter’s role would necessarily have been equally understood by all the Twelve, or that it would necessarily have been considered irrevocable or incapable of question. There seems to me ample room for ongoing debate about, e.g., which of the Twelve was the worthiest; who had worked the greatest signs; who best understood the Master’s puzzling teachings; who had the most faith; who was truly the ideal or favored disciple (John might have had his hat in the ring there).
The very awareness of Peter’s election could easily have been the focus of the debate: Why him and not me? Who could be sure Jesus might not change his mind? Or whether, Peter’s uniquely privileged status notwithstanding, other high honors (perhaps even greater?) might not await certain others among the Twelve (e.g., James and John sitting at his right and his left)?
It’s not unthinkable that some might even have doubted whether Jesus really intended (whether he could have intended!) to confer such honors on Peter (of all people!); but again I think that this would probably have been generally understood by most of the Twelve — though of course not as well as they would have come to understand it after the resurrection and ascension (where, from Pentecost onward, we see Peter exercising a leadership role among the Twelve that is unparalleled by any other apostle).
So I think there is ample room for debate among the Twelve which of them was “the greatest” despite a general understanding of the uniquely privileged administrative relationship that Jesus intended for Peter in the coming kingdom.

George G. September 6, 2009 at 3:40 pm

@Oneil
“Now that we have established syllogisms have their weaknesses”
What? No. You equated syllogisms to reeky sophistry, and implied that their use was some sort of fallacy. He corrected you by explaining that there can be poorly constructed syllogisms, but that their use is not in itself a problem. He even went so far as to say that Socratic reasoning has it’s limitations, because, doy, of course it does. But, that’s not at all what you were claiming, so where did this “we have established” business came from? You just blew past yet another argument. Is it that hard to acknowledge your mistakes?
And now we’re arguing about arguing. This is dumb.

Oneil September 6, 2009 at 4:17 pm

George,
So what have we established? SDG gave a long post about why he thought Peter was supreme. Notice how much conjecture was in his thesis and very little scripture.
I bring up 9 points, I should have added binding and loosing in both Matt 16 and Matt 18 as my 10th point.
I can only conclude that SDG can not reason from scripture because he is not trained in sound hermeneutics. He rather reason from conjecture than scripture.
Furthermore we can compare this to the religious leaders of Christ’s day. The Pharisees tried to stump Jesus by twisting scripture, similarly he pulls some lame statement from 1 Cor 15 to derail the argument.
If SDG is your best man for convincing people of Peter’s Primacy then you are in a world of hurt. The Protestants are having easy pickings and stealing sheep by the millions worldwide. Worldwide Orthodox Protestants outnumber Active Catholics. We are doing this simply by preaching sola scriptura, sola fide, and removing the traditions of men, thus breaking the yoke of Medieval innovation.

Oneil September 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm

George,
Ask me a specific question and I will answer it.

Tim J. September 6, 2009 at 4:38 pm

“Ask me a specific question and I will answer it. ”
1) Who first told you that the Bible was the Word of God?
2) Why did you believe them?

M. L. Martin September 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Oneil–Here’s a specific question for you: Where was this ‘universal’ Church that merited divine protection between the Apostolic era and the founding of your church? The Montanists, who believed Montanus had brought the Paraclete to supersede Jesus? The Donatists, who believed in the sacraments? Or are we going to trot out the Albigensians, with salvation via self-starvation? :-)

SDG September 6, 2009 at 5:16 pm

“SDG gave a long post about why he thought Peter was supreme. “

I did no such thing. You really don’t know how to read, do you?
The subject of my last post was not “why I think Peter was supreme.” It was “what the disciples likely understood after the events of Matthew 16 and what they could have been arguing about at the Last Supper.”
I haven’t begun to marshal an argument for the Petrine primacy.
In this combox you’ve accumulated a mountain of failed and refuted arguments.
You’ve trotted out one falsehood after another, credulously and uncritically accepting other people’s anti-Catholic talking points without making any effort to verify them for yourself.
You criticize me for speculation, yet you offer “interpretations” of Tertullian and theses of early church history devoid of any evidence whatsoever.
You’ve shown yourself incapable of following a logical line of thought.
You don’t even seem embarrassed by all your errors, possibly being so persuaded of your divine approval that you think God doesn’t care whether you are honest or self-critical, because your enemies are so deluded and you are on God’s side.
And now apparently you can’t follow a simple exposition of ideas.
Yet you think that you are particularly qualified to interpret the Word of God and to comment on all the theological and exegetical schools within Christendom.
All you see when you read my arguments is what you’ve already decided to see. Why should you read the scriptures any differently?

George G. September 6, 2009 at 5:22 pm

@Oneil
“Notice how much conjecture was in his thesis and very little scripture.”
What’s wrong with conjecture? If scripture doesn’t elaborate on something, then about all we can do is conjecture.
“. . . trained in sound hermeneutics.”
How could someone on their own ever know if they’ve been soundly trained? How do you know at all that you’re on the right track?
“Ask me a specific question and I will answer it.”
I don’t know what I could ask that hasn’t already been addressed, and I don’t feel like going in a big circle.
OK, here’s a question: Why are you a Christian? I assume that you believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be. Why?

SDG September 6, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Working on a post on Why I believe in the primacy of Peter. Will I get to finish it, or will I get sidetracked by some nonsense about how 2 Corinthinans 5:8 disproves purgatory, or something? Time will tell.

Foxfier September 6, 2009 at 8:39 pm

To go utterly Mickey-Mouse on the argument of who is “the greatest” and if it can be had when someone is already appointed leader:
Cyclops is the leader of the X-Men on their missions.
This does not stop people from having very good arguments on which of the X-men is the best, with very very few thinking Cyclops is it.

Kiran September 6, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Oniel, actually, worldwide, the atheists/agnostics are gaining, particularly if you include those who are practically so. So, if you are going to convert by some kind of assessment of where the feet are moving, the palm does not go to protestants. Then there is the revolving door problem. For a certain length of time, someone might be convinced by sola fide, and sola scriptura, but eventually the penny must drop.
Besides, I haven’t yet seen a definition of what counts as orthodox protestant. Particularly if you define “orthodox protestant” your way, excluding a large proportion for instance, of Arminians, not to mention calling one of the greatest of contemporary protestant scholars a “false teacher,” denying the basic doctrines of a whole group of Lutherans, and so on, you will end up with very few people indeed, and that is before taking into account the turn-over. Actually, I suspect the statistical group you call “orthodox protestants” is, for the most part, composed of what most people would consider, doctrinally polymorphous protestants. Of course, you are welcome to think that, but I don’t see why it is convincing.
But if you are going to include a whole bunch of people into one statistical grouping, who have nothing in common, but 6 words which they all interpret differently, then one is also justified into putting (say) Catholics, Orthodox, High Anglicans, and Lutherans (without denying our differences) into one grouping and say that Catholic Christianity is still in the ascendent.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 5:00 am

Why do I think the Bible is the Word of God? First let me answer that Muslim think the Koran is the word of god and some Buddhist consider the Pali Canon the word of God. So first of all they can not all be the Word of God. I have read the Koran but never the Pali Canon( too many pages). However I have read excerpts from respected Buddhist scholars. So applying hermeneutical principles it is easy to show that Pali Canon and Koran are not the word of god.
There is internal and external evidence that the Bible is the Word of God. The internal evidence includes its unity for it was written over a period o 1500 years by 40 authors from all walks of life. It has no contradictions or abrogations. Also the prophecies that have been stated and fulfilled. Over 300 for Jesus alone. External evidence includes the historicity. Archaeology is proved almost everyone of the battles, behaviors, interactions of Jews with the ancient Kings and civilizations mentioned. Also the number of copies and fragments of the NT indicate that it was the Word of God. Manuscripts of the church fathers can only be found in small quantities, while the Bible in huge quantities. This attests to what the Universal church found important.
So my own due diligence told me the Bible is the Word of God.
M.L. Martin, all the groups you mentioned I consider Orthodox Proto-Protestants. These groups were ruthlessly attacked by Catholics who would slander their name by over stating some bad practice of one of its members. It is like me saying all Catholic Priests support child molestors because I can cite several bad apples from the scandals of the past 10 years. The conqueror writes history and usually twists history to support their case .
SDG,
The difference between you and I is that you play coy. The Bible says, the fool appears wise when he does not speak. I at least will step out and show the gulf between Catholics and Christians. You play coy and use deflective words such as charity, unity, and other nonsense that does not advance the argument. In typical SDG style you make a mountain out of a molehill. You will make a big deal about my use of the word of syllogistic fallacies just to deflect from my other arguments. The internal Biblical evidence of Peter is so overwhelming that you need to make mountains out of molehills.
George,
The reason I am a Christian is the God spoke to me. I had a divine revelation from God. My testimony is that at the Post Office God told me the mailbox number of 4 people walking through the door. God said, I will prove that I am divine. The next person walking through the door will go to mailbox number xxxxx. This place was on a college campus and there were over 10,000 mailboxes. Well I will let the mathematicians figure out the odds of me selecting the correct number randomly. After this event God said go to this church( not an EFC church, but an excellent church) and they will disciple you.
The other reason I am not Catholic is because my Eastern Orthodox Monk introduced me to this nugget.
“Constantine had invited all 1800 bishops of the Christian church (about 1000 in the east and 800 in the west), but a lesser and unknown number attended. Eusebius of Caesarea counted 250,[9] Athanasius of Alexandria counted 318,[10] and Eustathius of Antioch counted 270[11] (all three were present at the council). Later, Socrates Scholasticus recorded more than 300,[12] and Evagrius,[13] Hilarius,[14] Jerome[15] and Rufinus recorded 318.
The participating bishops were given free travel to and from their episcopal sees to the council, as well as lodging. These bishops did not travel alone; each one had permission to bring with him two priests and three deacons; so the total number of attendees would have been above 1,500. Eusebius speaks of an almost innumerable host of accompanying priests, deacons and acolytes.” – Wikipedia First council of Nicea.
Notice no Pope or Magisterium was invited. Notice that Bishops, Priests, and Deacons were invited, indicating they had influence on doctrine. This fits well with the Protestant model.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 5:14 am

Kiran,
Personally I think it is better to be an atheist than a Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim. All these religions are loosing people to Atheism.
It is very simple, if you are not born again by having a divine encounter with God than you are not a Christian. Everyone must have a testimony. Baptism is not that testimony. Baptism is the icing on the cake of the Christian initiation rite. Data states only about 30% of the attendants of Orthodox Protestant churches are born again. The hope is that by visiting they will eventually get born-again. If your not born-again by faith then you are DEAD in your sins and will absolutely go to Hell. I would not put much stalk in Purgatory since Jesus never mentioned it. The Bible says, upon death comes judgment! The Bible does NOT say, upon death comes purification. So again your just listening to Medieval novel doctrine.

SDG September 7, 2009 at 5:20 am

“The difference between you and I is that you play coy.”

Ha! First you picked up on my term “lame” and tried to throw it back in my teeth, now you remember that people called you “coy” in the earlier pages of the combox so you decide to try out that one too. You’re like a kid filing away insults to use them later.
Dude, you’re the guy who refused outright for what, days? to state what he believed about Adam and Eve and Noah, or why he believed it was important, who drops all these Mysterious Hints about your credentials and your schoolin’ but doesn’t want to get too specific, etc.
That’s what I like about you, Oneil. You don’t worry about consistency or plausibility, you just say whatever comes into your head.
Answer on Peter still in progress. I’m not being coy, like certain people: I just can’t do everything at once.
P.S. Incidentally, since I know you pride yourself on your grammar, it’s “you and me,” not “you and I.”

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 5:26 am

M, L. Martin,
I mentioned that the Protestant model is based on faithful continuity. So the nth generation passes its teaching to the n+1st generation. The n+1st does not need to know about n-1st generation. Typically Christian groups because of persecution, economic reasons, droughts, natural disasters, etc. move from one location to another. We only require continuity of teaching, not continuity of location. Even the Roman Catholics moved from Rome to France and then back to Rome in their history. Christ never promised to provide a detailed history of every event of the church. Our continuity is based on teaching which has been faithfully passed down. This teaching can easily be verified by studying the Bible. Again Protestants don’t need external documents to defend their teaching. Catholics need external documents such as Canon Law, Papal Bulls, Encyclicals, etc. We believe the Bible is complete and can be understood by the average man in due time. In 5 years you can easily have a very good understanding of the major themes of the Bible including OT and NT. So by ignoring the traditions of men such as Calvinism, Sacraments, Papal Bulls, Encyclicals, and Dispensationalism you can quickly come to a good understanding of the Bible, which is God’s Word.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 5:32 am

Thanks for correcting my grammar.

The Masked Chicken September 7, 2009 at 5:48 am

I will assume, given that Jimmy has not stepped in to stop the food fight, that posting on Catholic vs. Protestant topics is allowed in this post.
It is very hard not to be either cynical or satirical after following all of the twists and turns of the discussion (if one can call it that), so far.
I will have much to say (must leave for a few hours), later. All I can say, for now, is that I know how to do historical research and what has been going on in these comments isn’t it. It would help to get some perspective on the limitations of historical methodologies, including the historical-grammatical method. None of these methods can substitute for Faith, nor, properly speaking, can they do anything but provide reasonable arguments, not certainty. In fact, a small error at the beginning of an historical study can lead to wrong conclusions at the end (there is a Latin phrase for this I will look up).
I have to go. I threaten to return.
The Chicken

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 6:17 am

For those who are tired of clicking. Please bookmark the following link to this post.
http://www.jimmyakin.org/2009/08/the-age-of-the-worldpart-i/comments/page/5/#comments

SDG September 7, 2009 at 6:35 am

“For those who are tired of clicking. Please bookmark the following link to this post.”

On a similar note: The url can be manually altered by changing the number after the /page/ to be some very high number (e.g., 9), and the page will always default to the most recent page.
TypePad sucks. It’s ridiculous that they never fixed this.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 6:47 am

SDG,
You said:
I don’t see that I am obliged to maintain that Jesus’ intention for Peter’s role would necessarily have been equally understood by all the Twelve, or that it would necessarily have been considered irrevocable or incapable of question
Well by your own admission it is possible that Peter’s supremacy could be revoked. Maybe it was revoked when he denied Christ 3 times! I find this thinking odd since the covenant God made with Abraham was irrevocable. A descendant on the Throne of David, i.e. Jesus was irrevocable. So if Peter is such a foundation it seems ludicrous that it could ever be irrevocable. What your saying is that Jesus could revoke the church away from Peter. I sure would not want to be a member of that church.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 7:08 am

I should have said ‘ludicrous that it could be revocable.’ The ‘ir’ prefix is incorrect.

M. L. Martin September 7, 2009 at 7:24 am

Oneil–the problem with your hermeneutic of radical suspicion of Church history is that it cuts off the branch on which you sit. If the Church Fathers and other authorities are so untrustworthy about those heretical sects, why are they trustworthy on the canon of Scripture? Or on the Trinity and the nature of the Incarnation?

SDG September 7, 2009 at 7:43 am

“Well by your own admission it is possible that Peter’s supremacy could be revoked.”

And so, once again, we see that you cannot read. Please contemplate further the meaning of the word “considered” in the full context of the quoted sentence.

“Maybe it was revoked when he denied Christ 3 times!”

Yes, that is a very reasonable thought indeed, and goes to why Jesus (a) made a point of appearing first to Peter among the Twelve (1 Cor 15, Luke 24:34, cf. Mark 16:7), and why in John’s Gospel he elicits Peter’s triple declaration of love and gives him the threefold commission to feed his sheep, thus canceling out Peter’s triple denial and reinstating him in his office. (Look, it’s all coming. I’m working on it as we speak. Just sit tight and wait.)

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 7:55 am

M.L Martin,
The problem is that you assume that the church is like a tree with branches. The church is a grape vine with branches.
Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Branches can always be pruned back. After the harvest all the branches are cut except one. So as long as we return back to the vine we can regrow.
So, yes, I am suspicious of Church history when it is riddled with Fraud. Eusebius doctored church history for his purposes, the forged church fathers, church fathers contradicting other church fathers, the East-West split, etc. This is no different than the OT Jews. They went into captivity and were almost utterly destroyed. However they were restored and Ezra using the Bible had to reteach them their previous Levitical practices. So as long as I have the Bible, Christianity can always be re-derived. Furthermore when one studies the 3 different hermeneutical methods, one quickly discovers that only the historical-grammatical approach is logically consistent and is used today by Orthodox Jews, who are basically direct descendants of the scribes of the Old Testament( If it were not for the NT, I would be an Orthodox Jew). So in this fashion I have historical continuity. The methods of Catholicism are inventions of Philo and others.
Furthermore if you understand the Bible properly, you see that the spiritual church really began in the Garden of Eden. Compare Genesis 1-3 with Revelation 20-22.
Again you have been drinking the coolaid of the Vatican. The Catholic approach is to bury you in the nuance of Sacraments and Catholic Catechism, thus making you feel unsure that you can understand the Bible yourself. Thus they have created a cult of mind control. I always tell people to go to primary sources. The Bible is the primary source and was written to the common man. Most of the Apostles were blue collar fisherman. Only Paul and maybe Luke were intellectual heavy weights.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 7:56 am

SDG,
Okay I will wait.

SDG September 7, 2009 at 8:04 am

“Most of the Apostles were blue collar fisherman. Only Paul and maybe Luke were intellectual heavy weights.”

Aside: If you accept the traditional authorship of Matthew and John, then they were intellectual heavyweights too. Zebedee’s family fishing business does not mean that his family was not educated; it is even possible that John came from a priestly family that did its occasional Temple duties and maintained the fishing business the rest of the year. Either way, the First and Fourth Gospels are both the work of formidable literary talents.

Tim J. September 7, 2009 at 8:39 am

Let me get this staright, Oneil… you were agnostic as to the bible being the Word of God until you studied it and the historical evidence around it for years and independently decided – on your own authority – that it was the word of God?
In other words, you read it for quite a while without making up your mind, and then decided on the weight of internal and *external* evidence that it was The Word of God?
What was your opinion of its authorship before you came to believe in it as God’s Word?
I assume you did not have any direct access to any of the historical or archeological evidence you speak of… why do you accept it, and yet reject historical and archeological evidence that works against your pet theories?
Lots of books are internally consistent. What made you believe that the prophecies of the bible were written when they seem to have been written, recorded accurately and passed down without corruption?… without already believing that the bible enjoyed divine protection?
So, you’re clainimg that God spoke to you directly by picking out post office boxes? Wow.
Let me tell you… there are two things I have serious doubts about, and the more you talk, the more doubtful I become; the first is that you are any kind of theologian (except by some private definition of the term accepted by you and very few others), and the second is that you are a former Catholic.

Lucien Syme September 7, 2009 at 8:59 am

Oneil,
You are suspicious of everything but your own reasoning capacity; which has only increased my own suspicions that you could do with a heavy dose of humility (as well as a dose of reason).
What you are describing as your theological outlook is not faith and thus has no power to save!
Unless, of course, you can detail clearly this process of yours (from the bible) you have nothing to stand on as a source of authority.
If everyone has to become a novice armchair dogmatic theologian to make it to heaven there will be less people there than the Jehovah Witnesses originally prophesied.
Which brings me to another point: What do the Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Scientists and your very own 150 year old orthodox Protestant Viking Evangelical church have in common?
They were all started here in the United States of America in the 19th Century! By people, like you, claiming the Church got it wrong but they got it right and they can prove it from the bible.
So as you see the bible which is your only authority (outside of your reasoning) is not a source of unity and was never promised to be. The first Pope had to remind people that Paul’s letters were complicated and that the dangerous were twisting them to their own destruction.
With that said…Twist away Oneil, twist away!
Repent or you will away resent!

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 9:05 am

TimJ,
I don’t know how much time you spent with Jesuits and Priests. My experience is that there were some Catholic clergy that thought the Bible was the Word of God and others who did not think so. So I would vacillate between believing and not believing. Primarily I would be in the not believing camp. Over my 10 year journey, people would give me books like Evidence that Demands a Verdict or More than a Carpenter both by Josh McDowell or some articles from Christian Archeology Digest(?)( don’t remember the exact title, my Presbyterian( PCUSA)roomate had a subscription). So my journey went from blind belief, to major doubt, to false religions, to finally faith and a personal born again event.

Terry September 7, 2009 at 9:26 am

My testimony is that at the Post Office God told me the mailbox number of 4 people walking through the door.
Oneil, why do say it was God and not some evil demon in league with four people or some other explanation? Is this an example of how you’re “preaching sola scriptura, sola fide”?

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 9:51 am

Lucien,
My testimony is not different than countless other Protestants. I am not my own teaching authority. I have submitted to the EFC, who has submitted to an Evangelical council composed of other churches from other denominations. Study the Bible and see if I present novel doctrine.
So I followed the Biblical pattern of believing, repenting and being baptized. My faith rests solidly in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who is my Comforter. I, like the members of my church, have the authority to bind and loose just like the disciples.
You say I need humilty, don’t we all. However most people confuse humilty with weakness. Humilty is controlled strength submitted to the will of God. If you can’t hear God’s voice how do you know that your in His will? Man created traditions so he did not have to be accountable to hearing the God’s Voice. And the only way to discern God’s Voice is to correctly understand His written Word.

SDG September 7, 2009 at 9:52 am

My comments on the primacy of Peter, now in progress.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 10:17 am

Lucien,
The Bible says faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Faith does not come from sacraments or baptism. The only way to have faith is to hear the Word of God. So by undermining the age of Methuselah, Catholics inhibit people from properly hearing and understanding the Word of God. Thus many Catholics typically have intellectual ascension or obedience to Magisterium rather than the Biblical required Faith that is necessary for salvation.
There are going to be a lot of Mormons, JW’s and Catholics shocked at the Day of Judgment.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 10:52 am

So how do does a Catholic become a Christian.
1. First Catholics need a crop failure, not a harvest, pertaining to their preconceived ideas.
2. Then they need to enter a mode of skeptism.
3. Then when they are sufficiently broken, they begin the journey upward.
4. This journey continues by attending a Protestant church for 9 weeks and reading three times the Book of John.
5. During the course of these events God will speak and convict your heart.

Lucien Syme September 7, 2009 at 11:26 am

Oneil,
Find me that five step process in the bible and we can discuss the matter.
Otherwise I know, as well as most here, you are twisting!
You DO like to dance: Twist around logic, twist ALL around the bible trying to make a coherent point (but failing most of the time) and twisting to your own destruction.
Unless of course you repent, so far the only destruction here has been to any possibility of a rational discussion.
Real faith comes from hearing the word of God, I agree and I heard it yesterday proclaimed at the Mass. But as a former stalwart Catholic you should remember that!
I love the adjectives you use to describe yourself (when you do spell them correctly) they are so forceful.
From my perspective though I would label you as a former anemic cafeteria Catholic who has fallen headlong into heresy (usually a charge I can’t make with Protestants).
Being that you were a robust Roman Catholic who no longer thinks the Church is what Christ claimed she would be, I can use that term in discussions with you.
So from now on, if you don’t object, I will refer to you as Oneil the Viking Heretic – but only if you don’t mind! I might even start a blog with that title!

Lucien Syme September 7, 2009 at 11:37 am

Oneil,
Find me that five step process in the bible and we can discuss the matter.
Otherwise I know, as well as most here, you are twisting!
You DO like to dance: Twist around logic, twist ALL around the bible trying to make a coherent point (but failing most of the time) and twisting to your own destruction.
Unless of course you repent, so far the only destruction here has been to any possibility of a rational discussion.
Real faith comes from hearing the word of God, I agree and I heard it yesterday proclaimed at the Mass. But as a former stalwart Catholic you should remember that!

Lucien Syme September 7, 2009 at 11:38 am

Whoops kind of a double post there sorry!

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 11:50 am

Lucien,
The title does not bother me. Also I do appreciate people correcting my grammar. Thanks for correctly spelling stalwart. But Bible( OT & NT) is spelled with a capital B.
I was not a Cafeteria Catholic until the Jesuits helped make lose all faith in the RCC.
Please remind me of your academic background.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Lucien,
You make accusations that I twist scripture. Then I will say you are too ignorant of scripture to be in a position to properly judge me.
You feel defenseless, so you get angry. Don’t blame me, blame the people that are catechizing you. They have built a house of cards that can not withstand the Viking frontal assault.
Justin Martyr mentions Simon the Sorcerer being in Rome, but never mentions Peter. Also the first 15 Bishops of Rome, except 2 all had Greek names. That makes a case for the church at Rome being subordinate to the East. The Theological centers in the first 300 years were Antioch, Carthage/Tunisia and Alexandria -not Rome.
So I am not skeptical of all history, only Catholic revisionism.

Lucien Syme September 7, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Oneil,
If Jesuits (specifically 20th or 21st Century American Jesuits), caused your heresy I am astonished.
Where do you find it in the Bible (I like the capital B too) that there would not be false teachers in the Kingdom of God, the Church?
This is a rather long story from the Bible but something you should read (at least 3 times, after attended Mass for 9 consecutive weeks and without the Viking helmet on):
Acts Chapter 20:17-32 (I have paraphrased it a bit)
“[17] And from Mile’tus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. [18] And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you all the time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, [19] serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which befell me through the plots of the Jews; [20] how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, [21] testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ…
[26] Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, [27] for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. [28] Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. [29] I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; [30] and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. [31] Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
[32] And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Paul’s instructions to the Elders were pretty clear I didn’t read any instructions regarding anything remotely suggesting sola or solo Scriptura. The charge was to the Elders and Paul knew there would be internal and external attacks against them.
Verse 30 could be used in reference to many a Jesuit or Priest but that never suggests leaving the Church.
Oneil the Viking Heretic, don’t you see that God might have wanted you to become a Jesuit! Usually when people fall away from Faith it is the very thing God wanted them to overcome. You could have been a good Jesuit using your mind to attack those who would do battle with Christ’s Church from within. Now you stand outside trying to destroy what you no longer understand.
I do love you in Christ though and hope someday you will return to the fold.
I went to a Protestant School with a degree in Marketing. That is the reason I have been out of work for 7 months now (the Marketing degree not because the institute).

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Paul says: ‘testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.’-Acts 20:21
We are at an impass, since we both claim that faith in Christ Jesus comes from hearing the Word of God which is the Bible.
It does not come by the magic of sacraments. Repentance, i.e. godly repentance which achieves the Righteousness of being born-again is a one time event. This is also mentioned in Acts 2:36-38. Catholics obfuscate the simple gospel with magical rituals that leave indelible marks. Similar magic was practiced by countless pagan cultures and religions. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom not a kingdom of this world. Catholics think the Incarnation is the defining event in Christendom, Protestants say that the Crucifixion/Resurrection are the defining moments of Christendom. The former was necessary to complete the later.

Lucien Syme September 7, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Oneil,
The Kingdom is both of this world, it is present in the Catholic Church. As well it is a spiritual Kingdom, when Jesus comes again in glory.
The Catholic Church does not “obfuscate the simple gospel with magical rituals that leave indelible marks”. The heretics typically take one aspect of the Gospel and hold it up as their new version of the Gospel. As opposed to the whole Gospel message which Jesus commanded His Church to preach (this included the Sacraments).
John 6:
[53] So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; [54] he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
As a Catholic I no longer have to obfuscate that simple gospel message from the Lord!

George G. September 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm

@Oneil
“The reason I am a Christian is the God spoke to me. I had a divine revelation from God. My testimony is that at the Post Office God told me the mailbox number of 4 people walking through the door. God said, I will prove that I am divine.”
OK. So, you had an experience.
It seems strange that you would have me believe you after you went on about how people are generally untrustworthy and stupid. But, I’ll assume you’re not crazy.
Why do you think that God spoke to you in that way?
“The conqueror writes history and usually twists history to support their case.”
More cynicism.
“M.L Martin,
The problem is that you assume that the church is like a tree with branches. The church is a grape vine with branches.”

He wasn’t talking about the church. He was talking about you and your hermeneutic of suspicion.
I’d take the question a step farther. If we can’t trust that the Church Fathers knew what they were talking about, then how can we trust that anyone from that period knew what they were doing, and, therefore, how do we know whether anything that was passed down from them is sound?
“Again you have been drinking the coolaid of the Vatican. The Catholic approach is to bury you in the nuance of Sacraments and Catholic Catechism, thus making you feel unsure that you can understand the Bible yourself. Thus they have created a cult of mind control.”
This made me laugh, so thank you.
“I don’t know how much time you spent with Jesuits and Priests.”
Hee. Oh, those Jesuits!
So by undermining the age of Methuselah, Catholics inhibit people from properly hearing and understanding the Word of God.
LOL! Now we’re back to Methuselah? This sentence doesn’t make any sense to me.
“I was not a Cafeteria Catholic until the Jesuits helped make lose all faith in the RCC.”
Did you think to talk to some non-Jesuits?
“Then I will say you are too ignorant of scripture to be in a position to properly judge me.”
So, when someone says something you don’t like, you just tell them that they’re ignorant? Handy!
“You feel defenseless, so you get angry.”
Oh, great. More psychobabble.
“They have built a house of cards that can not withstand the Viking frontal assault.”
Ugh. So many cliches. My brain. It hurts.
“Catholics obfuscate the simple gospel with magical rituals that leave indelible marks. Similar magic was practiced by countless pagan cultures and religions.”
You’re such a weirdo. I mean, really?

SDG September 7, 2009 at 2:36 pm

“Also the first 15 Bishops of Rome, except 2 all had Greek names. That makes a case for the church at Rome being subordinate to the East.”

Aaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!
Please, please, please stop saying random stupid things!!!! Stupid random things. Randomly stupid and stupidly random.
Oneil, did you even think about this one before you posted it? Did you actually read those words somewhere and think, “Hm, popes had Greek names, so really, it does make sense that Rome should be subject to the East”? Or did you just run across it at some website, think it sounded good, and fling it at the wall along with the rest of the mud?
Listen to me. Have you ever heard of Hellenism? From the time of Alexander the Great on, Greek was everybody’s second language. Much like English today.
Lots of people in Rome had Greek names. E.g., Phoebe (Rom 16:1), Timothy, Eunice, Andronicus, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis, Philogus, Nereus (all Acts 16), etc. I could go on and on. There was no theological or ecclesiological dimension whatsoever to Romans having Greek names. The linguistic origin of the names of popes had nothing to do with claims of primacy or who should be subject to whom.
Oneil, please, please listen: God is truth. The devil is the father of lies. These are not just words. The truth really matters. Just because something (a) sounds superficially good and (b) seems like a stick you can use to beat the Church, it doesn’t make it true or right.
I have to ask, have you ever even once ran across an “argument” against the “Church of Rome” that you actually questioned? Of all the random dreck that you’ve posted here, have you even once looked twice at your arguments and wondered, “Even though this makes the Church look bad, does that mean it is actually true?” Have there been any arguments you ran across that you actually didn’t post because you actually thought that even though they might seem to make the Church look bad, you weren’t sure if they were true?
Given the half-baked and threadbare arguments you actually have posted, I’m assuming it would have to be a pretty appallingly specious and dishonest argument for you to actually pass up on posting it. But I would feel reassured if I knew there were even one.
I cannot monitor everything you say here while I work on my series on Peter. If you continue to litter this combox with irresponsible nonsense, I will have no choice but to disinvite you from further blog participation and/or shut down the combox.
This may be a new thought for you, but you need to be self-critical. You need to think before you post. You can’t just run every single thing up the flagpole and see who salutes. You have to ask yourself: Does this really make sense? Is it fair? Does it contribute to the conversation?
I don’t want to take disciplinary action, but if we can’t do better than this I will have no choice.

Kiran September 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Umm… As a case for converting to Protestantism, Oniel, your five-point program is about as convincing as a dervish’s dance. Actually, a little less, because one can actually look at a dancing dervish, while one cannot see a Catholic “becoming” a Protestant because he is “convinced” by God. Your assertion sounds just like any simple “Believe me because I am great” kind of assertion. It ain’t got substance.
The Bible on its own cannot even be transmitted, let alone held on to as a document of faith, or understood.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Kiran,
My outline for becoming a Protestant is a recommendation, not a doctrinal statement.
George,
I guess it doesn’t take much to cause your brain to hurt.
Luke 3 gives a Genealogy of Adam to Jesus. Methuselah is mentioned. I am sure the good doctor also believed that Methuselah was 969 years old when he died. So if the Catholics are nebulous about Methuselah’s age, they are undermining Luke 3, which then undermines the integrity and intelligence of Luke and thus one of the gospels becomes questionable. That is why I make a big deal about Methuselah. I would never consider going to a church that did not make a dogmatic statement that Methuselah was 969 years old.

Lucien Syme September 7, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Oneil,
This would exclude you from every church with the exception of Fundamentalist churches, which you have belittled. I also doubt that most would make a decree like that but you never know.
Show me the website or decree that the EFC (your Church) has requiring everyone to accept the literal age of Methuselah as 969 year old. Follow up on this one, don’t change the subject. You should be able to justify this one – I actually think you can!
I, for one, have already pointed out that I believe Methuselah’s age to be 969. Luckily my Church hasn’t made a Dogma out of it. I am free to believe it and do. Even if those nasty Jesuits made fun of me I wouldn’t budge on it and I certainly wouldn’t run for the hills. That is very un-Viking like!

The Masked Chicken September 7, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Dear Oneil,
You wrote:
I am sure the good doctor also believed that Methuselah was 969 years old when he died.
While it is good to know that you believe this, have you actually spoken to St. Luke? Did he appoint you as his spokesman? Do know for a fact that he didn’t actually ask someone who may have asked Jesus, who would certainly know?
All you know for certain is that Luke included him in his genealogy in Luke 3:37:
[37] the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Maha’lale-el, the son of Ca-i’nan, .
That is the fact. Luke does not state an age. You have no data beyond his listing the name. He only connects the names in order. There are no dates attached to them. This could be a non-metric topology. Everything on your part regarding what Luke believed about the age of Methuselah is conjecture. Conjecture is not scholarship. That he believe that Methuseluah was the son of Enoch is certain from your data. Nothing else. You cannot read into the data to support your claims. That is dishonest.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken September 7, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Oh, and I am an historian (as well as a scientist) and I have done variant analysis, lexical analysis, and historical analysis at the doctoral level, so I know how to do the research probably at least as well as you do. Although my area in history is not Biblical studies, the methods of textual analysis are, essentially, the same.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken September 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Sorry about that last post. My pride got the better of me.
The Chicken

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Chicken,
No problem. You can pull out our sword, chicken feet, or flap your wings. Either way flexing your intellectual biceps keeps me humble.

Oneil September 7, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Lucien,
You are correct that EFCA does not have a dogmatic statement regarding Methuselah specifically. However indirectly it does. This all goes under the subheading of hermeneutics. So if I were to go into a meeting and say I don’t believe Methuselah was 969 year old, I would probably be removed from a leadership position. As a Catholic, nobody would care.

SDG September 8, 2009 at 8:00 am

Confidential to my secret pen pal: At the moment I cannot retrieve the email address you once sent me. If you don’t currently have my email address, send me yours via the contact form and I’ll reply with my address and we can correspond directly. Thanks.

Lucien Syme September 8, 2009 at 11:44 am

Oneil,
Please show me a website or document that the EFCA published as it’s doctrines that must be believed by all of the members.
Thanks.

Dr. Eric September 8, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Wow! Finally through all of that.
First, I don’t think that Oneil is Jimmy, I think the Masked Chicken is. ;-)
Second, I went to the website and it told me to pray a prayer. Fine, but the assumption is that everything that is needed to be known has to be 100% biblical. Yet the prayer doesn’t come from the Bible. It’s just something some dude made up. If I’m going to pray and hope to be saved, shouldn’t I pray the Lord’s Prayer? It’s biblical. How about the Jesus Prayer that the Eastern Catholics and Orthodox use “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” That comes from two different Bible verses. Or even the Hail Mary, 50% comes explicitly from the verses in St. Lukes Gospel Chaper One, and the rest is implied from the Apocalypse. Even the Sub Tuum Praesidium is better written that that smarmy prayer.

Lucien Syme September 8, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Dr. Eric,
You read the whole thread? You need our prayers more than Oneil does.

Oneil September 8, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Lucien,
We don’t post all our doctrines on the website. I don’t know why. Nevertheless, the ministerial staff has a much larger set of guidelines they must follow. Probably the website is just giving the basics. In our church everyone is required to take a 6 hour membership class, followed by an interview.

Oneil September 8, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Dr. Eric,
Prayer is not a formula. The heathen pray by repetition and formula. Prayer consists of 4 major aspects. – see http://www.prayerguide.org.uk/actsmodel.htm. An excerpt is listed below.
“Adoration is to adore God, to worship him and to fulfil the commandment to love him with all of our heart, mind and soul. As we spend time in adoration, we praise God for who He is – our Creator, our Sustainer and our Redeemer. (more about praise and adoration.)
Confession allows us to clear away the things in the relationship between you and God which are displeasing to Him. All of us have sinned. St John writes in his epistle “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I Jn 1:8,9) (more about confession.)
Thanksgiving. From childhood we are brought up to say “Thank You” when someone does something for us, or gives us a gift. Each moment God is blessing us, every minute we can recall the wonderful things that God has done for us, and the gifts that we have been given. And so, we need to be constantly thanking God for his blessings. In writing to Timothy, Paul makes it clear that we also need to be giving thanks for everyday, worldly things ” I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Tim 2:1. (more about thanksgiving.)
Supplication or Intercession. Finally we come to ask God for our needs and the needs of others. There are many demands on our prayer time – many topics and issues that we could pray for, so we need to choose, and to be specific. (more about topics to pray for) ”

Dr. Eric September 8, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I’m sorry but I don’t see the logical steps (perhaps bouncing in and out between patients has reduced my skills or perhaps there are no logical steps) in insisting that every thing required for salvation is in the Bible (I capitalize it) and yet posting a made up prayer not even indirectly taken from the Holy Scriptures.

Dr. Eric September 8, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Lucien, :-D
By the way, welcome home, brother. :-)

Lucien Syme September 8, 2009 at 2:25 pm

So Oneil,
You are telling us that the EFCA does not have all of its “required to be believed” doctrines listed in any kind of periodical? No creedal statement? Nothing?
That is way to nebulous for me, as someone who requires dogma I would assume that would be important to you too. We recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday and must make our statement of Faith in association with the Apostles Creed to become Catholic.
A six hour class and an interview that would be easy. Our incoming class for RCIA has to go through over 24 hours of interactive instructions following up their confirmation and reception into Christ’s Church that is hard.
Matt. 7 comes to mind,” [13] “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
[14] For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Lucien Syme September 8, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Thank you Dr. Eric.
It is great to be finally home and at peace.

The Masked Chicken September 8, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Dear Dr. Eric,
[Holding dice and wearing a Naval suit, Bogart accent]. Eh, I am not nor have I ever been Jimmy Akin. I can’t dance. Even in squares.
They were all against me, don’t you see, from the start, I tell ya…
The Chicken

Dr. Eric September 8, 2009 at 3:14 pm

OK, Chicken, I guess I believe you, you have an honest face. ;-)

The Masked Chicken September 8, 2009 at 3:47 pm

I believe a chicken’s face is called its crop. In any event, chickens can’t smile.
The Chicken

Tim J. September 8, 2009 at 3:50 pm

“They were all against me, don’t you see, from the start, I tell ya…”
Sounds like airtight, geometric logic. It was probably Judas that made a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox and gave it to Peter…

SDG September 8, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Ball bearings.

bill912 September 8, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Correct, SDG. Maybe the Chicken was thinking of “Buck Privates”, which did have dice.

The Masked Chicken September 9, 2009 at 5:26 am

No, I was thinking about the alternate universe, the Chickenverse. In that universe, everything I say is right : )
I never said it was Bogart. I said he had a Bogart accent. In reality, it may have been the accidental intersection of the two movies, which someone carelessly spliced together in the cinema of my mind. Although I barely remember Buck Privates and i never saw the Caine Mutiny all the way through. So, who is the splicer?
Hey, i’m dancing around the truth as fast as I can (and that isn’t easy for a chicken).
The Chicken

Previous post:

Next post: