Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Eisegeted Verses, The Invisible Church

Just so that everyone’s clear…

According to Protestant theology, the visible church is composed of all who call themselves ‘Christian’ and profess the essential doctrines of the faith.

On the other hand, the invisible church is composed only of the elect. This is why Peter, instead of addressing his letter to the ‘Church’, addresses it instead to the ‘elect’ (1 Peter 1:1). This is also why Paul says that he endures all things for the sake of the ‘elect’ (2 Timothy 2:10). According to Protestant theology (and the Scriptures!), the non-elect within the visible church are interlopers.

As to the charge that this doctrine cannot be found in church history (as if the Bible isn’t part of church history!), I cite two of the fathers:

“For it is not now the place, but the assemblage of the elect, that I call the Church.” –Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata 7.5

“The second rule is about the twofold division of the body of the Lord; but this indeed is not a suitable name, for that is really no part of the body of Christ which will not be with Him in eternity. We ought, therefore, to say that the rule is about the true and the mixed body of the Lord, or the true and the counterfeit, or some such name; because, not to speak of eternity, hypocrites cannot even now be said to be in Him, although they seem to be in His Church.” – Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, 3.32

28 comments:

Dave Armstrong said...

Read closely. I didn't deny that there is any sense of an invisible or mystical church at all; only that it is wrong if it replaces the visible Church altogether.

Thus, St. Clement of Alexandria, as I would fully expect, has these mystical ideas (see, J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 1978 ed., 201-202), but he also believes in the visible, apostolic Church. E.g., in the same work you cite, Book VII, 17:

----------

[I]t is evident, from the high antiquity and perfect truth of the Church, that these later heresies, and those yet subsequent to them in time, were new inventions falsified [from the truth].

From what has been said, then, it is my opinion that the true Church, that which is really ancient, is one, and that in it those who according to God’s purpose are just, are enrolled.

For from the very reason that God is one, and the Lord one, that which is in the highest degree honourable is lauded in consequence of its singleness, being an imitation of the one first principle. In the nature of the One, then, is associated in a joint heritage the one Church, which they strive to cut asunder into many sects.

Therefore in substance and idea, in origin, in pre-eminence, we say that the ancient and Catholic Church is alone, collecting as it does into the unity of the one faith—which results from the peculiar Testaments, or rather the one Testament in different times by the will of the one God, through one Lord—those already ordained, whom God predestinated, knowing before the foundation of the world that they would be righteous.

But the pre-eminence of the Church, as the principle of union, is, in its oneness, in this surpassing all things else, and having nothing like or equal to itself."

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.vii.xvii.html

St. Augustine, of course, also believes in a visible, apostolic, authoritative Church:

". . . if you acknowledge the supreme authority of Scripture, you should recognise that authority which from the time of Christ Himself, through the ministry of His apostles, and through a regular succession of bishops in the seats of the apostles, has been preserved to our own day throughout the whole world, with a reputation known to all."

(Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, 33:9, NPNF I, IV:345)

http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF1-04/TOC.htm

I believe that this practice [of not rebaptizing heretics and schismatics] comes from apostolic tradition, just as so many other practices not found in their writings nor in the councils of their successors, but which, because they are kept by the whole Church everywhere, are believed to have been commanded and handed down by the Apostles themselves.

(On Baptism, 2, 7, 12; from William A. Jurgens, editor and translator, The Faith of the Early Fathers, 3 volumes, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970, vol. 3: 66; cf. NPNF I, IV:430)

http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF1-04/TOC.htm

. . . the custom, which is opposed to Cyprian, may be supposed to have had its origin in apostolic tradition, just as there are many things which are observed by the whole Church, and therefore are fairly held to have been enjoined by the apostles, which yet are not mentioned in their writings.

(On Baptism, 5,23:31, in NPNF I, IV:475)

http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF1-04/TOC.htm

It is not to be doubted that the dead are aided by prayers of the holy church, and by the salutary sacrifice, and by the alms, which are offered for their spirits . . . For this, which has been handed down by the Fathers, the universal church observes.

(Sermon 172, in Joseph Berington and John Kirk, The Faith of Catholics, three volumes, London: Dolman, 1846; I: 439)

J.N.D. Kelly describes Augustine's view:

"According to him, the Church is the realm of Christ, His mystical body and His bride, the mother of Christians [Ep 34:3; Serm 22:9]. There is no salvation apart from it; schismatics can have the faith and sacraments . . . but cannot put them to a profitable use since the Holy Spirit is only bestowed in the Church [De bapt 4:24; 7:87; Serm ad Caes 6] . . .

"It goes without saying that Augustine identifies the Church with the universal Catholic Church of his day, with its hierarchy and sacraments, and with its centre at Rome . . ."

(Early Christian Doctrines, HarperSanFrancisco, revised 1978 edition, 412-413)

The renowned Lutheran Church historian Jaroslav Pelikan concurs with this general assessment of St. Augustine's views:

"This authority of orthodox catholic Christendom . . . was so powerful as even to validate the very authority of the Bible . . . But between the authority of the Bible and the authority of the catholic church (which was present within, but was more than, the authority of its several bishops past and present) there could not in a real sense be any contradiction. Here one could find repose in "the resting place of authority," [Bapt. 2.8.13] not in the unknown quantity of the company of the elect, but in the institution of salvation that could claim foundation by Christ and succession from the apostles."

(The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine: Vol. 1 of 5: The
Emergence of the Catholic Tradition: 100-600
, Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971, 303-304)

Much more proof along these lines in the following paper, section VII:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/reply-to-jason-engwers-catholic-but.html

Turretinfan said...

Dave wrote: "I didn't deny that there is any sense of an invisible or mystical church at all; only that it is wrong if it replaces the visible Church altogether."

Which is irrelevant, as "replaces the visible Church altogether" is not the Reformed position.

-Turretinfan

orthodox said...

S&S: This is why Peter, instead of addressing his letter to the ‘Church’, addresses it instead to the ‘elect’

O: Wow, that's begging the question.

One wonders how the original courier managed to deliver the letter to these invisible people.

S&S: “For it is not now the place, but the assemblage of the elect, that I call the Church.” –Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata 7.5

O: Bzzzt. The "place" would be the church temple building, which we all agree is not the church. But the assemblage of the elect is the visible people assembling, not some airy fairy invisible mathematical set.

S&S: “The second rule is about the twofold division of the body of the Lord; but this indeed is not a suitable name, for that is really no part of the body of Christ which will not be with Him in eternity. We ought, therefore, to say that the rule is about the true and the mixed body of the Lord, or the true and the counterfeit, or some such name; because, not to speak of eternity, hypocrites cannot even now be said to be in Him, although they seem to be in His Church.” – Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, 3.32

O: Nobody is denying that there is wheat with the tares. The question is whether anybody thought in terms of an invisible church.

Saint and Sinner said...

"O: Wow, that's begging the question.

One wonders how the original courier managed to deliver the letter to these invisible people."

Yet again, Orthodox, this is a straw-man.

"But the assemblage of the elect is the visible people assembling, not some airy fairy invisible mathematical set."

So, according to you every single person in the visible church is one of the elect?

"O: Nobody is denying that there is wheat with the tares. The question is whether anybody thought in terms of an invisible church."

I think you continue to misunderstand what is meant by invisible church.

Saint and Sinner said...

Again, Dave, I don't deny the visibility of the church since it is a manifestation of the elect bride. However, that visible institution can become corrupted by the non-elect as Satan sows the tares amongst the wheat.

During the time of the prophets, the visible institution became corrupted by idolaters and no longer taught the true faith. It became so corrupt that God had to destroy the whole nation, uproot everyone, and only send back the faithful.

During the time of Athanasius, the Arians took over all but a handful of the bishoprics including the apostolic sees. They had control of the Catholic Church. They WERE the *visible* Catholic Church. Athanasius contra mundum, remember?Yet, the Trinitarians who didn't possess any of the sees (or very few) and who only gathered in secret were the REAL church. The REAL church is only composed of the elect.

Also, of course Augustine believed that the visible church of his day was the Catholic Church. It taught true doctrine. That doesn't take away that the visible institution can become corrupted and God could "start-over", like in the days of the Old Testament prophets, with a new visible institution using His same invisible church, the elect.

dtking said...

Augustine (354-430): That is not truly the body of the Lord, which will not be with him forever. Trans., Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1992), Vol. 3, p. 20.
Latin text: non enim revera Domini corpus est, quod cum illo non erit in aeternum. De Doctrina Christiana, Liber Tertius, Caput XXXII, PL 34:82.

Augustine (354-430): For neither are they “devoted to the Church” who seem to be within and live contrary to Christ, that is, act against His commandments; nor can they be considered in any way to belong to that Church, which He so purifies by the washing of water, “that He may present to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.” But if they are not in that Church to whose members they do not belong, they are not in the Church of which it is said, “My dove is but one; she is the only one of her mother;” for she herself is without spot or wrinkle. Or else let him who can assert that those are members of this dove who renounce the world in words but not in deeds. Meantime there is one thing which we see, from which I think it was said, “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lords” for God judgeth every day. For, according to His foreknowledge, who knows whom He has foreordained before the foundation of the world to be made like to the image of His Son, many who are even openly outside, and are called heretics, are better than many good Catholics. For we see what they are to-day, what they shall be to-morrow we know not. And with God, with whom the future is already present, they already are what they shall hereafter be. But we, according to what each man is at present, inquire whether they are to be to-day reckoned among the members of the Church which is called the one dove, and the Bride of Christ without a spot or wrinkle, of whom Cyprian says in the letter which I have quoted above, that “they did not keep in the way of the Lord, nor observe the commandments given unto them for their salvation; that they did not fulfill the will of their Lord, being eager about their property and gains, following the dictates of pride, giving way to envy and dissension, careless about single-mindedness and faith, renouncing the world in words only and not in deeds, pleasing each himself, and displeasing all men.” But if the dove does not acknowledge them among her members, and if the Lord shall say to them, supposing that they continue in the same perversity, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity;” then they seem indeed to be in the Church, but are not; “nay, they even act against the Church. How then can they baptize with the baptism of the Church,” a which is of avail neither to themselves, nor to those who receive it from them, unless they are changed in heart with a true conversion, so that the sacrament itself, which did not avail. them when they received it whilst they were renouncing the world in words and not in deeds, may begin to profit them when they shall begin to renounce it in deeds also? And so too in the case of those whose separation from the Church is open; for neither these nor those are as yet among the members of the dove, but some of them perhaps will be at some future time. NPNF1: Vol. IV, On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Book IV, Chapter 3, §5.
Latin text: Quia nec isti Ecclesiae devoti sunt, qui videntur esse intus, et contra Christum vivunt, id est, contra Christi mandata faciunt: nec omnino ad illam Ecclesiam pertinere judicandi sunt, quam sic ipse mundat lavacro aquae in verbo, ut exhibeat sibi gloriosam Ecclesiam, non habentem maculam aut rugam, aut aliquid hujusmodi. Quod si in ista Ecclesia non sunt, ad cujus membra non pertinent, non sunt in Ecclesia de qua dicitur, Una est columba mea, una est matri suae: ipsa est enim sine macula et ruga. Aut asserat qui potest, hujus columbae membra esse qui saeculo verbis, non factis renuntiant. Interim aliquid videmus, unde dictum arbitror, Qui sapit diem, Domino sapit: Deus enim judicat omnem diem. Secundum autem ejus praescientiam, qui novit quos praedestinaverit ante mundi constitutionem conformes imaginis Filii sui, multi etiam qui aperte foris sunt, et haeretici appellantur, multis et bonis catholicis meliores sunt. Quid enim sint hodie, videmus; quid cras futuri sint, ignoramus. Et Deo quidem, apud quem sunt praesentia quae ventura sunt, etiam quod futuri sunt jam sunt: nos autem secundum id quod in praesenti est quisque hominum, quaerimus utrum in illis Ecclesiae membris, quae una columba dicta est, et sponsa Christi sine macula et ruga, hodie deputandi sint, de quibus dicit Cyprianus in epistola quam commemoravi, quod viam Domini non tenerent, nec data sibi ad salutem coelestia mandata servarent, quod non facerent Domini voluntatem: patrimonio et lucro studentes, superbiam sectantes, aemulationi et dissensioni vacantes, simplicitatis et fidei negligentes, saeculo verbis solis et non factis renuntiantes, unusquisque sibi placentes, et omnibus displicentes. Quod si eos in suis membris nec illa columba cognoscit; et talibus, si in eadem perversitate permanserint, dicturus est Dominus, Non novi vos; recedite a me, qui operamini iniquitatem: videntur esse in Ecclesia, sed non sunt; imo et contra Ecclesiam faciunt. Quomodo ergo Baptismo Ecclesiae baptizare possunt, quod nec ipsis prodest nec accipientibus, nisi intrinsecus vera conversione mutentur, ut ipsum Sacramentum, quod eis accipientibus non proderat, quando saeculo verbis non factis renuntiabant, prodesse incipiat, cum et factis coeperint renuntiare? ita et illi quorum est aperta separatio; quia in membris illius columbae, nec hi nec illi sunt hodie, sed aliqui eorum fortasse futuri sunt. De Baptismo Contra Donatists, Liber Quartus, Caput III, §4, PL 43:155-156.

Saint and Sinner said...

Come to think of it, the idea that the invisible church could "replace" the visible is a category error stemming from a straw-man of Protestant theology.

Pastor King,

Thank you.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi S&S,

Again, Dave, I don't deny the visibility of the church since it is a manifestation of the elect bride. However, that visible institution can become corrupted by the non-elect as Satan sows the tares amongst the wheat.

I agree 100% that institutions can and do become corrupt. The Catholic Church went through several terrible periods of corruption and decadence. There were several "bad popes", etc.

During the time of the prophets, the visible institution became corrupted by idolaters and no longer taught the true faith. It became so corrupt that God had to destroy the whole nation, uproot everyone, and only send back the faithful.

But that was during the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, Jesus has promised that His Church would never defect (Matt 16:18). This is so because it is God's will, not because men are more holy now than they were before. It always goes back to God's grace and power and providence and omnipotence.

During the time of Athanasius, the Arians took over all but a handful of the bishoprics including the apostolic sees. They had control of the Catholic Church. They WERE the *visible* Catholic Church. Athanasius contra mundum, remember? Yet, the Trinitarians who didn't possess any of the sees (or very few) and who only gathered in secret were the REAL church. The REAL church is only composed of the elect.

I've already documented how this is a myth, a fiction. The Arians never controlled the Catholic Church: the Church headed by the pope in Rome. It never happened. They overran many of the eastern patriarchates for long periods of time, as I documented in papers 15 years ago. But not Rome. How could Athanasius seek refuge in the Roman See if Rome, too, had been taken over by the Arians? You can't document that it has. Prove it, if you think it is so. so far all you have provided is empty claims, whereas I have documented councils and cited reputable Protestant reference works to the contrary.

Also, of course Augustine believed that the visible church of his day was the Catholic Church. It taught true doctrine. That doesn't take away that the visible institution can become corrupted and God could "start-over", like in the days of the Old Testament prophets, with a new visible institution using His same invisible church, the elect.

The visible Church can never become completely corrupted, so that it has forsaken the Christian faith. This is one of the many self-contradictions of anti-Catholicism. The anti-Catholic has to fight against the Bible and history both to claim that there was such a thing as a visible, apostolic Church all those years, that supposedly condemned the gospel in the 16th century and left the fold, and then Luther and Calvin picked up the ball and became this "new" Church that you refer to.

Do you intend to comprehensively respond to my arguments in my lengthy counter-reply or not? You have a lot to do, assuredly, and people are looking for straight answers.

Lvka said...

Carrie, have You ever read Clement? (Why not?)

Saint and Sinner said...

Dave,

"But that was during the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, Jesus has promised that His Church would never defect (Matt 16:18)."

When you critique Protestant theology, it is helpful to try to think of the way in which we would exegete any verse from the standpoint of our own theology so as not to commit the fallacy of begging the question.

As I said in my post, whenever the New Testament writers refer to "church", they are almost always using that as a synonym for 'elect'.

Thus, I would interpret "church" in Matt. 16:18 to refer to the invisible church. In other words, within the paradigm of my own theology, I could affirm this verse as much as you can (though with a different meaning) and still have the visible church become so corrupt that God can start over with a new visible church (though the invisible church never changes).

Secondly, Matt. 16:18 has nothing to do with indefectability. [Though, I would affirm that the invisible church (i.e. the elect) could never become corrupted since that was the promise of the New Covenant as found in Jeremiah and Ezekiel.] Gates are defensive blockades, not offensive weapons which the church has to defend against. Thus, it is the church militant who will triumph in breaking into the devil's dominion to bring back a host of captives (I am at work and so I can't give you any Scripture to cite). It is a promise of evangelism, not infallibility, but we can discuss this when I get to that point in your book.

"I've already documented how this is a myth, a fiction."

I don't know of anyone else who really denies this. First of all, the appeal by Athanasius to Rome didn't mean that he viewed Rome as the head of all Christendom. That's a misreading of church history that's common among RC apologists. Second, wasn't Liberius deposed and Felix II, the anti-pope, took his place? Didn't Liberius sign the creed of Sirmium provoking Hilary of Poitiers to say:

“I anathematize you Liberius and your associates…Anathema to you prevaricating Liberius, twice and thrice!”
-Hilary of Poitiers, as found in William Webster, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vol. II (Battle Ground, Washington: Christian Resources, 2001), p.449.

And in another place:

“I say anathema to the prevaricator and the Arians!”
-Hilary of Poitiers, as found in William Webster, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vol. II (Battle Ground, Washington: Christian Resources, 2001), p.450.

Dollinger comments:

“Liberius purchased his return from exile from the Emporer by condemning Athanasius, and subscribing an Arian creed. ‘Anathema to thee, Liberius!’ was then the cry of zealous Catholic bishops like Hilary of Poitiers. This apostasy of Liberius sufficed, through the whole of the middle ages, for a proof that Popes could fall into heresy as well as other people.”
-Johann Joseph Ignaz von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council (Boston: Roberts, 1870), p.56.

Lastly, Dave, I don't have as much time as you do to write posts. So, my postings will mainly be limited to the review of your book.

TheoJunkie said...

DA said:
"I agree 100% that institutions can and do become corrupt. The Catholic Church went through several terrible periods of corruption and decadence. There were several "bad popes", etc."

Very interesting... Very interesting indeed.

Dave Armstrong said...

As I said, the Catholic position does not rule out any notion whatever of an invisible or mystical Church. So Calvinist and Catholic ecclesiology on that point are not as far apart as some might think. But I think it is fair to say that we emphasize the visible Church proportionately more, whereas Calvinists place relatively more emphasis on the invisible church of the elect.

Either way, your task is to explain how your conception of the Church (whatever it is, and whatever Calvin's is) can make sense of the Church being the pillar and bulwark of truth. This is impossible for a Protestant to do. Hence, virtually none even try to do so anymore, because I think they realize deep down that they can't possibly do it, given the state of Protestantism, with so many mutually contradictory beliefs and doctrines.

I knew Liberius would be brought up. He signed one more or less vague statement under extreme duress and compulsion. He didn't sign a second statement that was more explicit. Even the first was not promulgated as binding on the Catholic Church. It wasn't even agreed to with the pope's free will in the first place.

The Catholic Church never formally adopted Arianism. If you think otherwise, again, prove it. The documents are all out there. Show where we supposedly switched over from orthodox trinitarianism to Arianism. That should be easy enough if you believe it happened in history. Theoretically, even popes could be personal heretics. We believe only that they will never proclaim that heresy shall become binding on all Catholics.

For more on Liberius, see the article, "The Alleged Fall of Pope Liberius"

http://www.mwt.net/~lnpalm/
librius1.htm

Also, a comment by Cardinal Newman:

http://www.newmanreader.org/works/
characteristics/part3-2.html

Dave Armstrong said...

Like it is some big news that the Christian Church through the centuries has had low periods and also times of revival? Do you not believe in original sin and actual sin? This "news" is about as surprising as the sun coming up tomorrow or our hearts taking a beat in the next 20 seconds.

Dave Armstrong said...

First of all, the appeal by Athanasius to Rome didn't mean that he viewed Rome as the head of all Christendom.

I didn't claim that he did. He may have; he may not have. I'm sure there are reasonable people who differ. But that forms no part of my present argument, which is that Rome didn't succumb to the Arian heresy, and that because of this, Athanasius took refuge there, physically and theologically. He could do that whether he regarded the pope as head of all Christendom or as the foremost of equals, as the east tended to think, and the Orthodox after they split off.

Either way, it has no bearing on whether Rome defected from orthodox Christology or not.

That's a misreading of church history that's common among RC apologists.

Perhaps so, but it is irrelevant in our present argument.

Dave Armstrong said...

Regarding Pope Liberius, the long article I cited states:

------------------------

There are those who contend that though Liberius signed an Arian formula, he did not become a heretic; for, they say, the formula he signed was really defensible, though it omits the word
"consubstantial."

Now, granted for the moment that he did sign a formula, it is admitted that he signed it under violent pressure at the hands of imperial jailers; but such an act would be practically valueless.

Secondly, the act, therefore, could not be interpreted to imply a wish to so teach the Church, in which case alone the Pope is declared infallible.

Thirdly, since the creed said to have been probably signed by Liberius contained nothing positive against the faith, and only omitted an important word, even if intentionally, it would be interesting to know by what process of judicial interpretation his merely signing it could be called heretical teaching.

Admitting, then, for argument's sake the fact of the signature of a Sirmian formula by Liberius, he cannot be said, as universal doctor of the Church, to have taught heresy.

Saint and Sinner said...

"But that forms no part of my present argument, which is that Rome didn't succumb to the Arian heresy, and that because of this, Athanasius took refuge there, physically and theologically."

OK. Then, I don't get your argument. What are you trying to argue for when you bring up Athanasius?

To use an analogy, during the Reformation there were probably not a few Roman Catholic strongholds in Europe where Protestant writers could write as they pleased without physical threat (though the bishops wouldn't have accepted the theology).

As to Rome being a safe-haven theologically, I don't know what you mean by that. Do you mean that they accepted the same theology? That wouldn't be true since there was an Arian sitting on the chair of Peter. Athanasius was free to believe what he wished, but then again, so were many Protestant writers during the Reformation.

Do you mean that he could still accept communion?

As to Liberius,

It wasn't so much what the creed said that made the signing heretical as much as what it didn't say. By signing the creed which didn't contain the homoousian clause, he was officially accepting the semi-Arian position. The creed was heretical by silence.

This is why Hilary anathematized him for signing it, and it is why many of the Medieval theologians used Liberius' example as proof that the Pope could err in his official capacity.

mtburgess said...

I'll reiterate my question here:

You know who the regenerate are... how?

DTKing's citatio of St. Augustine does you know good. How, I wonder, do you get the assurance you're always telling Catholics they lack from someone who may very well turn out to be Ted Haggard sooner or later? And how do you know you won't?

mtburgess said...

Wow, a kid in the ear plays havoc on spelling... "citation" and "no" for "citatio" and "know" respectively. Sorry!

Dave Armstrong said...

OK. Then, I don't get your argument. What are you trying to argue for when you bring up Athanasius?

I guess you have forgotten parts of your own argument:

The true remnant of God never died and cannot die (Matthew 16:18), but the visible/outward authority can just as it did under Elijah the prophet or under Athanasius during the Arian ascendancy (see the Luther quotes above). [your post]

During the time of Athanasius, the Arians took over all but a handful of the bishoprics including the apostolic sees. They had control of the Catholic Church. They WERE the *visible* Catholic Church. Athanasius contra mundum, remember?

[Comments above]

This was your claim. I have denied it by saying that the Roman see did not officially succumb to heresy. I gave evidence for same. I stated that how could it be heretical at the same time that Athanasius was appealing to it for refuge? So that makes no sense.

Then you resorted to the later incident with Pope Liberius, using the garden variety anti-papal arguments of Dollinger, regurgitated by David T. King.

I have denied that Liberius promulgated heresy to be believed by the entire Church. It is NOT true that "They had control of the Catholic Church" as you claim. Liberius was forced to sign a semi-Arian statement by compulsion and ill treatment. If I came to your house and said I would poke your eye out or something if you didn't concede the argument with me, and you succumbed to physical threat, would that really represent your true opinion? Of course not.

To use an analogy, during the Reformation there were probably not a few Roman Catholic strongholds in Europe where Protestant writers could write as they pleased without physical threat (though the bishops wouldn't have accepted the theology).

We had no such luxury after you guys started stealing our monasteries and churches and forbidding the Mass. Do you really want to go down this road?

As to Rome being a safe-haven theologically, I don't know what you mean by that. Do you mean that they accepted the same theology?

Rome never became officially Arian. I have challenged you to prove this but you cannot.

That wouldn't be true since there was an Arian sitting on the chair of Peter.

That's not true. There was a man who was forced to sign a statement that he neither believed himself nor wrote himself.

Athanasius was free to believe what he wished,

As long as he was protected by the Roman See.

but then again, so were many Protestant writers during the Reformation.

And some Catholic ones.

Do you mean that he could still accept communion?

Where?

As to Liberius,

It wasn't so much what the creed said that made the signing heretical as much as what it didn't say. By signing the creed which didn't contain the homoousian clause, he was officially accepting the semi-Arian position. The creed was heretical by silence.


This is a big discussion in itself, and I refuse to go very far with it at this point because it is a side issue of a side track of a side track (visibility -- indefectibility -- Liberius as a supposed proof of Roman and b=visible defectibility).

But you prove one of the points I made. How can Liberius be accused of positively promulgating heresy for simply an omission? It's an argument from silence. It certainly proves neither that he was a heretic, let alone that he proclaimed heresy for all Catholics to believe.

This is why Hilary anathematized him for signing it, and it is why many of the Medieval theologians used Liberius' example as proof that the Pope could err in his official capacity.

There are all sorts of debates about these things, and Catholics differ amongst themselves on some fine points. All that matters in our present debate is that Rome never officially became Arian. You can play with this all you like but it doesn't prove your point.

Saint and Sinner said...

"Liberius was forced to sign a semi-Arian statement by compulsion and ill treatment. If I came to your house and said I would poke your eye out or something if you didn't concede the argument with me, and you succumbed to physical threat, would that really represent your true opinion? Of course not."

He signed it and acknowledged it. Whether under compulsion or not, his see was officially semi-Arian.

Also, how do you deal with Felix II? Even if he wasn't a "true" pope under your theology, he still occupied the see of Peter. Rome fell to heresy.

"Then you resorted to the later incident with Pope Liberius, using the garden variety anti-papal arguments of Dollinger, regurgitated by David T. King."

Dollinger was a Roman Catholic who was concerned that his church was jumping into a mess by making the pope infallible. He knew this since the infallibility of the pope is a completely unhistorical (and anti-historical) doctrine. He wasn't anti-papal, just anti-infallible.

"We had no such luxury after you guys started stealing our monasteries and churches and forbidding the Mass. Do you really want to go down this road?"

I wasn't "going down that road". I was using an analogy to show that just because Athanasius was able to take refuge in Rome didn't mean that Rome was conducive to his theological opinions.

"Rome never became officially Arian. I have challenged you to prove this but you cannot."

Felix II. QED

"That's not true. There was a man who was forced to sign a statement that he neither believed himself nor wrote himself."

And yet, many theologians up into the Middle Ages believed that that was still an official capitulation to heresy.

"It's an argument from silence."

Wrong, Dave. Not all arguments from silence are fallacies. Liberius knew (as did everyone else, especially Hilary) that the omission of the homoousion was the official position of the semi-Arians *in their denial of it*. Subscribing to the omission of it was indeed tantamount to denying it.

Anyway, I am leaving for a few days, and I believe that all that can be said has been said on this com box. If anyone else wishes to post, go ahead, but I might not respond. Thanks.

Dave Armstrong said...

And hopefully you will get back to the actual subject: 1 Timothy 3:15 and how a semi-invisible Protestant "church" can claim to be in any sense a monolithic pillar of truth.

Best wishes!

orthodox said...

I've been accused of misunderstanding the invisible church. But the protestants here don't seem to understand the visible church. However many Arians were running around is quite irrelevant if there was a true and visible church. (though I note that the East with little input from the West vanquished eastern Arians, and as Armstrong notes, Rome was at least most of the time unaffected).

The point is that the true church existed all this time, and it considered itself one VISIBLE church, despite the number of heretics in existance.

Protestantism claims one invisible church, but not one visible. This is the difference. And without a concept of one visible church, committed to the catholic faith, you have no authority to tell you what the truth is, whether it be the canon of scripture or whatever.

GeneMBridges said...

Do you intend to comprehensively respond to my arguments in my lengthy counter-reply or not? You have a lot to do, assuredly, and people are looking for straight answers.

One cannot help but think that your desire S&S to take time to reply to a 27 page response from you is both (a) a diversionary tactic to keep him from pressing forward and (b)rather disproportionate, since one doubts that your exegesis in the book was 27 pages long - for this one text. It should send serious signals to readers that you require 27 pages of text to rebut a much short analysis of your work, not to mention the fact that your original work is shorter than your rebuttal to the reply.



"But that was during the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, Jesus has promised that His Church would never defect (Matt 16:18)."

This assumes what it needs to prove, namely that the gates of hell not prevailing is synonymous with the Catholic doctrine of indefectibility. Indefectibility and grace not "batting zero" in any one generation or a metaphor for divine protection (or on an interpretation of the church as the aggressor not a defender, a metaphor for the outreach of the church) are not convertible principles.

Protestantism claims one invisible church, but not one visible. This is the difference. And without a concept of one visible church, committed to the catholic faith, you have no authority to tell you what the truth is, whether it be the canon of scripture or whatever.

A category error on your part, since Protestantism is not a church, it is a movement. In addition, no section of Scripture identifies the Eastern Orthodox Church as the one true church, and by its own admission, your communion is a confederation of interlocking (usually national) churches, whereas what we find in Scripture is a series of local churches - churches that did not always agree, for if they did then that would negate part of the reason for the letters written to them, wouldn't it?

orthodox said...

G: This assumes what it needs to prove, namely that the gates of hell not prevailing is synonymous with the Catholic doctrine of indefectibility.

O: Protestants (at least here) admit there is a visible church. So do you claim the gates of hell prevailed, but only against the visible church? Or can you tell us where this visible church was all this time?

G: A category error on your part, since Protestantism is not a church, it is a movement.

O: A lack of comprehensioin skills on your part since I never said anything about protestantism being a church. I said protestantism claims there to be one invisible church. I didn't say protestantism claimed to be it.

G: In addition, no section of Scripture identifies the Eastern Orthodox Church as the one true church

O: Since I don't follow Sola Scriptura, this is hardly devastating news.

G: by its own admission, your communion is a confederation of interlocking (usually national) churches, whereas what we find in Scripture is a series of local churches

O: They were still "interlocking" as you put it, by virtue of being under the stewardship of particular apostles. At one point, for example, Paul and Peter agreed for Peter to deal with the Jews and Paul the gentiles. And Timothy was asked to appoint elders in the various cities.

G: churches that did not always agree, for if they did then that would negate part of the reason for the letters written to them, wouldn't it?

O: Would it? Even if we accept the theory, I don't see how it helps you or hurts me.

GeneMBridges said...


O: Protestants (at least here) admit there is a visible church. So do you claim the gates of hell prevailed, but only against the visible church? Or can you tell us where this visible church was all this time?


You haven't exegeted the text. The text is speaking of the gates of hell not prevailing against the church. That is, they will not triumph over the power of the gospel. The focus is not on the church, it's on the gospel. Perhaps you should check the standard critical commentary by Nolland.


O: A lack of comprehensioin skills on your part since I never said anything about protestantism being a church. I said protestantism claims there to be one invisible church. I didn't say protestantism claimed to be it.


On the contrary, you've made the claim I noted before. It's also a stock argument from Catholicism itself. You never have been good at keeping up with your own arguments.

O: Since I don't follow Sola Scriptura, this is hardly devastating news.

Not only can't you keep up with your own arguments, you have a habit of changing them. At Triablogue you stated that Acts itself proclaimed this. In fact, that's been one of your stock arguments for quite some time. You're welcome to admit it's a failed argument.


O: They were still "interlocking" as you put it, by virtue of being under the stewardship of particular apostles.


Really, which Apostles were assigned to which churches?

At one point, for example, Paul and Peter agreed for Peter to deal with the Jews and Paul the gentiles.

So, according to you Peter was assigned to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles. There are two problems with that argument:

1. Christ Himself commissioned Paul to be Apostle to the Gentiles, not a church body.

2. Where is Peter assigned to "the Jews?"

And Timothy was asked to appoint elders in the various cities.

Which does not select for the monarchial episcopate. Nor does it select for connectionalism. It selects for a series of local, individual churches that associated with each other, each with their own elders. You've made an argument here for plural eldership in a Baptist sense. Congratulations.

And, since there are no Apostles at present, you can't connect your own Communion to this system, since it falls apart at the key point of comparison.

: Would it? Even if we accept the theory, I don't see how it helps you or hurts me.

It would hurt your argument, since, according to you the one true holy Apostolic church is and always has been Eastern Orthodox, and you regularly try to connect practices to "the beginning" and practiced "by all" with them in "agreement."
Once again, you can't seem to follow your own arguments, which is a demonstration that you're patently given to ad hocery.

TheoJunkie said...

G said: "... The text is speaking of the gates of hell not prevailing against the church. That is, they will not triumph over the power of the gospel. The focus is not on the church, it's on the gospel. Perhaps you should check the standard critical commentary by Nolland."

I agree, but I would also note the following as clarification:

Gates do not attack.. they defend against attack.

Therefore, "the gates of hell will not prevail against it" means that the Church will succeed in beating down the gates of hell. (Or, as G intended, "the power of the Gospel-- ministered of course by the Church-- will overcome the power of hell.")

Put yet one more way: this passage is not about the church withstanding the onslaught of evil. It is about people being rescued from hell by the preaching of the gospel.

orthodox said...

G: The text is speaking of the gates of hell not prevailing against the church. That is, they will not triumph over the power of the gospel. The focus is not on the church, it's on the gospel. Perhaps you should check the standard critical commentary by Nolland.

O: So some talking head wants to replace church with Gospel. I'm not impressed.

G: On the contrary, you've made the claim I noted before.

O: Zzzzzz. You were caught out misreading what I said and aren't big enough to admit it.

G: At Triablogue you stated that Acts itself proclaimed this.

O: A mischaracterization of what I said. Anyway, don't bother discussing what I said there since you wiped it out.

G: Really, which Apostles were assigned to which churches?

O: Look to tradition.

G: 1. Christ Himself commissioned Paul to be Apostle to the Gentiles, not a church body.


O: Chapter and verse?

G: 2. Where is Peter assigned to "the Jews?"

Gal. 2:9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

G: Which does not select for the monarchial episcopate. Nor does it select for connectionalism. It selects for a series of local, individual churches that associated with each other, each with their own elders.

O: The distinction between "associated" and "connected" is lost on me. And monarchial episcopate vs plural elders is a different issue to the connectedness of the churches. Congratulations on burning a straw man. The point is that the running of local bodies wasn't purely a local affair.

G: And, since there are no Apostles at present, you can't connect your own Communion to this system, since it falls apart at the key point of comparison.

O: Timothy was not an apostle in your world view.

G: It would hurt your argument, since, according to you the one true holy Apostolic church is and always has been Eastern Orthodox, and you regularly try to connect practices to "the beginning" and practiced "by all" with them in "agreement."

O: But not always both at the same time. You claim to be listening but I see no evidence of it.




TJ: Put yet one more way: this passage is not about the church withstanding the onslaught of evil. It is about people being rescued from hell by the preaching of the gospel.

O: Not just any preaching, but preaching by the CHURCH. And if the Church disappeared, then Hell has been successful in baracading up their gates.

TheoJunkie said...

O: "Not just any preaching, but preaching by the CHURCH.

TJ: Read my comment again. I said (in my paraphrase of what I understand G to be getting at) that the gospel is ministered by the church.

But note: Not just ANY preaching by the Church... but the preaching of the GOSPEL by the Church.

O: "And if the Church disappeared, then Hell has been successful in baracading up their gates."

The passage does not provide for this option.

The passage says that the gates of hell will fall (i.e., not prevail) against the onslaught of the Church. It does not offer the possibility of the Church falling to the attack of hell.

But again, note that the only power that exists against hell, is the power of the Gospel... that is, the power of Christ overcoming death.

The Church is powerless in and of itself, just as a hammer is powerless in and of itself.

So:
Point #1: The Gospel SHALL prevail against the gates of hell. There is no mention of hell even attacking the gates of the Church, or even that there is such a thing as church gates. Conclusion: This passage has nothing do to with schism.

Point #2: The Gospel is ministered by the church. The church is a tool that is only effective if weilded by God. Conclusion: God did not delegate anything to the Church, but USES the Church to further His purpose.