Today marks the quincentenary of John Calvin’s birth. Over at the First Things site, I take the occasion to pay special attention to Calvin’s concern for articulating the antiquity, and therefore the catholicity, of the Reformation.

Among the factors that converts from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism very often cite as major influences on their move is the novelty of the former compared with the antiquity of the latter. This is, undoubtedly, an important point that ought to be addressed by concerned Protestants.

But I argue, in continuity with the Reformers, I think, that this concern is best answered in the first place not by discounting the value or the importance of antiquity, but rather by doing justice to the claims of the Reformation itself to representing the ancient and catholic faith.

Sometimes the Reformation is summed up by reference to the five “solas,” and Calvin is associated with the saying, “Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere.” (“I offer my heart to you, Lord, promptly and sincerely.”)

But the motto of the Reformers might just as well have been (as a colleague has put it), “Expellete nova, impellete vetera!” (“Out with the new, in with the old!”)

  • Raymond of Monmouth

    Wow if it were only going to happen we might find a world of peace. I just converted to Catholicism. You summed it up…”out with the new and in with the old”. Catholic faith is the rock and has been the rock for the Christian faith for 2000 years. Part of my journey to the Catholic faith was the discernment of this truth and the lack of truth in so many different Christian denominations. The reformation and the continual liberality of the faith has caused a cataclysmic break in Christianity. There are so many Christian faiths that use only pieces of the fullness of Christianity to only serve self interests. I am proud to be out with the new and in with the old.

  • Roger McKinney

    Raymond, I think Jordan meant that the Reformers saw the Catholic Church as the new innovation and the Reformation as a return to the ancient faith.

    But the Reformation wasn’t so much about the antiquity of ideas as about epistemology: how do we know what we believe to be true is really true? The Catholic solution was an appeal to the authority of the church in Rome. The Protestant answer was an appeal to the authority of the Bible. The two will never agree as long as their epistemologies differ.

  • Roger McKinney

    Jordan wrote in the First Things article: “But at the same time any response to the conversion of Protestants to Roman Catholicism cannot simply abandon or ignore the Reformation’s claims to antiquity, because to do so would be also to undermine its claims to catholicity and to authenticity.”

    Jordan, I think you’re passing over an important distinction between the two claims to antiquity. The Church claimed antiquity of organization; the Reformers claimed antiquity of truth. The Church insisted that its antiquity of organization also gave it infallibility in determining truth, even if that truth is new. The Reformers disagreed; continuity in organization provides no claim to truth or infallibility.

    I have never heard of a convert from Protestantism to Catholicism who did so because they believed the doctrines of Protestantism were false and those of Catholicism are true. The emphasis is usually on the antiquity of the organization.

    Of course, Protestants even disagree with Catholics on what the Church is. Catholics think it is an organization, like the Catholic Church with the Pope at the head. Protestants see it as a relationship to Christ. In the Protestant view, many Catholics are members of the true church and many Protestants are not.

    Jesus warned in the parable of the tares that men should not try to determine who is and who isn’t members of the kingdom, because in so doing they’ll do more harm than good. He insisted that Christians wait until the end times and permit the angels to do the work of sifting which men are incapable of.

    We can know what is true doctrine and what is false by referring back to the Bible using sound hermeneutics. But that will never tell us who is in the true church and who isn’t.

  • Roger McKinney

    It occurred to me over lunch that if converts to Catholicism are seeking antiquity, why don’t the join an Orthodox church? They’re just as old and have fewer innovations. Or better yet, become Jewish. Clearly antiquity is not the only thing they seek.

  • http://blog.acton.org/ Jordan J. Ballor

    Roger, you may be right about the different kinds of claims to antiquity, and it bears looking at more closely. My basic point was that it’s not sufficient just to throw out antiquity full stop and expect that to be in any way in continuity with the Reformational claim.

    Geisler and Betancourt take your last observation one step further, and suggest not only that taken to a reductio ad absurdem, such a view of antiquity would argue for conversion not only to Eastern Orthodoxy, but to Hinduism and other “older” non-Christian religions.

  • http://newmanfellowship.org dbonneville

    ‘I have never heard of a convert from Protestantism to Catholicism who did so because they believed the doctrines of Protestantism were false and those of Catholicism are true.’

    You must have not heard from very many converts! All the converts and reverts I know came to issue with Protestant theology. I have never heard, nor can I really imagine, a conversion based simply on “antiquity”. That sounds strange. Is that what you meant to say? Like Chesterton, I and the converts I know believe Catholicism because it is the complete truth, the whole pie, not just one small slice of the pie. This inner revelation and conviction is born of faith, not of a calendar date.

  • George

    ‘I have never heard of a convert from Protestantism to Catholicism who did so because they believed the doctrines of Protestantism were false and those of Catholicism are true.’

    Sometimes they say that the doctrines of Protestantism are incomplete. In most cases they believe that many of the doctrines are simply not true. Look what happened with Protestant teaching on contraception and abortion (it became more and more liberal). I recommend to look at Father Kimel because, in my opinion, this former Protestant is one of the intellectual giants in theology.

    http://www.rcan.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=feature.show&feature_id=427

  • George

    What I may add is that ever since Henry Newman most conversions were to the Catholic faith began with examining the validity of the Christian doctrine. Many of the contemporary converts are well-educated pastors. For example Richard John Neuhaus used to be a liberal pastor, but he became disillusioned with Protestant teaching on marriage, abortion and contraception. Not surprisingly, divorced Catholics or those supporting abortion and contraception often become Protestants or embrace some leftist causes.

  • Roger McKinney

    I wrote to quickly. The converts to Catholicism from evangelical protestantism that I have known have been large because of antiquity. I can understand that liberal protestants would switch because of doctrine.

  • davidW

    Hey Roger, those are great lines:

    “…how do we know what we believe to be true is really true?….”
    “The Catholic solution was an appeal to the authority of the church in Rome. The Protestant answer was an appeal to the authority of the Bible.The two will never agree as long as their epistemologies differ.” (….but gladly, there’s still lots of shared ground)
    and “The Church claimed antiquity of organization; the Reformers claimed antiquity of truth.”
    That’s it in a nutshell.

    The best way to come to understand the Catholic hierarchy is not reading the New Testament – it’s not in there: but reading
    Dionysios Areopagita: Peri tes ouranias hierarchias and Peri tes ekklestiastikes hierarchias
    ( on The Heavenly Hierarchy and The Hierarchy of the Church)
    His worldview is strongly influenced by newplatonic thoughts.
    Catholic (New Testament)scholars know that very well, but as one put it once: ‘but we’ve got our tradition’. True.

  • George

    “The best way to come to understand the Catholic hierarchy is not reading the New Testament – it’s not in there”

    Based on history, the early Church (I-II century) had bishops, deacons and presbyters. And yes, it had Peter and his successors, who understood the words of Christ on Peter differently than the Protestants. Priest is etymologically derived from presbyter.

    Do you think that the Church from the times of Christ is non-biblical? The Church finished to define the Biblical texts in the fourth century (Synod of Hippo in 393). This means that the Church was given the authority to define the Biblical canon (see 1 Timothy 3:15)

    “you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

  • davidW

    “Based on history, the early Church (I-II century) had bishops, deacons and presbyters.” Right. But I was talking about hierarchy and it’s importance.
    Presbyteroi (Presbyters, Elders) and episcopoi (Bishops) were used synonymiously (among some other words for those leaders).
    There was teamleadership, and for episcopoi: they should be married with a functioning family, see 1 Tim 3,2
    Peter was not a first pope at all. His word was influential, but he had by far no monopoly on decisionmaking. Teams of apostles and elders decided. Peter could be questioned and even scolded by other churchleaders, see Gal 2, 11 – and was married, by the way; if he is your normative figure: take that seriously as well as 1 Cor 9,5. (You know that all, right?)

    Whereas Dionysios describes a God-given strong hierarchical order, a top-down approach. God’s grace has to be passed on along those lines of the hierarchical order. No by-passing, no direct contact between God and his people beneath that hierarchical order. (Hierarchy, so important for the Catholic view, but: where would you find this word in the New Testament?) Dionysios’ train of thought is alien to the New Testament, but it mirrors an important new-platonic thought and concept.

    … but we already arrived at Roger’s point:

    “The Catholic solution was an appeal to the authority of the church in Rome. The Protestant answer was an appeal to the authority of the Bible.”

  • George

    “The Catholic solution was an appeal to the authority of the church in Rome. The Protestant answer was an appeal to the authority of the Bible.”

    And here is the problem. There are some 30,000 protestant denominations in the US alone. They all appeal to the authority of the Bible. So do Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons. What does it have to do with “church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”? What does it have to do with Christ’s prayer for unity, or with John 10:16. “And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”

    I believe the Church got it right. Either Christ gave the authority to Peter and his successors, or he wasn’t serious about the unity of Christians.

    And yes, the Church may permit married men to become priests, however she never permitted ordained priests to be married. Criticizing the pope or persuading him is nothing new. When you look throughout the history of the Church, the popes have a very good record of maintaining the Evangelical truth, no matter what their moral conduct was. This also tells me something about the true Church.

  • davidW

    George: “I believe the Church got it right. Either Christ gave the authority to Peter and his successors, or he wasn’t serious about the unity of Christians.”

    Roger: “Of course, Protestants even disagree with Catholics on what the Church is. Catholics think it is an organization, like the Catholic Church with the Pope at the head. Protestants see it as a relationship to Christ. In the Protestant view, many Catholics are members of the true church and many Protestants are not.”

    Thank you, Roger, you are really of versatile use.

  • Roger McKinney

    Thanks, David. I wonder, if Catholics were so concerned about organizational unity, why did they allow the East/West split to happen? The Church at Rome certainly displayed its views on unity when it allowed Muslims to overrun the entire Christian Middle East and destroy Constantinople.

    Another issue that arises is hermeneutics, the science of Biblical interpretation. Catholics don’t seem to have much use for it, but Protestants take it very seriously. That doesn’t mean the sound hermeneutics will settle all disputes, but it is essential if one cares about the truth.

  • George

    “In the Protestant view, many Catholics are members of the true church and many Protestants are not.”

    I was also alluding to the “Bible authority” which led to Jehowa Witnesses who are serious about their hermeneutics. The same hermeneutics leads many protestants to believe that people lived with dinosaurs some 5 thousand years ago. If you really care about hermeneutics check with the Church Fathers from Ignatius, Polycarp, Augustine through Aquinas. Also read Encylicals. Then try to persuade me that the Church doesn’t have any use for hermeneutics (but they base it on Tradition as recommended in the Scriptures)

    2 Thessalonians 2:15 (Sacred Tradition)

    “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. “

  • Roger McKinney

    “Jehowa Witnesses who are serious about their hermeneutics.”

    Hermeneutics is a science, not a preference. Jehova Wintesses don’t care anything about hermeneutics or they wouldn’t be Jehovah Witnesses.

    2 Thessalonians 2:15 (Sacred Tradition)“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. “

    I assume that you are interpreting the passage to mean that the traditions of the church are as valid as the traditions delivered by the Apostles. However, that is a good example of violating the rules of hermeneutics.

    The first rule of hermeneutics is to determine the author’s intent. Do you really think that Paul elevates all tradition to the same level of authority as scripture? All Paul meant to say was that the Thessalonians should follow Apostolic teaching.

    Another principle of hermeneutics is to compare scripture with scripture. Don’t use “proof texts”, that is focus on one passage to the exclusion of all other passages on the subject. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for following tradition and told them they were going to hell because of it. Does Paul contradict Jesus? No. They are using the words in different ways. Paul means by “tradition” the teachings of the Apostles which they received from Christ. It would strain credibility to interpret Paul as meaning that all traditions are equal to the Word of God.

    Of course, the Church claims to have the same authority as the Apostles. Protestants don’t agree. The Apostles had special authority because they knew Christ personally. That’s why the canon contain books only written by apostles, or in the case of Luke, someone very close to an Apostle. None of the writings of the Church Fathers have the same level of authority because they didn’t personally know Christ while he was on the earth. There is no indication in the Bible that the authority of the Apostles extended beyond their lives.

  • George

    “Of course, the Church claims to have the same authority as the Apostles. Protestants don’t agree. The Apostles had special authority because they knew Christ personally. That’s why the canon contain books only written by apostles, or in the case of Luke, someone very close to an Apostle.”

    It is not clear at all that the Gospels were written by the Apostles. The Bible wasn’t established until the 4th century when the Holy Scripture was proclaimed as final by the Catholic Church. Among those close to the Apostle John is St. Ignatius of Antioch (martyred around the end of the 1st century).

    Ignatius marked those who deny the real presence of Christ in Eucharist as abject heretics “because they abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer; because they do not confess the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ.” (Smyrnaeans, 7). He also was very clear about Apostolic Succession (something you tacitly admit in the case of Luke).

    I would rather trust Ignatius than Luther who pretty much abolished the Eucharist and the Apostolic succession. Interestingly, Cardinal Newmann converted to the Catholic faith when he tried to prove that the Church strayed from the Truth during the first centuries. The Protestants replaced the original historical understanding of the Bible with something ad hoc. This is what caused the breakdown into countless number of denomination, each having their own “true” interpretation.

  • Roger McKinney

    “The Bible wasn’t established until the 4th century when the Holy Scripture was proclaimed as final by the Catholic Church.”

    That’s not historically accurate. The Catholic Church puts its stamp of approval on the canon that the churches had already decided on centuries before. The books that were considered authoritative, and therefore scripture, was decided very early and apostolic authority was required from the very early days of the church.

    “He also was very clear about Apostolic Succession (something you tacitly admit in the case of Luke).”

    So why do you think the early church didn’t consider the writings of Ignatius as part of the canon?

    “I would rather trust Ignatius than Luther…”

    I would rather trust no man and trust the scripture.

    “The Protestants replaced the original historical understanding of the Bible with something ad hoc.”

    No, they replaced Catholic authority with the authority of reason and the science of hermeneutics.

    “This is what caused the breakdown into countless number of denomination, each having their own “true” interpretation.”

    Catholic Church doctrine has changed dramatically over the centuries, proving that it doesn’t have a consistent principle of interpretation or a monopoly on the truth. Besides, do you really think there is no disagreement among Catholics today over doctrine? The Church never has been as unified as you seem to think.

  • George

    “No, they replaced Catholic authority with the authority of reason and the science of hermeneutics.”

    Apparently the “science of hermeneutics” leads to multiple contradictory interpretations of the Scripture and manifests itself in countless protestant sects. I simply think that without authority coming from Christ through the Apostolic succession, it is difficult to make individual sense out of the Scripture. After all it is also not designed for individual interpretation as stated in the Scripture. Individual interpretation is at the root of the existing doctrinal chaos in Protestant Christianity. The “science of hermeneutics” cannot undo the damage as we know from everyday experience.

  • DavidW

    So, George, you believe what Ignatius of Loyola believed?:

    “If I see a white wall, but the Church says, it’s black, I do believe, it’s black!”

    ((quote from recollection, from On Spiritual Execise, if that’s the title in English))

  • Roger McKinney

    George: “I simply think that without authority coming from Christ through the Apostolic succession, it is difficult to make individual sense out of the Scripture.”

    If you need an authority to tell you what the Bible says, that’s fine. Many people do. I believe I have as much of the Holy Spirit as anyone in the Catholic Church and with His guidance, and that of hermeneutical principles, I can discern what the Bible says as well as anyone.

    You are fixated on the organizational differences between protestants when you should focus on the doctrinal unity; and you fixate on the organizational unity of the Catholic Church when you should notice the lack of doctrinal unity within the Church today and throughout history.

    Yes, there are a lot of Protestant organizations. But they have a lot of doctrinal unity on the important matters. The big divide among Protestants is between the “liberals” who don’t believe the Bible and the evangelicals. I would argue that there is more doctrinal disunity in the Catholic Church than among evangelical protestants. I have tried for many years to understand Catholic teaching and find different answers for most issues wherever I look.

    You might help me on one issue. What is the current official position of the Church on salvation? Some Catholics claim that Christ’s death paid for the sins of all people everywhere, regardless of their religion, so everyone is going to heaven. Others claim that the Church still holds to the “fund of grace” doctrine in which grace is like a bank account. Saints add to the fund through good works and the rest of the Church members withdraw from the fund throught he sacraments. Where can I go to get a clear answer on the official position of the Church?

  • Neal Lang

    “I can understand that liberal protestants would switch because of doctrine.”

    Compared to virtually ALL Protestant denominations, Catholic doctrine is about the strictest. In such areas as divorce, the Eurcharist, and penance, the Catholic Church is more strict, Scriptural and more Fundamental, than the so-called Fundamentalist.

    “It occurred to me over lunch that if converts to Catholicism are seeking antiquity, why don’t the join an Orthodox church? They’re just as old and have fewer innovations. Or better yet, become Jewish. Clearly antiquity is not the only thing they seek.”

    Actually, the Greek Orthodox Sacraments are just as valid as the Catholic Sacraments. This is only because the Greek Orthodox priests and bishop can trace their authory to the Apostles, and to Matthew 18:18 and John 23. The major failure of the Greek Orthodox is their misinterpretation of Matthew 16.

    “I assume that you are interpreting the passage to mean that the traditions of the church are as valid as the traditions delivered by the Apostles. However, that is a good example of violating the rules of hermeneutics.”

    At the time St. Paul spoke there was no Gospel. He, himself, was preaching from “tradition”. He began preahing after instructions by Ananias, who baptised him. He had not yet met with St. Peter or any other Apostle, so St. Paul was preaching based on the traditions passed on to him by non-Apostle, Ananias. In fact, all the Christian Churches up until the 2nd Century did not possess copies of the Gospels, and the Church’s “Traditions,” passed on word of mouth was really all they had. The Church did end with the death of the last Apostle, John. Instead it continued on through the priests and bishops santified by the Church and the Apostles.

    Now, exactly why is some so-called expert in Biblical hermeneutics interpretation of Scripture MORE VALID than those of the disciples of the Church that was created on Earth by Jesus, the Christ, as positively defined in the Gospel?

    The interpretations of Luther, Calvin, and the rest are just as much mere human tradition as is those the Catholic Church, EXCEPT that the Church has the advantage of Jesus, the Christ’s instructions that His Church on Earth would have “His authority” to “bind” for Him on Earth in matters affecting the Faith. Unfortunately for you, you insist “to kick against the goads” which are the very Words of Jesus, the Christ, as witnessed by the Apostles and set to writting by the four Evangelists in the Gospel.

  • Neal Lang

    “So, George, you believe what Ignatius of Loyola believed?:

    ‘If I see a white wall, but the Church says, it’s black, I do believe, it’s black!’”

    Sometimes we see only what we want to see. That truth made up much of Jesus, the Christ’s preaching during His ministry on Earth.

  • Neal Lang

    “If you need an authority to tell you what the Bible says, that’s fine. Many people do. I believe I have as much of the Holy Spirit as anyone in the Catholic Church and with His guidance, and that of hermeneutical principles, I can discern what the Bible says as well as anyone.”

    Really? Pray tell, in what Book, Chapter, and Verse do we find that Jesus, the Christ, breathed the Spirit into you and gave you the authority to use your own interpretation of His words, even if they conflict with those of His Church on Earth, which was specifically given such authority?

    Or perhaps you can point to the Book, Chapter, and Verse, where Jesus, the Christ, preached that it was “everyman for himself” when it came to the understanding of His Divine Word? In whcih case, why even setup a Church structure at all, if the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church was not necessary for salvation?

    Jesus, the Christ, never told His Apostles that His sheep should “feed themselves.” In fact, He specifically told St. Peter, the first Pope, to “feed My sheep.” What does that mean in your Holy Spirit inspired interpretation? Perhaps that Jesus, the Christ, was not a carpenter, but instead a sheep herder, and He wanted His friend, St. Peter, to make sure his folk was feed?

    Your beliefs are not Scriptural, and, in fact, they are even heretical, as were those of Luther and Calvin.

  • Neal Lang

    “You are fixated on the organizational differences between protestants when you should focus on the doctrinal unity; and you fixate on the organizational unity of the Catholic Church when you should notice the lack of doctrinal unity within the Church today and throughout history.”

    In all matters regarding the salvation of the soul, Church doctrine has not varied since the days of St. Peter. Regarding the Sacraments, such as the Eurcharist, Penance, Mariage, Baptism, etc. it is the Protestants that have abandoned the Words of Jesus, the Christ, because, just like His disciples did in John 6: “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” You and the Protestants are no longer “walking with Him anymore.”

  • DavidW

    Loyola’s white wall.
    Neal: “Sometimes we see only what we want to see. That truth made up much of Jesus, the Christ’s preaching during His ministry on Earth.”

    … what is this? Argument by dispersed optics?
    Wouldn’t you assume that Ignatius described what he actually saw,not what he wanted to see?
    The point he wanted to make: he would trust ‘Mother Church’ more than his eyes; ain’t nothin’ to do with his wishes.
    Did this really fail you to see? … Well, perhaps, because “sometimes we see only what we want to see.”? (or read?)

    The rest, Neal, “In all matters regarding the salvation…”
    your ‘we got it all right’ is easily stated, but not as easily prooved.
    The (by then) Roman Catholic Martin Luther for instance made clear to his German fellow Roman Catholics that they are saved by grace, and that “wenn der Taler im Beutel klingt, die Seele in den Himmel springt” – the salvation for money/indulgence-thing, which is a mayor assault upon a Christian core-doctrin.
    This Catholic monk actually restored the Lord’s supper which became more of a magic ritual than what it was ment to be – with reduced participation of the congregation.
    What, Neal, do you think the Lord’s supper was during New Testament Times?
    And please, show me the Roman Hierarchy as such in the bible!
    Why wouldn’t Paul clearify in 1 Cor 1, 12f that Peter is the big boy in the quarter? Instead, he presumes that he himself is held in higher esteem among the Corinthians, see V.13ff.
    And, how about answering Roger’s excellent questions right to the point, without evasion maneuver?

  • DavidW

    Sorry, wrote too hastily. Please do a little ‘which’-hunt in
    “which [delendum] is a mayor assault upon a Christian core-doctrin”

  • Neal Lang

    “… what is this? Argument by dispersed optics?
    Wouldn’t you assume that Ignatius described what he actually saw,not what he wanted to see? The point he wanted to make: he would trust ‘Mother Church’ more than his eyes; ain’t nothin’ to do with his wishes. Did this really fail you to see? … Well, perhaps, because ‘sometimes we see only what we want to see.’? (or read?)”

    This is the same point made by St. Paul, to wit:

    “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:7

    “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven’.” Matthew 18:2-4

    Never once did Jesus, the Christ, say that you will be saved through your own wisdom and understanding. Just like divorce and contraception, we see want we want to see, no matter how specific the Words of Scripture to the contrary. Fallen man knows that sex is great and marriage is merely a convenience. Just like the Pharisees.

    “Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?’ And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate’” They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?’ He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.’ The disciples said to Him, ‘If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.’ But He said to them, ‘Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it’.” Matthew 19:3-12

    “What, Neal, do you think the Lord’s supper was during New Testament Times?”

    Pretty much as described in the Didache:

    “And on the Lord’s own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. And let no man, having his dispute with his fellow, join your assembly until they have been reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be defiled; for this sacrifice it is that was spoken of by the Lord; {In every place and at every time offer Me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great king, saith the Lord and My name is wonderful among the nations.}”

    And as commanded by our Lord, Jesus, the Christ, to His Apostles:

    “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’.” Luke 22:19

    And to all of us:

    “‘I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.’ Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, ‘How can this man give us His flesh to eat?’ 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 yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him’.” John 6:48-56

    No Protestant denomination believes that the Holy Eucharist is the true flesh, soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ. Do you believe, or do you merely trust your own eyes?

    “The (by then) Roman Catholic Martin Luther for instance made clear to his German fellow Roman Catholics that they are saved by grace, and that “wenn der Taler im Beutel klingt, die Seele in den Himmel springt” – the salvation for money/indulgence-thing, which is a mayor assault upon a Christian core-doctrin.”

    Unfortunately, Luther also believed in “Sola Fides,” which is even a more MAJOR ASSAULT on core Christian doctrine. To promote his heresy, Luther even recommended tossing certain Books from Scripture, beyond the Deuterocanonical Books, which all Protestants reject, despite their use in the Christian Church from the beginning, such as James, where we learn that:

    “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24

    In his own eyes, the fallen man, Luther, could stand to view the inspired word of the Apostle St. James. Instead, he trusted in his own reason and parsed the Word of God.

    While Luther may have been right regarding the excesses of the Church in Germany selling “indulgences” he was dead wrong on everything else. As the Lutheran minister told me at the baptism of my twin grandsons in an effort to get me to join his folks: “The Lutheran Church is merely Catholic-light.” Personally, I prefer the real thing.

    BTW, Ignatius’ analogy does not fit your perception of same. The Church does not defend colors for the folk of Jesus, the Church, but instead the more difficult – what is wrong and what is right. In this regards, it is Ignatius’ understanding that his personal perception of “right or wrong” is tainted by his own sinful state, whereas the Church’s perception of this, as we are all told in Scripture, has the authenticity of the authority of Jesus, the Christ, Himself, which He gave to His Church on Earth through His Apostles. This can be seen on the matter of the acceptance of Gentiles into the Church at the 1st Church Council of Jerusalem, where St. Peter’s word on this very divisive subjected was accepted as Gospel.

  • George

    “So, George, you believe what Ignatius of Loyola believed?:

    ‘If I see a white wall, but the Church says, it’s black, I do believe, it’s black!’”

    I don’t know that quote, and Neal already quoted St. Paul.
    I like St. Augustine who stated “crede, ut intelligas”, which means “believe so that you may understand”).

  • George

    “I believe I have as much of the Holy Spirit as anyone in the Catholic Church and with His guidance, and that of hermeneutical principles, I can discern what the Bible says as well as anyone.”

    2Pet 1:20, St. Peter said, “This then you must understand first of all, that NO PROPHECY OF SCRIPTURE IS MADE BY PRIVATE INTERPRETATION.”

    I have yet to see a justification that hermeneutics can undo this verse.

  • George

    “You are fixated on the organizational differences between protestants when you should focus on the doctrinal unity”

    No, I am fixated on doctrinal disunity. Probably the so called “cafeteria Catholics” come close. Such Catholics most often become Protestants. However, when it comes to converts to the Catholic faith, the names which come to mind are luminaries such as: John Henry Newman, or more recently, Alvin Kimel, Richard Neuhaus, Marcus Grodi and other former pastors who truly and honestly wanted to know the Truth.

  • Neal Lang

    “And please, show me the Roman Hierarchy as such in the bible!”

    The word hierarchy denotes the three grades of bishop, priest, and deacon (ministri). Jesus, the Christ, selected the original 12 Apostles, lead by Cephaus, the “Rock,” upon whom, He would build His Chuch on Earth. This is referred to in all the Gospels. How do we know that St. Peter was the lead? Well, what happened on Pentecost? St. Peter led the 12 and initiated the preaching that converted many in Jerusalem which was the beginning of the Christian Church.

    How was Judas replaced by St. Matthias? By the remaining 11 Apostles.

    How was St. James made Bishop of Jerusalem? By the election of the 12 Apostles.

    Who did St. Paul go to, in order to report on his missions, and to get new instructions for his next mission? To St. Peter, St. James, and the rest of the Apostles in Jerusalem.

    How did the Church decide on the proper way to accept Gentiles into Church? By the Council of Jerusalem, made up of the Church’s key leaders and Apostles.

    After the debate, whose word did the Council of Jerusalem accept as final? St. Peter who ended debate and provided the solution.

    Who were the overseers (bishops) and decons, mentioned in Acts? The heirarchy of the Church founded by Jesus, the Christ.

    All this documented in Acts. This suggest you read with your blinders off.

    Now, if there were no hierarchy, what on Earth was the purpose of the Epistles? They make no sense at all, unless there was a Church hierarchy in place that was responsible for instructing the various Churches. See Revelations as an example.

    Of course, unless you believe that this hierarchy disappeared ith the death of the last Apostle, than the only Church that can trace itself back to the first Apostle and St. Peter, Jesus, the Christ, chosen Apostle to lead His Church on Earth. That Church is, was, and always will be the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church – the Roman Catholic Church.

    As for the Roman connection. Where would you make the site of a Church who had their marching orders by it’s Founder, Jesus, the Christ, to preach His Gospel to all Nations? Well, at the time ALL ROAD LED TO ROME, hence, both St. Peter, as the 1st Bishop of Rome, and St. Paul, wound up there. Considering that Jerusalem, the original site of the early Church, ceased to exist around the year 70AD, it was truly an inspired move.

    “Why wouldn’t Paul clearify in 1 Cor 1, 12f that Peter is the big boy in the quarter? Instead, he presumes that he himself is held in higher esteem among the Corinthians, see V.13ff.”

    “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” 1 Corinthians 1:12-13

    Huh? First, the Christians of Corinth seem to be “equally divided” as to whom their “savior” was. Of course, there is but one Savior, Jesus, the Christ, and St. Paul is scolding certain Christians of Corinth for not understanding this key Doctrine of the Church.

    Unfortunately, St. Paul, like all the Apostles, was a mere sinful men. St. Paul’s problem seems to be his boastfulness, and he doesn’t even seem to get his own Ephifany story straight in any of his tellings of same. As for St. Paul’s relationship with St. Peter, it is obvious that he considered Cephus the leader of the Church, as St. Paul visited him first in Jerusalem. What about St. Paul’s telling of berating St. Peter as a hypocrite in Galatians 2:11-14, because he didn’t stay with the Gentile Christians and instead stayed with Jewish Christians? Well, is St. Paul any less hypocritical in Acts 16:1-3?

    “He (Paul) reached (also) Derbe and Lystra where there was a disciple named Timothy… and Paul wanted him to come along with him. On account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”

    Or how about St. Paul’s actions in Act 18:18

    “Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.”

    The “vow” in question was that of a devout Nazarite Jew, which St. Paul was.

    Also, what about St. Paul’s actions in Acts 21:18-26?

    “The next day, Paul accompanied us on a visit to James, and all the presbyters were present. He greeted them, then proceeded to tell them in detail what God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry. They praised God when they heard it but said to him, ‘Brother, you see how many thousands of believers there are from among the Jews, and they are all zealous observers of the law. They have been informed that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to abandon Moses and that you are telling them not to circumcise their children or to observe their customary practices. What is to be done? They will surely hear that you have arrived. So do what we tell you. We have four men who have taken a vow. Take these men and purify yourself with them, and pay their expenses that they may have their heads shaved. In this way everyone will know that there is nothing to the reports they have been given about you but that you yourself live in observance of the law… So Paul took the men, and on the next day after purifying himself together with them entered the temple to give notice of the day when the purification would be completed and the offering made for each of them’.”

    It might just be St. Paul’s pride at work here, as he is most certainly guilty of ignoring the “beam in his own eye” while calling attention to the “splinter” in St. Peter’s eye.

    Of course, St. Peter would never publically deride his brother Apostle, St. Paul, doing any necessary corrections as Jesus, the Christ, would prefer, in private. Also, the humble St. Peter, would never “pound his own chest” as St. Paul seems to be doing in Galations to increase “crede” amongst the Gentiles.

    “And, how about answering Roger’s excellent questions right to the point, without evasion maneuver?”

    I did, but you chose to believe your lying eyes.

  • Roger McKinney

    Neal: “St. Paul was preaching based on the traditions passed on to him by non-Apostle, Ananias.”

    No, he first had a personal visit from Christ on the way to Damascus. He did have some training from Ananias, but then he spent three years in the desert being taught directly by Christ. That’s why the early church considered him an apostle.

    Neal: “In all matters regarding the salvation of the soul, Church doctrine has not varied since the days of St. Peter.”

    If you believe that, then you are ignorant of church history. Even Erasmus disagreed with Church teaching on salvation. Luther rebelled because he recognized that the church had deviated from its original teaching on salvation.

    Most Muslims are ignorant as babes about Islam and I hate to have to educate them about their own religion in order to have a decent discussion with them. I’m not going to try to educate Catholics about church history.

    George: “I have yet to see a justification that hermeneutics can undo this verse.”
    Where did you get your interpretation of that verse? I assume you got it from your priest, since you don’t truth the Holy Spirit to guide you. That interpretation is a great example of very poor hermeneutic method. It has nothing to do with interpreting scripture, even though it includes the word “interpretation. Here are the verses before and after:

    19And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    Clearly, Peter is talking about the origins of scripture, not the interpretation of them after they were given. So should we accept the interpretation of this text as given by your church authority, or the obvious one that reason makes plain?

  • DavidW

    Luther’s ‘sola fide’ …
    Neal, what would you like to add to Christ’s atonement on cross?
    What has a Roman Catholic to add in order to validate Jesus’ sacrifice?
    A life as a Christian will also have the kinds of ‘works’ James is talking about (who wasn’t thrown out of the Bible by Luther, btw.). Love without loving is not love.
    But the man at the cross next to Jesus had nothing to bring but his faith in Jesus – I suppose, he was not a Roman Catholic.
    Now: what does it take additionally for you, for a Roman Catholic in order to get peace with the Father? What do you have to add in order to make your sins forgotten in the eyes of the Allmighty?

  • DavidW

    And you George,
    “beware of the concision!” see Phil 3,2.

    your attitudes are not only logically inconsistent.
    The New Testament does not know of a hierarchical Church structure in which to believe is necessary for salvation.
    Or in which to believe is necessary to be a Christian.
    So, you staunch fan of ‘Tradition’: the New Testament is the oldest tradition we have (see the textcritical apparatus in your Greek New Testament!). In your eyes it’s beaten by a younger tradition: the letters of Ignatius of Antioch (let’s leave autheticity questions aside for now).
    Ignatius would have probably not at all accepted a Roman Papacy. And the older East-Roman Church-Tradition did not accept it. But you bought into the younger, newer tradition of the Roman concept of the Papacy.
    Why then is the older Byzantinic tradition and their successors not acknowledged as right heirs? What’s your principle?
    The younger the tradition, the closer to the truth?

    But the really problematic thing is: you re-introduce
    (well, your church does and you stick to it), you re-introduce man-made concepts such as believing in the Roman Hierarchy. And you define a ‘true Christian’ after these man-made rules and concepts.
    You abandoned what Paul wrote to the Galatians:
    Gal 2,16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
    Gal 3,26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

    Shortly before these lines, Paul chided Kephas/Peter because Peter wanted to add something unnecessary. Now some people try the same in the name of Peter.

    …and in 1 Cor.2
    ” For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” What besides Christ is important for you, George, in the Church? Beliving in the supposed successors of Peter!!! Are you in line with Paul here? Are you in line with TRUE ORTHODOX Christian doctrin here, George?

    Make no mistake here: you are not allowed to add something man-made and allien to the Gospel. If you do so, you say about Jesus: Non satis est!
    Not sufficient! … and you are shortening the Glory and headship of the Lord, – and you bring division into His family (in the name of unity!)
    For what?! For man-made rules and religion. In order to rectify the power-brokers of the past. Think twice!

    So, this is serious, George: beware of the concision!

  • George

    “Ignatius would have probably not at all accepted a Roman Papacy.”

    I prefer evidence over opinions.

    “The fact that Clement of Rome’s letter to the Corinthians (written c. 96)[5] adopted a pastoral tone, and also the fact that St. Ignatius of Antioch once used the word “preside” in the same sentence that he used the word “Romans” in his letter to the Romans (written c. 105)[6] are seen by some historians to present proof of the existence of a certain early papal primacy.”

    http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Vicar-of-Peter

  • George

    “What has a Roman Catholic to add in order to validate Jesus’ sacrifice?”

    The Church simply wants every human being to participate in the saving grace of this timeless Sacrifice through Eucharist.
    Certainly Ignatius understood it this way, and there is no reason to believe that he was alone. Protestants ignore it by imposing a time stamp (“it happened long ago, let’s remember it from time to time without much participation”)

  • George

    “So, this is serious, George: beware of the concision!”

    If there are no facts, silence is golden!

  • DavidW

    “a pastoral tone”…”Ignatius … ONCE used the word “preside”
    … seen by SOME historians …”
    …overwhelming evidence, indeed.
    … on the other hand, your interesting source tells us: “It was not until 440 that Leo the Great more clearly articulated the extension of papal authority as doctrine, …”
    … and “All [Catholic and Non-Catholic Historians] agree that the Pope’s role developed through history.” … meaning, no Pope at the birth and toddleryears of the Church, George.
    And:
    Couldn’t “a pastoral tone” be found also in the – meanwhile intensely quoted – scolding of Peter by Paul in Gal.2,11?
    And wouldn’t that fact make PAUL the first pope in your universe?
    Also interesting, how Paul puts the ‘Petrine Doctrin’ in Gal 2,9: “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

    “James, Cephas, and John” … “seemed to be”
    …seem to be rather small, feeble and shaky grounds on which you erect your St Peter’s Cathedral.
    (But don’t mind: wasn’t the only time, we had “three popes” at a time!)

    And Ignatius? He is as long and as far a teacher of the Gospel as he is in synch with 2 Thessalonians 2:15: the Apostle’s teachings (“Sacred Tradition”, see your quote).
    Even if he had developed a full fledged Petrine Doctrine (which he didn’t), he has to be measured against the New Testament, not the other way around.

    … it remains: you are defining “Christianity” according to second hand stuff and historical speculations, AGAINST the the authority of the earliest sources and “sacred traditions”! AD Fontes, George, ad fontes!
    Don’t make Ignatius your ‘Book of Mormon’!

  • DavidW

    George: “The Church simply wants every human being to participate in the saving grace of this timeless Sacrifice through Eucharist.”
    well, “There is nothing more beautiful as to be found by the Gospel, by Christ. There is nothing more beautiful as to know Him and to pass this friendship with Him on to others.”
    Benedict XVI (my translation, German source)
    … but, sadly, that’s not, what you meant.
    What you mean, George, as I understand you, is the
    Roman Eucharist doctrine, yet another young ‘tradition’.
    (Obviously, there is a certain, not small amount of creativity at work, when it comes to Roman C. traditions)

    Why young?
    For centuries, the Christians did’t have a special theory about what happens when sharing the cup and the bread in Jesus’ name. They just did it: Spoke the words and broke the bread. They came together pretty often, ate together regularly in the early house churches – in the presence of the Lord.
    Not until Alamar of Metz († about 850) there was no doctine of the ‘timeless Sacrifice through Eucharist’ prevalent, not until the 4th. Lateran Council in 1215 this hypothesis became the official view of the Roman C. church, connected with the doctrine of transsubstantiation.
    At that time, little was left from the Elder in a New Testament sense; the Priest became emulated after the image of the Pagan Priest, bringing a sacrifice before God in order to atone the hoi polloi. Also little was left of the immediacy of the laios theou, of God’s people: laios theou, the People of the Lord, became lay-people: those not competent and not in charge. The Lord’s supper got another meaning, actually obscuring, what Jesus has already done for His people.
    Crucial: it’s a quite new tradition.
    Can a Christian be defined, George, after whether he buys into Alamar’s idea or not? Do you define a Christian that way?
    Luther believed, that flesh and bread are intermingled like fire and ore in a smelter. He objected Zwingli and refused to work together with him, because Zwingli believed, the Last Supper has to be understood in a symbolic and spiritual way.
    Was Luther right? I don’t think so. Are you right, George? I don’t think so.
    If it does something for you to imagine Jesus’ Hydrocarbon Molecules being in your stomach, if you believe, His hemoglobin being in your digestive system makes Him present for you, that’s fine with me. … as well as if you agree with Luther or with Zwingli. Why? Because the New Testament does’t demand to believe in any of these theories! It doesn’t give us one! Just do it! And if you do it as a follower of Jesus Christ, He promised to be there. That’s it!

    If you make the explanation, you bought into, the core belief that defines a Christian, all I have to add is:
    “…this is serious, George: beware of the concision!”

  • George

    “For centuries, the Christians did’t have a special theory about what happens when sharing the cup and the bread in Jesus’ name. They just did it: Spoke the words and broke the bread. They came together pretty often, ate together regularly in the early house churches – in the presence of the Lord.
    Not until Alamar of Metz († about 850)”

    You better read something on Christian history. For example:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2006/sep7.html?start=1

    Justin Martyr (100-165): Christian philosopher and apologist
    First Apology(155 A.D), chapter 66

    “And this food is called among us the Eucharist of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.”

    Ignatius of Antioch (35-107): Early Christian bishop and martyr: already discussed above – he clearly invoked Eucharist

    Christian History Home > 2006 > An Early Christian Eucharist

    An Early Christian Eucharist
    posted 8/08/2008 12:33PM

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    Irenaeus (c.130-c.200): Bishop of Lyons and opponent of Gnosticism
    Fragments from the lost writings of Irenaeus, chapter 37

    Then again, Paul exhorts us “to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” And again, “Let us offer the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of the lips.” Now those oblations are not according to the law, the handwriting of which the Lord took away from the midst by canceling it; but they are according to the Spirit, for we must worship God “in spirit and in truth.” And therefore the oblation of the Eucharist is not a carnal one, but a spiritual; and in this respect it is pure. For we make an oblation to God of the bread and the cup of blessing, giving Him thanks in that He has commanded the earth to bring forth these fruits for our nourishment. And then, when we have perfected the oblation, we invoke the Holy Spirit, that He may exhibit this sacrifice, both the bread the body of Christ, and the cup the blood of Christ, in order that the receivers of these may obtain remission of sins and life eternal.

    Against Heresies, chapter 18

    “But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit.”

    Origen (185-254): Biblical scholar and philosopher
    Against Celsus, chapter 57

    “We are much more concerned lest we should be ungrateful to God, who has loaded us with His benefits, whose workmanship we are, who cares for us in whatever condition we may be, and who has given us hopes of things beyond this present life. And we have a symbol of gratitude to God in the bread which we call the Eucharist.”

    Didache (date uncertain—possibly late first or early second century, authorship unknown)
    The document describes a code of morals for the Christian life and a manual of church order, and includes this Eucharistic liturgy:

    ,Now about the Eucharist: This is how to give thanks: First in connection with the cup: “We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David, your child, which you have revealed through Jesus, your child. To you be glory forever.”‘

  • DavidW

    Thanks for your reply, George.
    Feared already you have gone into exile.
    But just a question: Where in your Defense of the Eucharist would I find anything about the Roman Catholic fundamentals, i.e.: the teaching of transsubstantiation and the unbloody sacrifice performed by the priest pretty much emulating the pagan priest?
    Is it just my glasses or is it really not there?

  • George

    When you read what these Church Fathers wrote abour the Eucharist, why did they call it Eucharist etc., you will come to inescapable conclusions as did Newmann and many others who tried to use the history of Church to prove their Protestant point of view. You happen to believe in whatever you believe. If you start reading history, you cannot avoid honest and logical conclusion: the early Church Fathers who inherited the faith from the Apostles were very Catholic. They literally believed that Eucharist is the Body, Blood and Divinity of our Lord. I cannot change it.

  • DavidW

    George, why don’t you give straight-to-the-point arguments? Why not poignant arguments?
    “If you start reading history, you cannot avoid honest and logical conclusion: the early Church Fathers who inherited the faith from the Apostles were very Catholic. They literally believed that Eucharist is the Body, Blood and Divinity of our Lord.” – Don’t be satisfied by claiming it – show it!
    … and, don’t give me just Church Fathers, show it properly from the New Testament! (Use Catholic New Testament Scholars for that purpose, if nessecary! )

  • DavidW

    PS:

    … the early Church Fathers: “They literally believed that Eucharist is the Body, Blood and Divinity of our Lord.”
    You’ll have a tough time to prove this claim with proper quotations. Go ahead and give it a try!