Saturday, June 01, 2013

Poking the Trinity


Brother Ivo is travelling. Just before leaving for the airport he thought he might take some light reading: light as in 'low weight', rather than trivial, and so slipped into his jacket pocket a slim volume which he thought he might enjoy re-reading on the journey. And so it has proved. Within the first few pages he realised that there are some books one reads too early, some that are encountered at an apposite time of one's life, and doubtless a few that come to our attention too late to be of much value. Then there are those that repay re-reading for a variety of reasons. This one is worth the reconnection.

Wittgenstein's Poker by David Edmonds and John Eidinow explores a short incident that occurred in 1946 when two philosophers, Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein, debated for the first and only time in a small room in Kings College Cambridge. There were about thirty people present, many of whom went on to become the great and the good of the philosophical world, though Betrand Russell already had that distinction. Sir John Vinelott went on to make his name as a High Court Judge. The 'witnesses' to the event were therefore all of high intellect.

During the course of the discussions, there is some certainty that Wittgenstein held, perhaps lifted, a poker from the fire. He left the room. Popper made a remark that visiting lecturers should not be threatened with pokers, but beyond this, what happened is a matter of uncertainty and conjecture of some vehemence between students/supporters of the principal protagonists.

Within weeks, in those pre-Internet days, people on the other side of the world were asking those present if it were true that these patriarchs of rationalism had threatened each other with red hot pokers!

It is an entertaining read, and the first time he read it, Brother Ivo used it as an example of how we ought to afford the witnesses to the resurrection a degree of latitude in their apparently varied accounts of what was seen, as recorded in the various gospel narratives. If rationalist philosophers and their followers have such difficulty in constructing an agreed account over an incident witnessed by perhaps 30 of the worlds foremost intellectuals, we can surely cut a little slack for the women and the unlettered disciples who were witnessing an unprecedented event for the very first time.

The authors point out that the Cambridge Moral Science Society was comprised of those 'professionally concerned with theories of epistemology (the grounds of knowledge), understanding and truth'. Yet the conflicting testimonies 'concerned a sequence of events where those who disagreed were eye witnesses on critical questions of fact'.

The second reading of this book occurred shortly after Trinity Sunday, and has again thrown light on a problem Brother Ivo has been considering but in an entirely different context. This time, Brother Ivo already knew the main thrust of the argument and was perhaps more able to take note of contextual matters. He specifically noted that the debate centred upon the question raised by the paper produced for discussion by Popper: 'Are there philosophical problems?'

Popper thought there were were - and, by implication, thought that it was worth putting in the effort to solve them, whereas Wittgenstein regarded such questions only as 'puzzles', a matter of a significantly different order of importance.

This took Brother Ivo back to Trinity Sunday.

His travels had absented him from his Church for a few weeks, so he was foolhardy enough to offer penance by volunteering to teach on Trinity Sunday to his junior Church - some as young as five.

Communicants and readers can probably verify for themselves - by asking their own preachers - that Trinity Sunday is probably what our musician friends might call the 'toughest gig' of the year. Trinity Sunday for five-year-olds is as close to theological suicide as one gets.

Matters were made worse by a wonderful satire which Brother Ivo encountered. Plainly, Trinity is a subject fraught with difficulty for the preacher seeking a simple analogy.

Yet Brother Ivo's reading may help to put aside any of the unsatisfactory preaching which may have left readers and communicants unsatisfied. Perhaps we need to step back and take one or two of Wittgenstein's propositions seriously.

It was he who identified the problem of the 'duck/rabbit', whereby we can talk about the image containing two interpretations, but fundamentally one cannot make explain or persuade another person to 'see' it. "You can either see the duality within you can't." Some only see the duck, some the rabbit, and others both. There is no logic to take one from one interpretation to another beyond showing the image and encouraging another to look/see.

Wittgenstein similarly advised that if one wishes to know if a person is religious, 'don't look at what he says, look at what he does'. Communicants will recognise - 'By their fruits ye shall know them'.

It was this approach that Brother Ivo unwittingly took with his children. He did not attempt to 'solve' the problem of the Trinity. but 'showed' ideas.

St Patrick's examples addressed the particular problem for those living in a world of multiple deities. To the Greeks and Romans, there was a multiple-god default logic/assumption, and so any Trinitarian debate that risked letting such a mindset back in through the back door was fiercely resisted by the Early Church. The Athanasian Creed grasped that problem by embracing mystery, and that is not rationally dishonest.

Wittgenstein said: "I know that queer things happen in this world. It's one one the few things I've really learned in my life." The mystery of the Trinity becomes less daunting when one embraces such thinking and extrapolates it beyond the temporal.

Yet 'showing' also has its uses when one places this most mysterious of Christian doctrines in its true philosophical place.

The early Church was a rag-bag made up of believers in far flung communities all trying to make sense of a narrative infinitely more complex than what transpired in a Cambridge upper room in 1946. Those of a strongly Jewish background would always gravitate to an understanding of God rooted in the scriptures with which they had grown up. The Creator-Father was always uppermost in their thinking.

Those who knew and had personal experience of Jesus had heard him plainly (even 'blasphemously') identify himself with Yahweh - "If you have seen me you have seen the Father." Those followers had a fundamentally different mental picture from those of a more conservative Jewish mindset. Then again another grouping of post-Pentecost believers were very familiar with the Holy Spirit, the promised Comforter, and they were not about to discount that revelation as in any sense 'second best'.

Each had received a 'showing' of the Almighty. How could this be reconciled in doctrine? By treating it as a substantial problem the Early Church expended much energy and passion, and the outcome is the various creeds with which we are familiar.

Maybe it has taken Wittgenstein to offer the solution. There is actually no problem for God: it is indeed as unknowable to us as what happened that evening when Wittgenstein did or did not threaten Popper with a poker. Maybe all these efforts to unify the Trinity are no more than a human linguistic puzzle, of no greater practical importance, significance or interest than the precise mathematical value of Pi. We ordinary folk find an approximation more than serviceable for our everyday needs.

In Tom Stoppard's film Shakespeare in Love the coming together of a theatrical venture is constantly in question and increasingly unlikely, yet the shabby impresario Henshaw keeps the faith and constantly reassures the doubters that it will all come together successfully in the end. Repeatedly asked why, he answers simply: "I don't know. It's a mystery - but it always does."

Brother Ivo has a similar disorganised faith like Henshaw. He can show you the great things that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have done, and when the rationalist asks him: "How can this be? How could there be three-in-one and one-in-three? How can this add up?", it will be a toss-up as to whether he answers that the question is a puzzle, not a problem, or, alternatively -  with truth and conviction - "I don't know. It's a mystery - but it always does."

(Posted by Brother Ivo)

154 Comments:

Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

I like the analogy (yes, I know, but it isn't for the Trinity but our apprehension thereof) of men living in flatland. In flatland there are no 3D objects. You, however, from our 3D world, go down into flatland and in that context have to explain a cylinder to the inhabitants.

How do you explain it with the concepts at the disposal of the flatlanders? Well, one way would be to talk about a square-circle; after all, from above a cylinder looks like a circle, but from the side it's a rectangle/square.

Now, on the face of it this is contradictory to the people of flatland- they have no experience of something that can be described as both a square and a circle. But they know you're from 3D land, which is very different to their land, and so they have good reason to believe that what to them may seem irreconcilable is in fact reconcilable, just not with the linguistic resources they have at their disposal.

In the same way, because we have good reason to believe the Bible is the word of God, we also have good reason to believe its testimony that God is in some sense one and in some sense three.

1 June 2013 at 10:01  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

Indivisible Unity Implies Paralysis
All functioning entities must be composite in order to function. Something that was an absolute indivisible unity could never interact with anything else. For an 'entity' to interact it must either give something of itself, or receive something into itself. Everything that causes a change is itself changed in the process.

An absolutely indivisible entity would be completely inert - an analogy from elementary chemistry would be those inert gases such as helium and neon that can't give up or take up electrons, and so can't form compounds or interact with any other elements. For the same reason an absolutely indivisible God would be powerless and unaware of any changes around him. The Jews understood this perfectly well, and referred to God as 'Elohim' - a plural noun.

1 June 2013 at 10:08  
Blogger Mark In Mayenne said...

Easy!
God is clearly a musketeer.

1 June 2013 at 10:22  
Blogger LEN said...

Well I bet this thread gets interesting!.

Muslims reckon Christians worship 'three Gods' sometimes throwing the Catholic 'Mary' into the mix.

Of course trying to put God 'into a box' that Humans can understand is always going to be interesting if not enlightening.

1 June 2013 at 10:33  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

seanrobsville: For an 'entity' to interact it must either give something of itself, or receive something into itself. Everything that causes a change is itself changed in the process.

Please explain why this is necessarily the case. And why this requires a change in intrinsic rather than extrinsic properties. Of course, your claim not only vitiates divine simplicity, it takes divine immutability down with it, which is supported by clear Biblical statements about God's unchanging nature.

Your analogy is confusing because the atoms you refer to are composite; the reason they can't interact is because they are stable, with full electron shells. But if the analogy holds with God then that requires him to have either a need or an excess. How is that helpful to defending a Biblical concept of God, who is supposed to be perfect and a se? Once again, it seems to me that you aren't question simplicity so much as immutability.

1 June 2013 at 10:49  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

*questioning

1 June 2013 at 10:49  
Blogger Tony B said...

I suppose there's always
the possibility that it's a load of old cobblers.

1 June 2013 at 10:57  
Blogger Mark In Mayenne said...

Any theologian will tell you that God is infinite. Any mathematician will tell you that infinite things can be identical to perfect subsets of themselves.

Where is the problem?

1 June 2013 at 11:08  
Blogger gentlemind said...

Puzzles are a How in the absence of a Why. Problems are a Why in the absence of a How. Puzzles exist in relation to explanations. Problems exist in relation to contradictions.

The Trinity is as easy as 1,2,3 - or, correctly, 1,(1+1),([1+1]+1).

3 exists in relation to the difference between 1 and 2.2 exists in relation to the difference between a 1 and another 1. The key to unlock the door is the recognition of a higher order of relationships: we generally view "things" in relation to other "things". But if 2 things exist in relation to each other, then a 3rd thing can exist in relation to the relationship between the other 2.

God is God. Father and Son are relational terms. God is God, yet God is the Father by virtue of a Son. Son is not God, but exists in relation to God. The higher order part comes with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit exists in relation to the relationship between Father and Son.

Where two things are different, their difference can be acted upon. The Holy Spirit is the living force that arises through the Father and the Son acting on their relationship.

All of this is amazingly mirrored through marriage, as the one-flesh union is actually a trinity of unions.

1 June 2013 at 11:49  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Well, having drawn the short straw and been "volunteered" to give the sermon on Trinity Sunday I can say that yes, as Brother Ivo says, it is the not the easiest of topics to tackle. Indeed I have always wondered whether the Western Latin Church was right about the filioque as our western take on it seems, to have sneaked into the Creeds as far as I can see. However my analogy, which worked up to a point, was based on the human family group performing different functions, complementary roles, if you like. This is a rather simplistic approach really but what else can you do in 1200 words? Ultimately the appropriate thing is to acknowledge our exceedingly limited human understanding, be grateful and thankful for those insights that God graciously grants us and gaze in awe and worship.

1 June 2013 at 12:08  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

David Hussell: As regards the filioque, perhaps the whole paradigm of ontological procession (and generation) ought to be rethought?

1 June 2013 at 12:13  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ LEN (10:33)—Islam is in some confusion about Mary. Chapter 19 verse 28 of the Qur’an describes Mary as the sister of Aaron, whose sister was actually called Miriam. Both names, Mary and Miriam, are rendered as Maryam in Arabic and it seems the Prophet got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

1 June 2013 at 12:16  
Blogger Albert said...

The doctrine of the Trinity is not contradictory - not even remotely contradictory. The mystery is that we do not altogether understand the words of that doctrine. We just know that if we deny those words, we fall short of the mystery revealed in Jesus.

David,

The Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son because if he did not he would just be the Son (there being no distinguishing qualities in the divine nature).

1 June 2013 at 12:52  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Albert.
Yes, accepted , I am not disagreeing, but the Eastern Church provides some very convincing reasons to justify their earlier and continuing position. Your certainty must be a comfort, and I respect that, but I acknowledge the different way in which the Greek based theologians approach these incredibly deep, almost inaccessible, and ultimately very philosophical theological matters. For myself I am at present respectful of both positions, in humility. I have been wondering whether a way to unblock the different interpretation is to envisage the Holy Spirit flowing from The Father towards The Son and thence outwards from both The Father and The Son to the whole Church. So in this postulation The Holy Spirit does indeed proceed from both Father and Son, but the ultimate origin is The Father. However one may say that this attempt at accommodating both positions introduces a third and complicating factor, and that either the Western or the Eastern understanding is correct, with the other being incorrect. However ideas like "correct" and its opposite "incorrect" are, I suspect far too human, limited and inadequate to encompass the grandeur of the totality of God. Because the schism was, inevitably, mired by a power struggle one also wonders to what extent the historic differences represent misunderstandings and maybe even touches of pride on both sides? Perhaps we will never know the answer to that series of episodes, almost a thousand years ago now. Ultimately we can all agree that the nature of The Trinity is a mystery beyond our comprehension and in that context of recognizing our human limitations, I shall continue saying our Creeds, representing perhaps our best, although ultimately pitifully inadequate, approach to these questions. But who are we to assume that anything more than a very partial grasp is attainable, whilst on earth?

1 June 2013 at 13:33  
Blogger Albert said...

David,

Because the schism was, inevitably, mired by a power struggle

That's real issue. The Eastern objection to the double procession was politically motivated. They claimed this was the Eastern tradition, in fact, at least the Alexandrian (if not more) teaching agreed with the Latin West. Certainly, matters were complicated by terminology too and by unhelpful moves from both sides, but in the end, the dispute was fabricated.

When you say they have good arguments, which do you mean?

Your certainty must be a comfort

Well I can't see why. I haven't worried over much about whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

1 June 2013 at 13:50  
Blogger LEN said...

An intellectual grasp of the concepts of Christianity does not ensure one`s salvation.

Jesus said you must be' born again' to qualify.

1 June 2013 at 13:50  
Blogger Albert said...

That's interesting Len. I thought all you needed was faith alone.

1 June 2013 at 13:58  
Blogger Peter D said...

"An intellectual grasp of the concepts of Christianity does not ensure one`s salvation."

Completely agree an intellectual understanding of God doesn't ensure salvation; its just as well really. Satan proves the point.

A grasp of Christ's message and an understanding of God is necessary. Why else has God revealed Himself to us? Jesus said: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." So we are charged to discover as much as we can within the limits of our intellect.

And how else could the Gospel be spread and people worship together in one Spirit if they were all worshiping an individual construction?

To grow in love one must get to know the person as the relationship develops. And an intellectual grasp of Christianity helps in reading and understanding Scripture, wouldn't you say? I'm thinking of the totality of Holy Writ and not one or passages that taken out of context and used to construct a whole theology - even new christian faith systems - that overlooks the whole.

And please don't argue the Holy Spirit informs every believer who is "born again" of the one Truth. The history of Christianity is firmly against you on that one.

1 June 2013 at 14:16  
Blogger Albert said...

Quite right Peter. What's required is faith and charity. Don't you agree, Len?

1 June 2013 at 14:45  
Blogger LEN said...

Sorry Peter but your' speculations' do not agree with scripture.

'The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children'(Romans 8:16)

This can only occur IF we are born again(One Spirit with Christ)

1 June 2013 at 14:48  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

The trinity ... I present to you Euler's Equation.

I love this equation ... 2 irrational, transcendental numbers, the imaginary number (a great thing to throw at militant atheists when they talk about our imaginary friend!), all combined to produce unity. Probably not a good illustration for 5 year old but I love how God reveals Himself through every aspect of His creation, including mathematics :)

1 June 2013 at 14:48  
Blogger LEN said...

Albert, Of course 'faith' is necessary .....faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary.
Our continued walk in the Christian Life is faith in God not faith in ourselves our Church or our 'good works'.

1 June 2013 at 14:52  
Blogger Albert said...

So you don't need love then, Len?

1 June 2013 at 14:55  
Blogger LEN said...

'True believers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth'. (As Jesus said)

Can we do that with our 'human spirit'?.I don`t think we can even begin.

It is the union of our human spirit with the Spirit of Christ(born again) that enables us to relate to God .The trouble with 'the church 'particularly the 'Catholic Church' is that it like to act as a 'middle man' standing between man and God(much as the Pharisees did)

1 June 2013 at 14:57  
Blogger LEN said...

'Love' is a fruit of the spirit albert.

1 June 2013 at 14:58  
Blogger LEN said...

Albert, How can a branch bear fruit unless it is connected to the vine.


I really should not have to tell you this?.

1 June 2013 at 15:00  
Blogger LEN said...


We Christians MUST be connected to the 'true vine' which is Christ if we are to bear fruit acceptable to God.

The means of' being connected' are the re- birth of which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus(a Pharisee)

1 June 2013 at 15:05  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Agreed. There are intellectual "Christians", practising ones even, who do not posses faith in Jesus Christ, in the traditional sense. So they do not partake in the salvation offered through faith in The Christ, Son of God. A person needs to make a fresh start, the familiar phrase "born again", being not an easy one for people then or now to grasp. But yes, intellect helps unravel Scripture a little, and follow the arguments of the great teachers of the Church. However the least intellectually blessed person who has been born again and continues in the faith is as "saved" as the faith filled gifted theologian, as all are equal in that sense under God.

1 June 2013 at 15:12  
Blogger Albert said...

It seems to me that we're all in agreement then!

1 June 2013 at 15:23  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Albert.
Yes, indeed. Must be an outbreak of ecumenicism !

1 June 2013 at 16:49  
Blogger Albert said...

Excellent! The Reformation was all one big mistake and you can all return to Rome! :-)

1 June 2013 at 16:52  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

you can all return to Rome

Just as soon as Rome kicks Trent to the curb. And a few other things.

carl

1 June 2013 at 16:56  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Carl: A few other things.

Could you be thinking of:

-The priest as an alter Christus?
-Prayers to Mary and the saints, along with basically all RC Mariology?
-The treasury of merit, indulgences and purgatory?
-Universal papal jurisdiction?
-The magisterium?
-Synergism?
-Ex opere operato and sacramental grace?
-Priestly absolution?

Apart from these doctrines and probably a host of others, I can't think of any reason why we shouldn't just be one big happy family...

1 June 2013 at 17:04  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Thomas Keningley

And ...

- Sacred Tradition
- Relics
- Mystics & Stigmatics

Everything else that immediately comes to mind is already covered on your list. I will keep thinking though.

carl

1 June 2013 at 17:19  
Blogger peggy38 said...

When the rationalist or unitarian tries to use math to deny the Trinity I answer that the Trinity is a relationship of persons not an equation.

I agree absolutely with Brother Ivo's conclusion and would add something more. There are those who expect to be able to understand the Trinity from the first moment. And I think that such impatience will never result in understanding of anything truly complex much less in understanding of the complexity of God. Going back to the idea of relationship, we are also in relationship to the Trinity. I believe that we should assume from the outset that our understanding of the Trinity can only unfold within that relationship. In other words, its like a marriage or any other lifetime personal relationship. You will always learn something new the longer you stay related but you will never exhaust the mysteries of the person to whom you are related.

So that is how I live out my relationship with the Triune God, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I see myself in a lifelong committed relationship and I feel as though I have been blessed with such understanding as I need as I have endured in my commitment. I do not expect to ever be less than amazed by it.

As for analogies. There are some who hate the use of any Trinitarian analogies and may even find most of them heretical, but I do not. I think that analogies can be used safely as long as the understanding is that they are merely aids in understanding rather than accurate descriptions. I was greatly helped by several analogies to get started, to get a leg up. I think a lot of people use them as a gateway. But also very important for me was the cautionary advice of wise pastors who counseled me to never mistake the analogies as anything other than a means as opposed to an end. The role of the priest or pastor in teaching the doctrine properly cannot be underestimated either.

1 June 2013 at 17:31  
Blogger Peter D said...

Some people are so, so stuborn!

This list of 'objections' routinely thrown out is, in the main, distortions of Catholic teaching. I wonder, do protestants learn these by rote whilst growing up?

Take "synergy", for example. Can anyone seriously doubt that salvation involves some form of cooperation between Divine Grace and human freedom?

Of course Rome Could only accept the returning prodigals once they saw the errors in an over reliance on:
Sola scriptura;
Sola fide;
Sola gratia;
Solo Christo; and
Soli Deo gloria.

And a few other things too.

1 June 2013 at 17:47  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Peter D

Yes, if only I gave up on Sola Scriptura then I too could venerate the preserved corpse of a nun kept in a vault. I too could carry around the cadaverous heart of St. John Vianney and hope for a miracle because of its presence.

But are you really sure you want to call "To the Glory of God Alone" an error? Confer with Moses and the rock in the desert.

carl

1 June 2013 at 18:10  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Wel Albert.
Return to Rome? Well I admire your persistence. I can agree two things. Firstly that Luther and his predecessors were seeking a reform from within, but were treated so badly, that they found themselves unable to move forward and faced only the choice of either withdrawing their rightful concerns or risking all and pressing on. Luther survived because he got lucky, with the prevailing political system protecting him. And that was the flame which then spread. It could been avoided. Secondly there is so much more that unites the worldwide Church than divides it, and that is not just a collection of kind words, but a call to shared action. And ultimately it is God, Jesus who knows who are His sheep, or not.
Peggy,
Absolutely. It is human vanity that assumes that something that is at least a partial mystery should be dismissed as irrelevant or even rubbish.
Peggy. Absolutely !

1 June 2013 at 18:15  
Blogger David Hussell said...

The double "Peggy" was a mistake, by the way.

1 June 2013 at 18:16  
Blogger Peter D said...

Carl"
"But are you really sure you want to call "To the Glory of God Alone" an error? Confer with Moses and the rock in the desert."

I did say: " ... the errors in an over reliance on ..." the Five Solae. It was this very one I had most especially in mind. The others have a kernel of truth in them; they just go too far with all this "alone" business.

Each is open to discussion and ambiguity - as 500 years of protestant dispute demonstrates and come down to personal judgement.

Besides, aren't they logically inconsistent? Scripture alone (not in Scripture); faith alone (not in Scripture); Grace alone (not in Scripture); Christ alone (not in Scripture given He established an authoritative and Apostolic Church). Just which one is it - all "alone"?

1 June 2013 at 19:11  
Blogger Albert said...

Well I'm still waiting for you Protestants to come with something objectionable. :-)

More seriously, I note that some of you are using the word "analogy". But surely, unless you accept that Catholic doctrine of analogia entis, you cannot have any analogies for God? Didn't Barth say that doctrine was the only thing that kept us a part?

1 June 2013 at 19:46  
Blogger bluedog said...

Gentlemind @ 11.49 says, 'All of this is amazingly mirrored through marriage, as the one-flesh union is actually a trinity of unions.'

Intriguing. Would you care to enlarge?

1 June 2013 at 22:41  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Albert said

"1 In the beginning Rome created the heavens and the earth.
2 The Church was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the early Church. And the Spirit of Rome was hovering over the face of the Church.

3 Then the Pope said, “Let there be tradition and Nihil obstat ”; and there was great delight on the seven hills.

4 And the Pope saw the delight, that it was good in his eyes; and divided the delighted from the deluded.

5 The Pope called the delighted faithful unto death, and the deluded the immortally separated, continually using wrongful analogies ."

" Didn't Barth say that doctrine was the only thing that kept us a part?"

Well, thank God for that !

Blofeld

ps

"The Roman Catholic Church says it believes in salvation by grace alone. However, their “grace” is not the free gift of
Christianity but can only be received by the individual in partial installments dispensed through the miserly “magesterium” of the RCC * That sooo biblical doctrine called Purgatory...Bit like 'die now- pay later?

Know more caring loan sharks that put those lot to shame on the seven hills... Where's the FSA when you need them.*Humungous chortling*

2 June 2013 at 02:32  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Hilarious post Blofeld!. You have raised the benchmark.There must be a few Catholic humour genes lurking around in that noodle of yours ..maybe you could inject some into Calvin Carl with his unhealthy preoocupation for dead nuns'corpses and body parts..I suppose being a calvinist and living in deliverance country will do that to you.

2 June 2013 at 05:52  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

I just calls 'em like I sees 'em.

carl

2 June 2013 at 06:27  
Blogger PeteB said...

Why make it so complicated? The trinity is a glorious truth to be enjoyed, not a problem to be solved. The Bible never makes it so complicated - no Biblical character ever makes a big deal of it.

The opening pages of scripture give a great illustration of the trinity: husband and wife. Male and female are made after the diversity of the trinity: "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; make and female he created them" (Gen 1:27).

Then in the next chapter, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gen 2:24), where "one" = Hebrew "echad", the same word used in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one". No one has a problem with man and woman becoming one flesh, which is because we understand that one flesh entails the unity of the two.

In the trinity, "oneness" is about unity, not singularity. Christianity is not a monotheistic religion, nor is it polytheistic - it is Trinitarian.

2 June 2013 at 08:48  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Albert: I don't see why accepting the analogia entis would be distinctively Catholic; I wonder what Barth's reasoning was.

In any case, I think the dichotomy between univocity and analogy is a false one; an analogy is univocal at the point of analogy, and thus analogical language can, in theory at least, be reformulated to univocal language. If there is no univocal point of analogy then the analogy is, of course, equivocal!

2 June 2013 at 09:11  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

I don't see why accepting the analogia entis would be distinctively Catholic; I wonder what Barth's reasoning was.

I was teasing really. I think Barth's view on analogy changed, but he seems genuinely to have had a problem with this particular doctrine. However, at least one of his objections may be pertinent when using analogies for God. He thought that the idea secularises our status before God by producing something from ourselves which can only truly come from God.

an analogy is univocal at the point of analogy, and thus analogical language can, in theory at least, be reformulated to univocal language.

A bit beyond my pay-grade, I'm afraid, but it seems to me that likeness is not the same as univocity. It seems to me that this is most clear when thinking of God as cause (and creature as cause), God as cause and his presence in the effect (creature as caused) and therefore at the level of being.

2 June 2013 at 09:58  
Blogger IanCad said...

PeteB,

Citing The Shema as support for the Trinity is going to hot this thread up.

You are quite right of course.

2 June 2013 at 10:07  
Blogger William said...

Well said PeterB

Carl

They are venerating a dead heart not worshipping it:

ven·er·ate
/ˈvenəˌrāt/

Verb
Regard with great respect; revere.

Synonyms
revere - respect - honour - esteem - worship (oops)

2 June 2013 at 10:44  
Blogger LEN said...

There seems to be an idea amongst Catholics that salvation comes through 'the church' alone. (The Catholic Church and that alone)which of course is a totally false concept.This concept has been thought up by Catholic theologians so as to be able to wield 'the big stick' so as to keep their converts' in the fold' and not to allow them to wander into 'other pastures'.This is a far more subtle a concept as that practiced in Islam but the thought behind it is the same ie 'you can join but never leave.'

Salvation is found only in Christ "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."(Acts4:12)

You can join 'religion' but you must be born(or re-born)into Christianity.

2 June 2013 at 10:45  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

A couple of comments from Calvin:

beyond the pale of the Church no forgiveness of sins, no salvation, can be hoped for.

Those to whom he is a Father, the Church must also be a mother

and Luther

Therefore he who would find Christ must first find the Church. How should we know where Christ and his faith were, if we did not know where his believers are? And he who would know anything of Christ must not trust himself nor build a bridge to heaven by his own reason; but he must go to the Church, attend and ask her. Now the Church is not wood and stone, but the company of believing people; one must hold to them, and see how they believe, live and teach; they surely have Christ in their midst. For outside of the Christian church there is no truth, no Christ, no salvation.

Why do you Protestants keep changing your minds all the time?

2 June 2013 at 10:50  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Albert said...

"A couple of comments from Calvin and Luther:
1 Blah blah blah CHURCH blah blah!
2 Blah blah blah CHURCH blah blah!

Wonderfully taken out of context. Masterfully done actually but then, Rome has been doing this sort of thing for over a millenia.

But truly, what really is the CHURCH they are referring to, if it ain't of wood or stone. It ain't Rome now is it, the reason for the schism?

"Why do you Protestants keep changing your minds all the time?" We don't, you appear to try to change it for us!

Blofeld

2 June 2013 at 11:37  
Blogger OldJim said...

Yes, Barth called the analogia entis an "invention of the antichrist" and at least at one time tried to extrapolate all of the differences between Catholic and Reformed thought and practice from it. I remember being quite intrigued, having only seen that done with monergism/synergism before. Posting from my phone at the moment, but will perhaps try to find chapter and verse later.

And yes, the filioque translated literally into Greek would be heretical. It would be properly rendered 'from the Father through the Son', a formulation with which many Orthodox have no problem. So part of the problem here was the encountering of different heresies in East and West, which necessitated different emphases. Another is what is implied by 'proceeds from the father and the son' in Greek: it seems to undermine the monarche of the Father in a way that the Latin phrase needn't.

2 June 2013 at 11:53  
Blogger LEN said...

Albert,

Why quote calvin to me as I follow Christ not Calvin?.
This is not a new argument that you (Albert) present
'10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
(It could be added I (you) follow the Catholic Church)

However I follow no Church,, no organisation devised by men ,but the Lord Jesus Christ..alone.

2 June 2013 at 11:54  
Blogger LEN said...

(the above from 1 Corinthians )

2 June 2013 at 11:56  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

I always thought that the trinity was like a three leaf clover? Or is that too Irish? I have to admit, I can't grasp why a son could also be his own father? But then I guess that in all religions a lot of it is based around faith and trust.

2 June 2013 at 11:58  
Blogger LEN said...

The Church as ernst quite rightly points out is not a building or a religious system but a group of' called out' people . 'Called out of what? 'you should be asking yourselves.

Called' out of this present[corrupt] World system is the proper answer!.

Now the Catholic Church, Islam , and many other cults are firmly positioned materially and spiritually firmly IN this World system.Catholicism and Islam are as much political as spiritual and are PART of this present [corrupt] World system!.

Perhaps that is why we are commanded to come out of Her!

2 June 2013 at 12:02  
Blogger LEN said...

I should add that the phrase 'come out of her 'as referred to leaving worldly religious systems(not wishing to offend anyone`s sensibilities )in Biblical terms implies that being joined to 'the World system '(particularly a religious system) implies fornication.

2 June 2013 at 12:08  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Johnny/Len

Mary is the English name for Miriam, roughly, the Hebrew Transliteration of the same name ("Mimi" for short). I think the New Testament uses the Greek version, or Maria. In English Mary. Same name, 3 different languages.

2 June 2013 at 12:14  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Len,

Surely you have to have some kind of minister or teacher to help you understand those texts though? From my reading of the New Testament, I can't see where the actual doctrine of the trinity is discussed in detail as a belief, yet it is there in liturgies and creeds, which I guess means some-one else had to work that out? So does that mean a rejection of the trinity?

I can't see why the 'born again' stuff (another strange idea, as you are born once,unless it is not really a literal phrase), you talk about endlessly is hugely important as it is mentioned only once in one gospel? So surely, someone, somewhere, must have decided that is a key part of Christianity?

2 June 2013 at 12:19  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Willaim

They are venerating a dead heart not worshipping it

Yes, that is why I used the word 'venerate' in my post at 1 June 2013 18:10.

Yes, if only I gave up on Sola Scriptura then I too could venerate the preserved corpse of a nun kept in a vault.

But a couple of comments.

1. It's a cadaverous body part, and therefore represents death and corruption. You don't put cadavers into cases and drag them around in processions. You bury them in the ground.

2. Calling something 'veneration' does not make it any less functional worship. RCs say they venerate Mary, but they also pray to Mary and prayer is an act of worship. RC prayers to Mary commonly and routinely attribute to Mary characteristics that belong only to God, and ask of Mary things that can only be received from God. Changing the nomenclature does not change the ontology.

3. The latria/dulia distinction is a false distinction. The two concepts together comprise the essence of the commandment. Two words were used only because the Greek language didn't have a single word to represent both concepts found in the Hebrew. The idea of 'veneration' false at the first jump.

4. The use of this heart (and other such relics) is positively pagan. It is being treated for all intents and purposes as a magic talisman necessary to invoke miracles. This betrays a lack of understanding of the purpose of the miracles recorded in Scripture. And it makes the pagan assumption that God would be more likely to grant a miracle for the sake of the object than the sake of the supplication of His people.

5. This perfectly illustrates why the Brass snake was destroyed. If it still existed, people would be tempted to put it into a glass case and carry it around like an idol in order to increase vocations to the priesthood. And that is exactly what the RCC would do with it if it possessed such a thing. It would be a legitimate relic.

carl

2 June 2013 at 13:53  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

Why quote calvin to me as I follow Christ not Calvin?.

But Calvin says he is doing what you do - he is simply telling me what the Bible says. Luther also says the same thing. They disagree with you about the role of the Church. And they disagree with each other about essential things. This is a fundamental problem that you face, when you tell us what the Bible means, it is you telling us what it means.

I think Hannah is making some useful points at 12.19. Your particular problem is that your Protestantism is far too individualistic realistically to be reconcilable with Scripture. That's not mean saying that, but what Luther and Calvin are getting at.

2 June 2013 at 14:19  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

I'm slightly surprised at your last post. I expect Len to misconstrue Catholicism, but I really didn't expect you to make this error:

It is being treated for all intents and purposes as a magic talisman necessary to invoke miracles. This betrays a lack of understanding of the purpose of the miracles recorded in Scripture. And it makes the pagan assumption that God would be more likely to grant a miracle for the sake of the object than the sake of the supplication of His people.

Do you mean scriptural miracles like these:

And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.

In scripture miracles rest on both the supplication of God's people and their relationship with the Church as embodied by individual saints - hence that use of relics.

RCs say they venerate Mary, but they also pray to Mary and prayer is an act of worship. RC prayers to Mary commonly and routinely attribute to Mary characteristics that belong only to God, and ask of Mary things that can only be received from God.

This is just confused. Whatever Mary is or does, she does entirely because of God's grace in her. Hence, the most popular prayer to Mary is not like a prayer to God since it asks her to pray for us. Since when does someone address God the Father with the words "pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death" ? There is nothing at all difficult for a Christian about grace coming through a creature. Since when does someone say God is preserved from sin by grace?

The latria/dulia distinction is a false distinction.

I just wonder which Bible you are reading! What about all the stuff about the Temple and the Ark? And if it comes to that, the honour due to parents? Or Jesus' words "A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house" (i.e. a prophet is honoured elsewhere)?

This perfectly illustrates why the Brass snake was destroyed.

Surely it is the other way around. The bronze serpent shows God can and does work through such things. It was destroyed not because the creation and use of the serpent was wrong - it was made in command of God, as a result of Moses' intercession for the people! Clearly there is a proper use for such things, and clearly benefits can come through the intercession of holy people. It was destroyed because it ceased to be used as God commanded it. It had come to worshipped. Now you will say that we worship Mary. I will say that either you do not understand the honour with give to Mary or, if you do, and you offer nothing more to God than we do to Mary, then you do not worship God.

2 June 2013 at 14:39  
Blogger LEN said...

The mary of Catholicism clearly cannot be the humble mother of Jesus Christ.
Why worship the pagan mother goddess of catholicism?.

2 June 2013 at 19:16  
Blogger LEN said...

Albert you have fallen into the cunningly conceived trap of catholicism which is if you do not swallow hook line and sinker all of Catholic dogma then you are doomed.

Which is utter rubbish!.

2 June 2013 at 19:18  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

The doctrine of Protestantism clearly cannot be the doctrine of scripture.
Why worship the words of a book of Protestantism?.

2 June 2013 at 19:22  
Blogger Albert said...

Len you have fallen into the cunningly conceived trap of Protestantism which is if you do not swallow hook line and sinker all of Protestant dogma then you are doomed.

Which is utter rubbish!.

2 June 2013 at 19:23  
Blogger LEN said...

Albert,...... all scripture to you is rendered void because you can only see it through the eyes of the Catholic Church who have altered scripture(and made up their own) to suit their own particular wants and needs.
Catholic theologians wanted power , wealth and control over their subjects. The only thing that surprises me is that otherwise intelligent men submit to doctrines which come from sources other than God.

2 June 2013 at 19:24  
Blogger Albert said...

Now do you find my last two posts convincing, Len? If you have an argument why not employ it?

2 June 2013 at 19:24  
Blogger LEN said...

Albert tell me what parts of scripture are rubbish?

2 June 2013 at 19:24  
Blogger Albert said...

Len

[I have to say, your last post really took my breath away. Do you have no knowledge of the history of the Reformation?]


,...... all scripture to you is rendered void because you can only see it through the eyes of the Reformers who have altered scripture(taken out bits, deliberately mistranslated others, condemned others) to suit their own particular wants and needs.
Protestant theologians (and the princes who supported them) wanted power , wealth and control over their subjects. The only thing that surprises me is that otherwise intelligent men submit to doctrines which come from sources other than God.

2 June 2013 at 19:26  
Blogger LEN said...

Albert, As I have already said I am a follower of Christ.
Can you tell me where is my error?.

2 June 2013 at 19:27  
Blogger Albert said...

Len, I never said scripture was rubbish. You are confusing Protestant human tradition with scripture. No parts of scripture are rubbish - (or "straw" to use Luther's expression for at least one part of the word of God). It is the Protestant interpretation that is wrong. The fact that it first appears in the 16th Century is a bit of a give away.

2 June 2013 at 19:28  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

As I have already said I am a follower of Christ.
Can you tell me where is my error?.


Every heretic in history has claimed that. Your error is that you usurp the teaching office which Christ appointed and guides to the end of time, with your own, authority.

2 June 2013 at 19:30  
Blogger LEN said...

Albert... as far as I can see as I follow no church or denomination and I have stated (repeatedly)I am a follower of Christ where have I gone wrong in your estimation?
Please answer.

2 June 2013 at 19:31  
Blogger Albert said...

Well, your individualism is plainly at odds with the whole NT notion of Church, for a start!

2 June 2013 at 19:33  
Blogger LEN said...

The Holy Spirit is the interpreter of Scripture Jesus promises us that The Holy Spirit will interpret Scripture for us. As the Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible I suggest the Holy Spirit would know what He wrote and the correct interpretation?.

2 June 2013 at 19:38  
Blogger LEN said...

Albert,...I repeat... As I have already said I am a follower of Christ.
Can you tell me where is my error?.

2 June 2013 at 19:39  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

The Holy Spirit is the interpreter of Scripture Jesus promises us that The Holy Spirit will interpret Scripture for us.

The key word there is "us". It's plural, it's not a private gift for you individually. This is where you Protestants go so horribly wrong. You all claim to be believers in scripture, you all claim to be guided the Holy Spirit in your interpretation, and yet, you all disagree with each other! On your reading, were not Luther and Calvin guided by the Holy Spirit when they said the things about the Church I quoted above (but which you disagreed with)? Were they not both guided by the Holy Spirit, when Luther said we must take the words "This is my body" literally or the whole Gospels falls apart, while Calvin totally disagreed?

You see, it just makes no sense, and scripture says:

God is not a God of confusion but of peace....What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only [one] it has reached?

Any I'm off for some dinner now, so you'll have to argue with someone else!!

2 June 2013 at 19:46  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Len, allow the Inspector. You alienate people.

Now to be followed by a rebuff on how Jesus alienated people, which implies our man is out there spreading the gospel and not scorn he does spread...

2 June 2013 at 19:49  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

HI Inspector,

"you alienate people" (to LEN). I think Len is the protestant mirror version of your good self...

2 June 2013 at 19:58  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Len,

Can you at least explain, what being 'born again' actually means...I really don't get that bit of your religion (yes I know you say you don't follow a religion, but just humour me on that one) (: .

2 June 2013 at 20:01  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Hannah

We are born spiritually dead. To be born again is to be reborn with spiritual life. It is a sovereign act of the Holy Spirit and marks the transition from unbeliever to believer. The original reference is from John 3.

carl

2 June 2013 at 20:10  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Carl,

OK, I did know it was from one gospel, so I'll go and look it up. After the footie...

2 June 2013 at 20:12  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

I'm slightly surprised at your last post. I expect Len to misconstrue Catholicism, but I really didn't expect you to make this error

I know the pedigree of my arguments. I know where they come from. I know those who have made them before me. I don't misrepresent. I know Catholic doctrine far better than almost every Catholic with whom I converse. I simply refuse to abide by the semantic distinctions that form so much of the foundation for RC apologetics.

I know very well for example that RCs deny worshiping Mary. In a formal sense that may be true. But in a functional sense it is not true. There is for example no context anywhere in creation that justifies this prayer. It is pure idolatry.

O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary.

That prayer is functional worship no matter what name you attach to the practice. So what then am I to make of your denials? I recognize the meaning of the words and not the qualifications.

carl
Our Lady of Perpetual Help

2 June 2013 at 20:32  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

For those non-Catholics who really can't understand the Catholic view of Our Blessed Lady, try this.

http://peopleforothers.loyolapress.com/2013/05/01/mayday-mayday/

Best explanation of intercessory prayer I ever saw :)

2 June 2013 at 20:57  
Blogger OldJim said...

Carl
It's a cadaverous body part, and therefore represents death and corruption. You don't put cadavers into cases and drag them around in processions. You bury them in the ground.

"And God said/
Shall these bones live? shall these/
Bones live?"


Whatever you think of the practice, the one thing that it ought to be obvious it is not about, perhaps the only thing that it is truly and absolutely not about, is death and corruption.

2 June 2013 at 21:19  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Sister T,

As a non-Christian, I understand that Christians say you need Jesus to get to G-d, because of sin. He is the intermediary between man and sin. Which I understand, but why the need to get other saints involved in that process?

PS- to me, praying to G-d himself -the direct line- is much more straightforward than relying on
a broker (Jesus, saints, etc)...

Just askin', not criticisin'..

2 June 2013 at 21:26  
Blogger Peter D said...

LEN said ...

"Albert,...I repeat... As I have already said I am a follower of Christ.
Can you tell me where is my error?"


Maybe Judas might be able to enlighten you a bit on that one. Its the battle cry of heresy!

2 June 2013 at 21:32  
Blogger Peter D said...

Carl

We pray to Mary so she might interceed for us with her son.

The Hail Holy Queen captures this, I believe.

"Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope.

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.

Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Amen."

2 June 2013 at 21:39  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Old Jim

You will notice the Prophet did not pick up a bone, declare it a relic, put it in a glass case, and carry it around in hopes it might provoke a miracle. The point of the vision is the God will make the bones into living men. This cadaverous heart is not being used as a vision of resurrection. It is a chunk of dead flesh removed from the corpse of a dead man for no good reason. It is nothing but death and corruption; rotting dead flesh of the old man that must eventually be put off. That is what a corpse represents. It's no different than that hideous crypt of Lenin where atheists sought to give materialist immortality to a corpse.

The whole concept of a relic is unbiblical. Objects associated with a miracle have no significance at all once removed from the context of the miracle. They exist to demonstrate a truth. They don't have magical powers. They aren't vested with divine importance. Balaam's donkey was just an animal. The piece of the true cross was simply wood. The brass snake was just a piece of brass after all. To suggest otherwise is to remove the focus from the Giver of the Miracle in order to place it upon a tangible object. People love the idea of relics because they give tangible sight to faith. Whereupon men will idolize the object for the sake of the power it might convey. This is a fundamentally pagan temptation.

carl

2 June 2013 at 21:48  
Blogger Peter D said...

Hannah

To be "born again" is to be Baptised into Christ - where we die with Him to sin and rise with Him to life. This Baptism by water renders neutral the guilt of original sin and starts a process of salvation, initiated through Grace, requiring cooperation on our part with the Holy Spirit.

2 June 2013 at 21:48  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Peter D

We pray to Mary so she might interceed for us with her son.

That prayer I quoted is not a request for Mary to intercede. it is a plea for Mary herself to directly act. Words have meaning. There is no way to make an assertion of Mary's "most powerful name" which is the "safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying" into a request for intercession.

carl

2 June 2013 at 21:54  
Blogger William said...

Sister Tiberia

I have heard a very similar analogy alluding to the pointlessness of praying to Mary. Something along the lines of if you were suffering from a rare condition in a hospital and the world expert consultant in your condition was visiting the hospital and offered to come and talk to you. Would you say "yes please" or "can I talk to his mother?"

I found this bit particularly irksome, for it implies that Mary is more likely to respond than our Lord who gave Himself over to be tortured and murdered for our salvation:

"His mother said, “I was so worried. I wanted to talk to an expert and I knew Dr. XX was the man to talk to. But it was 4:00a.m. and I knew he wouldn’t answer his phone… so I called his mother and asked her to have him phone me because I knew he’d answer her call. And he did. And he got back to me at once!”"

It is written that Jesus is with us always (Matthew 28):

"And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”"

and through Him we have access to the Father (Ephesians 2):

"For through him (Christ) we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. "

and He is the one who acts as our advocate (1 John 2):

"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

2 June 2013 at 21:55  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi carl and peter d, thanks for that explanation. I am sure you understand from the rants i get on my own blog, about 'being born again' why i read statements like that with a pinch of salted herring:)

2 June 2013 at 21:56  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi david i think you have answered you own question- christians say you can only get to god via jesus and you cant do the direct line. I think catholics say mary and the saints also can interceed to god, which is one of the differences between our christian friends...

2 June 2013 at 22:01  
Blogger peggy38 said...

Sigh....Your Grace, is there nothing you can do about these off topic Catholic/Protestant flare-ups. I am not saying that the differences are unimportant. Like yourself, I am thoroughly in the Anglican camp and not in the Roman one out of principle. But this was a very interesting thread on one of the most distinctive of Christian doctrines which has now descended into something entirely different.

And to those who insist on hashing out these differences in public among those who are not Christian, I would ask you to really think about the impression you are making.

Finally, I have an answer of sorts for David Kavanaugh. Unfortunately, an internet comment section is probably not the place to ask a question about Christianity. You nay get an answer from someone who doesn
t know what they are talking about or they may express themselves in a way that adds to the confusion. If you really would like to know, I would go to more than one source and make at least one of those a person in the flesh, preferably someone like a priest but not necessarily so. And try to suss out the consensus. Christianity has long decided things by that very method so you can't go wrong going that route.

But my quick answer is that if you think that Jesus is in the way, then you do not understand the Christian concept of his mediation. In short, God cannot stand in the way of God.

2 June 2013 at 22:04  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Albert: all scripture to you is rendered void because you can only see it through the eyes of the Reformers who have altered scripture(taken out bits, deliberately mistranslated others, condemned others) to suit their own particular wants and needs.

How did they take bits out of Scripture? There was no established canon in Roman Catholicism pre-Trent.

How did they mistranslate? Oh, speaking of which, what do you think of the translation of μετανοέω by paeniteo in the Vulgate?

Oh, and which parts of Scripture did they condemn?

2 June 2013 at 22:08  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2 June 2013 at 22:15  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

I notice with interest, how few of the arguments I put to you have been addressed. In fact, I don't really see that you have addressed any of them. You have simply asserted that you know better than we do what it is that we do. Well every Catholic knows that your interpretation is just false. When I said the rosary today, at no point did I think I was worshipping Mary. At no point did I think she would give me anything except by the power of her prayers to her Son. It's just bizarre for you to think that that is not what I was doing - totally unconvincing to anyone who actually knows what it is you attack. Frankly, I find it makes your whole position compromised.

You will notice the Prophet did not pick up a bone, declare it a relic, put it in a glass case, and carry it around in hopes it might provoke a miracle.

Of course not! It's an OT prophecy. It is fulfilled in the people of God. It finds its meaning in the incarnation and the resurrection of Christ. Frankly, you sound like a Manichee - the temptation of all Protestantism.

Now as to prayer you cite, it is not worship because it is addressed to a creature. It simply recognises that grace can come to us powerfully through Mary. How can this be idolatry when you yourself must confess that God himself came into the world through her. Or do you not actually believe that? Moreover, because we believe Mary is perfectly redeemed and will with grace, we believe that she is perfectly turned to the Lord - more than anyone else, thus, far from standing between us and Jesus, she brings us to Jesus. This is my experience of saying the rosary - I am joining in her contemplation of her Son, which by virtue of grace and her unique closeness to him is particularly beautiful.

Now I don't expect you to suddenly decide we're right, but I do think you ought to have the humility to understand that the beliefs you hold about Catholicism come from a misunderstanding and a misrepresentation.

Really if this is what Protestantism requires - the stubborn misrepresentation of what it rejects, it might be better if you stopped arguing about it - you might do less damage to the Reformation that way.

2 June 2013 at 22:15  
Blogger Albert said...

William,

I don't think you quite understand the way in which God delights to work through his creatures - by enabling them to share in his work by grace, he makes them like him.

2 June 2013 at 22:17  
Blogger IanCad said...

Peter D,

We've been here many times. And,I must say, that you are consistent. In your previous avian form you have posted the same sentiments as in today's comment @ 21:39.

Therefore I shall repeat what I have previously stated:

Mary is dead.
She is in the grave.

We have a direct conduit to Jesus Christ.
We need no advocate but Him Crucified.

2 June 2013 at 22:18  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Peggy,

Oh it's quite alright. I see how most or some Christians on every thread view non-Christians, gays and anyone else who doesn't fit into the giant 'salvation plan of Jesus' (those of us who are so sinful we can't be part of this wonder miracle).This thread doesn't change that.

In fact, I'd say that the more devout Christian commentators here helped me when I was really struggling with faith matters. For that clarity and my decision to fully embrace Judaism, I am eternally grateful.

2 June 2013 at 22:18  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas,

How did they take bits out of Scripture? There was no established canon in Roman Catholicism pre-Trent.

Really? What about the Councils of Hippo and Carthage? Luther wanted to toss Esther "into the Elbe river". He had a range of bizarre opinions about various undisputed canonical books, including some of the NT (not just James).

The mistranslation of the Vulgate is an error. Luther deliberately interpolated Romans. James was condemned as unapostolic. Calvin had to defend the canonicity of the Song of Songs against fellow Protestants.

2 June 2013 at 22:31  
Blogger Albert said...

Ian,

Mary is dead.

Jesus said: "Have you not read what was said to you by God, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living."

You Protestants seem to take all salvation out of Christianity.

2 June 2013 at 22:38  
Blogger Albert said...

Sadly, I don't think I will have time to continue this tomorrow - to save anyone writing in the hope of a reply.

2 June 2013 at 22:40  
Blogger OldJim said...

Carl,

Edmund Burke once famously said

In vain you tell me that artificial government is good, but that I fall out only with the abuse. The thing! the thing itself is the abuse!

and I think that this is where we differ.

We're both clear what happened to the bronze serpent, but as Albert says, we do not agree on the "why". Pagan idolatry is obviously condemned in the bible. The Pagans say "This bronze serpent is significant! It must have powers of its own! We must worship it"

The Jews were aghast at the worship of Jesus, because it seemed Pagan that a part of the created order, a mere man, was worshipped as God. And we are presumably all of us agreed that were it not true, it would indeed be supremely blasphemous. But we believe that it is true!

The consequences of this redemption of the natural order already have their seeds in Judaism itself: Jerusalem isn't merely just a city that God's done some stuff with from time to time; it is marked out and set apart by its relationship with God. It is the recipient of convenantal promises and the object of God's particular affection.

This reaches its fruition in the New Testament, where God's Grace, first in the birth and then in the death of Christ begins the transfiguring of the natural order: the Church is not just a random group of people save for those particular incidents and acts which God performs within it; it is marked by God's presence continually, it is given an indelible significance and charism through God's relationship to it.

And the Biblical Church and Jerusalem are not mere abstract entities: they are composed of incarnate people, institutions, buildings which together constitute the objects of these promises.

Likewise, the Old Testament has several objects endowed with great significance by virtue of their relationship with God. In vain would you reach out to the Ark of the Covenant with the affirmation that it was a mere box by which God performed miracles from time to time. You would be quite dead.

2 June 2013 at 22:48  
Blogger OldJim said...

In vain would you claim against the natural pieties of the people that Elisha's bones, stripped of the breath of Elisha, were the object of no attentions of God (2 Kings 13:20-21)

In vain would you contend with God that the special reverence of Paul's handkerchief was a superstition barely distinguishable from Pagan antics (Acts 19:12)

Our God is an incarnational God. He works through things and has things exist in relation to him, the more so, not the less so, since the birth and death of Jesus of Nazareth, who suffused the sickening world with Grace. The more so, not the less so, since some of the temporary things of the Old Covenant passed away, and the permanent things of the New Covenant were built upon them.

This is quite different in principle from worship of things for themselves. We know this because the bible is full of the one and roundly condemns the other.

The question then could be which or how many Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox practices conform to the one model, and which or how many to the other?

But then you would have conceded that the thing was not the abuse, but rather you were making a sort of pious overstatement.

2 June 2013 at 22:48  
Blogger OldJim said...

And I don't know whether it helps, but I feel I ought to say that I would be quite uncomfortable with the prayer you cite, and cannot imagine praying it, even if it were sprung upon me at a prayer meeting (which it never has been). And I am by far not the least "Marian" Catholic I know, though admittedly certainly not the most. I have a friend who veers between feeling quite aesthetically displeased and deeply troubled by some Marian content with which I am quite comfortable and even enthusiastic, like the Angelus. I put it down to growing up in a country with some lingering Protestant sensibilities.

All that I can say is that I do not find either the tone of that prayer nor its content particularly representative of Marian devotions.

2 June 2013 at 22:59  
Blogger William said...

Albert

"I don't think you quite understand the way in which God delights to work through his creatures - by enabling them to share in his work by grace, he makes them like him."

What you say Mary can do for us, the Bible says Jesus is doing for us. Therefore I must assume that your position is that God prefers to pour out His Grace through (created) Mary than through His Son.

2 June 2013 at 23:00  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Albert: Those Councils did not bind Roman Catholics, to the best of my knowledge, at least not unambiguously. Otherwise, why would Trent have needed to list what the canon of Scripture was? It should be noted that Luther was not alone in wondering which books were in the canon, Erasmus and Cajetan, two Roman Catholics (Cajetan was a significant part of the opposition to the Reformation), also joined in the endeavour.

It should be noted that in Luther's Bible translations he included the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon. He included Esther in it and he included James in it, even though it does seem he had doubts about both. He did not take anything out of Scripture. So who did take bits out of scripture?

And I thought that the Vulgate was not to be rejected "on any pretext whatsoever"? (Council of Trent)

What do you mean "deliberately interpolated"? He believed it a legitimate translation, and argued for this. All Bible translations include "interpolations" on your definition thereof.

He included James in the canon, which is not the most resounding of condemnations; condemn as unapostolic is not the same as condemn- you've significantly modified the verb.

And defend its canonicity he did.

2 June 2013 at 23:09  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Also, I've been checking the provenance of that quote about Esther and the Elbe, and I'd like a citation please, as it looks to me as if it was Esdras.

2 June 2013 at 23:25  
Blogger Peter D said...

William

As I repeatedly say I am no theologian but my take on Mary is that she is there to help us overcome the barriers we might face in staying with, turning to or returning to Christ. She doesn't diminish Jesus at all!

I think this also comes down to the the differences between Catholics and Protestants over Grace and salvation. Catholics believe we have to cooperate with God's Grace - that it can be lost and regained. Mary helps us to do this. She's on our side. She's close to her son and can intercede for us.

"When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother."

Mary is the spiritual mother of the Church and all Christians.

2 June 2013 at 23:30  
Blogger OldJim said...

I also agree with William that "Jesus wouldn't listen/ would be strict - that's why we get to Him through Mary" has never seemed to me a very healthy language in which to cast Marian devotion; though I see why it is used, rooted as it is in the circumstances surrounding the wedding at Cana.

My own attitude is more closely knit to the fact of Incarnation. God is not some inscrutable, shapeless Being, so vast and strange that His ideas bear no relation to ours, so unrelated to the order of His creation that the prohibition against murder rests solely on the fact of His command.

Rather, the prohibition against murder rests also in the way he chose to create us; the ontology of this world is rooted in Him and His Being; He does not despise flesh, but clothes Himself in it, and comes to reveal Himself as a human Person with human speech and human acts

He is still Him, and we are still derived from Him, not He from us; but we stand in a real relation.

And then there is a second relation, through the provision of Grace, which makes straight what was made crooked, and which adds a surplus and superabundance even to that.

The worship of food detracts from the Glory due to God, and abstaining from food might help a man seek God, but food, which is good, properly and healthily received,does not detract from but overflows with cries of the glory due to God. How much the more so with graced things!

The worship of a Saint would be pagan, but the consideration of God through the lens of a Saint can be positively helpful! Here is a person who stands in a relation to Jesus, a place where a human temperament was redeemed and made to shine in the end with the beauty that God intended for it.

What does the opposite imply? Moral men must not be venerated, for they are mere men. Places and things should not be given significance, for they are merely places and things. Eventually, moral statements should not be made, because God is above and beyond such merely human things, or if they can be made, it is only because they rest on his current command, His (perhaps fickle) ordinances, not on some real truth in the nature he imparted to men, now so distorted as to be unrecognisable. Slowly, inch by inch, God is divorced from His Creation and unanchored from that to which he anchored Himself.

Eventually we wonder: Why did we ever imagine that something as strange and inhuman as God would ever come to us in the form of a man?

2 June 2013 at 23:37  
Blogger OldJim said...

Am I incorrect? If an exaggerated Catholicism would be Paganism of an Earthy sort, doesn't an exaggerated Protestantism end up with the kind of Paganism of the Unknown God, a God untethered even from his own revelation, leaving him even above the meaning of words? What will you tie God back down with? And why would you try, when he has tied himself to us, for us, for love of us?

If I take that tack, perhaps you can see what Barth was getting at when he called the analogia entis the "invention of the AntiChrist" -- to a Catholic, relics have significance, men's good acts can be both properly theirs and properly God's, natural philosophy can attain its own ends, and so on, and all of this rests on the fact of God's relationship to us, finally consummated in the birth and death of Christ.

To the protestant, this relationship is utterly disfigured in nature and inaccessible through Grace save as a participation in a God who is more remote, whose ark of the convenant, whose prophets, whose overshadowing of the Virgin Mary, whose coming as a man, were means and not ends. The world is damned and our thoughts are the thoughts of the damned and our ways are the ways of the damned and God is a light too bright for us to see, and we move towards the light not knowing it, but trusting in it.

To a Catholic we are dulled and foolish and seek good ends with often wicked means, and we live in a world and in bodies gravely hampered and distorted by Original Sin. But in Nature something of our Origin in God remains, and in Grace it is restored to order and consummated, made more fully itself and even --blasphemy upon blasphemy -- incorporated into God Himself. The light comes into the darkness, and its shining reminds us of something we already knew, but had forgotten, something which makes sense of the order we glimpsed in the world, but then mistook for chaos.

2 June 2013 at 23:37  
Blogger OldJim said...

And if the way I have put it is too flowery, then let me put it more concretely: to a Protestant, the idea of a city is postlapsarian and tells us nothing about God or about how men were supposed to be. To a Catholic the human idea of a city is full of flaws and distortions, but the vision of Jerusalem is a vision of the city of man's nature restored to its proper order and dignity.

To a protestant the worship of things and people is an idolatry emerging from rebellion itself; to a Catholic, it is a distortion of man's nature as a worshipper resulting from his rebellion. The return to a world suffused with Grace which is beautiful in itself but ultimately speaks of God Himself is a return to the true order of things, and not some terrible compromise between revelation and base evil.

And, lest you think my jibe about morality mere scaremongering, it is no surprise that natural law theory flourishes most predominantly in Catholic circles and Divine Command in Protestant ones; for if our natures are utterly distorted by the fall, what remains in nature independent of the unconnected and exterior light of revelation by which to measure Good and Evil? Whilst in Catholicism the truths of Good and Evil are preserved, they are just not immune to being denied by the foolish and the malicious, and not capable of being acted upon save by grace; revelation is a guarantee to aid right reason, and not a cudgel with which to bruise and banish a reason too deformed to any longer be of any use.

So Catholicism ends with Saints who are simultaneously independent and expressions of God's will, who cry for justice and for mercy, who illustrate what man's redemption looks like and act in accordance with God's will, who bring God ever closer to a meeting with rightly ordered human nature, in conformity with the Incarnation of Christ.

Whilst in Protestantism these men remain suspect creatures, and we remain largely blinded to what God made good in them and what remained bad; we may only trust in Him.

But no Protestant completes the thought: if Nature is ripped from grace, then what human language or human thought can in any way resemble or communicate anything about God? The Bible is written in human words; what gives these words any meaning if they are but the lifeless baggage of blind and bereft human beings? Surely, if the Bible is efficacious in converting the hearts of human beings, it is only because of grace imparted when it is read, and the content is irrelevant, meaningless nonsense, being written in the tongue of human beings? And if objects are not sacred, to complete Carl's thought, but only useful insofar as God performs miracles around them occasionally, what binds God's Grace to the Bible itself?

This ontology is not consistent, the Bible is left immune, whilst the rest of historic Christianity is torn down in the name of a God now inaccessible to "mere" human nature. Or so it seems to me.

3 June 2013 at 00:15  
Blogger peggy38 said...

Hannah, you prove my point perfectly and yet I am not sure that you heard me. The internet distorts everything, Christianity included, and the com boards are the last place that anyone should look to understand Christianity or any extremely complex subject for that matter. Much less are you going to get the good accurate information you would need to judge it as a faith. The com boxes bring out the worst in some people.

I can tell you that the faith as I practice it among flesh and blood human beings many of whom wouldn't know what a comment board is unless you told them, is not like that. I don't know anyone who goes around thinking in the way that you described. There is a lot of information that you are missing if that is your impression of Christians or Christian teaching.

3 June 2013 at 05:21  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Peggy,

I did do an Alpha Course, but anyway I am not to least put off by Christians themselves. Its only a forum at the end of the day.

3 June 2013 at 06:59  
Blogger IanCad said...

Albert @ 22:40.

"Sadly, I don't think I will have time to continue this tomorrow---"

I hope nothing untoward has happened, but within your quote lies the dilemma of us all.

TIME!

I would love to know how many hours are collectively spent by the regular posters on this site.
To do it justice would almost require a full time devotion to it.

Thanks YG for all the effort you put into this blog.
It is much appreciated.

3 June 2013 at 08:39  
Blogger William said...

Peter D

I conclude then that Mary, by virtue of her unique position as our spiritual mother, can act as a special bridge, or a switchboard so that we may connect directly with God, even though we can already connect directly with Him by the Spirit. If I may extend my previous analogy further, imagine you have the rare condition in hospital and had been told that the expert in your condition wishes to speak to you. You would think "I don't really believe he wants/is able to come and talk to me. It would be better if I spoke to his mother first".

Is that not a lack of faith in the sufficiency of Christ and His works that drives you to appeal to other channels?

3 June 2013 at 09:08  
Blogger Peter D said...

Old Jim
Well said .... and not too flowery (or blasphemous) at all.

William
But Christ isn't a surgeon with limited time on His hands and I am not required to choose between Him and Mary. Why can't I speak to both Him and His mother? Its not a demonstration of a lack of faith at all.

3 June 2013 at 11:03  
Blogger William said...

Peter D

I think that the difference lies somewhere in your statement:

"I think this also comes down to the differences between Catholics and Protestants over Grace and salvation. Catholics believe we have to cooperate with God's Grace - that it can be lost and regained. Mary helps us to do this."

This also seems to reflect Albert's position that God prefers to pour His grace through Mary.

Personally, I can see no evidence that God wants us to pertition Him through Mary and plenty of evidence that His Son is the (only) Way:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

3 June 2013 at 12:07  
Blogger Peter D said...

William

I don't read Albert as saying God prefers to pour His Grace through Mary - just that she is an effective channel to help us to Jesus, her son, and to intercede for us with Him.

Of course Christ is the One true way! However, there is Biblical evidence from Genesis through to Reveleation that Mary has a unique place in salvation history. Catholics believe she has an ongoing role too. She is regarded as the Mother of the Church and, if one researches her various apparitions, she has always come with a message to turn towards her son. Some of her warnings to us in this century are remarkably accurate too. (See 'Our Lady of Good Success' and 'Our Lady of Fatima')

A Catholic is not bound by doctrine to pray to Mary - it is a matter of private choice and decision. The Marian doctrines - Immaculate Conception and Assumption into Heaven - do have to be internally accepted.

I also accept that Catholicism, not properly understood, can result in some of its adherents moving close to pagan superstition and a belief in rituals in themselves and there being quasi-magical powers invested in sacramentals, relics, prayer to saints and even the Sacraments themselves. In that respect I can understand your reservations about some Catholic practices.

Personally, for these reasons, I experience some difficulty attending large Catholic gatherings and most especially visiting the more popular pilgrim sites. However, this is not a problem with Catholicism in itself but with teaching the faith properly. It's also my experience that people do grow over time in their faith and come to a fuller understanding of Catholic teaching.

3 June 2013 at 12:43  
Blogger Dave said...

I've read about half the comments which have descended into a tit for tat yes he did no he didn't mess.

My advice to everyone is to follow this maxim of mine
"We can't all be right but we CAN all be wrong"

3 June 2013 at 13:10  
Blogger Jon said...

On to your next topic of vehement disagreement...

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

3 June 2013 at 14:12  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

OldJim: My own attitude is more closely knit to the fact of Incarnation. God is not some inscrutable, shapeless Being, so vast and strange that His ideas bear no relation to ours, so unrelated to the order of His creation that the prohibition against murder rests solely on the fact of His command.

Rather, the prohibition against murder rests also in the way he chose to create us; the ontology of this world is rooted in Him and His Being; He does not despise flesh, but clothes Himself in it, and comes to reveal Himself as a human Person with human speech and human acts


Divine Command Theory is not contradictory to our duties being related to our nature. God gives us duties which are appropriate to our nature.

The worship of a Saint would be pagan, but the consideration of God through the lens of a Saint can be positively helpful! Here is a person who stands in a relation to Jesus, a place where a human temperament was redeemed and made to shine in the end with the beauty that God intended for it.

And this is inconsistent with Protestantism how? We just stop short of prayer and service to them.

What does the opposite imply? Moral men must not be venerated, for they are mere men. Places and things should not be given significance, for they are merely places and things.

Men must not be venerated, but we can give God thanks for his working in them. Places and things can be beautiful and good, but that’s because they were created by a good God who made us to appreciate them and them to be beautiful for us. You can’t separate the creation from the Creator.

Eventually, moral statements should not be made, because God is above and beyond such merely human things, or if they can be made, it is only because they rest on his current command, His (perhaps fickle) ordinances, not on some real truth in the nature he imparted to men, now so distorted as to be unrecognisable. Slowly, inch by inch, God is divorced from His Creation and unanchored from that to which he anchored Himself.

This is a disgraceful representation of DCT and Protestantism, if that is what it is supposed to be. I’ve already responded to your point on DCT, but to suggest we think God’s ordinances might be fickle is beyond ridiculous. God is ontologically distinct from his creation, to deny this is pantheistic. That is the only sense in which He is “divorced” from it.

Am I incorrect? If an exaggerated Catholicism would be Paganism of an Earthy sort, doesn't an exaggerated Protestantism end up with the kind of Paganism of the Unknown God, a God untethered even from his own revelation, leaving him even above the meaning of words? What will you tie God back down with? And why would you try, when he has tied himself to us, for us, for love of us?

God is “tethered” only by himself. He has revealed Himself and is true; if Protestantism’s formal principle is sola scriptura, how would exaggerating that make God unknown? God has condescended to give us His revelation. What more do we need?

Men's good acts can be both properly theirs and properly God's
What do you mean by theirs and God’s? Sounds equivocal. Of course, I deny that men do any unmixed good.
Natural philosophy can attain its own ends, and so on, and all of this rests on the fact of God's relationship to us, finally consummated in the birth and death of Christ.

No different from Protestantism.

To the protestant, this relationship is utterly disfigured in nature

If by this you mean the relationship between us and God is broken, that is true. However, humans still have knowledge of God and the world, they’re still made in His image.

3 June 2013 at 16:20  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

and inaccessible through Grace save as a participation in a God who is more remote, whose ark of the convenant, whose prophets, whose overshadowing of the Virgin Mary, whose coming as a man, were means and not ends. The world is damned and our thoughts are the thoughts of the damned and our ways are the ways of the damned and God is a light too bright for us to see, and we move towards the light not knowing it, but trusting in it.

How is he remote? And why is he inaccessible through grace? That is the direct opposite of what is the case. Yes, those things were means to our salvation, as well as means to the display of the glory of God. Why is this a problem? These were ways of God coming close to His people, not staying away from them.

And yes, you know what, in the Bible the world is damned. However, God has shone His light into the hearts of the saved. And they are holding it out to others. Christians have come into the light. Not being able to fully understand and comprehend God does not mean being unable to apprehend and know him at all.

To a Catholic we are dulled and foolish and seek good ends with often wicked means, and we live in a world and in bodies gravely hampered and distorted by Original Sin. But in Nature something of our Origin in God remains, and in Grace it is restored to order and consummated, made more fully itself and even --blasphemy upon blasphemy -- incorporated into God Himself. The light comes into the darkness, and its shining reminds us of something we already knew, but had forgotten, something which makes sense of the order we glimpsed in the world, but then mistook for chaos.

Notice how sin and guilt really get little showing here. And yes, breaking the distinction of creator and creature is blasphemy.

And if the way I have put it is too flowery, then let me put it more concretely: to a Protestant, the idea of a city is postlapsarian and tells us nothing about God or about how men were supposed to be. To a Catholic the human idea of a city is full of flaws and distortions, but the vision of Jerusalem is a vision of the city of man's nature restored to its proper order and dignity.

What evidence do you actually have of this?

To a protestant the worship of things and people is an idolatry emerging from rebellion itself; to a Catholic, it is a distortion of man's nature as a worshipper resulting from his rebellion.

Epic false dichotomy.

The return to a world suffused with Grace which is beautiful in itself but ultimately speaks of God Himself is a return to the true order of things, and not some terrible compromise between revelation and base evil.

It’s only beautiful because God made it thus and sustains it thus and because God made us to appreciate its beauty. You can’t speak of the beauty of the world without it rebounding to the glory of God. To want the world to be anything in itself independent of God is to long to diminish the glory of God, for other things to share the stage rather than being to His glory.

3 June 2013 at 16:21  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

And, lest you think my jibe about morality mere scaremongering, it is no surprise that natural law theory flourishes most predominantly in Catholic circles and Divine Command in Protestant ones; for if our natures are utterly distorted by the fall, what remains in nature independent of the unconnected and exterior light of revelation by which to measure Good and Evil? Whilst in Catholicism the truths of Good and Evil are preserved, they are just not immune to being denied by the foolish and the malicious, and not capable of being acted upon save by grace; revelation is a guarantee to aid right reason, and not a cudgel with which to bruise and banish a reason too deformed to any longer be of any use.

False dichotomy. And who said our reason is too deformed to be of use?

So Catholicism ends with Saints who are simultaneously independent and expressions of God's will, who cry for justice and for mercy, who illustrate what man's redemption looks like and act in accordance with God's will, who bring God ever closer to a meeting with rightly ordered human nature, in conformity with the Incarnation of Christ.

Apart from the blasphemy of anything being independent, how is this impossible under Protestantism?

Whilst in Protestantism these men remain suspect creatures, and we remain largely blinded to what God made good in them and what remained bad; we may only trust in Him.

It is unclear what you even mean here.

But no Protestant completes the thought: if Nature is ripped from grace, then what human language or human thought can in any way resemble or communicate anything about God?

This only works with your strawman of the Protestant view man’s postlapsarian nature.

3 June 2013 at 16:21  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

The Bible is written in human words; what gives these words any meaning if they are but the lifeless baggage of blind and bereft human beings? Surely, if the Bible is efficacious in converting the hearts of human beings, it is only because of grace imparted when it is read, and the content is irrelevant, meaningless nonsense, being written in the tongue of human beings?

No, this is a false dichotomy. It only converts hearts if the Spirit is imparted when it is read, true, but how is that different from Catholicism? Are you denying the necessity of grace to convert hearts? Because that is blasphemy under Catholicism as well. The content is not irrelevant, nor is it meaningless, you’re just being silly. God works through means.

And if objects are not sacred, to complete Carl's thought, but only useful insofar as God performs miracles around them occasionally, what binds God's Grace to the Bible itself?

The Bible is God’s word. It had God’s authority. It is as if he audibly spoke to us. No other object has this property. What’s so inconsistent about this?

I find it interesting that Catholics scream “foul” when they’re in the least misrepresented, but are capable of producing disgraces like this. This is not what I have come to expect from you, OldJim, from our previous conversation.

3 June 2013 at 16:22  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Peter D

"A Catholic is not bound by doctrine to pray to Mary - it is a matter of private choice and decision. The Marian doctrines - Immaculate Conception and Assumption into Heaven - do have to be internally accepted."
Then why would a Priest request you or other RC's to pray 2 Our Fathers and 3 'Hail Marys' at the confessional.? Can you refuse as regards personal choice and decide otherwise or is your belief now defined by confessional 'doctrine' from another to conform.

Contradictions, old sport?

Blofeld

3 June 2013 at 17:39  
Blogger Albert said...

Thomas

Also, I've been checking the provenance of that quote about Esther and the Elbe, and I'd like a citation please, as it looks to me as if it was Esdras.

I could give you citations, but it appears that if it is an error it goes back to Luther's Table Talk! So there's no need to imply any dishonesty here. But the point does not matter, Luther does seem to have expressed doubt about it. Similarly, about other NT books. In fact, Luther does not seem to have a terribly Protestant view of scripture - it does not seem to him to have been identical with the word of God. What seems to matter is whether a book agreed with his reading of Paul, and he was quite prepared to condemn a book if it didn't (rather than assume his reading of Paul was wrong). You can quibble about my use of the word "condemn", but I think that calling a work of the Holy Spirit "of straw" and condemn it as having "nothing of the gospel about it" is a condemnation. He makes these points in his own edition of the Bible. But that just means that he keeps works like James because he does not have a Protestant view of the Bible, judged from that Protestant point of view and it goes (along with certain others). This is expressed in his single-handedly altering the order. This is not a man who can be described as placing himself under scripture.

And I thought that the Vulgate was not to be rejected "on any pretext whatsoever"? (Council of Trent)

Noticing that a verse translation can be improved or is just plain wrong is not the same as rejecting the whole.

What do you mean "deliberately interpolated"? He believed it a legitimate translation, and argued for this.

No. Luther mistranslated two parts of Romans. "By works of the law" he translated "by merit of works." He was taken to task for this and had to change it. It was a false translation but a necessary one, for the vital thing for Protestantism is to divorce Paul's teaching on faith from "works of the law" so it reads simply "works". He was also taken to task for his addition of the word "alone". Here again he admitted it was not what the Greek said. He was translating ideas not words he said. But of course, it is only the idea if that doctrine is what Paul meant, and if that is Paul's idea it is odd that it does not appear elsewhere. Given that Luther was already mistranslating one other passage in his own favour, we are surely right to suspect him here. Personally, I would rather have the words than (what Luther thinks are) the ideas.

Those Councils did not bind Roman Catholics, to the best of my knowledge, at least not unambiguously. Otherwise, why would Trent have needed to list what the canon of Scripture was?

Well that's a disputed point - although the last question is very weak. Councils often do reiterate what has been said before. But whether it is clear or not, just raises the question of how one knows what is canon and what is not.

3 June 2013 at 17:53  
Blogger Albert said...

William,

Personally, I can see no evidence that God wants us to pertition Him through Mary and plenty of evidence that His Son is the (only) Way:

If you are serious about understanding Catholic teaching on Mary, you need to understand that she must be seen in an ecclesial context. Obviously, Jesus is the only Way. But that does not stop us praying for each other or for us receiving things through the benefit of other people's prayers or merits. So if there is a contradiction, you share it.

To understand the issue, therefore, we need to see that by some NT models the Church as the body of disciples is distinct from Christ - such as the idea of Church as bride. She is one body (not a collection of individuals). There is therefore nothing difficult about approaching God through Mary - she is simply the highest point at which the Church, as bride and by grace, approaches God. As such, she is also a point at which God's grace, given to the bride of Christ, is already maximally present in the Church. None of this contradicts the uniqueness of Christ as mediator. We are not talking about that level of relationship. To put the matter another way, we do not seek Mary (or any other Christians' prayers) instead of Christ, but because we are already in Christ. So Mary's on a secondary level of the relationship, which is not one that can be denied, I think.

3 June 2013 at 18:02  
Blogger OldJim said...

Mr Keningley,

I do not blame you for misinterpreting the intent of my post, and perhaps I should have been clearer.

It was prompted by the language and hermeneutic deployed by Carl, the clear implication of which was that if the trends unique to the Catholic practice of Christianity are viewed from the position of Protestantism and extrapolated to the nth degree, you end up with paganism.

I can't really counter that argument in a way; if Marian devotion and veneration of Saints, veneration of relics, veneration of places, were taken further it obviously would end up looking like Pantheistic Paganism.

All I can say is that this is not how Catholicism is actually practiced, and these "trends" do not continue indefinitely; they are bounded by a defined set of doctrines which preclude what we both recognise as Pagan Idolatry.

But the Protestant will nonetheless perhaps say "our movement does not allow for that abuse or questionable practice which is halfway to Paganism, so ours is a more rarefied form of Christianity which more strictly precludes these practices; why not come along for safety's sake, if your movement is open to these objections but ours is not"

The only way that I can illustrate why I consider the move illegitimate is to perform the opposite operation; view what is novel in the spirit underlying Protestantism and extrapolate these trends to the nth degree. I'm not doing it to show what I think Protestants actually believe, I'm doing it to show you that if you perform the operation in reverse, you don't end up with some rarefied irreproachable "pure" Christianity; you end up with a different kind of Paganism.

So it's no use saying "veneration of Mary is closer to Earthy Paganism than a Protestant ever gets" because a Catholic can simply reply that "suspicion of the postlapsarian natural order is closer to a different kind of Paganism than a Catholic ever gets"

It's intended to be a plea to keep our criticisms closer to a set of hermeneutics within the Christian tradition. Veneration of Mary may or may not be OK, but we best address that point scripturally and philosophically, not by extrapolating a vague tendency towards a kind of Paganism compared to Protestantism. That point can be reversed.

3 June 2013 at 18:23  
Blogger OldJim said...

I see now how my comment might have allowed for the misinterpretation, but it did contain

Eventually we wonder: Why did we ever imagine that something as strange and inhuman as God would ever come to us in the form of a man?

Am I really accusing Protestants of denying the Incarnation?

Am I incorrect? If an exaggerated Catholicism would be Paganism of an Earthy sort, doesn't an exaggerated Protestantism end up with the kind of Paganism of the Unknown God, a God untethered even from his own revelation, leaving him even above the meaning of words?

Is this the language of neutral description?

It is intended to mirror things like this:

Carl
People love the idea of relics because they give tangible sight to faith. Whereupon men will idolize the object for the sake of the power it might convey. This is a fundamentally pagan temptation.

I should have thought that the inversion would have been obvious.

That Catholics use relics but Protestants do not does not mean that it follows that Catholics "idolize the object for the sake of the power it might convey"

Likewise, that Protestants have a lower opinion of the natural order does not mean that they end up worshiping a God who bears no relation to human thoughts, emotions, who is incommunicable in human words.

It's a kind of satire.

3 June 2013 at 18:36  
Blogger OldJim said...

Of course, it is only fair that your particular comments should merit a reply where I can offer one, so:

Divine Command Theory is not contradictory to our duties being related to our nature. God gives us duties which are appropriate to our nature.
Sure, I accept this, but it does mean that there is a meaningful tie between the order of nature and the order of Grace; we might need Revelation to properly disentangle that part of our nature which is fallen and that part which retain the stamp and image of our Creation, but there is a nature addressed by morality.


Men must not be venerated, but we can give God thanks for his working in them. Places and things can be beautiful and good, but that’s because they were created by a good God who made us to appreciate them and them to be beautiful for us. You can’t separate the creation from the Creator.
Well, the "Men must not be venerated" stuff is a real point of contention with us which I think stems directly from the monergism/synergism divide. The rest I could equally well have said. It is both good that things are beautiful and good, in a higher, equivocal sense, that God made them beautiful. Synergism will lead to a higher sense of the former, sure, but I deny that that is necessarily to the detriment of the former. Even where God is not the sole efficient cause, he remains the Final and Formal causes of the Good, the good is only good by its participation in Him and conformity with His Intellect and Will.

This is a disgraceful representation of DCT and Protestantism

Hopefully you see now that it is intended to be; there is method in this madness.


God is “tethered” only by himself. He has revealed Himself and is true; if Protestantism’s formal principle is sola scriptura, how would exaggerating that make God unknown? God has condescended to give us His revelation. What more do we need?

And if Catholicism's formal principle is assent to the historic teachings of the Magisterium, how could it ever devolve into sheer Paganism? On the other point, sure, God is "tethered" only to Himself, the point is that Creation is "tethered" to Him: men's natures remain legible enough that the moral law is written on their hearts, human language remains serviceable enough that it can be used to Reveal. Human nature remains dignified enough that, swept free of sin, God Himself will wear it. We disagree on the extent, but not the principle; where we can argue about the extent is using scripture and philosophy and the historic doctrines of the Christian Church, not by identifying abstracted "trends".

What do you mean by theirs and God’s? Sounds equivocal. Of course, I deny that men do any unmixed good.
Do you mean that you deny that any act can be an unmixed good, or that any man can only perform good acts? I assent to the latter, but not the former, save for the application of special Graces in the case of the Mother of God. And yes, "theirs and God's" is not univocal. It might be equivocal or analogical, but we are agreed that it is not univocal.

3 June 2013 at 19:20  
Blogger OldJim said...

How is he remote? And why is he inaccessible through grace? That is the direct opposite of what is the case. Yes, those things were means to our salvation, as well as means to the display of the glory of God. Why is this a problem? These were ways of God coming close to His people, not staying away from them.

What I was getting at, I suppose, was the comment about the Cross being only wood and the bronze serpent being only bronze. It's a large statement to say that these things were only indifferent means to ends, and a small statement to say that we do not know what significance to attach to them, only that God chose to use them, and so they might deserve more reverence than to be treated as we would treat anything else. That does not in my view lead necessarily to worshiping wood or bronze. For my balanced answer to that, refer to my last reply to Carl. If he had insisted that the Ark was an indifferent thing used by God only as some means, he would have been quite wrong. The Ark itself wasn't to be worshiped, but it was to be respected as something marked apart by God. The ground in front of the burning bush wasn't God, but Moses still had to take off his sandals. That wasn't an idolatrous act.



And yes, you know what, in the Bible the world is damned. However, God has shone His light into the hearts of the saved. And they are holding it out to others. Christians have come into the light. Not being able to fully understand and comprehend God does not mean being unable to apprehend and know him at all.

yes, I can agree with all this, and again I had my tongue firmly in my cheek here. I don't really believe that Protestantism is some monstrous apophatic cult.


Notice how sin and guilt really get little showing here.

"Dull, foolish, wicked, hampered, distorted, original sin.", all in one small paragraph. You'd condemn most of the writings of Paul if you were looking for more mentions of evil in a block of text that large.


And yes, breaking the distinction of creator and creature is blasphemy.

It was a reference to the Incarnation.

What evidence do you actually have of this?
Absolutely none, it was a throwaway lighthearted analogy.


It’s only beautiful because God made it thus and sustains it thus and because God made us to appreciate its beauty. You can’t speak of the beauty of the world without it rebounding to the glory of God.
Amen to that. We don't differ.

To want the world to be anything in itself independent of God is to long to diminish the glory of God, for other things to share the stage rather than being to His glory.
Depends what you mean. If you mean that to describe things as univocally good in the sense that God is Good is idolatrous and what have you, then yes. To say that something is equivocally or analogically good and that it is good because God made it good or that it is good and that the formal and final cause of all that is good is God is fine.

you might distrust this removal of God as absolute efficient cause of all good and its replacement with God as sustainer, model, and final cause of all Good, but whatever it is it isn't a univocal application of God's goodness to mere creatures.

3 June 2013 at 19:37  
Blogger OldJim said...

No, this is a false dichotomy. It only converts hearts if the Spirit is imparted when it is read, true, but how is that different from Catholicism? Are you denying the necessity of grace to convert hearts? Because that is blasphemy under Catholicism as well. The content is not irrelevant, nor is it meaningless, you’re just being silly. God works through means.
I am not denying the necessity of Grace for conversion. And again the purpose of my viewing the Bible as a collection of (natural order fallen human) words and asking how this can ever add up to a (supernatural order, graced) Sacred Text is more than a little tongue in cheek. I've extrapolated a "tendency" against nature in Protestantism and I am now using this tendency to illustrate your (real, hidden) beliefs in total defiance to the actual content of Protestant doctrine. Sound familiar?


The Bible is God’s word. It had God’s authority. It is as if he audibly spoke to us. No other object has this property. What’s so inconsistent about this?

Nothing if we're talking about actual, historic Protestantism. Everything if we're talking about the abstract "tendencies" of Protestantism I've identified when compared to Catholicism. If your beliefs are the strawman I just created, then you are being wildly inconsistent. Why can't you just tell us what you really believe?

I find it interesting that Catholics scream “foul” when they’re in the least misrepresented, but are capable of producing disgraces like this. This is not what I have come to expect from you, OldJim, from our previous conversation.

eh, I hope you see what I was doing now. Even seeing the comment that I posted to Carl, what, half an hour earlier? might have clued you into the fact that this set of posts was of a wildly different tone. I'm just playing. I can see that I launched from content which might just have been my real opinion to satire without much in the way of warning, though, so as I say, I really don't blame you.

3 June 2013 at 19:48  
Blogger Albert said...

OldJim,

I salute your defending of the Catholic faith!

3 June 2013 at 21:18  
Blogger Peter D said...

Albert/Old Jim
It is good to see the Faith defended. However, I'm afraid I'm finding it difficult to keep up with this discussion. Way too complex!

Ernsty
Good point about the Confessional and saying a Hail Mary, or Hail Holy Queen, as an act of penance. I doubt any Catholic 'negotiates' these things with a priest.

I think Albert highlighted a substantial reason when he pointed out Mary's relationship with the Church. And, let's be clear, the Hail Mary has no theological issues - now does it?

"Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen."


It is clearly an intercessionary prayer. Yes, yes, I know, I know .... protestants object!

3 June 2013 at 21:43  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Peter D

"Holy Mary, Mother of God (Jesus!),
pray for us sinners (How do you know, rather than just personal assumption, she can hear you all, each and every RC since her death (presumably early martyrs such as St Stephen, St Paul and St Peter could not ask her to intercede for them as they never mention her) so as to be effective in responding?.

She is a pre-existent member of this unbiblical Quad-Head you claim, is she),
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.""

Yes, yes, we know, we know .... protestants seem to object for good cause, eh!

Little things like that, dear boy.

Blofeld

ps

"Albert/Old Jim
It is good to see the Faith defended. However, I'm afraid I'm finding it difficult to keep up with this discussion. Way too complex!"

Sadly, the facts of the matter never seemed to enter their reasoning, just hot air. * Chuckles*

4 June 2013 at 10:40  
Blogger William said...

Albert

You seem to be saying that Mary, as the highest point within the church (body of Christ) and also/therefore the most ready source of grace from within the church, is the best point of contact to the "mediator". And that the grace that she has is available to us because we can "receive things through other people's merits".

Is this right?

Does this not also mean that the most efficacious method of intercession is always from Mary to her Son?

4 June 2013 at 12:59  
Blogger Peter D said...

Ernsty

Up to mischieve again, I see. I take it the back is on the mend.

Albert and Old Jim are fine, reasoned theolgians and to follow them one probably needs a academic background in this too. Nonetheless, they and others do hold considered and polite discussions which are edifying to follow.

As for Mary - well really! Are you a time traveller? How can you know St Stephen, St Paul and St Peter never talked of her, prayed to her or for her?

Oh, of course, 'sola scriptura' .... silly me .... Everything Jesus ever said and did and everything all the early Apostles ever said and did is all recorded in Scripture - NOT.

Now I don't want to go all theological on you, my dear man, but you do understand the concepts of Heaven, eternity and being outside of the space-time continuum?

Mind you, not sure what your 'sola scriptura' (private opinion) is on entry to Heaven ... but ... as its not clearly stated in the Bible ... and I guess you don't accept Mary's Immaculate Conception or her Assumption into Heaven either on the same basis.

Doctor Dodo - chuckles and laughter.

4 June 2013 at 13:08  
Blogger LEN said...

Well we have really been' round the houses 'with this one(or should I say around' the idols' venerated or not?)

Catholicism is 'a made up' religion which has little to do with God which is why 'Catholic theologians' have had to alter and misinterpret scripture to facilitate their religion and have also added 'traditions' to this mix and match religion.
Catholicism is a very cleverly crafted religion which takes from scripture and makes it suit the purposes of those behind the Catholic religious system.
Many Catholic 'traditions' cannot be checked against scripture because 'oral' traditions were not recorded and Catholic theologians are well aware of this fact and this gives them a free hand to add anything they want to scripture and to know that there is no way of verifying the truth.
I would advise Catholics who may have embraced Catholicism believing it is the 'One True Church' to carefully look at the doctrines and the practices within the Catholic Church and see if they pass inspection against the Light of God`s Word.

'While there are many errors in the teaching of the Catholic Church (for example its belief in the transubstantiation of the communion wafer and its view of Mary), two rise to the forefront and call for special attention: its denial of the doctrine of sola Scriptura and its denial of the biblical teaching on justification. To put it simply, because the Roman Catholic Church has refused to submit itself to the authority of God's Word and to embrace the gospel of justification taught in Scripture, it has set itself apart from the true body of Christ. It is a false and deceptive form of Christianity.'

(John Macarthur Is Roman Catholic Biblical?..Grace to You)






4 June 2013 at 19:20  
Blogger Albert said...

William,

I think that's about the kind of thing I would say. Although I would prefer to use, in this context, the metaphor of the Church as the bride of Christ, rather than the body of Christ.

The benefit of the bridal language is that it enables us to speak of the Church as a body of disciples distinct from Christ. This is important when we wish to speak of the grace Christ has already given to the Church while recognising honestly that we as members of the body of disciples are sinners.

Hence, the role of Mary does not in anyway undermine or conflict with the mediation of Christ to his Church, rather, the role of Mary assumes and requires that mediation - it just recognises that that grace so freely given is not lost to us, even when we as sinful individuals fail to receive it.

4 June 2013 at 20:12  
Blogger OldJim said...

Albert
And I salute yours

So, this thread is getting old, and I would not be surprised or too disheartened to learn that no-one now revisits or comments on it, but for the sake of completion I feel compelled to try to round up some loose threads, for fear that I haven't expressed myself quite so well as I should like.

The Catholic view when it comes to a fondness of, an attribution of significance to and -- yes -- a veneration of, people and places and things stems from sources within Christianity. People and places and things are given a significance throughout the Old Testament, whether it be Elisha's bones, Jerusalem or the Ark of the Covenant. This tendency persists throughout the New Testament - the apostles are given special authorities, the Church is given a special significance, and the populace are not condemned for grasping for the tassle of Christ's cloak, Paul's handkerchief, or longing to stand in Peter's shadow.

That this tendency should magnify rather than lessen in Christianity also has a theological rationale -- there are instances even in the fallen Old Testament, but in the New, we are talking of people, places and things baptised into Christ, made new in Christ, returned to their real nature, and restored in the minds of believers to their true dignity - that is, as things good in themselves which under their proper aspect further magnify the source, model, form and final end of all Good - God.

These tendencies do not simply continue further and further until they collapse into Pagan idolatry. They are circumscribed by several other doctrines - the necessity of Christ as sole ultimate mediator of all Grace and the fullness of Revelation, the fallen state of the world, the reservation of worship to God alone, the special and inimitable inspiration of the Scriptural texts; the finality of the Revelation in Christ.

Protestantism denies that Catholicism and Orthodoxy circumscribe these practices sharply enough (wrongly, in my opinion) given the doctrines latterly described, but it should nonetheless recognise that these practices do originate within a Christian context and for a set of theological reasons originating within the practices of the Jewish religion, the Christian Church and the Scriptural texts, and are in fact circumscribed by the latter doctrines, which no Catholic or Orthodox denies.

5 June 2013 at 04:41  
Blogger OldJim said...

Reformed thought has a stronger flavour of the fallenness of man and concomitantly a deeper scepticism of the legitimacy of these sorts of practices. It lays heavier emphasis on the extent to which Christ is set apart from and different from other people, even after their baptism into His body, and on the ways in which God's ways and thoughts are not our own and not necessarily like our own.

Nonetheless, a Catholic should, and I do, recognise that these views come from doctrines within the Christian tradition, and are not going to continue indefinitely. No Protestant is going to end up denying a relation between the nature we have and the morality we have a duty to obey, nor that revelation can be communicated in human words provided a man is graced to receive them, nor that God was capable of coming as a man; he is bounded by the other set of Christian doctrines and he will not lightly take his leave of them.

So we should be weighing these doctrines and their application charitably according to Scripture and philosophy, assessing their bounds and judging their implications.

It simply will not do to tell a Catholic that veneration of Mary is indistinguishable from Pagan idolatry any more than it will do to tell a protestant that suspicion of the natural order is indistiguishable from a denial of the incarnation.

That does not mean that a Protestant cannot conscientiously object to veneration and point to their preferred theological cause of the supposed aberration any more than it means that a Catholic cannot object to monergism, nominalism or the other doctrines he supposes to underlie the Protestant reading of the Text.

It just means that we ought to recognise that this is a debate within common bounds, that both sides of the debate hold doctrines that are more characteristically emphasised by the other party in sufficient esteem that they are not going to go freewheeling wholesale out of Christian belief.

Vigorous debate is fine, accusations of Paganism are laying it on a bit thick.

5 June 2013 at 04:41  
Blogger William said...

Albert

I cannot find your claims for Mary's special role in intercessory prayer in the Bible, but have found a model for prayer proposed by Jesus who suggests that we petition our Father (whom we may call Abba) in Heaven directly. This seems far preferable not least because it is direct, but mainly because it is proposed by God Himself.

However, assuming that you are correct, it seems to me that since Jesus's death and resurrection (and Mary's assumption) a new dynamic has occurred whereby praying via Mary has become the most efficacious. So while the Lord's Prayer was perhaps the most appropriate model while Jesus walked the Earth, this can now be effectively substituted by Marion devotion.

5 June 2013 at 11:02  
Blogger Albert said...

OldJim,

No Protestant is going to end up denying a relation between the nature we have and the morality we have a duty to obey, nor that revelation can be communicated in human words provided a man is graced to receive them, nor that God was capable of coming as a man etc.

That's the irony. As you've shown the general principles of these elements of Catholics are clearly and explicitly found in scripture. Of course, the precise forms may not be (or may not be explicit enough for a Protestant), but then the Protestant tends to attack the forms by attacking the general principles (as on this thread). This leaves his position looking dangerously paradoxical and invites the question of why the Protestant wishes to deny those general principles. The answer to this seems obvious - those general principles seem in conflict with fundamental Protestant orthodoxy. But if that is the case, it seems it is Protestant orthodoxy which is in conflict with certain elements of scripture.

5 June 2013 at 11:11  
Blogger Albert said...

William,

Sorry, I've just noticed your post. I think, as I said to OldJim that you need to distinguish between the general principles and the actual forms.

Let's be honest, every Christian tradition has to have worship forms which go beyond what is actually stated in the NT. You cannot object to Marian devotion on the grounds that it isn't formally in the NT because that is true also of most Christian forms. That's why, to make the kinds of claims that Protestants have made here, you need to attack the general principles. There have been a lot of people prepared to attack those principles, but no one, I think has properly responded to our biblical arguments for them. On the contrary, it seems to me that the principles are so obvious that those attacks have simply exposed doubts about the biblical nature of Protestantism.

However, assuming that you are correct, it seems to me that since Jesus's death and resurrection (and Mary's assumption) a new dynamic has occurred whereby praying via Mary has become the most efficacious. So while the Lord's Prayer was perhaps the most appropriate model while Jesus walked the Earth, this can now be effectively substituted by Marion devotion.

No, that's not what's been said. clearly, we need a variety of forms. I would say that to be fully effective prayer needs a Marian element (just as it needs an ecclesial element), but it could not be reduced to that.

This is what I mean about general principles. If you say that it is wrong to say prayer with a Marian element is most effective because we should just go straight to Jesus always, you under-cut the idea that sometimes your prayers might be more effective if you ask a fellow believer to pray for you, or you pray with the Church.

Clearly, a piety which includes asking for the prayers of others and praying with the Church is more effective than only ever praying by oneself and never asking for the prayers of others. If you accept that, you have already accepted this part of the principle of Marian devotion, and you will have grasped how it does not take away from prayer to our Lord, or imply we should never pray directly to our Lord.

This should be evident, by the way, from the fact that the highest form of prayer for Catholics is not the rosary, but the Mass.

5 June 2013 at 18:10  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Len said

"...which is why 'Catholic theologians' have had to alter and misinterpret scripture to facilitate their religion and have also added 'traditions' to this mix and match religion.
Catholicism is a very cleverly crafted religion which takes from scripture and makes it suit the purposes of those behind the Catholic religious system."

Dear fellow

You could also state that they love theological and moralistic waffle, which all sounds so very reasonable but has mo basis in bibical reality.

However the politics of this nation now reflects the face of Roman Catholicism by the tactic of, when stumped by a piercingly asked question/s which may reveal your true motive, merely now ask the inquirer something completely different and answer at great length.
Try to use vague terms loosely attached to 'Come on, be reasonable' arguments such as context, actually practiced, hermeneutics, piety , Christian tradition, general principles, scripturally and philosophically, relics, natural order, incommunicable nature, equivocal sense, general principles, higher sense, historic teachings of the Magisterium, unmixed good, general principles, special Graces , Mother of God, absolute efficient cause, abstract "tendencies", efficacious method of intercession, in this context, general principles, assumes and requires, recognising honestly, an attribution of significance, general principles. suspicion of the natural order, communicated in human words, general principles, highest form, Christian tradition, biblical arguments, variety of forms, general principles, principle of Marian devotion, etc. E voila!

People wonder why Blair established himself a RC...He was going to his true spiritual and political home as shown above. ;-)

Ernst

5 June 2013 at 20:51  
Blogger William said...

Albert

"That's why, to make the kinds of claims that Protestants have made here, you need to attack the general principles."

What general principles have I attacked?

"This is what I mean about general principles. If you say that it is wrong to say prayer with a Marian element is most effective because we should just go straight to Jesus always, you under-cut the idea that sometimes your prayers might be more effective if you ask a fellow believer to pray for you, or you pray with the Church."

Not at all. It is perfectly possible to deny that Mary is the most effective prayer path to God and to ask a fellow believer to pray for you or to pray with others, because in Matthew 18:19 Jesus says:

"Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Note the "on earth" bit and no mention of Mary! So it seems I can quite easily assert that Marion devotion is not the most effective form of prayer by quoting multiple examples of prayer given by Jesus Christ, none of which mention His mother at all. Yet you assert that the most effective method of prayer is none of the examples given by Jesus and then accuse me of attacking general principles. What about the general principle that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life; that He is with us always; That He is acting as our advocate; That He is God Incarnate?

Jesus prayed constantly to His Father in Heaven. It was clearly very important to Him. He specifically told us how to pray. Why would He have neglected to tell us that the most effective form of prayer would be through His Mother? Why tell us about the Holy Spirit who was to be given to us after His death, but not tell us about the important role His mother would play in the life of the church? It's all very odd don't you think?

5 June 2013 at 23:41  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

William said...

Well spoken, my lad.

RC's seem to completely misunderstand the use of prayers by others on behalf of a believer.

It merely shows we love and stand side by side with them in their suffering and need, rather than as a more direct way to get to God as He appears not to be listening.

When Ernst prays for others , the Lord does not say ' At last, Ernst has prayed for the person, I will now consider an answer'!

Blofeld

6 June 2013 at 09:20  
Blogger Albert said...

William,

What general principles have I attacked?

I didn't say that you did. I said that you would need to.

It is perfectly possible to deny that Mary is the most effective prayer path to God

I didn't say that either. I said that the most effective prayer needs a Marian element. This is because of the connection between holiness and the effectiveness of prayer:

The LORD is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

"My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has... and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."


So there is a clear connection between the holiness or sinfulness of the petitioner and the effectiveness of the prayer. Now since I believe that Mary is supremely holy amongst all the disciples of Christ, I say that having a Marian element in my prayers (asking her to pray for me) is more effective than just praying by myself.

Note the "on earth" bit and no mention of Mary!...Why would He have neglected to tell us that the most effective form of prayer would be through His Mother?

These are totally different categories. We are not suggesting that Mary be put on the same level as God in our prayers. So the fact that Mary doesn't appear here is not an objection to anyone who is not worried about the fact that (if memory serves) Jesus does not in fact teach us to pray to the Holy Spirit. Your argument counts much more strongly against the Holy Spirit, because prayer to the Holy Spirit is on the same level as the prayer Jesus is talking about. And yet Jesus doesn't mention that. Why do you think that is?

It's all very odd don't you think?

Not in the slightest because Jesus said:

"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."

The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds to what has been revealed by deepening our understanding of scripture. By cutting yourselves off from that tradition, you necessarily diminish that message, I'm afraid. The role of Mary becomes clear as we deepen our understanding of the incarnation and of the nature of the Church.

6 June 2013 at 21:49  

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