Friday, September 10, 2010

A Question About Scripture and the Church

Here's a question prompted by the difference between the Catholic and protestant ways of looking at scripture.
Are we to judge Scripture by what our church teaches, or are we to judge what our church teaches by Scripture?

93 comments:

Moonshadow said...

I can't understand "judging" - either Scripture or church. What does that mean? Catholics aren't preoccupied with suspicion and mistrust. Maybe you'd consider that naive.

Jennie said...

Who is speaking of suspicion? If God's word is hidden in our hearts, then we can judge all things rightly. This is the 'judging' I'm speaking of:
1 Corinthians 2:6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
9 But as it is written:


“ Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Christine said...

First of all, we do not judge scripture; scripture judges us.

From the Catechism:

102 Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely.

You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time103 For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord's Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God's Word and Christ's Body.66

104 In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, "but as what it really is, the word of God".67 "In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them."

119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."88

120 It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books.90 This complete list is called the canon of Scripture.

Christine said...

As Catholics, we can never judge scripture to be in error in any way. So we must reject "faith alone", and protestants must be the ones who are "judging scripture" here, since they often agree with Luther that books such as James were indeed in error - a "book of straw".

At mass we hear basically the entirety of scripture over every three-year period, and sermons are based on those readings.

When there are differences or questions with regard to INTERPRETATION (which is what you are really talking about, Jennie) then there must be an authority which by the Spirit discerns the meaning without ever "judging" scripture as in error.

When we talk about Matthew 16 or John 6, there are the words themselves, and then there are the various interpretations of those writings. All protestant interpretations are based on individual "judgments" - and no one knows who is right. Did God really intend that some Christians NOT believe in the Trinity because they don't find its definition in Scripture? Did God really intend that some Christians believe "once saved, always saved" and others believe something completely different? These are not minor points, and who is the authority on differing interpretations?

Christine said...

From Called to Communion:

"I have to ask you: how do you know the Bible is the inspired word of God? After all, there were more than 150 manuscripts floating around for the first few centuries before the canon of Scripture was decided upon. Martin Luther went through the Scriptures and decided which ones he believed were inspired, and chucked several books that had been accepted as inspired by all of Christianity up until that point. I have to wonder why every person with a personal relationship with Christ does not have the right to read over the 150+ manuscripts himself, and decide for himself which ones are inspired by the Holy Spirit and which ones are not. Why does Martin Luther get to decide, but I don’t? This is why Protestantism is founded on a house of sand, because the only way you can know the Scriptures are inspired is by submitting to the Catholic Church’s authority. There is no other way to know that a specific writing is inspired except through authoritative revelation and that revelation came through the Catholic Church more than a thousand years before Protestantism cropped up. The very Bible you use to bash the Catholic Church was given to you by the Catholic Church. As Scott Hahn so aptly put it, you must sit in Rome’s lap to slap her in the face."

Christine said...

One more example by convert Tim Troutman:

"This reminds me of a conversation I had with a PCA pastor shortly after starting my conversion process. He said “why would you go to Rome when the Bible is clear that we are justified by faith alone?” I responded that I didn’t think it was so clear especially when the bible explicitly says we are NOT justified by faith alone. He said “it doesn’t say that” and I tried without success to convince him that it did (couldn’t remember the verse at the time). So I later sent him an email with the verse and he decided to change his position in accordance with what the Bible said. No, actually I’m kidding he didn’t do that. He just said it was taken out of context. First he said its not there, but when confronted with hard evidence, instead of modifying his position, he subordinated the clear reading of the text to his theology."

This is how it seems to me that many Protestants begin with their own personal presuppositions and then literally "judge" scripture,

Jennie said...

Christine,
I agree that Scripture judges us. I also believe that when people are always having it filtered through someone else, or through another book, or through Bible study notes, etc., that this hinders their hearing the Holy Spirit in their own heart and mind as they read Scripture, or hear it. Certainly it's good to hear preaching by a man that's learned to rightly divide the word of truth, and the Holy Spirit works through that often. But God also speaks to us directly through Scripture and can bring Scripture directly to mind when needed and give us understanding of it.
Here's a post I did about a year ago about the Churches' view on Tradition, the Magisterium, and Scripture.

http://pilgrimsdaughter.blogspot.com/2009/10/three-legged-stool-falls-over.html

Christine said...

Your answer to me above and your previous post you've referred to do not disagree with the Church (aside from some nitpicky points), except for the first sentence of the previous post: "The Roman Catholic Church's description of authority, called the 'three legged stool', is an attempt to place man on an equal footing with God."

That last phrase is false, and easy to refute with any Catholic source.

Jennie said...

As Catholics, we can never judge scripture to be in error in any way. So we must reject "faith alone", and protestants must be the ones who are "judging scripture" here, since they often agree with Luther that books such as James were indeed in error - a "book of straw".

Christine,
What does it mean that you reject 'faith alone', specifically? When is it not alone in your opinion?

I object to you saying that protestants 'often agree with Luther that books such as James sere indeed in error'. I don't know any protestants who believe that, and Luther said many controversial things that he also contradicted in other places. He was a man that has to be studied carefully, or he will be misunderstood; like Bonhoeffer, and probably Merton, too ;)
Paul taught that justification is by faith alone, apart from works. James taught that justifying faith will THEN produce works, not that works bring justification. He also taught that our faith is proved, vindicated, or we are shown to be just, by our works that come from faith. This is why is seems contradictory at first glance, but really isn't. Some who know better than I say that the word James and Paul use for 'justified' is the same word as 'righteous' and can mean both 'proved righteous' or 'made right or just'.

Jennie said...

Here's an older post I did linking to a discussion about 'Apostolic Succession.'
http://pilgrimsdaughter.blogspot.com/2009/10/discussion-on-apostolic-succession-at.html

The comments under my post start going into a discussion about 'Solo Scriptura vs. Sola Scriptura' which was discussed on 'Called to Communion'. The posts are not about our topic here, but the comments are interesting and relate some to tradition and scripture as opposed to Sola Scriptura (Scripture as the final authority).

Leo said...

Jennie,

We are absolutely not saved by faith alone. Look at what scripture says. Life is to the body what works are to faith.

Faith without works is dead. Think about it. If the body has no life, it is nonetheless a body. Without life, but a body just the same...

Faith without works is still faith. Scripture does not say that faith without works is not faith. It simply says it is dead. In other words, it is useless by itself and cannot bring life unless the works accompany it.

Christine said...

Tim Troutman in my above post explains it with a concrete example of what I'm talking about.

You ask me "When is [faith] not alone?"

I'm citing James 2:24 "Faith without works is dead". That's all. If one is sola scriptura, how do you get around it?

I hope you have some thoughts on my other questions and points.

Jennie said...

Christine,
what about Paul saying we are saved by faith, apart from works? The statement in James has to reconcile with the statements of Paul about faith. See Romans 4.

Christine said...

Right - it has to be reconciled. The Catholic position, and maybe yours too, does reconcile it - and this of Paul's sums it up "For by grace are you saved through faith - that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."

One could interpret that as works aren't essential, but then there is:

"Faith without works is dead", "I was hungry and you fed me", "keep the commandments", etc., which are works-themed. As someone said in another thread - it's not either/or, it's both/and.

So I think we can agree on sola gratia. It's ALL his grace - our faith and our works, but he allows us to choose Him or not.

What about Paul's saying regarding faith, hope, and love that "the greatest of these is love"? What does it mean to say that love is greater than faith?

So all this put together makes a beautiful whole. And no matter what, none of us better be boasting! :)

John said...

Perhaps this book might be a good read for us all. I just may have to order it. http://romereturn.blogspot.com/2010/09/stained-glass-curtain-crossing.html

Christine said...

I've been following Beckwith's story with great interest. Didn't know about this new book. Sounds wonderful. Thanks, John.

Jennie said...

I don't really want to divert this discussion from the original question to justification, faith, and works. I may have to start a new thread on it, though I have several posts on this subject already.
I will say that one of the main differences in the protestant and Catholic understanding of justification and faith is that protestants believe that scripture teaches that justification is a one time event which comes grace through faith when the gospel is heard and submitted to; at this time the person becomes a new creation, regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Paul teaches that justification is by grace through faith, apart from works, and that at that point the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, and our sins are forgiven and washed by the blood of Christ. So we are immediately declared righteous and also made new, able now to obey by grace through faith and produce good works. We are recreated for good works, not by good works. Then we continue to live by faith (the just shall live by his faith) and the help of God's grace to do good. Our faith produces works, and the works show us to be just. That last part is what James is teaching when he says "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." Justified, in Greek, also means shown or proved to be just. So Paul is saying we are made just by faith apart from works, and James is saying that we are proved to be just by our works which come from faith. Otherwise the two things contradict each other.
Read Romans 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.

5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
7 “ Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”


This passage directly says that Abraham was counted righteous by faith; that if you work, it is counted as debt rather than grace; that the ungodly are justified by faith without works. This is of course complemented by what James taught, that THEN, after justification by faith, works are produced by faith. Nothing done apart from faith is accepted by God, so we must come first as sinners by faith and be justified by Christ's blood, and then we will be able to continue in faith by grace to do good. Only then we are free to work for God and not to save ourselves.

Jennie said...

Romans 5 continues this explanation of grace given while we were still ungodly and enemies of God. We are justified before we ever do anything good:
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Jennie said...

So we are justified or put in right standing before God by Christ's blood, and then we continue to be saved by His life in us, which gives us grace (help) to crucify the flesh and live holy lives by faith.

Jennie said...

Another thing that's different about protestant teaching and Catholic on this is that protestants don't believe that you can lose justification by sinning. This is because it is not our righteousness that makes us just before God, but Christ's righteousness that is imputed to us.
My husband has a good message about this that I linked to here:
http://pilgrimsdaughter.blogspot.com/2010/07/exchangedlifecom-we-are-righteouness-of.html

Jennie said...

Here's another passage in Romans that explains that we become part of the elect (the just) by grace apart from works. This is talking about initial salvation, which is becoming just before God. Works play no part in this because until the moment of faith we are sinners, enemies, and ungodly who cannot please God.

Romans 11:5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

Christine said...

You have segued away from several responses that have been made to your original post.

I have shown that the Catholic position is inclusive of scripture as a whole. I have given an example of a pastor dismissing a clear verse of scripture in favor of a presupposition - and this is by no means an isolated example, do you think? My whole evangelical experience for 20 years was identical to the Tim Troutman example.

I have shown that the Church believes that "In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, "but as what it really is, the word of God".

Your question "Are we to judge Scripture by what our church teaches, or are we to judge what our church teaches by Scripture?" contains a premise which does not exist in Catholic belief; that premise being that Church teaching and scripture can be in conflict. They cannot.

Christine said...

I also raised the question of the canon, and Scott Hahn's humorous, but true, comment. It relates to your question in that we must ask, which came first - the Church (Christianity) or the New Testament? Obviously the Church predates the NT, indicating that scripture was produced by the Church (its members), not vice versa. That is just historical fact that sheds some light on your question.

Jennie said...

Christine,
first of all, you brought up the faith and works discussion, and I commented on it to clarify the Biblical teaching. Do you have anything to say about all that I just said about the gospel of grace apart from works?

Secondly, I've been out of town for two days, and at church until just now, and am going back again for ladies' prayer time tonight, so I haven't had time to consider your other comments yet. Do you realize that you sound as if you're triumphing over me as if I can't answer you? I will answer as I have time. You tend to throw in too many different subjects and questions at one time. I'm not a computer.

Jennie said...

Also I answered the question that Tim's pastor friend didn't. But then again I didn't hear the conversation between them and the pastor might have been right that Tim was taking it out of context. Tim was misunderstanding the meaning of James, and forgetting the teachings of Paul.

Jennie said...

I have already showed one place where Church teaching and scripture conflict above in the explanation of justification and faith and works. It is clear from scripture that justification is apart from works, and then a life of works comes from faith. So it is all by grace through faith, apart from our own works. Our works must come from faith and from God's help daily as we abide in Christ, or the works are worthless.

Christine said...

Do you realize that you sound as if you're triumphing over me as if I can't answer you?

That was not at all my intention, and I'm sorry if it sounded that way. As for different subjects, I thought I was always addressing the topic of your post. I knew you were gone, and don't expect instant responses.

You sound very upset here and on the Evangeliku post. We'd better take a break, I think.

Jennie said...

Yes, I'm very discouraged that it seems no one can comment without trying to antagonize and insinuate.

John said...

Jennie,
You call the Catholic church the "harlot church, the "whore of babylon," and a church seeking a one world government and YOU are distressed about insinuations? Perhaps the purchase of mirror is in order. Yikes, I hope I am not insinuating anything lest my comments be deleted.

Jennie said...

John, I think someone's already mentioned that several times on different threads. The Bible prophesies about that and it is an identifiable thing historically. I'm not personally attacking anyone, certainly not any of you here. I would like to discuss the information on the threads if you all can do it peaceably.

Jennie said...

Maybe I should quit commenting for now, unless we can do it without hard feelings. My poor twin sister's beautiful golden retriever, 2 years old, died yesterday while we were out of town. My sister and older brother were taking him for a walk as usual. They're both single and live near each other. The dog just laid down and wouldn't go any farther, so they had to carry this 80 lb. dog to the car. He stopped breathing in the car and by the time they got to the vet clinic (my younger brother is the vet) there was nothing he could do, though he rushed over to meet them. The of course my Mom is upset for all of them, and my Dad was driving on his way home from New Jersey and found out when he got home. So, my whole family is all upset, and my sister and brothers feel at fault, though there was nothing they could have done, and couldn't have known anything was wrong until it was too late. So I guess I'm upset for all of them, and for what's going on here and at the VTC blog too.

Christine said...

I'm sorry about your sister's dog. It bears out what a friend told me when we got a dog, "Every dog is a sad story waiting to happen."

I, for one, do not bear hard feelings toward you personally, it's more like frustration with your methods, and find it difficult to know where I've attacked you in any way.

I had decided to put some time and thought into the exact question you posed on your latest post, which was an interesting one. That was my only intention.

Jennie said...

Jennie,

We are absolutely not saved by faith alone. Look at what scripture says. Life is to the body what works are to faith.

Faith without works is dead. Think about it. If the body has no life, it is nonetheless a body. Without life, but a body just the same...

Faith without works is still faith. Scripture does not say that faith without works is not faith. It simply says it is dead. In other words, it is useless by itself and cannot bring life unless the works accompany it.


Leo,
You said "We are absolutely not saved by faith alone."
You are using the wrong word. We are JUSTIFIED by faith, apart from works. Scripture says "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Faith must come first upon hearing the gospel.
Scripture says in Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)
If we are dead in our sins and enemies of God when we are justified and made alive, then we can't have been doing good works by faith to cooperate with God to be justified.

So faith come first, by hearing, and then the whole passage in James 2:14-26 is talking about our faith being shown or proven by our works. If there are no works then faith is dead. "If there are no works, can faith save him?" No this kind of faith is dead and can't save. There is intellectual belief, and then there is saving faith that submits to God in repentance and produces the fruit of good works. James 2:22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
True faith begins by hearing, but is made perfect when it bears its natural fruit of works. Remember the seed of God's word first has to be planted in our hearts, as Christ taught, and then if it falls on good ground that is ready to receive it by faith, then it bears much fruit.

Christine said...

But the James verse says this:
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone in the NAB.

There's nothing in this most recent comment of yours that contradicts what we said, which was that faith without works is dead. You seem to agree.

Leo said...

Jennie,

I said I would not post here any more, but I would like to extend my condolences to you and your family on the loss of a beloved dog. Dogs are called 'man's best friend' for a good reason...

You remain in my prayers and, like Christine, I mean no ill will towareds you. You remain in my prayers always and I pray that the Lord blesses you abundantly.

You must understand, however, that when you attack Mary and the Church, you really do attack every devout Catholic just as personally as if you attacked our parents or children. What you don't realize is that we honestly believe that you are also directly attacking Jesus and the Holy Spirit when you do that.

When you take the word of ex-Catholics over our word about what the Church teaches, that is also deeply insulting. I wish that you would realize that we are very devout in our Faith and search for Truth and that we would have long ago left the Church had we not been able to logically address and reconcile all of the arguments presented by you.

Perhaps it is surprising to you that we would have deeply thought about each of your points from every possible angle imaginable. You should at least consider that we know something that our sincere ex-Catholics and non-Catholics don't know, because of the depth of our faith and the fact that we have decided to remain in the Church.

I pray for you to come to undertand what we understand and about the Catholic Faith. Of course, we are all free to reject it, but it is most painful to see you consistently reject something which really and truly does not exist. You may think that we are blind to the truth, but we only ask you to at least reconsider what you believe about the Catholic Church.

Jennie said...

But the James verse says this:
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone in the NAB.

There's nothing in this most recent comment of yours that contradicts what we said, which was that faith without works is dead. You seem to agree.


Christine,
What we disagree on is that I believe justification,which is being MADE just, is a one-time event, and that it IS by faith alone. What James is saying is that we are PROVED TO BE JUST by our works, which follow our saving faith.
Paul clearly teaches that justification is separate from any works, and happens while we can do no good works since we are enemies of God, dead in our sins.

Christine said...

James didn't say, "we are proved to be just by our works, which follow our saving faith."

I don't even necessarily disagree with the statement. It's just not what he said.

Christine said...

It would help if you'd acknowledge that you have an interpretation of James that is based on the teaching of Paul,or viewed through the prism of other passages of the bible. That's fine if it's an honest thing. That your Christianity gives a certain primacy to Paul's teaching on justification, and not as much on what Jesus says in the gospels, etc. And then, to be consistent, allow that Catholics are not unscriptural if they do not always have the same interpretation or your particular emphasis on certain aspects of faith.

Jennie said...

Certainly my understanding of James is viewed through the prism of other passages. I don't think though that my understanding places less emphasis on what Jesus says, but that all of it has to harmonize and interpret the other passages.

If you do a search in the Bible online for 'justified' you will see that it can mean both 'made righteous or just' OR 'proven righteous or just'. So it isn't mistinterpreting James to say that it means 'proven righteous' there. If fits with the context of what he is trying to say there, and doesn't contradict Paul's teachings on justification by faith.

Christine said...

Okay - you have chosen an alternative definition of "justification" to make the James verse work for you, and that is fine as long as you acknowledge that you have answered your original question. Your answer is "we judge scripture by what our church [or presupposed tenet] teaches".

Jennie said...

What I am doing is allowing scripture to interpret scripture. All passages in the other epistles about justification say that it is by faith apart from works and happens while we are still enemies of God, so we can't do works yet. The works James is talking about come FROM the initial and continuing faith, and because we are now a new creation, able to obey by His grace.

Christine said...

I repeat,
And then, to be consistent, allow that Catholics are not unscriptural if they do not always have the same interpretation or your particular emphasis on certain aspects of faith.

Jennie said...

Well, your definition of 'unscriptural' may be different than mine, but I can see where Catholics get their understanding of the subject in scripture. I just don't see how it all fits together that way.

Christine said...

A step forward, then. Toward understanding and fellowship.

Jennie said...

I asked a question, I think over on Elena's blog: How can initial justification include works if, as Paul says, we are dead in our sins and enemies of God, unable to please Him or to do any good works yet? We can't do good that pleases God until we have faith, and we don't have faith until we hear the gospel and believe and THEN are immediately justified and given Christ's righteousness. Can you answer this question, Christine?

Christine said...

I don't think we think in those terms "initial justification", so I'm not sure how to answer it. I bet Leo, John or Elena could do a great job. When I have time, I will try as well. It's kind of like the question about judging scripure by the church or vice-versa. The premise isn't right from the start for the Catholic to answer, I think, so maybe that's why we seem to talk past each other.

I know we have differences on justification and sanctification. Are you of Luther's mind regarding the "snow-covered dung hill" wherein we are justified by virtue of Christ's merits, but not at all truly transformed/sanctified? Or do you have another view?

Jennie said...

I'm not quite sure of the exact meaning of what Luther said there. I do believe scripture teaches that we are given Christ's righteousness when we are justified, and not our own. I also believe scripture teaches we are made new creations and now have the ability by grace and the Spirit to obey God out of love and not anymore trying to save ourselves, because we are saved by Christ's sacrifice. Now all that we do by the Spirit, rather than the flesh, is God working in and through us, rather than our own work. 2 Cor 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jennie said...

I'm not sure if I was clear. I do believe we are transformed, or made a new creation in Christ, as scripture says. And that we are sanctified, which means set apart or holy unto God. We are not yet perfect, but this comes as we learn to crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit, by God's grace. As we do this more and more, then the light of God's righteousness can shine through us, like the light that's NOT hid under the bushel.

Leo said...

Well, I must say that I am impressed. There is actually a discussion where both sides are listening to each other. This is fruitful dialog.

Christine said...

From the Catechism:
The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.

Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God's merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.


I think, so far, we agree, right?

Jennie said...

119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."88

Back to our original discussion (but please feel free to comment on the justification subjects as well).

Christine, you quoted from the Catechism above.
There is a difference in the way Catholics and protestants use the word 'church', and indeed, and more importantly, a difference in the way the RCC and Scripture use the word 'church' as well. In Scripture the word that is translated 'church' is 'ekklesia' which means the assembly, fellowship, or congregation of the saints. So it is different in that it means ALL the believers, as opposed to just the Magisterium; and it is different in that it means ONLY believers, as opposed to an institution that includes both believers and unbelievers.

Secondly, the Bible, as far as I can discover, never uses the word 'interpretation' as a description of one of the commissions of the church. The word is only used when talking about interpretation of dreams in the O.T., and interpretation of tongues in the N.T., with the sole exception of the use of the word in 2 Peter 1:19-21, And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Jennie said...

Continued:

Certainly there are offices given by the Spirit to men who are to teach, preach, and pastor, etc., as well as the other gifts given to believers; and these men are to help the body to grow up into full maturity; one of the ways of doing this is to teach the word of God.
The Peter passage in context begins by saying that the Apostles did not make up the gospel but were eyewitnesses of Christ and of the direct voice of God from heaven; in the same way the scripture is the voice of God given through the writers of the N.T. It is not of private writing or interpretation, but from God.
This passage doesn't speak of interpretation being a commission to a magistereum, but that the word and the interpretation come from God Himself. Scripture and the Spirit interpret scripture, and the body of Christ interprets or understands scripture through Scripture itself, and through the Spirit giving understanding, and through the exhortation of the Body of Christ as it receives understanding from the whole of scripture and the Spirit that indwells us.

Jennie said...

So the Body, the Scripture, and the Holy Spirit work together in giving and receiving and understanding the voice of God given in Scripture. Scripture does interpret Scripture, just as one thing a person says can give light to another thing they say.

Jennie said...

Christine,
on the justification passages from the catechism you just quoted: Yes I agree with those statements. I know there are differences in other aspects of justification, since we've had discussions about this on Elena's blog and here. I think there is a different place in the catechism that talks more about it; such as losing justification; and we've had discussions about justification being a process rather than a one time event. So the page you're quoting from has to be qualified by the other teachings elsewhere in the catechism.

Christine said...

There is a difference in the way Catholics and protestants use the word 'church'

I think in the English language church means many different things, so we have to be clear.

So it is different in that it means ALL the believers, as opposed to just the Magisterium

Catholics don't think the words Church and magisterium are interchangeable. However if we say, "The Church teaches that . . ." then we are speaking of the magisterium which is clear from the word "teaches".

We've already established that Catholics believe that all believers in Christ are part of the church, even non-Catholic Christians. And it would certainly be very odd if an "unbeliever" chose to be a member of some parish somewhere, but beyond that, the Church is made up of believers, of course.

No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Totally.

Jennie said...

Here's a quote from 'Humani Generis' of Pius XII:
21. It is also true that theologians must always return to the sources of divine revelation: for it belongs to them to point out how the doctrine of the living Teaching Authority is to be found either explicitly or implicitly in the Scriptures and in Tradition.[4] Besides, each source of divinely revealed doctrine contains so many rich treasures of truth, that they can really never be exhausted. Hence it is that theology through the study of its sacred sources remains ever fresh; on the other hand, speculation which neglects a deeper search into the deposit of faith, proves sterile, as we know from experience. But for this reason even positive theology cannot be on a par with merely historical science. For, together with the sources of positive theology God has given to His Church a living Teaching Authority to elucidate and explain what is contained in the deposit of faith only obscurely and implicitly. This deposit of faith our Divine Redeemer has given for authentic interpretation not to each of the faithful, not even to theologians, but only to the Teaching Authority of the Church. But if the Church does exercise this function of teaching, as she often has through the centuries, either in the ordinary or in the extraordinary way, it is clear how false is a procedure which would attempt to explain what is clear by means of what is obscure. Indeed, the very opposite procedure must be used. Hence Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, teaching that the most noble office of theology is to show how a doctrine defined by the Church is contained in the sources of revelation, added these words, and with very good reason: "in that sense in which it has been defined by the Church."
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis_en.html

In Jude verse 3 he writes: Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
This directly contradicts what Pius wrote above: "This deposit of faith our Divine Redeemer has given for authentic interpretation not to each of the faithful, not even to theologians, but only to the Teaching Authority of the Church."
Scripture says that the faith was delivered to the saints, which is all those who are redeemed, and that all saints should contend earnestly for the faith that was delivered to them. Scripture never says that it is only for the 'teaching authority' or magisterium to interpret scripture. All saints can and should do this, in accord with the light given by all scripture, by the Spirit who lives in all of us, and by the members of the Body given gifts of the Spirit to understand and exhort, etc.

Jennie said...

Continued:

The first part of the quote from 'Humani Generis' says, again:
It is also true that theologians must always return to the sources of divine revelation: for it belongs to them to point out how the doctrine of the living Teaching Authority is to be found either explicitly or implicitly in the Scriptures and in Tradition.

This is backwards from what it should be. The theologians, and the teachers, should be seeking in the word of God first of all for the doctrines contained in it; not seeking to prove the doctrines of the Living Teaching Authority from Scripture. This is a big difference in the way we look at scripture.
The RCC isn't the only one to do this, of course. It is seen in many of the things that evangelicals argue over, and try to prove from scripture. This is why we need to seek God first in His word, and not just seek to prove our beliefs. If we all did this, we'd have alot less to argue about, and less time to argue, myself included :)

Jennie said...

Interesting and unfortunate that divisions, whether between the Reformers and the RCC, or between divisions within each of these groups, often make us take our eyes off seeking Him first, and cause us to have to seek answers to the questions the divisions engender. This happens on both sides and within both sides too.

Christine said...

The magisterium is doing just what Jude was exhorting the Church to do at that time - "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."

Jennie said...

But what of the statement by Pius that the theologians must use scripture to prove the doctrines of the Teaching Authority? This is not the purpose of Scripture.

John said...

"But what of the statement by Pius that the theologians must use scripture to prove the doctrines of the Teaching Authority."
It makes perfect sense. Is it not scripture that you use to justify what you believe?

Christine said...

He means that ultimately, though "theology through the study of its sacred sources remains ever fresh", there must be an authority that is the guardian of the deposit of faith.

Otherwise, this theologian or that pastor, or this charismatic leader or that pretty youth minister, can lead people astray by claiming an interpretation of scripture which is false.

The teaching authority prevents polygamists from saying "the bible never says we can only have one wife"; it is to prevent people from saying the bible supports the burning of the Koran.

It prevents Dan Brown, author of The DaVinci Code from claiming that the Gospel of Mary Magdalene should have been in the canon. It prevents liberal Christians from claiming that because the scriptures don't mention abortion, that it is up to the individual to decide. It speaks out if someone uses certain scripture passages to "prove" that if you have enough faith, you will not suffer, and have material wealth.

And, also, remember that the Church existed prior to the NT canon.

Jennie said...

It only makes sense if the doctrines were found originally in Scripture rather than things that came in later on. theologians must always return to the sources of divine revelation: for it belongs to them to point out how the doctrine of the living Teaching Authority is to be found either explicitly or implicitly in the Scriptures and in Tradition.
It sounds like they are to assume that what the Magisterium says is true, and then find proof for these doctrines in Scripture and Tradition. This is backwards. You can find 'proof' for many things in scripture if you only use part of it, and if you take something obscure and make it fit what you want.

Jennie said...

He means that ultimately, though "theology through the study of its sacred sources remains ever fresh", there must be an authority that is the guardian of the deposit of faith.

But Christine, people can fail, and the Teaching Authority has failed at times. In the Arian controversy most of the bishops failed, but in many cases their own churches didn't follow them into the heresy. The congregations remained faithful while the teachers did not.
"Ambrose (c. 339-97): Many times have the clergy erred; the bishop has wavered in his opinion; the rich men have adhered in their judgment to the earthly princes of the world; meanwhile the people alone preserved the faith entire. John Daillé, A Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1856), p. 197."

Christine said...

It only makes sense if the doctrines were found originally in Scripture

Technically, no doctrines were found originally in scripture, right? (speaking of the New Testament). That's why we're speaking two different languages. There was Jesus (the TRUE original!), then the Church born on Pentecost, the Apostolic Age of oral teaching as they went out to preach the good news, later they wrote gospels and letters which were later still compiled by discernment of the Church. This doesn't diminish scripture at all but it's just that the Church and scripture cannot contradict each other since the New Testament was written by the church (its members, like John and Paul).

That's what WE believe, you do not, but it is why Catholics don't have the question of which judges which. I'm like a broken record, but it's all one thing.

Back in the day, having been raised a "once saved, always saved" girl, I studied all of this before I made the decision to convert. I'm rusty now, and it's not one of my particular loves as far as areas of study. I'm hoping my fellow Catholics can make up what I'm lacking here.

Christine said...

Raising the Arian controversy is the perfect example - when even bishops fail - ultimately the magisterium, by the Holy Spirit (not by man), rejects the false doctrine that is raised!

This proves the NEED for the magisterium - and the bishops individually are not IT! So that even if 99% of bishops are in error, the holy spirit will not allow that error to prevail. Otherwise, Arianism and all the other heresies would have been carried or not by majority rule, OR - and imagine this - each believer could have decided for him or her self after studying the scriptures.

Jennie said...

This doesn't diminish scripture at all but it's just that the Church and scripture cannot contradict each other since the New Testament was written by the church (its members, like John and Paul).

Christine, where in Scripture does it say that the Church and Scripture cannot contradict each other, as if it's impossible? They SHOULD NOT contradict each other, but just saying that 'the church and scripture cannot contradict each other' doesn't make it true. The RCC teachings do contradict scripture in some cases. And all the churches that spread across the world throughout all history are not the same as the church of Paul and John. They are only the same when they have the same gospel or doctrine. The RCC is only one of the descendants of the original church, and it it turn has descendants, which like itself must be judged by how they adhere to God's word. The succession is through the Spirit and the Truth, not only or at all through the laying on of hands, if those who are ordained don't keep the truth.

Christine said...

Paul says the Church is "the pillar and foundation of truth". He also says to Timothy that "all scripture is inspired by God".

So both the Church and scripture are true and truth can't contradict itself.

Your problem with it is that you don't believe the Church Paul speaks of is the Catholic Church, and we do.

Jennie said...

Raising the Arian controversy is the perfect example - when even bishops fail - ultimately the magisterium, by the Holy Spirit (not by man), rejects the false doctrine that is raised!

This proves the NEED for the magisterium - and the bishops individually are not IT! So that even if 99% of bishops are in error, the holy spirit will not allow that error to prevail. Otherwise, Arianism and all the other heresies would have been carried or not by majority rule, OR - and imagine this - each believer could have decided for him or her self after studying the scriptures.


Christine, that makes no sense! You are saying that when the magisterium fails and the body of believers retains the truth, that that shows the need for a magisterium? The body of believers together held to the truth while the supposedly infallible magisterium almost wholly rejected it. This shows that the Holy Spirit and God's word can uphold the body even if the leaders go astray. It says nothing for the need of a magisterium. We have need of gifted leaders at the local level to teach each body by the Spirit and the word. The Spirit is the one who calls and enables.

Christine said...

You said, "They [churches] are only the same when they have the same gospel or doctrine."

Yep.

John said...

Wow. Christine you are on the mark with all of your comments. Soometimes we have to agree to disagree.

Christine said...

Christine, that makes no sense! You are saying that when the magisterium fails and the body of believers retains the truth, that that shows the need for a magisterium?

No, I didn't say anything about "when the magisterium fails". I said when individuals, be they bishops or believers, fall into error, the magisterium is the safeguard. Did you think that the magisterium is just any group of bishops? Not so.

Absolutely I agree that there were/are times when bishops or priests are corrupt and the believers hold to the truth and are vindicated by the teaching authority of the Church. The thing is though, if a bishop is a dissenter - you know it, because there is an authority that he is dissenting FROM.

Christine said...

Jennie, I can see why you got the wrong idea of what I meant - I worded it in a confusing way.
Raising the Arian controversy is the perfect example - when even bishops fail - ultimately the magisterium, by the Holy Spirit (not by man), rejects the false doctrine that is raised!

This proves the NEED for the magisterium


I meant "when the bishops fail, THEN the magisterium overrules the error and proclaims the truth"

Jennie said...

Paul says the Church is "the pillar and foundation of truth". He also says to Timothy that "all scripture is inspired by God".

So both the Church and scripture are true and truth can't contradict itself.

Your problem with it is that you don't believe the Church Paul speaks of is the Catholic Church, and we do.


The Apostles also say that we must earnestly contend for the faith, which means that it's possible for the church to lose the faith if it doesn't do that. Paul says in Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

He is warning that wolves in sheep's clothing will immediately come in, and that the church must watch and hold to the truth. If the church does not hold to the truth then it is no longer the pillar and foundation of the truth, and will cease being the true church.

Christine said...

Let's agree to disagree, without condemnation on either side. It is a good discussion (not that it is over, but I personally have to get moving on my so-called life :))

Jennie said...

And, also, remember that the Church existed prior to the NT canon.

The church that existed before the official canon was not the RCC. The RCC came gradually into existence when the bishop of Rome claimed and then began to take authority over the entire western church.

The church (the 'catholic' church, not the Roman Catholic Church) also had an understanding of what the inspired books were long before any councils declared it.

And the church didn't exist before the God's word. They had the Old Testament, and they had the Apostles and others spoken testimony, and they quickly had written epistles and gospel too, even though they were not gathered into a volume yet. 'The scriptures cannot be broken'. The spoken word is the same as the written word.

Jennie said...

I meant "when the bishops fail, THEN the magisterium overrules the error and proclaims the truth"

I think you are misunderstanding. The bishops ARE the magisterium. The ones who accepted the arian or other false doctrines were the hightest rulers of the church, not just the pastors. The word bishop covers all of them in the earlier days.

Jennie said...

Let's agree to disagree, without condemnation on either side. It is a good discussion (not that it is over, but I personally have to get moving on my so-called life :))

Well, that's how it usually winds up, as long as we keep it friendly. It's nice to be able to just stick to the information and not worry about personal comments that cause bad feelings. Thanks Christine.

Jennie said...

Whew! Seems like old times again. What a relief!

Jennie said...

From Called to Communion:

"I have to ask you: how do you know the Bible is the inspired word of God? After all, there were more than 150 manuscripts floating around for the first few centuries before the canon of Scripture was decided upon. Martin Luther went through the Scriptures and decided which ones he believed were inspired, and chucked several books that had been accepted as inspired by all of Christianity up until that point. I have to wonder why every person with a personal relationship with Christ does not have the right to read over the 150+ manuscripts himself, and decide for himself which ones are inspired by the Holy Spirit and which ones are not. Why does Martin Luther get to decide, but I don’t? This is why Protestantism is founded on a house of sand, because the only way you can know the Scriptures are inspired is by submitting to the Catholic Church’s authority. There is no other way to know that a specific writing is inspired except through authoritative revelation and that revelation came through the Catholic Church more than a thousand years before Protestantism cropped up."


I'm not an expert on the 'Canon' issue, but from what I've read I believe that the Early Church Fathers and the churches themselves, had a good idea of which books were inspired scripture before any councils had to officially make a list. It was later on that spurious books began to appear and claim to be written by Apostles, which gave occasion for some regions to hold councils about this. There seems to be very close agreement on the books that should be included by all the early Fathers.
Martin Luther may have expressed opinions about some books, but in his translation he didn't remove anything, as far as I know. And protestants don't treat him as some kind of great final authority, but recognize both his strengths and contributions and also his weaknesses. Despite these we are grateful for the way God used him.

This is why Protestantism is founded on a house of sand, because the only way you can know the Scriptures are inspired is by submitting to the Catholic Church’s authority.
Protestantism isn't perfect, but it isn't founded on a house of sand. The Reformation was founded upon the freedom of all to read and study God's word and hear it preached with power, and allow the Holy Spirit to freely work in each heart.
The churches that held councils and began to determine the final canon (I believe they were regional councils, not including all the churches) were not 'the Roman Catholic Church' as it became later on. They were all part of the 'catholic' or universal church, and were not yet considered to be under the authority of Rome. That came later. So these churches were the ancestors of all churches, not just what became the RCC under the bishop of Rome. So it's not true that "The very Bible you use to bash the Catholic Church was given to you by the Catholic Church. As Scott Hahn so aptly put it, you must sit in Rome’s lap to slap her in the face." Rome is an upstart, and the Reformers were right to do as they did.
All this does not mean that many Roman Catholics don't have true faith. Baptists and other denominations have errors too, and wrong understanding in some cases about their origins and importance, and there are many in their churches who miss the gospel because of trust in tradition or heritage. It just means that we all need to trust in Christ alone for our salvation and look to Him as our only hope, repenting of our sins and believing the gospel. Then living in obedience to Him out of love, faith, and dependence.

Christine said...

Jennie, you said, I think you are misunderstanding. The bishops ARE the magisterium.

We've told you that it is annoying to say the least for you to tell us what our own church teaches as if we don't know. We don't do that to you, as in "Jennie, you DO believe in the snow-covered dung hill, you DO you DO! ALL protestants believe that."

The Magisterium is most definitely not synonymous with "bishops" UNLESS they are officially gathered, and together with the pope as the successor of Peter.

The Catechism: 85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."47 This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith."


So any individual bishop or unofficial group of them do not carry the doctrinal teaching authority. Only when they are gathered in unity with the Pope.

We Catholics know all too well that bishops here or there can be WAY off, right guys? But then they are corrected and possibly disciplined. If just "bishops" were the magisterium, then who would correct heretical bishops? From the first heresies to today, the Church's teaching office, by the Holy Spirit not of men, has safeguarded the deposit of faith against error.

So, with heresy, no matter how many bishops are in error, the magisterium as a council of the Church gathers, discerns, corrects, fine-tunes, and promulgates the truth of whatever the issue is.

We know that you don't agree, but what I've just presented is what the Church believes and teaches.

Jennie said...

Here's an interesting article I found on the Arian heresy. I'm think the writer may be Catholic, but I'm not sure. I don't know if it supports my view, or yours, but it has some good quotes in it.
http://www.traditio.com/tradlib/arians.txt

Jennie said...

So the magisterium is only the gathered bishops in council? They are not the magisterium any other time? I don't think that makes sense. They have to teach every day, not just in council.

John said...

The Traditio site is a traditionalist Catholic site not in union with Rome. I would avoid it as unreliable.

Jennie said...

The Traditio site is a traditionalist Catholic site not in union with Rome. I would avoid it as unreliable.

I'm not sure what traditionalists believe, but the quotes are still interesting.

John said...

I have no interest in looking at quotes that may or may not be valid if I can't trust the source (memories of condcordat watch). Those folks are in opposition to the Church and are in greater opposition to your views.

Christine said...

So the magisterium is only the gathered bishops in council? They are not the magisterium any other time? I don't think that makes sense.

It's the only way it does make sense. It reminds me of being on a Board of Trustees. Each member cannot act, or speak, or BE the Board unless gathered and having a quorum.

We are speaking of official doctrine, not ordinary teaching. It would compare to if a pastor or protestant bishop said something in a sermon - it's teaching, but it may or may not "speak" for the denomination's doctrine.

Normally, and some other Catholic correct me if I'm wrong, the various councils such as Vatican II are speaking as the Magisterium. Papal encyclicals fall under the category of the "ordinary" Magisterium.

For what Catholics believe, see the Catechism rather than questionable sites - that is, if you are looking for what the magisterium says.

Jennie said...

Those folks are in opposition to the Church and are in greater opposition to your views.

I'm curious what their differences are with the pope, or with Roman Catholic doctrine. I looked briefly at the main page of their site, but couldn't figure out why they would be out of communion. Are they the ones that don't like some of the changes from Vatican 2, and stick to the Latin mass?

Christine said...

It IS interesting to read. This is one of the types of groups who claim that Vatican II is invalid. They are opposed to ecumenism and usually do not believe that protestants are part of the Church or can be saved.

They would oppose all your beliefs EXCEPT it is interesting to note this comment: Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ.

So - yet another "remnant" of the only TRUE Christians!

Christine said...

I mean that the group behind the "traditio" website believes that they, the so-called "traditionalists" are the "true Church of Jesus Christ" as opposed to the regular Catholic Church with Benedict as pope.

Some of these folks believe that there hasn't been a valid pope for decades.

Christine said...

Totally off-topic but if anyone is interested in the meaning of suffering, or dealing with it in your life (or a loved one's life), I find this writer to be so logical and readable - like C.S. Lewis. Wonder what you think about it, Jennie. This particular article isn't Protestant or Catholic. If you're interested.

http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/suffering.htm

Jennie said...

Hi Christine,
I've started reading the Peter Kreeft article, but have been busy cleaning my carpets and house and now am out of town again, so I haven't been able to read it carefully.
What I've read so far is very meaningful. I like the part where he says Jesus is with us even in the lowest places, like water, which always flows downward (my paraphrase of his words) to the lowest place.

Christine said...

OH, I like that. Didn't think of that aspect of water, flowing down to the lowest place.