Reading the Church Fathers discussion

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Doctrine Matters > Sola Scriptura

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message 1: by Clark (last edited Oct 01, 2017 07:17AM) (new)

Clark Wilson | 586 comments Nemo said, "Both Origen and Calvin were well-versed in the Scriptures, and wrote extensive commentaries on them. And yet, they came away with apparently opposite understandings of free will and grace, both supported by the Scripture."

This common phenomenon is one major reason why I find the principle of sola scriptura deficient, even when it is softened or adapted somewhat. Orthodoxy and, I think, Roman Catholicism, teach that the church (which I will not define this instant) is logically and chronologically prior to written, canonized Scripture, and that the church over time authoritatively discerns and teaches what Scripture means. This recognizes that there may be centuries-long debates and that the church's interpretation may be refined over time.

Now, to relate this to Church Fathers: Origen's operating principle is to ascertain what the church teaches, and then to support things from Scripture, and then to explore things using reason.

Since I have read only parts of Origen any generalization I can make is tentative. But I haven't yet come across an instance of Origen challenging a church teaching by appealing to Scripture, or of him challenging any church interpretation, whether of Scripture or any other thing.

We could explore Origen to find out what he means by "the church" and how he recognizes an authoritative church teaching.

Others who have read more of the Fathers than I may be able to contribute examples or principles from them.

It does seem this is a problem they would have bumped into.

Again, I haven't defined church, and neither have I tried to state precisely the principle of sola scriptura.


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan Clark wrote: "Nemo said, "Both Origen and Calvin were well-versed in the Scriptures, and wrote extensive commentaries on them. And yet, they came away with apparently opposite understandings of free will and gra..."

Interesting...
I thought that got into the the use of the term 'catholic', which Ignatius was it? in about 108 AD? used the term in his letter, I thought the point being he was trying to differentiate the followers of Jesus who showed fidelity to His words, versus the many others, who called themselves Christians too...


message 3: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Clark wrote: ".....Orthodoxy and, I think, Roman Catholicism, teach that the church (which I will not define this instant) is logically and chronologically prior to written, canonized Scripture, and that the church over time authoritatively discerns and teaches what Scripture means..."

On the one hand, I'm at a severe disadvantage here, because I don't know the official teaching on Sola Scriptura of any denomination, and am not qualified to speak on their behalf; on the other hand, I'm under no obligation to explain or defend this teaching, but am free to challenge all teachings. :)

Sola Scriptura is one area where my position has changed. I took it for granted at first, because I was not exposed to any other perspective. It was through listening to the Catholics' and reading Calvin's arguments that I got a more balanced view of things.


message 4: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments When I hear "sola scriptura" I think Reformation, for it is a product of it. It is a device to distance and separate from the (Catholic) Church. Naturally I am inclined to doubt that the thought processes inherent to sola scriptura, the Bible as sole authority, could be found anywhere in Origen or the Church Fathers. Origen (185-254 AD), having lived before the New Testament was fully ratified (419 AD), wouldn't even have a frame of reference for this sort of thinking. The Bible is a product of Sacred Tradition, a means to 1) identify the texts that are Scripture, and 2) keep unaltered the texts in perpetuity so consistent teaching is possible. The reality of the myriad of heresies even in these early centuries made this imperative. "Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence. ... the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition." (CCC #s 82 + 83)

To me the whole argument of "sola scriptura" is rendered nonsense by the historical realities alone. Modern theologies are irrelevant. That is looking at the issue from the present into the past, not from the historical reality of Origen or any other Church Father.

Besides, sola scriptura can only flourish in a literate society. Even during the Reformation the literacy rates were in the single digits. Much of the nobility couldn't read, the most literate people were clerics and religious. So back then you mostly had academic squabbles. The whole concept of sola scriptura only gained wide-spread popularity in the 19th century, as you needed two primary conditions: 1) a literate populace, and 2) cheap printing


message 5: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Speaking of balance, we live in a time when the validity, not to mention authority or divine inspiration, of the Scripture is constantly challenged, so I think it might be more beneficial to discuss how the Fathers regarded the Scriptures by examining their writings closely, than to pit sola scriptura against the authority of the Church, and start another "confessional war" as one member put it.

What do you all think?


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Speaking of balance, we live in a time when the validity, not to mention authority or divine inspiration, of the Scripture is constantly challenged, so I think it might be more beneficial to discus..."

I didn't know the validity, authority or Divine Inspiration of Scripture was challenged, I thought it just came down to interpretation again, which gets us back to the same problem - but a close reading of the what the Fathers say is never a bad idea!


message 7: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Clark wrote: "We could explore Origen to find out what he means by "the church" and how he recognizes an authoritative church teaching."

This is related to the "Rule of Faith", which was discussed briefly when we read Tertullian's Prescription Against Heretics:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

If I understand the Fathers correctly, the church is the assembly of believers, who are planted and built by the apostles, and follow their doctrines faithfully. (Note that doctrine is embedded in the definition of the church).

Tertullian goes so far as to argue that heretics have no right to argue from the Scripture, because it doesn't belong to them.


message 8: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments That's fine.
My passion for history got away from me again...


message 9: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "I didn't know the validity, authority or Divine Inspiration of Scripture was challenged, "

I take it you haven't heard of Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, John Dominic Crossan, etc.? :)


message 10: by Nemo (last edited Oct 01, 2017 03:13PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Kerstin wrote: "That's fine.
My passion for history got away from me again..."


I'm interested in history as well, but I suspect we look at history differently, and there is no shortcut to resolve this. :)

As I see it, we are all "looking at the issue from the present into the past, not from the historical reality of Origen or any other Church Father". None of us lived in the first three centuries. We are all interpreting historical events through our own perspectives. Engaging with others in a civil dialogue might help us understand others' perspectives. However, I don't think a historical study would render the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptural "nonsense".


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Susan wrote: "I didn't know the validity, authority or Divine Inspiration of Scripture was challenged, "

I take it you haven't heard of Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, John Dominic Crossan, etc.? :)"


Haha, no.


message 12: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Kerstin wrote: "That's fine.
My passion for history got away from me again..."

I'm interested in history as well, but I suspect we look at history differently, and there is no shortcut to resolve..."


I don't know if one finds something not logically sound, that that makes it "nonsense"...one also looks into where others are coming from, what, if any, may be an underlying agenda of why they may have come to that conclusion, and then people are always open to persuade others how something felt not to be logically sound, is.


message 13: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments The Scripture was so important in the early Church that the Gnostics also sought to justify their doctrines by it. Irenaeus wrote the following in response:
They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked art in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions.

Their manner of acting is just as if one, when a beautiful image of a king has been constructed by some skilful artist out of precious jewels, should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should rearrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of a fox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that this was the beautiful image of the king which the skilful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of the king, but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by thus exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception what a king’s form was like, and persuade them that that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king.

-- Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. 1 Ch. 8



message 14: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Nemo wrote: "However, I don't think a historical study would render the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptural "nonsense".

I admit I have a major stumbling block here, and that is historical chronology. There are 386 years between Christ's death and resurrection in about 33 AD and the ratification of the New Testament canon at the Council of Carthage in 419 AD. How do you account for these interim years from the perspective of sola scriptura?


message 15: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Kerstin wrote: "There are 386 years between Christ's death and resurrection in about 33 AD and the ratification of the New Testament canon at the Council of Carthage in 419 AD. How do you account for these interim years from the perspective of sola scriptura? ..."

I said that I don't know any official teaching on sola scriptura, and am not qualified to explain or defend it. But I'm afraid that nobody else in this group would defend it, as the active members are either Roman Catholics or Orthodox. :)

There is ample historical evidence that the Scriptures, i.e., the Gospels and Paul's Epistles, were already existent and recognized before early second century. Church Fathers such as Ignatius of Antioch and Irenaeus quoted frequently from them.

Sola scriptura, as I understand it, means that the Apostolic teachings (in both oral and written forms) are the foundation of and the ultimate authority within the Church. As the word of God, the Scripture derives its authority from God, not from the Church, although it is formalized though the instrumentality of the Church; the Church, being the house of God, the dwelling place of the Spirit, has the authority to interpret the Scripture.


message 16: by Kerstin (last edited Oct 01, 2017 10:48PM) (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Nemo wrote: "As I see it, we are all "looking at the issue from the present into the past, not from the historical reality of Origen or any other Church Father". None of us lived in the first three centuries. We are all interpreting historical events through our own perspectives."

You point to something very important here, and that is projection. To be credible with any historical account is the awareness that we are products of our own culture. When this is not taken into account the worst cases you have are books full of fake history. There are way too many of those!

Having said that, sincere historical research is very factual with the recognition that some things are hard to evaluate. Still, it is hard to dismiss the objective facts of chronology. What was known when, which inventions followed another. How philosophies evolved and branched out over the centuries. The primary sources can tell us much, but of course, as you go further back into history, there is less material to work with.

This brings me back to sola scriptura. Looking at it from the Reformation forward to the present is one thing. I have a very hard time transposing it backwards over a millennia. When one follows the first 15 centuries of Christianity there will eventually come the historical and philosophical "built-up" leading to the events of the Reformation. One is dependent on the other. There is a chronological sequence here.


message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "The Scripture was so important in the early Church that the Gnostics also sought to justify their doctrines by it. Irenaeus wrote the following in response:
They gather their views from other sourc..."


What is old is new.....we see it all around us, in the religious world, political world, cultural world...it is very dangerous..that subtle twisting of the truth, fake news, propaganda, disinformation...it has always caused much trouble and one must always be suspect and vigilant.


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Kerstin wrote: "There are 386 years between Christ's death and resurrection in about 33 AD and the ratification of the New Testament canon at the Council of Carthage in 419 AD. How do you account f..."

I was not under the impression that Sola Scriptura relies on the oral aspect, and I do not believe Catholics say Scripture derives its 'authority' from the church...do we? I think that is a misunderstanding...


message 19: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments I looked online for a better explanation, and wikipedia actually has a fairly balanced article on it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_sc...


message 20: by Nemo (last edited Oct 02, 2017 09:26AM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "... I was not under the impression that Sola Scriptura relies on the oral aspect, and I do not believe Catholics say Scripture derives its 'authority' from the church...do we?..."

The teachings of Jesus were oral before they were written down; Paul's epistles were dictated by him and read publicly in the receiving Churches. These are the oral forms of Scripture I was referring to.

I'll leave it to the Catholics in this group to explain what they believe regarding the authority of the Scripture. :)


message 21: by Nemo (last edited Oct 02, 2017 12:57PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Returning to the Church Fathers, they believe the Scriptures (both OT and NT) are divinely inspired, for the following reasons:

1. The antiquity of the Old Testament, Moses in particular, predates all the ancient Greek and Roman writings.
2. The prophesies in the Scriptures (both OT and NT) have been and are still being fulfilled in their own time.
3. Jesus, manifested as the Son of God through the Resurrection, confirms the Old Testament, which prophesies about Him.
4. The lives of people around the world have been transformed through the preaching of the Gospel. This is unprecedented and unparalleled in history.


message 22: by Nemo (last edited Oct 02, 2017 06:37PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Kerstin wrote: "... Looking at it from the Reformation forward to the present is one thing. I have a very hard time transposing it backwards over a millennia. When one follows the first 15 centuries of Christianity there will eventually come the historical and philosophical "built-up" leading to the events of the Reformation. One is dependent on the other. There is a chronological sequence here..."

I read this paragraph a few times, and am still not sure I follow your meaning.

I could draw a parallel between the historical development of Christianity and Judaism. An Orthodox Jew would have a hard time accepting the Incarnation and transposing Christianity back to the millennia before the birth of Jesus, and yet the Christians believed that their religion is the true Judaism, so to speak, despite the fact that it came to existence millennia after Judaism.
and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones
Matthew 3:9

I'm definitely not saying that Catholicism is the same as Judaism. I'm only pointing out that "chronological sequence" in and of itself doesn't prove anything, and it can be interpreted both ways.


message 23: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Nemo, you keep me on my toes :)

What about this: In chemistry not all reactions are reversible. You can't have railroads before you invent the steam engine. You can't do algebra if you don't know fractions. You wouldn't have either the Protestant or the Catholic Reformations without the Avignon papacies. It is not a matter of proving, but a matter of factual development. If factual development is simply a matter of interpretation, then that's dipping way too far into relativism for me.


message 24: by Nemo (last edited Oct 02, 2017 06:32PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Kerstin wrote: "Nemo, you keep me on my toes :)

What about this: In chemistry not all reactions are reversible. You can't have railroads before you invent the steam engine. You can't do algebra if you don't know ..."


Jut for the record again :), I didn't start this discussion. I was only responding to your statement that sola scriptura is "nonsense".

You seem to be making a causal claim based on chronological order. It is a non sequitur.

From the fact that the Avignon papacies happened before the Protestant and Catholic Reformations -- this is a fact that can be independently verified, it doesn't follow that the Avignon papacies are a necessary cause of the Reformations -- this is not a fact, it is an interpretation, an inference about cause and effect that is not necessarily true.


message 25: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments To finish the thought in msg. 22, there seems to be another parallel between the historical development of Christianity and Judaism, that is related to sola scriptura:

Sola scriptura is a principle that Jesus, the apostles, and the early Church Fathers constantly applied when witnessing to the Jews of their time (you might call it a tactic if you like). They rejected tradition as the "tradition of men". They didn't and couldn't appeal to the religious authorities, the Pharisees, their persecutors. Consequently, they reasoned with the Jews using the Jewish Scriptures alone.


message 26: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments All of history is just interpretation, all facts are just perception, chronology is nothing but interchangeable modules, and Charlemagne had a twitter account. ;)


message 27: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Susan wrote: "... I was not under the impression that Sola Scriptura relies on the oral aspect, and I do not believe Catholics say Scripture derives its 'authority' from the church...do we?..."

Th..."


Yes, that was the point of my confusion with Sola Scriptura. I did not think they "allowed" the oral aspect, acknowledging only the written Bible.... so they say they acknowledge the oral tradition before the Bible, but not Tradition? And, Kerstin's post said Sola Scriptura holds that the Christian Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith and practice..do they concede they (the actual Bible) was confirmed/validated by the Catholic Church?
This ties into my question above....I think we all believe the Bible is the Word of God...He is the ultimate authority... but yes, I thought the Catholic Church is responsible for confirming/validating the final canon of the Bible...if that is what you mean by authority. We don't have any Sola Scriptura believing Protestants in this group?


message 28: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Kerstin wrote: "... Looking at it from the Reformation forward to the present is one thing. I have a very hard time transposing it backwards over a millennia. When one follows the first 15 centurie..."

I wouldn't say "Christianity came to existence millennia after Judaism" personally... I believe it is all one thing - God, Creation, Jesus, the Church...it all flows....I once heard (I think! My memory!!) that Judaism was the scaffolding for the Church...it was not unnecessary, or bad, it is very important, for without it the structure wouldn't exist, but it is through that, that the structure grows. The scaffolding's purpose is not necessary at a certain point, but again, not downing it, but it's purpose has been fulfilled.


message 29: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "To finish the thought in msg. 22, there seems to be another parallel between the historical development of Christianity and Judaism, that is related to sola scriptura:

Sola scriptura is a principl..."


As a Catholic, I believe what you just said.....Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Church Fathers referred to the OT Scripture....I guess this is the point that Kerstin may be making...can we go back and call that 'the principle of Sola Scriptura' when that didn't come to be until 1500 years later? And I do not believe the 'tradition of men' you speak of is the Tradition that Catholics speak of....


message 30: by Nemo (last edited Oct 03, 2017 09:05AM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "...they acknowledge the oral tradition before the Bible, but not Tradition?..."

If you meant by "Tradition" those doctrines believed to have divine authority but are not in the scriptures, then it is contrary to the principle of sola scriptura.

... I thought the Catholic Church is responsible for confirming/validating the final canon of the Bible...if that is what you mean by authority..."

The universal Church formalized and confirmed the Scriptures, not the Roman Catholic Church as we know now. The validity of the Scriptures is derived from God, not the Church, although it is the Church who recognizes the divine authority and inspiration of the Scriptures.

Judaism was the scaffolding for the Church...

To use the same metaphor, Roman Catholicism is the scaffolding for Protestantism.

can we go back and call that 'the principle of Sola Scriptura' when that didn't come to be until 1500 years later

The law of gravity wasn't discovered until the seventeenth century, but it doesn't mean that the law didn't exist in nature before then.


message 31: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Susan wrote: "...they acknowledge the oral tradition before the Bible, but not Tradition?..."

If you meant by "Tradition" those doctrines believed to have divine authority but are not in the scri..."


At what date and time did the "universal Church" formalize and confirm the Scriptures? Can you explain what you mean by that a little more?
Interesting...could you explain how Roman Catholicism would be the scaffolding for Protestantism?


message 32: by Kerstin (last edited Oct 03, 2017 12:44PM) (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Susan wrote: "This ties into my question above....I think we all believe the Bible is the Word of God...He is the ultimate authority... but yes, I thought the Catholic Church is responsible for confirming/validating the final canon of the Bible...if that is what you mean by authority."

Protestants have a very hard time acknowledging that it was a Catholic process that brought about the Bible. What texts were selected and deemed Scripture was hashed out in three Church-wide councils ending in 419 AD. Hence all the verbal tap-dancing.

Now at 419 the selection process was finalized, but the canon itself was not closed. Meaning, if the Church in the future would ever identify other texts worthy of inclusion that this could be done. And there is a precedence: the Old Testament Scriptures had additions over time.

Fast forward to the 16th century and the upheaval of the Reformation. There was a lot of debate as to what constitutes Scriptures, and Luther decided all by his lone self that some books in the Bible don't belong and cut them out...and that's another long post for another time...

Anyway, the Council of Trent (1545 - 1563) met over a series of years, cleaning up all sorts of messes, the question of the Biblical canon among them. A Church-wide consensus was reached that the New Testament canon was closed.

So to address your comment of confirming or validating the Bible, there are two very distinct methods here. The Church always made these decisions in unison, in councils where a full mandate of the all the bishops were present. In contrast, Luther was a lone ranger.


message 33: by Kerstin (last edited Oct 03, 2017 01:00PM) (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Nemo wrote: "The universal Church formalized and confirmed the Scriptures, not the Roman Catholic Church as we know now."

OK. I'll play along.
When did the "universal Church" cease to exist and the Roman Catholic Church come into being?
Please give me dates, the common name associated with this event, the major personalities involved. The Church is also known for its vast archives and document keeping, please provide the founding document. I am sure it is somewhere on the internet.
Another follow-up question would be, where is the "universal Church" now?

As a side note, whether you write it "catholic" or "Catholic" the word means "universal" in English, and your statement is self-contradictory.


message 34: by Nemo (last edited Oct 03, 2017 01:48PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments *sigh*. This thread is turning into another "confessional war".

I've been trying to explain in this thread the principle of sola scriptura, as I understand it, as best I can. In a very naive way, I was hoping to help people from other traditions to make sense of the doctrine. I have no intention to demean or attack other traditions. I don't think I ever demeaned or attacked Roman Catholicism, but I sense hostility and sarcasm in the responses from our Catholic members.

*imitating the Godfather* How did things ever get so far?

If you find any of my statements offensive, just point them out and I'd be more than happy to retract them.


message 35: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments I don't find them offensive. If that were truly the case I would never air this publicly and instead choose to resolve the issue privately. I haven't done that, and it would take a whole lot more for that to happen.

I am not hostile either. A little frustrated here and there, but not hostile. I know it bleeds through from time to time. Nemo, you've been giving me quite a hard time too, so the escalation was mutual.

The subject matter we are dealing with has far more nuances and subtleties than meets the eye. From a Protestant perspective, and this is not criticism, I don't think people are aware how many stereo-types and misconceptions there are about the Church. What you wrote in message #30 making a distinction between a universal Church and Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic reacts with banging his head against the wall. I realize you may have written this very innocently, but this stuff keeps adding up.

So here I am, being confronted with these statements, and can't really get into the conversation, because I feel compelled to clear the misconception out of the way before getting into the substance.
This is my analysis of how we get off track.

Now I don't have a magic bullet here how to resolve this except that we all move forward in Christian charity.


message 36: by Nemo (last edited Oct 03, 2017 05:42PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Kerstin wrote: "What you wrote in message #30 making a distinction between a universal Church and Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic reacts with banging his head against the wall.. ."

When I think of the (universal) Church, I think of all the believers, in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, Evangelical and all other Christian churches (including those that I don't know exist). From my perspective, the Roman Catholic Church is not universal, neither is any other church in my list. Therefore, a distinction is necessary.

I think this is what Ignatius of Antioch envisioned when he wrote, "wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic church". It would be empty to speak of Christian charity if we don't even acknowledge the other person as a member of the Church, a brother or sister in Christ.


message 37: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "*sigh*. This thread is turning into another "confessional war".

I've been trying to explain in this thread the principle of sola scriptura, as I understand it, as best I can. In a very naive way,..."


I don't find anything you say offensive. I am very eager to hear what people think and why. I can not understand why it seems that no one can have a conversation anymore. It is called talking and information exchange. I have not been around other faiths and do not know all this stuff. I sincerely want to know. I don't want to follow any false belief system either, so genuinely want all the information I can get, to always either confirm myself in what I believe or work towards transitioning to another belief system that I would be more confident in. There should be no offense taken in any conversation here. Even if someone loves the faith they have and passionately defends it, that shouldn't hurt anyone. Even if one thinks another system is wrong, it would be because they have found inconsistencies in the thinking, not that anyone is a bad person. The discussion of possible inconsistencies is called learning, I thought....I would hope we are all mature enough individuals that no one would take offense at sincere questioning and conversation.


message 38: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Nemo wrote: "Kerstin wrote: "What you wrote in message #30 making a distinction between a universal Church and Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic reacts with banging his head against the wall.. ."

When I thin..."


When Ignatius wrote this there was only one Church, and it is in this context he used the word "catholic." He wasn't dealing with 30,000+ Protestant denominations. As we all read he was especially meticulous contrasting the Christian faith against Gnostic heresies. If he lived today he would be a Patrick Madrid on steroids.

There is one important hurdle we haven't overcome yet. I've tried to explain this on several occasions, let my try again. And this is how Catholics define "Catholic Church", and it is rooted in the early Church and hasn't changed in 2,000 years.

The Catholic Church is a family of Churches, the Roman Catholic Church is one branch of this family. As church communities were founded around the Mediterranean in the first and second centuries there were five major hubs, so to speak. Jerusalem, Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria. Now I don't recall off the top of my head if Damascus was one of them as well. It doesn't matter, at the time of St. Irenaeus of Lyons churches were established well beyond those.

Today the family of Catholic Churches comprise the following branches, some say there are altogether 23 others say 24 sub-branches.

Rome: Latin Rite
Constantinople/Byzantium/Istanbul: Orthodox Churches, (there are a bunch of sub branches here)
Alexandria: Coptic and Ethiopian Churches
Antioch: Syrian, Melkite, Chaldean
Jerusalem: Melkite

All of these have apostolic succession, the priesthood, the liturgy, and seven sacraments, even if they differ significantly in cultural expression. At major events in the Vatican representatives of all of them get invited, precisely because we are all one big Catholic family.
I will leave it at that.


message 39: by Nemo (last edited Oct 04, 2017 11:43AM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Kerstin wrote: "Nemo wrote: "Kerstin wrote: "What you wrote in message #30 making a distinction between a universal Church and Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic reacts with banging his head against the wall.. ."...".

The "catholic church" of Ignatius of Antioch includes all believers, whereas the "Catholic Church" defined by the Catholics excludes many believers from the "family". The former is truly universal, and the latter is not. Obviously the two are not the same.

The Scripture defines the "family" of believers as follows.

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God"
Ephesians 3:14-19

All Christians belong to one universal family of God, for there is one Body and one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one God and Father of all, as Paul writes about the foundation and ultimate fulfillment of Christian unity in Ephesians.

Again, it would be empty so speak of Christian charity when we don't acknowledge the other believers as members of God's family.


message 40: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Nemo wrote: "The "catholic church" of Ignatius of Antioch includes all believers, whereas the "Catholic Church" defined by the Catholics excludes many believers from the "family". The former is truly universal, and the latter is not. Obviously the two are not the same."


Today we have a proliferation of Christians organized in various church structures, and in this context your statement of "All Christians belong to one universal family of God" is absolutely true.

My point is, during St. Ignatius's time there was only one Church. When he used the term "catholic" this is what he refers to, since "all believers" belonged to this one Church, a Church that still exists today.

I am afraid the historical context of this example doesn't support more, and I have my doubts you will find during St. Ignatius's time church communities that resemble the structures we have today.

As for the universality of the Church, 1.2 billion Catholics world-wide comes closer than anyone else.


message 41: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Kerstin wrote: "Nemo wrote: "Kerstin wrote: "What you wrote in message #30 making a distinction between a universal Church and Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic reacts with banging his head again..."

Hmmm...interesting...I don't think anyone is saying other Christians are not God's family as they have had a valid Baptism, no? But, does what you quoted Nemo rule out the Catholic Church as the 'church'? I mean, I can see how you could take it your way, and I can see how it applies to the Catholic Church, I guess I don't see how what you quoted proves that the Catholic Church is not the church from 2,000 years ago; but I may be missing something. Also, could you explain how you see the Protestant Reformation? Do you think that was a break from the way the 'church' was for 1500 years, or there never was any one 'church' it was all just a group of 'believers', so the Protestant break didn't really signify anything specific? Do you think any Protestant Church is the 'church', or they are all false beliefs, as well as the Catholic Faith, and again, the 'church' is just a loose association of all believers. Sorry, I know that is jumbled, hope you can understand a little what I was trying to express.


message 42: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "I don't think anyone is saying other Christians are not God's family as they have had a valid Baptism, no? But, does what you quoted Nemo rule out the Catholic Church as the 'church'? ;.."

I quoted from Ephesians to explain what I mean by "the Church" throughout this discussion: the Church is the Body of Christ and includes all believers, and the unity of the Church is grounded in the Trinity.

If the Catholics' definition of the Church is true, then people from other traditions are not part of God's family. I know that neither you nor Kerstin mean that, but that's the logical conclusion, as I see it. If the Church is the Body of Christ and the family of God, then to exclude someone from the Church, is to exclude him from the family of God.

If nothing else, for the sake of this discussion, I think it is better to use the former definition.

As for whether the "Catholic Church" defined by the Roman Catholics is the same "catholic church" that existed 2000 years ago, quite frankly, the burden of proof is on the Roman Catholics, not me, nor anybody from other traditions.

I'm hoping that Luke will start the topic on the Unity of Church soon. It would be an interesting discussion for sure. :) Also, if you want to delve deeper into the historical development of the Reformation, feel free to start a new topic. I'd much rather that we focus on sola scriptura in this thread.


message 43: by Ruth (last edited Oct 05, 2017 02:37AM) (new)

Ruth I am currently reading a booklet by Saint Augustine, where he says something that made me think of this topic of Sola Scriptura, because he mentions the terms 'canonical scriptures' a couple of times.

My pastor had pointed me to this book (known as letter 147, on seeing God) because I am still so much struggling with my very patriarchal background, that made me feel as if women can't (or shouldn't) think for themselves.
My pastor pointed out that Augustine obviously didn't think that way, because he wrote this book especially on request of this woman Paulina, and the whole tone of the book is very respectful to the fact that she can think very well for herself.

Anyway, right in the beginning of the book, Augustine writes this:
I do not want you to follow my authority so that you think that it is necessary for you to believe some thing because I said it. Rather, either believe the canonical scriptures if there is something that you do not as yet see is true, or believe the truth who teaches interiorly in order that you may see this clearly.
So here you see that he points to (1) canonical scripture, and (2) the truth who teaches interiorly, as basis for truth.
Having read more by Augustine, I think he means the Holy Spirit who teaches us in our hearts.

Later on, he writes about how we decide whether or not to believe someone, and writes this: But if it is supported by the clear authority of those divine scriptures, namely, those that are called "canonical" in the Church, it must be believed without any doubt.

I thought this was related to the idea of Sola Scriptura which also says, I think, that only Scripture is the ultimate guide to know if something is true.

Hope this contribution is helpful to anyone.


PS. As I said, the booklet is know as letter 147, and can be found here:
https://books.google.nl/books?id=5nPY...


message 44: by Susan (last edited Oct 05, 2017 05:56AM) (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Susan wrote: "I don't think anyone is saying other Christians are not God's family as they have had a valid Baptism, no? But, does what you quoted Nemo rule out the Catholic Church as the 'church'?..."

Thanks. You keep saying the Catholic Faith excludes others, but I don't believe that is true and is a misrepresentation. Even if we feel they may not be in full communion (this may not be the right way of saying that sorry), it absolutely in no way is saying they are not in the family of God! That is in no way how I see my Christian friends, some of which as people seem to be far above me (although we don't really speak about the differences in belief systems for me to understand exactly what they individually believe)....Another question I have, is how can there only be one church of believers (if I am understanding you correctly), if people believe completely inconsistent things? One group says this and another says that? Some of these things are rather inconsequential, but others are paramount....could there be 'one' of anything if internal to that there are diametrically opposed views? It doesn't seem to be intellectually consistent. There can only be one Truth, no?


message 45: by Susan (new)

Susan Ruth wrote: "I am currently reading a booklet by Saint Augustine, where he says something that made me think of this topic of Sola Scriptura, because he mentions the terms 'canonical scriptures' a couple of tim..."

Good points Ruth, thanks... I like that quote. I think the first part is important, "believe the canonical scriptures if there is something that you do not as yet see as true" - from this I take, that if we do not believe what we are reading, assume it is 'ourselves' that is missing the point, or deficit in knowledge, not the scriptures, that we need to study harder and pray for understanding... "believe the truth who teaches interiorly in order that you may see this clearly" - to me, this is true, yet problematic...true because I think we can pray for understanding and the Holy Spirit will help us...but problematic because anyone can say the Holy Spirit "spoke to them" and explained that this is true, thus opening up the possibility of the tens of thousands of different denominations that have thus ensued since personal interpretation started... I guess that gets us right we were are.... I think whatever truth one is feeling/knowing interiorly, should not have any intellectual inconsistencies, or else one could not be feeling/knowing correctly....and so far, for me, Catholicism answers all those issues the most consistently and comprehensively, however I am always open to hearing any snags and seeing if I can truly answer/smooth them, or if another system answers questions better.


message 46: by Nemo (last edited Oct 05, 2017 08:04AM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "... You keep saying the Catholic Faith excludes others, but I don't believe that is true and is a misrepresentation ..."

Kerstin in msg38 explains how Catholics define the Church. I was saying that definition of the Church excludes other believers. I never said anything about "the Catholic Faith". If you believe that definition of the Church includes other traditions, then I'd be happy to hear your explanation. Otherwise, it is not a misrepresentation on my part.


message 47: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Ruth wrote: "...So here you see that he points to (1) canonical scripture, and (2) the truth who teaches interiorly, as basis for truth.
Having read more by Augustine, I think he means the Holy Spirit who teaches us in our hearts...."


Yes, I also think he means the Holy Spirit teaches us interiorly.

"It's not in the book or in the writer that readers discern the truth of what they read; they see it in themselves, if the light of truth has penetrated their minds"
Letters of St Augustine

Because the Scripture is inspired by God, it's teaching is always in harmony with the inner teaching of the Holy Spirit.


message 48: by Nemo (last edited Oct 05, 2017 09:44AM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "..Another question I have, is how can there only be one church of believers (if I am understanding you correctly), if people believe completely inconsistent things?..."

I see a few reasons why that might happen.

For starters, our understanding is far from perfect, and in the same family, children and adults believe different things. As Paul writes, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known."

Secondly, we don't know and study the Scripture as well as we ought, and consequently, we believe things that are inconsistent with the Scripture. When we read a book, the Scripture included, we don't pay close attention to what the author is really saying, but tend to project our own opinions. This is in a way similar to Clark's "shared inquiry". We need to learn to analyze and interpret the text properly, and it requires hard work.


message 49: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 317 comments Nemo wrote: "If the Catholics' definition of the Church is true, then people from other traditions are not part of God's family. I know that neither you nor Kerstin mean that, but that's the logical conclusion, as I see it. If the Church is the Body of Christ and the family of God, then to exclude someone from the Church, is to exclude him from the family of God."

Nemo, this is definitely a misunderstanding. I meant family in the sense of common ancestry or heritage, not a country club. The Church is more a "hospital for sinners." as Pope Francis put it.

Being exclusionary would also go against the mission of the Church, to bring Christ to the people. Everyone is welcome, and this is taken very literally. Everyone is welcome to worship in Mass. We don't bother you if you're shy and just want to sit in the back pews. And as a rule, Catholic church buildings are open during daytime hours. You don't find many churches locked. When Christ is literally present in the tabernacle, as we believe, then everyone should have access to spend time with him.


message 50: by Nemo (last edited Oct 05, 2017 10:26AM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Nemo wrote: "If the Catholics' definition of the Church is true, then people from other traditions are not part of God's family. I know that neither you nor Kerstin mean that, but that's the logica..."

Kerstin wrote: "....this is definitely a misunderstanding.

Here is a simple and direct question: Are Protestant demonimations part of the "Catholic family"? Yes or No.


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