With Hair Ablaze

Now I know that I have some Roman Catholics readers of this blog, and I know that when I get on a jag like this you must feel like I do when I read Chesterton writing about Calvinism. That feeling being an approximation of something like epistemic anguish and head-wrenching, I can only assure you all that if I could do anything about it, I would. But here I sit, as Luther might have said, typing with my hair ablaze with the flames of truth. And there is nothing that can be done about that.

ecumenism

My friend Rich Bledsoe has written this piece about the need for Protestants to outgrow their adolescent rebelliousness, and to reconcile with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Since I am already on this jag, I thought a few additional observations need to be made. In discussions like this, we are reasoning from premises, and I don’t believe that all those premises floated down to us in a cloud of self-evidency. I think we need less outrage at some of the conclusions, and more prudential questioning of some of the premises.

First, we tend to just assume that Protestantism is shattered into a zillion pieces, unlike Rome, because look what happens when you allow private judgment and all those home Bible studies. But I don’t think this is accurate at all. I wrote in some detail about this a few years ago, and a few paragraphs are below. If you want to read the whole thing, you can do that here.

“Here I would simply issue a flat denial. No, it hasn’t. While I agree that the divisions in Christendom are greatly to be lamented, I would also say that the situation is not as bad as it is frequently portrayed by Roman Catholic apologists (e.g. “25,000 Protestant denominations”). The actual figure is much lower-and most likely comes from David Barrett’s World Christian Encyclopedia. As of 1982, he identified seven major ecclesiastical blocs, and some 22,190 denominations fall under these seven blocs. The first bloc is Roman Catholic, which contains 223 denominations. The Orthodox give us 580. Non-White Indigenous gives us 10,956. Anglicans account for 240. Marginal Protestants (Mormons, JWs, etc.) add up to 1,490 denominations. (Non-Roman) Catholics give us 504 denominations. Coming in at #2 would be the Protestants with 8,196.

But wait, we’re not done. This Protestant figure counts (necessarily) independent Baptist jurisdictions, so that if a city has seven different independent Baptist churches, this counts as seven different denominations. The same skewed effect happens with the 194 Latin-rite denominations. Countering this optical illusion, Barrett goes on to break the seven major ecclesiastical blocs into what he calls “major ecclesiastical traditions,” where I think we come up with an accurate number. So that I don’t bore you, let me just focus on the division of three of the major blocs. The Orthodox are divided up into nineteen traditions, the Roman Catholics have sixteen, and the Protestants have twenty-one. If we throw the Anglicans in, they account for another six. Far from Bedlam, this appears to be simply the cost of the gospel doing business in a fallen world. But whichever door you choose, you have lots of work for private judgment to do in following up that choice.”

So to put it in a nutshell, before we start trying to solve the problems of unique Protestant fragmentation, we should make sure that there actually is such a thing. It is actually not unique at all. This is a people problem, not a Protestant problem, and it is not a metastasizing problem (e.g. bajillions of denominations).

Second, I am concerned that Rich was using an optional sociological or historical metaphor (Rome and EO being the parents, and Protestants the children) in a way that might get tangled up with the necessary exegetical and theological metaphor. I fully agree with Calvin that we cannot count God as our Father unless the Church is our Mother. And he was agreeing with Paul. “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26). But this is true now — we don’t need to do anything to make it more true. The Jerusalem above is free, and is not subject to the machinations of all the Diotrophian schemers that we find teeming all through church history. Why on earth should I have to make my peace with Alexander VI in order to be at peace with God?

Third, even given the metaphor we still have to follow it out. There is a vast difference between a rebellious teenager running away from home because he cannot deal with the tyranny of an eleven pm curfew, and a teenager being driven from an abusive house of horrors. Any counselors who treat the latter as though it were the former are simply continuing the abuse.

You cannot just point to the fact that an entity is older historically and create obligations that way. Cain was older than Abel. Ishmael was older than Isaac. Esau was older than Jacob. Reuben was older than Judah. Eliab was older than David.

If it were just a matter of chronology, we would need to be deep into ecumenical discussions with the Jews. They were the covenant people of God, they were branches in the olive tree, and they were there ages before any of my people were grafted in. But why doesn’t this settle it? Because the olive tree has a husbandman, one who both prunes and grafts. A newer branch can be on the tree, partaking of the root and fatness of the tree, and an older branch can be on the ground, waiting to be taken off to the burn pile.

It is striking, I might mention in passing, that the apostle Paul saw the stirrings of the hubris that would get the Church of Rome into so much trouble over the centuries, and he taught them, in a letter addressed to them by name (Rom. 1:7) that they were not the root. They were branches, and if they ever forgot that true attachment to the tree was accomplished sola fide, they would be removed, just as the unbelieving Jews had been. They did not support the root, but rather it was the other way around (Rom. 11:18)

Next, when it comes to the ecumenical dialog on things like justification by faith alone, we have to do much more than simply “let the Lutherans handle it.” How much of the ecumenical dialog today is being pursued, on both sides, by theological liberals? Are they reconciling great truth claims, or are they putting all truth claims into a bucket so they can pour in the paint thinner? In his great book Christianity and Liberalism, Machen said — and I agree with him — that he had far more in common with conservative Roman Catholics than he did with liberals. Liberals represented another faith entirely, while Rome was a deficient expression of the Christian faith. So before we let the “Lutherans do it,” what kind of Lutherans are we talking about? See the cartoon above.

Fifth, it will not do to argue that we are unlettered Protestants and do not understand the subtleties of the Roman view of justification. I agree with the way Tim Challies approaches this whole question. Let us simply ask whether Rome understands our position, and can they articulate in a way that would enable us to agree with the representation? And then ask further what their response to that understanding is. Challies points out that they get it, and that they damn it.

And last, if any of my RC friends are still reading, let me say something in conclusion that my Baptist friends won’t get at all. I do believe the Roman Catholic church is a church in some sense — otherwise we wouldn’t receive RC baptisms when we bring someone into membership. We don’t require re-baptism, precisely because we are not sectarian. In a similar fashion, if a Roman Catholic visited our church and wanted to partake with us in communion, he would be violating the teaching of his own church . . . but not of ours. As far as we are concerned, he would be welcome. In addition to all this, I have received great profit by reading books by Roman Catholic thinkers, and I feel like Augustine getting edified by some of the Donatists. Life is funny, but none of this changes the issue of the foundational truth claims.

I say this because I really am a postmillennial ecumenist. Shoot, if I believe that the Jewish branches will be grafted back in, as I do, then why wouldn’t I be willing for full reconciliation with Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy? This is actually the point where I agree with Rich Bledsoe. Protestants must be open to reconciliation with Rome and with EO. But to be open to such a thing means that we must be just as open to those things which are prerequisites to any such reconciliation. I cannot be open to a harvest of apples, but closed to the planting of the orchard. If I am open to reconciliation with Rome, and I am, then I must be equally open to an insistence that we all accept, in word and deed, sola fide, that we all abandon our idols, that we cease praying to Mary, and that we ditch the funny hats. We are the Christian church, not the Moose Lodge.

Okay, okay. Last thing. Was the hat joke really necessary, Mr. Strive for Postmillennial Peace? Let me tell you a story. Years ago, I was reading along in Augustine’s City of God, and I got to that place where he starting making fun of the pagan priests with their silly mitred hats. And so, hmmm, I thought, and glanced at the cover of my book. There was Augustine, in a silly mitred hat. So, yes, the hats have to go. We can call that agenda item something more dignified if you like, such as dealing with ecclesiastical anachronisms, but there is an important point in there.

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Johnny Simmons
Member

We’re supposed to reconcile with Rome AND Orthodoxy? How does one return to two “true” Churches?

Johnny Simmons
Member

Ah, wasn’t saying return. Still, how do you reconcile with those who claim exclusivity?

RFB
Guest
RFB

As soon as I read “Mr. Strive for Postmillennial Peace” I heard the voice of the old Bud Light “Great American Heroes/Men of Genius” voice in my head. Good post!

willis
Guest
willis

Excellent post! I enjoyed it and agreed with most of it. But I have a couple of points of push back. First, we must note that Benedict (and Francis to a lesser degree) made comments moderating the condemnation of protestant Justification (I can provide links to anyone interested). Benedict basically said that the protestant view was ok. So, I think there may be some effort to reconcile going on the the RC side. Second, I think that there is something to the charge of a lack of visible structure to the Protestant church. It may be that seven baptist churches… Read more »

willis
Guest
willis

Excellent post! I enjoyed it and agreed with most of it. But I have a couple of points of push back. First, we must note that Benedict (and Francis to a lesser degree) made comments moderating the condemnation of protestant Justification (I can provide links to anyone interested). Benedict basically said that the protestant view was ok. So, I think there may be some effort to reconcile going on the the RC side. Second, I think that there is something to the charge of a lack of visible structure to the Protestant church. It may be that seven baptist churches… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Some branches of the Christian faith (whether Roman, Reformed, Anglican, etc) seem to have locked themselves in a cage of historic traditions and are proud of that cage, but I think it’s also possible for evangelicals to lock those same Christians in that cage when they might actually be moving to get out of it. For example, I’ve known a type of evangelical who wants to dig up every little fault of Rome’s past in order to remind Catholics of how wrong and different they are, but wrapping that past around their neck is not helping them to grow out… Read more »

rcjr
Guest

While the final third of your piece significantly deflated my balloon, it was ready to burst before that. Thank you. I know my view is the minority, but still want to ask this question- working with Paul’s warning- has Rome been cut off? If so, why do you accept them at the table, and their baptisms? If not, what’s the point of calling on Paul here? Finally, if this is not a distraction from your piece, would you marry a member of your church to a member of a Roman Catholic communion? If not, can you explain why you would… Read more »

antexw
Member

Willis, Presumptuous Israel also wanted a visible leadership/unity structure through a visible king when the invisible King wasn’t good enough, also claiming pragmatic benefits (1 Sa 8:20) in originating a leadership/unity with syncretistic corporeal visibility (Judges 9:8,22,23; 1 Sa 8:5,6,7,8). Now that the Lord Jesus Christ’s apostles and their partners/apostles (2 Co 8:23) are in heaven, hopefully enough of the church will continue to remember that a less visible unity of pastorally authoritative leadership/spokesmen at each church under an invisible King of kings is regulatively sufficient without having to make up post-apostolic pastorally authoritative offices/councils consisting of regional/national (super-) overseers/elders/pastors… Read more »

Mark B. Hanson
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Mark B. Hanson

Central to the discussion of Roman Catholicism is that, no matter what this or that Pope says, at the heart of Rome’s own belief is that they not only do not err, but that their theology does not change. When pressed, they will acknowledge Trent, and say “we’ve moved beyond that now”, but ultimately in their eyes Trent did not err, does not err and cannot err. Hence there is no need to change or vacate its anathemas.

And it is not foolish for us to insist that with Trent still on the table there can be no reconciliation.

willis
Guest
willis

Brian, Israel and the church are two separate things. Wanting a king and wanting visible unity are not the same thing nor does one being a sin prove the other is. Jesus himself prayed for unity in the church (John 17) and we know from church history that visible unity has done much good (the creeds and councils are the result of such unity). Do you reject the creeds and the councils? And if we can agree that visible unity is a good thing (jesus prayed for it and I think that we have to grant such) and that it… Read more »

willis
Guest
willis

Hi Mark, In my experience, when I am trying to reconcile with someone I have had a fight with, I do not find it helpful for me to read over and recall ever statement they ever made that was hurtful or wrong and refuse any unity with them until they issue a formal apology. “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” I think if the Catholic Church in 2014 says that Luther was right, then we should rejoice (and not stubbornly refuse to hear it until we get our apology for things said 500 years ago). And guess what? Pope Benedict… Read more »

Clint
Guest

Perhaps Messianic Judaism could end up being a key for reconciliation and reform? Its practitioners do generally agree that justification is by faith alone (most similarly to N.T. Wright), while they also have an emphasis on works Roman Catholics may find somewhat continuous with their own understanding.

soylentg
Member

Having been recently reminded of this famous quote on one of my other favorite blogs today, I cannot help but paraphrase it here. (and it is not aimed at any one person in particular)

“You keep using that word, Church. I do not think that it means what you think it means.”

Mark B. Hanson
Guest
Mark B. Hanson

Hi Willis,

Maybe it’s not charitable or loving of me, but I would want some help in parsing what follows the “if”. How exactly could “faith alone” be opposed to “faith in charity, in love”?

In my experience observing transactions of other Reformed apologists with RC theologians (i.e. blogging ones), a pretty big truckload of necessary works can be driven through that clause.

antexw
Member

Willis, First of all, the way the church in Israel prior to the New Covenant behaved serves as an example (sometimes a bad one) for the church today (1 Co 10:6,7,8,9,10,11,12; Heb 4:11). Thus, these former and latter churches are not categorically “separate” or incomparable when it comes to moral evaluation of a church’s conduct in faith toward God. Israel wanted inter-congregational visible unity via presumptive new leadership beyond what was regulatively sufficient, and you are proposing a similar non-regulative inter-congregational pyramidic visible unity/leadership. The invisible King (and thus the visible unity He prescribed) was deemed not enough as the… Read more »

willis
Guest
willis

Brian, The church is not a one to one of the Israeli government OT. We do not carry swords, nor do we sit in a specific geographic area. There are clear and obvious differences. Further, it should be noted that before and after Saul became the first king, Israel had visible unity (under judges and prophets). Israel was able to speak with one voice. And from your comments, it sounds like (although you accept some of their conclusions) you reject the idea of councils. This seems strange to me since Acts 15 demonstrates the church doing this and I would… Read more »

willis
Guest
willis

Hi Mark,

I would agree that Benedict’s statement is not a strong statement against the Catholics practicing works righteousness. But would you not agree that it at least allows a Catholic holding to Luther’s idea of Justification to remain in the church without being condemned? Isn’t that major progress from Trent (where they said holding Lutheran views of justification were anathema)?

Ellen
Guest
Ellen

I do hope that some of your Catholic readers get involved in these discussions.

Thanks for covering this topic, Pastor Wilson; I’m really needing it.

Fake Herzog
Guest

#1 Catholic fan here. I love this post and I’d even be willing to ditch the hats. But you’d have to pry my rosary beads out of my cold, dead heads!!! In all seriousness, I think “willis” makes a number of good points and would simply echo Pastor Wilson — we both need to do a good job of making sure we understand each other first and then figure out what that means. If I don’t understand what you mean by “justification by faith alone” that is a problem. But likewise, it is all well and good for Challies to… Read more »

Neo
Guest
Neo

“otherwise we wouldn’t receive RC baptisms when we bring someone into membership”.

Thanks for another good reminder of why I abandoned the heresy of paedobaptism…

antexw
Member

Willis, There are still some discontinuities from what may be happening in Acts where there is apostolic/prophetic witness of Christ’s generation, and to what is happening today without such apostles/prophets. If something in Scripture relies on a living prophet officiating/serving with infallible authority, then that will be discontinued today since infallible authority doesn’t now exist incidentally in an office/council comprised of anyone presently living. For instance, we see the church practicing revelational gifts, but actually it is not adding to (the sufficiency of) Scripture to believe that only the subset of gifts that do rely on contemporary revelation are being… Read more »

antexw
Member

Willis,

Meant to write:
Sorry, but just as many Pentecostals need to learn, it is not soundly enough to say/reason that because something is in Acts 15, …

rather than

Sorry, but just as many Pentecostals need to learn, it is not enough to soundly say/reason that because something is in Acts 15, ….

I guess that’s one of the disadvantages of writing/speaking in tongues of English vs. Greek, word placement is much more sensitive/restrictive.

wtrsims
Member

“Heresy” is the Christian form of Godwin’s Law. Perhaps we should call it “Clark’s Law”?

John R.
Guest
John R.

I truly do not want to sound snotty with this. But I feel the need to raise a question. When so many of one’s theological friends seem to be leaning in the same wrong direction, is it perhaps time to consider some new theological friends? To put it more bluntly, most Federal Vision critics pointed out long ago how Romeward most FV theology (particularly in regards to justification) seemed to be leaning. There’s been little in the last decade to mitigate those concerns. Is there a time when you might have to say, “We’re no longer saying the same thing–or… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Fake Herzog wrote: “If I don’t understand what you mean by “justification by faith alone” that is a problem. But likewise, it is all well and good for Challies to list the anathemas of Trent — does he understand why the Church thinks the way she does? Or to put it differently, does he understand the theology behind the anathemas” I appreciated the link provided for a Roman Catholic understanding of justification. I wouldn’t mind going into more detail on that subject if I had the time. One thing I noticed is that the article strongly implies that the Protestant… Read more »

Mark B. Hanson
Guest
Mark B. Hanson

Willis –

Yes, what Benedict said is a long way from what Trent says. But since the Roman Catholic doctrine does not change (as I am constantly reminded by their bloggers), what Benedict said must be consistent with the anathemas of Trent.

I have seen one Pope vacate the RC Church’s judgment against Galileo, and another say some nice things about Luther (contra what I heard about him from my Catholic neighbors 50 years ago), but none has yet revoked Exsurge Domine.

Tim Nichols
Guest

Why on earth should I have to make my peace with Alexander VI in order to be at peace with God? You don’t; he’s dead. Your local parish priest is another matter. Why on earth should you have to make peace with your local parish priest in order to be at peace with God? Because Jesus prayed that you would. Because the Holy Spirit inspired John to record that prayer, and then preserved that record for two millennia so that you might read it, and act on it. Of course, the guy might decide not to give you the time… Read more »

Tim Nichols
Guest

Mark, Yes, what Benedict said is a long way from what Trent says. But since the Roman Catholic doctrine does not change (as I am constantly reminded by their bloggers), what Benedict said must be consistent with the anathemas of Trent. They insist that their doctrine never changes, yes. But why would you pretend like you don’t know better? Brian, Your whole analogy falls apart because Israel having visible unity was never a bad thing. God always intended to give them a king, and had already provided laws to govern a monarchy (Deut. 17). The manner in which they got… Read more »

Jane
Member

They insist that their doctrine never changes, yes. But why would you pretend like you don’t know better?

Exactly. I’ve never understood why we have to assume Rome’s doctrine of itself is correct. Or why some people want to hold them to it and lambaste them for inconsistency, rather than hoping they’ll finally get inconsistent enough to realize it’s never really been correct.

Mark B. Hanson
Guest
Mark B. Hanson

Tim – In case you’ve lost the context of my comment, here’s the train of thought: – The Roman Catholic Church insists that its infallible doctrine does not change (indeed, logically, if it is infallible how could it change?) – The Council of Trent, in its anathemas, declared infallible doctrine. – This infallible doctrine condemned Martin Luther’s beliefs. – Pope Benedict, not speaking infallibly, seemed to affirm some of Luther’s beliefs which were specifically anathemized at Trent. The only thing I can conclude is that whatever Pope Benedict said cannot reflect a doctrinal change in the RCC, since their doctrine… Read more »

Mark B. Hanson
Guest
Mark B. Hanson

Jane –

Oh, I get it now. All I have to do is not take them at their word, and everything is OK. Whew!

Fake Herzog
Guest

katecho, You ask me how we should understand the Second Council of Nicea today, but I suggest you first understand the history of how it came about and what exactly was going on with the Iconoclasts: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07620a.htm And yes, in case you haven’t figured it out, my first go to source for everything Catholic is “New Advent”. Catholic Answers is also pretty good but a lot of the time they’ll wind up linking to New Advent anyway. I have an excellent canon law web source (in case you need one) and I also know of some good priest bloggers (both… Read more »

Nathan E.
Guest
Nathan E.

While I agree with my fellow Protestants and Mr. Wilson that the Protestant ecclesiastical situation is not anywhere near as bad as some of the more aggressive Catholic apologists, I will also say that there are clearly problems. Let’s just look at one of those traditions, Wilson’s own Presbyterianism. There are over a dozen conservative Presbyterian denominations, most without significant doctrinal differences. To say that this doesn’t hamper testimony when Presbyterians cannot agree on the mere theoretical issue of 2.5 vs. 3-office Presbyterianism (the wedge dividing PCA from OPC) is rather ridiculous. You will find these sorts of disagreements dividing… Read more »

antexw
Member

Tim Nichols, I don’t believe that all forms of visible unity itself is sinful, my argument doesn’t depend on that. You should be able to see that I am discussing a specific form of visible unity that is not regulated by God’s word. I also discuss the faithlessness of Israel’s behavior in which Israel pursued visible unity through a king when God as king wasn’t good enough, which is also analogous to a faithlessness in non-regulative extrabiblical pursuits of church government when His word isn’t good enough. Stop modifying my arguments, and then pretending you’ve actually addressed them. Please be… Read more »

Katecho
Member

I’m certainly not condoning violent iconoclasm. I grasp that it was a very bitter, and sometimes bloody, division. I could be understanding of a desire to anathematize those who practice that kind of violence. However, that’s not what the Council did. They went well beyond this to anathematize all who simply refuse to personally venerate icons. The Council proclaimed: “We salute the venerable images. We place under anathema those who do not do this.” My question was specifically with regard to this anathema. Scripture nowhere obligates us to venerate images, and dividing the body of Christ over icons seems equivalent… Read more »

Jane
Member

All I have to do is not take them at their word, and everything is OK. Everything what is okay? I’m not claiming that “everything is okay” with Rome. I’m saying that just because THEY say their doctrine doesn’t change, doesn’t mean we have to believe it, or treat the logic of their actual words with the same “consistency” shoe horn they way want to use on it. Trent said one thing; Benedict said another. Why should we believe the Roman Catholic contention that they don’t say different things, since history shows that to be bunk? Since we are the… Read more »

Tim Nichols
Guest

Mark, I understood the chain of reasoning; my response is along the lines of Jane’s, above. In other words, I’d say that your conclusion that RC doctrine hasn’t changed in this particular case is not justified because your first premise isn’t sufficient to support it. They claim their doctrine doesn’t change, but that is sufficient at best to predict that they won’t admit that anything has changed. But it has. At minimum, Trent anathematized the same people that Vatican II declared to be separated brethren. (And sure, a sufficiently nimble wordsmith can “reconcile” it all, but face it — when… Read more »

Tim Nichols
Guest

And lest I forget to mention it, the RCC is a very big tent. Even if official church doctrine hasn’t changed, the attitude of my local parish priest may have changed quite a lot. I don’t have to get along with the whole RCC; just the ones right here where I am. If their attitudes and beliefs have shifted in a more biblical direction, why shouldn’t I just be grateful and run with it?

Tim Nichols
Guest

Brian, I’m genuinely sorry to have given offense. Upon reviewing what we both wrote, I think we’re talking past one another. Your central point, as I understand it (do correct me if I missed something), is that the specific form that unity took in the early and medieval Church (bishops, councils, popes) was nowhere warranted in Scripture, and it was wrong to insist upon it. My central point is that any obedience to John 17 will take some specific form, and since Scripture specifies no specific form, whatever form our obedience takes will be vulnerable to the same critique. The… Read more »

Mark B. Hanson
Guest
Mark B. Hanson

Tim & Jane, I guess I wonder what our position as Protestants should be. Which part of Catholic “doctrine” do we deal with? Do we push their views to their necessary and reasonable conclusions, or do we deal with “the church of what’s happening now”, regardless of what went before? My experience with Reformed friends who have swum the Tiber is that during the decision-making process they no longer see in practice the contradictions between RC doctrine and Reformed belief that Trent paints in such sharp relief – after all the priests and other Catholics they deal with don’t think… Read more »

Jane
Member

We deal with the church as it is now, and call them to own (and insofar as it is necessary repent of) their past. We read their pronouncements, then and now, according to the normal rules of language and logic, not by some rule that forces us to deny either progression or regression in their understanding.

None of that requires agreeing with the obviously ridiculous premise that their doctrine doesn’t change.

Mark B. Hanson
Guest
Mark B. Hanson

Jane – I agree that the “no change” premise is absurd, and I was adopting that more or less as a reducio – if they insist that their doctrine doesn’t change, then we may logically insist that they can’t really be saying that Martin Luther was merely a separated brother, or that “Faith alone” means to them what it means to us. They would then either be equivocating or lying to give us that impression. All to defuse our opposition and win us to the True Church. I would like to belive that we who cling to doctrines that Trent… Read more »

Tim Nichols
Guest

Mark, I’d say that which part of RC doctrine we deal with depends on what we’re trying to accomplish. Real people aren’t perfect logicians, and they genuinely do believe contradictory things. I get what you’re doing with the reductio, and as a talking point with someone suffering from conversion sickness in danger of swimming the Tiber, it makes perfectly good sense. Likewise with a RC apologist who is aiding and abetting such a swimming expedition. If you’re going to break with the tradition that raised you, you need to have good and sufficient reason for leaving, and have really thought… Read more »

Jane
Member

Mark, I understand the value of a reductio, and agree as far as that goes. What I’ve seen, though, is some Protestants getting “trapped” if you will, in the reductio, to the point where instead of letting the reductio do its work, they just insist that the Catholic person can’t believe anything that is actually true, in a way, almost preventing the Catholic person from assenting to any true statement. It’s sort of an all-or-nothing thing — stop being Catholic and *then* we’ll discuss what you should believe. It can get rather backwards that way. Perhaps in some cases, we… Read more »

antexw
Member

Tim Nichols, Sorry to have taken so long to reply, but something urgent has come up. But I have some time to write now. I certainly do believe it is wrong to insist upon post-apostolic pyramidical pastoral inter-church councils/popes, but I also believe that it is wrong to do it even without such an insistence (voluntarily) since it is not regulated/warranted by Scripture. Also, I do believe you are correct to say that any obedience to John 17 will take some specific form, but I don’t believe you are correct to say that Scripture states no specific form (if you… Read more »