My Thoughts on Roman Catholicism

I got a question from a woman who was struggling with the claims of Catholicism. She wrote, “What are your thoughts?”

Here’s my thoughts.

Are there Christians in Catholicism?

Definitely. Some have done so well in obeying our King throughout their lives that I cannot imagine how any Christian could dare question their salvation or their lives. I am horrified and angry at the judgment of some Protestants against Mother Teresa. She has the right to look down her nose at pretty much all the rest of us who name the name of the King, but of course she was above such behavior.

My wife volunteers weekly at a Roman Catholic church that has been feeding the homeless each morning for well over a century. Two saints run that ministry, and they take responsibility for it morning after morning, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks per year.

Rather than question the salvation of people who obey Jesus better than we do, we should call them saints, and maybe we’ll get to share in their rewards if we help them (Matt. 10:42).

That said …

Is the Roman Catholic Church what it claims to be?

No. No way. Their claim is outrageous, and their official stance on the role of the pope, that he is the “vicar of Christ,” is blasphemous. The history they have invented to support that claim is fictitious.

They claim to be those that have preserved apostolic truth unchanged (so says Vatican II), but the unchanged truth has needed some further revelation (again, says Vatican II), which has included the teaching that Mary was born without sin, lived without sin, and was assumed into heaven.

The further revelation has also included the idea that some saints have done so much good, that they have leftover merit from God that can be applied to others in order to relieve them of “temporal punishment.”

This is a lot of further revelation they are asking us to accept!

Let’s think about this.

Both 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 tell us that overseers and elders (which are the same thing in Scripture) are to be the husband of one wife. The RCC teaches us that the office of overseer is what their bishops hold and that the office of elder is what their priests hold. Yet neither their bishops nor their priests are allowed to marry.

Now I admit that it might be plausible that an overseer or elder might be allowed not to marry. It’s possible that what Paul was trying to forbid was a church leader with more than one wife. In fact, the early churches believed that Paul meant that overseers and elders were not to remarry even if they were widowed.

What is not possible is that Paul meant that bishops or elders should be forbidden to marry at all!

If the RCC can’t get something as simple and obvious as this correct, then how can we trust them on their other claims?

The Ten Commandments

Let’s go one further. Did you know that the RCC has a different list of the ten commandments than the Protestants?

Yeah, that’s right. You won’t believe what the difference is.

The RCC ten commandments leaves out the Protestant’s second commandment: “You shall not make any graven image or any likeness that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them.”

Do they really expect us to believe that their magisterium left out that command because it’s hard to tell where to make the divisions in the commandments God gave on Mt. Sinai rather than because they were hiding this commandment from their members, who happened not to be allowed to read the Bible in their own language lest they interpret it wrongly?

The RCC replaced that commandment by splitting the Protestants tenth commandment into two. Only they didn’t actually split it into two.

Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s. (Ex. 20:17)

From this the Roman Catholic magisterium got:

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. (reference)

Really?

One might make a better argument that this command should have been split into two if one had actually split it, rather than pulling the second of a list of six items.

Roman Catholics, of course, are famous both for making statues (graven images) and for bowing down and praying in front of them. Think of “Our Lady at Fatima” or other Catholic shrines. I was in a Catholic school in 5th and 6th grades, and our entire class was made to walk up to a statue of Mary and bow down and kiss its feet.

I say “made to.” By that, I mean it was an obligation, like anything else in elementary school. I do not mean that any of us tried to object or to refuse.

I feel pretty comfortable drawing the conclusion that somewhere down the line, a pope, a group of cardinals, or an influential bishop decided a commandment, from Moses, forbidding both the making of statues and bowing down to them, was a bit more than what they wanted out in public; so they hid it away for centuries in their Latin Bible that only clergy were able to read.

Protestants vs. Catholics

Often, the answer I hear to these charges of mine is that Protestants have done worse things or that Protestants are just as far off or futher away from apostolic teaching than the Catholics.

Perhaps. Perhaps the followers of Confucious were worse than the Catholics.

I don’t see how any of that is relevant.

The Roman Catholics claim that their pope is the vicar of Christ, God’s representative here on earth. They claim that their magisterium has preserved the truth, and by the power of God has even explained and expanded it. They will not admit to “adding to” it, but their beliefs about Mary make that denial a lie.

With such grandiose claims ought to be grandiose results, not errors that could be corrected by anyone who has made one trip through the Bible while knowing Roman Catholic beliefs. Such grandiose claims should certainly not come with the hiding of one of the ten commandments!

Many More

We could do many more. It is not explanation, expansion, or revelation that leads to the Scripture calling all Christians saints and the Roman Catholic Church calling some Christians saints and only after death. It is not explanation, expansion, or revelation that leads to Scripture referring to all Christians as priests and the Roman Catholic Church referring to only elders as priests.

Those aren’t small errors. Those are egregious errors.

I am asked occasionally if I really dare trust my judgment against the judgment of this great and ancient church that has “preserved” the faith through the centuries (and murdered anyone who dared translate the Bible, along with pretty much anyone who publicly disagreed with them for centuries).

Yes, actually. I do dare.

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120 Responses to My Thoughts on Roman Catholicism

  1. Anna says:

    Where exactly does Nicaea fall in your thinking? Do you trust the results of the council, doctrinally speaking? Had things already gone wrong by then?

    • paulfpavao says:

      Lol, what an opportunity. See my book, Decoding Nicea. You can read reviews of it at http://www.christian-history.org/ibwl-purchase.html. It used to be called In the Beginning Was the Logos. We just retitled in back in May, I think. It doesn’t have any reviews under the new title because we haven’t really promoted it. It’s hard to get people to review a book, I tell you, but the old title has 16 reviews on Amazon.

      I also have pages and pages and pages on the First Council of Nicea beginning at http://www.christian-history.org/nicea.html.

      I completely agree with the Nicene Creed and believe it to be an excellent description of the pre-Nicene view of the Trinity, which the RCC has lost, but the Orthodox have not. I have about 65 pages, mostly quotes, on the Trinity from the pre-Nicene Christians in the book, and I put them online, available for free: http://www.christian-history.org/support-files/chapter-16-17.pdf

      Constantine presided at the council, despite not being baptized and being an emperor. That was really bad and had at least a little to do with the problems that arose afterward. I don’t like some of the canons, but none of them bother me much.

      For the record, if the only problems I had with the RCC were things like the Nicea canons I disagree with, you wouldn’t be reading posts like this. I don’t have to “have it my way.” I do have to have it reasonable scripturally, though.

      As an aside, I don’t like the second council of Nicea, which had nothing to do with the first. The second approved veneration of icons about 450 years after the first Council of Nicea. I wrote on that at http://www.christian-history.org/orthodox-church.html#icons

  2. paulfpavao says:

    Whew. I couldn’t find where to reply on my own blog! I had to quit replying to Daniel on one particular thread because my browser was showing smaller and smaller width comment boxes. My 10-letter handle couldn’t even fit in the column!

    So Daniel asked what I appeal to in the 2nd and 3rd century as a precedent of us, which for those of you who know consists of three congregations in the US and several in Kenya. Daniel may not have known that, either, as I talk about “us.”

    I would apply that same standard, which I am about to give you, as a test on all congregations because Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.”

    I quoted several (four?) second and third century Christians to the effect that Christians lived remarkable lives, much more holy and disciplined than the world in general. Tertullian said that yes, some Christians didn’t live up to that standard, but they were the exception, not the rule, like a mole on a beautiful person’s face. It’s the beauty you notice, not the mole, because the mole is the exception.

    I also cited him for his statement that a church can be apostolic based on kinship in doctrine.

    The reason I cited all that was to say that my appeal is to the common characteristics we share with the early Christian churches. The large majority of those in fellowship with us live like Christians, and give themselves to loving God, loving their neighbor, eschewing the world, and choosing success in the kingdom over success in the world or worldly riches.

    My claim is that we live and believe like them, and that our testimony is what Jesus called for, unity and love (Jn. 13:34-35; 17:20-23). My claim is that this will be natural product of preaching the Gospel the apostles preached and baptizing those who know that they are going to be taught to “obey everything [Jesus] commanded us.”

    • Daniel says:

      But do you have kinship with doctrine with Tertullian, with Justin Martyr?

      • paulfpavao says:

        I believe we do. I wrote, “My claim is that we live and believe like them.” I suppose others are going to have to judge, just like I am making a judgment about whether the RCC believes like them.

        • Daniel says:

          I took your entry on the Eucharist to mean that you endorse Gelasius’s view on the Real Presence. I can at first glance read Justin Martyr in a way compatible with that view, though I haven’t given it a lot of thought–and it’s certainly better than denying the Real Presence in light of the early Church tradition.

          But in your Eucharistic liturgy in your commune, who ordains your bishop? How does that work and how do you find your process harmonious with the ECF’s?

          • paulfpavao says:

            The Orthodox really don’t like my answer on this, though I have one Orthodox friend who is wondering whether he has the right to consider our local church “Orthodox” based on our doctrine and openness to tradition that we can validate as ancient.

            Referencing Tertullian again: “The tried men of our elders preside over us, obtaining that honor not by purchase, but by established character” (Apology 39).

            I would LOVE to tell you that we are in fellowship with the physical, organizational descendants of the apostles’ churches and that the bishop of the church of Ephesus or Alexandria or Rome verified our ordinations, but, of course, they have not, and they have requirements we don’t agree with.

            We do have 1 Thess. 5:12-13: “We beg of you, brothers, to know those who labor among you, are ahead of you in the Lord, and admonish you. Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.”

            • Daniel says:

              If those doctrinal points could be worked out, would the liturgy of St John Chrysostom and Basil the Great be acceptable to your community as something for you all to adopt?

              • paulfpavao says:

                We don’t know anything about those liturgies, and we don’t use a liturgy when we are together, so no, I don’t think any of our members would even be willing to consider moving to one. We really like the love feast/1 Cor. 14:26 meetings we have, and we feel like we’re built up by them.

  3. Daniel says:

    There were a lot of swings at the ball here, but I don’t think any connected or at least not cleanly.

    1) Vicar of Christ. A “vicar” is someone who acts vicariously as a representative. 2 Cor 5:20 says “So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

    So it doesn’t do to say the pope claims to be the vicar of Christ and that’s blasphemy and therefore Catholicism is false. No, on the contrary: the Scriptures plainly teach that there is an ambassadorship, we only have to identify who is and who is not an ambassador.

    2) Celibate clergy. As a general principle, would you object to drawing up tighter rules for ordaining ministers than what the Church of the apostolic era had? For example, while this is just conjecture, I don’t think it’s beyond reason to speculate that some of the early church clergy were illiterate. Would it be wrong now to say that if you are going to be a presbyter in this day and age that you must be able to read and write? Surely that’s not a ridiculous requirement!

    So if in principle that the rules can be more strict than the minimum standard set forth in the Bible, then on what grounds could a pastoral rule (not a *doctrine*) that requires consecrated virgins be ordained instead of those in the married state be objected to? Paul says consecrated virginity is better than marriage, but that marriage is perfectly fine. So later the Church said, hey we want to set the bar a higher and stick with consecrated virgins for all clergy in the West, and for bishops in the East. (Yes, I agree that *in the NT* that presbyter and episcopos is interchangeable. But by the close of the century, a delineation between those terms had been made–one referred to someone who could preside at the liturgy and ordain clergy, and the other to refer to those who could celebrate the liturgy but NOT ordain clergy. If the Church had the authority to ordain people to Ministry X, then ipso facto the Church had the authority to ordain people to less-than-Ministry X.) If the RCC adopted married priests all of a sudden, then priests would need huge houses to accommodate having twelve or more kids. Remember: NO BIRTH CONTROL! That’s a big strain on the budget–just health insurance alone much less upgrading to a big passenger van and a huge house would rob funds that go towards feeding people in leper colonies and so on.

    3) The Catholic Church explicitly affirms the priesthood of the believer. Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1268: “The baptized have become “living stones” to be “built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.” By Baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.”

    Yes, in English we call the local minister “priest” because priest gets its etymology from presbyter. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=priest&allowed_in_frame=0

    All of the faithful are priests in the sense of the Greek word hiereus (Strong’s G2409) but only ordained presbyters are priests in the sense of the Greek word presbyteros (Strong’s G4245).

    4) Development of doctrine. When we say doctrine doesn’t *change*, we don’t mean to say that it doesn’t grow, develop, or clarify. We mean that it doesn’t ontologically change from one position to another. Saying there is One God and saying there is One God in Three Persons is a clarification more than a change.

    As far as Mary, we have various writings pre-Nicea that touch upon that subject: Irenaeus, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Clement of Alexandria, and Ephraim the Syrian all provide pre-Nicea evidence of the very Mariology that you object to as an innovation. If the Dionysian corpus is a first century work rather than a 5th or 6th, then even more so (an Anglican, the Rev John Parker, wrote a magnificent essay arguing that very point a hundred years ago that in my opinion is very convincing).

    What I find bizarre is your using Nicea in 325 as an arbitrary cutoff. Christianity was illegal until 313 and was forced to live underground–I wouldn’t expect the historical record to be clear from that era and it’s not.

    But for the record, what *is* there is fairly convincing in my opinion. Take for example the Quartadeciman controversy. Eusebius says:

    “Thereupon Victor [born roughly 50 years give or take a decade after the Apostle John died], who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate. But this did not please all the bishops. And they besought him to consider the things of peace, and of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are extant, sharply rebuking Victor. Among them was Irenaeus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord’s day. He fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom.”

    Here we have primacy (that Rome can excommunicate bishops in other jurisdictions) and conciliatory (that other bishops can tell the pope he’s being stupid and childish when he’s being stupid and childish). Note that Irenaeus and the others didn’t criticize Pope Victor for overstepping his authority, but rather that he was exercising his authority in an imprudent way.

    Rome’s appellate jurisdiction would become clearly expressed in canon law at Sardica, only about 18 years after Nicea. In fact, canonists in Rome appended the Sardica canons to their list of the Nicean canons.

    That’s not an innovation or a novelty.

    • paulfpavao says:

      I’ll have to answer later. WordPress seriously damaged my response so that it was unreadable.

    • paulfpavao says:

      Wow. Getting to this was a work in itself. I have 20 minutes to try to craft an answer. Sigh …

      1. Vicar of Christ
      The verse you listed says we are all ambassodors/vicars of Christ. Thus, the claim that the Pope is “the” vicar of Christ is not only still a problem, but that verse highlights the problem, it does not excuse it.

      2. Would I object to drawing up tighter rules for clergy?
      Yes, especially rules that are so much tighter that they are in direct conflict with an original qualification. The ability of an elder or bishop to raise children is directly tied by the apostle Paul to his ability to lead a congregation. So not only does the celibacy rule directly conflict with Paul’s statement that an elder or a bishop be the husband of one wife, but it removes the chance for a bishop or elder to prove his leadership abilities with his children.

      3. RCC affirms priesthood of all believers.
      I’d still say the RCC denies it by its demonstration and life, but that’s okay. I don’t need this point. RP has made it quite clear it’s covered in the catechism and even in the liturgy. I’ll just accept that, even though I think demonstration and what is conveyed is more important than what the RCC wishes was conveyed.
      Still, if the issue is the preservation of apostolic tradition, which it is, I’ll just grant that it’s being preserved, no matter how hard it is to find.

      4. Doctrine doesn’t change, but it can develop
      There are a lot of things that are way beyond “development.” One of them is the celibacy rule, which I chose because it is obvious and easy to cover, not because it’s the most important deviation.
      The apostles baptized immediately. Paul even baptized in the middle of the night in Acts 16. However, by the time of the Didache, ALL churches were waiting a day or two. (This is not certain, but because it’s likely enough and uncontroversial enough that everyone accepts the testimony of the Didache on this.) By Justin Martyr’s time, around AD 150, churches were waiting a week. Around 200, churches apparently tried to baptize always on Passover. Either Tertullian (200-210) or Hippolytus (225-235) talks about waiting no more than 3 years to baptize catechumens.
      EVERYBODY was doing this, or so it appears to me. I’m frightened to disagree with EVERYBODY. I will grant even that extreme “development” because it was everyone, that is, all catholic churches everywhere.
      Celibacy has no such history. Nor does Mariology, especially as far as the RCC has taken it. The Orthodox have a “Mariology,” too, but it is not near as extensive as the RCC’s, and the Orthodox claim on their own authority is, overall, not as audacious as the RCC’s.

      As an aside, it is ironic that one of the things that would keep me out of the Orthodox church is their icons, which they don’t consider a violation of the second commandment because they are not 3-D. In the Orthodox church, however, I would be REQUIRED to bow in front of an icon, and I just cannot do that in light of the commandment. While I disagree with the RCC practice of bowing and praying in front of statues, and usually to the person represented by the statue, it is at least true that I would NOT be REQUIRED by the RCC to do so.
      I am not retracting my charge that the RCC, somewhere along the line, hid the 2nd commandment on purpose and that their extremely common, habitual practice of praying in front of statues, often to the person the statues represent, is reprehensible in the eyes of God and disqualifies the RCC as the authoritative repository of apostolic doctrine.
      I am, however, saying that the RCC would let me dodge that practice, while the Orthodox would not let me dodge the veneration of icons, despite the fact that their council that approved the veneration of icons had to override a previous council that rejected it.

      • paulfpavao says:

        Whoo hoo! It posted! And in exactly 20 minutes! Good night, y’all! I’ll try to get the rest of the comments tomorrow.

      • Anna says:

        So, is your overall view that after the 300s or so, false beliefs and practices entered the mainline Christian churches and never again was there a major group of “pure” or reliable churches (although such might be found here and there)? If so, doesn’t that sort of amount to God abandoning His church?

        • paulfpavao says:

          Seems to be some people’s opinion. I don’t ask a question like “doesn’t that amount to?” until after I’ve determined whether “that” is true. Otherwise my opinion is going to color my reasoning. “That,” what you describe in your comment, did happen. If you think that means God abandoned his church, then the correct thing to do is figure out why God would abandon his church. I don’t think it means that.

          • Anna says:

            So why do you think that God allowed that decline in his church? This isn’t an argumentative question; although I disagree with you on whether/how true teachings were preserved, I do agree that there was a decline in the lived-out fervor, charisms, and fellowship/community of the church. It has been much on my mind lately to wonder why God allowed that; if you have any insights beyond “God allows people to be crappy”, I’d appreciate hearing them.

            • paulfpavao says:

              Did you ever see this video? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw
              So, why does God allow a decline in fervor, charisms, and fellowship/community of the church? My answer is, “Stop it!”
              Repent, get others to repent, and let’s obey Jesus. If that seems harsh, that’s what I say to myself, too.

              That said, I do think there’s a historical reason. Constantine became a Christian, or he at least openly supported the Christian religion. While as emperor, he was still the Pontifex Maximus of Appolos, nonetheless, he defende and promoted Christianity and credited the God of heaven with putting him on the throne. Pagans flocked into the church. I call them unconverted pagans, whereas a lot of other people don’t like me saying that. Nonetheless, the difference between fourth century history and third century history is so dramatic that I say the evidence is undeniable that the vast majority were unconverted.
              The churches, which would once have kept themselves pure in accordance with 1 Cor. 5 accepted “Constantine’s flock” (as Eusebius put it, saying the emperor turned over his flock to the church). Everything about the churches now adapted to accomodate this now mostly unconverted horde (1 Cor. 13:5; Rom. 8:9).
              That part, to me, is clear historically, and many historians would agree. I would add that it appears to me that the monastery and desert hermit movement that began around that time was prompted by real Christians fleeing the church, though, since there was only one church, they didn’t “leave” it. Physically, though, they did leave it. They went off to somewhere they could fellowship with saints and sheep, not the sons of Belial and goats.
              1700 years and we’ve never corrected the situation, not Catholics nor Protestants.
              That’s what I think is wrong. Try living church life with disciples rather than just anyone who wants to call themselves a Christian, and you’ll see the difference immediately. By disciple I mean a person that is willing to give up everything for Jesus, because they are the only ones who can be disciples (Luke 14:26-33).
              Such a person can have phenomenal problems, even addictions, but most won’t. And those who don’t will be able to help those who do because they have given themselves wholly to King Jesus.

              • Anna says:

                Yes, I’ve come across that video clip. It’s a fun one. 🙂

                The historical reasons make sense to me; I wonder more about the Providential reasons… why God allowed it in the first place. (As a side note, the monastic movement reinforced the idea that holiness was for ‘special’ people in the church, rather than everyone.)

                • paulfpavao says:

                  Ah. I try not to ask God why. That’s what I meant by “stop it.” “It” is the problem you describe. Let’s stop the bleeding, not ask God why the wound exists.

                  • Anna says:

                    That approach works well if you have a clear course of action before you and the energy to carry through on it, as you seem to. In my case, my strongest gift (almost my only one) is understanding. It’s not the most practical or action-oriented gift, but I try to take whatever opportunity I come across to understand more… hence the questions.

      • Daniel says:

        1. It’s not entirely clear that when the RCC affirms the pope as the Vicar of Christ par excellence that they are doing so to the exclusion of the vicarious authority inherent to others. The Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox see the local bishop as exercising that authority: Eis typon kai topon Christou. That the Eastern Catholics think that way and maintain Eucharistic communion with Rome is a strong indication that the Vicariate isn’t intended to be exclusive to Rome, only that Rome has it in a special sense.

        2. You are interpreting Paul so strictly under the akrevia hermeneutic that even Paul himself couldn’t be a bishop, lol, being a bachelor.

        3. “I’d still say the RCC denies it by its demonstration and life…” That violates the principle of charity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity Rome says they affirm the priesthood of the believer, so we should charitably take them at their word. Does Rome suffer from periodic clericalism whereby their praxis, their verbiage, etc. undermines their belief in the lay priesthood? I would say occasionally, though it has improved dramatically after Vatican II. Neverthless, when that clericalism *does* manifest, they are being ‘bad Catholics’–you can’t compare theology of good Protestants to bad Catholics; it’s apples and oranges.

        4.”…There are a lot of things that are way beyond “development.” One of them is the celibacy rule,…” Which isn’t a doctrine, and is therefore irrelevant to the development *of doctrine*.

        “…The Orthodox have a “Mariology,” too, but it is not near as extensive as the RCC’s…” I don’t think that’s accurate. In the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom vs the Novus Ordo, there are many many more references to Mary in the East. As far as beliefs held *about* Mary, both affirm she was ever-virgin. Both affirm she was taken up into Heaven with her own little private resurrection (the East calls this the Feast of the Dormition). As for her holiness, she is called the Panagia–the All Holy. Yes, there is much debate about the immaculate conception in the East, but I’m quick to remind Eastern nay-sayers that it was precisely the East that articulated this point first and the most vocally via St. Photius the Great and St. Gregory Palamas.

        The Theotokos probably warrents her own thread, but suffice it to say a few points: The immaculate conception *does not* mean that Mary was impeccable (unable to commit sin). And she’s not a Pelagian either: it is by grace and grace alone that she is able to live a holy life worthy of the dignity of her Son.

        A few quick scriptural points here. In Luke 1:28, kecharitōmenē is a verb, specifically a perfect participle. She is ‘continually being graced’ if you will. The traditional interpretation of that verse is that she was continually being graced *efficaciously*. As far as her being preserved from original sin, that is because Mary is seen as a type of Eve. Christ is the New Adam and Mary is the New Eve (Eve was created ‘good’ and didn’t have original sin). That was more clear to the ancient church because of the ancient tradition of translating Genesis 3:15 as SHE shall crush rather than HE shall crush. While that wasn’t preserved in the Masoretic Text, the LXX, Aquila, Symmachus, or Theodotion’s translation, it is mentioned by Philo of Alexandria (on obscure grammatical grounds for what the passage *should* read), Josephus, and Maimonides so when Jerome’s Vulgate translated it as “she” it wasn’t an accident or an innovation.

        What Eve does by her disobedience, Mary undoes by her obedience “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Her consent to the Incarnation is a fundamental cause of salvation. Without her consent, no Incarnation (in this iteration of history anyway, as God has willed it). No Incarnation, no crucifixion and no death, resurrection, or atonement–and therefore no salvation.

        I know we didn’t number it this way but:

        5. Iconography

        We all agree that bowing or anything really that’s *worship* should not be done unless it is worship of God and God alone. So the question then is what about veneration (not worship) of that which is not God? And bowing specifically?

        First, that is explicit in the Bible. Gen 47:31 in the LXX “And he said to him, Swear by an oath to me! And he swore by an oath to him. And Israel did obeisance [Prosekunisen; Strong’s G4352] upon the top of his cane.”

        Venerating a staff is part of the Egyptian rite of taking an oath, per Thayer’s Lexicon. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexImage.cfm?tv=1414126448810&a

        Next we have Biblical usage of iconography associated with the Temple that doesn’t violate the commandment: the 12 bronze oxen at the base of the bronze sea, engraved pomegranates in the Temple panels, the angels on the Ark, Moses’s bronze serpent (which is only destroyed by Hezekiah when Israel worships it by making offerings to it).

        There are also extra-Biblical Jewish examples as well. Jews kiss the Torah to venerate it, they kneel in front of the menora during the Amidah, and there are other historical examples of Jewish images: http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthodoxyandheterodoxy/2014/08/08/iconography-in-ancient-israel-part-1/

        So before we ask if kissing an icon violates the second commandment, let me first ask if Mt. Rushmore violates it? Surely not.

        The ‘spirit’ of the commandment is to prevent *worship*. Catholics and Orthodox don’t worship images, period.

        Furthermore, take an example of an extremist Muslim who uses a picture of Christ to wipe his butt. Has he committed sacrilege? In my opinion he has. Just as disrespecting the American flag disrespects America, likewise disrespecting a depiction of Christ vicariously disrespects Christ. But should we hold that only negative treatments flow from the type to the reality? That’s absurd. Therefore: veneration, respect, and honor to images carry over to the things they represent.

        Kissing an icon of the Theotokos is like kissing a photograph of your mother. After all, she *is* our mother (John 19:27 isn’t adding a trivial detail missed by the Synoptics, but is rather conveying a symbolic message to all Christians).

        • paulfpavao says:

          It’s not entirely clear that when the RCC affirms the pope as the Vicar of Christ par excellence that they are doing so to the exclusion of the vicarious authority inherent to others.

          Oh, come on. Now you’re just playing word games. Next thing I know, you’ll be denying the RCC “really” teaches papal primacy. If that’s the case, then we’re all done here. The pope is no one special; we can ignore him. I have nothing more to argue against.

          But it’s not so. Here is the claim of the RCC according to statement 882 of the Roman catechism:

          The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.”402 “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

          Notice: “by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ …” There is one other reason given, but this is the first one. Because he is the Vicar of Christ he “has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always excercise unhindered.”

          So can we talk about what’s real in the RCC and quit ameliorating what it proposes?

          It’s not just you. It’s a typical response. It gives me the feeling y’all aren’t real proud of the claims of the RCC despite being members.

          2. Referring to interpreting Paul too tightly.

          No, I’m not. You guys keep playing with words. You want me to agree it’s okay to forbid marriage to clergy, which as I have shown is impossible from the text. So now, because I’ve said that, now you’re saying I interpret that verse to be “never, in any case can a bishop or priest be celibate.” I said the opposite in the original post. I acknowledge that the requirement might allow for a single leader. It’s the Scripture that says an elder’s children testify to his effectiveness as a leader. There may be exceptions. Exceptions abound in Scripture. Forbidding marriages to clergy is not “an exception,” it’s completely ignoring the instructions of the apostle.

          3. My charge about the practice of the RCC is not charitable.

          Charity is not at issue here. I am evaluating a claim.

          4. Priestly celibacy is not a doctrine so it doesn’t apply to how the RCC has preserved doctrine

          I’m tired of the silly word games. I’m not gracing this with an answer for the 5th or 6th time. Here’s my conclusion. My charge concerning celibacy is so accurate that you RCC members feel guilty about it and are trying to make it go away.

          5. Iconography

          I barely have time to discuss what is on subject. Iconography is an Orthodox teaching, not Roman Catholic. I don’t have time for a discussion in it, sorry.

          • Anna says:

            >>4. Priestly celibacy is not a doctrine so it doesn’t apply to how the RCC has preserved doctrine

            I’m tired of the silly word games. I’m not gracing this with an answer for the 5th or 6th time. Here’s my conclusion. My charge concerning celibacy is so accurate that you RCC members feel guilty about it and are trying to make it go away.

            In fairness, the distinction between “doctrine” and “practice” is itself an ingrained part of Catholic teaching. That’s why all the Catholics keep bringing it up. At a root level, it’s the difference between what someone *says* and what someone *does*. The Church only claims that official doctrine is true and apostolic… not practices. Thus, accusations against practices, even if true, don’t actually disagree with what the Church teaches about itself. That may seem like word games to you, but it embedded deep in our thinking.

            • paulfpavao says:

              I think you’re misapplying this principle. I think the RCC position is that God preserves the accuracy of the teaching, but the actions of people sometimes don’t live up to the teaching. Therefore, the fact that the RCC dug up John Wycliffe’s bones and burned them for the crime of translating the Scriptures into English ought not to be held against their claim of being the infallible preserve of the tradition of the apostles.

              I actually agree with that. If one pope was a criminal, that shouldn’t take down the RCC claim.

              However, if that is the principle to which you’re appealing, then you should be saying, “Well, okay, we’re sinning by our current practice, and the church needs to repent, but the fact that the church needs to repent and change their required practice should not take away from our claim to the infallible repository of the teachings of God on the earth.”

              That’s not what you’re saying, though. You’re saying it’s okay for the church to enforce celibacy on all its priests (except the eastern rite Catholic churches). Then I say, it’s RCC teaching, taught by enforced practice.

              • Anna says:

                I, personally, only claimed that the Church had the *authority* to enforce celibacy on its priests, not that it was *right* to do so. I think one *could* say that the Church was sinning in its decision to enforce celibacy, without violating or disagreeing with Church teaching. (Many Catholics DO think the Church is wrong to enforce celibacy, although statistically, they are much less likely to be defending Church claims to apostolicity online…) Whether or not we should enforce celibacy, though, is a different question than the question of whether or not the Church’s actions in that regard is a matter of doctrine or practice and whether it could be used to invalidate the Church’s claims. Some of the Catholics on this thread have argued both that celibacy is only a practice, not doctrine, and also argued that it is a good practice… but those are two different points.

                I am, for myself, sort of on the fence about the rightness or wisdom of enforcing celibacy. I find most arguments pro and con to be lacking. But if it came down to me choosing, I would abolish the celibacy restriction.

                You could argue that the Church is sinning by violating the Scriptural ‘one wife’ command. I do not find that argument convincing. As I mentioned, Acts 15 shows that the Church has the authority to make and change disciplinary practices for the whole Church, and I interpret the ‘one wife’ verse as being directed against polygamy rather than against celibacy. If the Church is sinning by enforcing celibacy, it is for other reasons, such as depriving parishes of men well-suited to lead them.

                • paulfpavao says:

                  This doesn’t require a response, but I wanted to respond to let you know I read it. It’s an answer to one of my comments, and I’m willing to leave it there.

            • Ben says:

              One of the things I’ve struggled with is explaining Catholicism in a way that doesn’t sound like “word games” to friends and relatives who are (perhaps subconsciously) applying a standard of simplicity to any explanations they’re inclined to disagree with. It seems obvious to a Catholic that the Church is now a more fully-grown version of the sapling it was in the first few centuries.

              A “charge concerning celibacy” may indeed be “accurate” according to the environment in which the Church was getting started, but there are some early Church environmental/cultural conditions to which the Catholic Church is not constrained (head coverings could be a good example of this). It also practically goes without saying that the Catholic Church is not constrained by the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

              Catholics maintain that no doctrines contradict Scripture, but this understandably does not equate to Catholic practices/standards being limited to the spiritual maturity of the early Church.

              -Ben

              • Anna says:

                Ben,

                I would be careful about implying (as your last sentence sounds to me—I apologize if I’m misreading you) that changes in Church practice are due to a growth in spiritual maturity, rather than to circumstantial changes in surrounding cultural conditions. Although our understanding of doctrine tends to show an overall growth, the same cannot be said of holiness, which can vary up and down from time to time and place to place. I’m not sure there’s any evidence for a greater overall spiritual maturity in the Church now than during the apostolic age.

                • Ben says:

                  Thanks for helping explain, Anne. Looking now at what I said I can see that the clarification of my words was needed.
                  -Ben

                  • Ben says:

                    I think the overall concept that I was attempting to convey in my above comment was articulated brilliantly by Fr. Robert Barron in this recent video regarding the “development of doctrine”:

                    I hope the video works. Perhaps Paul might consider the subject worthy of a new post 🙂
                    -Ben

                    • paulfpavao says:

                      Nope. Absolutely disagree with it, but discussing it doesn’t fit into my time priorities right now. I can’t even put it on the list.

              • paulfpavao says:

                Wow. Limited?

                I think we’re in desperate need of getting back to the spirituality of the early church, whatever the cost. Apparently, you don’t. That’s a difference we’ll never resolve, I imagine.

                The Catholic Church can say they are improving on the apostles, which is my interpretation of what you just said. I will continue to respond to those who query that there are deeper problems with the RCC’s claims to primacy of the pope and infallibility in certain doctrines. Among those are the huge shift from 1 Tim. 3 and Tit. 1 to modern celibacy and the issue of the second commandment. Y’all will go on defending those the way you have. I am very comfortable resting my case.

              • paulfpavao says:

                Oh, and thank you for caring about the “word games” thing. I knew you would. I would have already said of you that you would go out of your way to avoid word games.

          • Daniel says:

            “It’s not just you. It’s a typical response. It gives me the feeling y’all aren’t real proud of the claims of the RCC despite being members.”

            I’m not a member, I’m Orthodox with a very strong ecumenist bent.

            I apologize for taking so long to respond, but I’ve done some digging and I’ve found some stuff in the catechism that I think is relevant on ‘vicar.’

            Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 894 “The bishops, as vicars and legates of Christ, govern the particular Churches assigned to them by their counsels, exhortations, and example, but over and above that also by the authority and sacred power” which indeed they ought to exercise so as to edify, in the spirit of service which is that of their Master.

            1560 As Christ’s vicar, each bishop has the pastoral care of the particular Church entrusted to him, but at the same time he bears collegially with all his brothers in the episcopacy the solicitude for all the Churches: “Though each bishop is the lawful pastor only of the portion of the flock entrusted to his care, as a legitimate successor of the apostles he is, by divine institution and precept, responsible with the other bishops for the apostolic mission of the Church.”

            1778 Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law: <<Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise. . . . [Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.>> John Henry Cardinal Newman, “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk,” V, in Certain Difficulties felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching II (London: Longmans Green, 1885), 248.

            I thought “aboriginal Vicar of Christ” was a little clunky and I was curious how the latin edition of the Catechism translated that phrase coined by Cardinal Newman. It says, “Conscientia est omnium Christi vicariorum primus.” Literally, “Conscience is the first of all the vicars of Christ.”

            To me it appears that the Catholic Church doesn’t say that the Pope is the only Vicar of Christ but seems to be saying that the pope is the Vicar par excellence. In fact, Catholic scholar Fr. Daniel Meynen has said exactly that as has the Catholic humanist and scholar Lorenzo Valla did 600 years ago.

            As John Chyrosotom says, Peter was the Coryphaeus of the Choir of the Apostles–the choir director, the leader.

            The ancient Church had a visible head in their local bishop, and the Bishop of Rome had a special ministry among the bishops to facilitate unity and catholicity of faith among them and the faithful.

            Catholics can say ‘Yeah that’s us.’ The Orthodox can say ‘Yeah that’s us.’ Protestants? I don’t see it. Protestants suffer from an ahistorical ecclesiology even when very generously accounting for development.

            • paulfpavao says:

              The discussion about the “vicar of Christ” was my way of expressing the claim of the RCC concering the pope that needs to be examined. The claim is: “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

              That’s an audacious claim and one that I reject. I gave some reasons in the original post that others should reject it.

              Any othes uses of “vicar of Christ” are irrelevant. Here is what is relevant:

              1. RCC says Pope is vicar of Christ.
              2. You questioned what kind of claim that was.
              3. I defined the claim from the catechism.
              4. Now I am appealing to the original post as a refutation of that claim, and a couple other related claims.

              • Daniel says:

                That’s fair enough. And certainly that’s a claim that almost all Orthodox reject. But if I may offer some clarification to at least soften the blow, allow me to quote JPII:

                For this reason the Council underscores that the Pope’s power “is ordinary and immediate over all the churches and over each and every member of the faithful” (DS 3064). It is ordinary, in the sense that it is proper to the Roman Pontiff by virtue of the office belonging to him and not by delegation from the bishops; it is immediate, because he can exercise it directly without the bishops’ permission or mediation.

                Vatican I’s definition, however, does not assign to the Pope a power or responsibility to intervene daily in the local churches. It means only to exclude the possibility of imposing norms on him to limit the exercise of the primacy. The Council expressly states: “This power of the Supreme Pontiff does not at all impede the exercise of that power of ordinary and immediate episcopal jurisdiction with which the bishops, appointed by the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 20:28) as successors of the apostles, shepherd and govern the flock entrusted to them as true pastors…” (DS 3061).

                Indeed, we should keep in mind a statement of the German episcopate (1875) approved by Pius IX that said: “The episcopate also exists by virtue of the same divine institution on which the office of the Supreme Pontiff is based. It enjoys rights and duties in virtue of a disposition that comes from God himself, and the Supreme Pontiff has neither the right nor the power to change them.” The decrees of Vatican I are thus understood in a completely erroneous way when one presumes that because of them “episcopal jurisdiction has been replaced by papal jurisdiction”; that the Pope “is taking for himself the place of every bishop”; and that the bishops are merely “instruments of the Pope: they are his officials without responsibility of their own” (DS 3115).

                http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/alpha/data/aud19930224en.html

                That might still be too much primacy for what you accept, but in my opinion that is much more in line with the Church of the first millennium and the Seven Councils.

                • paulfpavao says:

                  I agree that’s true enough, and it’s also true I would reject even that claim to primacy because of reasons I’ve given, and of course others that could go on ad nauseum.

            • paulfpavao says:

              Your comment about the Catholics and Orthodox perfectly addresses the issue. In general, Protestantism is jam-packed with false doctrine and a church life that is as bad as most churches have been since the 4th century. You can look at history, and say “that’s us,” all the way back. I deny that the second and third century are you guys.

              My appeal is to Acts 2:42-47. It is there that I say, “That’s us.” By “us” I certainly do not mean Protestantism in general.

              • Daniel says:

                So who do you point to in the second and third centuries for you to say “That’s us?”

                • paulfpavao says:

                  Justin Martyr, First Apology 14: We who formerly delighted in fornication now embrace chastity alone. … We who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions now bring what we have into a common stock and share with every one in need. We who hated and destroyed one another and would not live with men of a different tribe because of their different customs now, since the coming of Christ, share the same fire with them.

                  Athenagoras, Plea for the Christians 11: Among us you will find uneducated persons, craftsmen, and old women, who, if they are unable in words to prove the benefit of our doctrine, yet by their deeds exhibit the benefit arising from their persuasion of its truth. They do not rehearse speeches, but exhibit good works; when struck, they do not strike again; when robbed, they do not go to law; they give to those that ask of them, and love their neighbors as themselves.

                  Tertullian, Ad Nationes 5: As to your saying of us that we are a most shameful set, and utterly steeped in luxury, avarice, and depravity, we will not deny that this is true of some. It is, however, a sufficient testimonial for our name, that this cannot be said of all, not even of the greater part of us. … A slight spot on the face, because it is obvious in so conspicuous a part, only serves to show purity of the entire complexion. The goodness of the larger portion is well attested by the slender flaw. But although you prove that some of our people are evil, you do not hereby prove that they are Christians.

                  Tertullian, Apology 39: the family possessions, which generally destroy brotherhood among you, create fraternal bonds among us. One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives.

                  Tertullian, Demurrer Against Heretics 32: To this test, therefore, [the heretics] will be submitted for proof by those churches whose founder was not from the apostles or the apostolic men—since they are of a much later date, as churches are in fact being founded daily—but who, since they agree in the same faith, are considered no less apostolic because they are of the same family in doctrine.

  4. paulfpavao says:

    I’m trying so hard to be nice, but I am awestruck and what you’re asking me to believe.

    It’s just shallow, you say, to indict the church in priestly celibacy. Celibacy for priests is some sort of allowance or suggestion or nice idea. It’s not official. Of course, if you want to be a priest, then you have to be single, says not only the Catholic Church by their practice and rules, but you said it as well in your post. “If you don’t want to be single, don’t be a priest. Simple as that.”

    The Scriptures say it is a good thing to desire the position of elder or bishop. The Scriptures say that an elder and a bishop should be the husband of one wife.

    You, however, say that it is a waste of time to desire to be an elder if you’re not willing to be celibate. Then you say, “Don’t call us on that. Don’t point out that we say and enforce something different from Scripture. We didn’t actually put the thing that we enforce in our catechism, so it’s off limits in pointing out where we’ve deviated from Scripture.”

    What am I supposed to do with such an illogical argument? To be nice I’m working hard at not calling this stuff nonsense, even though it is.

    EDIT AND RETRACTION
    RETRACTION: Originally, I wrote: Finally, I imagine there are stronger ways to insult most of the western world, but your “arguments that don’t even matter” is a pretty strong insult. Did you not notice the huge scandal that has happened because RCC priests are celibate?

    I wrote more, but I just deleted all that. I left enough to show what I said, and took away as much as I could so that there would be no possibility of some of this comment being read without the retraction.

    A well-done study has shown that celibacy is NOT related to pedophilia. Celibate priests are no more likely to be pedophiliacs than any other male. The greater problem is sweeping it under the rug because priests–celibate or not–have access to more children than other pedophiliacs. That is a problem I hope (and am fairly certain) is being addresses, but I don’t consider that problem to have anything to do with the claims the RCC makes about itself.

    Celibate priests and the Scripture’s teaching about bishops and elders in 1 Tim. 3 and Tit. 1 is an issue that has to do with RCC claims, but the scandal doesn’t. I have looked at and trust the research that says celibacy has nothing to do with whether a person ever molests a child.

    • I was just giving my opinion, man.

      • paulfpavao says:

        I thought I had good cause to jump on you. I wasn’t going to back off at “I was just giving my opinion, man.” Thinking there was a relationship between celibacy and the Catholic scandal, I felt I had good reason to say what I said.

        Problem is, I believed something I’ve been told and which has been announced publicly, but it’s not true. I’m sorry. I get my followers by being thorough with my research and saying only what can be backed up. This was a bad one to miss; really bad. You can see my retraction to Ben, too.

        • I probably need to work on more agreeable wording when expressing disagreement. I also apologize for any unreasonable criticism. Your words and retraction were actually very humbling for me and is a good reminder to constantly check myself for conceitedness. God bless.

    • Ben says:

      Paul,

      Correlation does not imply causation.

      You said, “Did you not notice the huge scandal that has happened because RCC priests are celibate?”

      The scandal was tragic, but to claim that it happened “because” of celibacy….? Do you tell your friends who are virgins to hurry up and get married so they don’t molest children? Do you believe that people have uncontrollable animal natures that cannot be limited by an agreement to abstain from sex?

      Did Judas’ betrayal nullify Christ’s mission? I argue that people who choose sin do not nullify the Church’s credibility any more than Judas did. The enemy is always trying to gain a foothold wherever he can, but we can thank God that the doctrines are sound, the gates of hell have not prevailed, and we can focus on healing the hurts caused by sinful individuals.

      It seems to me that “Mustfollowifican” brought up some very reasonable observations on the subject of priestly celibacy, even if you might disagree with his phrasing.

      -Ben

      • paulfpavao says:

        I make mistakes all the time, but not usually one this big. I understand crow is best served hot, so I’m taking care of this now.

        This article states what “the National Review Board” found: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-james-martin-sj/its-not-about-celibacy-bl_b_533037.html. The National Review Board is a Catholic source, but I read portions of their paper. I didn’t want to read the over 100 pages, but I read enough to understand what they researched and how they drew their conclusions.

        Celibacy, priestly or not, not only does not cause pedophilia, it’s not really correlated to it, either.

        So, I apologize. That’s a big accusation I made, thinking it was obviously correct, so an apology may not even seem enough, but that’s all I can do.

        • Ben says:

          Paul,

          I appreciate your graciousness. I’m always glad to see a fair treatment of the “RCC” whenever possible. A commitment to honesty goes a long way, and I’m glad for the opportunity to offer checks and balances to each other, despite our somewhat different perspectives.

          God bless you brother.

          -Ben

  5. I’m not Roman Catholic (at least not yet) so I won’t even try to defend every point. However, I think bringing up priestly celibacy as an indictment is shallow. Like Anna said, it’s not formal “doctrine” like the Trinity or dual-nature of Christ. It’s a discipline for those called to a higher level of working for God.

    Jesus said, “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matt. 19:12) If someone can’t handle singleness, then don’t be a priest. It’s pretty simple.

    Paul said, “The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.” (I Cor. 7:32-34). Verses 25-28 even seem to suggest Paul believes the single state to be superior.

    From this it’s easy to see that it might be better for anyone called to a higher level of God’s work to remain single. Paul and Jesus gave the nod to it. A priest becomes the father of a congregation and can give his full attention to helping them. If someone is dying in a hospital, the priest doesn’t need to worry if he needs to get his kid to soccer practice. The priest can drop nearly anything anytime to respond to God’s work.

    While attending an Anglican church for a while I got coffee a couple times with the pastor who was single. He believed he would get married someday but also saw the benefits of singleness in ministry. He could easily change plans to fit the needs of his congregation.

    Like Anna said, this discipline might change someday. But it’s not an indictment one way or the other.

    There’s plenty enough to complain about in Roman Catholicism. There’s no need to bring up arguments that don’t even matter.

  6. Anna says:

    As a Catholic, I’d like to reply to some of what you say here.

    “They claim to be those that have preserved apostolic truth unchanged (so says Vatican II), but the unchanged truth has needed some further revelation (again, says Vatican II), which has included the teaching that Mary was born without sin, lived without sin, and was assumed into heaven.”

    The Church would actually object rather strongly to any claims to “further revelation”, since it is explicit teaching that God made the full revelation of Himself by sending his Word, Jesus Christ. You yourself say the Church does not admit to adding to the truth that Jesus passed on; the Church sees all that it teaches as merely bringing out into full view truths which are implicitly built in what we already know.

    Your main objection to this seems to be the Marian doctrines, which, it is true, were defined by the Church with an explicitness that does not appear in Scripture. However, the Church would see these doctrines as being things which follow from the more obviously revealed truths; they are things which *must* be true, *given* the others. So, for instance, we believe that Mary was conceived and lived without sin because we believe that Jesus was truly human, truly incarnate; since she was his human mother, and since each of us gets our human nature from our parents, then he received his humanity from her. He could not receive the broken and sinful nature that Adam has passed on to the rest of us, therefore she must have been spared that, so she could pass on a perfect human nature to the Son of God. Hence, God found it fitting that she be conceived and live without sin. Likewise, the teaching on the Assumption arises first out of the historical tradition passed on, presumably by those who were present at her death (ever wondered why there is no Tomb of Mary, when early Christians have such long-standing traditions about the locations of other significant places, tombs of the apostles, etc.?), but secondly out of the logical inference. If Mary was sinless, and death is the wages of sin, then an Assumption (before or immediately after her death – a matter of some debate among theologians) becomes highly appropriate, and backs up the historical tradition. (And it is, I would point out, no less believable or strange than the Bible saying that Enoch and Elijah were taken up into heaven. One might see that as Biblical precedence for the phenomenon.)

    Even if you disagree with the conclusions that the Church has come to, if you don’t find its trains of logic convincing, I would encourage you not to see it as the Catholic Church pulling new stuff out of its hat. Like the teachings of all Christian denominations, Catholic teaching is a product of human beings mulling over the consequences and implications of the gospel, both at theological levels and in terms of daily life. Whether it’s theological ideas like Sola Scriptura or the Assumption of Mary; or moral ideas like how to handle television, birth control, and nuclear weapons; there is a clear need for Christians to work out the full consequences of Christ’s teachings. Not everything was, or could be, explicitly stated from the beginning.

    >”The further revelation has also included the idea that some saints have done so much good, that they have leftover merit from God that can be applied to others in order to relieve them of “temporal punishment.” ”

    Leftover merit? Mmm. Technically, something like an indulgence (which your link goes to) could be applied to others, regardless of how much previous good the saint in question has done…it’s not about having done so much good that some limit is reached and leftovers have become available.

    We hear, in Hebrews 12, about God punishing us, for our own good, even after Jesus paid the price for our sins. That ‘temporal punishment’ is there to perfect us, and doing good deeds naturally helps reduce the need for such punishment. The fact that God allows us to apply the fruit of one person’s good deed to reduce the punishment of another… well, that action certainly has precedence in the ultimate example of Jesus.

    As for bishops and priests not marrying, I would say that, yes, the Biblical admonitions of “one wife” were aimed at preventing polygamy among elders, rather requiring marriage. But mostly I would point out that requiring single, celibate priests is not a *teaching* of the Church; it is not something that the Catholic Church says must be the case, in a theological sense. Which is why there are exceptions, and why Roman Catholics recognize the married priests of the Orthodox as valid priests. Celibate priests is just something the authorities in the Church happen to think is a good idea, and so are doing for now; it could change in the future (unlike formal teachings), and individual Catholics are free to disagree on the wisdom of it.

    On the 10 Commandments, I don’t buy the “they left out the graven images” bit. Granted, it doesn’t always make it into abbreviated commandment lists (just like the “punishing the children for the sins of their parents” part doesn’t make it into anyone’s abbreviated 10 commandments list), but the prohibition on idols is definitely considered by Catholics to be part of the 10 Commandments. It is, and rather naturally, considered part of the First Commandment; worshipping idols is the sin of having gods before God. Catholics are strictly forbidden from worshipping any of the statues or images to which we pay respect. If we bow to an image, it is to show respect to the one whom it represents, not to show respect to the stone or paint. If the image is not one of God, then we may not even worship the one represented, although we may show respect and great love. Although arguably less prolific, Protestants, too, use images: crosses around the neck, paintings of Jesus or Bible scenes. If they can do so without violating the commandment, then a case would need to be made for the difference in Catholic treatment of images.

    As for Commandments 9 and 10, the list in Deuteronomy 5 more closely divides along the Catholic numbering system. Again, even if you think that the Protestant numbering is superior, I don’t think that “how we number the 10 commandments” is a serious theological issue. (How we treat images is; but that is best argued directly on the merits of respective attitudes, rather than arguments about numbering.)

    “With such grandiose claims ought to be grandiose results, not errors that could be corrected by anyone who has made one trip through the Bible while knowing Roman Catholic beliefs. Such grandiose claims should certainly not come with the hiding of one of the ten commandments!”

    Looking at Wikipedia, it appears that the combining of “graven images” with “no gods before me” was actually a Jewish Talmud tradition that got adopted by Augustine; not really a sinister motive there. For the record though, the Catholic Church makes no claims as to its hierarchy being especially noble or holy. Despite lofty titles like “Vicar of Christ”, even the pope is still a sinning human being; his particular role in the grand scheme of things doesn’t preclude him being a manipulative jerk. The grandiose claims mostly apply to protection of Church teachings, not actions by its members.

    “It is not explanation, expansion, or revelation that leads to the Scripture calling all Christians saints and the Roman Catholic Church calling some Christians saints and only after death. It is not explanation, expansion, or revelation that leads to Scripture referring to all Christians as priests and the Roman Catholic Church referring to only elders as priests.”

    These are semantic issues; not issues about the concepts themselves. Catholics definitely believe that all Christians are gathered into the community of saints, even before death; the use of the word “saint” to mean those in heaven was simply a historical linguistic shift that probably happened because early Christians started to use the word “Christian” to mean followers of Christ, and so the word “saint” became an easy word to apply to the holy ones who had gone before them, especially the martyrs that they wanted to honor. And again, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches of the “universal priesthood” of all believers, which allows us all to approach God directly in prayer and worship and petition. Calling elders “priests” was a natural development for a people who were used to calling the spiritual leaders of their communities “priests”. (As many Jews and even pagans probably were.) Ultimately, the Church allows the use of the word in both senses; in this, it is almost more a recognition that this is how people have chosen to use it throughout history, rather than a need to use that particular word.

    • paulfpavao says:

      Hi Anna. Thank you for commenting.

      You wrote: >>The Church would actually object rather strongly to any claims to “further revelation”<>So, for instance, we believe that Mary was conceived and lived without sin because we believe that Jesus was truly human, truly incarnate; since she was his human mother, and since each of us gets our human nature from our parents, then he received his humanity from her. He could not receive the broken and sinful nature that Adam has passed on to the rest of us, therefore she must have been spared that, so she could pass on a perfect human nature to the Son of God.<>Leftover merit? Mmm. Technically, something like an indulgence (which your link goes to) could be applied to others, regardless of how much previous good the saint in question has done.<>On the 10 Commandments, I don’t buy the “they left out the graven images” bit.<>Looking at Wikipedia, it appears that the combining of “graven images” with “no gods before me” was actually a Jewish Talmud tradition that got adopted by Augustine.<<

      You'll need to come up with something awesome here. Without knowing where you read this, I will guess, and almost certainly be right, that what you read is that the Jews relate those TWO commandments; they do not combine them into one. Here's a list of the ten commandments, which they say should be the "ten sayings," from a Jew: http://www.jewfaq.org/10.htm

      Sorry, your defense doesn't fly. If you're at all familiar with medieval Catholic history, you must know that the Roman Catholics devoted immense effort to keeping ALL of Scripture from their citizens. Putting to death those who translated the Scriptures for commoners or who taught from the Scripture was common. It's apparent that in teaching the ten commandments, the RCC did not want to be explaining why one command is not to make graven images, and they were doing it all the time.

      In a court of law, the jury would deliberate for about 5 seconds to get a guilty verdict.

      That's really enough to cover. I'll just randomly pick one more. I was raised Catholic. In my experience there is no such thing as a Roman Catholic who knows that all Christians are priests. I'm sure there are a few, but there is nothing about Catholicism or its activities that would let Catholics or outsiders know that they have ever even heard that all their members are priests.

      • Anna says:

        Both the Wiki entry that I read (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments#Traditions_for_numbering) and the link that you provide give a Jewish numbering system that is different from both Catholic and Protestant numberings. Their number one is “I am the Lord your God”, that by itself. Thus, they put “do not have gods before me” (Protestant and Catholic #1) together with “no graven images” (Protestant #2, Catholic #1). According to the Wiki link, the Catholic numbering dates all the way back to Augustine, who was well before the problems of later Medieval clergy. By the sound of it, Augustine put “no gods before me” together with “no idols” because he was following a Talmudic tradition… since “I am the Lord your God” is a statement, not a commandment, he didn’t want to list that as a separate commandment, and he probably used the wording in Deuteronomy to split into #9 and #10 so that he could keep his total count at 10. Calvin, instead, decided to follow the Septuagint tradition.

        Mind you, I’m not trying to argue that the Catholic numbering system is the best one. I don’t really think how we number them matters so much as understanding them and following them. I just don’t think a different numbering system, by itself, discredits any denomination.

        I think you may be overstating the medieval suppression of Scripture somewhat, but that’s sort of a subjective question of how big is big. Certainly there were deplorable actions taken by Catholic clergy along those lines. I think most of what you have in mind is the Reformation mess, when the Reformers were translating Bibles and the Catholic clergy generally objected because they believed the Reformers were twisting the translations to agitate against the Church and thus misleading people. Some few of them were probably genuinely concerned for the souls of misled people, although way too many of the clergy were just out to preserve their power. But keeping all of Scripture from people is an overstatement (unless you meant that in a different way than it sounds to me); Catholic priests would still read Scripture to people at every Mass (albeit in Latin, which only the educated would have understood by the time of the Reformation), and much of the tradition of church art and medieval passion plays was meant to teach illiterate people the Scripture stories.

        As for being raised Catholic and Catholics not knowing about the universal priesthood… there’s quite a bit of Catholic theology that most Catholics don’t know. In fairness, the universal priesthood thing IS in the Catechism. The Church claims to have preserved the teachings of Jesus…she doesn’t claim to do a highly effective job at getting them across to its members. There’s all sorts of recent history behind that…Catholics used to have to memorize the (rather harsh) Baltimore Catechism, and then after Vatican II there was a backlash that led in the opposite direction, towards an emphasis on more of God’s love and less on judgmentalism and memorization of facts. Now the pendulum is swinging back; there’s a broad movement of Catholics in their 20s and 30s who complain about the lack of proper catechesis in previous decades and seem to have boundless appreciation for reading the Catechism and learning as much of Catholic teaching as they can. (Those are the ones who stay Catholic.) Not that this movement has infiltrated the Catholic pews as a whole; most Catholics are older folk, and knowledge of Catholic teachings on a variety of subjects is still sketchy.

        • paulfpavao says:

          I’m not sure why you’re saying my link showed a different numbering than the Protestants since that’s just not true. Even your link gives on the Catholics, Lutheran, and Augustine as holding to the numbering of the Catholics. Luther, of course, was a monk, so it’s obvious where he got his numbering.

          Also, your link does not even hint that Augustine got his numbering from the Talmud. All it says is that his 3-6 matches the Talmud, no suggestion that he paid attention to it or even knew about it. Referencing the Talmud in Augustine’s day (late 4th and early 5th century) would have been viewed very negatively by the church. They were extremely anti-semitic, to a fault, in the 4th century.

          Your link, which is Wikipedia, also claims that the Orthodox use a numbering system from the Septuagint that’s different, but that’s not true either. I consulted an actual Orthodox web site, and they number the same as the Protestants. (http://www.stjohntherussian.com/orthodoxy_ten_commandments.html) I consulted four or five other Orthodox blogs and web sites, and all of them used the Protestant numbering.

          By the way, Augustine is plenty early enough to be affected by images and other activities born from pagan hero worship. He was at least 70 years after the huge influx of unconverted pagans into the church, and 30 or 40 years after Emperor Julian the Apostate mocked the Christians for practicing hero worship more than the pagans in their adoration of the saints.

          And finally, on confession, I guess I stand corrected. The world I’m from is very Hawaiian, though we’re actually of Portuguese descent, and most of the Hawaiians I knew were Catholic. We went to confession every week, and so did a lot of other families we knew.

          • Anna says:

            In the interest of (possibly) making a more thorough defense on this topic, let me ask you some questions to better understand your position.

            a) What sort of images violate the commandment? (A landscape painting? Crosses hanging on the wall or around someone’s neck? Paintings of biblical scenes in books or on church walls? Any statue of a religious figure? Statues, but only when bowed down to or prayed in front of? Stained glass art?)

            b) Is violating the commandment the same thing as committing idolatry? (Or might it sometimes be a sin, but not the sin of idolatry?)

            c) Does the internal disposition of the person who interacts with an image determine whether they are committing idolatry and/or violating the commandment? (That is… if I kiss a statue, does it matter whether I do so because I want to worship the statue, or is the action inherently a violation of the commandment, even if I do not mean to show worship?)

            [As for confession, I have met Hispanics who go every week. I suppose it varies from one Catholic culture to another, the RC not being homogenous and all that.]

            • paulfpavao says:

              In my opinion, any image you bow down to violates the commandment. I want to call it idolatry, but apparently God does not regard it as such, so I have to stop calling it that. It certainly can be idolatry, but I know too many obvious Christians in the RCC and Orthodox churches for me to call it idolatry anymore.

              Nonetheless, I consider bowing down to any image to be wrong.

              I think that answers all your questions. Thanks.

      • Restless Pilgrim says:

        What do you think about Protestants who change the commandment from “Keep holy the Sabbath” to “Keep holy the Lord’s day”?

        • paulfpavao says:

          I don’t understand this question. Well, I do understand the question, but I don’t understand the context. My understanding is that Protestants have five different doctrines on the Sabbath, spread among denominations:

          1. We should keep the Sabbath like Jews.
          2. The Sabbath is gone with the rest of the Law of Moses.
          3. We now keep the Lord’s Day rather than Sabbath (as you mentioned)
          4. The Sabbath has been changed to Sunday. Those who believe this usually also believe number three.
          5. The Sabbath can be any day, and we can celebrate it any way we want.

          I understand that the Roman Catholic Church believes it had the authority to change the Sabbath to Sunday, but this seems the same, or awful close to the same, to me as keeping the Lord’s Day rather than the Sabbath.

          I don’t accept any of these views. The early Christians taught that we are to keep perpetual Sabbath because our rest now is spiritual, not physical.

          My most important answer to your question, though, is that Protestants don’t claim to be infallible preservers of the truth from the apostles. They claim to be trying to find it in the Bible. Admittedly, they act like they have found it in the Bible, but in word, they are open to change if they see they are wrong in the Bible. (Mostly, that’s not true because they don’t even know that they are clinging to tradition, not Scripture.)

          I think I made it clear at the start of my post that the reason these issues should be brought up is because of the audactiousness of the Roman Catholic claim to be sole possessors of the truth and authority of the apostles.

          • Restless Pilgrim says:

            > I understand that the Roman Catholic Church believes it had the authority to change the Sabbath to Sunday, but this seems the same, or awful close to the same, to me as keeping the Lord’s Day rather than the Sabbath.

            Hmm…that’s not really right. The Sabbath is still Saturday, but like Justin Martyr says, we now celebrate the Lord’s Day (for all the reasons he gives).

            > My most important answer to your question, though, is that Protestants don’t claim to be infallible preservers of the truth from the apostles.

            The only reason I asked this is because you called “Shenanigans!” with the “changing” of the Ten Commandments. I just wondered what you thought about those Protestant groups who change the word “Sabbath” for “the Lord’s Day”/”Sunday”.

            > I think I made it clear at the start of my post that the reason these issues should be brought up is because of the audactiousness of the Roman Catholic claim to be sole possessors of the truth and authority of the apostles.

            Just because a claim is audacious, it doesn’t mean it’s not actually true. After all, Jesus made some rather outrageous claims too 🙂

            In fact, early Christians had some pretty bold claims too. For example, Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria argued that truth is truth and, if the Logos is truth, then all truth is rightly the property of Christians! Related to this, I’d like to qualify your last statement: “sole possessors of the truth and authority of the apostles”.

            The Catholic Church recognizes the authority of the Eastern Orthodox Churches as being apostolic and regards them as the protectors of their authentic eastern patrimony.

            The Church recognizes the truth in all religions, not even just non-Christian denominations:

            “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men” – Nostra Aetate, Paragraph 2

            The Catholic Church doesn’t deny that truth and grace exist outside of Her visible bounds, but She does believe that she has been entrusted with the Deposit of Faith and charged with protecting it and teaching it to the world.

            • paulfpavao says:

              First, I’m pretty sure there are very few, if any, conservative Protestant churches that I could be a member of. I could not consent to their statement of faith, and I could not participate because the things I believe would be a disruption. When I attend a Protestant church the purpose is usually to be a minor disruption. I’m looking for people who are tired of the disregard for Scripture and are unfulfilled. I guess that could be called sheep-stealing, but I don’t think sheep belong in those churches (with a few exceptions). They should be with each other, not mixed into a goatpen.

              Just because a claim is audacious, it doesn’t mean it’s not actually true. After all, Jesus made some rather outrageous claims too

              I’m a little curious about this comment. That’s the point of this post, examining the truth of the claim. I hope I didn’t suggest it was not true just because it was audacious. I did say it requires impressive evidence. I don’t think that evidence is there. Thus, my post.

              As far as what I’m disputing, let’s just call it papal primacy. Then you can define it however you understand that term. It’s a Catholic term, correlated to Catholic claims. I am arguing against papal primacy.

      • Restless Pilgrim says:

        > …there is nothing about Catholicism or its activities that would let Catholics or outsiders know that they have ever even heard that all their members are priests.

        It’s baked right into the Liturgy! All the Sacraments of initiation speak of this in one way or another: Baptism, Confirmation and Chrismation.

        Not only that, it’s written in black and white in the Catechism:

        CCC #1141 Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people,” have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.

        CCC #1268 The baptized have become “living stones” to be “built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.”74 By Baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light.”75 Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.

        You also find evidence of this belief littered throughout Catholic devotional life e.g Morning Offering.

        • paulfpavao says:

          I am most curious why I had to approve this comment. After I approve one for a person, which I did a long time ago for you, the comments go right up. I didn’t have to approve any of your other comments today.

          As for a response, I’m just going to leave this one alone.

          • Restless Pilgrim says:

            > I am most curious why I had to approve this comment.

            I think it was because I included a hyperlink (to the Catechism). You’ll probably have to approve this one two as I give another link below.

            > As for a response, I’m just going to leave this one alone.

            Fair enough. If I ever get my “Drafts” folder down to a reasonable size, I’d love to do a post where I trace references to this doctrine throughout the Sacraments of initiation. I have written a little bit about the priesthood of all believers here though where I explain the connections between Adam, David, Christ and the Christian.

            For the longest time, I didn’t pay attention to what was said at the liturgy, which was a shame because I’d have learnt a lot. It was only when I started to wake up during Mass that I started to see lex orandi lex credendi and that the Liturgy was trying to teach me the Faith.

            • paulfpavao says:

              You’re right. I now remember that I chose the option to require approval on all comments with two or more links.

            • paulfpavao says:

              This is completely off topic, but for the record, I have no objection to liturgy. I do have objection to liturgy as mandatory or as the only form of Christian gathering, but using liturgy to catechize is something I consider positive, not negative.

    • Restless Pilgrim says:

      > Celibate priests is just something the authorities in the Church happen to think is a good idea, and so are doing for now; it could change in the future (unlike formal teachings), and individual Catholics are free to disagree on the wisdom of it.

      And also it is worth pointing out that there are many married Catholic priests in the Eastern Rites of the Church. I live down the street from one 🙂

      The celibacy in the Western Church is discipline, not dogma.

      • paulfpavao says:

        To me this doesn’t matter. It’s enforced, and it’s enforced contrary to Scripture. Again, I hear all the arguments for why this might be a good idea, but for the rest of us it’s just one more piece of evidence, among very man, that apostolic teaching is not being preserved as the RCC claims.

        • Anna says:

          On priestly celibacy: “It’s enforced, and it’s enforced contrary to Scripture.”

          Do you believe that women must cover their heads when praying? This too is a Scriptural issue, and one which Christians widely go contrary to.

          Scripture contains many things: history, poetry, moral commands, well-wishings, etc. I would argue that, among the things which Scripture says people must or must not do are both universal moral prescriptions and also local commands that are appropriate to their times. In fact, I think Scripture itself supports this.

          For instance. 1 Cor 7:10-12. Paul is discussing divorce and he says that two believers may not divorce; and he says that it is not he, but the Lord that gives this command. Thus, a universal command. And in the very next part, he says that a believer ought not to divorce an unbeliever… but this command is from him, NOT the Lord. (I was reading a couple of your older archives, and came across a post where you talked about ‘divorce and remarriage’ and the evidence from early Christianity that the divorce rules don’t apply when one of the spouses is an unbeliever… I was surprised that you didn’t bring up this Biblical distinction in that post.) I would conclude from this passage that A) Paul felt he had the authority to instruct the churches to do something that went beyond the universal rules that God established, and B) Scripture contains commands that don’t apply to everyone, everywhere.

          Another, more thorough example: Acts 15 (and 16). When a new issue, a dispute, arises, the early Church handles it by gathering all the elders together in a council. That council not only settles the doctrinal question of whether Christians need to be circumcised, it also issues a variety of commands: no eating food sacrificed to idols, no eating blood. Do you believe these are moral requirements that Christians should still be following (no steak tartare)? As far as I know, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only ones who interpret it so. Yet (16:4) “As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey.” Again, Scripture contains commands that did apply to the time and place it was given in (for good reasons), but which don’t universally apply to all people in all times and places. And, again, the Church elders felt they had the authority to enforce such restrictions that went beyond what God required of all.

          So we have:
          – one verse that commands elders to be husband of one wife, a verse that is probably aimed at preventing polygamy rather than preventing celibacy.
          – two passages (at least) in Scripture that praise celibacy (1 Cor 7, first paragraph… Matt 19:11-12… arguably Rev 14:4, depending on how you interpret it)
          – Church elders that are exercising, in the tradition of Acts 15 and Paul, their authority to make requirements for their churches that go beyond God’s universal requirements.

          Not seeing any grounds there for the Church failing in its claims.

          • paulfpavao says:

            Scripturally, church elders and bishops are the same thing, so I’m about to speak anachronistically (sp?) here. Using 2nd century terminology, where bishops and elders are separate, there are no “church elders” that rule over other churches. Bishops led all the congregations in a city, but telling a bishop or elders in another city what to do was never tolerated. See what happened when 3rd century Roman bishop Stephen tried to enforce his authority over the bishops of North Africa. They reacted vehemently, which includes “Saint” Cyprian, who called a council of 87 bishops to reject Stephen’s assertion that he was a “bishop over bishops.”

            The authority of a bishop over other congregations did not exist until the third century. A bishop, whether the Roman bishop or any other, has absolutely no authority to override the apostles and decree celibacy for all elders under him.

            This line of reasoning you have given is perfectly sound after about AD 500, though probably later. The church had already changed enough that it was no longer horrified by novelty. The bishops at the first council of Nicea would have fled with their hand over their ears to find out that the Roman bishop/metropolitan/patriarch had decreed celibacy to all bishops and elders in the west.

            Again. Is the RCC the repository of apostolic teaching and tradition that has not been changed or added to? No. They change things all the time. This is a change, a very serious change, and way outside the authority of anyone whose commission is to preserve the tradition of the apostles. You are trying to justify the change. I am simply pointing out it happened. Since I, along with all of early christendom, reject all novelty as falsehood, then the problems lie with the novelty of the doctrine, not with our assessment of the justification for the novel teaching. I reject your justification as not even close to adequate, but it wouldn’t matter. It’s still a novelty, it’s still enforced, which makes it dogma, and thus it indicts the RCC as false claimants to preservers of the apostolic tradition.

          • paulfpavao says:

            By the way, you’re making a false supposition when you say that I didn’t bring up the “Biblical distinction” in that post. You’re supposing that I think the Scriptures teach that rules for divorce and remarriage apply to people outside the kingdom of God. I don’t. That’s no discussion for right now, but I think the argument that Christian divorce and remarriage rules don’t even apply to Jews, much less to unconverted Gentiles. Even clearer is the teaching that life begins anew at baptism. It’s hard to conceive that anyone at all argues against that.

          • paulfpavao says:

            Finally, neither my behavior or belief, nor Protestant behavior or belief, nor Hindu behavior or belief is relevant to this post because none of us claim to be infallible, Spirit-inspired preservers of apostolic truth, which the RCC claims. The issue in my post is whether or not the RCC claim of infallible preservation of apostolic truth is to be believed.

        • Anna says:

          Mmm. I must not have been clear enough on my divorce and remarriage comment. I was referring to this post of yours, in which you argue that the “no remarriage after divorce” rule only applies to Christians post-conversion. Marriages that happen before conversions don’t have to be permanent in the same way that marriages after conversion do. (Or did I misunderstand what you were writing in that post?) I was not disagreeing with your evaluation of remarriage, at all. It more or less fits into the Catholic teaching that marriages are sacramental and un-divorceable only if both participants are baptized Christians. I was only commenting, with the tiniest smidgeon of surprise, that you had not included in your post a reference to 1 Cor 7. I believe that Paul’s “not the Lord, but me” in reference to marriages that happened prior to conversion supports the point you were making in your post (especially when clearly contrasted with “not me, but the Lord” in reference to marriages of two converted believers). Although Paul is saying that he thinks those married prior to conversion should still stay married, he is making it clear that this is based on his own judgment, and it is *not* a command of God’s.

          Why do you bring up ‘your, a Protestant’s, a Hindi’s’ behavior? Did I give you the impression I was accusing you of something? Because that was not my intent.

          Your argument seems to be that no bishop had authority over other bishops in the early church, so the pope does not have the right to declare celibacy for others. But does a bishop have the authority to enforce celibacy on the elders/priests of the parishes/churches that are in his own district? Although the RCC does claim papal primacy, of course, I think that most of the disciplinary decisions that affect the whole church rest on the authority of the combined bishops, especially in council—not especially on the pope’s authority alone. In either case, it would be useful to separate out the issues of papal primacy and the Church discipline of enforcing celibacy. The first is a question of who has authority over who; if your only objection to celibacy is that it is an act of papal primacy, then we can talk about papal primacy. But if your objection is that no one at all in the Church has the authority to enforce celibacy as a requirement, even in their own district, then I would appeal again to the precedence set in Acts 15, and by Paul’s words in 1 Cor 7, in which the elders/bishops definitely believed they had the authority to impose a rule on the whole church.

          “Since I, along with all of early christendom, reject all novelty as falsehood”

          I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that. The idea that followers of Jesus did not need to be circumcised was certainly a very great novelty to the disciples when it was first revealed, and that was some years after Jesus’ resurrection. Calling Jesus the “Logos” in the Gospel of John was a novel application of Greek philosophy to Jewish-Christian thinking. The idea that other cultures had something to contribute to Christianity’s expression of its truths was not a given. These are arguably still part of the time of genuinely new revelations, since they were in apostolic times, but there were later developments, too. They practiced new feast days (like that martyrdom of Ignatius), started keeping relics, found new places to meet (catacombs!), started asking creed-like questions before baptizing converts, developed new liturgies in different places, wrote about new insights, started using that fish symbol, and adapted the thinking and writing of Romans and Greeks to defend and express Christian truths.

          These things were all new in some sense, but they were not considered “novel” violations of the faith. The writings that were valued were considered as extensions of the handed-down faith, even if they expressed thoughts or arguments (for Christian truths) that had not been expressed before. Things that were *practices* rather than *teachings*, it seems to me, were generally not subjected to the test of novelty, or at least not to the same degree… but my knowledge of that time period between the apostles and Constantine is not as thorough as yours, and I could be wrong about that. Certainly a number of practices were considered to be also a part of what the apostles handed down (baptism, for example, and I would think the laying on of hands). But questions of, say… relics; the details of which room in a house was used for worship and how it was decorated or used for non-assembly purposes; which words were used to praise God or what kind of music was sung at assembly; what form of address Christians used to greet each other with on the street; and so on … all these could suffer new forms without being accused of “novelty”, yes?

          • paulfpavao says:

            We could go into novelty, but it would be off subject and consume way too much time because you’re talking about nuances. The statement I made, about all novelty being heresy, is made by historians of that time period pretty regularly. Yes, there are nuances, but overall, the principle is: new is bad.

            To me, the point is what’s given out as authoritative. Three of you now keep saying there’s a difference between the suggestion or good idea or whatever mandated celibacy is being said to be other than dogma. The fact is, though, that celibacy is mandate for priests. Robert’s comment was, “If they don’t want to be celibate, then don’t become a priest.”

            None of you seem willing to admit what the RCC is very forward about. The RCC is asking us to acknowledge that the “magisterium” teaches infallible truth. They are asking us to consider the pope to be God’s representative on earth. They are asking us to believe that–I don’t really want to go searching for RP’s wording–they’re God’s chosen repository to preserve the truth that he wants all the churches to have.

            You can try to squeeze it down to this one subject, and then you can try to see just how bad or okay or good this one subject is, but the fact is, the apostle Paul said one thing, and the RCC says and mandates exactly the opposite. Now, I’m willing to grant that there’s flexibility in what Paul said, so that what the RCC said may not be the 100% polar opposite. It might be 140 or 150 degrees, not quite 180 degrees in the opposite direction. In the end, though, “You cannot marry” and “You should be the husband of one wife” cannot be reconciled and represent a change.

            Further, this is the tip of the iceberg. I brought up Mariology. I brought up the usage of “priest” and “saint.” All that is sufficient for those not already RCC, and those are just a tiny portion of the issues.

            As I said, I rest my case. Somewhere else and sometime else, we can discuss what things the church has the right to change. My case is that the things I brought up are evidence enough that the RCC doesn’t care very much at all about preserving the apostolic faith, and if they do, they have failed miserably. Thus, I reject the claim that God chose them to be his representative and the repository of truth.

            • Anna says:

              Rather than being off-topic, I think novelty is at the heart of most of your objections. You believe that the RCC has repeatedly passed over the line from “nuanced developments” into “obviously novel changes without basis”. We, of course, believe that what can *appear* to be big changes are, in fact, nuanced developments. I agree that, at first glance, some of them appear to be big changes. But, like the sun revolving around the earth, or Genesis contradicting evolution, more evidence and closer scrutiny and evaluation shows that things are not as they first appear.

              Can you give me some examples of things that the early Church rejected because they were novel? I’m not challenging you; I know that the early Church did that. But I don’t have examples other than non-specific statements from the New Testament. If you don’t have time, or can’t remember any off the top of your head, that’s fine. I’m just curious.

              • paulfpavao says:

                Irenaeus (Against Heresies), bishop of Lyons and taught by Polycarp, around AD 185: “The Church, having received this preaching and faith … carefully preserves it. … For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little, diminish it.

                That’s from Bk. 1, ch. 10. In Bk. 3, ch. 1, he wrote: “For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed “perfect knowledge,” as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles. For, after our Lord rose from the dead, [the apostles] were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came down [upon them], were filled from all [His gifts], and had perfect knowledge:”

                • Anna says:

                  Looking at your first reference, I notice that Irenaeus then goes on to give a list, more or less, of some things which wise Christians may legitimately add their insight to, distinguishing these from illegitimate teachings. It occurs to me—although this is just a first impression—that the early Church’s objections to novel teachings should be understood in the context of the Gnostic’s claims to new, secret revelations that trump what the apostles, or even Jesus, publicly revealed. In that context, the development of doctrine that the Catholic Church has shown would fit closer to Irenaeus’s idea of intelligent exposition than to the new revelations of the Gnostics. Do you know if the decrease in objections to novelty more or less coincided with the decrease in Gnosticism?

                  • paulfpavao says:

                    I’m pretty certain they didn’t. Speaking secondhand, writers about the Council of Nicea still say novelty was equated with heresy at the time. Gnosticism still existed, but had little influence on the church by the late 3rd century.

    • Restless Pilgrim says:

      > As for Commandments 9 and 10, the list in Deuteronomy 5 more closely divides along the Catholic numbering system

      It’s also worth pointing out that the Catholic number makes the distinction between coveting things and coveting people.

      • paulfpavao says:

        It’s this particular issue that I find the answers the least convincinig. The answers are not satisfying at all. Anna’s answers were inaccurate. Referring to Deuteronomy 5 doesn’t change the fact that the RC split in the commandments doesn’t work in Exodus 20. The RCC only read Deut. 5 for a thousand years without ever checking Ex. 20?

        Your comment here, too, is not accurate. The command not to covet includes menservants and maidservants, not just wives, so the RCC is not just distinguishing between people and things, unless you want to call servants things.

        Finally, my answer is: “Come on. Really? You really want me to believe that even though the RCC is the only church in the world that leaves graven images out of the ten commandments, and it is the only church in the world to bow down to statues, they just innocently read the ten commandments differently than everyone else? Really?”

        • Restless Pilgrim says:

          What about the Eastern Orthodox? Oriental Orthodox?

          • paulfpavao says:

            The Eastern Orthodox number the commandments the way Protestants do. I consulted at least five sites to determine that. I gave one link to Anna. I don’t know about the Oriental Orthodox.

            • Anna says:

              I think he meant “What about the Eastern Orthodox bowing down to statues?”

              • paulfpavao says:

                They think it’s wrong to bow down to three-dimensional figures. They only bow down to icons, 2-dimensional images, and always imperfect, not exact replicas. I don’t agree with that either, but it didn’t seem relevant to this post.

            • Restless Pilgrim says:

              Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I was pointing to the fact that they kiss and prostrate images (what some would call idolatry), yet have the same grouping of commandments. To me this indicates that at least some non-iconoclastic Christians don’t see the Catholic grouping of the decalogue as necessary in order to justify images in worship.

              • paulfpavao says:

                Orthodox Christians justify their actions by saying their icons are not 3-dimensional. They don’t think what the Roman Catholics are doing is right. I’m against what the Orthodox do as well, but that’s their second commandment defense.

                • Daniel says:

                  Yes, and those Orthodox are also full of it too. Statuary was in the Christian East, but a lot of it was destroyed by iconoclasts because iconoclasm at one point had captured almost every Eastern See.

                  The modern objection that statuary is wrong is a novelty in Orthodoxy (ironically). Where the Orthodox *DO* have a point, is that the West never received the Seventh Ecumenical Council’s *theology* of the icons–not with the depth that the East did.

                  And that’s not a radical departure from common RCC introspection on the subject because Joseph Ratzinger makes that very point in an entire chapter in Spirit of the Liturgy.

    • Restless Pilgrim says:

      > Catholics definitely believe that all Christians are gathered into the community of saints, even before death

      You sometimes see the distinction between “saint” and “Saint”, the former referring to all Christians and the latter referring to those in Heaven.

      > …the use of the word “saint” to mean those in heaven was simply a historical linguistic shift

      And this is what happens to words over time – they gain differing, technical meanings e.g. “eucharist”

      • paulfpavao says:

        On the second commandment, I rest my case. Argue all you want and I will simply appeal back to my case, which I am convinced will sway any non-Roman-Catholic jury.

        1. The 2nd commandment forbids the making of images and bowing down to them.
        2. The RCC regularly practices making images and bowing down to them.
        3. The RCC is the only church in the world that does not list making images and bowing down to them in their ten commandments.

        I conclude, and I ask the jury to conclude that this is important evidence that the Roman Catholic Church is not and cannot be trusted as the only authoritative preserver of the traditions of the apostles as they claim to be.

        I rest my case.

    • Anna says:

      There’s always a personal element in evaluating idolatry; I can entirely sympathize with that. What you say reminds me of the historical shift from my childhood to 2014 on the topic of homosexuality. There was, back then—and still is in many “third world” countries—an instinctive repulsion at the idea of homosexuality. You didn’t need to explain to someone what was wrong about it; the wrongness felt obvious to the vast majority of people. And today we have found that that feeling of wrongness may not be as built in as we thought; entire societies worth of people can be brought to simply not have any such sense of wrongness.

      I bring this up because I think that our evaluations of idolatry work along similar lines. Deciding whether something is idolatrous involves instinctual evaluations as to the inherent meaning of actions. There was a big debate, for instance among Catholic missionaries to China… 1800s, I think?… about whether the Chinese would have to give up their practices reverencing their ancestors in order to become Christian… whether such actions were idolatrous or not. I think it was the Dominicans who went with their instincts, called it ancestor worship, and forbade it of their converts. The more academically-inclined Jesuits studied it, decided that it was inherently a form of reverence and not idolatrous, and petitioned to allow converts to continue the practice that was so strongly a part of their culture. (But the pope overruled them.)

      With these examples, I am not trying to argue that our instincts are always wrong. But I think I am arguing that our instincts are not as unchangeable as they seem. They are rooted deeply in our culture, in the stories and pictures and rituals and books and thoughts that fill our lives. In a different culture, or as we think in different ways, different instincts can prevail. Your instinct tells you that bowing down to statues is idolatrous; God had to tell you otherwise for you to believe it. So you accept what God told you. But now you have a lingering conviction that, while it may not be idolatry, bowing to statues is still inherently *wrong*.

      So I ask you… why?

      Not “why do you believe that it’s wrong”… the answer to that is pretty clearly “because it violates the second commandment”. But rather “why is it wrong… what’s wrong about it?”. If bowing to a statue isn’t inherently idolatrous, then why would God care about it?

      If your answer is “I don’t know why, but I will take God’s word for it”… then my reply is that we need to look more closely at the context of God’s statement. “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God[.]” See? He even gives the reason, “for I am a jealous God”; he will not tolerate worship of anything besides Him. The context is, very clearly, the rampant and explicit idolatry of pagan times.

      If we were to take the sentence, as it appears in this English translation, quite literally, then it would be forbidden to make an image such as the photo in your blogheader; “an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath”. Similarly, I can’t help but think that objecting to bowing to a statue—when you *know* it’s NOT idolatry—is to take the command out of context. (Debatably, the word that is translated here as “image” should really mean “idol”; the Hebrew word only seems to be used in the OT to refer to idols. So the commandment forbids bowing to idols, rather than bowing to images.)

      ********

      Some notes on your comment about the numbering.
      – I think you read the Wikipedia entry that I linked wrong; the list it gives for the Septuagint numbering that the Orthodox use is the same as the list for Protestant numbering.
      – Jewish (from your link):
      2. Prohibition of Improper Worship
      This category is derived from Ex. 20:3-6, beginning, “You shall not have other gods…” It encompasses within it the prohibition against the worship of other gods as well as the prohibition of improper forms of worship of the one true G-d, such as worshiping G-d through an idol.
      vs. Catholic:
      I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.
      My point here was not that the numbering is the same (Jewish 2 vs Catholic 1), but that both GROUP “you shall have no gods before me” together with “you shall not make a graven image”. Thus, Catholics are not the only ones to group those two phrases together.

      ***********

      Ultimately, though, your claim is that 1) the Church LEFT OUT the “graven images” part and 2) by so doing, failed to live up to its claim to transmit apostolic teaching through the ages.

      But the Church didn’t leave it out. The “graven images” phrase IS included in the 10 commandments; it is considered (part of) the First (and most important) Commandment. And idol-worship has, as far as I know, always been condemned. This truth has been passed down from one generation to the next, just like the others. You are seeing a conspiracy that I see no evidence for.

  7. Ruth says:

    like

    • paulfpavao says:

      Awesome, Ruth. I have read two or three blondes lately that I wish I could’ve just commented, “like.” Now I know I can!

  8. Jennie S says:

    Back when I was actively blogging, I researched quite a bit about the Roman Catholic Church, and I posted some conversations I had with you, Paul, about baptism and the Eucharist, etc.. Back then my brother and his family had become Catholic ( my Mom had been raised Catholic and us kids went with her to church when we were very young), so I was upset and eventually started my blog to record my thoughts and research. Well, my sister and now my Mom have reverted recently. One thing that bothers me is that now they won’t take communion with us at our church, if they come for a special occasion; and of course I can’t take it with them if I go to their Catholic church. We are all believers, but can’t share the body and blood of Christ. (Of course I think we are sharing that we ARE the body and blood of Christ, and they think we are sharing by eating the REAL physical body and blood of Christ).
    The false history thing is a real barrier for me. And the praying to and revering Mary.
    Their claim to be the One True Church causes an attitude of contempt and superiority, which we all can be prone to, of course. I run into that attitude constantly in online discussions. For instance, I see ” how dare Protestants use the Bible that our church created”. Yet, it wasn’t the Roman church that canonized the Bible.
    That last thing, the contemptuous One True Church that gave us the Bible thing, is the biggest barrier to unity between believers of different churches, in my opinion. And everyone isn’t contemptuous, of course. My family isn’t. We have good discussions now.

    • paulfpavao says:

      Thank you, Jennie. I bookmarked your blog again. I haven’t been there in a long while.

    • Restless Pilgrim says:

      > One thing that bothers me is that now they won’t take communion with us at our church, if they come for a special occasion; and of course I can’t take it with them if I go to their Catholic church.

      Hey Jennie, the Real Presence isn’t the only issue here. It is also a communion of belief. The Catholic Church believes that it is disingenuous to share Holy Communion with those who do not believe as we do. The Lord’s Supper isn’t just the means of making us one, but it is also a a sign that we are one.

      I have a an analogy which may or may not help. I don’t think I’ve seen it explained like this elsewhere, so if this sucks then I’ll take the blame….

      We can lie with our bodies. If I tell you a car with a dodgy engine under false pretenses and shake your hand as you leave, I have lied with my body. With my body I have said something which isn’t true.

      Likewise, if I sleep with my girlfriend, I have lied with my body. With my body I have said “I am completely yours – freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully”… but this isn’t true since it is outside the covenant of marriage.

      In an analogous way, if we partake in the Eucharist with those with whom we are not in communion, we are declaring that a union exists where it does not. While do indeed hold many things in communion with non-Catholics, we cannot act as though we are perfectly one when that is not the case.

      I know this is a “hard saying” and, honestly, during my Protestant years I really struggled with it. However, I eventually came to see that the Catholic Church was doing the right thing in delaying Holy Communion until an authentic communion can be restored.

      It does pain me not to receive communion when I visit Protestant congregations. However, I’m reminded of St. Monica who, in seeing her son so far from the Church, redoubled her efforts in prayer. Likewise, during non-Catholic communion services, I redouble my efforts in praying that Jesus’ words be fulfilled, that “they all may be one”.

      Hope this helps,

      David.

    • Restless Pilgrim says:

      > Yet, it wasn’t the Roman church that canonized the Bible.

      Who do you think canonized the Bible?

      • paulfpavao says:

        This one wasn’t directed at me, right?

        I want to contribute anyway. I think the early churches believed the apostles were inspired. Thus, for several hundred years, all that mattered was whether a church believed a writing was written by or approved by an apostle. Augustine states in On Doctrine that there was no set canon in his day. (This makes it certain that the Synod of Hippo in 393, which did indeed release a canon, was not authoritative. Augustine was the bishop of Hippo, and he wrote On Doctrine in 412. The Catholic Encyclopedia agrees that the Synod of Hippo was not authoritative, nor the later Council of Carthage.)

        Basically, Jerome canonized the Bible for the western churches by translating the Vulgate. Because he separated the Deuterocanonicals (that Protestants call the Apocrypha) there was various opinions on those 7 books throughout medieval times.

        The only council, of any church, to officially canonize the books of the Bible was the Council of Trent (1546-1563, I believe).

        I got that from the Catholic Encyclopedia, and I haven’t found anything to contradict it.

        The Orthodox Study Bible has 49 books in their Old Testament. I just bought it as an app on my iPhone, which is very cool. Oddly enough, it only has 3 books of the Maccabees. I thought the Orthodox accepted 4. The RCC only accepts the first 2.

        None of the 7 councils accepted by the Orthodox as authoritative has ever approved a specific canon.

        • Restless Pilgrim says:

          It wasn’t directed at you, but thanks for diving in. A few random thoughts:

          * FYI, Books 1-3 of “On Doctrine” were written in AD 397 and Book 4 was AD 426

          * When speaking about Augustine and the canon, I think it’s helpful to read his “Reply to Faustus the Manichaean”:

          “Will he take our apostles as witnesses? Unless he can find some apostles in life, he must read their writings…Or if he produces his own manuscripts of the apostolic writings, he must also obtain for them the authority of the churches founded by the apostles themselves, by showing that they have been preserved and transmitted with their sanction. It will be difficult for a man to make me believe him on the evidence of writings which derive all their authority from his own word, which I do not believe…The authority of our books, which is confirmed by the agreement of so many nations, supported by a succession of apostles, bishops, and councils, is against you. Your books have no authority, for it is an authority maintained by only a few, and these the worshippers of an untruthful God and Christ.”

          * That Carthage on the shores of the other side of the Mediterranean from Rome would send those council canons for papal approval plus the Damasus decree is strong evidence that it was binding for the West. I agree that Carthage wasn’t meant to be a universal declaration for all of Christendom, but definitely was a norm for the West.

          * In the East, you had various canonical norms: Apostolic Canon 85 mainly but also “Canon IX of the synod held in Laodicea, and in Canon XXXII of that held in Carthage. Moreover, Athanasios the Great in his 39th festal letter, and St. Gregory the Theologian, in his Epic Verses, and Amphilochios the Bishop of Iconium in his
          Iambic Lines also mention them”
          (Rudder)

          * The Council of Florence in the 15th century had a list of all of the canonical books in the Bull of Union with the Copts (reuniting the Coptic, Orthodox and Catholic Church under the earthly headship of the pope). It wasn’t in the form of a dogmatic declaration (as was Trent’s) but still showed the Catholic position on the matter. That said, there were dissenting Catholic voices up to Trent – most notable amongst them, Cardinal Cajetan.

          * With regards to the Eastern Orthodox and Maccabees:

          “The Synod of Jerusalem in 1672 decreed the Greek Orthodox canon which is similar to the one decided by the Council of Trent. The Greek Orthodox generally consider Psalm 151 to be part of the Book of Psalms. Likewise, the “books of the Maccabees” are four in number, though 4 Maccabees is generally in an appendix, along with the Prayer of Manasseh” – OrthodoxWiki.org

    • Restless Pilgrim says:

      > The false history thing is a real barrier for me. And the praying to and revering Mary.

      What do you think about this Marian hymn (c. AD 250)?

      Beneath your compassion we take refuge, Theotokos!
      Our prayers, do not despise necessities,
      but from danger deliver us, only pure, only blessed one.

      • paulfpavao says:

        I think I’d like to see proof it’s from AD 250. Who wrote it? How do they know it’s 3rd century? Even 3rd century wouldn’t mean much to me because such thought is entirely absent from Scripture and second century writings, but it would pull the rug out from under my claim that this kind of a prayer to a saint belongs to the hero worship brought into the church by pagans in the fourth century.

        • Restless Pilgrim says:

          It was found on an Egyptian papyrus. I don’t ever recall the dating being challenged, but Wikipedia cites the following book as a citation:

          Matthewes-Green, Frederica (2007). The Lost Gospel of Mary: The Mother of Jesus in Three Ancient Texts. Brewster MA: Paraclete Press. pp. 85–87. ISBN 978-1-55725-536-5.

          As for it being “entirely absent from Scripture and second century writings”, I think we could point to different seeds of thought mentioned earlier. However, given the relative paucity of material from the first two centuries, it doesn’t strike me as that shocking that some aspects of devotional life didn’t make it into the historical record until a little later.

        • Anna says:

          I would have thought that the Martyrdom of Ignatius (and maybe other sources?) showed that hero worship was part of the church before influx of the fourth century.

          • paulfpavao says:

            Monuments to or momentoes of a martyr are not the same as praying TO a martyr.

            If all Rome did was make momentoes of saints without ever praying to them or bowing down in front of those momentoes, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

            • Anna says:

              Well, I guess grabbing someone’s relics and enthusiastically wrapping them in linen, calling them an “inestimable treasure” and making sure everyone knows the day and time of his passing so that they can assemble themselves together at the time of his martyrdom… sounds a lot like hero worship to me? [This comment wasn’t made in reference to bowing down in front of statues… it was made in reference to your comment about hero-worship of the pagans re: the Marian hymn.]

              • paulfpavao says:

                I did some research. I would need to do more to be confident of anything, but it’s really not worth buying a book for right now. I have way too much else to do. It looks like the Marian hymn really is probably 3rd century.

                So, as far as Mary goes, apparently there were “Hail Mary” type prayers reference at least by the mid-3rd century. That pulls her out of the 4th century transformation period. Nonetheless, commonly discussing prayer to saints belongs to the fourth century, and even Augustine (late 4th, early 5th century) questioned the practice because saints aren’t omnipresent. (I mean questioned it in the literal sense. He didn’t suggest it was wrong; he wondered if it was right or wrong.)

  9. Seth says:

    I enjoyed this post. It never seizes to amaze me how obvious some of the RCC errors are and are still accepted with no question. Let’s not even talk about how that has ushered in all kinds of wicked idolatry and pagan practices in the Latin communities in South America, etc..

    When I first read the part where you said the Protestants Ten Commandments I thought aren’t they the Hebrews, the Jews Ten Commandments? Then I saw you mentioned a commandment from Moses. That usually is not any big deal but it just struck me is all. I think as Protestants or those following Christ post Great Reformation outside of the Catholic church would always do well to research and understand the History of the Scriptures along side the History of the Early Church. I believe both give needed light in understanding God’s intention in the Scriptures. What I am saying is I see the importance of knowing the Early Church Fathers’ writings as you so lovingly share with us giving context for much of what we read in the New Testament. And equally needed I am beginning to see is the understanding of the Jewish context the Scriptures were written in. Many times our Western mindsets don’t or can’t pick up from just reading which causes us to miss much in understanding. Your thoughts?

    • paulfpavao says:

      Good point. http://www.jewfaq.org/10.htm says that “ten commandments” is the wrong translation, and it should be the “ten sayings” or “ten declarations.” Either way, their list agrees with the Protestant list, not the Catholic one.

      And overall, yes, understanding church history and Jewish understanding is very enlightening. Personally, I think the early Christians are most enlightening on faith vs. works and on the Law. A lot of the rest of the stuff we miss we could be getting from the Scriptures themselves, but tradition blinds us to some obvious things.

      My caveats are: The point of the Scriptures is to equip us for every good work. The Scriptures can be understood and obeyed without a lot of study of additional books. Also, we ought to have teachers we trust who are honest and can do that research on behalf of everyone.

      • Seth says:

        thanks for your reply

      • Restless Pilgrim says:

        > Good point. http://www.jewfaq.org/10.htm says that “ten commandments” is the wrong translation, and it should be the “ten sayings” or “ten declarations.”

        It’s probably worth pointing out that the Decalogue actually has more than ten commandments/sayings/declarations.

        > Either way, their list agrees with the Protestant list, not the Catholic one.

        What’s your opinion about the deuterocanon/apocrypha? Have you written about it? I vaguely recall you writing about the Book of Enoch a while back.

        > The Scriptures can be understood and obeyed without a lot of study of additional books.

        Hmmm… I’m not sure about this one. It sounds like you’re talking about the “plain meaning of Scripture”, to which I can’t help but look at the cacophony of the Protestant world and conclude that perhaps the meaning isn’t that plain.

        > Also, we ought to have teachers we trust who are honest and can do that research on behalf of everyone.

        My only issue here is that it would seem to imply that those who are wrong are dishonest. I believe a lot of people are sincerely wrong, but I do believe that they are sincere.

        • paulfpavao says:

          Whew. Okay, here goes …

          the Decalogue has more than ten sayings

          Moses doesn’t agree with you. Exodus 34:28

          Deuterocanonicals.

          I don’t know. I think churches should be allowed to make that decision themselves. They should at least be read and not ignored. I am weirded out (excuse the terminology) by Enoch, which is, in my opinion, referenced by Jesus in the story of the rich man and Lazarus and is directly quoted by Jude. It is also clearly known by the early Christians, though as far as I can tell never quote as Scripture.

          Tobit and Wisdom are often referenced. I have strong opinions about Wisdom being included in the canon. I think it should be, but like I said, I also think that is a church decision, not an individual one.

          Scriptures without a lot of extra books

          I meant something specific, and it is not the Protestant’s “sola Scriptura,” which I reject as unscriptural. (If I personally follow sola Scriptura, then my interpretation of Scripture is that sola Scriptura is false.)

          I was referencing obedience to the Scripture. Thus, while I think it is important that the church have not only the influence of the Holy Spirit, of the input of the members, and the testimony of the historic church, I also think that not all members should be spending their time on Jewish and historic studies. A few gifted teachers is sufficient to teach the church important things, but the average Christian, in the context of church life, can just read the Scriptures and obey them. Love your neighbor; don’t steal; work with your hands; give to the poor; take care of your brothers and sisters; deny yourself; forgive as you have been forgiven.

          I was talking about those kind of things.

          Honest researchers

          If your church’s researcher is someone like Kenneth Wuest, you will get nowhere. If your church’s researcher/teacher is Ken Ham, you will not go forward. People like that can research and research and research and they will always find that what they already believe is true.

          Most Protestant churches are taught by people who will always, in any situation, discover that what they already believe is true. I have at least one person who agrees, which is Ed Goodrick, former professor at Multnomah University. He says in his book Do It Yourself Hebrew and Greek that most of his students are learning exegesis so that they can find as many interpretive options as possible in order to choose the one that fits their already preconceived belief.

          • Restless Pilgrim says:

            > Moses doesn’t agree with you. Exodus 34:28

            My point is that there are more than ten exhortations within the text, hence there is the issue of how those exhortations are groups into ten.

            > Tobit and Wisdom are often referenced. I have strong opinions about Wisdom being included in the canon. I think it should be, but like I said, I also think that is a church decision, not an individual one.

            Okay, I just wanted to establish that just because Jewish tradition does one thing, that Christians are not automatically bound by it.

            > A few gifted teachers is sufficient to teach the church important things, but the average Christian, in the context of church life, can just read the Scriptures and obey them. Love your neighbor; don’t steal; work with your hands; give to the poor; take care of your brothers and sisters; deny yourself; forgive as you have been forgiven.

            I was just highlighting the issue with dividing Christians into classes (“average” and non-average). Different Reformers agreed with this principle, but then disagreed when it came to “to teach the church important things”.

            • paulfpavao says:

              Way off subject again, but dividing Christians into gifted and not gifted has a long history. Irenaeus, for example, has a long discussion about those who are particularly eloquent being responsible not to add to the faith and those deficient not taking away from it (A.H. Bk. 1, Ch. 10). Hippolytus’ Apostolic Tradition distinguishes between the responsibilities of a bishop who can pray eloquently and one who can’t in what is required in a Eucharistic prayer (which I find fascinating).

              • Restless Pilgrim says:

                If only they did the same with homilies – if you’re good, write your own, otherwise just read the script 😉

                • paulfpavao says:

                  Lol. That really is funny, but I am confident that most early Christians would have agreed with you. In Justin’s description of a Sunday service, which he said was on Sunday because it was the day Jesus rose, he said they read the Scriptures, then the “presiding one” explained them. That’s a lot more likely to be interesting, in my opinion (which I cannot claim is humble), than most sermons/homilies.

                  If I may get WAY off subject. RC priests have the liberty to keep homilies very short. Protestant pastors don’t. RC masses are confusing to Protestants, but they’re not as boring if one pays attention. The reason is that 20 minutes is a MINIMUM in a typical Protestant services and about 40 minutes is average. The typical Protestant pastor feels obliged to fill the time, and it is rare for any person to have that kind of skill. There are a lot who do because there are something like a hundred million people who call themselves Christians, so that tiny percentage who can fill 40 minutes every week for years number in the hundreds. The problem is that Protestant churches number in the hundreds of thousands (I think).

                  • Restless Pilgrim says:

                    > In Justin’s description of a Sunday service, which he said was on Sunday because it was the day Jesus rose, he said they read the Scriptures, then the “presiding one” explained them

                    While we’re on that point, I remember digging into the greek and found that “presider” was indeed the word he used, neither “bishop” or “presbyter”. I dug around a bit in other patristic literature and couldn’t find that word used elsewhere of the one who led the different gatherings. Do you know of any instances?

                    >RC priests have the liberty to keep homilies very short. Protestant pastors don’t.

                    Yeah, it’s because the primary focus of Catholic liturgy isn’t the homily, but the Eucharist. In Protestant congregations where Holy Communion is rare and given little significance, something else has to take the new focal point. For many congregations, the sermon takes that place. In others, it’s the band. Or others, a mix of the two.

                    > RC masses are confusing to Protestants, but they’re not as boring if one pays attention

                    As I started to warm to Catholicism again I regularly played “Cite that Scripture!” during Mass, since virtually everything that’s said in the Liturgy (either by the priest or people) is a quotation or at least a paraphrase of something out of the Bible.

                    > The reason is that 20 minutes is a MINIMUM in a typical Protestant services and about 40 minutes is average.

                    …whereas Mass is typically 1 hr on the dot (40 minutes for a Saturday Vigil). Those who attend the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine) or an Eastern Liturgy it usually clocks in at 1hr 15.

                    > The typical Protestant pastor feels obliged to fill the time, and it is rare for any person to have that kind of skill.

                    I think it definitely is a gift. I’ve known some pastors who had that gift. Most were Protestant, but I’ve been fortunate enough to know more than a few Catholic priests who could hold a congregation’s attention for that length of time (Msgr Pope’s homilies were pretty much always about half an hour).

                    For those who can’t preach well for that length of time, well, I suggest Hippolytus’ advice should win the day 🙂

                    • paulfpavao says:

                      Tertullian uses it. Apology 39. He discusses how elders are chosen in the same chapter (by proven character). Odd he just uses presiding one when discussing the love feast in that chapter.

                  • Restless Pilgrim says:

                    While we’re on the subject, here are my favourites Catholic preachers:

                    Fr. Jacob Bertrand
                    Msgr Pope
                    Fr. Robert Barron

  10. T.S.Gay says:

    “What is the Protestant Principle? Stated philosophically it warns against absolutizing the relative. Stated theologically, it warns against idolatry”. Direct quote from answers.com. Our allegiance belongs to God, any human claim to absolute truth or finality must be rejected. I appreciate and hope to support your efforts to teach us all the history of our faith.

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