Saturday, January 25, 2014

John on Scripture as the supreme, final authority on matters of faith and practice

If we take John's Gospel seriously then can we ever stop unpacking the implications of 1:18?

'No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known" (NIV 2011).

One implication of this verse is that we need to read Scripture carefully, regularly and obediently. How dare we claim to know God? Because Jesus has revealed God to us. Where do we find this revelation of God? Since the ascension of the Son to the Father, we only find this revelation in Scripture. We come to Scripture because this side of glory it is the closest we get to true, reliable knowledge of God.

Within this claim, of course, lies an understanding that the New Testament is the collection of documents which offers the fullest and most authoritative expression of Jesus' life and teaching, and its meaning for the world. To an extent we could 'get by' if, say, we had only the Gospel of John. But John's Gospel is better understood for knowledge of the other gospels and the epistles. The Old Testament's importance lies in the contribution it makes to understanding the New Testament. The latter completes the former with its hope for a better future and a fuller revelation of God; the latter cannot be completely understood without knowledge of the former.

I suggest we can go a little further re Scripture in the light of John 1:18.

If the fullest revelation of God is made known through Jesus Christ then the supreme authority over our faith - the content of what we believe - is that which makes Jesus known to us: Scripture.

Similarly, if our practice is the things we do to honour God, to make a right and fitting response to the God revealed through Jesus Christ, then such practice is subject to our knowledge of that God (and not some other god), and thus Scripture is the supreme authority over our practice.

Now, it is true that Christians at this point have divided. Some have taken Scripture's authority over practice to mean that we only do what Scripture enjoins and never what Scripture does not prohibit. Others (including Anglicans) have understood that we are free in Christ to do things which are no expressly forbidden. Yet others (including some but not all Anglicans) have felt that on the matter of practice we might also take guidance from the ancient practice of the church going back to the apostles themselves. Many an interesting debate then ensues as we debate whether (say) practice X really is forbidden by Scripture or practice Y goes back to the second century rather than to the apostles or practice Z is a fair innovation in the light of our knowledge of both Scripture and tradition.

Nevertheless it would be a brave Christian who sought to do something and claim it was God's will in the face of a majority Christian teaching that this 'something' was, in fact, forbidden by Scripture. Or, alternatively, there is a similar bravery (and foolishness) in continuing to avoid a practice which Scripture conveys a command about.

For myself, trying to be a good Anglican, while also attempting to subject my Anglicaness to the judgment of Scripture, John 1:18 challenges me in respect of practice: does my practice as a Christian, as an Anglican minister and priest assist communication of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Does my practice enhance our understanding of that revelation? Or does it get in the way of understanding?

40 comments:

Shawn Herles said...

Outstanding post Peter. Well said. It is impossible to know Jesus without Scripture, thus the authority of Scripture is implicit right from the start. This is true regardless of how that authority is understood, whether in the RC/EO forms or in Sola Scriptura. All three approaches affirm that without Scripture, we cannot know Jesus our Saviour, thus the primary and/or foundational authority of Scripture is absolutely necessary to Christian faith and practice.

Some will ask, but what about Paul? Did he not meet Jesus without Scripture? Well, no. As Jesus makes clear in his conversation on the road to Emmaus Jesus says that all the Law and Prophets, the "Old Testament", reveal him. Note that point; ALL of the Law and the Prophets! Jesus offers a clear rebuke to those who claim that parts of the OT do not truly reveal God. So Paul already had a Scriptural foundation.

What about the ongoing work of the Spirit? As a Pentecostal/Charismatic Anglican I strongly affirm the ongoing work of the Spirit, including the work of revelation and prophecy. But, the Holy Spirit who is at work in the Church today is the same Spirit who breathed out every single word of Scripture, and does not contradict Himself. Scripture is essential for rightly discerning that ongoing work, and separating the real work of the Spirit from the works of false spirits, including the spirit of the World.

All attempts to minimise Scripture or reduce it to a mere guide, always end up creating a false Jesus as well, a Jesus who bears little relationship to the Jesus who reveals Himself in Scripture.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, are you actually saying that since the publication of the scriptures, there has been no further revelation of God?

Do you not think that God is still revealing evidence of God's self through the activity of God's Holy Spirit today?

Shawn Herles said...

All branches of the Christian Faith, Eastern, Roman, and Protestant, affirm that special revelation is closed with the canon of Scripture. All revelation needed is contained within Scripture. Even churches that place an emphasis on Tradition, such as the EO/RC teach that Tradition is commentary on Scripture, not extra-Biblical revelation.

The claim of further special revelation has and is considered heresy by every branch of the Church, and idea totally at odds with catholic tradition.

This does not mean the Holy Spirit is silent. It does mean that any "new" revelation contrary to Scripture is false, and not the word of the Spirit.

Unless Ron is claiming to be a new prophet? This sounds more like Mormonism than orthodox Christianity.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
Your moderated comment below involves an ad hominem in its original form because it makes an assumption that not using 'his' for God is some kind of embarrassing aversion ... to then link that to some kind of declension from orthodoxy compounds the error. To give a case in point, I try to be both orthodox and to minimise (though not avoid) the use of 'him' or 'his' for kind. The point is not that I am embarrassed about biblical language for God but that I am aware that the way I use language has effects which may form a barrier to (in this case, say) women relating to God.

""Do you not think that God is still revealing evidence of God's self through the activity of God's Holy Spirit today?"

[I would argue that a] sign of theological decay from revealed truth and of cultural cringe before postmodernity is a deep aversion to using the Bible's (and Christ's) own language for God.

[I would also argue that if such aversion is due to embarrassment about] the way Jesus and His apostles spoke about God [then it is possible that those who are so embarrassed are] going to have a whole lot of other problems with the rest of Scripture.

God the Father is not ashamed of His Name.

Martin
"

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
The logic of Scripture is that the fullness of God has now been revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ.

The post-ascension work of the Holy Spirit in revealing things to us has been or is now:
1. to complete the apostolic preaching and ensure it is available for Christians through written Scripture (including leading the work of translation so that the Word of God is available in a manner understandable by many peoples);
2. to guide the church into all truth, that is, into the fullest understanding of the meaning of the revelation of God in Christ possible for the visible church prior to meeting God face to face;
3. to guide the church in the mission of Jesus which it has been asked to continue (such guidance being both corporate, e.g. in continental wide irruptions such as the Reformation or global movements such as Pentecostalism, and individual (e.g. calling believers to a specific ministry or sphere of ministry).
4. to convict people of truth revealed through Scripture.

All this work of the Holy Spirit enhances and never contradicts the work of Jesus.

Anonymous said...

“Even churches that place an emphasis on Tradition, such as the EO/RC teach that Tradition is commentary on Scripture, not extra-Biblical revelation.” Shawn Herles

Really?! Where exactly do they teach that? RC teaching is well codified, so a clear reference to this teaching should be fine.

It might help us, Shawn, if you showed us where in Scripture is the Immaculate Conception of Mary, her perpetual virginity, her Glorious bodily Assumption into heaven, and being Mediatrix of all graces?

Alison

Anonymous said...

Well, let Martin rephrase Martin's self.
Martin thinks to Martin's self that the deliberate refusal to use the biblical pronouns 'he' (autos), 'him' (auton), 'his' ('autou') and himself (heauton') can only come either from the belief that this language is not true revelation (thus liberalism) or from cultural cringe (fear of what the unbelieving world thinks) or intellectual confusion or agnosticism about the status of biblical language - notwithstanding the fact that Jesus, the apostles and the prophets all use this language without any embarrassment at all.
Since I am only interested in following their practice, I consider barbaric circumlocutions only sub- or extra-biblical.
(And Martin has Martin's own ideas why people do this.)

Martin

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Alison.

You have I think missed my point. The RC teaches that with the closing of the canon of Scripture special, note that word, revelation has finished, and the doctrines you speak of are not further "special" revelations, but reflections on Scripture in the light of tradition. I was a practising RC in the 80's and have read several RC catechisms, so I'm confident of this assertion.

Now, that said, it is a legitimate question as to whether or not RC teaching has in fact departed from Scripture, and is in fact creating new doctrines, and I agree with the Reformation that in fact it has and is. My point however was not to debate that, but simply to point out that at least in theory, the RC does not teach further special revelation. NO branch of the Church does. The only churches that do are cults, sects, Mormons and Liberals.

Hi Peter,

There is no reason to minimise Biblical language for God, including masculine terms. Changing "Himself" to "God-self" is both aesthetically ugly, and pointless, and may well be a form of heresy. The vast majority of Church women have no problem with how the Bible speaks of God, and it is no barrier to them. The very few women I have met who do have a problem have all been trained to have a problem by attending feminist studies classes at UNI. In other words, the problem does not really exist, it's a myth created by academic Cultural Marxists and only academically trained Cultural Marxists and the disciples of the Frankfurt school care about the Bible's gender language.

Lets not confuse the ideology of a tiny number of Western, left wing, feminist, ivory tower academics with "what women think." They are not remotely related, and we should not be participating in CM's war against the Church and against men.

Gender androgyny is not Biblical.

Father Ron Smith said...

"All this work of the Holy Spirit enhances and never contradicts the work of Jesus." Dr. Peter Carrell -

Peter, I'm mindful of the words of Jesus to his intimate disciples, to the effect that he had more to teach them, "But you could not bear it now".

I am acutely aware that all truth ins 'en Christo', whose influence goes far beyond the written words of the scriptures. Perhaps this is the most important reason for his gift of the Eucharist - for all generations to recall His presence amongst us.

New understanding of Our Lord's teaching, of course, can be gleaned from reflection on the scriptures, but is not limited to that exercise - otherwise, we would not need 'the grace and comfort of the H.S. that Jesus promised - would come in the future, and for all ages to come.

Scripture is the Guide Book, but Jesus Himself is the Guide and the Goal of all faith learning. I think you might agree?

After celebrating the Conversion of Saul, at yesterday's Mass, I am surer than ever that Saul's understanding of scripture was simply not sufficient to enable him to understand the life, work and ministry of Jesus as Messiah. He had to experience the actual presence of Jesus, crucified and risen, before his life completely turned around. And what an insight for Paul that was. I guess if we had that vision of Christ, we wouldn't need the Scriptures either.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Whatever Jesus meant by further truth, logically it could not be anything which contradicted what Jesus had already taught, nor anything which either diminished from, or purported to add to the fullness already received in Jesus Christ.

Possibly, if not probably, invoking Paul, Jesus meant that which developed the full meaning of what had been revealed: it was, for example, a difficult thing for Jewish Christians to 'bear' to discover that the gospel was for all the nations.

Paul is a special case, well documented within the pages of the New Testament, of an untimely born apostle who vie personal revelation received an experience of Jesus parallel to and comparable with that experienced by the other apostles.

There are no grounds for presuming that others subsequent to Paul might have an 'apostle making' experience such as he had.

Indeed history teaches us that comparable experiences and presumptive claims of such nature have led to Islam, Mormonism and, more locally to NZ, the Ratana church. Surely you do not wish to equate these experiences and developments with John/Paul's teaching ...?

I cannot agree that Scripture is the 'Guide Book' which leads us to Jesus as the Guide and Goal of our faith. That suggests that Scripture functions as a signpost to a destination rather than as the destination itself. Since Scripture conveys authoritatively the teaching of Jesus and tells us what nothing and noone else tells us about Jesus, Scripture is more closely tied to the Goal than a Guide book relates to a place.

Through Scripture we meet Jesus Christ. I am not sure what analogy to apply (for a unique document) but it is not guidebook to guide or guidebook to goal.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn and Martin
Yes, I get what you are saying.
I still think there is an issue re language we use to translate the language in which Scripture was written down which goes beyond ivory towers and what have you.

Just as we feel no need to speak about Jesus in Aramaic (though having some use for words like Abba and Maranatha), I feel no need to speak about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit with the same predominance of male pronouns as the original languages of Scripture might imply.

There is much to debate but let me note one thing: it was very good today to hear the gospel reading (including Jesus' call to the fishermen in Matthew 4) speak of the disciples becoming fishers of people and not fishers of men.

Life has moved on from a former day: it is good to hear that the gospel is inclusive of men and women according to the way we speak today rather than the way we used to speak.

If that be liberalism ... then I am glad to be a liberal exponent of the evangel!

Anonymous said...

Dear Peter

Disagreements on this site exemplify the problem with your reduction to Scripture as the supreme, final authority on matters of faith and practice. Such reduction is little more than wishful thinking – how you might like to organise things if you were God.

Christians using the Bible as their final authority are in disagreement about everything except that the Bible is the supreme, final authority on matters of faith and practice! They disagree on basics like who to baptise and how, who leads communion and what it means, what in the Bible is historical and what is metaphorical, and how to apply teachings concretely in areas of money, sex, politics, economics, war,… In short, there is no thing where Christians agree on what the Bible teaches. Far from being a positive argument, yours is the strongest argument against the Protestant approach (Shawn’s attempt to make all others into his own image notwithstanding).

You have just powerfully demonstrated the inadequacy of Protestantism. And worse, if your equation can be read in both directions, you have just powerfully demonstrated the inadequacy of your God.

Yours

John

Father Ron Smith said...

"Whatever Jesus meant by further truth, logically it could not be anything which contradicted what Jesus had already taught, nor anything which either diminished from, or purported to add to the fullness already received in Jesus Christ." - Dr. Peter Carrell -

Peter, your phrase 'what Jesus had ALREADY taught' betrays the actual reality of what began to occur on the Day of Pentecost; when Jesus' disciples were 'filled with the Holy Spirit' and began to teach what the Spirit was only then teaching them about the value of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

This was only the beginning of what the Holy Spirit was teaching them about the TRUTH. There were many instances - even in Scripture - of the mistakes the disciples yet had to make (and be corrected, by the came Holy Spirit).

This is only one reason why the Church, in her liturgy, still says: "Maranatha, even so, come Lord Jesus!" And so we plod on, looking for our Redemption - which has already been assured, en Christo, as we look to Him for our salvation.

Perhaps it's as well to remember that time is a process we humans have to traverse in this life. Only God is eternal. Only in our relationship with God in Christ (through our Baptism into Him) are we human being in any sense eternal. We cannot earn eternal life. It is God's gift.

Anonymous said...

Shawn,

Many of the things you are confident in asserting I just as often regard as incorrect. It is Peter Carrell, as far as I understand it, who regards tradition as reflection on Scripture, not Catholicism. Catholics hold to what is called a “two source theory” of revelation.

I suggest you read Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum); and Part 1, Section 1, Chapter 2, Article 2 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There you will find statements such as, “living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is DISTINCT from Sacred Scripture”… “the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence."”

Happy reading

Alison

MichaelA said...

"Disagreements on this site exemplify the problem with your reduction to Scripture as the supreme, final authority on matters of faith and practice."

Its not reductionism, just the belief of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church throughout the ages.

"Christians using the Bible as their final authority are in disagreement about everything except that the Bible is the supreme, final authority on matters of faith and practice!"

No they aren't. Christians who don't hold to such a view have far more disagreements.

"In short, there is no thing where Christians agree on what the Bible teaches."

Actually, most Christians agree about most things. In any case, that is not God's problem. He left scripture as the true record of apostolic teaching and if we Christians fail to read it properly, the fault lies firmly with us.

"Far from being a positive argument, yours is the strongest argument against the Protestant approach"

Actually, you seem to have put forward a very strong argument in favour of the Protestant approach, if this is the best you can do against it.

"You have just powerfully demonstrated the inadequacy of Protestantism. And worse, if your equation can be read in both directions, you have just powerfully demonstrated the inadequacy of your God."

A comment that says a great deal about you. As you treat God's people, so do you treat God.

MichaelA said...

"Peter, your phrase 'what Jesus had ALREADY taught' betrays the actual reality of what began to occur on the Day of Pentecost; when Jesus' disciples were 'filled with the Holy Spirit' and began to teach what the Spirit was only then teaching them about the value of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus."

Except that we are not told that the Spirit "was only then teaching them" these things, are we, Fr Ron?

Just a little detail you decided to add, on your own authority, was it? We are fortunate to have your apostolic authority to guide us, Fr Ron!

In any case, Christ gave his revelation through his apostles - we should expect to see direct revelation from God up until the end of the Apostolic age. Of course, there have always been people who have tried to argue that revelation continued on after that time - such revelation usually coming through themselves, of course! But Christ made no such promise to us, so anyone who thinks so is relying only on themselves.

"This is only one reason why the Church, in her liturgy, still says: "Maranatha, even so, come Lord Jesus!""

Really Father Ron? What is your basis for the assertion that it is one reason at all?

MichaelA said...

Good point Peter. John 1:18 is one of several passages where Jesus tells us that He is the only way by which mankind may cross the gulf between them and the all-holy and all-loving God. Without Jesus to atone for our sin, God would have no alternative but to blot us out of His sight. But its worth looking at *why* scripture is the primary vehicle by which we know God:

1. Christ put his Church under the authority of His apostles, from the first moment of the Church's existence. He not only gave them supreme authority to command and to teach, but also to convey His direct divine revelation to His church. Thus there was never a moment of the Church's existence when it was not under apostolic authority:

"In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets." [Ephesians 3:4-5]

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." [Ephesians 2:19-20]

"I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles." [2 Peter 3:2]

2. Christ gave the apostles authority to write scripture, and their written words conveyed all the essential parts of their oral teaching:

"So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter." [2 Thessalonians 2:15]

"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." [John 20:30-31]

"For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages”." [1 Timothy 5:18]

3. Christ gave no power to the apostles to pass on their ministry. Each of them were chosen directly by God, and none were commissioned to replace them. When the last apostle left the earth, the apostolic revelation was at an end:
Acts 1:20-25
2 Tim 2:2

4. The apostles left their writings as scripture. By this apostolic teaching and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church is prepared to deal with everything that will come its way until Christ's return:
2 Peter 3:2

5. This does not mean that scripture is the only authority for the Christian, but self-evidently it is the highest authority, the lens through which everything else is viewed. Study of the Scriptures brings much happiness and prepares us for all other avenues of study and endeavour, as great theologians from the past remind us:

"The outcome or the fruit of reading holy Scripture is by no means negligible: it is the fullness of eternal happiness. For these are the books which tell us of eternal life, which were written not only that we might believe but also that we might have everlasting life. When we do live that life we shall understand fully, we shall love completely, and our desires will be totally satisfied. Then, with all our needs fulfilled, we shall truly know the love that surpasses understanding and so be filled with the fullness of God. The purpose of the Scriptures, which come to us from God, is to lead us to this fullness according to the truths contained in those sayings of the apostles to which I have referred."[St Bonaventure, "The Breviloquium", Prologue]

"For it is true that the more richly we are fed on those things in sacred scripture which nourish us through obedience, the more precisely we are carried on to those things which satisfy through understanding." [St Anselm of Canterbury, "On the Incarnation of the Word", I]

Father Ron Smith said...

"Except that we are not told that the Spirit "was only then teaching them" these things, are we, Fr Ron?"

- MichaelA -

Just the use of human logic, Michael, might tell you that the knowledge the disciples gained of the efficacy of Christ Crucified, risen and glorified, could not have been given to them by the Jesus who had not yet experienced those subsequent marks of His power to redeem. This knowledge was not available until AFTER the events described.

OR, are you suggesting that, somehow, the disciples knew what were the actual benefits that were to only occur by virtue of the later events - before they actually happened? pre-Osmosis?

Let's speak logic here - if you really want to engage in the arguments, get the facts right.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael/Ron
I wonder if, to save your commenting time, and my moderating time, we agree on this common ground: however the New Testament documents came to be written down, whatever the role of the pre-resurrection and post-resurrection Jesus and Pentecostal Spirit in the content of the New Testament, the New Testament is special and unique.

The questions before us, as they have been before the church since, is the nature and status of revelation after the apostolic period, along with questions of 'who' determines what is revelation and what is not.

Anonymous said...

MichaelA writes

“"Christians using the Bible as their final authority are in disagreement about everything except that the Bible is the supreme, final authority on matters of faith and practice!"

No they aren't. Christians who don't hold to such a view have far more disagreements.’

Dear MichaelA

You regularly make preposterous and illogical assertions, but this piece of tosh cannot be allowed to stand without challenge.

Catholics, who are the majority of Christians not holding to your view of “the Bible as their final authority”, far from having “far more disagreements” as you assert, actually do agree with each other on the things on John’s list. Orthodox are another such a group.

As for the fault lying “ firmly with us”, that’s like half the purchasers finding that a product doesn’t do what they expect it to do, and the manufacturer saying “It’s your fault. I made it perfect for the job you are trying to get it to do.” Manufacturers are conscious of the need of user-focused design.

If you want a successful book-based religion Islam is more effective.

Alison

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Alison
(This is not your main point ... but) is it true that book-based Islam is more 'effective' a religion than book-based Christianity?

Islam is notorious for its sects and divisions. These lie at the heart of much conflict in the Middle East.

Bryden Black said...

Morning Ron. Re the last element of your comment January 26, 2014 at 9:26 AM and St Paul. Mmmm...

If one tries to engage in the discussion these last few years around how St Paul generated his own appreciation of Messiah Jesus, I fancy you have it really rather lopsided!

Step 1: we have an astute budding rabbi, young and eager, profoundly steeped in the Jewish Scriptures, and belonging to the Pharisaic sect.
Step 2: he gets knocked off his horse by a revelation of the Risen Messiah
Step 3: what to make of this and how? By squeezing the Scriptures in ways that he had hitherto not appreciated (in “Arabia”?). The work of Francis Watson, Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith (2004), suggests a most plausible way in which he engages with other Jews of his day and their methodologies in handling the Scriptures. Link this entire first century debate with the likes now of NTW and his mammoth recent work PLUS his recent Perspectives collection of essays (I’ve started reading that backwards and so am finding it most helpful as a means of coming to grips with his magnum opus).
Step 4: There is no way of gainsaying the role of the Scriptures, read as an entire narrative (cf. Luke 24 in three vignettes which deliberately make up an entire whole), in our own exegesis of the “exegesis” of the Son’s Revelation of the Father.

Anything else, claiming to be revelation, is simply of a class traditionally deemed “spiritualist”. (We read for example even Julian of Norwich or Catherine of Sienna via the lenses crafted from our grappling with the canonical Scriptures.) Yes; the Eucharist is granted us as a means of God’s gracious good Presence. In good Augustinian style, the catechism defines a sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us ... as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.” Notwithstanding the limitations of this Augustinian framework, we still cannot go further and suck additional ‘meaning’ re this Presence apart from Scripture. Jesus does not utter new speak from such a “pledge”, for example! I fancy St Paul would really rather wonder how else than by means of the “oracles of God” we may appreciate the significance of Messiah Jesus at the Right Hand of the Throne of Yahweh!

MichaelA said...

Hi Fr Ron,

That’s a good question. I was thinking of the places where Christ taught the disciples things before he left this earth, which they did not understand until after he had risen from the dead, see e.g. Mark 9:30-32.

But I am not disagreeing with you that there was revelation after Christ left this earth – to the Apostles. We are specifically told that the mystery of Christ has been made known to all people through His apostles (Ephesians 3:4-5).

The account of the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 says that the crowd heard the disciples praising God. But they only heard Peter the apostle teaching.

MichaelA said...

Hi Peter,

My long post wasn’t a response to Fr Ron, but to John.

I was fairly hard on him in my first response (and to be fair, he was pretty negative about Anglicans and protestants in general without saying what he believed in!) , but when I re-read the article and the thread I realised none of us had set out why we believe scripture to be inspired and authoritative. But my post did turn out rather longer than I expected!

Father Ron Smith said...

" we still cannot go further and suck additional ‘meaning’ re this Presence apart from Scripture." BB

You're right Bryden. Wed do not. Sufficient to settle this matter is to quote Jesus own words, re the sacrament of the eucharist:

"DO THIS to remember ME!"

I remember the words of a rather distinguished American theologian, an expert in liturgics, telling us students at St. John's College, that the meaning of those words of Jesus might logically be extended to mean, in English, "Do this to re-member me" - in other words, to re-constitute my Body in the circumstances of the Eucharist.

This, I guess, is what the majority of Christians - who are in the Catholic and Orthodox branches of the Church Universal - are really saying when they speak about' The Real Presence'.

Bryden Black said...

A nice play on words Ron! And there is richer theological merit in the notion: traditionally, there has always been a direct link among the celebration of the Eucharist, the elements of bread and wine so used, and the Church, either as local gathering or Catholic whole. This much truth we may also deduce from Scripture quite easily!

Father Ron Smith said...

" This much truth we may also deduce from Scripture quite easily!" - BB

Yes, Bryden. But, "the truth of the pudding is in the eating", as they say. We need to constantly be DOING what Jesus commanded of us in the Eucharist, for the health of the Body that is constituted thereby. Jesus did make a promise, but so many in the Church fail to see the real value of Doing This! They seem to prefer, hearing about it in the Scriptures.

A bit like 'agape'. Eucharist has to be constantly experienced to be of any lasting value.

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Alision,

Sorry for the lateness of my response. I have recently had surgery on my right arm and have a very limited ability to type, and sometimes due to pain, none at all.

I have read both the V2 documents (all of them)as well as the CCC and two other Catholic catechisms.

Your assumption is a good example of theological skim reading.

Two distinct sources does not mean two conflicting sources, nor does it mean that Tradition adds things that are not already implicit in Scripture. The Assumption and other doctrines are considered by the RC to be already implicit in Scripture, and the RC has never taught that Tradition can add anything that is not already implied in the written Word.

Ron's notion of entirely new revelations that may contradict Scripture has not and never has been taught by the RCC.

The two source theory is best understood as two parallel railroad tracks. Both are necessary to each other and must run congruent to each other, not at odds.

So my original assertion is right. No major branch of the Church teaches entirely new revelations.

Anonymous said...

Touché, Peter.

Certainly Syria has problems which include divisions within Islam.
I think, however, that it stretches the point too far to say "Islam is notorious for its sects and divisions. These lie at the heart of much conflict in the Middle East." But I don't really want to press my distracting point.

Alison

Anonymous said...

Shawn

Firstly, I take offence at your saying that I am making an assumption - please indicate clearly where I do so. Secondly, my quotes were not "a good example of theological skim reading".

I NEVER said, "Two distinct sources means two conflicting sources" - please indicate where I state this.

You claim that "RC teach that Tradition is commentary on Scripture" (January 26, 2014 at 12:31 AM). I contested that, and continue to do so. I await your demonstrating that this is in fact RC teaching. You have yet to provide a single reputable RC teaching to back up your claim. I have provided several to back up mine.

Alison

Father Ron Smith said...

" The Assumption and other doctrines are considered by the RC to be already implicit in Scripture, and the RC has never taught that Tradition can add anything that is not already implied in the written Word." - Shawn Herles -

And which Scriptures in particular would these be, Shawn? Chapter and verse, please.

liturgy said...

A horse, Bryden?! Is this an example of extra-biblical "special revelation", or just the result of sucking extra meaning out of the story? Or am I to read you metaphorically? ;-)

Blessings

Bosco

MichaelA said...

"And which Scriptures in particular would these be, Shawn? Chapter and verse, please."

What did your last slave die of, Fr Ron? :)

The dogma of the Assumption of the BVM was defined in the Apostolic Constitution of Pius XII. It is one of the most well-known RC documents, being one of only two ex-Cathedra pronouncements so far made.

It is replete with scripture references, as Shawn said.

Its name is Munificentissimus Deus, and the English translation is easy to find on the Vatican website.

MichaelA said...

"It might help us, Shawn, if you showed us where in Scripture is the Immaculate Conception of Mary, her perpetual virginity, her Glorious bodily Assumption into heaven, and being Mediatrix of all graces?"

Again, it escapes me why Shawn suddenly has the burden of writing down what you, as a Roman Catholic, ought to know already:

• Re immaculate conception, Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus considered that the doctrine is "wonderfully illustrated and proclaimed" by Holy Scripture. Now you might disagree with that (I have a number of Roman Catholic friends who consider one or more recent Popes to be anti-Popes, so I make no assumptions about your precise beliefs). But if you do dispute His Holiness' opinion, then say so, and we can dig down further into previous dogmatic documents which set out the scriptural proofs on which Pius IX and his bishops relied.

• Re perpetual virginity – have a look at footnote 20 to Chapter VIII of Lumen Gentium. Pope Paul relies on the works of St Ambrose and St Augustine, who based the doctrine on scriptural grounds, chiefly Ezekiel 44.

• Re glorious bodily assumption, read the numerous scripture proofs put forward in Munificentissimus Deus

• Re "Mediatrix of all graces" (your words) – This is not Roman dogma. It may become dogma at some point in future, at which point we can be quite sure the relevant instrument will set out scriptural proofs for it.

Note that in the above I am not saying that I agree with the various scriptural proofs put forward for these doctrines, but the idea that the RCC does not purport to rely on scripture to found every one of its doctrines is misconceived. Shawn was correct.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thankyou, MichaelA, for attempting to answer my question of Shawn Herles on his behalf. But was that not precisely what you were warning against in your last remark; when you told me not to expect someone else to do the research that I needed to confirm his assumptions?

I would still liker S.H. to give me chapter and verse on his assumption about The Assumption. (I have my own opinion on the phenomenon, but I am not going to offer it a a 'proof text').

On the other hand, I accept the 'Assumption of the BVM as a real possibility (but not actually contained in Scripture) judging merely by the fact that Elijah was 'taken up to heaven in a whirly-wind. And if this really happened to a mere prophet of God; why not the Mother of God's divine Son?
This is a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church , by Tradition, not Scripture!!! - Unless you accept that the "woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with twelve stars on her head for a crown" -was actually a vision of the BVM.

Perhaps S.H. or someone else can tell me whether a Sola Scriptura person who is not a Roman Catholic would accept that this could be the Mother of Jesus - or not?

That might then tell us whether the Doctrine of the Assumption of the BVM was 'Scriptural' or merely 'Tradition'.

MichaelA said...

"Thankyou, MichaelA, for attempting to answer my question of Shawn Herles on his behalf. But was that not precisely what you were warning against in your last remark; when you told me not to expect someone else to do the research that I needed to confirm his assumptions?"

No it wasn't, and I haven't "attempted to answer" anything. You took issue with Shawn's statement that the Roman Catholic Church purports to have a scriptural basis for its doctrine on the Assumption of the BVM. He wasn't saying that HE believed in it, just that the RCC does claim such a scriptural basis for it.

You demanded that Shawn tell you chapter and verse which scriptures the RCC relies on. I pointed out that this is publicly available information, set out in the relevant Apostolic Constitution, which is a well-known document and easily accessible on the Vatican web-site.

"This is a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church , by Tradition, not Scripture!!!"

I think the Pope has a much better idea of the basis for RCC doctrine than you do. He clearly based it on scripture as well as tradition. You may not agree with his interpretation of scripture, but you cannot say that he and his successor don't believe it.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, MichaelA, for once again answering on behalf of S.H. However you haven't really said anything that contradicts my statements. I am happy to drop the whole thing here.

Tomorrow we will be able to concentrate of Jesus as "The Light to enlighten the Gentiles". Jesus alone is The Way, The Truth and The Life. There is none other. D.G.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the incredibly helpful clarification.
So sola scriptura is not at all a distinguishing Reformation concept.
It is held by all Christians and always has.
It is held by Catholics and Orthodox as fervently as Evangelicals.
It is not a distinguishing feature of Evangelicals.
Who knew?!

Thanks so much!

Alison

Ps. Don’t know where MichaelA got his information that I am “Roman Catholic”, but then he has a tendency to imagine things about comments and commentators that were not actually said ;-)

MichaelA said...

Hi Alison,

"So sola scriptura is not at all a distinguishing Reformation concept."

It depends what you mean. Neither the doctrine nor the term were invented by Protestant reformers. Both date back at least to the 13th century. The concept they describe is far older.

"It is held by all Christians and always has."

There have always been Christians who have held to it. That is quite different to saying that all Christians at all times have believed in it.

"It is held by Catholics and Orthodox as fervently as Evangelicals."

I don't think anyone has suggested that. Perhaps reading others' posts more carefully would be helpful?

Finally, my apologies for calling you Roman Catholic when you are not. I should amend my comment above to:

"Again, it escapes me why Shawn suddenly has the burden of writing down what you, as someone who claims to be so authoritative on Roman Catholic doctrine, ought to know already:..."

Steve Finnell said...

MODERN DAY APOSTLES? BY STEVE FINNELL

What do modern day apostles believe about themselves?

Do they believe they are receiving direct revelation from God the Father? Do they think that their words are Scripture? Do they believe that when they record their thoughts in church catechisms and new books of revelation they writing Scripture inspired by God?

What does the Bible say about the apostles chosen by Jesus Christ?

1. Galatians 1:1Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead).(NKJV)

Have those who claimed to be modern day apostles had a Damascus road experience? Where they chosen directly by Jesus.

2. Galatians 1:11-12 But I make known to you , brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received if from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.(NKJV)

Have men today who believe that they are apostles because of apostolic succession received revelation through Jesus Christ?

3. 2 Peter 3:15-16 ...Paul, accord to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all of his epistles.....as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. (NKJV)

All of the apostle Paul's letters were, in fact, Scriptures. Are the writings in church catechisms and books of, so-called, new revelation, Scriptures inspired by God?

4. John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (NKJV)

Jesus told the apostles the Holy Spirit would teach them all things. Which of the modern day apostles did Jesus say that?

5. 2 Timothy 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.(NKJV)

Do the modern day apostles write Holy Scriptures in their creed books and so books of new revelation? Can their writing make men wise to salvation?

6. 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God...

The writings of the apostles chosen by Jesus Christ were God breathed Scripture.

Who believes that the writings of modern day apostles are God breathed Scriptures? I, for one, do not believe that they are writing Scripture.

If what the modern day apostles are writing in their creed books, church catechisms, and books of new revelation are not Scripture, then of what value are they?

Modern day revelation that is synonymous with the Bible is unnecessary.

Modern day revelation that contradicts the Bible is false doctrine.

THERE ARE NO MODERN DAY APOSTLES THAT ARE SENT BY GOD THE FATHER.



YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW BY BLOG. http//:steve-finnell.blogspot.com