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Old 12-30-2012, 10:01 PM #295
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Good discussion everyone! I really need to get on earlier in the day so I have the energy to read and respond. Yall make my head hurt sometimes


F1VENOM: It appears you are very passionate about this HHS Mandate thingy. But I ask that yall would take this discussion to ST: Politics. I'm tired of reading yalls arguments about it.
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:14 PM #296
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Bnonn -

I guess we are not on the same page.

You've not answered my questions. I'd appreciate it if you could answer these questions below before I respond to your question. Thanks.

The core question is:

If the Holy Spirit guides all Christians to infallibly interpret Scripture then why are there many different and varying degrees in interpretation of Scripture? Which interpretation is correct? Why such disunity amongst Christians on biblical interpretation if the Holy Spirit is guiding them all?

Finally, let’s appeal to Scripture: Where in Scripture does it show that individual Christians are to make their own interpretation of Scripture i.e. make dogma and doctrine? Note: again I'm not saying you shouldn't read the Bible nor use your God given intellect to understand it.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:07 AM #297
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RLN: I can't answer your first question because it implicitly imputes to me a position which I don't hold: namely, that the Holy Spirit guides Christians to infallibly interpret Scripture.

That's your gloss -- presumably based on the fact that I said Christians are authorized to interpret Scripture. But why think mere authorization implies something as extreme as infallibility? You need to argue for that kind of entailment, rather than presupposing it.

Re your second question, again you seem to be describing the situation in somewhat tendentious terms by talking about Christians "making" interpretations. But what we're talking about here is really just Christians being able to understand Scripture. If you understand some particular passage, then you know what doctrines it teaches. If you misunderstand the passage, then you might think it teaches doctrines it does not. But in either case, the issue is not "making" doctrines -- it is correctly discerning them from Scripture.

In that regard, an obvious scriptural example is Acts 17:11. The Bereans are commended not merely for believing the apostles, but for testing their word against Scripture. In other words, the Bereans are commended for "making" their own interpretations of Scripture, and for doing so correctly.

That said, these issues are entirely secondary to the main question -- ie, the self-refuting nature of Roman Catholicism. If it is indeed self-refuting, then whatever the answers to these other questions, they obviously can't be found in Rome. So again, we need to get to that fundamental issue, and I'd ask: By what authority do you know that the Catholic Church is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture?
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:48 AM #298
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@ Bnonn - you state: "But what we're talking about here is really just Christians being able to understand Scripture. If you understand some particular passage, then you know what doctrines it teaches. If you misunderstand the passage, then you might think it teaches doctrines it does not. But in either case, the issue is not "making" doctrines -- it is correctly discerning them from Scripture." --- Okay, I'm not sure exactly what your saying. On one hand your saying that your not talking about doctrines or Bibilical interpretation. On the other hand your saying that what your discussing is on Christians being able to "understand" Scripture. I'm not sure what the difference is? Are you implying that "understanding" Scripture is different from "interpreting" Scripture? If there is a difference please clarify so that I can be on the same page as you.

It may help to know and perhaps I made a false assumption but prior to you joining this discussion I had asked anyone to show me where Sola Scriptura or the Bible Alone doctrine and Sola Fidei or Faith Alone doctrine is in the Bible. No one provided a response. I then made a statement that there is nothing in the Catholic church that goes against Scripture. Some responses were made including the classic Catholics worship statues and the saints but I answered explaining first what the Church teaching is to make sure everyone understood and then I used Scripture to validate it. No other responses after that. This all occurred about a month ago.

Just recently the discussion shifted back to Sola Scriptura and I challenged anyone to show me where that is in the Bible. So when you joined the discussion I assumed we would be discussing a key Protestant doctrine which is Sola Scriptura. But based on our back and forth discussion it looks like we're not discussing "Sola Scriptura" nor any other Protestant doctrine to begin with?

I admit that I may have been too hasty in my responses and with the "other discussion" I was having I may have jumped at your questions in haste rather than trying to understand what you are trying to say. And sometimes answering at 1 am in the morning isn't the wisest thing to do either. So for any confusion on my part I apologize.

So before I move towards a discussion on Church authority I just want to know what angle are you coming at regarding interpreting Scripture and in particular the doctrine of Sola Scriptura which was the start of this conversation you joined. Is that okay with you?
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:10 AM #299
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Hey RLN, no worries.

I put things in terms of "understanding" Scripture because I thought couching the discussion in terms of "making doctrines" seemed close to a strawman. I want to be sure we don't overstate how Protestants interact with Scripture -- that's all.

Quote:
Just recently the discussion shifted back to Sola Scriptura and I challenged anyone to show me where that is in the Bible. So when you joined the discussion I assumed we would be discussing a key Protestant doctrine which is Sola Scriptura. But based on our back and forth discussion it looks like we're not discussing "Sola Scriptura" nor any other Protestant doctrine to begin with?
Well, it's more that I'm going on the offensive here by showing that the Catholic "alternative" to sola Scriptura is self-refuting. I'm defending sola Scriptura by taking out the opposition.

That said, objecting that sola Scriptura is not taught in the Bible doesn't constitute an argument against it. Even if it weren't, you'd have to show something like the following principle in order to refute it:

* A rule of faith must be self-referential to be true

But why think * is true? Indeed, don't Catholics tend to treat their own rule of faith as axiomatic, rather than justifying it self-referentially? So it seems like you still have some work cut out for you to argue this point before sola Scriptura is threatened

Mind you, sola Scriptura is taught in Scripture, so I'm not sure why you got no response on this...

Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, AB)

The great Greek scholar, Richard Trench, in his Synonyms of the New Testament, said with reference to the term "artios", translated here "complete and proficient": "If we ask ourselves under what special aspects 'completeness' is contemplated in artios, it would be safe to answer that it is not as the presence only of all the parts which are necessary for that 'completeness', but involves, further, the adaptation and aptitude of these parts for the ends which they were designed to serve. The man of God, St. Paul would say, should be furnished and accomplished with all which is necessary for the carrying out of the work to which he is appointed."

In other words, Scripture is sufficient for everything a Christian needs to know as a Christian. (That seems like as reasonable a formulation of sola Scriptura as any.)

Moreover, in 1 Corinthians 4:6 Paul exhorts the Corinthian church "not to go beyond what is written". Yet undoubtedly the Catholic Church goes beyond what is written, since you will find nowhere in Scripture, say, the Marian dogmas. So there is an example for you of Catholic doctrine which contradicts the Bible.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:16 AM #300
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Happy New Year everyone.


Just so that we are on the same page I understand the doctrine of Sola Scriptura as the Bible alone is all a Christian needs when it comes to understanding matters of faith. If you have a different definition please clarify for me thanks.

You stated that objecting to Sola Scriptura as not being in the Bible does not constitute an argument against this doctrine. I don't see the logic there when the doctrine of Sola Scriptura claims the Bible Alone as the foundation of Christian truth. If the Bible Alone is the foundation of Christian truth for matters of faith then surely the doctrine of Sola Scriptura should be in the Bible and does not contradict the Scriptures.

I honestly don't know what you mean by self-referential. You'll need to explain that to me.

You claim Sola Scriptura is in the Bible citing:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 - “Every Scripture is God- breathed and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fittted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Amen!.....the Bible is indeed great for instruction and training in righteousness ect. I believe in that 100%. However, I don't agree with your interpretation of this verse. No where in this verse does it say that the Bible Alone is the source of truth for Christians on faith matters. You can read this scripture verse a thousand times and it just doesn't say that the Bible Alone is the source of all truth for Christians. To say this verse supports Sola Scriptura is taking a verse and stretching it and trying to see something that is not there. You have to really take the verse out of context to come to the conclusion that this verse supports Sola Scriptura.

You also cite 1 Corinthians 4:6 - “I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against the other.”

If Paul is saying to not go beyond what is written well the New Testament was not completed so Paul is referring to the Old Testament in this case. The same can be said about 2 Timothy 3:16-17. However, there's more to this verse for Corinthians than just not going beyond the Old Testament. In fact if you were to take this verse within the context of the rest of the Epistle you will see that what Paul is really writing about is the divisions in the church in Corinth and the sin of pride. The part of the verse “Nothing beyond what is written” is Paul advising the Christians to take heed of the warnings of the Old Testament when it comes to the sin of pride and the disunity it causes.

I actually have a source that explains this verse really well. I can post up the info but it's rather long but basically if you look at 1 Corinthians 1:1-30, 1 Corinthians 1:3:18-23 you'll see Paul addressing the divisions amongst the Christians in Corinth and Paul quotes from the Old Testament writings four times and he introduces each quote with the phrase “It is written....” It is these Old Testament writings that Paul is referring to when he says "Nothing beyond what is written."

In the beginning of your post you said Sola Scriptura not being in the Bible does not constitute an argument against this doctrine. Yet you also say the Catholic Church is wrong for having dogmas and doctrines that are not found in Scripture. I assure you none of the Catholic Church teachings contradicts Scripture including the doctrines on Mary. But before we go into the other areas of the Catholic Church let's focus on Sola Scriptura since it is what this discussions focus is on.

Is the Bible Alone really the only sole rule of faith for Christians? Does it really contain everything we need to know about faith and morals?

For a Christian what is the Pillar and Bulwark of the truth? The Bible? According to 1 Timothy 3:15 that is not the case.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:59 PM #301
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Hey RLN, I can agree with your definition of sola Scriptura. I think that's a reasonable way of putting it. But I think it's also a little ambiguous. I'd formulate it more precisely as something like this:

(SS) Apart from Scripture, God has given no other infallible and public source of knowledge

From this we can infer things like:

(SS1) The Bible is the only valid source for Christian doctrine
(SS2) The Bible is the final standard for testing Christian doctrine
(SS3) The Bible is explicable to all Christians in principle
(SS4) The Bible is sufficient as a source for Christian doctrine

Etc.

Now, even if I grant your objection to 2 Timothy 3 (which I don't -- you're brazenly ignoring the exegetical comments I've made), it seems fairly obvious that (SS) doesn't need to be explicitly stated in Scripture for us to know it. Indeed, (SS) is the default position we would take, given that the Bible is the only place where God has told us we can find his very thoughts.

So in fact, the burden of proof does not fall to me, but to you. Which leads us back to my original question:

By what authority do you know the Catholic Church is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture?

PS. I worry that you equate a rule of faith with the pillar and buttress of the truth. By definition, a rule of faith is the truth. But also by definition, the pillar and buttress of the truth is not the truth -- it is merely the supporter of the truth. So my sense is that you're making some fundamental category errors that are going to cause a lot of confusion as we try to discuss this topic...

Last edited by Bnonn : 12-31-2012 at 07:03 PM. Reason: Covering my bottom for when things go pear-shaped
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:08 PM #302
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Bnonn – Thanks for your definition.

I did not ignore the exegesis on 2 Timothy 3:16-17, I said I disagreed with that interpretation which you acknowledged my objection. I can take the same exegetes approach and apply it to James 1:4

“and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”

So using the same exegesis principles that your applying to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 according to James 1:4 all we need is patience(endurance) to be perfected. We don't need faith, hope, charity, the Church, or anything else.

Of course this is absurd just as it would be absurd for me to say that because James emphasis on patience is even much stronger than Paul's emphasis on Scripture the doctrine of Sola patientia is the source of Christian truth and doctrine. The point I'm making is that there is no “Sola” in Scripture. No where does Scripture support the “Bible Alone” just as Scripture does not support “Faith Alone.”

“Indeed, (SS) is the default postion we would take, given that the Bible is the only place where God has told us we can find his very thoughts.” -

Show me in the Bible where God says that? I am appealing to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura for answers to these questions that you are posing to me.

You say the burden of proof does not fall to you but to me. I disagree. You've defined Sola Scriptura and yet got against that very definition by not showing me where in the Bible is Sola Scriptura or the Bible Alone.

Now I agree with you regarding rule of faith versus the definition of pillar and buttress of the truth. I do not equate them to be the same.

So if the Church is the Pillar of truth which means it UPHOLDS THE TRUTH and the Church is the Bulwark of the truth which means it DEFENDS the TRUTH then we can from Scripture understand that it is the Church that guides Christians on matters of faith and not the Bible Alone. Otherwise Scripture would say that the Bible upholds the truth and defends the truth.

The problem with Sola Scriptura or the Bible Alone is it stands contrary to reason. Just as the comments that gracefool made here: http://www.pbnation.com/showthread.p...880131&page=13 which I recommend you go back and read, you cannot prove the inspiration of Scripture or any other text from the text itself. The Book of Mormon, the Qu'ran, the Upanishads and many other religious texts all claim divine inspiration but that does not make them inspired.

What about the canon of the Bible? If you adhere to Sola Scriptura then show me in the Bible where it says that the canon is the inspired books of God? There were many “inspired” books during the early Church yet these are the books that were chosen and deemed inspired to form the canon of the Bible.

What I submit to you is this: The Bible does not and cannot answer questions about its own inspiration or the canon.

Again, appealing to Sola Scriptura, show me in the Bible where the canon of Scripture is found?

Historically, the Church used sacred Tradition outside of Scripture as its criterion for the canon. The early Christians, many of whom disagreed on the issue, needed the Church in council to give an authoritative decree to settle the question. Those are the historical facts.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:20 PM #303
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Hey RLN...

Quote:
“Indeed, (SS) is the default postion we would take, given that the Bible is the only place where God has told us we can find his very thoughts.” -

Show me in the Bible where God says that?
I don't need to, because I'm only making a negative claim -- namely that God has not revealed his thoughts anywhere else. You are making the positive claim that there is in fact some other source of revelation. So the burden of proof falls squarely on you to convince us.

Quote:
So if the Church is the Pillar of truth which means it UPHOLDS THE TRUTH and the Church is the Bulwark of the truth which means it DEFENDS the TRUTH then we can from Scripture understand that it is the Church that guides Christians on matters of faith and not the Bible Alone.
But you're just begging the question. Upholding and defending the truth are general concepts. Protestant churches uphold and defend the truth as well -- for example with preaching and apologetics. How do you aim to show that upholding and defending the truth logically entails an infallible teaching authority?

Quote:
you cannot prove the inspiration of Scripture or any other text from the text itself.
This is just obviously false. If the Bible claims that it is inspired, and it actually is inspired, then that by definition is proof that it is inspired. It sounds like you're complaining about the kind of proof that it is: you don't seem to like that it's circular. But what's the alternative? What other standard could God possibly validate his word against? His word is the highest standard there is!

Quote:
What about the canon of the Bible? If you adhere to Sola Scriptura then show me in the Bible where it says that the canon is the inspired books of God?
Again, why would I need to? Look, I get that you think that (SS) entails something like this:

(SS*) Everything Christians believe about Scripture must be stated in Scripture, or be deducible from statements in Scripture

But why do you think (SS) entails this? Show me the logical inference that gets you from (SS) to (SS*). Because Protestants deny (SS*). Unless you can show that their denial is mistaken, you're simply attacking a strawman -- and that is just very unfruitful.

Quote:
The early Christians, many of whom disagreed on the issue, needed the Church in council to give an authoritative decree to settle the question. Those are the historical facts.
But that allegedly authoritative decree didn't take place until Trent, in the sixteenth century. So on your view, Christians didn't know the canon of Scripture for the first 15 centuries of Christianity!

Moreover, Trent canonized books which we now know are errant, and thus cannot be inspired, and thus cannot be Scripture.

Moreover again, on your view the Jews never knew their own canon, since they never had the Catholic Church to tell them what it was. Obviously that must be false, so whatever the answer to the issue of the canon, it can't be what you think it is.

Now, I think I have been very patient in fielding all your objections -- but you still have not answered the question that will actually get us to the heart of the issue: By what authority do you know the Catholic Church is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture?

Fair is fair. Please answer the question.
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Old 01-01-2013, 01:22 AM #304
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I think I essentially agree with Bnonn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
(SS) Apart from Scripture, God has given no other infallible and public source of knowledge

From this we can infer things like:

(SS1) The Bible is the only valid source for Christian doctrine
(SS2) The Bible is the final standard for testing Christian doctrine
(SS3) The Bible is explicable to all Christians in principle
(SS4) The Bible is sufficient as a source for Christian doctrine
While I agree with SS2 & SS3, the other other inferences seem too strong for me:
  1. Like I said, Scripture itself regards the church community as being essential for correct interpretation, thus it regards itself as not being a sufficient source by itself.
  2. There has to be some mystical component, a relationship with God, the Holy Spirit, who can guide our interpretation...
  3. How do you define "Christian doctrine"? By what is in the Bible? If so the definition is tautological and meaningless. Or do you mean "knowledge about God"? The Bible is not the only source of revelation about God; at the very least "the heavens declare the glory of God". Or do you mean "knowledge that Christians need to live a godly life", in which case there are a great many things we learn from places other than the Bible, like basic life skills, or self-respect, which can't be learnt without the help of others...
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:48 AM #305
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Happy New year Krew.


And I want to say I've enjoyed following the convo lately. Thanks. But, I do agree with Andrew though that there is a politics forum and politics can be discussed there. Religion and politics.... we all know the sayings about that, one is enough. The two together
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:43 AM #306
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RLN:
Show me in the Bible where God says that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
I don't need to, because I'm only making a negative claim -- namely that God has not revealed his thoughts anywhere else. You are making the positive claim that there is in fact some other source of revelation. So the burden of proof falls squarely on you to convince us.
.
Whoa whoa whoa!...hold on...I never said that there are other sources of revelation. As far as I'm concerned we've been talking about the Bible and the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Nothing else. Please show me where I said that?

RLN: So if the Church is the Pillar of truth which means it UPHOLDS THE TRUTH and the Church is the Bulwark of the truth which means it DEFENDS the TRUTH then we can from Scripture understand that it is the Church that guides Christians on matters of faith and not the Bible Alone.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
But you're just begging the question. Upholding and defending the truth are general concepts. Protestant churches uphold and defend the truth as well -- for example with preaching and apologetics. How do you aim to show that upholding and defending the truth logically entails an infallible teaching authority?.
Again, we are talking about Sola Scriptura are we not? Basically that the Bible Alone is the sole source for which Christians turn to on matters of faith. Yet Scripture is clear...it is the Church...not Scripture that upholds and defends the truth. It is the Church that Christians go to on matters of faith and morals. It is the Church that interprets Scripture as shown by Scripture.

RLN: you cannot prove the inspiration of Scripture or any other text from the text itself.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
This is just obviously false. If the Bible claims that it is inspired, and it actually is inspired, then that by definition is proof that it is inspired. It sounds like you're complaining about the kind of proof that it is: you don't seem to like that it's circular. But what's the alternative? What other standard could God possibly validate his word against? His word is the highest standard there is!.
I'm not saying the Bible was not inspired my point is Sola Scriptura is false based on reasoning alone. Just as "gracefool" posted a text not only cannot interpret itself there must be an interpreter. You also cannot use the text itself to prove it's inspiration. The Qu'ran, Book of Mormon, and many other texts all claim to be inspired. That doesn't make them inspired.

RLN: What about the canon of the Bible? If you adhere to Sola Scriptura then show me in the Bible where it says that the canon is the inspired books of God?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
Again, why would I need to? Look, I get that you think that (SS) entails something like this:

(SS*) Everything Christians believe about Scripture must be stated in Scripture, or be deducible from statements in Scripture

But why do you think (SS) entails this? Show me the logical inference that gets you from (SS) to (SS*). Because Protestants deny (SS*). Unless you can show that their denial is mistaken, you're simply attacking a strawman -- and that is just very unfruitful..
Wait...so your saying that not all doctrines are found in the Bible? I'm confused....isn't the doctrine of Sola Scriptura just that...it must be found in the Bible? This is what you posted earlier:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
I'd formulate it more precisely as something like this:

(SS) Apart from Scripture, God has given no other infallible and public source of knowledge

From this we can infer things like:

(SS1) The Bible is the only valid source for Christian doctrine
(SS2) The Bible is the final standard for testing Christian doctrine
(SS3) The Bible is explicable to all Christians in principle
(SS4) The Bible is sufficient as a source for Christian doctrine

Etc.

...
That sounds to me like all Christian doctrine must be found in the Bible whether explicitly or implicitly. So are you saying that Christian doctrine does not even have to be in the Bible?

RLN: The early Christians, many of whom disagreed on the issue, needed the Church in council to give an authoritative decree to settle the question. Those are the historical facts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
But that allegedly authoritative decree didn't take place until Trent, in the sixteenth century. So on your view, Christians didn't know the canon of Scripture for the first 15 centuries of Christianity!
.
I'm sorry but your information is off with regard to when the canon was established. The canon of the Bible was decided at the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397). Later, the ecumenical council of Florence (1438), reaffirmed the canon issued by the Council of Rome. Then after the Protestant Reformation because of folks like Martin Luther who wanted to remove books from the original canon the Church again reaffirmed the Canon at the Council of Trent. That's historical fact my friend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
Moreover, Trent canonized books which we now know are errant, and thus cannot be inspired, and thus cannot be Scripture.
.
Sorry but no. It was Martin Luther and other Protestants who are in errant. In fact Martin Luther wanted to remove the book of James, Revelations, and a host of other books in the Bible. If not for his colleagues pleading he would've done so. This is a classic example of the many "myths" that people believe about the Catholic Church...that we "added" to Scripture. Ask "Vijil" to point you to the post I made about some of these "myths."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
Moreover again, on your view the Jews never knew their own canon, since they never had the Catholic Church to tell them what it was. Obviously that must be false, so whatever the answer to the issue of the canon, it can't be what you think it is..
I never said the Jews never knew their canon. Please "don't put words into my mouth." You've done so already with your comment on "other revelations." I hate to say it but I feel as if your ducking the question on the Canon and how it fits with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Although, right now I'm a little confused by what Sola Scriptura is to you given your earlier response seems to contradict your definition.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:46 AM #307
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
Now, I think I have been very patient in fielding all your objections -- but you still have not answered the question that will actually get us to the heart of the issue: By what authority do you know the Catholic Church is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture?.


Fair is fair. Please answer the question.
No offense but you haven't really answered my questions on Sola Scriptura. I actually feel your avoiding answering my questions.

But to be fair I'll answer your question. By what authority do I know the Catholic Church is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture?

This goes back again to 1 Timothy 3:15 where Scripture tells us that the Church is where we turn to in matters of faith and morals.

Now where does the Catholic Church fit into this.

Former Protestant and now Catholic Apologist Tim Staples wrote a good article which I'll quote from.

"Catholics do not claim the Church is infallible because Scripture says so. The Church is infallible because Jesus said so. The Church was established and functioning as the infallible spokesperson for the Lord decades before the New Testament was written.

It is true that we know Scripture to be inspired and canonical only because the Church has told us so. That is historical fact. Catholics reason to inspiration of Scripture through demonstrating first its historical reliability and the truth about Christ and the Church. Then we can reasonably rely upon the testimony of the Church to tell us the text is inspired. This is not circular reasoning. The New Testament is the most accurate and verifiable historical document in all of ancient history, but one cannot deduce from this that it is inspired.

The testimony of the New Testament is backed up by hundreds of works by early Christian and non-Christian writers. We have the first-century testimonies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the Church Fathers—some of whom were contemporaries of the apostles—and highly reliable non-Christian writers such as Suetonius, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Josephus, and others, all testifying to the veracity of the Christ-event in various ways. It is on the basis of the historical evidence that we can say it is a historical fact that Jesus lived, died and was reported to be resurrected from the dead by over 500 eyewitnesses (1 Cor. 15:6). Many of these eyewitnesses went to their deaths testifying to the truth of the Resurrection of Christ (Luke 1:1-4; John 21:18-19; 24-25; Acts 1:1-11).

The historical record also tells us that Jesus Christ established a Church—not a book—to be the foundation of the Christian faith (Matt. 16:15-18; 18:15-18; cf. Eph. 2:20; 3:10, 20-21; 4:11-15; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 13:7, 17). Christ said of his Church, "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me" (Luke 10:16).

The many books that comprise the Bible never tell us that they are inspired, nor do they answer many other essential questions about their canonicity. Who can or cannot be the human authors of the texts? Who wrote them in the first place? But Scripture does tell us—remarkably clearly—that Jesus established a kingdom on earth, the Church, with a hierarchy and the authority to speak for him (Luke 20:29-32; Matt. 10:40; 28:18-20). If we did not have Scripture, we would still have the Church. But without the Church, there would be no New Testament Scripture. It was members of this kingdom, the Church, who wrote Scripture, preserved its many texts, and eventually canonized it. Scripture alone could not do any of this.

The bottom line is that the truth of the Catholic Church is rooted in history. Jesus Christ is a historical person who gave his authority to his Church to teach, govern, and sanctify in his place. His Church gave us the New Testament with the authority of Christ. Reason rejects sola scriptura as a self-refuting principle. " take from Tim Staples Article "According to Scripture" http://www.catholic.com/magazine/art...g-to-scripture

If you like to read other articles here's another one: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/apostolic-succession



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Originally Posted by gracefool View Post
I think I essentially agree with Bnonn.

Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post

(SS) Apart from Scripture, God has given no other infallible and public source of knowledge

From this we can infer things like:

(SS1) The Bible is the only valid source for Christian doctrine
(SS2) The Bible is the final standard for testing Christian doctrine
(SS3) The Bible is explicable to all Christians in principle
(SS4) The Bible is sufficient as a source for Christian doctrine

While I agree with SS2 & SS3, the other other inferences seem too strong for me:
  1. Like I said, Scripture itself regards the church community as being essential for correct interpretation, thus it regards itself as not being a sufficient source by itself.
  2. There has to be some mystical component, a relationship with God, the Holy Spirit, who can guide our interpretation...
  3. How do you define "Christian doctrine"? By what is in the Bible? If so the definition is tautological and meaningless. Or do you mean "knowledge about God"? The Bible is not the only source of revelation about God; at the very least "the heavens declare the glory of God". Or do you mean "knowledge that Christians need to live a godly life", in which case there are a great many things we learn from places other than the Bible, like basic life skills, or self-respect, which can't be learnt without the help of others...
I agree with yours statements gracefool except about revelation although I am assuming you mean for example we can learn about God just by looking at nature which in that case I'm okay with but I need you to clarify if my assumption is correct. Bnonn your response please?
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:19 PM #308
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Whoa whoa whoa!...hold on...I never said that there are other sources of revelation. As far as I'm concerned we've been talking about the Bible and the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Nothing else. Please show me where I said that?
Er, okay, well I'm confused then. If you agree there is no other source of revelation, then what is your beef with sola Scriptura as I've stated it in (SS)?

Quote:
Yet Scripture is clear...it is the Church...not Scripture that upholds and defends the truth. It is the Church that Christians go to on matters of faith and morals. It is the Church that interprets Scripture as shown by Scripture.
You're not advancing the argument dude. I've already explained why this is question-begging.

Quote:
You also cannot use the text itself to prove it's inspiration.
Again, you're not advancing the discussion -- I've already refuted this. Obviously you can prove inspiration from the text, if the text is actually inspired. Let me demonstrate by rephrasing your objection. I, Bnonn, claim to have written this post. Now you say, "You cannot use this post to prove that it was written by Bnonn." Is that true or false?

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Wait...so your saying that not all doctrines are found in the Bible?
Is the content of the canon a doctrine? Or, to take a more obvious counterexample, is my belief that Matthew draws a large amount from Mark a doctrine? Or is my belief that Jesus's words in the gospels are translated into Greek from Aramaic a doctrine? None of these things are found in Scripture, yet they are certainly beliefs I have about Scripture. It just seems obviously unreasonable that every belief I have about Scripture must be inferred from Scripture itself. That would be something more like solo Scriptura.

Mind you, if this is what you think sola Scriptura says, no wonder you disagree with it.

Quote:
The canon of the Bible was decided at the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397).
Okay, let's grant this arguendo. So then you are saying that for the first three centuries, no one knew what was Scripture and what wasn't? And the Jews never knew what was Scripture? Just pushing the date back doesn't make the problem go away.

Quote:
I never said the Jews never knew their canon. Please "don't put words into my mouth."
I'm not putting words in your mouth -- I'm inferring something from what you've said. If we can only know the canon because the Catholic Church infallibly decrees it, then the Jews, lacking that infallible decree, could not have known their own canon. On the other hand, if we can know the canon without an infallible decree, then what exactly is your argument about the canon?

Okay, now, to my question. Here's how I read your answer in terms of coming to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture:

1. You start by using your personal judgment to determine that the Bible is historically accurate.

2. Then you use your personal judgment to interpret what Jesus says in the Bible as referring to the Catholic Church.

3. Then you use your personal judgment to evaluate what the Catholic Church says about Scripture and itself -- namely, that Scripture is God's word, and the Church is its infallible interpreter.

4. Only then do you hand over to the Church to replace your personal judgment.

So firstly, your entire belief system is completely grounded in your own personal judgment. Yet this is the exact fault you find with Protestantism. What principled difference can you point us to between your belief structure and mine, that will let you evade the obvious charge of hypocrisy?

Secondly, the whole notion that individuals are not authorized to interpret Scripture, and must therefore turn to the Church, is seen to be self-refuting -- because how do individual Christians "know" they must turn to the Church? By interpreting it from Scripture.

Thirdly, the entire facade of infallibility comes crashing down in an embarrassing mess. Catholics routinely claim that they have an epistemic advantage over Protestants, because they have infallible doctrinal knowledge while Protestants do not. But if an infallible Scripture does not confer infallible doctrinal knowledge to Protestants, why think an infallible Church would confer infallible doctrinal knowledge to Catholics? All you've done is push the problem back a step. It is still up to the individual to interpret what the Church says for himself, using his own private judgment. And since the individual is not an infallible interpreter, that infallible knowledge is still completely inaccessible to him. Who will infallibly interpret the infallible interpretation of infallible Scripture for him? And who will infallibly interpret the infallible interpretation of the infallible interpretation of infallible Scripture? And so on.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:20 PM #309
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Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
Er, okay, well I'm confused then. If you agree there is no other source of revelation, then what is your beef with sola Scriptura as I've stated it in (SS)?.
What I’ve been trying to say for the past discussions that Sola Scriptura is NOT IN THE BIBLE.

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Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
You're not advancing the argument dude. I've already explained why this is question-begging..
Your just sidestepping/flat out ignoring the argument.

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Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
Again, you're not advancing the discussion -- I've already refuted this. Obviously you can prove inspiration from the text, if the text is actually inspired. Let me demonstrate by rephrasing your objection. I, Bnonn, claim to have written this post. Now you say, "You cannot use this post to prove that it was written by Bnonn." Is that true or false?..
As stated by your insistance that the Bible says it's inspired is all we need that must mean all the other books such as the Qu’ran and Book of Mormon are inspired as well since they too claim inspiration. Sorry but your argument is against reason and it’s a wonder why Atheists laugh at us with an argument like that. You’ve also conveniently ignored “gracefools” comments on this matter as well. Tell me how do you know that all the books in the Bible are inspired? Did you just pick up the Bible one day, read it and thought to yourself "wow! this is God’s word!" Or did someone share it with you and explained it to you that this is God’s word?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
Is the content of the canon a doctrine? Or, to take a more obvious counterexample, is my belief that Matthew draws a large amount from Mark a doctrine? Or is my belief that Jesus's words in the gospels are translated into Greek from Aramaic a doctrine? None of these things are found in Scripture, yet they are certainly beliefs I have about Scripture. It just seems obviously unreasonable that every belief I have about Scripture must be inferred from Scripture itself. That would be something more like solo Scriptura.

Mind you, if this is what you think sola Scriptura says, no wonder you disagree with it..
Yet you conveniently ignore what Scripture says about the church’s authority. The very doctrine that you hold to be true which is Sola Scriptura you contradict in your answers to my questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
Okay, let's grant this arguendo. So then you are saying that for the first three centuries, no one knew what was Scripture and what wasn't? And the Jews never knew what was Scripture? Just pushing the date back doesn't make the problem go away..
Did the Bible come before the Church? NO! The Church was established by Christ before the Bible. There were many writings amongst the early Christians that claimed inspiration and eventually the Church had to decide which was divine and which was not. Furthermore, by your previous statement if the Bible was only correct in the 16th century then that means the first 1500+ years of Christianity Christians have been using the wrong texts! There’s a reason why I quoted Tim Staples and posted a link to his article. Did you even read it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
I'm not putting words in your mouth -- I'm inferring something from what you've said. If we can only know the canon because the Catholic Church infallibly decrees it, then the Jews, lacking that infallible decree, could not have known their own canon. On the other hand, if we can know the canon without an infallible decree, then what exactly is your argument about the canon?.
The Canon of the Old Testament developed over a thousand years and even by the time of Christ they had not settled on one canon. For example the Sadducees and Samaritans accepted the law but rejected the prophets and writings. The Pharisees accepted all three. Still other Jews used the Greek Canon or the Septuagint and some had Old Testament scriptures that were in Hebrew and Aramaic . The Christian Church was not founded before the Old Testament and therefore has no role in determining the canon of the Old Testament. The early Christians followed the canon of the Septuagint. In fact when Jewish Rabbis realized that this new “sect called Christians” was using their Scriptures they chose to create a new Canon in order to distinguish themselves from the Christians. Hence why we also have a Hebrew Canon for the Old Testament which is the most recent OT Canon we have. The early Church chose to remain with the Septuagint Canon when compiling the Bible. Now all this side info is fascinating and interesting but let’s get back to the discussion at hand. I’m talking about Christianity and the Bible and the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura. We’re not discussing specific Jewish doctrines, practices or how Jewish authorities arrived at their canon for the Old Testament.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:23 PM #310
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Originally Posted by Bnonn View Post
Okay, now, to my question. Here's how I read your answer in terms of coming to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture:

1. You start by using your personal judgment to determine that the Bible is historically accurate.

2. Then you use your personal judgment to interpret what Jesus says in the Bible as referring to the Catholic Church.

3. Then you use your personal judgment to evaluate what the Catholic Church says about Scripture and itself -- namely, that Scripture is God's word, and the Church is its infallible interpreter.

4. Only then do you hand over to the Church to replace your personal judgment.

So firstly, your entire belief system is completely grounded in your own personal judgment. Yet this is the exact fault you find with Protestantism. What principled difference can you point us to between your belief structure and mine, that will let you evade the obvious charge of hypocrisy?

Secondly, the whole notion that individuals are not authorized to interpret Scripture, and must therefore turn to the Church, is seen to be self-refuting -- because how do individual Christians "know" they must turn to the Church? By interpreting it from Scripture.

Thirdly, the entire facade of infallibility comes crashing down in an embarrassing mess. Catholics routinely claim that they have an epistemic advantage over Protestants, because they have infallible doctrinal knowledge while Protestants do not. But if an infallible Scripture does not confer infallible doctrinal knowledge to Protestants, why think an infallible Church would confer infallible doctrinal knowledge to Catholics? All you've done is push the problem back a step. It is still up to the individual to interpret what the Church says for himself, using his own private judgment. And since the individual is not an infallible interpreter, that infallible knowledge is still completely inaccessible to him. Who will infallibly interpret the infallible interpretation of infallible Scripture for him? And who will infallibly interpret the infallible interpretation of the infallible interpretation of infallible Scripture? And so on.
First off, my whole discussion with Sola Scriptura is that it is not in the Bible and that Scripture says that it is the Church that we turn to for matters of faith and morals. I never said Christians should not read the Bible as individuals nor understand it using their God given intellect. How many times do I have to repeat myself? Go back and re-read the posts I made on this very discussion. All I’ve been trying to show is that when reading Scripture you need to turn to the Church for authority in matters of faith and morals. You cannot on your own make an authoritative declaration on a Scripture passage and declare it to be absolute or doctrine especially when it contradicts centuries of Christian theology. You’re either purposely putting words in my mouth or you’re just not reading my comments. Furthermore your arguments for individual interpretation is self-refuting (again I’m not saying reading the Bible I’m saying making a declaration or exegesis on Scripture). If everyone can authoritatively interpret Scripture then the 30,000-40,000 denominations must all be right in their interpretations. So what you’re saying is we have over a billion Christians interpreting Scripture and making their own authoritative exegesis and every single one of them is correct no matter how absurd and contradictory these interpretations could be. Sorry, but I refuse to believe that Jesus would want such disunity and varying degrees of doctrine and confusion amongst his followers.

Assuming you read the article I posted I’m not sure how you come to those conclusions regarding the Catholic Church. We Catholics believe that it is Scripture AND Sacred Tradition as interpreted and taught by the Church that Jesus established to guide Christians in this world. Of course you don’t believe that and I’m not forcing you to but don’t spread false information about the Catholic Church and declare it as fact.

All I’ve been asking throughout this discussion is to defend Sola Scriptura from a Biblical stand point. That was my question before you joined this discussion and throughout the discussion it was the point I was trying to make that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is unbiblical. You’ve failed to defend Sola Scriptura from both a biblical and historical stand point. Furthermore you’ve conveniently ignored “gracefool’s” input as well. Who by the way in case you’re wondering I’ve never met nor know who he/she is let alone his/her religious affiliation if any.

It was a good exercise but I think we’re not going to make any further head way in this discussion. We are too far apart on our beliefs on this matter and we’re going in circles. I’ve stated my points and backed them up with Scripture and the teachings (Sacred Traditions) of the Church and Christian history. There’s nothing more for me to say other than to read the articles in the links I’ve posted up.

I wish you the best and I’ll pray for you and I ask that you pray for me as well as we seek to learn and understand the truth that Almighty God has for us. In Christ. Richard
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:02 AM #311
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As stated by your insistance that the Bible says it's inspired is all we need that must mean all the other books such as the Qu’ran and Book of Mormon are inspired as well since they too claim inspiration. Sorry but your argument is against reason and it’s a wonder why Atheists laugh at us with an argument like that. You’ve also conveniently ignored “gracefools” comments on this matter as well. Tell me how do you know that all the books in the Bible are inspired? Did you just pick up the Bible one day, read it and thought to yourself "wow! this is God’s word!" Or did someone share it with you and explained it to you that this is God’s word?
I think Bnonn explained it pretty well - you know by using your own judgment - comparing Scripture with itself as well as other truths you know.

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Originally Posted by RLN View Post
Yet you conveniently ignore what Scripture says about the church’s authority. The very doctrine that you hold to be true which is Sola Scriptura you contradict in your answers to my questions.
Bnonn never said the church has no authority. Just that the church's authority is to be judged by Scripture.


I'm not sure that there's really a big difference in your beliefs. We should judge the church's teachings by Scripture, and the church should judge / interpret Scripture as best it can (with the help of the Holy Spirit).
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:20 AM #312
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Hey Richard, I'm afraid we're speaking past each other. Perhaps we could step back a little, and I'll try to explain some things which I think maybe you haven't picked up on -- and point out places where I just don't seem to understand what you're saying.

You've repeatedly asked me to justify sola Scriptura from the Bible. Now, I believe it can be justified from the Bible, but your prior commitment to Catholicism means that even if sola Scriptura can be inferred from the Bible, you are not in a position to be able to infer it. Your prior commitment to Catholicism means that whatever the Bible says, it can't say that, because Catholicism says otherwise, and Catholicism is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture to which you must defer.

This is the real problem debating Scripture with Catholics. You aren't in a position to do real exegesis (no offense -- this is just how I see it). You always have to square the text with your preconceived Catholic ideas.

That's why I haven't been trying to show sola Scriptura from the Bible. And indeed, I don't need to show it from the Bible, because it is the default position we ought to take. If God reveals his word in the Bible, and doesn't tell us he has revealed his word anywhere else, then anyone who claims he has revealed it somewhere else has the burden of proof -- not the person who thinks the Bible alone is God's word.

Now, you keep objecting that sola Scriptura is not in the Bible. But (and I'm speaking arguendo) you haven't told me why you think this is a problem. You keep just repeating it as if the problem is obvious. But I'm afraid it's not obvious to ME. So please, perhaps this is very thick-headed of me, but could you fill in the blank here:

1. Sola Scriptura is not in the Bible
2. ???
3. Therefore, sola Scriptura is false

I have a feeling this has something to do with thinking that all knowledge about Scripture must be infallible or something. But even if such a thing were possible, you need to explain it and make an argument for it. I don't know what you're thinking...you gotta tell me.

In that vein, you also need to fill in the blank here:

4. Agent X has the authority to interpret Scripture
5. ???
6. Therefore, Agent X has the ability to infallibly interpret Scripture

Quote:
As stated by your insistance that the Bible says it's inspired is all we need that must mean all the other books such as the Qu’ran and Book of Mormon are inspired as well since they too claim inspiration.
You're confused about what I'm claiming. I was taking issue specifically with the idea that the Bible's self-attestation is not proof, because logically speaking it is. As I explained, if I write a post, and claim to have written it, that does indeed constitute proof that I wrote it, because my claim is true. On the other hand, if you hack my account and write a post and claim that I wrote it, that is not proof that I wrote it, simply because the claim is false.

I'm not saying this is the only proof we have of the Bible's inspiration, or the way we test the Bible's inspiration. I'm simply saying that when God claims something, that is the highest form of evidence there is -- so if he has indeed claimed that the Bible is inspired, there is no higher authority we can appeal to. To say this is "against reason" is exactly to say that when God claims to be speaking, it is against reason to think that his claim is a reason for believing him. But that is obviously terribly wrong, and perhaps even blasphemous. (I suspect you think this is "against reason" because it is circular, and also because anyone can write a book and claim it was written by God. But of course, circularity does not imply falsehood or fallacy; and the existence of forged paintings doesn't imply all paintings are forged. So even if you find the proof unconvincing, the fact remains that it is proof.)

Anyway, I'm not even sure if this is very relevant -- it just seemed like an important point because it suggested a very wrong-headed approach to God's word.

Quote:
Tell me how do you know that all the books in the Bible are inspired?
This is rather like asking how you know God exists. There are many lines of supporting evidence, but even with those in place, you would not typically come to this conclusion without personal experience of God himself. Mind you, I'm treating your question in a colloquial sense because I think that's how you meant it. If you're asking a strictly epistemic question, that will be quite a different discussion.

Quote:
Yet you conveniently ignore what Scripture says about the church’s authority.
I don't ignore it. I simply disagree with your interpretation of what the church's authority is. Since your entire belief system is built on your personal interpretation of some hotly-contested passages, along with (I assume) some predisposition against denominationalism, I don't think you're in a position to say your position is better than mine.

Quote:
Scripture says that it is the Church that we turn to for matters of faith and morals.
But you're still not seeing the self-refuting nature of this comment! If there is one matter of faith that is of the utmost importance, it is the matter of who we turn to for matters of faith. But this being the case, you cannot bootstrap your position in the first place. You cannot turn to the Catholic Church for guidance on matters of faith before you have turned to Scripture for guidance on this matter of faith, namely, who to turn to for guidance on matters of faith. But if you can turn to Scripture for guidance on this issue, obviously the Catholic Church is not needed for guidance after all!

Your position is exactly equivalent to a Protestant who uses his private judgment to interpret one narrow issue out of Scripture, finds a church whose teaching aligns with his interpretation on that one issue, and then defers all his further interpretation to that church. When he reads the Bible, he always asks what his church teaches before he exegetes the passage, so he can know in advance what the passage must mean (or at least what it cannot mean).

We would hardly commend such a person, would we? Indeed, we would find his attitude lazy and foolish and reprehensible. Yet this seems to be the exact method you are holding up as superior to doing one's best exegesis in every case -- is it not?
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:47 AM #313
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Hi Bnonn - Thank you for trying to "clarify" things.

Yes I am Catholic. And yes when I approach Scripture and discern what the actual doctrine or teaching is I consult the Catholic Church for guidance. Is that really wrong? I’m sure other Christians approach their own church or church leaders for guidance on interpreting a Scripture passage(s). I’m sure we’ve all consulted the writings of an “expert” in Biblical studies and languages and Christian history. Is that wrong? And I’m only doing what Scripture tells me to…which is to consult the Church on matters of faith and morals.

To “infer” that Catholics don’t think for themselves and blindly follow a Church or a man dressed in white who sits on a throne in the Vatican along with his army of men with pointy hats around world is really ignorant. Sorry but you may not have directly stated that but your comments reveal how you feel about Catholics and the Catholic Church. If that’s not what you meant by your comments than I retract my statement. But if it is, it’s best you just say it rather than “pretend” you have any respect for my Catholic faith or me as a Christian. Do you even consider Catholics as Christians?

To be honest I continue to question my faith and the teachings of the Church on matters of faith and morals. In fact I believe that it is good to question because how would you know the truth if you don’t ask and investigate? Honestly, each time I’ve questioned the Church on its doctrines I’ve found an answer that was not only satisfactory, but logical, reasonable, and supported by Scripture and the teachings of the Apostles and early Church fathers. Nothing has ever contradicted Scripture. Believe me there are some doctrines that are difficult to swallow but in the end no matter how hard a teaching is if it's founded on the truth you have to either accept it or choose to ignore the truth. I.E....contraceptions.....my wife and I are going on our third child...we have a 3 year old and a 9 month old....she is considering reasigning from a great career to stay home with the children. Which means that extra income will be gone and our finances will tighter. Would it be hard to have any more children? You bet it would. The temptation to go against the Church's teaching on contraceptions is there but we both know that doing so means going against God's commandments.
We trust that God won't give us what we can't handle. So if He wants us to have another child again praise God! If He doesn't, Praise God! Praise Him in everything right?

So I ask that you give me the benefit of the doubt. That you look at my responses and questions as a person who is earnestly seeking the truth and is willing to follow the truth even if it means leaving the church he currently believes is the Church that Jesus Christ founded.

So can I have that benefit of the doubt? Or was this discussion over before it even started?
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:03 PM #314
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After skimming through yall's recent posts only one thing is clear to me....

I have no idea what yall are talking about.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:35 PM #315
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Hey Richard, I've never meant to not give you the benefit of the doubt -- sorry if I came across that way.

Quote:
I’m sure other Christians approach their own church or church leaders for guidance on interpreting a Scripture passage(s). I’m sure we’ve all consulted the writings of an “expert” in Biblical studies and languages and Christian history. Is that wrong?
But there's a critical difference you're omitting here. Other Christians are free to disagree with experts (including their own leadership). Catholics are required to assent to everything the Church "infallibly" teaches. You're implying that Catholics only do what Protestants do. But clearly that isn't the case because there's a crucial point of disanalogy.

Quote:
To “infer” that Catholics don’t think for themselves and blindly follow a Church or a man dressed in white who sits on a throne in the Vatican along with his army of men with pointy hats around world is really ignorant.
You have me wrong. I'm not arguing that Catholics do blindly follow anything. Rather, I'm arguing that Catholicism entails doing so. I'm very happy that you don't blindly follow, and that you do exercise your private judgment -- but my point is that you're actually being a bad Catholic by doing so. If it is true that you must defer final judgment to the Church, then that is the very definition of blindly following. Indeed, Catholicism even has a doctrine that if you think the Church has contradicted itself in some way, the problem must be with your understanding, and not with the Church. This is one reason many Protestants regard Catholicism as a cult. Replacing the right of personal judgment with some "infallible" religious authority is one classic hallmark of cultism.

Quote:
But if it is, it’s best you just say it rather than “pretend” you have any respect for my Catholic faith or me as a Christian.
I haven't intended to put up a pretense. But I haven't wanted to cause unnecessary offense either. I think you'd agree with me that our ultimate respect is due to God and his truth, and then to our neighbor (isn't that basically what Jesus says in Matthew 22:37-40?) So if I disrespect something it is only because I believe it stands against God and his truth. But that doesn't mean I want to be offensive or upset you. Quite the contrary -- I hope to challenge you to see some problems in the Catholic position precisely because I respect both God and you.

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Do you even consider Catholics as Christians?
I don't have a one-size-fits-all answer to this. But let me turn the question around on you: do you consider Protestants Christians? I ask because the Catholic Church throughout history has always taught extra Ecclesiam nulla salus -- outside of the church there is no salvation. Three quick examples:

1. Boniface VIII wrote in Unam Sanctam, "we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff."

2. Pope Innocent III before him, at the Fourth Lateran Council, said that "there is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all can be saved".

3. Eugene IV, after him, declared most magnificently in Cantate Domino that...

The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgiving, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.

From Clement of Rome to Augustine to Gregory the Great, and afterwards to Trent, then into the nineteenth century (with Pius IX being particularly vocal about the matter), there is an unbroken tradition of teaching: extra Ecclesiam nulla salus -- outside of the church there is no salvation. This is Church Tradition. So the question I would put to you is, why do you believe that I am a Christian?

Btw, you seem to be a fairly historically informed guy -- so you must know at least the basic disagreements behind the Reformation. But if you know that, then why would you be surprised if a Protestant thought that Rome teaches a false gospel? Wouldn't you be surprised if a Protestant didn't think that?

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each time I’ve questioned the Church on its doctrines I’ve found an answer that was not only satisfactory, but logical, reasonable, and supported by Scripture and the teachings of the Apostles and early Church fathers. Nothing has ever contradicted Scripture.
Really? To give you some idea of where I'm coming from, I was raised a Catholic, but fell away as a teenager and became a new atheist. Then God saved me at 24 when I started arguing with a Reformed Baptist pastor's kid. One of the main reasons I was saved was because she got me to actually study the Bible to see what it says, rather than relying on what I'd been taught as a Catholic or picked up from other Christians. For example, I had no idea that Christians are saved by faith in the work of Christ, and not by works (sacraments, rituals etc) -- because the Church of Rome teaches:

If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation but are superfluous, and that without them or without the desire of them men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification, though all are not necessary for each one, let him be anathema (The Council of Trent, Session VII, 'Canons On The Sacraments In General', Canon 4).

Notice Trent chose the phrase "New Law", explicitly acknowledging that the sacraments are indeed actions conducted in accordance to a law. Yet the epistle to the Galatians was written explicitly to correct that church from straying into a doctrine of justification through the law! Paul writes (emphasis mine):

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 1:6-9, 2:16).

In other words, Paul takes pains in these passages, and throughout Galatians, to prove exactly what you as a Catholic must deny: that "men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification". Yet the Bible makes this claim in many places: Genesis 15:6; Romans 3:28; 5:1; 14:23; etc.

Any gospel which attempts to add works as necessary for salvation undoes the sufficiency of Christ's work, and is indeed no gospel at all. Even if it should be preached by an apostle! (And if not from an apostle, then how much more not from someone merely claiming lineage from the apostles.) Unequivocally, those who propagate, and those who believe such gospels are accursed. The Greek word is anathema, which is dynamically rendered "eternally condemned" in the NIV. So the Bible eternally condemns the Catholic gospel, and the Catholic Church eternally condemns the gospel Paul preaches in Galatians.

Now, I think there are plenty of other ways Catholicism contradicts Scripture, but this one is the plainest and the most important. If Rome isn't preaching a true gospel, then a good Catholic is not a Christian by definition.
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