2007-01-02

By Scripture Alone

Steve Hays has posted a very long response to a selection from the Robert Sungenis book "Not By Scripture Alone." I've posted a response to this, based on some of the things I've already posted here, regarding the backpedalling nature of the papacy. There is a much more detailed response to NBSA available in the Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith series by Rev. David King and William Webster.

With the combination of the reverses by what I will call "official Catholicism" (i.e., seeking a "new situation" for the papacy) and the advances in our historical understanding of the New Testament and early church times, make this a prime moment for evangelicals, especially evangelical scholars and those near to evangelical scholarship, to sort through issues relating to Catholicism and really to press for and create more public awareness. I think that "official Catholicism" needs to reflect hard on its own history and meaning, before committing to any "new situation."

4 comments:

Pertinacious Papist said...

(1) . . . a prime moment for evangelicals, especially evangelical scholars and those near to evangelical scholarship, to sort through issues relating to Catholicism and really to press for and create more public awareness. [and] (2) I think that "official Catholicism" needs to reflect hard on its own history and meaning, before committing to any "new situation."

Amen on both counts, my friend. Catholic-minded Evangelicals and evangelical-minded Catholics face a common crisis today: if trends continue, there will be nobody left who understands the biblical and historical concerns we share within another generation, because all people will be talking about is the Paris Hiltons of the world. This is a prime moment for those who remain committed to the Evangelical cause because these individuals care about truth and really believe in God and His Word in Scripture. But this is also a Catholic Moment as R.J. Neuhaus declared in a book by that title, because the "official Church," as you call it, despite the cultural value-vertigo of post-Vatican II Catholic-Protestant Liberalism, remains uncompromisingly committed to Apostolic Gospel entrusted to her, along with its high moral claims of the sanctity of human life, marriage, family, etc. Louis Bouyer, in The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, shows how one cannot survive without the other.

John Bugay said...

You say "amen", but my sense in this is different from yours. Down below,

http://reformation500.blogspot.com/2006/11/catholic-scholars-agree-there-was.html -- I have pointed out the degree to which historical studies have forced Catholicism to backtrack on the way the papacy is presented. I am old enough to remember the "unbroken line going back to Peter" and that clearly does not exist, even according to Catholic historians. Evangelical scholars need to study these issues for the purpose of knowing where to push in order to gain the most concession in light of such statements as Ut Unum Sint.

Neuhaus's "Catholic Moment" has come and gone, with very mixed results. Catholicism is a huge disappointment. I've read that book, and I'm reading his "Catholic Matters", and I'll have something to say about both of these in the future.

As for your statement that "the 'official church' remains uncompromisingly committed to [the] Apostolic Gospel entrusted to her", it will be my point to say that whatever had been "entrusted" has since become "encrusted" with historical accretions which greatly conceal the true gospel. I'll have more to say about this, too. Please stay tuned.

Philip said...

"entrusted" . . . "encrusted"

Bingo, my friend! You are so right! We are all crusty old farts, after all -- unless you, of course, happen to be the notable exception of the human species.

Again, this reminds me of Boccaccio's story of Abraham, the medieval Jewish merchant in The Decameron. Abraham is contemplating becoming a Catholic. He tells his friend, the bishop of Paris, who has been trying unsuccessfully to convert him, that he has to go to Rome on business. The bishop is horrified: "Don't go! When you see the stupidity and corruption there, you'll never join the Church." (This was the time of the Medici popes, who were notoriously worldly and corrupt, as Evangelicals such as you no doubt know!) But Abraham is a practical man. Business calls. Upon his return to France, he tells the bishop he is now ready to be baptized. The bishop is astounded, but Abraham explains: "I'm a practical businessman. No earthly business that stupid and corrupt could last fourteen weeks. Your Church has lasted fourteen centuries. It must have God behind it."

What Boccaccio meant as a slur, I take as a serious argument. If Jesus could pick such pitifully fallible men as Peter (who denied him three times, and whom Paul withstood at Antioch for his hypocrisy) as the human authors whom God would infallibly keep from error in inscripturating His Word, then where's the counter-argument? You want to say it can't be done anymore? You say it hasn't? I'm not sure what you mean by suggesting that the current popes cannot be traced in unbroken succession to Peter. If you mean there were antipopes, or brief periods of papal vacancy, well, of course; but canonically the ordinations of the legitimate popes can so be traced. There is no mystery to this. Check out the record and see for yourself.

John Bugay said...

Did you read what Lampe said, as I've quoted him down below? Did you read what Schatz said, as I've quoted him down below? They are not talking about antipopes. They are talking about a major gap in the succession right at the beginning.

I suppose you can't be faulted for what I haven't written, but elsewhere in his book Lampe says "the list of Irenaeus (haer 3.3.3.) is with highest probability a historical construction" which very likely is "fictive". That is, names were known of presbyters (not priests) from that era, but again, "fractionation in Rome favored a collegial presbyterial system of governance, and for a long time, until the second half of the second century, the development of a monarchical episcopacy."

In other words, there was no "there" there. There were no "bishops of Rome" until the year 180. There were no "successors of Peter" for over 120 years -- several generations of Christians.

What became "encrusted" are the very doctrines and dogmas which your church claims are "infallible." (Not papally infallible; merely infallible according to the magisterium.) The first of these are the papacy itself, but very much of what is distinctly Catholic is a distortion of New Testament Christianity.