Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pillar and Ground of the Truth

Catholic Claim – We can’t go by “the Bible Alone,” because the Bible itself, in I Timothy 3:15, calls the Church (and not the Bible) the “Pillar and Ground of the Truth.” So, we need the Church also.

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (I Tim. 3:15)

Catholics seem to believe that this verse somehow suggests infallibility for the church, making the church equal with Scripture, and thus disproving the concept of Sola Scriptura. But this is simply wishful thinking on their part. Now, I am not saying that we don’t need the church. The church is established by God and it certainly has its place. But if you look at the context of I Timothy 3, Paul is describing the RESPONSIBILITIES and OBLIGATIONS of church leaders. He is speaking of the EXPECTATIONS of the church (…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself). He is not speaking of privileges and special powers. He is not saying, “Hey Timothy, just kick back and relax, and bask in your infallibility, since we never have to worry about teaching false doctrine.” No, there is absolutely nothing in this context to suggest infallibility, nor is there any guarantee of being exempt from error. But again, he IS speaking of the duty and responsibility of those in the church (especially leaders) to preach, proclaim, and share the Truth.

Yes, the church is a “pillar,” but remember, a pillar is a support which holds something ELSE up. If a person sees the pillars / supports on your porch or balcony, and he says, “Hey, these are a nice roof.” You would think he is pretty naive and would tell him that these are not the roof, itself, but rather, they are SUPPORTS which hold up the roof. In the same way, the responsibility / obligation of the church is to “hold up,” “proclaim,” and “support” the truth. The church itself is not the Truth, but is called to be the support (pillar) of it. Scripture is that standard, that Truth, which the church is obligated to hold up (John 17:17).

Another problem with this Catholic argument is that if this verse is indeed saying that the “church” is infallible, it is proving too much. A “house” / “household” is not just composed of leaders, but of subordinates, as well. If the church is the household of God, and the church is infallible, then the whole household is infallible. But I don’t think that Catholics would want to say that. And neither would I. So, for more than one reason, this is another Catholic argument that doesn’t wash, and it certainly does not disprove Sola Scriptura.

In His Name,

Russell

20 comments:

  1. The Bible says the Church is Christ's Body! Being Christ's Body makes it indefectible and infallible by definition, just as its Head is those things.


    R: Yes, the church is a “pillar,” but remember, a pillar is a support which holds something ELSE up.

    N: Can a pillar and foundation be WEAKER than what it supports? Impossible! What kind of a builder supports the Truth on a cracked or feeble foundation? 1 Tim 3:15 says the Church is "God's Household," and in Eph 2:20 Paul says God's Household is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." This directly refutes your argument and proves the Church infallible.

    R: Scripture is that standard, that Truth, which the church is obligated to hold up (John 17:17).

    N: Nowhere does the Bible equate Scripture with "the Truth" in the exclusive sense you do. In fact, the Truth is the Gospel, the preaching of Christ and Apostles.

    R: If the church is the household of God, and the church is infallible, then the whole household is infallible.

    N: Eph 2:20 explains how the household is built, the foundation is the Apostles and Prophets and Christ is the Cornerstone. This in no way suggests all members are on equal footing, yet it cannot be anything but an infallible foundation.

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  2. Hi Nick,

    You said:

    “The Bible says the Church is Christ's Body! Being Christ's Body makes it indefectible and infallible by definition, just as its Head is those things.”

    I would agree with you that the church is indefectible (Matthew 16:18), but ONLY AS A WHOLE, because individual members in the church can, and will, sometimes defect.

    On the other hand, the Bible nowhere teaches, explicitly or implicitly, that the church is infallible (i.e., immune from error). It simply does not follow that being part of the “body of Christ” makes anyone (individually or collectively) infallible. This is a giant and faulty leap in logic. The “Head” does not sin, but the “body of Christ” is still made up of sinners and fallible individuals who often stumble.

    You said:

    “R: Yes, the church is a “pillar,” but remember, a pillar is a support which holds something ELSE up.”

    “N: Can a pillar and foundation be WEAKER than what it supports? Impossible!”

    The church “supports” the truth, but not in the sense that it is “stronger” than the truth; and neither is it the originator of truth. As I said in the article, the context is about the OBLIGATION to support the truth in the sense of promoting, proclaiming, and guarding it. It is not about some special gift of infallibility, or about specific members who are guaranteed not to defect.

    You said that since God’s “household” is built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles (with Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone), that this proves that the church is infallible.

    We have an infallible Lord / Cornerstone, and we have infallible teachings of the apostles and prophets (who enjoyed at least temporary infallibility), but that’s about as far as we can go with infallibility. Jesus never promised anyone in the post-apostolic church that they would be immune from error when making an official pronouncement to the church. Catholics are simply guilty of reading this into certain contexts in the Bible.

    You said:

    “R: Scripture is that standard, that Truth, which the church is obligated to hold up (John 17:17).”

    “N: Nowhere does the Bible equate Scripture with “the Truth” in the exclusive sense you do. In fact, the Truth is the Gospel, the preaching of Christ and Apostles.”

    Nick, I agree with you when you say that the Truth is the Gospel. But the Gospel is the very essence and culmination of the SCRIPTURES. Everything in the Bible… its Author, its commandments, principles, character, and its ultimate message, points to, and is encapsulated in, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you can find another source of infallible Truth for today, then can you please identify it for us.

    You said that “the church” is infallible, but you also pointed out that not all members of the church are on equal footing, I think implying that it is certain leaders who are infallible. But, just for the record, the term “the church” when used in Scripture, is NEVER used to designate LEADERS ONLY, but rather, it always refers to its members corporately. So, you can’t say that “the church” is infallible, when you really mean that it’s certain leaders within the church who are (supposedly) infallible.

    One more thing. If the leaders of the church enjoy the gift of infallibility, then why does the Apostle Paul warn church leaders, on more than one occasion, to “take heed” concerning their doctrine, preaching, teaching, etc.? Why should they ever “take heed” or worry about saying the wrong thing if they are guaranteed infallibility?

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  3. Hi Russell,

    For the Church to be indefectible as a whole means the Church can never formally proclaim false doctrine. The only way for the Church to formally proclaim doctrine is when the Church leadership does so, especially at a Council (i.e. the layman is not free to define his own doctrines). Thus, the Magisterium is the center of indefectibility, and by necessary consequence, infallible.

    You quote Mat 16, which speaks both of the Church as indefectible (gates of hell will not prevail) and infallible (whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven).

    And to categorically rule out that Church leaders can be protected from teaching error by the Holy Spirit, you rule out the ability for fallible men to be capable of composing inspired Scripture.


    You said: The church “supports” the truth, but not in the sense that it is “stronger” than the truth; and neither is it the originator of truth.

    N: The Truth is the Gospel, and the pillar and foundation is built on the Apostles and Christ (the cornerstone).

    R: As I said in the article, the context is about the OBLIGATION to support the truth in the sense of promoting, proclaiming, and guarding it.

    N: This really isn't distinct from authoritatively and infallibly teaching. Again, the Church can't be a support and foundation of Truth if the foundation is liable to crack and crumble; that's God building on a foundation of sand.

    R: We have an infallible Lord / Cornerstone, and we have infallible teachings of the apostles and prophets (who enjoyed at least temporary infallibility), but that’s about as far as we can go with infallibility. Jesus never promised anyone in the post-apostolic church that they would be immune from error when making an official pronouncement to the church. Catholics are simply guilty of reading this into certain contexts in the Bible.

    N: The presumption is on you who are arguing these things died off with the Apostles. Your argument is almost a form of deism, where once the Apostles died off Jesus removed himself from the scene as well. Jesus never left His Church, at least not in the abandonment manner you're logic would force you to go.

    R: Nick, I agree with you when you say that the Truth is the Gospel. But the Gospel is the very essence and culmination of the SCRIPTURES.

    N: This is simply an equivocation. The terms "Gospel" and "Truth" are not synonymous with "Scriptures." Further Paul couldn't have been speaking of Scriptures since Scripture was still being written.

    R: just for the record, the term “the church” when used in Scripture, is NEVER used to designate LEADERS ONLY, but rather, it always refers to its members corporately. So, you can’t say that “the church” is infallible, when you really mean that it’s certain leaders within the church who are (supposedly) infallible.

    N: That's ultimately irrelevant and not the Catholic position. Acts 15 is a solid example of the Magisterium being the Church leadership without implying the layman is not a member of the Church.


    R: One more thing. If the leaders of the church enjoy the gift of infallibility, then why does the Apostle Paul warn church leaders, on more than one occasion, to “take heed” concerning their doctrine, preaching, teaching, etc.? Why should they ever “take heed” or worry about saying the wrong thing if they are guaranteed infallibility?

    N: Because infallibility only applies to formally teaching a doctrine, not to private acts of an individual. They are to take heed that they set a good example of Christian living and take heed to expose wolves who come in and ravage the flock.

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  4. Hi Nick,

    (Part 1 of 2)

    I need to go back to the concept of indefectibility. I know that I had said that I agree with you that the church was “indefectible as a whole,” but after thinking about it some more, I am retracting that statement, because “indefectible” is too strong a word. I’d say it this way: God, in His mercy and grace, is guaranteeing that He is ultimately bringing into Heaven a number of people who hold fast to the faith, that being His true church (the WHOLE church). But this guarantee is not for just one particular group with one particular label (Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Eastern Orthodox, etc.) who is supposedly assured infallible protection from error.

    Notice that Jesus said that the “gates of hell will not prevail against it.” When He says “it,” He is speaking of the church, the WHOLE church; Jesus didn’t say that the “gates of hell will not prevail against ‘certain leaders’ of the church.”

    As I said last time, the church is made up of imperfect and fallible people (leaders included). A large number of imperfect people won’t make a perfect church, just as a large number of fallible people won’t make an infallible church.

    According to Catholicism, Matthew 16:18-19 assures us that the Catholic Church is guaranteed protection from error… at least from “official” error being taught by the Church, e.g., in “ex-cathedra” pronouncements. Yet, these seem to only come around once every few hundred years or so. Not very reassuring. A pope or leader can actually teach heresy, but as long as it is not taught to the whole Church, as an official statement, meeting certain criteria (which, itself, is debated among Catholic apologists), the Church’s “infallibility” is supposedly still maintained. But, this “guaranteed protection against error” is of little comfort for those who are already in Hell because they gave heed to “unofficial,” but heretical, teachings of someone in the clergy. So this boast of infallibility does little good for those Catholics who happen to sit under these leaders.

    You said:

    “And to categorically rule out that Church leaders can be protected from teaching error by the Holy Spirit, you rule out the ability for fallible men to be capable of composing inspired Scripture.”

    Nick, the issue is not, and never was, about God’s ability. Of course, the Holy Spirit CAN protect them from error, but no one is denying that. The question is not what CAN He do, but what DID He do. This “don’t-you-think-God-can-do-it if-He-wants-to” question is simply a red herring.

    (Continued)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nick,

    (Part 2 of 2)

    You said:

    “R: As I said in the article, the context is about the OBLIGATION to support the truth in the sense of promoting, proclaiming, and guarding it.”

    N: This really isn't distinct from authoritatively and infallibly teaching. Again, the Church can't be a support and foundation of Truth if the foundation is liable to crack and crumble; that's God building on a foundation of sand.”

    We are all obligated to preach the gospel, but this doesn’t mean we will do it infallibly. But concerning the context of 1 Timothy 3:15, there is a difference between what IT says… “You are obligated to be diligent in being an example and spreading the gospel,” and what Catholics read into it… “You have a special gift of infallibility, so you need not worry about error in your teaching.” Paul’s point to Timothy is, “You need to continually be a faithful pillar,” and not “You are guaranteed to be an infallible pillar.”

    You said:

    “N: The presumption is on you who are arguing these things died off with the Apostles. Your argument is almost a form of deism, where once the Apostles died off Jesus removed himself from the scene as well. Jesus never left His Church, at least not in the abandonment manner you're logic would force you to go.”

    This is a false dichotomy. Saying, “Jesus did not give His (post-apostolic) church the gift of infallibility” does not equal to “Jesus abandoned His church.”

    You said:

    “R: Nick, I agree with you when you say that the Truth is the Gospel. But the Gospel is the very essence and culmination of the SCRIPTURES.

    N: This is simply an equivocation. The terms "Gospel" and "Truth" are not synonymous with "Scriptures." Further Paul couldn't have been speaking of Scriptures since Scripture was still being written.”

    There are many “truths” out there in the world, but what I am speaking of is ultimate truth… God-breathed truth… infallible inspiration. If you believe that this kind of truth can be found today in any other place than Scripture, then please show it to us. And your reference that Paul could not have been speaking of Scripture is interesting. Are you saying that no Scripture was true UNTIL all of it was finished being written?

    You said:

    “R: One more thing. If the leaders of the church enjoy the gift of infallibility, then why does the Apostle Paul warn church leaders, on more than one occasion, to “take heed” concerning their doctrine, preaching, teaching, etc.? Why should they ever “take heed” or worry about saying the wrong thing if they are guaranteed infallibility?

    N: Because infallibility only applies to formally teaching a doctrine, not to private acts of an individual. They are to take heed that they set a good example of Christian living and take heed to expose wolves who come in and ravage the flock.”

    So, a church leader DOESN’T have to “take heed” when speaking “formally” or “officially”? It seems this is where he needs to be the MOST careful in his teaching. And Paul does not just warn leaders to be careful in “Christian living” and “exposing wolves,” but also in DOCTRINE (1 Timothy 4:16).

    The bottom line is that even church leaders need to be careful in what they preach / teach / proclaim, because none of us are infallible, even if we are considered to be "pillars."

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  6. Hi Russell,

    Your retraction and restating of your view is interesting and I think it brings out the very different perspectives we are approaching this from. I think your new claim fits much better with traditional Protestantism, where the 'true Church' is 'invisible' by nature, and only is 'visibly' manifested when true believers worship together. From this perspective, it makes no sense at all to say the Church is indefectible.

    The Catholic view is different, Jesus, the Apostles, and their Bishop successors were visible leaders (the former of which are explicitly referred to as the 'foundation' and 'cornerstone' of the Church). From this view, the Successors are prevented by the Holy Spirit from formally promulgating error, while still remaining 'human' - which is all analogous to how the Holy Spirit inspired sinful men to pen Scripture without destroying their (fallible) humanity.

    One major difficulty in this approach is that there can be no such thing as Church leadership under your system, for that would raise the question: by whom did pastor/elder/bishop X get his authority. If there's no succession involved, the authority could only be self-appointed to one degree or another. And even then, the pastor would only be a local phenomenon, depending on which true believers want to submit.

    As for the frequency of ex-cathedra statements, how often they are issued is irrelevant (as if some quota must be met). The same can be said of a pope or any pastor privately leading others astray, it doesn't affect the original doctrine. Those popes would be acting akin to how any private individual is capable of leading others astray (similar to how Peter was guided by the Holy Spirit when preaching, but was also able to cause scandal by his own hypocrisy).

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  7. (2 of 2)

    We are all obliged to preach the Gospel, but this is done in extension from the local Bishop's evangelization duty. In other words, we are not 'lone rangers' who each have the task of spreading the Gospel. The issue of personal infallibility isn't an issue here, because we as laity pass on the Church's decrees, we are in 'sales', not 'management'.

    I'm not sure what you're saying in regards to 1 Tim 3:15 when you say: “You have a special gift of infallibility, so you need not worry about error in your teaching.”
    Catholics have never interpreted this to mean Timothy has the chrism of infallibility, nor would we draw that from the text. Paul is describing the Church as Pillar and Foundation, and how Timothy is supposed to act in regards to it.

    You said: "Saying, “Jesus did not give His (post-apostolic) church the gift of infallibility” does not equal to “Jesus abandoned His church.”"

    I wouldn't phrase it precisely like that, but my reasoning was that leaving us 'on our own' with just the Bible where as the original set up was a fully visible hierarchical body is a form of abandonment.

    You said: "Are you saying that no Scripture was true UNTIL all of it was finished being written?"

    No. I'm saying one cannot look at any given passage of Scripture and anywhere the term "Gospel" or "Truth" appears assume they are synonymous with "Scripture".

    You asked: "So, a church leader DOESN’T have to “take heed” when speaking “formally” or “officially”? It seems this is where he needs to be the MOST careful in his teaching."

    I never intended to convey the leaders don't need to be most careful, quite the opposite.

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  8. Hi Russell,

    I have to apologize. I hadn't actually seen your comment section.

    You said:
    Pillar and Ground of the Truth

    Catholic Claim – We can’t go by “the Bible Alone,” because the Bible itself, in I Timothy 3:15, calls the Church (and not the Bible) the “Pillar and Ground of the Truth.” So, we need the Church also.
    But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (I Tim. 3:15)

    Catholics seem to believe that this verse somehow suggests infallibility for the church, making the church equal with Scripture, and thus disproving the concept of Sola Scriptura. But this is simply wishful thinking on their part. Now, I am not saying that we don’t need the church. The church is established by God and it certainly has its place. But if you look at the context of I Timothy 3, Paul is describing the RESPONSIBILITIES and OBLIGATIONS of church leaders. He is speaking of the EXPECTATIONS of the church (…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself). He is not speaking of privileges and special powers. He is not saying, “Hey Timothy, just kick back and relax, and bask in your infallibility, since we never have to worry about teaching false doctrine.” No, there is absolutely nothing in this context to suggest infallibility, nor is there any guarantee of being exempt from error. But again, he IS speaking of the duty and responsibility of those in the church (especially leaders) to preach, proclaim, and share the Truth.


    St. Paul was telling his disciples that he would instruct them how to behave in the Institution which the the Holy Spirit inspired him to describe as the Pillar and Foundation of Truth. Thus confirming that the Catholic Church is infallible.

    Yes, the church is a “pillar,” but remember, a pillar is a support which holds something ELSE up. If a person sees the pillars / supports on your porch or balcony, and he says, “Hey, these are a nice roof.” You would think he is pretty naive and would tell him that these are not the roof, itself, but rather, they are SUPPORTS which hold up the roof. In the same way, the responsibility / obligation of the church is to “hold up,” “proclaim,” and “support” the truth. The church itself is not the Truth, but is called to be the support (pillar) of it. Scripture is that standard, that Truth, which the church is obligated to hold up (John 17:17).

    Hm? How does that help you exactly? You seem to have proved the Catholic Teaching that the Catholic Church is infallible because it always teaches the truth. The Catholic Church does not teath that It is the truth, but that Christ is the Truth.

    Another problem with this Catholic argument is that if this verse is indeed saying that the “church” is infallible, it is proving too much. A “house” / “household” is not just composed of leaders, but of subordinates, as well. If the church is the household of God, and the church is infallible, then the whole household is infallible. But I don’t think that Catholics would want to say that. And neither would I. So, for more than one reason, this is another Catholic argument that doesn’t wash, and it certainly does not disprove Sola Scriptura.

    You are mixing metaphors. The reference is to the Church as a whole. It is not about the individuals who compose the Church. The Church as a whole is represented by the Magisterium, the Pope and the Bishops united with him. The Church, as a whole, is infallible.

    In His Name,
    Russell


    Sincerely,

    De Maria

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi De Maria,

    Once again, there is nothing in 1 Timothy 3 that demands (or even suggests) infallibility. As I said before, Paul’s emphasis is on the RESPONSIBILITY / OBLIGATION of the church to uphold the truth, not on some special power or infallibility.

    In this context, being called the pillar and ground of the truth is in no way a “confirmation” of infallibility, as you suggested. Focusing on a word or phrase and running with it while ignoring context, is not good exegesis. It is assumption and speculation.

    Here is an analogy of how Catholics interpret this passage: Little Billy’s father tells Billy in front of his friends, “Now son, you must never, ever tell a lie.” And Billy’s friends grossly exaggerate his father’s words into “Billy has never, ever told a lie, and he could not ever possibly tell one.” In the same way, Catholics distort Paul’s words. If Protestants would ever try to use such logic in interpretation, Catholics would (rightly) be quick to complain.

    Just as these words of Billy’s father were meant to impart responsibility on Billy’s part (and nothing more), but got distorted into a “special grace” for Billy - likewise, Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:15 were meant to impart a grave responsibility to the church, but are distorted by Catholics into “infallibility.”

    ReplyDelete
  10. (POSTED BY DE MARIA)

    Russell said...
    "Hi De Maria,

Once again, there is nothing in 1 Timothy 3 that demands (or even suggests) infallibility….."

    I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I can only repeat my contention that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle to refer to the Church as the Pillar of Truth, thus confirming the infallibility of the Church which Christ built.



    "In this context, being called the pillar and ground of the truth is in no way a “confirmation” of infallibility, as you suggested. Focusing on a word or phrase and running with it while ignoring context, is not good exegesis. It is assumption and speculation."

    Our context is simply different than yours Russell. We use the context provided by 2000 years of Catholic Tradition from which the New Testament was written. We also use the context of the rest of Scripture which says of the Church:

    Ephesians 3:10
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

    "

Here is an analogy of how Catholics interpret this passage: Little Billy’s father tells Billy in front of his friends, 'Now son, you must never, ever tell a lie.' And Billy’s friends grossly exaggerate his father’s words into 'Billy has never, ever told a lie, and he could not ever possibly tell one.' In the same way, Catholics distort Paul’s words. If Protestants would ever try to use such logic in interpretation, Catholics would (rightly) be quick to complain."

    That is a poor example. Here's how Protestants exegete Scripture. Lets say that Billy's father is from India and wears the traditional sherwani garb which goes down to his ankles. Little Billy's American friends say, "he must be a cross dresser, he dresses like a woman." Because they are ignorant of the traditions of the elderly Indian man.

    In the same way, since Protestants have done away with Christian Traditions, they have no point of reference with the ancient lessons contained in the Scripture. They judge everything according to their own culture and wind up with completely wrong understanding of the Word of God.

    "Just as these words of Billy’s father were meant to impart responsibility on Billy’s part (and nothing more), but got distorted into a 'special grace' for Billy - likewise, Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:15 were meant to impart a grave responsibility to the church, but are distorted by Catholics into 'infallibility'.”

    On the contrary, from the context of Tradition and the rest of the New Testament, it is obvious that the Reformers have erred by rejecting the Traditions passed down by the Apostles and therefore misunderstanding what is meant by the "Pillar of Truth" in Timothy 3:15.

    Sincerely,
    De Maria

    ReplyDelete
  11. (POSTED BY DE MARIA)

    Ok, what happened? I must have hit the wrong button. That was supposed to preview first, but didn't. This should be easier to read. Sorry. Let me try again:

    Russell said...
    "Hi De Maria,

Once again, there is nothing in 1 Timothy 3 that demands (or even suggests) infallibility….."

    I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I can only repeat my contention that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle to refer to the Church as the Pillar of Truth, thus confirming the infallibility of the Church which Christ built.



    "In this context, being called the pillar and ground of the truth is in no way a 'confirmation' of infallibility, as you suggested. Focusing on a word or phrase and running with it while ignoring context, is not good exegesis. It is assumption and speculation."

    Our context is simply different than yours Russell. We use the context provided by 2000 years of Catholic Tradition from which the New Testament was written. We also use the context of the rest of Scripture which says of the Church:

    Ephesians 3:10
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,



    "Here is an analogy of how Catholics interpret this passage: Little Billy’s father tells Billy in front of his friends, 'Now son, you must never, ever tell a lie.' And Billy’s friends grossly exaggerate his father’s words into 'Billy has never, ever told a lie, and he could not ever possibly tell one.' In the same way, Catholics distort Paul’s words. If Protestants would ever try to use such logic in interpretation, Catholics would (rightly) be quick to complain."

    That is a poor example. Here's how Protestants exegete Scripture. Lets say that Billy's father is from India and wears the traditional sherwani garb which goes down to his ankles. Little Billy's American friends say, "he must be a cross dresser, he dresses like a woman." Because they are ignorant of the traditions of the elderly Indian man.

    In the same way, since Protestants have done away with Christian Traditions, they have no point of reference with the ancient lessons contained in the Scripture. They judge everything according to their own culture and wind up with completely wrong understanding of the Word of God.

    "Just as these words of Billy’s father were meant to impart responsibility on Billy’s part (and nothing more), but got distorted into a 'special grace' for Billy - likewise, Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:15 were meant to impart a grave responsibility to the church, but are distorted by Catholics into 'infallibility'.”

    On the contrary, from the context of Tradition and the rest of the New Testament, it is obvious that the Reformers have erred by rejecting the Traditions passed down by the Apostles and therefore misunderstanding what is meant by the "Pillar of Truth" in Timothy 3:15.

    Sincerely,
    De Maria

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  12. Ok De Maria,

    You mentioned “Tradition” several times as though it would solve problems or misunderstandings that may come up.

    This is very convenient for Catholics to bring up, but we must ask, “What exactly is this ‘Sacred Tradition’ which the Catholic Church considers to be EQUAL TO Scripture?” Can anyone tell us plainly what it is and where to find it? What were the Traditions that were passed down by the apostles, and how can we know for sure that these really are from the apostles? Does “Tradition” really clear up the misunderstandings that Protestants have with Catholicism? No, it doesn’t. It only raises more questions.

    De Maria, I invite you to go over to my article “What About Tradition?” here:

    http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-about-tradition.html

    and we can discuss these things there if you wish.

    Yes, we do disagree on the “Pillar and Ground” issue, but I see Scripture on our side, and I don’t think that Tradition (with all its problems and loose ends) settles the issue at all.

    In His Name,
    Russell

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  13. Russell said...
    Ok De Maria,

You mentioned “Tradition” several times as though it would solve problems or misunderstandings that may come up. 

This is very convenient for Catholics to bring up, but we must ask, “What exactly is this ‘Sacred Tradition’ which the Catholic Church considers to be EQUAL TO Scripture?”


    You don't get it Russell. Tradition is not "equal" to Scripture. They are one and the same thing. The New Testament was written from the Traditions which Jesus Christ commanded the Church to teach. The New Testament is Sacred Tradition written down:

    80 "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal." Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own "always, to the close of the age".

    83 The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus' teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.....

    97 "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God" (DV 10) in which, as in a mirror, the pilgrim Church contemplates God, the source of all her riches.

    Can anyone tell us plainly what it is and where to find it?

    Sure. Simply read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church is written down in that volume.

    cont'd

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  14. cont'd

    What were the Traditions that were passed down by the apostles, and how can we know for sure that these really are from the apostles?

    There is a three way test. It is informally called the Three Legged Stool. Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium. When someone claims that a doctrine is taught in Scripture, the Church the alleged doctrine to the proactive of the Church in Sacred Tradition and to the teachings of the Magisterium in Ecumenical Councils. A perfect example is Luther's claim that his doctrine of Scripture alone was taught in Scripture. The Church compared that doctrine to that which has been taught by the Church through the centuries and to the actual behavior of the Church through the centuries and found that it wasn't true. Had the Scriptures taught faith alone, the Apostles and the disciples would have taught it. But they didn't.

    You once accused me of being circular in my thinking. But we can see by the comparison I am about to make that it is really Protestants, like yourself, who are circular in logic. Because Scripture alone is a one legged beast. When you compare a doctrine to Scripture alone, you really don't compare to Scripture AT ALL. You compare the doctrine to YOUR INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE. And that is patently unfair to Scripture because Scripture can't speak for itself. If you decide to twist the meaning of the Word of God, there is only one Entity on this earth which can INFALLIBLY tell you that you are wrong, the Catholic Church (Matt 18:17).

    If you compare the two methods, the Catholic method is far more objective than the Protestant circular method.

    Does “Tradition” really clear up the misunderstandings that Protestants have with Catholicism? No, it doesn’t. It ones more questions.

    All your questions have answers. Ask them.

De Maria, I invite you to go over to my article “What About Tradition?” here:

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-about-tradition.html

and we can discuss these things there if you wish.

    Sure Russell. I find myself a little busy right now. But as soon as I can get a little elbow room, I'll scoot on over there.

    Yes, we do disagree on the “Pillar and Ground” issue, but I see Scripture on our side, and I don’t think that Tradition (with all its problems and loose ends) settles the issue at all.

    It all works out for the good for those who love God. As Scripture says:
    1 Corinthians 11:19
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

    And so, the reasonable reader will, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, make the right decision.

    Sincerely,
    De Maria

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  15. Hello De Maria,

    (Part 1)

    I had asked, “What exactly is this ‘Sacred Tradition,’ which the Catholic Church considers EQUAL TO Scripture?” and you said:

    “You don't get it Russell. Tradition is not "equal" to Scripture. They are one and the same thing.”

    But this is absolute nonsense. It is interesting that you are not willing to say that they are equal, yet you are willing to say that they are “one and the same”? According to the Catechism, you may be able to say that Scripture and Tradition “are bound closely together” (CCC #80), but they can’t be ONE AND THE SAME THING, otherwise it would only be a TWO legged stool, rather than the “three legged stool” that you mention later on. In the Catholic Church, Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium are three related, but separate entities. And obviously, “Sacred Tradition” contains far more than what the Bible contains, since the Bible is often considered (by Catholics) to be a “subset” of Tradition.

    Furthermore, in the Catholic Church, Sacred Tradition is indeed considered equal in importance to Scripture, since they “must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” (CCC #82)

    Again, I asked what Tradition was, and where it could be found, and you replied:

    “Sure. Simply read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

    Ok, everything in the Bible is God-breathed and infallible… so, is everything in the Catechism of the Catholic Church also God-breathed and infallible? I doubt that you would want to say that, but you would HAVE TO if this is where all (?) your Tradition (big “T”) is found. Remember, the Church tells you that they are equal in importance.

    Again, I asked:

    “What were the Traditions that were passed down by the apostles, and how can we know for sure that these really are from the apostles?”

    And you answered:

    “There is a three way test. It is informally called the Three Legged Stool. Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium.”

    The question of content remains. Surely, the Catholic Church can tell us the contents of their Scripture (located in the 73 books of the Catholic Bible)… and they could give us a list of names of those who make up the Magisterium... but what is the content, the “canon,” of Sacred Tradition, precisely? No one can tell us. Not only that, but it’s hard to believe in the integrity of the three-part rule of faith of the Catholic Church when its Tradition often contradicts their own Scriptures.

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  16. (Part 2)

    You also said:

    “Because Scripture alone is a one legged beast. When you compare a doctrine to Scripture alone, you really don't compare to Scripture AT ALL. You compare the doctrine to YOUR INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE.”

    This is hypocrisy. Because when you (as a Catholic) read Scripture, it is ultimately YOUR interpretation that you end up with… when you hear about Tradition, it is ultimately YOUR interpretation that you hold to, and when you read something (even an “infallible” statement) from the Magisterium, it is ultimately YOUR interpretation of their statement that results. You may agree or disagree with the statements of Jesus, Paul, John, Peter, etc., yet what you end up with every time is indeed YOUR OWN interpretation of what they said. It is inevitable. You must necessarily come to some conclusion, and that conclusion may be right, or it may be wrong, but it is yours. EVERY type of communication needs to be interpreted. So, please don’t pretend that YOUR final conclusion is NOT your interpretation. Everyone, of necessity, interprets.

    You said:

    “If you decide to twist the meaning of the Word of God, there is only one Entity on this earth which can INFALLIBLY tell you that you are wrong, the Catholic Church (Matt 18:17).”

    This, also, is YOUR interpretation of Matthew 18:17. And the reason I believe that it is a wrong interpretation is because there is nothing about infallibility in this passage. We interpret it differently, but for one of us to be right, we must exercise common sense and consider the immediate context and be in line with the whole of Scripture, as well.

    We seem to be getting off track here, so to stay on topic, any other comments on Tradition can be directed to the “What About Tradition” link here:

    http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-about-tradition.html

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  17. Hi Russell,

    I believe that 1 Timothy 3:15 actually supports the concept of Sola Scriptura.

    Paul says he is writing, so that we might know how to conduct ourselves in the church. Notice that Paul is appealing to his own writing as the authority. He is writing to them (Scripture), so that they would know how to behave in the household of God. In other words, his writing (which is Scripture) is the thing that is preeminent and to which the church is to subject itself. He says, " . . . I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God . . . "
    In addition, he is using the authority of Scripture, in a sense, to prove that Scripture has authority over the church. But, we see from Paul's statement in the verse that his letter is there to tell the church how to behave. In other words, the church is to submit to Scripture--not Scripture to the church. It is not the tradition that informs the word of God but the word of God that informs tradition in the church.

    So, if the Catholic wants to quote this verse, then his or her argument backfires! Would you not agree Russell???

    X

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  18. Hello X,

    Excellent point!!! And backfire, it does!

    God bless and thanks for the comment.

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    Replies
    1. So you believe that when Paul wrote to Timothy, he knew that his letter would be included in the New Testament? Oh, dear God... This is not real..

      May I ask what are the basis for a letter (epistle) to be called scripture?

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    2. Greetings Kaizen,

      Contrary to your statement, the apostles knew that their writings were divinely inspired and would thus eventually end up being included into the canon of Scripture (Luke 1:1-4; John 20:31; Acts 1:1-2;1 Corinthians 1:2;1 Corinthians 14:37;1 Thessalonians 2:13;2 Timothy 3:16-17;Revelation 1:3). In fact, the Scriptures were being accepted and circulated to other churches even as the apostles lived (Colossians 4:16;1 Thessalonians 5:27;2 Peter 3:15-16).

      You asked,"What are the basis for a letter (epistle) to be called scripture?"

      If the Jews of the Old Testament were capable of figuring out the Old Testament Scriptures without the help of the Roman Catholic Church, then the early Christians could do the same with the New Testament Scriptures. It is important to recognize that Jesus said that His sheep would hear His voice and FOLLOW Him (John 10:27). The early church simply recognized the canon of Scripture (not determined it).

      Here is a link for more information on the subject:

      http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2012/02/did-catholic-church-give-us-bible.html

      I honestly do not intend to be disrespectful to you or any other Catholics. However, you are showing your true attitude towards God's Word when you attempt to limit it to merely being a "dead letter". You must understand the fact that the Scriptures lead us to salvation in Christ's name by getting us to trust in His work (John 20:30-31) and that the Word is LIVING and POWERFUL (Hebrews 4:12).

      "Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other" 1 Corinthians 4:6

      Jesse

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