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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Re: Church authority and Scripture

Spencer said:  "And if you say, 'Because I have determined that their interpretation is in line with the Bible,' then you have set yourself up as the ultimate arbiter of doctrinal orthodoxy, and cannot consistently object to someone in your congregation doing the same and denying the doctrine of the Trinity."

Yes, just as you have set yourself up as the ultimate arbiter of doctrinal orthodoxy by choosing Rome.  The point you're ignoring is YOU are fallible.  So no matter what YOU choose, you are the ultimate arbiter of doctrinal orthodoxy and your choices are subjective.  There is no way around this.

The choice is not between your choice and Rome's choice.   Rather the choice is between two competing truth claims:  1)  Sola Scriptura and 2)  Sola Ecclesia.

If 2 then throw out your Bible and your brain and kiss some Roman Catholic's ass....

If 1 then find a church where the Scriptures are faithfully exegeted and in line with the Protestant Confessions of Faith, whether that be Lutheran or Reformed.

Simply because you "think" Rome is infallible because Rome "claims" to be infallible does not remove the fact that you are fallible and YOU could be wrong.  There is plenty of evidence in fact that Rome is not infallible but is mostly boasting  a false authority based on a mythological apostolic succession that cannot be substantiated in any meaningful way.

When confronted with opposing truth claims I go with the most obvious and the most easily substantiated one.  Since the Bible is readily available to even a common plow boy, I believe God would have us to follow Scripture rather than the traditions of men wearing costumes and who claim to have an authority that I cannot verify for myself.  It is no different from the Pentecostal who claims to have raised the dead.  It is basically an unfalsifiable claim and therefore illogical and irrational.

I suspect that the real reason you e-mailed me is that you are in fact a Roman Catholic who is simply baiting me.  You should be aware that a violation of the 9th commandment is a mortal sin:)

Besides, you totally ignored all the quotes I sent you from the Apostolic Fathers upholding the authority of Scripture:)

Sincerely yours,

Charlie

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

On 7/20/2010 4:52 PM, Spencer Hall wrote:
Charlie,

Thank you for the quick and in-depth reply. I appreciate your evident concern for my soul, and assure you that my object in this search is truth; and truth that is sought not merely in research but in prayer. You and I agree, no doubt, that the Lord hears those who call to Him and is "the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him," so I believe that whatever conclusion I come to, provided I continue in seeking Him, will be the truth. Whatever that conclusion is, I am happy to accept it.

I still have not quite found an answer to my question, however, in your explanation of how the Reformed Confessions function. I am aware that they function as THE authoritative doctrinal statements of the church in Reformed circles. Such was not my point; my point was this: "Whence do the Reformed Confessions derive their authority? And if you say, 'From Scripture,' then whose interpretation? And if you say, 'The interpretation of the Reformed churches,' then why choose that interpretation instead of the evangelical Arminian interpretation, or the Anglo-Catholic interpretation? And if you say, 'Because I have determined that their interpretation is in line with the Bible,' then you have set yourself up as the ultimate arbiter of doctrinal orthodoxy, and cannot consistently object to someone in your congregation doing the same and denying the doctrine of the Trinity."
You said that the doctrines of the church are subject to correction by the entire church, not by individuals. But what was the Reformation if not a break-off from the established visible church led by individuals? Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Thomas Cranmer were all popular individual figures who advocated their own personal interpretation of Scripture. The fact that we now have large ecclesiastical bodies backing each of their interpretations--the Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Reformed Anglican churches, respectively--does not change the fact that their theology originated as individual interpretations set against the teaching of the Church. In what principled way does an individual setting his interpretation against that of the Church now differ from an individual setting his interpretation against that of the Church then?

What I have just written above is addressing the point of the first email I sent you, and I believe most of what else you wrote, though helpful in its own way, was irrelevant to my point. However, I appreciate your bringing some of these issues up, because they are some other matters which I have also studied and am glad to hear your opinion on. You asked me a question, so I'll answer as best I can:

But let me ask you a question.  IF Rome "claims" to be an infallible interpreter of the Bible, how does that help YOU as an individual?  You are still fallible and so if someone "claims" to be infallible you have no way of interpreting what they say any more than you can interpret the Bible for yourself.  So what does it solve if you have an infinite line of infallible interpreters upon infallible interpreters to the nth degree?  That does not solve your dilemma as an individual because you have no way to infallibly determine whether they are in fact infallible or not.  All you have is their bare assertion of that.  You might be deceived!

This is a good question, but I would answer thus: Yes, I'm still fallible, and there is still a degree of "interpretation" of whatever information I receive--whether it's the Bible or the canons of the Council of Trent--but the Roman Church gives interpretations of the Bible, and, if necessary, interpretations of its interpretations for clearness. There has been a great deal of debate in Christendom over the meaning of Paul's teaching on justification, right? But where is the great amount of debate in Rome's fold over what Trent meant in stating how a man is justified, or defining the doctrine of transubstantiation? Sure there's debate in Rome over some things, but on the whole, her definitions (whether right or wrong) are quite clear--clearer than Scripture sometimes is.

Thanks for this, as well as your other emails. I would appreciate it though if we could keep the discussion in this exchange reasonably relevant to the two points we're currently discussing.

Pax Christi,

Spencer


On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 1:27 PM, Charlie J. Ray <cranmer1959@hotmail.com> wrote:
Spencer,

The Reformed Confessions function as THE authoritative doctrinal statements of the church in Reformed circles.  Anyone who denies the confession is excommunicated.  The difference is that we are HONEST about our church and confession by saying that they "may" have errors in them and are therefore subject to correction by the entire church, NOT by individuals.  Anyone who denies the trinity is excommunicated.  So how is that different from Rome?  They have no power to make people believe.  They can only excommunicate those who do not believe.  How does Rome guarantee orthodoxy?  It cannot since individuals believe what they will regardless.  There is only one who can convert the soul and regenerate a lost sinner--God Almighty!  (Titus 3:5-7; John 3:3-8; John 6:39-40, 44, 65).

But let me ask you a question.  IF Rome "claims" to be an infallible interpreter of the Bible, how does that help YOU as an individual?  You are still fallible and so if someone "claims" to be infallible you have no way of interpreting what they say any more than you can interpret the Bible for yourself.  So what does it solve if you have an infinite line of infallible interpreters upon infallible interpreters to the nth degree?  That does not solve your dilemma as an individual because you have no way to infallibly determine whether they are in fact infallible or not.  All you have is their bare assertion of that.  You might be deceived!  (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6:5-8 ESV)

Notice it does not say Noah was righteous in and of himself.  It says, "But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord."  Noah and his sons were sinners and as soon as the flood was over sin again takes over the world and Noah and his family sinned just as before--despite the fact that God calls Noah "righteous."  (See Genesis 6:9-22; Genesis 9:20-29).  So how did Noah find favor and why is Noah "righteous"?  It is by faith alone!  (Romans 1:16).

Getting back to your original test of orthodoxy, the real issue is what we can know for sure about the teaching of Jesus and the original apostles.  Oral traditions can be corrupted over time, particularly when sinful men revise and re-interpret them over time.  But what is written down is inspired of God and recorded so that all man hear or read and be without excuse.  The Catholic Church for all practical purposes negates Scripture and invents religion as they go along.  God's Word NEVER changes.  It is forever settled in the heavens.  

 Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Psalm 119:89 ESV)

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40 ESV)
 Subjectivism is still a problem even if you become a Roman Catholic only now you have more to keep up with instead of just the Bible and the church's confession of faith.  Now you have to read the Roman Catholic Catechism, the various Papal Bulls, the exhaustive teaching of the RCC wherever you find it.  On the other hand, to be saved all you need to do is to believe the Bible and find a Gospel preaching church where there is a solid confesson of faith.  Either way, you're on your own.  The bottom line is this, however:  which church is faithful to Scripture?  By its own admission Rome is NOT faithful to Scripture but rather to their own leaders who falsely claim to be in apostolic succession and inspired of God.   There is no way to verify any allleged succession except to believe it by faith on their word.  I would rather trust God than to trust men.

Now, the bottom line here is I cannot elect, regenerate or call you or justify you.  Only God can do that.  However, when you stand before God and you are condemned because you went over to a false church with an antichrist leading it, do not complain to God that you did not know.   You have been warned.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:19 ESV)

 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. (Isaiah 8:20 ESV)

 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:15 ESV)
The only way to spot a counterfeit is to study the real thing.  (Acts 17:11).  In fact, the reason you're asking this question in the first place is that you have forsaken God's word and "opened" yourself up to be deceived.  The only way to know the truth is to know God's word, which is sufficient to save and the only way you can know God's will.  Everything else, including Rome, is subject to correction.

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:18-20 ESV)

 
Sincerely in Christ,

Charlie


Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

On 7/20/2010 12:39 PM, Spencer Hall wrote:
Hello Charlie,

I am a Protestant currently considering converting to either the Catholic or Orthodox Church. I have been a reader and commenter at Called to Communion for some time now, and found your blog after you started commenting there a few days ago. I am trying to communicate with both Catholics and Protestants before making a decision, to ensure that I have heard both sides fairly and can judge well between them, and had a question for you pertaining to Church authority and Scripture.

I have looked around on your blog a little bit and am aware that you are a Reformed Anglican, and thus have a confessionalist view of Scripture and the Church. Confessionalism seems to me to be the best form of Protestantism, but it seems to present a difficult dilemma for those who, like yourself, insist on sola scriptura: How would you respond to someone who was a member of your church and began teaching that the Trinity was an unbiblical doctrine, and was just as much a borrowing from Greek philosophy as you believe transubstantiation to be? If you tell him that he is reading Scripture contrary to the Reformed Anglican church's confessional understanding of it, and that he should revise his interpretation so that it fits with that, then how is that different from Rome's demand for doctrinal conformity regardless of one's own reading of Scripture? And since you cannot consider your confessions to be invested with any intrinsic authority, but only to have authority insofar as they conform with Scripture, and since this man is saying that they do not conform with Scripture on this point, then you cannot really appeal to the confessions as having some sort of authority that should regulate his reading of Scripture. But if you tell him that he has a right to private judgment and should come to his own interpretation of Scripture, then you have essentially legitimatized any opinion someone forms based on their reading of Scripture, and that destroys all foundation for orthodoxy. So what would you tell him? How can you insist on confessionalism and yet insist on sola scriptura as well?

Thanks for your time. Pax Christi,

Spencer

2 comments:

Charlie J. Ray said...

I do not post anonymous comments. Be a man and get yourself a google ID with a profile, bio and an e-mail address:)

But to answer your question, you would first have to prove that the Roman Catholic Church is the same church of the first four centuries. Obviously things have changed significantly over the centuries and the Roman Catholic Church as it exists today did not exist then.

Where to begin? Papal supremacy? Papal infallibility? The immaculate conception of Mary? Prayers to the saints? Those are all later developments. Sorry but no cigar.

Jesus and the apostles and even the church fathers appealed to the Scriptures for authority. Only Jesus, being God, has authority over Scripture being Himself the Lord of the Sabbath.

But thanks for confirming my suspicions. I already knew you were a Roman Catholic "pretending" to be someone on the fence.

Call it an intuition:)

Those sorts of manipulations do not work on me:) Why? Because God is sovereign and the number of the elect is certain. God does not need me to save one of His own. And I most certainly could not cause one of God's elect to be lost:) But that would be lost on someone who deifies men.

Sincerely yours,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped. (Psalm 63:11 ESV)

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