March 23, 2017

September 21, 2013


Taking up the Fiddle While Rome Burns

ECUSA’s House of Bishops scheduled its fall meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, starting this Thursday, with a theme of “Transforming Loss into New Possibilities.” (As a Christian who strives to meet Lucan standards while still being a faithful chronicler of the Church’s foibles and failings, I refrain from the obvious advantage to be gained by citing that title in conjunction with her recent setbacks on the legal front.)

The first day passed uneventfully, but with the second day, the legal machinations of ECUSA’s leadership came briefly to the fore—and it appears, at least upon a preliminary assessment, that they suffered a temporary setback. (The meeting of the HoB is not yet over, and this Presiding Bishop is not known to take “No, you can’t” for an answer.)

At the very least, we may record the resistance of the House of Bishops to approving a statement that would have subjugated their individual diocesan authority to a metropolitical scheme of the Presiding Bishop, in order to buttress her stance in ongoing court proceedings.

“What does that mean?” you might well ask. Simply this: ECUSA is, and has been from its inception, a confederation of autonomous dioceses. Its Constitution provides that each diocese shall have an “ecclesiastical authority”, which is the diocesan bishop (or in his absence, the standing committee of that diocese). The bishop exercises his ecclesiastical authority only within the confines of his diocese. No bishop may come into another diocese for any ecclesiastical purpose without the consent of that diocese’s ecclesiastical authority.

The Presiding Bishop is an anomaly. Her only diocesan authority is over the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, which is not a true diocese, since it overlaps with other Anglican provinces. However, with the enactment by General Convention of the revised Title IV effective in July 2011, the Presiding Bishop (on paper, at least) acquired disciplinary and pastoral authority over other diocesan bishops. Such authority would make her akin to a metropolitan of the Church, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, who exercises full disciplinary and pastoral authority over each diocesan bishop in the province of Canterbury.

Historically, the American Church has never had a metropolitan. Those who organized ECUSA had a healthy suspicion of the powers of bishops, and wanted nothing like their Anglican counterparts. So the 2011 changes made to Title IV have been controversial, to say the least. (They led to the withdrawal, for instance, of the Diocese of South Carolina, which refused to recognize their validity under the Constitution.)

In court cases, ECUSA’s legal team has repeatedly argued that it is a “hierarchical"church, meaning that it has an ultimate authority at the very top of its structure. Its opponents, however, have recently had some success by demonstrating the lack of any real power at the top: General Convention, for instance, has no ability to order an individual diocese to do anything, and has no means to enforce its resolutions. The legal team that 815 deploys does not like this situation, and wants to do something about it.

Enter a hitherto unknown Committee of the House of Bishops which styles itself as “The Ecclesiology Committee.” It has just three members—one of whom is the former Provisional Bishop of the erstwhile, and now extinct, Episcopal Diocese of Quincy (n.b.: which never was a real diocese of the Episcopal Church under its canons).

The other members of the Committee—the second of whom works for the Presiding Bishop and has already committed himself in print on the issue in question, and the third, who also has not exactly distinguished himself as someone who can distance himself from 815’s metropolitical goals, may be seen as the rubber stamps that they are, at least (pace, Bishop Whalon) for the present purposes.

So what went on yesterday at the House of Bishops meeting? The official ENS report fails (as usual) to convey the reality:

A report was provided to HOB from the Ecclesiology Committee. Following table discussion, a panel answered questions from HOB – Bishop John Buchanan of Chicago; Bishop Bill Franklin of Western New York; Bishop Bill Gregg of North Carolina; Bishop Pierre Whalon of Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe; and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies. The House discussed the importance of the founding of the church and its past as primer for the conversation about the future of the church.

Observe the ambiguities buried in that last sentence: “The House discussed the importance of the founding of the church and its past as primer for the conversation about the future of the church.” Let’s dissect it:

The House discussed: Note that word—the House discussed, instead of “the House decided.

... the importance of the founding of the church ...

Well, it certainly is important that ECUSA was founded (in 1789), otherwise we would not be here today even to discuss the importance of such matters. I trust, therefore, that the HoB quickly came to agreement that it was indeed important that the Church to which they all belong, and to which they owe their current positions of prestige and remuneration, had at some point been founded.

“and its past as primer for the conversation about the future of the church ...” Now here a real translation is necessary. The past as a “primer” implies that the past is a necessary schooling of those now in authority—only those who are in school need “primers.” But what, pray tell, is that which the article refers to as “the conversation about the future of the church”?

The article itself gives no clue (as is typical for ECUSA’s house organ). Indeed, it positively misleads the reader, because as so happens, the Task Force on Re-imagining the Church had just issued its first report on its vision for the future church. The House of Bishops had heard from that Task Force, and discussed its Report, just before it gave the floor to the Ecclesiology Committee.

One informed source who was present is the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins, the diocesan of Springfield, who has published on his blog this account of the afternoon’s proceedings:

... After some opening remarks by committee chair Pierre Whalon, TEC in Europe, we were turned loose for table discussions. When we reconvened and feedback was solicited, there was a consistent theme of discomfort with the notion—whether set forth historically or theologically—that General Convention has metropolitical authority, that we have eschewed having an archbishop, but that General Convention is, in fact, our archbishop. There were several other technical and historical errors that were pointed out as well. So my sense is that this document has effectively been re-referred to the committee that produced it, and that we will probably hear from them again down the road sometime.

Even this account, however, stops short (as it must in this situation—see below) of giving the full background to this story. For that, we have to rely upon yet other unofficial sources—but I must regretfully say that I cannot at this point reveal those other sources, as they would be placed in jeopardy.

What I know from these other sources is this (and there is absolutely no reason, as you will determine, for these sources to misrepresent what is going on in the House of Bishops):

The Presiding Bishop’s job—and future reputation—is, in effect, on the line. She and her personal Chancellor have been so identified with the litigation agenda of ECUSA (because they run that agenda without interference from anyone else in the entire Church) that they are taking a hit, so to speak, on account of the reversals which that agenda has recently suffered in Texas (Fort Worth), Illinois (Quincy), South Carolina, and yes - let it be said—in San Joaquin (even though there is as yet no final judgment there, ECUSA faces a decidedly uphill battle to convince the California court that its canons allow it to take the property of the withdrawing diocese).

In a (rather desperate, and, some would say) clumsy attempt to protect her prerogatives on the litigation front, the Presiding Bishop (and, as always, her personal Chancellor, whose law firm earns millions each year from the Presiding Bishop’s continuing patronage) asked the “Ecclesiology Committee” to deliver a counter  to the “Bishops’ Statement on Polity” promulgated by the Anglican Communion Institute and the Communion Partner Bishops within ECUSA. (Note that Bishop Martins is a Communion Partner bishop, who signed the 2009 Statement on Polity, and who—along with six other bishops and three priests—faced disciplinary proceedings for having the temerity to repeat what it said to the courts in Illinois and Texas.)

That Committee (with membership as noted above) obediently came forth with just such a “Statement”, and presented it to the assembled bishops in Nashville. Wonder of wonders, however—what seemed likely as a rubber stamp of 815’s current litigation claims devolved into a rejection of the Committee’s paper. That rejection was based chiefly on the bishops’ reluctance to submit themselves or their dioceses, by a simple resolution, to any claim of metropolitan authority—but it was also based on their own personal knowledge of the Church’s historical polity. As Bishop Martins noted in response to a commenter:

If we look at churches that DO have bishops who have metropolitical authority, and what that authority entails, we see that, in TEC, those functions are widely dispersed: the PB, Standing Committees, those responsible for Title IV processes, etc.

This is exactly right, and it is safe to say that until now, ECUSA collectively has always wanted it that way. And note that the Committee’s paper proposed that General Convention, not the Presiding Bishop herself, be regarded as the metropolitical authority of the Church. That dovetails precisely with the arguments that ECUSA’s attorneys are making (thus far unconvincingly) to the courts in the cases involving the withdrawal of dioceses. (For an example of how such an argument was cut into ribbons, see the transcript I linked at this post.)

However, as we all know, General Convention exists for a scant two weeks out of every 156—and there is zero continuity from one General Convention to the next, in terms of its authority. (Each General Convention may undo the work of a previous one; sometimes it may take two successive ones, but there is no way one General Convention could ever bind any future ones.)

Such a “supreme authority” in the Church needs someone to fill the vacuum it leaves during the other 154 weeks of the triennium. And guess who is ready to function as that authority, if only the bishops will cooperate?

The plain fact is that forces are afoot to turn the Office of the Presiding Bishop into something considerably more than it historically has been. (Those forces are also evident in the recent putsch against the UTO Board.) Given the history of this Presiding Bishop, and the lackluster resistance to her agenda by the House of Bishops, it is safe to predict, along with Bishop Martins, that “we will probably hear from them again down the road sometime.”

Meanwhile, we may be grateful for small pockets of resistance along the way, such as they are. Will ECUSA’s Bishops draw some measure of resolve from their actions yesterday? Will the Title IV canons be appropriately revised, to bring them into line with the Constitution? Only time will tell.


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182 comments

This sounds more like trying to buy more gasoline to put on the fire.

[1] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 9-21-2013 at 02:19 PM · [top]

I think the PB has has the other bishop’s private parts in a lock-box.  That was part of the disciplinary canon changes at last GC.  I’m not expecting much “resistance.”

The UTO thing shows that eventually that gun will be turned on them.

[2] Posted by Bill2 on 9-21-2013 at 05:15 PM · [top]

“General Convention exists for a scant two weeks out of every 156”

And look at how much damage even that can do.

[3] Posted by James Manley on 9-21-2013 at 05:18 PM · [top]

It is this sort of thing that makes me wonder if KJS does not intend to succeed herself on the PBs throne.  Why go through this much machination if, by the time the changes are formalized, you will be stepping down?  Answer: you do not intend to step down.

[4] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-21-2013 at 06:10 PM · [top]

Given that a religion is essentially the gathering together of people to form a group that seeks to understand and express the meaning of the divine either directly experienced or sought to be directly experienced, how is the Episcopal Church living up to its calling exactly?

[5] Posted by JuliaMarks on 9-21-2013 at 06:27 PM · [top]

[6] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 9-21-2013 at 08:06 PM · [top]

Neatly put, JuliaMarks.

[7] Posted by A Senior Priest on 9-21-2013 at 10:16 PM · [top]

#4 Interesting point TJ.  Of course it is very much in the interests of Mr Beers and of Goodwin Proctor, if not absolutely necessary for their own protection, that the PB or a stooge like Ms Sauls is put in as the next PB.

Otherwise who knows?  All those legal bills could be scrutinised, of which the $900,000 paid to Millionaire ‘Bruce’ Mullin probably looks like small change and of course the stream of income fattening up the partners of GP will dry up.

Look out I expect for some serious manipulation of the election which will put the UTO shennanigans and perhaps even Huey Long in the shade.

Of course, it will also mean the accelerating collapse of TEC, but the bishops on their happy pills probably will be retired by then and won’t care…..unless after the UTO, the PB moves on to raid their pension fund to feed her ever hungry lawyers.

BTW - why is that?

[8] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-21-2013 at 10:16 PM · [top]

“Ms Sauls”:  Pageantmaster, I do so enjoy reading your comments.

[9] Posted by Katherine on 9-22-2013 at 05:45 AM · [top]

The Founding Bishops of what is now TEC didn’t particularly like or trust each other. None was willing to allow another to have metropolitical authority over him.

The current PB is capable of being a charming (that word chosen carefully) person. I’ve personally seen her work her magic (that word chosen carefully) in a room.

I have not seen evidence that she can be trusted to wield metropolitical authority with wisdom.

[10] Posted by Ralph on 9-22-2013 at 07:31 AM · [top]

#9 And I yours, Katherine

#10 The issue with the PB is that she was born and raised a Catholic, went to a Catholic seminary initially and her mentality and ecclesiology is Papal, altbeit of the Borgia variety.  She is a sociopathic control freak.

She certainly can be ‘charming’ when she wants to be, and crude and uncouth when caught off guard.  She adopts the language and demeanor of light, when on public display, but occasionally we see the other true side when her guard drops.  Such an example was her sermon in South Carolina in which her rage and ire were on full display, and that was not ‘of the light’.  We listen not to her words but know her by her actions, which are transparently not ‘of the light’ -  John 3:19-21.

[11] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-22-2013 at 07:57 AM · [top]

I have wondered if she is still a communicant of the Catholic Church.  Did she take communion while at the Catholic [albeit liberal] seminary?

[12] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-22-2013 at 07:59 AM · [top]

PM- She is clearly not a communicant in the Catholic Church.  When one is ordained outside of the Catholic Church, one is by definition ex-communicate, I believe. This was once true for Anglicans as well, as recently as the early 1970s, I believe.  I believe it is also true that the Catholic Church ex-communicates women who are ordained and those that ordain them.

Now, of course, one can assume that like many Piskies, she occasionally violates the Catholic Church, and has received communion anyway (given that the local catholic parish church has something like 600 people attending 2 masses, I doubt they card everyone at the door).

[13] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-22-2013 at 09:28 AM · [top]

Sorry, to clarify #13, I meant that Anglicans and Episcopalians were until recent times “closed” communions, reserving Holy Communion for those who were confirmed within the Anglican faith.  The innovation of “all the baptised” is fairly recent.  At any rate, until recent times, an Episcopalian taking orders in another church would have removed them from the list of communicants in TEC.

[14] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-22-2013 at 09:33 AM · [top]

#11, a friend reports that he has twice witnessed the PB lead a guided meditation for clergy, in which she had them imagine themselves to be Jesus at His baptism, with the Father saying, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

She reports that several obviously fell for it - hook, line, and sinker. A few obviously did not, and only one person challenged her for daring to do this.

This is what I mean by “charming.” Casting a spell. Mass hypnosis.

Is comparing her to the Borgias an example of understated British reserve?

The HOB should do whatever it can to avoid giving her any more authority and power than she currently has.

#13, what you say is true if one recognizes that she is in Holy Orders. The Roman Catholics believe that Anglican ordinations are “absolutely null and utterly void.” (Of course, this is bull.)

[15] Posted by Ralph on 9-22-2013 at 10:00 AM · [top]

Ralph,

At this point, all current TEC diocesan and suffagan bishops, and all churches in full communion with TEC, recognize the validity of KJS orders (there may be a few retired who do not), so whatever your personal opinion, if you are in TEC, the diocese or entity you are part of recognizes her orders.  This was one of the major reason for the exit of FiF dioceses- they could not recognize the PB as the PB, and she was quite prepared to force the issue. Those churches of the Anglican Communion in a state of impaired communion with TEC may have some bishops that do not recognize her orders, and those in broken communion may have some that do not, and perhaps some that recognize her orders, but do not recognize her authority (which is a somewhat different matter).

I personally do not, but then, I am not part of TEC anymore.

However, the point was the Roman Church does not recognize her orders, both for reasons of invalid ordination (was ordained outside the Catholic Church by someone not authorized by the Catholic Church to do so) and is a woman.  But in any case, she is ex-communicate from the Catholic Church, which was my point.

[16] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-22-2013 at 10:27 AM · [top]

#13 and #14 TJ
Many thanks - I am well aware of the theory [the rather rumbunctious Roman Catholics on these blogs never let us forget it].  My question was rather more specific.  We know that she was born and raised RC, presumably being baptised and perhaps confirmed in the RC church.  When her parents, for whatever reason, started attending Episcopalian churches, did she also release her RC status, did she ever formally ‘come off the books’, or as far as the RC church is concerned did she continue to be Roman Catholic, although perhaps lapsed or ‘address unknown’.

When she joined Queen of Angels seminary [I think that was its name] in California, before going to EDSP [I think is its name], did she do so as a Catholic or as an Episcopalian, and did she take part in Communion there, well after she supposedly became an Episcopalian along with her parents.  This I think was before she was ordained.

The question is, as far as the RC church records go, did she ever ‘come off the books’ - that is a different question from whether as an Episcopalian priest and bishop she should still be on them.

The reason it is of interest is that many of those she has promoted and in particular those she initially installed as faux litigation bishops of the departed dioceses, are former Roman Catholics of the Charles Curran liberal variety.

The problems in the Episcopal Church can be put down in part to the influx of liberal Roman Catholics when their wings were clipped by the penultimate Pope in particular under Cardinal Levada who moved in to clean house at Queen of Angels.

Are these really under the service all still liberal Catholics, including the PB?

#15 Ralph
<blockquote>a friend reports that he has twice witnessed the PB lead a guided meditation for clergy, in which she had them imagine themselves to be Jesus at His baptism, with the Father saying, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

She reports that several obviously fell for it - hook, line, and sinker. A few obviously did not, and only one person challenged her for daring to do this.<blockquote>
That is a truly shocking story - it is a subtle and pernicious heresy that the PB peddles, much though out of the liberal catholic mode which the RC church has tried to roll back on in its church.

[17] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-22-2013 at 10:42 AM · [top]

Pageantmaster, Post 11, You have finally said what I have been thinking but did not know how to express.
As the twig is bent so grows the tree, and it seems to me that the Presiding Bishop demonstrates that her early Roman Catholic upbringing has bent her towards the organizational structure of the Roman Catholic Church (patterened on the structure of the Roman Empire) but somewhere along the way she seems to have neglected the study of Biblical Christianity as it has been handed down to us.
If you read her sermons you will realize how unfamiliar she is with the Bible because she seems to have great difficulty relating the meaning of the Gospel readings to her sermons.
At one time I hoped she would take a crash course in Bible study (in context) and maybe convert to Christianity but now I see that, barring a miracle, she will continue to follow her lawyers and refuse to defer to the Bible for guidance.

[18] Posted by Betty See on 9-22-2013 at 10:43 AM · [top]

Sorry that should be “under the surface” all still liberal Catholics, including the PB.

[19] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-22-2013 at 10:45 AM · [top]

<blockquote>a friend reports that he has twice witnessed the PB lead a guided meditation for clergy, in which she had them imagine themselves to be Jesus at His baptism, with the Father saying, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”</blockquote>

On second thought, maybe it isn’t ignorance but something worse.

[20] Posted by Betty See on 9-22-2013 at 10:58 AM · [top]

PM, I would agree that one of the issues in TEC is that it became the adoptive home of liberal catholics who left the Catholic Church.  However, she (or any of the others) are clearly no longer communicants of that Church from that Church’s point of view. That she would “still be on the rolls” is preposterous.  Neither are any of the several ex-Catholics who became bishops in TEC.  It may be a liberal conspiracy to take over TEC, but it is not a Vatican conspiracy, although it might make a good Dan Brown novel.

The fastest route to the episcopate in TEC is to be a failed Roman priest or a divorced former Catholic attorney.  As we saw in Florida, a catholic priest who hangs out on the beach and has his own Cable TV show can become a TEC priest in a matter of weeks and get on the fast track.

Did KJS receive communion in the catholic schools she attended- quite probably, as it is liberal “catholic” practice to commune everyone, and periodically, priests have been disciplined for such, and indeed one of the things that ++ Joseph Ratzinger did was to address such issues in the NW US during or shortly after KJS attended that school.  Has the US Catholic Church been pushing the boundaries? Sure it has.  But has Rome been working for several decades to reign it in, that also is quite apparent.

[21] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-22-2013 at 11:31 AM · [top]

The story about imagining themselves to be Jesus at his baptism, if true, is clear evidence of the adoptionist heresy which many modern TEC priests hold.  She would not be the first I have heard of.

[22] Posted by Katherine on 9-22-2013 at 12:57 PM · [top]

#4. TJ,
“No canonically required retirement age in those days!” I took this from her speech. I thought at the time I read it that she would like to stay on.

[23] Posted by Fr. Dale on 9-22-2013 at 04:24 PM · [top]

A.S. Haley,
“Transforming Loss into New Possibilities”
1. I would not agree with ENS that this is a sermon.
2. How in the world does the title reflect the content? I see no connection whatever.
3. “The difficulties in Congress right now have to do with forgetting that each member is responsible to all the people of a territory, not just those who voted for him or her.” Is this kind of like the bishops of the church forgetting that they represent the whole church?
4. The vast majority of her talk was a cut and paste paraphrase of different biographies on St. Theodore of Tarsus with no references.

[24] Posted by Fr. Dale on 9-22-2013 at 04:33 PM · [top]

A.S. Haley - it looks like you had some training with Cicero and mastered the art of “refraining from” a particular response.  Bravo! 
ECUSA’s House of Bishops scheduled its fall meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, starting this Thursday, with a theme of “Transforming Loss into New Possibilities.” (As a Christian who strives to meet Lucan standards while still being a faithful chronicler of the Church’s foibles and failings, I refrain from the obvious advantage to be gained by citing that title in conjunction with her recent setbacks on the legal front.)


Re: “Transforming Loss” lecture (sure as heck isn’t a sermon!)

Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History, is clear about his witness, “Theodore was the first archbishop whom the entire church of the English obeyed.”  There are echoes in today’s gospel:  “What sort of man is this, that winds and sea obey him?”

So, which came first, Bede, or the echoer?  Kind of like reading Psalms and finding the psalmists snatched things from hymn writers and poets.  (and they never even footnoted!)

What are we afraid of – personally and pastorally?  Getting old, retiring, ongoing conflict, becoming irrelevant or powerless – personally or as a church?

what’s on her fears list?  I’d have guessed “ongoing conflict” wd be among her favorites, unless the upcoming brouhaha about her involvement in The Mess brings on fear.

Jesus’ shipmates are afraid – for their lives and safety, but also afraid that they’ve been forgotten by their sleeping rabbi.  He’s obviously not paying attention to their mounting anxiety!  He has been telling them that their families and obligations don’t own them (leave the dead to bury their dead), nor does any particular territory (the son of man has nowhere to lay his head) – and right after this boat trip the Gadarenes try to shoo him out of their neighborhood.  Citizens of the kingdom of God cannot ultimately be bound by any smaller loyalties or definitions.  We must keep exploring the uncomfortable, chaotic edges – that is where creativity is found, it is where the spirit is often most fruitful.  Let go the anxiety and go sailing in a storm.  Go listen to those who are outside the bounds.

  ital mine

Looks like KJS sees holding to the orthodox understanding and interpretation of things like the Gospel as “be(ing) bound by any smaller loyalties or definitions”? 

“the spirit is often most fruitful” at the uncomfortable, chaotic edges?  ....well, it is a lower case “s,” so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised?

  Go listen to those who are outside the bounds.

   
Isn’t there a reason for “bounds”?  Get penalized for being out of bounds - the ball goes to the other team, or if it’s behavior that’s out of bounds, the offender goes into the penalty box. 
So just whom does she recommend?  Maybe the same guys plusplusGriswold liked out in the swamps? 

In her last para, where the heck does “But even aged foreigners and resettled refugees have a vital and creative role to play” come from?  Context???  “oh, yeah, I meant to mention them!”?  Was it eliminated from something else but nabbed by simultaneous keys and an “ooops”?  Or am I just completely missing something?

[25] Posted by maineiac on 9-22-2013 at 07:23 PM · [top]

KJS’ parents took her with them to the Episcopal Church when she was 8 years old. The notion that she is a closet Catholic is interesting.  In fact, most people leave the Catholic church because they either don’t believe the doctrines or reject the authority of bishops to teach. In the case of KJS’ family her parents considered themselves free-thinkers and felt the Episcopal Church would be more congenial to their beliefs. At least that’s how I read it. Her mother did end up being Orthodox later, though.

As to being “on the books”, her baptism is certainly recorded somewhere, though I doubt they have been sending her offering envelopes for awhile. At 8 years old, she would not have been confirmed, nor would anyone have noticed her ordination, since she had the integrity to not bill herself as a Roman Catholic priest.  At that point in her life excommunication would have been a moot point.

[26] Posted by Words Matter on 9-22-2013 at 07:30 PM · [top]

As to KJS’s Catholicism, as I recall her parents left that Church and became Episcopalian while she was still a young child, so any attendance at a “Catholic seminary” seems unlikely, although I don’t recall the details of her education. She will have become Episcopalian along with her parents.  “Catholic seminaries” are generally, as I understand it, for priests in formation, and she would never have qualified even if she’d been still Roman Catholic.

I don’t think we can blame the Catholics for KJS.  Ex-Catholics may have had some effect,  but those are usually, among other things, rebellious with reference to the hierarchy.

[27] Posted by Katherine on 9-22-2013 at 07:33 PM · [top]

The bloggers are letting this continue, so…
1. Was KJS ever in Holy Orders? I don’t know. God ordains, not Ralph or some bishop somewhere. Perhaps someone who knew her as a deacon, priest, or diocesan bishop can tell us whether she has ever behaved as if she were in Holy Orders.
2. If she was ever in Holy Orders, has she at some point made a de facto renunciation of her orders by her actions?
3. If she was ever in Holy Orders, has God taken away her orders?
4. 2&3?
5. In any case, is she behaving, as PB, as if she were in Holy Orders?

Since TEC is not hierarchical and has no archbishop, I personally think it’s quite possible to be in communion with TEC, without recognizing that she is in Holy Orders. And, I personally think it’s possible for a pewsitter to be part of a TEC diocese without kissing her…ring.

FWIW, I think that trying to make sense of her actions as those of an ultra-liberal Roman Catholic deflects our attention away from the forces that are guiding her actions. The Borgias were not ultra-liberal Roman Catholics. Their boss had an agenda, and the Ballet of the Chestnuts was only part of it.

And, if she hasn’t been ritually excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church (if she ever was a communicant), perhaps we could arrange for that. Bell, book, and candle. Especially the candle.

Of course, it would only encourage her:
Bell, book, and candle, shall not drive me back
When gold and silver becks me to come on. (Shakespeare, King John 3:3)

[28] Posted by Ralph on 9-22-2013 at 08:23 PM · [top]

I have looked up Jefferts Schori’s educational credits in a few places online.  No one mentions any earned seminary training other than the M. Div. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific.  Her theological training appears to be liberal Episcopalian through and through.

[29] Posted by Katherine on 9-22-2013 at 08:41 PM · [top]

Well, her degree is from Stanford, but I do seem to recall (as I think does PM) that she did some sort of spiritual training either before or after CDSP at some Catholic college (seminary?) in Oregon- although not for purposes of a degree.  Of course, the whole story may be along the lines of her tenure as “Dean” of the “Good Shepard School of Theology.”  Perhaps she did an adult ed class in Universalist spirituality at the local community college and got 2.4 CEUs, and there were a couple other ex catholics in the class.

[30] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-22-2013 at 08:45 PM · [top]

Sorry Katherine, I think I was writing while you were posting.  My #30 was not intended as a response to your #29, just an overall observation.
TJ

[31] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-22-2013 at 09:11 PM · [top]

Of course, if it was the “right” Catholic school, she might have gotten affirmation along the way to get ordination. If memory serves, the Muscapalian teaches at a Catholic school.

[32] Posted by Words Matter on 9-22-2013 at 09:16 PM · [top]

I have found the reference from a local paper report on KJS’s move from the Church of the Good Shepherd, Corvallis, Oregon which mentions her attendance in her own words at the Catholic Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon here:

She said she spent several years struggling to find a new direction in life. Going into the ministry was not something she considered very seriously, even though there were people in the church who suggested it. Then the rector, the Rev. Bill McCarthy, asked her to preach one Sunday in his absence.

“The process of preparing to preach, and the response I got afterwards, really got me off the dime,” she said. “I went to seminary the very next fall.”

Jefferts Schori commuted to the Mount Angel Seminary for a year and then attended the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif. She was ordained as a deacon in May 1994 and as a priest six months later.

Mount Angel was Benedictine Abbey which contained a seminary.  There was also a nunnery called Queen of Angels both coming under the Catholic Diocese of Portland under William, now Cardinal, Levada.  The seminary became a byword for liberal teaching and indeed scandalous teaching.  There were complaints about required courses in sex and sexuality with texts proposing self-abuse, same sex relationships and a do-what-feels-good-to-you approach.  There was teaching on gnosticism and paganism and students included a lesbian witch. 

All this is easily found on a search on Mount Angel and Scandal and was documented in a book called ‘The Heterodox Downer’.  This scandal peaked around 1995 a few years after KJS had left, and led to intervention by Levada and a clean out of the seminary and the raising of standards.

Little surprise then that there has been a raft of clergy abuse allegations and convictions involving priests who attended Mount Angel Seminary for child abuse such as Edward Altstock and Angel Armando Perez.

As far as the liberal former catholic bishops who became faux litigation bishops as far as I know these include bishops Gullick and Lamb and perhaps most infamously, KJS’s friend and former classmate at CDSP, Kevin Thew Forrester [the ‘Genpo” Lama and would be Buddhist Bishop of Northern Michigan], who was a disciple of purged liberal theologian Charles Curran.  When Curran was purged, Genpo after defending him left the Catholic Church and trained as an Episcopal priest and the rest is history.

Hence my question about KJS and the nest of liberal former catholics she has surrounded herself with, and my question of when exactly she believed that she had let go of her Roman Catholic identity, if ever.  At the least she attended a Catholic seminary and continued to surround herself with liberal catholics who had come into the Episcopal Church around the time she decided to go for Episcopal ordination.  Hence also my question about whether she was a communicant at Mount Angel while she was at seminary there.

[33] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-22-2013 at 09:24 PM · [top]

[25]  In this instance, I equate the bishops’ “Transforming Loss” with “EpiscoSpin,” or more correctly, “Episcobabble.”

[34] Posted by cennydd13 on 9-22-2013 at 09:42 PM · [top]

There is more about what KJS would have been taught at Mount Angel here towards the bottom of the page [not for the squeamish]

And there is another priest on charges from Mount Angel Uriel Ojeda

[35] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-22-2013 at 09:53 PM · [top]

Interesting that the supposedly fearless reporter on Episcopal Cafe, Jim Naughton, never seems to mention any court results which are bad for TEC.  I guess you don’t want to alarm the troops by mentioning any reverses to them…

[36] Posted by MichaelA on 9-22-2013 at 11:28 PM · [top]

Very interesting, Pageantmaster.  I hadn’t remembered this item about her.  It’s still liberal Catholicism, which is closely akin to liberal Episcopalianism, and not the orthodox faith.  What I can’t understand is how she became so authoritarian after hanging out with so many who defy the authority of their Church.  In modern times, Popes have been more reluctant and much slower to purge dissidents, whereas KJS & Co. will throw people out in a moment of pique.

[37] Posted by Katherine on 9-23-2013 at 06:14 AM · [top]

As to whether KJS communicated while at that errant seminary, my guess is almost certainly, and they didn’t care, or might even have encouraged it.  There’s no way to know, probably, whether the Catholic parishes of her early childhood were of a more traditional type, and whether that distant memory might have some influence on her newly-discovered Episco-papism focused not on doctrine but on herself.  Now we’re into armchair psychology.

[38] Posted by Katherine on 9-23-2013 at 06:27 AM · [top]

Fascinating stuff, Pageantmaster, about her “training” [sic] at an RC seminary.

As far as how she became so authoritarian while “rebelling” against actual Roman Catholicism, I honestly believe that most rebels are pretty angry people anyway, and some carry that anger long long after the source of their rebellion is evaporated or greatly diminished in power [at least over them personally].

I don’t mean that as a slam, per se, either.  It takes a good dose of anger, for instance, for a North Korean to determine that come hell or high water he or she is going to depart North Korea—because the way is fraught with peril and strong possibilities of death and torture. It takes a good dose of anger for Martin Luther to risk all that he risked to say “actually, no” to the powers of Rome. And it takes a whopping dose of anger to depart from an abusive parent or spouse [although of course in all of those instances, it may not be safe to express much anger out loud.]

That’s why when I see obviously angry people—people like KJS or Jane Fonda or whatever—I generally try to discern what system *they believe* has hurt or outraged them and think about against what, precisely, they think they are “rebelling”.  The “rebellion” takes place for many many decades—sometimes for a lifetime—after the initial acts of the “rebellion” are actually done.

I don’t think much of KJS—and by that I mean, I just don’t think about her mostly. I feel the same way about Obama, too.  I think if there weren’t a KJS there would be somebody else, and I generally think that her clumsiness in rhetoric and obfuscation have been a huge blessing to all of us.  Generally speaking, the foundational worldview and gospel of the HOB and of the Senate and House are so so so so antithetical to that of Christianity [in the former]—or of general conservatives [in the latter two]—that there is a wide and deep pool of possible KJS’s to choose from. If it’s not one it’s 10 others.

Please note that I’m *not* conflating that of being a non-believer in the Gospel with that of being opposed to general conservative values.  I’m just saying that the pool of sources for *leaders* of either theological or political worldview is so vast that we’d have someone similar, either way. I’ve never understood the gnashing over Obama—he’s a garden variety liberal activist collectivist who isn’t all that competent, but competency doesn’t matter in that world anyway.  But there are so so so so many just like that in the party of the Democrats.  I mean—does anybody think Pelosi would be better?  [Or insert any one of a dozen Dems here?]

So we may as well have someone who is clumsy and not particularly well-spoken, than someone who is not—and that’s KJS [shifting back to TEC here].

I noted somebody above mentioning her hypnotic effect and I really give no credence to it.  I’ve seen her speak and she just generally has a flat, monotone voice naturally.  No, the people who swoon over her are just generally people—like clergy and bishops—who like the idea of a female with a pointy hat spouting theological inanities, because they themselves spout theological inanities and think their words pretty profound.

The little speech where she gets everybody to imagine they’re the son of God [heh] is a classic visualization meditation and she probably fancies she’s pretty amazing, doing it.  But in reality it just puffs up the pretensions of clergy and bishops who already are prepared to believe—both theologically and psychologically—that they themselves are rather similar to the son of God, but for the lack of a cross [thank God!] and not living in primitive conditions.

But basically, very similar indeed.

By Sarah [who *could* be a Mossad agent—one never knows—and who would be a far better one than others I could think of]

[39] Posted by Sarah on 9-23-2013 at 08:05 AM · [top]

Katherine, post 38,

We do know that (unlike Protestant Churches) the Roman Catholic Church (before Vatican II, 1965) only allowed their clergy to read the Bible, ordinary Roman Catholics were not allowed to read the Bible until after Vatican II. Roman Catholics studied the Catechism in grade school (not the Bible) before that time.

I don’t know whether KJS went to Catholic school before or after Vatican II but I doubt that she was encouraged to study or read the Bible at the time she went to school there.

Her memory of the Roman Catholic Catechism, which probably did teach her the structure of that church, may or may not influence her actions but it seems to me that her actions demonstrate that she is either unfamiliar with the Bible or that she holds it in contempt.

[40] Posted by Betty See on 9-23-2013 at 09:19 AM · [top]

Sarah, I agree with you about KJS.  If not she, there would have been another, and perhaps that other would have been more crafty at hiding her bile.

Betty See, KJS became Episcopalian when she was eight years old, so if she was able to read the Bible and/or catechism before that time when her parents were still Catholic, she was a prodigy indeed.  My husband was raised Catholic, pre-Vatican II, and he was not told not to read the Bible; he was merely told, as were all Catholics, that the Church was the ultimate interpreter of Scripture, not individuals.  I can agree with you that KJS obviously does not hold to the Catholic interpretation of the Scriptures, to the traditional Orthodox view of Scripture, nor to anything which would be recognizable to the great Reformers.

[41] Posted by Katherine on 9-23-2013 at 11:20 AM · [top]

Betty See -

In my Baptist upbringing, I also heard that Catholics were not allowed to read the Bible, but in fact, at least as far back as Leo XIII (papacy: 1878-1903) commended devotional reading of scripture. In any case, it’s probably worth remember that having personal bibles is a fairly recent phenomena, although devotional books with scripture texts were found at least in England from (maybe?) the 15th century. Certainly as soon as printing became common.

If her family became Episcopalian in 1963, KJS would have beat out the Second Vatican Council by a couple of years, although I don’t know if she went to Catholic grade school.

[42] Posted by Words Matter on 9-23-2013 at 12:20 PM · [top]

With all due respect to those who have commented on the possible liberal RC influences on KJS, I think the stress has to be on the word “liberal” rather than “RC”. The training she got at Mt. Angel would have been different only in style, not in substance, from her training at CDSP. A far greater influence on her (at least, before she chose to enter the Church) would have been her mother, who married a Ph.D (in physics) and then earned her own Ph.D (in microbiology) while raising four children, of whom KJS was the oldest. She was barely nine when her parents left the Catholic Church in 1963 (and only her mother appears to have been a regular churchgoer). By the time she started her own studies in oceanography (and her parents had, before they divorced in the early 1980s, formed a successful company to develop the techniques that are now used worldwide to tag and track fish), KJS’s mother had left the Episcopal Church for the Eastern Orthodox Church, probably (but it can’t be known for sure) over the WO issues following GC 1976. And now her daughter is the first female primate in the Western Church! (But neither her father nor her siblings appear ever to have played any role in any Episcopal parish, let alone in the larger Church.)

So if one were a psychologist, focusing on any kind of rebellion against authority, the above facts would indicate more that KJS’s mother was the flashpoint—first KJS emulated her mother’s career, then became convinced by the clergy in her life that she should take orders, and prove her mother wrong (but only after the fact, as I am informed that her mother required constant care from about 1985 onward, due to injuries suffered in a plane crash).

Just her own facts, FWIW, belie KJS’s claim (in an interview) that ECUSA is dying because Episcopalians are too intelligent to have very many children. Her own mother’s story was an opposite example to that claim, and KJS herself is the one out of six in her family that managed to stay in the Episcopal Church. So there were things going on with KJS related to her family that probably served as a greater influence on her than anything she picked up from RC sources.—That’s just my opinion, but I wanted to share it in light of all the other opinions expressed above.

[43] Posted by A. S. Haley on 9-23-2013 at 01:23 PM · [top]

Words Matter,
I keep forgetting how old I am, Vatican II, took effect in my lifetime in 1965, and if Katherine Jeffords attended a Roman Catholic School before 1963 it was before Vatican II took effect.. I went to a Catholic school for the first grade only, well before KJF attended a Catholic school so my memory is somewhat hazy but I do remember the mass being said in Latin.

http://vatican2voice.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Vatican_Council

Before Vatican II (which happened well after World War II) the Mass was said in Latin,  not in English and the Roman Catholics that I knew were not allowed to read the Bible or interpret it themselves, my sister who went to a Catholic University in the late ’50’s did say that educators and college students were at that time allowed and maybe encouraged to read the Bible.

As I understand it, Vatican II brought many changes but the ones I am aware of are that ordinary Catholics were allowed to read the Bible without clerical interpretation and that the Mass was now said in English or in the vernacular of the country in which it was said.

[44] Posted by Betty See on 9-23-2013 at 02:13 PM · [top]

I think the issue is a bit more than indulging in a bit of armchair philosophy, speculation and whether someone else would have been there to take KJS’s place.  According to the official biographies, KJS left the Roman Catholic Church when her parents moved to an Episcopalian church aged 8.

However, what is not mentioned is her attendance at a Roman Catholic seminary for a year in the early ‘90’s.  It is only mentioned in a rather appreciative article sourced in the parish she left to become Bishop of Nevada.  Here for a brief moment we get the unvarnished truth before the later spin, and curiously although we learn that KJS spent a year at a Benedictine seminary, yet the parish of the Good Shepherd fail to acknowledge that she was dean of their seminary, much less that such an institution ever existed.  You would have thought that you would have mentioned her involvement even if not her exalted title.  It is always important to go back to the earliest sources to get to the truth.

So the question then arises, why would someone contemplating preaching sign herself up to a Roman Catholic seminary, an extremely liberal catholic one?  Why would she not attend an Episcopalian one?  Why then, one year in, did she then transfer to Church Divinity School of the Pacific. 

All this took place around the time that the Roman Catholic Church was purging its liberal Catholic professors and institutions in the US; in 1986 Charles Curran had been restricted from teaching Catholic theology at the Catholic University of America following a determination from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and in 1989 he filed suit against his restriction from teaching at the university; a suit he subsequently lost.

It was also around this time that other liberal catholics started leaving including Genpo Kevin Thew Forrester after fighting his best for his professor, Charles Curran, and also decided to seek ordination in the Episcopal Church, and ending up in KJS’s class at CDSP.

The connection with Mount Angel and Queen of Angels did not end there - KJS seems to have kept it up returning to lecture and to keep involved, and some of the liberals remaining there seem quite proud of her as one of their own.  None of this appears in the official biographies it seems.

So there is this liberal Roman Catholic exodus which seems to have gone on, some of it into the Episcopal Church and so the point of my question is whether KJS was part of that.  The liberal Roman Catholics certainly seem to have stuck together and watched each others backs and promoted one another.  Did they back her as PB?  She certainly relied on them calling several to be her appointees to start the rump litigation dioceses.  Was KJS ever really an Episcopalian, or did she following her childhood, always keep a connection with the liberal Roman Catholics and remain one of them.

You see, it would answer such a lot of questions about her and her conduct: her heretical sermons; and particularly what Sarah notices, which is her rage and anger and the behaviour of a cuckoo with the existing Episcopalian conservatives, the conservatives who expelled the liberal Catholics from the RC Church.  Is she just part of a nest of liberal Roman Catholics who expelled from their own church, very enraged indeed, decided to take over another lazy, naive, and heterodox one ripe for the taking?  Does she remain in her mind and her own view and her theology, a liberal Roman Catholic, one of a group who have inveigled their way into the Episcopal Church and made it their new home?

[45] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-23-2013 at 02:16 PM · [top]

One more thought: Does the teaching on sexuality she received at Mount Angel also inform and explain the otherwise extraordinary and inexplicable decision she made in accepting Bede Parry into the Episcopal Church from another liberal RC monasteric background?  Does she in her heart really think it is all OK?

[46] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-23-2013 at 02:26 PM · [top]

Please let me know if I am mistaken but I thought that I read that Katherine Jeffords Schori went to a Catholic School before her parents left to become Episcopalians. I apologise if I have jumped to an unwarrented conclusion.

[47] Posted by Betty See on 9-23-2013 at 02:38 PM · [top]

Well, #46, it did occur to me that her experience in classes at a Benedictine seminary infested with liberals and same-sex libertines may have had something to do with her acceptance of Bede Parry.

I hardly think, unless convincing evidence can be produced, that she is part of a liberal Catholic cabal and was never “really” Episcopalian.  The simplest explanation is the one which is most likely, in this case, that the liberal ecclesiology and theology she heard at CDSP, and perhaps in her Episcopal parishes, was just like what she had heard at the liberal Catholic seminary.  As A.S. Haley points out, it’s the “liberal” which is the important point here.  As an ex-Episcopalian myself, I think we had plenty of unorthodox crackpots of our own (Pike, Spong, and their followers), and we corporately failed to see that, like termites, they were eating our church from the inside out.  No doubt liberal ex-Catholics helped this along, but we have only ourselves to blame, really.

[48] Posted by Katherine on 9-23-2013 at 02:42 PM · [top]

Well friends, as someone who served in Oregon alongside Katharine Jefferts Schori from 1996 until her election as Bishop of Nevada, I believe I can clear up a few things here.

First of all, the church in Corvallis, OR where she served as an assistant is named the Church of the Good Samaritan (not Good Shepherd).  That she was the “Dean of the Good Samaritan School of Theology” certainly seems arrogant, but it more likely was a way to get the self styled intellectuals who teach at Oregon State to attend adult Christian education.

Second, it was not unusual in those days for seminarians from Oregon to spend a year at Mt. Angel and then transfer to an Episcopal Seminary for the final two years.  We did something similar with a postulant from my parish.  When the closest Episcopal seminary is 500 miles away, the Diocese was often flexible with its seminarians, not making them spent three years away from their families.

As for all the armchair psychological analysis going on, my only observation has been that when RC clergy become Episcopalians, they often have a very difficult time not being one to whom everyone says “Yes, Father”.  They are used to being in total control and getting their way.  Needless to say, most Episcopalians don’t appreciate that style.

[49] Posted by Bill Cavanaugh on 9-23-2013 at 03:23 PM · [top]

#43 Allan Haley

Many thanks - I hadn’t read your comment before I posted my #45.  There is a certainly a deeply scientific aspect to KJS, as well as a simbiotic relationship with religion in her theology.  I saw it described by her thus:

“Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
— Albert Einstein

The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori used the quote by Albert Einstein to emphasize her message in a lecture at Oregon State University on April 19. Tackling the age-old — and continuing — philosophical struggle between science and religion in our world, Bishop Katharine illustrated the similar purposes of what she called humanity’s “two spheres of knowledge”— the ongoing human effort to understand and live well in the world. In order to continue our existence as a society, she said, human beings need both the experimental, quantifiable knowledge gained from science and the experiential, moral knowledge gained from religion. Using the issue of global warming as one problematic dilemma we face today, she stated: “We have the technical ability and capacity to vastly decrease our use of fossil fuels and the accompanying carbon load on the atmosphere. But we have not yet found the moral and political will to do so. Together, scientific wisdom and religious wisdom may be able to generate enough political will to respond.”

It is also true that she is a liberal, and that there are many liberals in the Episcopal Church, but there is something else - there is the enthusiastic embrace of every and any heresy she can lay her hands on, in a way which would embarrass most liberal Episcopalians.  Apart from the outrageous adoptionism noted above there is this which made even the non-Anglican religious press sit up and take notice:

In her opening address to the Episcopal Church’s recent General Convention, the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the church’s presiding bishop, made a special point of denouncing what she labeled “the great Western heresy”—the teaching, in her words, “that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God.” This “individualist focus,” she declared, “is a form of idolatry.”

To me it seems more than the occasional heresy brought in through ignorance, it is a complete and developed heretical worldview which seems to owe more to the views of the liberal Roman Catholics such as Charles Curran than anything else.

So my question remains - given the liberal Roman Catholic antecedents of KJS, which she has certainly not highlighted since, if not actively sought to bury, is there something more to all this than just being another liberal Episcopalian?  I know perfectly sound Episcopalian priests who went through CDSP without having absorbed the range and extent of heresies that KJS demonstrates, but there is sound documentation of it at Mount Angel which Cardinal Levada was in the process of purging at the time KJS was leaving it and when the scandals were raging.

Or, as Sherlock Holmes put it, when you ‘eliminate all other factors, the one which remains must be the truth’

#48 Katherine
“The simplest explanation is the one which is most likely, in this case, that the liberal ecclesiology and theology she heard at CDSP, and perhaps in her Episcopal parishes, was just like what she had heard at the liberal Catholic seminary.  As A.S. Haley points out, it’s the “liberal” which is the important point here. “

For the reasons set out above, I think it is reasonable to examine all this a little deeper in the light of:
1. The undisclosed attendance at a Catholic seminary when thinking of going into preaching [if you were intending to become a CofE priest, I don’t think you would sign up for a Catholic seminary;
2. The also undisclosed swap to an Episcopal school when one’s seminary and teachers were being purged and reigned in.
3. The liberal RC and heretical teaching she gives;
4. The promotion and trust given to former liberal Roman Catholics;
5. The distrust and persecution of orthodox Episcopalians
6. The papal style and intolerance of tolerance displayed and the trampling of all rules to get ones own way.
7. The Bede Parry affair.

Too many questions and unexplained ‘coincidences’.  That is no reflection on either the Vatican or Roman Catholics, who managed to claw things back but I think it is reasonable to enquire a bit more deeply into just who KJS really is.

[50] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-23-2013 at 03:33 PM · [top]

Read #49, from Bill Cavanaugh, on why she may have gone to the Catholic seminary.  He probably posted after you began your #50.

All I can say is, if you think KJS is unusually liberal and heretical, you haven’t read some of the other bishops’ statements.

[51] Posted by Katherine on 9-23-2013 at 03:44 PM · [top]

#49 Thanks Bill Cavanaugh for the background.

#51 Katherine - it certainly does explain why she may have been there, not the airbrushing of it from her record or the digital enhancement of her ‘deanship’ of a theological school; nor does it deal with the character she gained from her time at Mount Angel.

Oh, I know there are some ghastly TEC bishops - there are also some good ones - and some who are in between, but KJS is up there with her fellow liberal Roman Catholic, the Genpo Lama.  The points still stand on her liberal catholic: background; her theology [if you can call it that]; and those she brings into her fold.

[52] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-23-2013 at 04:35 PM · [top]

Mind you, KJS is an outstanding mosque-planter.

[53] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-23-2013 at 05:46 PM · [top]

Pageantmaster,
Another facet of this, that I think is vastly different than CoE, is the overall numbers of former Catholics in TEC.  Since the late 1970s, it has marketed itself to post-divorce Catholics, as well as pro-WO Catholics, and theologically liberal Catholics.  The ‘79 liturgy resembles the Vatican II Roman liturgy to a sufficient degree that ex-Catholics feel it is quite familiar.  It is not unknown for TEC parishes to be 50% ex-Catholics, and certainly in many, the ex-Catholics outnumber cradle Episcopalians.

One of the frequent errors made, due to the sharp decline in numbers over the last 40 years, is to assume that 1.8 million people left TEC.  This is incorrect, it is a gross underestimate.  My own guess is that somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million people left, BUT at the same time, .7 to 1.2 million NEW people came into TEC.  Those new folks coming in were substantially ex- Catholics who were either divorced or otherwise wanted a less strict Church, and those from other mainline Protestant denominations who wanted more liturgy.  In the last TEC parish I was actually a member of (I never formally joined the parish in N Michigan), out of the 25 regulars, I think only 6 of us were born Episcopalians, another 6 had left the Catholic Church to divorce or re-marriage, and the balance were mostly ex-Lutherans, plus a few people originally from various denominations who had started coming when they moved into the area, and it was for one or another reason the church they liked most.

[54] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-23-2013 at 05:53 PM · [top]

“Why go through this much machination if, by the time the changes are formalized, you will be stepping down?  Answer: you do not intend to step down.”

My thoughts also, tj, as I was reading this.  I agree with those who think it will more likely be a case of putting in her groomed successor, after which she will continue as an éminence grise.  The Japanese Shoguns used a similar practice.

But she has to do this, for her own protection, as does David Booth Beers.  If ever those who aren’t her sycophantic followers get enough power to call for an enquiry into how she has handled the finances of TEC, she is finished.  That could involve further complaints to police, financial regulatory authorities and bar associations. 

And note that I am not referring to her enemies doing this.  It will only take those of like doctrinal mind to start questioning, as a group, why their church’s finances have been largely paid over to Beers’ law firm.

[55] Posted by MichaelA on 9-23-2013 at 06:05 PM · [top]

#54 Thanks TJ, that is an interesting comment.  The CofE is not that different - we have divorced [and undivorced] former Roman Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals etc.  I am one of the few cradle Anglicans in my parish, and even I am quite happy visiting other peoples’ churches, if only to remember why I am at home in the CofE.  I am not sure we are so different as far as the influx of laity is concerned.

I think though, that the influx of Catholic and other laity is slightly different to those like Kevin Thew-Forrester and some of the other liberal Catholic priests, or those intending to become Catholic priests, who headed into the US Anglican church when it became too hot for them in the RC church.  They are a much more committed and determined crowd who are more committed to their doctrinal world view than to any particular church, regarding the latter as a vehicle for their views.  You are right though, we do not have so many of these liberal Catholic Taliban coming into the CofE.  We have plenty of our own home-grown liberal ‘affirming catholics’, but that is a different issue and a slightly different group of people.

[56] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-23-2013 at 06:15 PM · [top]

#22, another priest, who was there at the time, has confirmed that the account of the baptism of Christ visualization (er, hypnosis) session that I received from a friend in the diocese is accurate. He might be following this thread, and might wish to elaborate. I don’t know the whole story.

From an Anglican perspective, I’ve always understood liberal Catholicism to be that part of Anglicanism that characterized the University of the South starting in the late 19th century, and exemplified by the theological writings of WIlliam Porcher DuBose.

What we’re hearing about is radical Roman Catholics. And, we’re also hearing about how some folks choose to let Old Nick rule their lives.

I don’t think KJS is the product of faulty spiritual formation.

[57] Posted by Ralph on 9-25-2013 at 07:56 AM · [top]

Ralph #57,  You are probably right, simple ignorance may be the first explanation one can come up with, and it may explain why her teachings are accepted but it cannot explain her blasphemos teachings.

[58] Posted by Betty See on 9-25-2013 at 10:38 AM · [top]

Ralph, post 57,  You are probably right, simple ignorance may be the first explanation one can come up with, and it may explain why her teachings are accepted but it cannot explain her blasphemous teachings.

[59] Posted by Betty See on 9-25-2013 at 10:45 AM · [top]

Sorry for the double post, I hope one of them will be removed.

[60] Posted by Betty See on 9-25-2013 at 10:51 AM · [top]

Words Matter wrote at #42:

“In any case, it’s probably worth remember that having personal bibles is a fairly recent phenomena, although devotional books with scripture texts were found at least in England from (maybe?) the 15th century. Certainly as soon as printing became common.”

Hi Words Matter, this is a misconception.  Unfortunately it’s a widespread one, so I don’t blame you for holding it.

The “devotional books with scripture texts” were in common use throughout the Middle Ages – long before the 15th century. And the scriptures themselves were widely available and widely used long before the 15th century.  [This should hardly surprise, since “personal bibles” were in widespread use as early as the 2nd century AD.  The sheer number of fragments of the New Testament still in existence are too many to be only congregational copies]

Here are some examples of scripture use from 12th and 13th centuries:

(a)  At the Third Lateran Council in 1179, the founder of the Waldensians presented their vernacular (French) translations to the Pope for approval, but the context of this was that there was no prohibition on anyone possessing the bible in Latin for personal use. 

(b)  The bishop of Metz in northern France wrote to the Pope in 1199 that local people were using French translations of the scriptures, holding private meetings and calling the clergy ignorant of the scriptures (which in most cases was probably true – theological training was notoriously poor for most clergy).  In his response, the Pope made no criticism of anyone possessing the scriptures, in latin or vernacular, but said that public preaching without the church’s licence should be restricted.

(c)  The inquisitor Bernard Gui reported in the early 13th century that the poor people of the south of France: “ordinarily have the Gospels and the Epistles in the vulgar tongue, and also in Latin, since some of them understand it. Some also know how to read and sometimes they read from a book those things which they say and preach.”  There was nothing illegal about this – Bernard was explaining the context of his actions to suppress particular heretical sects. 

In general, possession of the scriptures for personal use, e.g. reading to the family at mealtimes and family prayers, was encouraged during the Middle Ages.  Numerous examples of personal bibles or books combining selected scripture passages and devotional commentaries still exist.

I will post a bit about the 15th century shortly, but the first point to note is that the scriptures were widely possessed, widely read, and widely preached throughout the Middle Ages.

[61] Posted by MichaelA on 9-25-2013 at 09:36 PM · [top]

Further to my last, and in commentary on Words Matter’s post at #42:

Possession and personal reading of the scriptures if anything became LESS common during the 15th century.  That should not be exaggerated: there were still plenty of personal bibles around, and plenty of people reading them.  But there was a concerted effort to restrict the scriptures to only the gentry, as the Bible came to be seen as potentially a catalyst for revolution.  In some ways it was, but that only reflected the manner in which the higher reaches of the church had become inextricably mingled with the political order.

Taking England as an example, in the late 14th century John Wyclif, a prominent lawyer, diplomat and theologian, began to criticise certain aspects of medieval theology as being out of step with scripture and the early church fathers.  He and his followers translated large sections of the scriptures into English (England had one of the worst levels of vernacular translation of scriptures in Christendom).  His “Protestantism” was seen as a challenge to the established order, and associated with various revolt movements. 

From the beginning of the 15th century, the authorities cracked down with the utmost severity, starting essentially with the Council of Constance.  This had effect throughout Europe.  In England, people were burned to death for heresy (holding false doctrine) – something that had never happened before.  Now, the laws to facilitate these persecutions very rarely made any restriction on possessing scripture.  Those who are interested can look at the text of the statute “on the burning of heretics” passed by Henry IV of England in 1401 here: http://www.ric.edu/faculty/rpotter/heretico.html).  It does not directly impugn the possession or reading of scripture. 

In practice, throughout the 15th century in England, a poor or uneducated person would come under severe suspicion if they were caught in possession of scripture (English or Latin).  This did not extend to the gentry, who could possess and read whatever they liked.  Richard III for instance possessed a “lollard bible” (i.e. English translation by Wyclif or his followers).  But ordinary lollards were regularly persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and often killed.  [In the last 20 years historians have become aware of far more repression against Lollards in the 15th century than they were previously aware of.  In turn, they have become aware that Lollard influence extended further than suspected]

The effect was that “Protestantism” was driven underground, for a hundred years.  This continuous repression worked, up until large-scale private ownership of printing presses.  After that, official control of popular texts was no longer practicable.  Thus in 1517, Martin Luther’s 95 theses were re-printed in huge volumes and flooded Europe in the space of a couple of weeks - far too quickly for any concerted official suppression.  The effect of the printing press in the early 16th century is in many ways equivalent to that of the internet today.

[62] Posted by MichaelA on 9-25-2013 at 09:56 PM · [top]

Allan Haley—a truly fascinating comment of yours above in #43. I was thinking of family, actually, in large part when I wrote #39, and I suspect that family matters are probably the source-of-origin of all that anger.

That’s why when I see obviously angry people—people like KJS or Jane Fonda or whatever—I generally try to discern what system *they believe* has hurt or outraged them and think about against what, precisely, they think they are “rebelling”.  The “rebellion” takes place for many many decades—sometimes for a lifetime—after the initial acts of the “rebellion” are actually done.

I want to challenge one small part of what Pageantmaster said above:

“Oh, I know there are some ghastly TEC bishops - there are also some good ones - and some who are in between, but KJS is up there with her fellow liberal Roman Catholic, the Genpo Lama.”

Actually around 95% of the bishops of TEC are as ghastly as KJS in theology and gross revisionism.

When you mention, for instance, “outrageous adoptionism” and the denigration of individual salvation as a heresy—Pageantmaster, that’s the bishops of TEC.  They do not share anything approaching the same faith as you or I.

So when you say

“It is also true that she is a liberal, and that there are many liberals in the Episcopal Church, but there is something else - there is the enthusiastic embrace of every and any heresy she can lay her hands on, in a way which would embarrass most liberal Episcopalians . . . “

No, Pageantmaster—none of that 95% are remotely “embarrassed” by the most blatant of heresies.

I know the COE types always tell us we don’t understand their context.  I’m just saying—you don’t understand ours, at least as far as the TEC bishops are concerned.  And they’re too ignorant to even know what heresies they’re spouting too. There are only 9-10 *diocesan* bishops who actually believe the Gospel in TEC.

So when I say that KJS could easily be swapped out—as far as gross heresies are concerned—with the vast vast vast majority of the rest of the TEC bishop crew, that’s what I mean.  I don’t think that we’ll get one quite as ham-handed and tin-eared as KJS next time around.  We’ll get something more like Griswold—who was quite easily as pagan and revisionist as KJS.  Maybe more so as at least she is vaguely interested in being thought “scientific” whereas he fancied himself more the Eastern mystic type and thus above the onerous drudgery of logic or reason.

[63] Posted by Sarah on 9-26-2013 at 08:28 AM · [top]

To sum up what I’m saying: KJS’s *theology* is quite garden-variety amongst TEC bishops here.  Perfectly ordinary.

[64] Posted by Sarah on 9-26-2013 at 08:33 AM · [top]

Pageantmaster @ comment [17],

The seminary was Mount Angel Abbey Seminary in Oregon, followed by CDSP (Church Divinity School of the Pacific), located in Berkeley, California.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[65] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 9-26-2013 at 09:58 AM · [top]

Which prompts the question: given that divinity is also a variety of (non-chocolate) fudge, might that fact not account for some of the confusion we see amongst the TEC hierarchy?

wink

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[66] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 9-26-2013 at 10:01 AM · [top]

Katherine @ comment [27],

In reply to

Catholic seminaries” are generally, as I understand it, for priests in formation, and she would never have qualified even if she’d been still Roman Catholic.

While they are primarily “for priests in formation,” it is often the case that they allow laymen and laywomen to enroll in a variety of classes, particularly for those interested in theology and/or canon law. Since becoming Catholic I have encountered (at least on the web) a number of such students who have not discerned a call to the priesthood who have attended (or are attending) a Catholic seminary under just such circumstances.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[67] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 9-26-2013 at 10:15 AM · [top]

As to the excommunication of KJS, (and remembering that I am not a lawyer (canon or civil), she excommunicated herself, as did her mother, by leaving the Catholic Church and becoming a member of another ecclesial community not in communion with Rome. This is referred to as excommunication latae sententiae, the italicized Latin meaning “sentence (already) passed.”  A more detailed discussion of the topic is accurately discussed here. Therefore, no further formal action is required by the Catholic Church.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[68] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 9-26-2013 at 10:28 AM · [top]

Fascinating information, MichaelA, since it contradicts what I was taught in Church History classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I will admit, however, that both of those classes were well over 20 years ago (thank you for making me feel old).  But my first question is where all those books came from before the invention of the printing press? They would have been hand-copied, which is why they were (as I was taught) rare and expensive.  The cost alone would have made it suspicious for a poor person to possess a book - any book.  My references are also Dr. Duffy’s Stripping of the Altars and The Voices of Morebath.  Granted, the latter book concerns the regular folk of the village and not the manor folk.  I’m probably thinking of Haigh’s English Reformations as well.

But it’s interesting stuff: do you have a link to it? I’d like to read more and get some questions answered.

As to seminaries:  to make things more confused, sometimes “seminary” refers to the house of formation where “seminarians” live while attending a school of theology or even an undergraduate program.  At least that’s true in my region.

[69] Posted by Words Matter on 9-26-2013 at 01:09 PM · [top]

Hi Words Matter,

1.  “Fascinating information, MichaelA, since it contradicts what I was taught in Church History classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I will admit, however, that both of those classes were well over 20 years ago (thank you for making me feel old).”

As I wrote, it’s a pervasive misconception, not just confined to seminary classes, nor just to those of a particular doctrinal stance.

2.  “But my first question is where all those books came from before the invention of the printing press? They would have been hand-copied, which is why they were (as I was taught) rare and expensive.”

Well, sure, but what does “rare and expensive” mean?  I have over 400 books in just one room of my house.  A medieval commoner might have just two or three in his house, possibly handed down to him (although equally a wealthy 13th century merchant might own many books).  That’s still rare and expensive, but does not imply illiteracy.

3.  “The cost alone would have made it suspicious for a poor person to possess a book - any book.”

You mean suspicion that they have stolen it?  I am not a medievalist, but I have read widely in that area, and I have never seen that even suggested.  [Now of course if the person were seriously poor, and it was a particularly rare book, jewelled cover etc, then you would have a point.  But most books weren’t like that, and probably most people in the Middle Ages were not that poor]

4.  “But it’s interesting stuff: do you have a link to it? I’d like to read more and get some questions answered.”

Here is a link to an article in the Journal of Medieval History in 2000:  http://www.heuristiek.ugent.be/sites/default/files/historiographical essay.pdf
Its fairly detailed, but he does cover some of the change in thinking over the past 30 years or so. Note however that even 20 years ago, academics were aware that literacy at some level was reasonably common even in the 11th century (we are discussing Western Europe – in the Byzantine empire, there was a high level of state-funded primary school education).  His particular focus is on the English Peasants’ Revolt in the late 14th century.  Note his conclusion at p 418:

“The insurgents of 1381 were not, then, the brutish, mindless rustics whom the chroniclers and other representatives of official culture perceived and wanted to record for posterity. Instead they were men and women fully cognizant of how writing could be used both to oppress people and to liberate them, depending on whether it was employed in the service of falsehood or truth.  Albeit very few of them were literate in the sense of being able to read and write Latin like a clerk. Yet some of them, like Ball, were literate in this sense, and many of them had some measure of pragmatic literacy; moreover, they all could gain access to texts through the medium of the spoken word. Together they formed a group of people whose sense of solidarity at the village level was extended to a much larger community bound together by a common attitude towards the uses of documents and a shared interpretation of certain texts. They were, then, a textual community.”

Note that these are mostly poor people.  The point made by Briggs and the other authors he cites is that literacy among the merchant and other middle classes was much higher.  So at page 401 he writes: 

“By the latter part of the twelfth century, however, lay literacy began to diversify into the pragmatic literacy of the ‘middle classes’. This pragmatic literacy increased in the course of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries among merchants, gentry, and even the servile manorial reeves who needed basic literacy in the vernacular, as well as familiarity with some stock Latin formulas, in order to be able to conduct business, go to court, and manage estates.”

In regard to literacy in France at the end of the 12th century, here is the text of the Pope’s letter to the bishop of Metz in 1199: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Cum_ex_injuncto_(1199). It should be clear that what is described in the second and third paragraphs could not take place without a reasonable level of literacy among the people.

[70] Posted by MichaelA on 9-26-2013 at 07:59 PM · [top]

Thank you, MichaelA. I look forward to looking over the links.

[71] Posted by Words Matter on 9-26-2013 at 09:00 PM · [top]

Words Matter, You can find information about John Wyclif and other Bible history at the following link.

http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/john-wycliffe.html

[72] Posted by Betty See on 9-27-2013 at 08:11 PM · [top]

Betty See,

The website to which you link doesn’t appear to be very authoritative. Here’s further information (and, of course, there are many scholarly sources):

http://holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/dwightlongenecker/currentevents/12.asp

Do you really believe that “ordinary Catholics” “weren’t allowed to read the Bible before Vatican II”? Maybe I misinterpreted what you said.  (If your remarks were meant facetiously, I apologize.)

[73] Posted by Clare on 9-30-2013 at 09:22 AM · [top]

My question is whether this ban wasn’t local in some areas, since we have conflicting witnesses, and, as I noted above, Pope LeoXIII, in the 19th century, encouraged private scripture reading.

[74] Posted by Words Matter on 9-30-2013 at 11:34 AM · [top]

In terms of the reliability of witnesses, I would go with what Pope Leo XIII said.

[75] Posted by Clare on 9-30-2013 at 11:43 AM · [top]

Get ready to lose control of your church and diocese those still foolish enough to belong to TEC.  Here it comes.

[76] Posted by tpaine on 9-30-2013 at 07:34 PM · [top]

Michael A, Post 70, I cannot get your links to connect.
Hope you can give us a better connection.

[77] Posted by Betty See on 10-1-2013 at 08:24 PM · [top]

Hi Betty,

I can see what the problem is with the first - for some reason not all of the address was picked up as the link in my post.  If you cut and paste the following into the address bar of your browser, it should work:

“http://www.heuristiek.ugent.be/sites/default/files/historiographical essay.pdf”

Alternatively, do a google search for “literacy reading and writing in the medieval west briggs” and that should bring up links to several versions of it.

For the second link, I suggest doing a google search for “Cum ex injuncto (1199)” and it should be the first link on the page.

[78] Posted by MichaelA on 10-1-2013 at 09:43 PM · [top]

MichaelA -

Thank you. Although I’ve been taken up with matters papal, yours is still a topic that interests me

[79] Posted by Words Matter on 10-1-2013 at 09:49 PM · [top]

It seems to me that it must be God’s will that His Word should be passed down to us, even though many people and human authorities did their best to prevent people from reading and owning a Bible. We should appreciate the wisdom and guidance that is available to us in these pages and not forget that the privilege of reading the Bible has been hard won.

http://amazingbibletimeline.com/bible_questions/q2_history_english_bible/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_English_Bible

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wycliffe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyndale_Bible

http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/

http://www.theholybibleguide.com/bible-history-timeline-1.html

Many history books will give you the same information including historian, Will Durant’s volumes of “The Story of Civilization”.

[80] Posted by Betty See on 10-1-2013 at 10:26 PM · [top]

Hi Clare at #73, the article by Longnecker which you link to is correct, ordinary Roman Catholics were (and are) not prevented from reading the Bible.  He makes a number of other useful points as well, for example that something like 30% of a Roman Catholic worship service consists of scripture, and a Roman Catholic who attends mass every week will hear most of the Bible read out, due to the lectionary.

However, since you link it to this article, I would point out that it contains a number of errors also.  For example:

1.  “The Catholic Church finally agreed on which writings should go into the Bible at the Council of Rome in 382 AD during the time of Pope Damasus.”

This is incorrect on two counts:

(a)  Firstly because the Church never purported to make its own decision about what should go into the bible.  The early Church Fathers make clear that what the Church did in times of controversy was to recognise and check which books were of Apostolic authorship (i.e. written by or under the authority of one of Christ’s apostles), and acknowledge them as scripture. 

(b)  Secondly, because there was no such decision made at the Council of Rome in 382 AD.  Dwight Longnecker is following the Gelasian Decretals, which are a 6th century forgery.  No general (i.e. ecumenical) council ever stated the canon of scripture.

2.  “Damasus encouraged St Jerome to translate the Scriptures into Latin since Latin was the common language of all educated people.”

True.

3.  “In the mid-1400s the Bible started to be translated into European languages.”

This is way incorrect.  In Britain, the Venerable Bede was translating the Bible into Old English in the 7th century AD!  Numerous other translations of various books of scripture followed.  However, these translation efforts stalled by the 11th century, hence why the reformer John Wyclif began a new translation into what was then modern English in the 14th century.

In France, there were translations into Frankish in the 9th century, and Middle French in the 12th century.  In Germany, translation into Gothic began in the fourth century. 

4.  “Some Reformers published Bibles with bits missing, faulty translation work and subversive notes.”

In a very few instances yes, but this is highly misleading.  Reformation translations were for the most part far superior to those which the authorities permitted.  To describe most official medieval translations as “corrupt” is being overly generous.  Translators like Wycliff did the best they could (he was primarily a lawyer and courtier) but men like Tyndale, Erasmus and Luther were the foremost scholars of their day.  Their work still measures up well, even today.

5.  “The authorities tried to regulate which Bibles were acceptable in order to control erroneous teaching.”

This was very rarely the case.  Most instances of prosecution of individuals possessing the scriptures during the 13th to 15th centuries were focussed on their rejection of doctrines which, surprise surprise, were very lucrative for the authorities.  If you were a common person found in possession of scriptures in the 15th century you would be investigated, but you would most likely only be prosecuted and tortured if you denied doctrines such as pilgrimages, indulgences or relics.  As the saying goes, “follow the money”!  Astute readers will note some analagies with liberal established churches today, like TEC.

6.  “Throughout the years the Catholic Church encouraged Bible reading, but kept control of the interpretation of the Bible as part of her inspired authority to teach the truth and preserve the unity of the church.”

Yes, if you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden.  The “Catholic Church” did not purport to “control interpretation” until quite late in the Middle Ages, and as it tightened its control, the reality of how it was done and why caused increasing outrage.  Hence the efforts at reformation from the 13th century on, culminating in outright schism in the 16th century.  Again, there are remarkable similarities with the way that modern religious liberals have acquired and abused power over the past 30-40 years.

[81] Posted by MichaelA on 10-1-2013 at 10:41 PM · [top]

MichaelA,

Thanks for your thoughtful response.  I do object to your dismissal of part of Father Longenecker’s piece as the equivalent of “fairies at the bottom of the garden.”  That’s not an argument, and it’s not very polite.

Since you don’t cite any sources, I don’t know how to evaluate your assertions.  My understanding is that the Church’s Biblical Canon was accepted in the fourth century. I realize that council documents have been lost and that it’s by later documents and event that it’s inferred that the Canon was accepted in the fourth century. Evidently you adhere to a different set of historical facts, but I think there’s substantial evidence for the fourth-century date.

In addition, it’s interesting that the discovery of the Qumran scrolls provides support for the inclusion in Holy Scripture of the OT books that were deleted in the course of the Protestant Revolt.

I’m not a Biblical scholar (perhaps you are—I’m sorry that I’m not familiar with your academic background) but I think Father Longenecker is correct that Protestants often misunderstand the Church’s teaching on Holy Scripture, and I think that his facts are probably accurate. 

When you attend Mass, you’ll see that the Mass, both in the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms, is suffused with Holy Scripture. And I know that our family—“ordinary Catholics”—have treasured Bibles going back many generations.

[82] Posted by Clare on 10-2-2013 at 07:09 AM · [top]

“That’s not an argument, and it’s not very polite”

Clare, its not a very polite subject.  When Mr Longnecker talks about “keeping control of interpretation”, that’s a euphemism for: burning people alive, skinning them, mutilating them, breaking their bones, filling them with water until they burst etc.  Note that this is not “protestants vs catholics” we are talking about more than a century prior to the protestant reformation, when the Church tortured and killed its own people to protect privilege.  I have little patience for those who try to defend it, and I suggest fairies is actually a fairly mild response.

“Since you don’t cite any sources, I don’t know how to evaluate your assertions.”

Neither does Longnecker state sources for the most part.  Which is not necessarily a criticism - he set out some basic propositions; I have set out some contrary ones.  If anyone is interested enough to take it further, then it may be appropriate to look at sources.

“My understanding is that the Church’s Biblical Canon was accepted in the fourth century.”

That is stated a lot, by people who never check their sources.  It then becomes a self-perpetuating myth.  There is no evidence that the canon was accepted for the first time in the fourth century. 

By contrast, the early Church Fathers, notably Tertullian and Irenaeus, tell us that the apostolic church knew which books were scripture (which is logical, since scripture is that which is written by apostolic authority) but that heretics in the 2nd and 3rd century attacked scripture - some tried to remove books from the canon (e.g. Marcionites) while others tried to add new books (e.g. Gnostics).  Much of the church was led astray.  In the 3rd and 4th century church leaders investigated the evidence to confirm which books were truly apostolic and which were not.  But they weren’t deciding anything new - just ascertaining what had always been the case since apostolic times, and bearing witness to it.

“In addition, it’s interesting that the discovery of the Qumran scrolls provides support for the inclusion in Holy Scripture of the OT books that were deleted in the course of the Protestant Revolt.”

No they don’t. 

And it wasn’t a “revolt”.  We didn’t move from the Roman Catholic Church - it moved from us.

“Father Longenecker is correct that Protestants often misunderstand the Church’s teaching on Holy Scripture”

I wouldn’t doubt it.  Mind you, misunderstanding is not a purely protestant characteristic.  hmmm

“you’ll see that the Mass, both in the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms, is suffused with Holy Scripture. ...”

You might have missed the part where I agreed with this.

[83] Posted by MichaelA on 10-2-2013 at 10:02 AM · [top]

For centuries, and sadly, continuing today, Roman Catholic and Protestant polemics have on each side contained misperceptions about the other, to put it mildly.  Fr. Longnecker’s piece contains many good points, but slides far too lightly over the Church’s excesses in the pre- and immediate post-Reformation era.  Surely neither side today can possibly support the burnings and torture deaths which occurred on both sides, and which began centuries before Luther and Cranmer.  On the other hand, the point of view expressed by a commenter here that the Catholic Church has prohibited exposure to Scripture among the laity is also ill-informed.  I have heard this sort of thing in person, and a Baptist type once told me that Catholics are taught they have to work their way into heaven.  I told him that was incorrect and he just rolled his eyes at me.

Clare, since this is in great part an Anglican site, it might be helpful for you to have a look at a traditional Book of Common Prayer.  Cranmer’s beautiful translations of the Latin prayers and liturgy are something to be treasured by all English-speaking Christians, and because it is heavily (but not entirely, of course) a translation from the traditional services, Anglican worship, at least the traditional form, is also composed of scripture readings and liturgy drawn from scripture, so we also, like Catholics, if we attend regularly and pay attention, hear the Bible.  And I know quite a number of learned Catholics who bewail the inelegant translation of the Bible used in Catholic services in the US and wish something better would be authorized.

[84] Posted by Katherine on 10-2-2013 at 10:40 AM · [top]

Claire, post 73,

I don’t pretend to be an authority, I am only an observer.

I think you would get a clearer picture of what the Roman Catholic Church taught before Vatican II if you could find a priest, older than 70 years of age, who could explain what and who the Roman Catholic Church taught, regarding the Bible, before Vatican II.

[85] Posted by Betty See on 10-2-2013 at 11:09 AM · [top]

I still suspect this was a regional or local thing, like some of the really odd things people say they heard from the nuns in elementary school.  Sometimes, it’s a memory issue, and sometimes the nuns really were wonky.

#84 @Katherine hits the right tone.  There should be no finger-pointing when we talk about the Reformation Era. Capital punishment for heretics was widely accepted; the argument was about who exactly was a heretic. I would say that my Baptist childhood included some of the claims about Catholics I now know to be untrue. But they weren’t, generally, mean-spirited and could have come from ignorant Catholics. Who know.

FWIW, I was taught in my Church History that the New Testament was more or less codified by a local council in 298, but not officially by the Catholics until Trent. I don’t think there is any difference in Catholic and Protestant (and Orthodox?) New Testaments.

[86] Posted by Words Matter on 10-2-2013 at 11:33 AM · [top]

Claire,
Regarding authority, I believe that most Protestant churches, including the Episcopal Church consider Scripture, (the Bible) the ultimate authority and they do not accept the authority the Pope.

I do not know if the Roman Catholic Church teaches the same thing or if it places that authority with an earthly Pope but this is an Anglican site and we should not be expected to accept only articles written by authoritative Roman Catholic sources.

It is necessary to study history in order to prevent making the same mistakes that have been made in the past but that same history can teach us to value God’s Word even more. I hope that all Christians will realize the real treasure we have in the Bible, learn again to respect the Word of God as it has been revealed to us in Scripture and to pass it along to future generations.

[87] Posted by Betty See on 10-2-2013 at 12:25 PM · [top]

Those interested in a site that discusses (in as much depth as you would like) how the canon of the Bible evolved may find it here. For a non-technical overview, start with this page.

[88] Posted by A. S. Haley on 10-2-2013 at 01:25 PM · [top]

Actually, Betty See, what I learned from Anglicans is that where scripture is clear, it rules. When not, look to the Tradition of the Church for guidance. If that doesn’t answer, then reason should guide.  This is sometimes called the three-legged stool (I was told that in Cursillo), but it’s more of a ladder.  While I’m bordering on commenting on Anglicanism (against my rules), I actually find this a useful way to look at it. 

Catholics look at the scriptures as situated in the community of Christ, which measures propositions against the Deposit of Faith, the Tradition, if you will. Not small-t traditions, but the life of the Church as we have lived it for two thousand years.

As I understand it, the Orthdox take that further: there is the Life of the Church. Scripture is the keystone of that Life. I may be wrong about that, however.

I may have already said this, but my Baptist childhood gave me a good grounding in the Scriptures that I haven’t known in either the Episcopal or Catholic Churches.  I treasure the fact that I can actually locate, say, Ephesians, II Corinthians, or I Hezekiah.

[89] Posted by Words Matter on 10-2-2013 at 01:28 PM · [top]

Words Matter,
My post referred to the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion as they have been recognized by the Anglican Church and as they are referred to in this Gafcon document:
http://gafcon.org/info

“We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.”

Although I realize that many liberal Episcopalians seem to stand by the three legged stool argument as descriptive of their religion, I do not believe that it is reasonable to accept this argument as authoritative for either the Episcopal or Anglican Church, it certainly cannot replace the Authority of Scripture.

You can find the 39 Articles of Religion in the Book of Common Prayer
or here http://www.churchsociety.org/issues_new/doctrine/39a/iss_doctrine_39A_intro.asp

[90] Posted by Betty See on 10-2-2013 at 04:43 PM · [top]

Hi Words Matter at #86,

I think you are referring to the Synods of Carthage in 397 AD which published a list of Scriptural books, but they did not purport to “codify” Scripture.  Quite the opposite, they appended the following comment:  “for these are the things that we have received from our fathers to be read in church”.  They were not purporting to make a new decision, but to recognize and affirm that which had been handed down to them.  As a church council, they had no authority to codify Scripture.  Like Chuck Norris, scripture codified them!

The Protestant position on the place of Scripture in the Church may be summarised as follows:

•  The Apostles were given divine and absolute power to rule the church;
•  They did not (and could not) hand on this power to others;
•  The Apostles regarded their own writings as bearing the same authority as Old Testament scripture;
•  When they left this earth, the Apostles left their written teachings as Scripture to continue to rule the church.

This fits with what we read in the early Church Fathers – the apostolic writings were known from the very first existence of the Church and were authoritative:

“We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith” [Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, Chap. 1]

“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things”. [Justin Martyr, First Apology, 67]

“In this proposal, which has no inner probability to recommend it, [Heracleon] is asking us, in fact, to trust him as we do the prophets, or the apostles, who had authority and were not responsible to men for the writings belonging to man’s salvation, which they handed to those about them and to those who should come after.” [Origen’s commentary on John, Book II, chap 7]

Note also that by the 2nd century, heretics were focussing their attacks on Scripture (which is logical – if Scripture has the ultimate authority in the Church, then the best way to get your heresy accepted is to have some books rejected as scripture, or altered, or to add new books of your own):

Tertullian in Book IV, Chap 5 of “Adversus Marcionem” argues against the Marcionite’s attempts to only accept one gospel as scripture (Luke) and in fact to use an adulterated version of it.  The first and fundamental point that he makes is that Scripture is authoritative and was always authoritative because of its Apostolic authorship:

“On the whole, then, if that is evidently more true which is earlier, if that is earlier which is from the very beginning, if that is from the beginning which has the apostles for its authors, then it will certainly be quite as evident, that that comes down from the apostles, which has been kept as a sacred deposit in the churches of the apostles. … Well, then, Marcion ought to be called to a strict account concerning these (other Gospels) also, for having omitted them, and insisted in preference on Luke; as if they, too, had not had free course in the churches, as well as Luke’s Gospel, from the beginning. Nay, it is even more credible that they existed from the very beginning; for, being the work of apostles, they were prior, and coeval in origin with the churches themselves.”

[91] Posted by MichaelA on 10-2-2013 at 05:38 PM · [top]

Betty See -

The scripture/tradition/reason triad (that’s not a stool) is the device of Richard Hooker, the 16 century Church of England priest and theologian. I never knew him to be considered a liberal.

from Wiki:

In retrospect he has been taken (together with Thomas Cranmer and John Jewel) as a founder of Anglican theological thought.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Hooker

Having been an Episcopalian for many years, I am well-versed in the 39 Articles, and refer to them periodically. 

Now, I seem to have given offense, or at least appeared to engage in controversy. Neither is my intent. I do think that where we disagree, we should understand the other person’s position(s).  My last post was written to demonstrate that the pope (magesterium, actually) does not replace the authority of scripture. Although Anglicanism (as I was taught it), Catholicism, and Orthodoxy come at the application of scripture in different ways, they are not completely different.

[92] Posted by Words Matter on 10-2-2013 at 05:41 PM · [top]

MichaelA -

Yes, it was Carthage. I think we have established that my church history is somewhat ... how should I say?... long-ago and far-away.  I should have take time to look it up.

Thank you.  grin

[93] Posted by Words Matter on 10-2-2013 at 05:55 PM · [top]

Since Betty and WM have given me yet another opportunity to be picky, I shall weigh in again!

Richard Hooker didn’t refer to the “three-legged stool”, ever, to my knowledge.  Nor even to “scripture, tradition, reason”.  Some of the Tractarians in 19th century liked to claim Hooker as authority for this, but it just ain’t so. 

The relevant passage in Hooker seems to be this one:

“Be it in matter of the one kind or of the other, what Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after this the Church succeedeth that which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason overrule all other inferior judgments whatsoever.” [R. Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity” Book V, 8.2]

That is clearly a long way from “Scripture, Tradition, Reason”.  It could be construed as “Scripture, Reason, Church”, but there is an argument that the second item is also referring to scripture, in other words the first authority is given to that which Scripture “plainly delivers”, the second authority to that which any man can “necessarily” deduce from scripture, and the Church has authority to decree what it deems fit in regard to the remaining areas, about which Scripture has nothing to say.  That would make more sense in terms of the rest of Hooker’s work, than saying that mere human reason was of higher authority than the Church. 

It is also in accord with Hooker’s general theology - despite the way in which he takes issue with the “Calvinists” of his day, he is essentially a calvinist (in the sense of following John Calvin) himself.

[94] Posted by MichaelA on 10-2-2013 at 09:14 PM · [top]

Thank you, Michael A, for explaining this so clearly, few of us have the knowledge that is needed to explain Richard Hooker’s theology or to refute the popular “three legged stool” myth, we just know that, in some nebulous way, the ”three legged stool” myth does not respect the authority of Scripture.

[95] Posted by Betty See on 10-3-2013 at 12:40 AM · [top]

Michael A raises several pertinent points on Hooker and his theology, and the misinterpretation in the modern world. I think it would be accurate to say that Hooker saw certain errors in both the Puritan and (Roman) Catholic understandings and traditions.  Certainly, throughout Hooker’s work, it is clear that Scripture is paramount (and, in the modern sense “normative”- although of course he never used that word).  As Michael has put it above “the church”- which would include its traditions, hierarchy, ecclesiology, is subject to the limitations of Scripture, and those things that fall outside of the limits set by scripture are to be reformed.

However, also fair to say that those traditions of the church that are not required by Scripture, but also not prohibited, may be followed by, but are not to be required of, congregations.  I think it would also be Hooker’s opinion that if the church has traditionally used one interpretation of Scripture, it is necessary to do substantial work to disprove the validity of that interpretation- it must rise to a higher standard than “I think the church has been wrong about that for 2000 years”.  Therefore, tradition does have a place.

Reason is, perhaps, the word used by Hooker most frequently abused in the modern day.  He was using it in the sense that when reading Scripture, we must apply reason so as to be sure that one passage of Scripture is not used to contradict another, nor to justify something non-Scriptural.  One cannot, for example, quote a passage stating that Solomon had many wives to justify polygamy- it is clear from many other passages that this is not a correct interpretation and not part of God’s plan.

In modern day, “reason” is misinterpreted to mean “whatever I think” or “my logic professor in college said” or “experience in society shows us that…”  Hooker clearly never meant it in that sense.  His “context” for the application of reason was Scripture, itself. The last thing he would have been about would be modeling the church after society, or allowing social norms to dictate the interpretation of scripture.

[96] Posted by tjmcmahon on 10-3-2013 at 06:52 AM · [top]

Thank you, tjmcmahon, for that description of Hooker, which is what I have been taught to think about his arguments.  At no time did he ever detach “reason” from Scripture as a separate source of Christian doctrine.

All this has been very interesting, but looking back at A.S. Haley’s post, what TEC had, according to reports, was a House of Bishops meeting which dealt, not with Scripture and the faith, but with the PB’s efforts to counter losses in court.

[97] Posted by Katherine on 10-3-2013 at 07:13 AM · [top]

Katherine, Betty See, MichaelA and others,

Thanks for all your insights.

I was trying to make the limited point that it is a myth that Catholics were not allowed to read the Bible before the Second Vatican Council.  For example,

“At a time when a vast number of bad books, which most grossly attack the Catholic religion, are circulated, even among the unlearned, to the great destruction of souls, you judge exceedingly well that the faithful should be excited to the reading of the Holy Scriptures: for these are the most abundant sources which ought to be left open to every one, to draw from them the purity of morals and of doctrine, to eradicate the errors which are widely disseminated in these corrupt times…”

Pope Pius VI
via Philip Buonamici, Latin Secretary
(in the introduction to the 1914 Douay-Rheims Bible)


Don’t want to continue a “War of the Websites”—you can check early Catechisms, the Council of Trent documents, for example, via EWTN, and many other sources.  And remember that there was a Church before one word of the New Testament was written down. (I can never figure out what Protestants do without a Magisterium when two of them disagree on a point of doctrine based on the “plain meaning of Scripture.”)

Betty See @85, I have checked with a priest of that era (one who is not a convert and thus would’ve known the rules), and he confirmed the fact that Catholics have never been forbidden to read the Bible. (Faulty translations and heretical comments are another thing – I would discourage a student from reading one of the current translations that spells “God” with a lower-case “g” and an “s” – or that places the indefinite article before the word.)

Could there have been individual priests throughout the world and throughout history who said otherwise?  I don’t know.  Remember, although the teaching of the Church is “infallible” on matters of doctrine, the Church is not “indefectible.” 

Also, Betty See@87,

The Pope is certainly authoritative on what the Church teaches—if Pope Leo XIII encouraged the reading of Holy Scripture, then that’s what the Church did.

Katherine@84,

I am familiar with the Book of Common Prayer – it is used, as adapted and approved, in Anglican Use Catholic parishes in the U.S. under the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. Of course, the issue of the beauty of a translation is not the same as doctrinal correctnesss. 

Michael@83 et seq.

It’s still difficult to respond to replies like “No they don’t.”  May I recommend that you read scholars such as Peter Kreeft?  It’s true that Father Longenecker does not cite sources, but he is a trained priest (also a former Episcopalian) and thus I accord his remarks credibility.  Perhaps you have equal training—again, I don’t know.

So, dear fellow Christians, thank you for thinking and responding in sincerity, as we all love the Truth:

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Mt 7:7

[98] Posted by Clare on 10-3-2013 at 09:18 AM · [top]

* Father Longenecker wasn’t an Episcopolian—but a Protestant.

[99] Posted by Clare on 10-3-2013 at 09:25 AM · [top]

Hi Clare—Dwight Longenecker is a graduate from Bob Jones University—a dispensational, separatist school that is into the fourth generation of “fundamentalism” [and by fundamentalist I don’t mean “believes in the physical resurrection of Jesus,” I mean the American sect that at one time started well back in the early 20th century but has since devolved into mostly separatism and legalism], so I suppose one could call him a former “Protestant” but I don’t deem fourth-generation American free-church dispensational separatism to be really even five or six layers from “Protestantism.”  It is its own . . . um . . . thing, I guess you can call it, and prides itself on being divorced and unconnected from most other Christian streams.  From thence he went to the COE as an Anglican, and from thence he went to Rome. [Please note that I do not include 1) all dispensationalists, or 2) all free-churchers, or 3) all anti-authority leaders [except themselves of course] under the umbrella of “fundamentalists.”  This is how that particular unique and small sect describes *itself*.]

I don’t fault him for attempting to persuade Protestants and Anglicans of the truth of his private judgement to accept Rome’s claims [heh], but I do fault his rhetorical excesses, his pretensions [he cuts a wide swathe here in SC], as well as the massive holes in his reason/logic and historical knowledge within the rhetoric. So I’m pretty much in agreement with MichaelA in his assessments . . .

That being said, I appreciate your engagement here, as well as Eulogos’s engagement, and any number of other RCs here at SF.  I just wanted to state that I think there are *far* more knowledgeable, rational, cohesive apologists for Rome, who aren’t as freighted with reactivity—people who are true threats to Protestantism [of which I am a very happy member].  ; > )

[100] Posted by Sarah on 10-3-2013 at 09:55 AM · [top]

That is the quote MichaelA, and yes, the order would be Scripture, Reason, Church (I would use the word “Tradition” for “Church”, but mean the same thing). I’ve said twice that it’s not a stool, so will not say that again. But as a “step-ladder”, if you will, it doesn’t in any way conflict with the primacy of scripture:

what Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience is due…

The fundamental basis is scripture. What’s unclear about that?

Fr. Longenecker, by the way, was also an Anglican priest who served in the Church of England before becoming RC. Not sure if he was in the Episcopal Church before he went to England.

[101] Posted by Words Matter on 10-3-2013 at 02:12 PM · [top]

Hi, Sarah,

I’ve always wondered about Bob Jones University—you never hear of “Bob Bellarmine University” or “Tom Aquinas College” or “Chuck Borromeo Seminary” or “Lolek Wojtyla Institute.”

He probably got some heavy (re)training in England and through the Pastoral Provision.

In any case—thank you.

[102] Posted by Clare on 10-3-2013 at 03:38 PM · [top]

Clare, I certainly agree that the accuracy and orthodoxy of a translation is more important than its beauty.  Within those limits, however, there are some English translations which are of excellent quality based on the Hebrew and Greek and are also within the historical tradition of Bibles in English.  Indeed, Tyndale, Wycliff, and their heirs had significant doctrinal differences with the medieval Roman Church, but in great part, minus the glosses and side notes, the English Bibles which flow from the King James (and which rest on the earlier works) contain beautiful English phrases which are familiar to most speakers of English, whether or not they know where it comes from.  There are translations such as the RSV and the newer ESV (which still needs the Deuterocanonicals, I agree) which should be of great use to Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians.  Don’t lump all “Protestant” translations with those awful politically correct paraphrase products which I agree ought not to be in use in any parish or congregation.

Since the language of Scripture is of and about the Lord, wherever possible, within the limits of accuracy of translation, I will prefer the translation which is beautiful over the one which is more ugly or pedestrian.

[103] Posted by Katherine on 10-3-2013 at 04:12 PM · [top]

Katherine,

You’re “preaching to the choir”!

(I’m just so grateful that we got rid of “And also with you” (instead of the proper translation “And with thy spirit”).)

[104] Posted by Clare on 10-3-2013 at 04:25 PM · [top]

grin, Clare!

When my dear Catholic mother-in-law passed away, there was a prayer service at the grave.  The priest said, “The Lord be with you,” and I naturally replied, because it’s engrained in me, “And with thy Spirit.”  The priest’s head turned my direction as if to say, “Eh?”  I’m glad to know he’s now hearing that at every Mass.

I would so, so much rather work together with all Christians, sharing what we can and respecting what we can’t share, than fight the battles of five hundred years ago all over again.  The wolf is at the door, and it’s not Protestants vs. Catholics, it’s Islam.

[105] Posted by Katherine on 10-3-2013 at 04:51 PM · [top]

Katherine,

Yes—we surely need unity more than ever!

[106] Posted by Clare on 10-3-2013 at 05:15 PM · [top]

Islam and secularism/atheism.

Otherwise, what Katherine and Clare have said.

[107] Posted by Words Matter on 10-3-2013 at 05:38 PM · [top]

Hi Clare, I hope it is clear that I and most others are in agreement with you that Catholics were allowed, indeed officially encouraged, to read the bible pre-Vatican II.  And I am sure you would agree with us that, as with any large church, actual practice may have differed (like Betty, I know for a fact that it did differ in some cases).  But practice is never uniform in any large Church.

You wrote: “It’s still difficult to respond to replies like “No they don’t”.”  With respect, I suggest you need to consider the way that your own posts have led to that situation.  You made a bald statement:  “the discovery of the Qumran scrolls provides support for the inclusion in Holy Scripture of the OT books that were deleted”.  You didn’t offer any support for that proposition, and I am not criticizing you for that.  You are entitled to set out your position, but its a bit rich to blame other people when they reply to your bald statement with a similarly bald denial!  Now that you know that we disagree on that point, it is open to you (if you wish) to explain why you believe that, and we can take it from there. 

To be clear, I have some familiarity with the Dead Sea scrolls (having struggled through a couple of them in the original language during second year at uni!) and I have no idea how you get to the position that they support the inclusion of the ‘Apocrypha’ in the Old Testament.

You also wrote: “And remember that there was a Church before one word of the New Testament was written down.”

I write this to clarify our position, just so there is no misunderstanding:  What you write is correct, but the point (from our perspective) is that the Church was under the same authority from the first moment of its existence-  whether its the oral teaching of the Apostles or their written teaching (Scripture), the Apostles have always held authority over the Church. 

I suspect this is an area where TEC also differs - if they truly believed that Apostolic teaching is the highest authority in the church, they would not depart from scripture so easily.  Even if they say other Christians have been interpreting it incorrectly (for 2,000 years - go figure!) they actually spend very little time trying to justify such a position.  They seem to just ignore scripture, except in the sense of reading some out during their meetings, or throwing a few excerpts in to flavour one of their pronouncements (like parsley on chopped lamb in the butcher’s shop).  That is not taking scripture seriously.

[108] Posted by MichaelA on 10-3-2013 at 05:48 PM · [top]

WM, Clare and Katherine - there is some truth to that, however as Anglican we have to be able to articulate what we believe.  Otherwise we will have no foundation from which to contend with Islam and Secularism.  Therefore we defend our beliefs against those who disparage them.  I would expect all Christians to do the same: Roman Catholics, Oriental Orthodox, Baptists, whoever.

Now obviously the reason that I defend Anglican and Protestant belief against comments by devout Roman Catholics is different to the reason that I defend it against arch-liberals like KJ Schori.  In the former case, I am making clear to Christian brethren that we do have reasons for our beliefs, and they should not lightly disparage them.  Nevertheless, we are on the same side.  And in the latter case, I am warning apostates that judgment is at the door.

And in every case, debates like this serve to assist all Anglicans to consider and understand the foundation of their belief.

[109] Posted by MichaelA on 10-3-2013 at 06:00 PM · [top]

MichaelA -

I would be interested to know what I have written that disparages Anglican belief. The only approach I have made to Anglican matters is Richard Hooker’s triad (that is not a stool), which I praised. In fact, I don’t normally comment on Anglican matters at all, except this thread went in directions that included RC matters.

I do support your right, and even duty, to defend Anglican theology against anyone who disparages it. I certainly have the same right wrt the Catholic Faith, although I don’t generally do it in forums like this. Honestly, I spend more time on Catholic blogs, where atheist trolls are common and vicious.

[110] Posted by Words Matter on 10-3-2013 at 07:18 PM · [top]

WM, at that point I was referring to Clare’s citation of Longenecker.  Apologies if that was not clear. 

But in the first paragraph I was referring to the perfectly valid point made by you, Katherine and Clare (in different ways) about the importance of Catholics and Anglicans engaging Islam and Secularism.

[111] Posted by MichaelA on 10-3-2013 at 08:47 PM · [top]

I hope we can stand together as Christians who respect the Word of God as it has been handed down to us through the Bible.

[112] Posted by Betty See on 10-3-2013 at 11:39 PM · [top]

Words Matter, I am not angry with you, I just don’t want to recognize the popular “Three Legged Stool” argument, (not Richard Hooker’s theology) as valid Episcopalian theology, I prefer to refer to the Book of Common Prayer as representative our beliefs as Episcopalians.

[113] Posted by Betty See on 10-3-2013 at 11:52 PM · [top]

John 1:14
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

[114] Posted by Betty See on 10-4-2013 at 09:11 AM · [top]

Quite a fascinating thread, really! From my original post about how ECUSA’s PB was trying to manipulate the HoB into endorsing a statement about ECUSA’s polity that was contrary to what they had learned in seminary, we went to the PB’s Catholic upbringing, and how that might have influenced her views of Church polity. From there the thread drifted to her (dis)regard for the authority of Scripture, and began to expand on the degree to which Roman Catholics were free to read the Bible in their own tongues, with a lengthy discursus about just what Biblical resources and translations were available to the poor in various countries in medieval times. Still other diversions as to when the Canon of the Church became authoritative, to a side glance at Hooker on the authority of scripture, Fr. Longenecker’s treatment of the same, the inevitable reference to a (never-existent) three-legged stool, and then concluding with Betty See’s quote about the Logos from the Gospel of John as the only source of grace and truth.

Throughout I discern a consistent thread: what is the source of authority in religion? We seem to agree here that one has to start with Scripture, and we also agree that disregard for Scripture’s authority (such as placing it second, third, or even lower in one’s priorities) undermines the authority of the speaker to assert that tradition, or experience, or individual reason should take the highest billing. And so we come back to the Presiding Bishop and her desire to have the HoB speak “authoritatively” on the Church’s polity, in total disregard of what they all know to be the historical truth.

Since she shows so little respect for the authority of what Scripture plainly says, she may have begun to forfeit the respect of her fellow bishops for what she advocates on the Church’s polity. At least—they were not buying what she had for sale in this round. And if her litigation losses continue to grow, her credibility will be undermined in clergy and lay quarters, as well.

Thus if one were to ask how the Holy Spirit has been guiding this thread, one might conclude that the central issue is: by whose authority? Man’s, or Scripture’s? Can the Church establish in court, by simple human fiat, a view of its polity which has no basis in either its history or its earliest writings? And if it could, what would the Church gain by such devotion to the ambitions of just one human, as opposed to its centuries of Scripture-based worship? Does it not then cease to be a Spirit-led Church, and instead devolve into just one more private fiefdom?

Such is ECUSA becoming under Bishop Jefferts Schori’s disastrous reign.

[115] Posted by A. S. Haley on 10-5-2013 at 02:10 AM · [top]

Masterful drawing together, Curmudgeon!

[116] Posted by MichaelA on 10-5-2013 at 08:50 AM · [top]

MichaelA,

Sorry to take so long to reply to you @ 108—I accidentally unsubscribed from notification.

It’s admirable that you have read part of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the original language.  As I said, I’m not a Biblical scholar—there are many books that address the issue, though.

I was referring to the fact that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) was the version of the Old Testament accepted by the very earliest Christians (including our Lord, the Apostles, the Evangelists and Saint Paul). 

Moreover, the OT books rejected by Luther (apparently he also tried to exclude some NT books that didn’t comport with his way of thinking (I mean with the plain meaning of scripture) but was finally persuaded to leave those books in his “canon”) were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date between 168 B.C. and A.D. 68.  The 6th - 10th c. A.D. Masoretic texts (used by Protestants instead of the Septuagint) reflect the Jewish rejection of the Septuagint because of its acceptance by the early Christians.

So the point is that the Septuagint (insofar as it differed from the MT) was rejected by Luther (and/or his followers) on the grounds that it wasn’t originally written in Hebrew and accepted by the Jews of Palestine. 

Then when the “extra” books were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls—showing that in fact those books were written in Hebrew and accepted by Palestinian Jews B.C.—that discovery supported the inclusion of the books that are in the Septuagint but not in the MT.

It’s true that non-canonical books were also found at Qumran, but most are not in the Septuagint, from what I understand.

So the Bible referred to most often by Our Lord and His Apostles—was rejected 1,500 years after the Resurrection.  It seems that intellectual honesty would require accepting the Deuterocanonical books (the so-called Apocrypha) based on the discoveries (of more than 60 years ago) at Qumran.

[117] Posted by Clare on 10-7-2013 at 04:51 PM · [top]

My apologies Clare, for some reason I don’t seem to have received notification of your response.

Your post is very mixed up, i.e. a lot of facts are wrong or partly wrong, or their significance is mistaken:

1.  The reason Protestants don’t accept the scriptural authority of the Old Testament apocrypha is because a number of the Church Fathers didn’t, notably St Jerome and St Athanasius.  The reason they didn’t accept it is because their research led them to believe that the Jews didn’t accept them as scripture.  Naturally the jews accepted them as history and books worthy of reading.  Luther’s only relevance is that he also followed Jerome.

2. Theological opinion was divided during the Middle Ages about the canonicity of the Apocrypha.  At Luther’s trial in Augsburg, both he and the Papal Legate, Cardinal Cajetan agreed that the Apocrypha were not of scriptural authority.  It wasn’t until the Council of Trent that the RCC tried to make it an article of faith that the Apocrypha were scriptural, and that was because the RCC couldn’t prove some of its doctrines without them.

3.  The “septuagint” is a word used to describe one of a number of greek translations of the Old Testament in use in Jesus’ time.  The particular books were translated at different times by different translators.  It was not a “version” in the sense we understand it now.

4. You wrote: “I was referring to the fact that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) was the version of the Old Testament accepted by the very earliest Christians (including our Lord, the Apostles, the Evangelists and Saint Paul).”

No, its not a version.  Christ and his Apostles at times quoted from the Septuagint - they clearly had no problem with it - but they also used the Hebrew scriptures and other Greek versions. 

5. “So the point is that the Septuagint (insofar as it differed from the MT) was rejected by Luther (and/or his followers) on the grounds that it wasn’t originally written in Hebrew and accepted by the Jews of Palestine.”

If the topic is the Old Testament apocrypha, then the reason Luther rejected it was essentially because Jerome rejected it.  You seem to be drawing a connection between “Septuagint” and “Apocrypha” which just isn’t there.

6. “Then when the “extra” books were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls—showing that in fact those books were written in Hebrew and accepted by Palestinian Jews B.C.—that discovery supported the inclusion of the books that are in the Septuagint but not in the MT.”

Firstly, all the extra books were not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls - only about three were.  Secondly, the extra books weren’t all written in Hebrew - most were composed in Greek.  Thirdly the fact they were found in Qumran (or anywhere else) does not show they were ‘accepted’ (as scripture) by Palestinian Jews - it just shows they read them - and we already knew that.  Jesus read them, so did Paul.  It doesn’t mean they accepted them as scripture.

[118] Posted by MichaelA on 10-14-2013 at 12:37 AM · [top]

#118 That is very educational MichaelA

Thank you - I am always amazed at the range and the depth of your knowledge.

[119] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 10-14-2013 at 08:51 AM · [top]

educational ‘r’ us cheese

[120] Posted by MichaelA on 10-14-2013 at 05:20 PM · [top]

MichaelA,,

I responded to you, but the response didn’t appear—will try again soon—thx!

[121] Posted by Clare on 10-14-2013 at 06:10 PM · [top]

MichaelA,
You say the Apocrypha (we call them Deutero-canonical) was accepted due to Catholic doctrine. Is that an interrogation or in the documents of Trent?  I ask because Catholic doctrine is not necessarily built on scripture alone. Therefore, there would be no need of the extra books.

Also, I can’t think of a Catholic doctrine that depends on the books in question. I think there’s a reference in one of the Macabbees that’s use for purgatory, but it’s really oblique. Of course, the Marian dogmas of Immaculate Conception and Assumption have no Apocrypha connections.

[122] Posted by Words Matter on 10-14-2013 at 06:47 PM · [top]

Clare at #121, something that may help on stand Firm - if you spend a while composing a post inside the box, try taking a copy before hitting “submit”.  Then, if nothing posts, paste the comment back into the box and hit “submit” again.  Regards

[123] Posted by MichaelA on 10-14-2013 at 08:20 PM · [top]

Words Matter,

From memory the main one was prayers for the dead.

“I ask because Catholic doctrine is not necessarily built on scripture alone”.

Even to the extent that is true how is it relevant?  I assume from other comments that you are reasonably familiar with the documents of Trent and therefore you would know that they went to great effort to show the scriptural backing for the various doctrines promulgated there. 

“I think there’s a reference in one of the Macabbees that’s use for purgatory, but it’s really oblique.”

Indeed.  As opposed to the scriptural references which are non-existent.  In any case, I refer you again to the scriptural references appended to the documents of Trent - the Tridentine councillors took seriously the issue of scriptural support for their position, in particular where they made conciliar doctrinal announcements in areas not previously so covered.  They wanted to get as much scriptural support as possible, but they ran into difficulty with some doctrines which essentially lacked this.

[124] Posted by MichaelA on 10-14-2013 at 08:34 PM · [top]

It’s relevant because they wouldn’t need to affirm the Apocrypha strictly for scriptural support. And yes, I think it’s prayer for the dead in Maccabees. Like all my church history, my readings from Trent are pretty old. So I’ll go back and check.

Speaking of which, the English Cardinal Pole gave the opening address at Trent and it’s supposed to be very interesting. If anyone reading this is able to find it, I would appreciate a pointer.

[125] Posted by Words Matter on 10-14-2013 at 08:44 PM · [top]

MichaelA and Words Matter,

Thanks for your detailed responses and the interesting information you provided.

Michael (do you mind if I omit the “A”?), based on my limited reading on the subject, I agree with you on most counts – although your conclusion is – IMHO – wrong.

First of all, in general, the OT “canon”, from what I’ve read, was fluid until many years – perhaps even hundreds of years – after the Resurrection of our Lord, at which later time the Septuagint was rejected by certain Jewish teachers because the Septuagint was the Scripture of the Christians.

You also said, “It wasn’t until the Council of Trent that the RCC tried to make it an article of faith that the Apocrypha were scriptural, and that was because the RCC couldn’t prove some of its doctrines without them.”  I believe that it’s true that Trent may have been the first time that the Canon was defined so clearly and documented so permanently that it couldn’t later be refuted. My understanding is also that there’s a great deal of evidence that the Deuterocanonical books—what you call the “Apocrypha”—were viewed as part of the OT canon well before the Council of Trent and that local councils in the fourth century listed the Deuterocanonical books as part of the OT canon.

I also understand that the Deuterocanonical books found at Qumran were not the only discoveries there that validated the Septuagint.  I believe that there are studies regarding the texts themselves that show many of the Qumran scrolls support the Septuagint in addition to the tenth-century MT – the Protestant OT.

Although you say, “If the topic is the Old Testament apocrypha, then the reason Luther rejected it was essentially because Jerome rejected it. You seem to be drawing a connection between ‘Septuagint’ and ‘Apocrypha which just isn’t there”—in fact, the Deuterocanonical books (what you call “Apocrypha”) were in the Septuagint. So rejecting the Deuterocanonical books was also rejecting the Septuagint (the Bible of Jesus and His Apostles).

It’s also my understanding – again based on my limited reading – that Luther rejected even some NT books “because [Luther] couldn’t prove some of [his] doctrines without them.”  Apparently cooler—and holier—heads prevailed on those issues.

And your conclusion is wrong, in my view, because while “a number of the Church Fathers” agreed with Saint Jerome – a number of the Church Fathers also disagreed with him. Saint Jerome is a saint, but he is not the Church, and the Church rejected his conclusion about the OT.

Again, thanks for taking time to respond.

[126] Posted by Clare on 10-15-2013 at 07:08 AM · [top]

MichaelA,

P.S. Thanks for the tip on saving comments!

[127] Posted by Clare on 10-15-2013 at 07:37 AM · [top]

Hi Clare, you wrote:

1. “First of all, in general, the OT “canon”, from what I’ve read, was fluid until many years – perhaps even hundreds of years – after the Resurrection of our Lord”

I disagree.  To my knowledge there is no evidence whatsoever to support such an assertion, and plenty to indicate otherwise.  I can’t say much more than that, since you haven’t given any reasoning or evidence in support of it.  Feel free to do so, however and I will respond. 

2. “at which later time the Septuagint was rejected by certain Jewish teachers because the Septuagint was the Scripture of the Christians.”

You are conflating two different concepts, and not really getting them right either.  At different times the Jews disagreed with Christian interpretations of the OT based on the Septuagint.  That is a separate issue from Canon (note my comments below - you appear to be under the misapprehension that the Septuagint included the Apocrypha, based on a misplacement of evidence by 400-500 years).

3. “I believe that it’s true that Trent may have been the first time that the Canon was defined so clearly and documented so permanently that it couldn’t later be refuted.”

Of course it could be refuted.  Virtually every other church disagrees with Trent’s formulation, in one respect or another.  So does virtually every patristic source.  Nor is it any more “clear” or “permanent” than any other definition.  The point is that the great councils in the 1st to 5th centuries never took it on themselves to define scripture because they had no power to do so.  Scripture defined them.

4. “My understanding is also that there’s a great deal of evidence that the Deuterocanonical books—what you call the “Apocrypha”—were viewed as part of the OT canon well before the Council of Trent and that local councils in the fourth century listed the Deuterocanonical books as part of the OT canon.”

Firstly, note that I don’t use “Apocrypha” in a pejorative sense.  Its just a short convenient phrase.  Also your use of “deutero-canonical” can be misleading if it is meant to signify those extra books referred to at the Council of Trent – In several places in your post, you seem unaware that the apocryphal books you are referring to were not identical with those included at Trent.

Secondly, no, there isn’t a “great deal of evidence that DC books were viewed as part of the OT Canon well before the Council of Trent”.  Rather, the opposite.  From time to time some people argued that this or that book from the Apocrypha should be accepted as scripture.  Usually just one book or two, and not always books that the RC today regards as canonical.  It would be difficult to find even ONE example of patristic or medieval attestation that is the same as the Tridentine Deuterocanon.  If you have evidence otherwise, I would be happy to review it. 

As for local councils, they don’t help you either.  The alleged canon promulgated at the Synod of Rome in the 5th century is now agreed by most scholars to be a 6th century forgery.  In any case, although it includes extra books, they aren’t the same as the RC deutero-canon.  The same goes for the Council of Carthage at the end of the 4th century – it disagreed with St Jerome and included a number of additional books as scripture, but these were more than just the RC deutero-canon.  It is clear that the Church in Alexandria did not accept this, and no evidence that the church anywhere else agreed with Carthage, so why is it relevant?

5. “I also understand that the Deuterocanonical books found at Qumran were not the only discoveries there that validated the Septuagint.” 

I just don’t understand this sentence:

(i) What do you mean by “validated the Septuagint”?  That makes no sense.  The “Septuagint” is a Greek translation of the Old Testament.  It didn’t need to be validated by anything at Qumran.  It doesn’t include the Apocrypha (although we do have some examples of apocryphal books being bound with scriptural books – 500 years later! See below)

(ii) You seem to be claiming that the deuterocanonical books were found at Qumran – really?  Copies of only three were found, that I can think of.  Since they were found with many other profane books, how does this prove that even the Jews at Qumran regarded them as scripture, let alone any other Jews?

Add to this the fact that commentaries and expositions on scriptural books were found at Qumran, but no commentaries on apocryphal books, on what basis do you argue that Qumran gives any support at all to the canonicity of the Apocrypha?

6. “I believe that there are studies regarding the texts themselves that show many of the Qumran scrolls support the Septuagint in addition to the tenth-century MT – the ProtestantOT.”

Even if this were true, what difference does it make?  “Supporting the Septuagint” is not the same thing as supporting the canonicity of the Apocrypha.  You seem to have some idea that the Septuagint included the Apocrypha – it didn’t.

And no, the Masoretic Text is not the “Protestant OT”.  If you don’t understand the Protestant position, how can you meaningfully critique it?  Our translators take into account the MT, the LXX and many other versions besides.

7. “in fact, the Deuterocanonical books (what you call “Apocrypha”) were in the Septuagint.”

No they weren’t. 

You seem to be getting mixed up with certain codexes created 400-500 years later which included some Apocryphal books (not the same as each other, and not the same as the deutero-canon promulgated by Trent).  But they don’t affect what the Septuagint was in the first century BC or AD. 

8. “So rejecting the Deuterocanonical books was also rejecting the Septuagint (the Bible of Jesus and His Apostles).”

This is wrong on both counts.  The Septuagint did not include the Apocrypha, and the Septuagint was not “the bible of Jesus and his apostles”.  It was one of several Greek translations of the Hebrew Old Testament.  Jesus at least could read both, as could many Jews of his day.  There were also translations into Aramaic.  I personally read several languages, and I have bibles in most of them at home – that doesn’t mean that one of them is “my bible”.

9. “It’s also my understanding – again based on my limited reading – that Luther rejected even some NTbooks “because [Luther] couldn’t prove some of [his] doctrines without them.”  Apparently cooler—and holier—heads prevailed on those issues.”

In other words, Luther conceded.  Its not that the other heads were “holier”, its that they asked the question, “What is your evidence that these books are not apostolic”.  And Luther had to concede that if a book was of apostolic origin then it was scripture, whether or not he liked the doctrine in it. 

10. “And your conclusion is wrong, in my view, because while “a number of the Church Fathers” agreed with Saint Jerome – a number of the Church Fathers also disagreed with him.”

That prove your conclusion wrong, not mine!  You argued that the Apocrypha were part of the Bible until Luther took them out in the 16th century.  That is simply incorrect.  Most Christians (and the foremost theologians) up until the 16th century agreed that the Apocrypha were useful and edifying for Christians, but were not canonical scripture.  Hence why both Luther and the Papal Legate at Augsburg were in agreement on that point.  The fact that there were people throughout Church history who argued for the inclusion of different books in the Canon (and by no means restricted to the Tridentine deutero-canon) doesn’t help you.

11. “Saint Jerome is a saint, but he is not the Church, and the Church rejected his conclusion about the OT.”

No the Church didn’t.  Trent is not “the Church”.  You may believe it is if you choose, but that’s your private opinion (which you are entitled to hold).  It doesn’t affect me.

[128] Posted by MichaelA on 10-15-2013 at 11:58 PM · [top]

MichaelA -

Glad you posted;  I couldn’t remember exactly where this went. But I did skim the through some of the Trent decrees. As you are aware, the texts themselves don’t include scriptural references, but they are included in appendices. Skimming through some of those, I found only one or two DC references. Most were New Testament, common Old Testament, or other references.

Reading your reply to Clare leaves me wondering just where they came up with the list. If they wanted them to prove Catholic doctrine, they didn’t footnote it. Perhaps there are other.documents which explain Trent that explain it.

[129] Posted by Words Matter on 10-16-2013 at 01:35 AM · [top]

I should note that in addition to the antiquity of my church history schooling, the schools were Methodist and Episcopalian. Neither focused on Trent, our much other RC history after that. I’ve looked over the documents, of course, but not systematically or with proper teaching. The subject these days is Vatican II.

[130] Posted by Words Matter on 10-16-2013 at 01:58 AM · [top]

MichaelA, Thank you for sharing your knowledge and understanding of Christian history with us. We need to hear more from people, like you, who are well versed in their subject and willing to share their knowledge with us.
We as Christians especially need to understand the history of our Church and the importance of Scripture, because we do not want to repeat mistakes that have been made in the past.

[131] Posted by Betty See on 10-16-2013 at 03:15 PM · [top]

MichaelA,

I wrote most of this in the morning before work and am trying to post it again now.

I must admit, you seem to have sources that are more certain than the couple that I’ve heard of (VanderKam and Ulrich are the two that I remember, but there are several others—few agree with one another, as VanderKam himself points out, for example—have you read his books? ) The scholars tend to be pretty tentative in their conclusions. Maybe you’re working on your own book (am I the only one who doesn’t know your academic background?)—I’ll look forward to reading it (especially your footnotes).

To respond to your comments, I guess I’ll have to do some homework—as I’m quite sure that there is scholarly support for most of what I said. It will take a while, as I have a heavy work load—but that will give you a chance to reveal your sources, too.

The point is that the Dead Sea Scrolls shed new light on questions such as the age and origin of books in the Septuagint (not sure what you mean by the Deuterocanonical books not being in the Septuagint—can you share your source for that?).  Also that the issue of the historical “canon” of the OT is not a settled issue.  Do you disagree with those statements?  If so, please cite your source.

Just reading your point 11—indeed I do think that an Ecumenical Council of the Church speaks for the Church. And it’s not my private opinion—more than a billion people seem to agree with me (although the Truth will remain the same, even in a smaller, poorer Church).

Again, perhaps you’re a Biblical scholar writing pseudonymously (again, I am not)—but although tossing back and forth our opinions, what we remember of secondary sources, websites, even citations to scholarly articles and books—and even primary sources—may be worthwhile intellectually—this likely will not IMHO be a sure guide to the Truth.

The very fact that we Christians disagree on these issues shows the need for a Teaching Authority:

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jn 8:31-32

(I know you’ll have a response to these words of our Lord, because they lend themselves to many—often conflicting—conclusions.)

Thanks for your sincere consideration of my words, as I know you’re arguing for what you see as the Truth. God love you!

[132] Posted by Clare on 10-16-2013 at 07:22 PM · [top]

Clare,

I will leave it to Michael A to answer most of your other scholarly questions because I am not qualified to answer them but I would like to point out that you may not realize that you answered your own question when you said the following:  “The very fact that we Christians disagree on these issues shows the need for a Teaching Authority” and then quoted John 8:31-32 “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

It seems to me that when Jesus says that we should “remain in My word” He is
referring to the Word of God which we have received through Scripture, therefore Scripture is the real “Teaching Authority” for Christians.

[133] Posted by Betty See on 10-16-2013 at 11:14 PM · [top]

Hi, Betty See,

But what if we don’t all agree on the “plain meaning of Scripture”?  (There have been many, many words written just on that passage from the Evangelist.) We need a Teaching Authority to guide us.  It’s a sad but true fact that there are disagreements among Christians about many key Biblical passages.

Let’s pray for clarity, unity and understanding!

[134] Posted by Clare on 10-17-2013 at 06:45 AM · [top]

Clare,
If you are an Anglican, then there is a very useful rule of thumb laid down by Cramner (and he was hardly the first)- Scripture is not contradictory.  Any interpretation of a Bible passage that is contradictory of another passage is an incorrect interpretation.  One can play the revisionist game of trying to reduce that to an absurdity, but it usually becomes obvious when one is playing that game.
And what “teaching authority” are you recommending?  One assumes if you meant the Roman Magisterium, you would have said so.  Who would you recommend for Anglicans?  PB of TEC? ABoC? A Lambeth conference that no longer actually makes any decisions?

[135] Posted by tjmcmahon on 10-17-2013 at 07:49 AM · [top]

Michael A,
“The Septuagint did not include the Apocrypha”

I found this a bit confusing.  I would agree that the Septuagint did not include a section labeled “Apocrypha”, and it is also my understanding that not all of the books included in the Apocrypha were included in the LXX, but all of my sources indicate that some were. Part of the issue, as I understand it (sorry, very limited Greek, so I have not read it in the original) is that the books are not ordered in the same way as our modern OT’s, and sometimes the Apocryphal books are attached or within something else in the original text. Of course, you would be correct that those books were a) not part of the Jewish canon, and b) are never referenced in the NT by Jesus or the Apostles.  Not meaning to nitpick here, just hoping you could clarify.

TJ

[136] Posted by tjmcmahon on 10-17-2013 at 08:08 AM · [top]

Hi, tjmcmahon,

Those are excellent questions—and ones which have shattered Christendom and left it so for hundreds of years.

I think we need to contemplate those questions and pray very hard.

Of course, it would be disingenuous of me to pretend that I don’t believe that the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has that Teaching Authority.  Neither do I pretend that I could persuade you that that is the Truth. Your conscience and intellect, with the Lord’s grace, must be your guides.

[137] Posted by Clare on 10-17-2013 at 08:21 AM · [top]

Hey All,
One thing I have learned is that the books of the Jewish Bible are not in the same order as the Christian Bible.  I have a Complete Jewish Bible and it can be difficult to find some OT books because the order is different. Jewish Bibles do not include the Apocrypha. These 15 books though are considered a collection of ancient Jewish Books. Even some books of the Hebrew Bible were added well after the 1st and 2nd century CE. For example, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esther, Song of Songs/Solomon and Ecclesiastes. [source- CJB by David Stern- a Messianic Jew and translator of the Jewish New Testamentwhich is now part of the Complete Jewish Bible)

I agree with those who rightly point out Scripture should be the authority for Christians and scripture can interpret scripture but when revisionists subvert scripture by pointing out that *certain* things were not discussed *specifically* in scripture and hence they are OK, you can guarantee they are doing playing fast and loose with scripture…. JMHO.

[138] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 10-17-2013 at 10:13 AM · [top]

Mr. Haley #88, Thanks for the link to that very useful site about the development of the Bible.  I have bookmarked it as there is a lot of very interesting information. That site agrees with what David Stern and the CJB have for the Books of the Hebrew Bible. It seems from comparing their lists some of those later additions to the Hebrew Bible were put into the section called “Writings”.

[139] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 10-17-2013 at 10:29 AM · [top]

SC blu cat lady @138,

How about Mt 16:18?

That’s pretty specific—and I’ll bet that you’ll say that your interpretation is “obvious"and reflects the “plain meaning” based on other parts of scripture (whose meaning is also “plain”) and that other interpretations are flat-out wrong.

Am I right?

[140] Posted by Clare on 10-17-2013 at 11:17 AM · [top]

Clare, even in the rest of the NT there isn’t much other than that one passage to support Peter’s universal primacy over the Church, and there are some which show that he wasn’t necessarily the only apostle in charge, nor does very early church history support universal primacy.  Universal respect for the bishopric of Rome, yes; operative primacy, not really.  Catholics, of course, disagree with this assessment, and so we have to agree to disagree, being very unlikely to resolve this discussion here.

I think the link provided by A.S. Haley was indeed very interesting, as SC blu cat lady says in #139.  Clare, it summarizes fairly briefly some of the discussions above from the Protestant viewpoint.  Particularly interesting to me is this list of what ancient authorities accepted which deutero-canonical books as Scripture, and when.  A look at this will tell you why Protestant scholars felt that these books were of secondary importance.  I haven’t had time to look at the NT canon lists, but I rather imagine this site will be helpful in following the reasoning about that as well.  As others have pointed out, “the Septuagint” was not a bound collection in one volume until 100-150 years after Christ at the earliest, and the apostles would not have thought of it that way.

[141] Posted by Katherine on 10-17-2013 at 12:54 PM · [top]

Hi, Katherine,

Thanks for that information, and I do intend to look at that linik.

I think that my meta-point is that “agree to disagree” is what one is left with, absent a Teaching Authority. Naturally, from a human intellectual perspective, there are credible arguments on both (or many) sides of any given issue, especially where one is dealing with documents that are thousands of years old and written in languages that are no longer spoken or written in the same way.  The problem is that there is only one Truth, and to the extent that these disputed points of doctrine are major, it’s seems important to determine what that Truth is.

If people’s consciences are comfortable with accepting Luther’s—or anyone else’s—take on things—that’s not for me to judge. God bless them for caring about what the Lord asks of them.

But the bottom line is that without a Teaching Authority, there can never be unity.  It’s like the family that sits in the driveway because no one can agree on the destination.  Eventually Papa has to make a decision, turn the key in the ignition, and drive.

Or everyone can get out of the car and go in different directions.

I think that the Lord wanted there to “be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16) and so he provided us with a way to “know the truth.” (Jn 8:32).

Just my (and the billion-plus others’) opinion.

[142] Posted by Clare on 10-17-2013 at 01:24 PM · [top]

Clare,
No earthly Christian hierarchy, not even the Roman Catholic Church, can or should be defended by casting doubt on the Authority of Scripture.

John 18:36-37
Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

[143] Posted by Betty See on 10-17-2013 at 04:50 PM · [top]

Betty See,

I can almost feel your concern!

Fear not—far from “casting doubt on the Authority of Scripture”—Holy Mother Church loves and venerates Sacred Scripture—it’s a question of who says what Scripture says (because it’s really not “plain” and “obvious”—or we wouldn’t be in disagreement).  Here’s a link (click for “next pages” to read all five sections):

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PO.HTM

and here’s a brief summary:

134 “All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and that one book is Christ, because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ” (Hugh of St. Victor, De arca Noe 2, 8: PL 176, 642).

135 “The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God” (DV 24).

136 God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors; he acts in them and by means of them. He thus gives assurance that their writings teach without error his saving truth (cf DV 11).

137 Interpretation of the inspired Scripture must be attentive above all to what God wants to reveal through the sacred authors for our salvation. What comes from the Spirit is not fully “understood except by the Spirit’s action’ (cf. Origen, Hom. in Ex. 4, 5: PG 12, 320).

138 The Church accepts and venerates as inspired the 46 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New.

139 The four Gospels occupy a central place because Christ Jesus is their centre.

140 The unity of the two Testaments proceeds from the unity of God’s plan and his Revelation. the Old Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfils the Old; the two shed light on each other; both are true Word of God.

141 “The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord” (DV 21): both nourish and govern the whole Christian life. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (⇒ Ps 119:105; cf. ⇒ Is 50:4).

from The Catechism of the Catholic Church

[144] Posted by Clare on 10-17-2013 at 05:07 PM · [top]

The conciliar process has served Orthodoxy pretty well as a teaching authority, from what I can see. From this outsider opinion, that seems to me well-suited to the existing structures of the Anglican Communion, but you have to be willing to excommunicate jurisdictions that go off the rails.

My opinion, which with $4 will get your coffee at Starbucks.

[145] Posted by Words Matter on 10-17-2013 at 05:46 PM · [top]

I find the Words that Jesus taught in John Chapter 14 both authoritative and comforting.

John 14: 15-17
15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.  17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

John 14: 25-27
25 I have said these things to you while I am still with you.  26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.  27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

[146] Posted by Betty See on 10-17-2013 at 06:35 PM · [top]

Thank you, Betty See!

[147] Posted by Clare on 10-17-2013 at 08:21 PM · [top]

Indeed Words Matter it hangs on the willingness to mete out discipline and the fear of being disciplined.  That is rather foreign to many Anglicans.

[148] Posted by Nikolaus on 10-17-2013 at 08:55 PM · [top]

WM at #145, never a truer word…

[149] Posted by MichaelA on 10-18-2013 at 01:47 AM · [top]

Tjmcmahon,

No problem with nit-picking!  You wrote:

“I found this a bit confusing. I would agree that the Septuagint did not include a section labeled “Apocrypha”, and it is also my understanding that not all of the books included in the Apocrypha were included in the LXX, but all of my sources indicate that some were”

Some clarification:

1.  First we need to understand what we mean by the word “Septuagint”.  You can go down the road and buy a Septuagint, but it is virtually certain that the precise collection of translated books you hold in your hand never existed in Jesus’ day.  It is a collection of translations of Old Testament books and some apocryphal books into Greek, but those translations were done by different people and groups, in different places and at different times over more than a century.  There was no single commissioning or overseeing authority.  And there were also other translations into Greek which we no longer have – at least seven have been identified in the literature and from fragments - and which may be mixed in as well. 

2.  So we shouldn’t confuse the Septuagint as being a version, like the King James Bible or the Vulgate. 

3.  Now, there was some unity in the process right at the start.  In about 250 BC, King Ptolemy of Egypt commissioned a group of priests to translate the five books of Moses into Greek.  Strictly speaking, this is the only part of our current book that is properly called Septuagint.  Thereafter, other people added other books, which were translated by different groups in different places, with the latest of the books we have probably being translated in about 130 BC. 

4.  Over this same period of more than a century, other Hebrew books were also translated into Greek.  That includes those books listed in the RC deutero-canon, and many others besides. 

5.  What evidence is there that the Greek Old Testament used in Jesus’ day included apocryphal books?  None.  I can’t put it any more plainly than that.  You could equally say that there is no evidence that they did not, and for that matter that in many cases there were no Bibles, just separate scrolls.  But that just drives home the point that this whole issue of Septuagint actually can’t tell us very much about canon.

6.  So why is there a debate now about the inclusion of Apocrypha?  Essentially because three Codices from the late 4th century AD or later have come down to us, and they include some apocryphal books bound together with scriptural books (note that some of these extra books in the Codices are in the RC deutero-canon and some aren’t, and the precise books are different for each codex).

7.  Now this raises a number of problems for those like Clare looking for evidence that either Jews or early Christians regarded the Apocrypha as scripture:

(a)  The inclusion of non-canonical books in a codex with canonical books does not of itself imply that the former were regarded as scripture.  For example: I have an NIV study bible on my desk.  Some bits of it are scripture, some are not.  If an archaeologist in future found it, he would be hard-pressed from that evidence alone to say what was scripture and what was not, yet the vast majority of Christians today have no doubt.  I also have a Jewish bible which contains Scripture, Targum (Aramaic paraphrase) and medieval commentators like Rashi and Evan Ezra, all on the same page.  A Jew knows exactly what is scripture and what isn’t, but its not obvious just by looking at the document.  Hence the mere fact that Codex Sinaiticus has some apocryphal books bound together with canonical books doesn’t mean the former were regarded as scripture, even in the 4th century AD.

(b)  Once we realise that the “Septuagint” gives us no support for the
Apocrypha being scripture, then we are thrown back onto the traditional authorities:

(i)  Statements by Josephus and other Jews that the Apocrypha were not regarded as scripture;

(ii)  Research by Jerome and Athanasius in the fourth century AD, located in the relevant places, to the same effect;

(iii)  Voluminous reference to Hebrew scripture by Jesus and the New Testament writers, but virtually no reference to Apocrypha.

(c)  The Dead Sea Scrolls are also relevant – they contain commentaries (Pesharim) on scriptural books, but there is no Pesher on an Apocryphal book.

[150] Posted by MichaelA on 10-18-2013 at 01:55 AM · [top]

SC Blu Cat Lady wrote:

“Even some books of the Hebrew Bible were added well after the 1st and 2nd century CE. For example, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esther, Song of Songs/Solomon and Ecclesiastes.”

Really?  I would be very interested to see any evidence for that assertion.  It sounds like the discredited liberal argument on scripture from the late 19th century, rebadged.

Some flaws in it are immediately obvious.  For example:

•  Daniel is quoted several times as scripture in the gospels, and Ezekiel is quoted twice in the Book of Revelation (along with obvious parallels to both books in Revelation). 

•  We have found more commentaries (pesharim) on the Song of Songs among the Dead Sea scrolls than any other book, and pesharim were done on scripture.

Anyway, I will be happy to comment further if I someone can set out the evidence relied on for this idea.

[151] Posted by MichaelA on 10-18-2013 at 01:56 AM · [top]

Clare wrote:

“Those are excellent questions — and ones which have shattered Christendom and left it so for hundreds of years.”

Are you seriously suggesting that Christendom hadn’t been shattered for centuries (if not millennia) prior to the Protestant Reformation?  What about all the religious wars, crusades, heresy arguments, multiple Popes, interdicts, excommunications and two Great Schisms?

“But what if we don’t all agree on the “plain meaning of Scripture”?”

What indeed?  People disagree about the plain meaning of scripture all the time, and for a wide variety of reasons.  They also disagree about the plain meaning of Papal Encyclicals and Apostolic Consitutions.  This is not a credible argument against the primacy of Scripture

“We need a Teaching Authority to guide us.”

And then you need a Teaching Authority to solve disagreements about what the Teaching Authority means, and so on.  And no matter how many you have, the disagreements will just keep coming.

“Fear not — far from “casting doubt on the Authority of Scripture” — Holy Mother Church loves and venerates Sacred Scripture — it’s a question of who says what Scripture says (because it’s really not “plain” and “obvious” — or we wouldn’t be in disagreement).”

To Protestants, that’s an obvious fallacy, because you then just get involved in a disagreement about who interprets what “Holy Mother Church” says.  Just look at the intense disagreements between Roman Catholics about what the doctrine of the church means in practice.

In any case, this puts the cart before the horse – we are only able to give credence to the church insofar as God has decreed that it be so - the church does not command our allegiance because of its age, influence or wealth, for instance.  We agree that God has decreed authority to the church – as John Calvin put it, “no-one can be saved outside of mother church”.  But God also put the church firmly and entirely under the authority of his holy apostles.  And they in turn left their teaching as scripture, the inspired and God-breathed word.

We can whinge all we like about scripture being hard to understand or people disagreeing about it, really, what is the point?  That’s like complaining that its difficult to follow Christ’s teaching – of course it is, but that doesn’t give us any excuse not to do it.  We have been told to follow Scripture as the primary authority for Christians, so that’s what we do.

“If people’s consciences are comfortable with accepting Luther’s — or anyone else’s — take on things — that’s not for me to judge. God bless them for caring about what the Lord asks of them.”

Likewise our feelings about those whose consciences are comfortable about accepting Rome’s take on things.  God bless them for caring about what the Lord asks of them.

“But the bottom line is that without a Teaching Authority, there can never be unity.”

Precisely our point.  And because we do have a Teaching Authority, we have unity.

“I think that the Lord wanted there to “be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16)”

Of course he did.  I am part of that flock, so is the Baptist down the road and the Roman Catholic across the street.  One flock, one shepherd.

“and so he provided us with a way to “know the truth.” (Jn 8:32).”

Yes, and what was that way? (Hint: its in the preceding verse)

“Just my (and the billion-plus others’) opinion.”

And more than 5 billion disagree with you, so I wouldn’t try a numbers argument.  In any case, it won’t work with those who believe that the truth is the truth.  For example, in about 33 AD, there were 120 people in an upper room in a forgotten back-corner of the Roman Empire who believe one thing, and a million or more people around them who believed otherwise.  But you are telling me I should believe the million, not the 120 …?  cool smirk

[152] Posted by MichaelA on 10-18-2013 at 02:01 AM · [top]

Hi Clare at #132,

I am not working on a book.  My only relevant qualifications are an Arts degree from Sydney University majoring in Semitic Studies and Classical Greek, and a few certificates from places as diverse as Moore College in Sydney and some Jewish group who used to run the Old Testament competition.  But that was decades ago.  I suppose you could say this is a hobby, and I have spent much of my spare time on it.  Practicing commercial law and being a father and grandfather doesn’t always leave a lot of spare time either.

If you want references to any original source I am happy to supply them – a surprising amount of them are online.  I usually wait until specifically asked or the debate reaches the required level of detail.

“The point is that the Dead Sea Scrolls shed new light on questions such as the age and origin of books in the Septuagint ….”

Well, yes – but remember that some give more support to the Masoretic text than the Septuagint! 

Anyway, let’s not forget that we do not actually have a Septuagint in the sense that we have the KJV bible.  “Septuagint” describes a bundle of translations of all the books of the bible and other books (including those in the RC deutero-canon, but also other Apocryphal books) into Greek, which translations were done progressively over more than a century.  These translations weren’t directed by any central authority and there were other Greek translations being done at the same time.  The Dead Sea scrolls don’t change that general picture – it is clear that members of the Qumran community were willing to use texts coming from the antecedents of both MT and LXX, and my view is that both of those emanated from the same source anyway, i.e. what each prophetic author originally wrote or dictated.

[153] Posted by MichaelA on 10-18-2013 at 02:13 AM · [top]

MichaelA,

Not surprised that you’re a lawyer—and that’s a compliment—to your logic and appreciation for good argument. I suspect that Words Matter is, too (allusion to Saint Thomas More).

Are you seriously suggesting that Christendom hadn’t been shattered for centuries (if not millennia) prior to the Protestant Reformation?  What about all the religious wars, crusades, heresy arguments, multiple Popes, interdicts, excommunications and two Great Schisms?


Yes, I do believe that the Protestant Revolt shattered Christendom.  I think that qualifies as a historical fact. (Take judicial notice.  ) Strife and schism there had been before the 16th century, but when European Christendom was rent by Luther, Henry VIII, and others (not to absolve Catholics who were worldly and corrupt and weakened the Church thereby)—Christianity suffered a crippling (though not mortal) blow.

People disagree about the plain meaning of scripture all the time, and for a wide variety of reasons.  They also disagree about the plain meaning of Papal Encyclicals and Apostolic Consitutions.  This is not a credible argument against the primacy of Scripture…And then you need a Teaching Authority to solve disagreements about what the Teaching Authority means, and so on.  And no matter how many you have, the disagreements will just keep coming.

Yes, Catholics disagree on some matters—but not the core doctrines, which are clear—the Nicene Creed, the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, the effects of Original Sin, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for example—just read the Catechism.

I am part of that flock, so is the Baptist down the road and the Roman Catholic across the street.  One flock, one shepherd.


It’s true that we Christians are all part of the same flock—but we’re not in full communion with one another.  The multiplicity of teachings testifies to that fact. 

Likewise our feelings about those whose consciences are comfortable about accepting Rome’s take on things.  God bless them for caring about what the Lord asks of them.

And, yes, following the teachings of the Church and of the Bishop of Rome is right—see Mt 16:18. (Oh, I forgot—we differ on the interpretation of that passage.)

We can whine all we like about scripture being hard to understand or people disagreeing about it, really, what is the point?  That’s like complaining that its difficult to follow Christ’s teaching – of course it is, but that doesn’t give us any excuse not to do it.  We have been told to follow Scripture as the primary authority for Christians, so that’s what we do.

If it’s cool to follow Scripture without a Teaching Authority to interpret Scripture—then why all the divisions in Christendom?

You want me to check out John 8:31(the translation linked here):
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples…” 

He didn’t say that everyone could have his own teaching—is that what you mean?  Another translation is, ““If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Remember, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Jn 1:1

Also:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

Jn 14:6:

Not sure what point you’re trying to make.

As to my reference to the numbers of Catholics – I was just pointing out that it’s not my “private opinion”—I said clearly in an earlier comment that the Truth will remain the same, even in a smaller, poorer Church – as it was at the end of the first century, when Saint Ignatius of Antioch stood to face the wild beasts who would tear him apart. (His Feast Day was yesterday BTW.)

Will have to get back to you on your comments about the Bibiical texts, as I’ll need some time to look things up—and yes, I would like your sources—thanks very much.

May I ask your religious upbringing?

Now, we’d better get back to work… grin

[154] Posted by Clare on 10-18-2013 at 08:12 AM · [top]

Clare,
I don’t believe that Christians are as divided as you seem to think we are. In fact I believe that the reformation was beneficial to all Christians including the Roman Catholic Church in that all Christians are now allowed to read, that which is their birthright, the Bible, and to recognize its Scripture as the Word of God. 
I was taught to read and memorize bible verses, the Lord’s Prayer, The Apostles Creed, The Books of the Bible, and how to look up Bible verses when I was a young child, many years ago, in what was then called the Methodist Episcopal Church. I now attend the Episcopal Church USA because we have the Holy Eucharist every Sunday and because the Book of Common Prayer, which we use every Sunday, explains the Christian Faith and clearly recognizes the Authority of Scripture.

[155] Posted by Betty See on 10-18-2013 at 11:16 AM · [top]

Sorry, I posted to soon and meant to add the following:
It seems to me that these basic beliefs unite all Christians rather than divide them.

[156] Posted by Betty See on 10-18-2013 at 11:21 AM · [top]

Betty See,

< blockquote> In fact I believe that the reformation was beneficial to all Christians including the Roman Catholic Church in that all Christians are now allowed to read, that which is their birthright, the Bible, and to recognize its Scripture as the Word of God.</blockquote>

I’m not sure what you mean by the above sentence – are you implying that the Church prevented Catholics from reading Sacred Scripture until Luther came along?  Are we back to where this sub-topic began?  Since it’s been discussed at such weary length, I must point out that it’s a bit of superstitious nonsense that Catholics were ever forbidden to read the Bible (the exception being heretical translations).  In fact, did you know that Catholics could receive (gasp) indulgences for reading Sacred Scripture?

If you read the Catechism paragraphs that I provided and linked to, you’d understand the Church’s relationship to Scripture.  Remember, without the Church, we would have no Bible.

I see that you’re also pointing out the beliefs and practices shared by all Christians, and that is encouraging.  We can understand one another, even if we can’t eat together (metaphorically and literally).

In fact, through this discussion, I realize that Protestants seem to be quite satisfied with a divided Christendom and don’t view the fact that there are thousands of different denominations as a problem. That’s an interesting revelation to me.

[157] Posted by Clare on 10-19-2013 at 08:57 AM · [top]

Clare, #157, I don’t see how you can conclude from these discussions that “Protestants seem to be quite satisfied with a divided Christendom and don’t view the fact that there are thousands of different denominations as a problem.”  What you mean, I presume, is that the Protestants who have commented here (including those who have defended against the misstatement that Catholics are anti-scripture or that Catholics were not allowed to read the Bible) don’t feel they can accept the present form of Roman Catholic universal jurisdiction and teaching authority.  The same can be said, of course, about the Orthodox, who do not accept those things and maintain that they never did.

[158] Posted by Katherine on 10-19-2013 at 10:08 AM · [top]

Claire, I do not intend to debate historical facts which can be looked up in any history book or here:
http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/pre-reformation.html
http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/#timeline

My concern is your advocacy of a “Teaching Authority”. When you say “The very fact that we Christians disagree on these issues shows the need for a Teaching Authority”, I am concerned that this “Teaching Authority” would infringe on the Authority of Scripture or the teaching Authority of the Holy Spirit.

[159] Posted by Betty See on 10-19-2013 at 10:57 AM · [top]

Clare, Regarding your post 157,
Thank you for condescending to say the following: “I see that you’re also pointing out the beliefs and practices shared by all Christians, and that is encouraging.”

We Christians are indeed blessed with the unity of shared beliefs and practices which are founded in the teachings of Jesus Christ as we have received them through Scripture. 
I am afraid that the kind of “Teaching Authority” and absolute conformity of belief that you seek is not possible in this sinful world and think that this kind of “Authority” would be used to promote earthly ambitions rather than Christian unity.

[160] Posted by Betty See on 10-19-2013 at 12:34 PM · [top]

Katherine and Betty See @ 158 and 159,

Regarding the links – those aren’t legitimate historical material, I don’t think – I don’t know where that information comes from or even who wrote the summaries – maybe I missed it.  There are many “history books” out there – the Soviet Union printed a lot of them – but they’re not all authoritative.

As for the Orthodox question– I’ll defer to an expert to comment on that issue.  But it seems IMHO that what you’re both saying is that you’d be glad to accept a Teaching Authority – as long as it said what you think it should say.  So the result is that everyone is his or her own individual “teaching authority” – that is to say, no Teaching Authority at all.

Betty See, your concern is well founded – that accepting another’s authority on the interpretation of Scripture threatens the authority of Sacred Scripture itself.  The fact is that someone has to interpret it – whether it’s the Catholic Magisterium, Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII, Swedenborg, Charles Russell, KJS or Ron Hubbard – or your neighbor across the street or you yourself.  And the meaning can’t be obvious and plain, because the differences of opinion are legion. Our Lord understood this.  He often corrected the scholars of his day on the meaning of Scripture.  So what did our Lord intend?  To whom did he grant authority under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?  Or did He figure that it doesn’t really matter – let every denomination, congregation or person decide for himself on the meaning of His teachings – kind of “whatever”?

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

Mt 28:19-20

(Let’s see if we agree on the interpretation of that passage.)

[161] Posted by Clare on 10-19-2013 at 01:06 PM · [top]

Clare, #161, I can speak only for myself, but no, I do not look for a Teaching Authority which only says what I want it to, and I deplore the many divisions in Christianity.  The “me and my Bible and my own interpretation” approach is not one I can agree with.  I do agree with the classical Anglican approach, which is that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith.”  This limits articles of Faith to the Scripture and the ancient Creeds of the undivided church, since the Creeds are clearly grounded in Scripture, which is the teaching of the Apostles.  I may choose to believe other things if they are not contradictory to these essentials, but I don’t think any teaching authority can require them of me.

The private or novel interpretation of Scripture is more descriptive of the modernists who have destroyed my former church (TEC), and who would like to destroy yours.  If you read the current news, you know who some of these are; they are hyperventilating with joy over what are (I think and hope) misinterpretations of interviews given by Pope Francis.

[162] Posted by Katherine on 10-19-2013 at 01:26 PM · [top]

Clare, post 161,
I suspect that you misunderstood me on purpose but NO, I would NOT be “glad to accept a human “Teaching Authority”.
We already have a Teaching Authority and it is the Bible.

[163] Posted by Betty See on 10-19-2013 at 02:01 PM · [top]

Clare,
It may be that some women would be in favor of a “Teaching Authority” in the Roman Catholic Church because they think it is powerful position that women might attain but I am not one of them.

[164] Posted by Betty See on 10-19-2013 at 03:06 PM · [top]

This has devolved into Catholic/Anglican issues, which I avoid. But it would like it clear that I am NOT a lawyer, don’t play one on TV, and don’t have one on retainer.  I am the uncle of one, however. 

I do have a certain devotion to St. Thomas More, who gave up his life for his faith, and before that, political power, having the ear of the king, and a good living. There is a lot to admire in all of that. Besides, A Man for All Seasons is one of my favorite movies.

[165] Posted by Words Matter on 10-19-2013 at 03:35 PM · [top]

Betty See @ 163 & 164, Katherine @ 162 and Words Matter @ 164,

Words Matter – thank you – I see your point. (And thanks for your words on Saint Thomas More and my favorite movie.)

Betty See @ 164, you said,

It may be that some women would be in favor of a “Teaching Authority” in the Roman Catholic Church because they think it is powerful position that women might attain but I am not one of them.


I have no idea what you mean by that.  The Teaching Authority or Magisterium isn’t a position.  Here’s what the Magisterium is:

The Magisterium of the Church
85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.
86 “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”
87 Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me”, the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

@163

I think you also misunderstood me—I hope not on purpose. If I misunderstood you, I am sorry.

My thinking is that when you say your authority is the Bible, then you are your own “magisterium” because you decide what the Bible says.  Since you are human, you are accepting a human authority.

What is your interpretation of Matthew 16:18, for example—if it’s not the same as mine (or any other individual(s)), who is following the Bible, you or I? Does it matter? 

Who decides whether Genesis 18-19 is about sodomy – or about hospitality?  What if two people following the “classical Anglican approach” differ in their interpretations on an important doctrine? 

Is accepting that approach (or any such formula) obedience—or following our own inclinations?

It’s (fallen) human nature to think that our way is the right one.  We resist the demand for obedience to authority.

I’ve learned a great deal from this discussion, and I thank you for taking time (and thought) to respond. I don’t except to convince either of you, or anyone else – just sharing – if Blessed John Henry Newman couldn’t bring unity with Anglicans, I doubt if anyone else could – though “with God all things are possible.” Mt 19:26

Let’s peacefully celebrate the Lord’s Day, and pray for unity (if you want it).

[166] Posted by Clare on 10-19-2013 at 03:50 PM · [top]

Clare, as far as the differences that have come up between the traditional Anglicans and the “new thing” variety, for instance, on sodomy, as you suggest, it is the people who reject what the apostles and the Church Fathers said who find it possible to pretend that basic human nature and sexual ethics are open to redefinition.  It was the late Fr. John Neuhaus who pointed out that in the sexual scandals in his Church it was a lack of faithfulness which caused the trouble.  The same is true for the current Anglican troubles:  People have failed to remain faithful to what the Church has always taught.

Anglicans pray for Christian unity with every liturgy, Clare, and I think you do, too.  Peace.

[167] Posted by Katherine on 10-19-2013 at 04:05 PM · [top]

Et cum spirit tuo,   Katherine.

And thank you.

[168] Posted by Clare on 10-19-2013 at 05:35 PM · [top]

* spiritu

[169] Posted by Clare on 10-19-2013 at 05:36 PM · [top]

I have only just discovered this thread, whose title did not originally strike me, a British/Canadian Anglican, as obviously for me.

Now, however, I see that Septuagintal matters have arisen here, so I put on my Septuagint specialist hat. [My Oxford doctoral dissertation dealt with aspects of the Old Greek of Ezekiel.] Yes, all that AMichael has written in this space is sound, Septuagint proper is the Pentateuch in its Greek dress, and this was made early in the Third Century BC. The five books were not all done by the same individuals, for they differ in both language and translation technique; however they came to enjoy such wide acceptance that they were effectively used as models and mined for ideas of meaning, as translations of the Former and Latter Prophets and the Writings came along. These later versions, sometimes loosely termed Septuagint, are more accurately called the Old Greek. The whole of the Hebrew Bible was pretty certainly available in Greek by 132 BC when Ben Sira’s grandson, in his introduction to his Greek version of the originally Hebrew Ecclesiasticus, commented on the difficulty of conveying in translation the sense of the books of the already-existing threefold Hebrew/Aramaic canon “when expressed in their own language”.

Septuagint even in its broader sense does not include any deutero-canonical books or any not originally written in Hebrew/Aramaic.

There is a new book out called When God Spoke Greek
Some of its positions are quite extreme, but it’s worth looking at the Amazon reviews. One reviewer was quite upset by its implications for the doctrine of the Virgin Conception, thinking as so many do that the truth of this depends on our believing that Is. 7 contains a prophecy of it. Though Jerome stuck to virgo for his rendering, he knew that this is a misunderstanding both of the Hebrew and of what Matthew means by “fulfilment”. See my contribution to the discussion at <a > I also offer my much longer paper on Is. 7 and Matth. 1 in that space.

[170] Posted by Dr. Priscilla Turner on 10-19-2013 at 07:23 PM · [top]

Trying again to insert a link: See my contribution to the discussion at Comment I also offer my much longer paper on Is. 7 and Matth. 1 in that space.

[171] Posted by Dr. Priscilla Turner on 10-19-2013 at 07:30 PM · [top]

Clare,
I may have misunderstood you when you said “We need a Teaching Authority because ...”.
Were you really saying “We Catholics have a Teaching Authority because ...”

This is an Anglican site and I am not familiar with the authoritative structure
of the Roman Catholic Church, I may have misunderstood what you were saying or advocating and I apologize if I misjudged your motives.

I still cannot not agree that we as Christians need a “Teaching Authority” because we already have a Teaching Authority in the inspired Word of the Bible which speaks much more clearly than any human being can, but I do respect your right to disagree.

[172] Posted by Betty See on 10-19-2013 at 07:46 PM · [top]

This is my last post on this site. I hope I have not interrupted any discussions.

[173] Posted by Betty See on 10-19-2013 at 09:01 PM · [top]

Betty See -

Site? I hope not. I disagree with you from time to time, but you seem to have a heart for Jesus. Um any case, God bless you.

[174] Posted by Words Matter on 10-19-2013 at 09:55 PM · [top]

Words Matter,
Thanks for your kind words, I am glad that we can enjoy debating these things. You were right, I did mean to say that I would not be posting on this thread instead of “posting on this site” but I think this mistake was an unconscious warning that I need to take a little vacation from posting in order to regain my equilibrium. There is lot to learn from you and the other people who have posted on this thread so I will enjoy reviewing it without comment.

[175] Posted by Betty See on 10-20-2013 at 03:36 PM · [top]

Betty See,

I second Words Matter @ 174.

[176] Posted by Clare on 10-21-2013 at 07:29 AM · [top]

Clare,

Its very difficult to have a meaningful debate with you, because you don’t appear willing to look at any issue in real depth.  I can understand Betty’s frustration.  Just my observation.  I will try and cover the myriad points you have thrown around, without being repetitive:

“Strife and schism there had been before the 16th century, but when European Christendom was rent by Luther, Henry VIII, and others (not to absolve Catholics who were worldly and corrupt and weakened the Church thereby)—Christianity suffered a crippling (though not mortal) blow.”

In my view you are clearly not familiar with the history of the church prior to the Protestant reformation, if you think that it resulted in significantly greater upheavals than what had been going on for centuries before. 

“Yes, Catholics disagree on some matters—but not the core doctrines, which are clear—the Nicene Creed, the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, the effects of Original Sin, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for example—just read the Catechism.”

Catholics disagree about just about everything.  I agree that most (by no means all) would not disagree about the Nicene Creed, but neither do other Christians – there is nothing distinctively Catholic about that.  But in any case, who says that the ones you nominate are “the core doctrines”?  Even the RCC doesn’t define them that way.  I do remember a few years ago that several hundred RC bishops in the USA declared that the core doctrines were how you receive Communion and attitudes towards sexuality, but in the process they admitted that most RCs don’t follow them.  So when you say that RCs are all in agreement about the major things – that is just fantasy.

“It’s true that we Christians are all part of the same flock—but we’re not in full communion with one another.  The multiplicity of teachings testifies to that fact.”

Actually, we Protestants mostly are in communion with each other.  I can walk down the road and have eat the Lord’s Supper with my Baptist or Congregational brethren.  It is the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox who are out of communion with each other. 

And when it comes to beliefs, they are also at odds within themselves (again, witness the multiplicity of beliefs among Roman Catholics – publishing a catechism and saying “there, we all believe that” is only papering over the cracks.

“And, yes, following the teachings of the Church and of the Bishop of Rome is right—see Mt 16:18. (Oh, I forgot—we differ on the interpretation of that passage.)”

Indeed we do.  Matthew 16:18 does not support the Roman Catholic Church’s distinctive doctrines.

“If it’s cool to follow Scripture without a Teaching Authority to interpret Scripture—then why all the divisions in Christendom?”

Because Christians are sinful people.  Hence why Christendom is full of divisions even WITH a teaching authority in the sense you mean.

[Re John 8:31] “He didn’t say that everyone could have his own teaching—is that what you mean?”

Exactly.  In particular, he didn’t say that anyone should follow the RCC’s teaching.  He said that they should follow HIS teaching.

“As to my reference to the numbers of Catholics – I was just pointing out that it’s not my “private opinion””

Yes, I am afraid it is.  Many Roman Catholics would disagree with you on many issues.  And in any case, even if you had 100 billion people scattered across the galaxy agreeing with you, that doesn’t weigh as much as a feather against the opinion of a single being (God).

“May I ask your religious upbringing?”

Why?

“Are we back to where this sub-topic began?  Since it’s been discussed at such weary length, I must point out that it’s a bit of superstitious nonsense that Catholics were ever forbidden to read the Bible (the exception being heretical translations).”


No it isn’t.  As I have observed above, you don’t appear to be aware of the history of the church prior to the Protestant Reformation.  When Christians in the 14th and 15th century were tortured and killed for possessing bibles in English, this was in circumstances where they had no access to any other version in English.

The discussion above “at weary length” was about what the Roman Catholic Church teaches now, not about what the Medieval European Church practiced in the Middle Ages.

“In fact, through this discussion, I realize that Protestants seem to be quite satisfied with a divided Christendom and don’t view the fact that there are thousands of different denominations as a problem. That’s an interesting revelation to me.”

That’s because we understand what true unity is.  We aren’t satisfied with institutional unity if it doesn’t exist in people’s hearts.

[177] Posted by MichaelA on 10-25-2013 at 04:11 AM · [top]

Dr Turner at #170, thank you for your kind comments.  I found your link very interesting reading, and I hope it assists others on this thread who are interested in the issue of the Septuagint and other Greek translations of the Old Testament.

[178] Posted by MichaelA on 10-25-2013 at 04:14 AM · [top]

MichaelA, you’re very welcome. And I do apologise for my very UNSCHOLARLY corruption of your screen name. I was away from this thread composing in Word before pasting. Not for the first time, I wish that there was ‘edit’ on SF.

As I have said in another connection, I will correspond with any serious people at priscilla dot turner at telus dot net .

[179] Posted by Dr. Priscilla Turner on 10-25-2013 at 05:07 PM · [top]

Hi, Michael @ 177,

Mindful of being a guest on a site devoted to the perspective that you advocate – and also recalling the admonition of another commenter that devolving into Anglican-Catholic debates is to be avoided – I stand by my original point in commenting: I’ll grant that you have some reasonable arguments on your side – although, again, I’d like to know your sources – as a lawyer, you should provide authority for your statements.

What I don’t grant is that there are not also reasonable arguments opposing your view.

(And IMHO you’re doing Betty and others no favor by representing that the community of scholars doesn’t differ on many of the issues that you present as “legal certainties.”)

I don’t expect to change your mind or anyone else’s – if you do not hear Saint Edmund Campion, Blessed John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, and many more, including those of recent times,– neither will you be convinced by a lay person you don’t even know (cf. Lk16:31).

Our energy is probably better spent praying that we will be able to withstand the forces trying to crush Christianity – among them secularization and outright atheism throughout the world.

Pax tecum.

[180] Posted by Clare on 10-26-2013 at 09:13 AM · [top]

Hi Clare,

1. Just to clarify, I’m a guest on this site, same as you. 

2. I am happy to present sources in response to specific requests, e.g. “what is your source or reasoning for x”.  I think it is quite unreasonable for anyone to ask me to provide sources for every single comment made, particularly when this thread has covered a very large number of issues. 

In that regard, its worth scrolling through the comments above - I have already provided more sources than anyone else, including direct quotes from the Church Fathers.  By contrast, I don’t think you have provided any sources?  I may be wrong about that but certainly the vast majority of your comments remain unsourced.  Fair is fair.

So in summary, sure, I am happy to provide sources or reasoning in relation to specific issues, if asked.

3. “the admonition of another commenter that devolving into Anglican-Catholic debates is to be avoided”

Well, actually this thread has gone a long, long way from the article above, and the moderators have been very tolerant. So I think we should all be grateful!

4. “(And IMHO you’re doing Betty and others no favor by representing that the community of scholars doesn’t differ on many of the issues that you present as “legal certainties.”)”

I haven’t suggested anything is a “legal certainty” (which in itself is a misunderstanding, but that’s another issue).  Nor have I ever suggested that scholars don’t differ - I have made sweeping comments, but then so have you.  And I am more than happy to debate the findings of the community of scholars or of particular scholars.

5. “I don’t expect to change your mind or anyone else’s – if you do not hear Saint Edmund Campion, Blessed John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, and many more, including those of recent times,– neither will you be convinced by a lay person you don’t even know (cf. Lk16:31).”

I appreciate the sentiment, but its rather ironic - I really doubt that any of the men you cite would have ever mentioned their words or thoughts in connection with Luke 16.31, given that Christ is there speaking specifically of the witness of Holy Scripture.

[181] Posted by MichaelA on 10-27-2013 at 04:31 AM · [top]

Clare, I have noted that I will not be commenting further on this thread so please do not involve me with others who comment on this thread.  I do not expect Michael A to do me any “favor”.  As I see it, he is simply speaking the truth with regard to Scripture.

[182] Posted by Betty See on 10-27-2013 at 09:09 AM · [top]

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