The Book of Concord’s Key To Itself

What do Lutherans believe? Some Lutherans say that they simply hold to the Bible and Confessions. Yet in the 1970’s Lutherans in this country split over how to use the Bible as the “only rule and norm.” Thus to say one simply holds to the Bible and Confessions is to fail to engage the dilemma of hermeneutics over which Lutherans are split.

A similar failure to engage hermeneutics marks those who commonly say: “The Bible is perfectly clear …” – as if using the word “clear” were a persuasive argument rather than what it really is – an authoritarian club. To be sure, the Bible contains assertions that are logically clear – women must wear veils in church (1 Cor 11:5), divorce is not permitted except for adultery (Matt 5:32), Jesus is subordinate to the Father (John 14:28) – yet such clear assertions are nevertheless not normative for faith and life today.

 What is the plumb line by which we sort out the varied assertions found in the Bible? The Book of Concord uses a variety of phrases to describe the doctrine of justification as the plumb line for judging all other doctrines. Justification determines scripture rather scripture determining justification.

 (1) Formula of Concord, Epitome, Preface 1, 2, 7; T 464-65, K/W 486-87           We believe teach and confess that the only rule and guiding principle according to which all teachings and teachers are to be evaluated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and new Testaments alone…. Other writings of ancient or contemporary teachers, whatever their names may be, shall not be regarded as equal to Holy Scripture, but all of them together shall be subjected to it …. Holy Scripture alone remains the only judge, rule, and guiding principle, according to which, as the only touchstone, all teachings should and must be recognized and judged….

(2) Smalcald Articles 2:1-5; T 292, K/W 301                                                                      Here is the first and chief article: That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, “was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification” (Rom. 4[:25]) Now because this must be believed and may not be obtained or grasped otherwise with any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us, as St. Paul says in Romans 3[:28, 26]…. Nothing in this article can be conceded or given up, even if heaven and earth or whatever is transitory passed away. As St. Peter says in Acts 4[:12]: “There is no other name… given among mortals by which we must be saved.” “And by his bruises we are healed” (Isa. 53[:5]). On this article stands all that we teach and practice against the pope, the devil, and the world….

 (3) Augsburg Confession 20:8-9; T 42, K/W 53, 55                                                     Therefore, because the teaching concerning faith, which ought to be the principal one in the church, has languished so long in obscurity –everyone must grant that there has been a profound silence concerning the righteousness of faith in preaching while only the teaching of works has been promoted in the church …. To begin with, they remind the churches that our works cannot reconcile God or merit grace and forgiveness of sins, but we obtain this only by faith when we believe that we are received into grace on account of Christ….

(4) CA 28:50-52; T 89, K/W 98                                                                                     Inasmuch as it is contrary to the gospel to establish such regulations as necessary to appease God and earn grace, it is not at all proper for the bishops to compel observation of such services of God. For in Christendom the teaching of Christian freedom must be preserved, namely, that bondage to the law is not necessary for justification, as Paul writes in Galatians 5[:1]: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” For the chief article of the gospel must be maintained, that we obtain the grace of God through faith in Christ without our merit and do not earn it through service of God instituted by human beings.

(5) CA 28:65-66; T 92, K/W 101                                                                                                The apostles directed that one should abstain from blood and from what is strangled. But who observes this now? Yet those who do not observe it commit no sin. For the apostles themselves did not want to burden consciences with such bondage, but prohibited eating for a time to avoid offense. For in this ordinance one must pay attention to the chief part of Christian doctrine which is not abolished by this decree.

(6) Apology 4:2-3; T 107, K/W 120-21                                                                                   But since this controversy deals with the most important topic of Christian teaching which, rightly understood, illumines and magnifies the honor of Christ and brings the abundant consolation that devout consciences need, we ask His Imperial Majesty kindly to hear us out on this important matter. Since the opponents understand neither the forgiveness of sins, nor faith, nor grace, nor righteousness, they miserably contaminate this article, obscure the glory and benefits of Christ, and tear away from devout consciences the consolation offered them in Christ.

(7) FC SD 3:6; T 540, K/W 563                                                                                               This article on justification by faith (as the Apology says) is the “most important of all Christian teachings,” “without which no poor conscience can have lasting comfort or recognize properly the riches of Christ’s grace.” As Dr. Luther wrote, “If this one teaching stands in its purity, then Christendom will also remain pure and good, undivided and unseparated…. but where it does not remain pure, it is impossible to ward off any error or sectarian spirit.”

(8) FC SD 10:5; T 611, K/W 636                                                                                                 We should not regard as free and indifferent, but rather as things forbidden by God that are to be avoided, the kind of things presented under the name and appearance of external, indifferent things that are nevertheless fundamentally opposed to God’s Word (even if they are painted another color). Moreover, we must not include among the truly free adiaphora or indifferent matters ceremonies that give the appearance or (in order to avoid persecution) are designed to give the impression that our religion does not differ greatly from the papist religion or that their religion were not completely contrary to ours. Nor are such ceremonies matters of indifference when they are intended to create the illusion (or are demanded or accepted with that intention), as if such action brought the two contradictory religions into agreement and made them one body or as if a return to the papacy and a deviation from the pure teaching of the gospel and from the true religion had taken place or could gradually result from the actions.

(9) FC SD 10:31; T 616, K/W 640                                                                                             For this reason the churches are not to condemn one another because of differences in ceremonies when in Christian freedom one has fewer or more than the other, as long as these churches are otherwise united in teaching and in all the articles of the faith as well as in the proper use of the holy sacraments. As it is said, “Dissonantia ieiunii non dissolvit consanantiam fidei” (dissimilarity in fasting shall not destroy the unity of faith).

(10) FC SD 11:91-93; T 632, K/W 655                                                                     Accordingly, whoever conveys this teaching concerning the gracious election of God in such a way that troubled Christians gain no comfort from it but are thrown into despair by is, or in such a way that the impenitent are strengthened in their impudence, then it is undoubtedly certain and true that this teaching is not being presented according to God’s Word and will but rather according to reason and at the instigation of the wicked devil. For, as the Apostle testifies, “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” [Rom. 15:4]. However, any interpretation of Scripture that weakens or removes our hope and encouragement is certainly contrary to the will and intent of the Holy Spirit. We stand by this simple, correct, helpful explanation, which is firmly grounded in God’s revealed will. We flee and avoid all abstruse, specious questions and discussions, and we reject and condemn anything that contradicts and opposes this true, simple, helpful explanation.

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[1] “only rule and norm” (Tappert, 464); “only rule and guiding principle” (Kolb/Wengert, 486). See quotation #1. Throughout the quotations, underlining has been added.

 [2] Other terms commonly used this way: simple, plain, self-evident, obvious.

[3] Two kinds of clarity are often confused when the clarity of scripture is discussed: The clarity in the meaning of the words on the page is one thing. But clarity in the theological sense means clarity about Christ and salvation. As Luther writes, “If the opponents use scripture against Christ, then we use Christ against scripture” (LW 34:112, Theses Concerning Faith and Law #49 [1535]).

[4] The varied ways of referring to the doctrine of justification in the citations below include the following: “chief article” #2, #4, “the principle one” #3, “the chief part” #5, “the most important topic” #6, “this article” #7, “the ‘most important’ of all Christian teachings” #7, “this one teaching” #7, “the pure teaching of the gospel” #8, “in teaching and in all the articles,” #9, “this teaching” #10. In context all these ways of referring to justification show how justification by faith alone is not only the chief article but also the article by which all other articles, including the article on scripture in the Preface to the Epitome of the Formula of Concord„ are to be understood.

 [5] The Aristotelian distinction between scripture as the formal principle and justification as the material principle does not accurately describe how the Book of Concord understands justification to be the chief article by which we interpret scripture.

 [6] “Accordingly, whoever conveys this teaching concerning the gracious election of God in such a way that troubled Christians gain no comfort from it but are thrown into despair by it, or in such a way that the impenitent are strengthened in their impudence, then it is undoubtedly certain and true that this teaching is not being presented according to God’s Word….” See #10 below.

[7] Philip J. Secker, “The Gospel and All Its Articles,” Lutheran Forum (Fall, 2005) 42-51, points out that the famous words here underlined “are the doctrinal articles contained in the Ecumenical Creeds and the Augsburg Confession,” not “all the doctrines of the Scripture,” and that rest of the Book of Concord is an explication of these articles (49).

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Thanks to CrossAlone-Lutheran-District.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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26 Responses

  1. why accept the book of concord as opposed to any other Christian set of values/interpretations/guidance/teaching?

  2. Are all confessions of faith that claim to be Christian equivalent?

  3. Pastor,

    I think you hit the nail on the head…but why the Book of Concord. on what authority? Who says it should be elevated more than say Wesley’s preaching or Calvin’s five points? And how did this book suddenly allow the throwing out of 1500 years of authority and structure?

  4. Here is an interesting article that speaks to “the throwing out of 1500 years of authority and structure?”

    http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology.fagerberg.html

  5. Pastor,

    This certainly addresses some issues but how did Luther come up with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and how do you know IT is right? Read here: http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/07/can-protestants-rely-upon-council-of.html

    What happens to those without a printing press or an ability to read…

    Besides this, who got to decide what “traditions” to keep?

    God Bless

  6. Cary,

    I am not trying to dodge this discussion but after 30+ years in the ministry I know well enough that Rome and the Confessions show little prospect of reconciling – as the catholicdefense blogspot pointedly -and somewhat uncharitably – demonstrates, however sincerely motivated.

    If the Lord Jesus wants to call me on the carpet for not submitting to the authority of Rome – ,so be it. I will still trust that the One who will judge me is the One who died for me and that His mercy will be the last word.

    That’s it for me..
    Grace to you.

  7. Appreciate your honesty Pastor. I totally agree with you here: “I will still trust that the One who will judge me is the One who died for me and that His mercy will be the last word.” and so would “Rome”

    Indeed I could be wrong as well, which is why a constant challenge is a welcome challenge, it will only help my understanding of the Truth, strengthen my faith, and lead me towards Christ by showing me my faults so that I may correct them or support the Truth I have found. As an ex anti-Catholic I know I can be gravely misled by the devil through ignorance and misunderstanding. This type of ignorance is one thing, but ignorance by choice is another. I do not think you practice the latter and wish you God’s blessings.

    Thank you for your work as well in proclaiming Christ to the world.

    In Christ
    Cary

  8. Being an ex-Roman Catholic and still having many friends and family who are Roman Catholics, I have noticed something to be true which I read from a Protestant theologian:

    “In Roman Catholicism your relationship to Christ depends on your relationship to the church. In Protestantism it is the opposite. Your relationship to the church depends on your relationship to Christ.”

    I too pray that the Lord will not hold it against me the desire to be associated with a church that believes in His work for sinners…alone.

    Thanks.

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    • I know not where the all those numbers came from. it’s a computer thing.

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  9. I would disagree with this:

    “In Roman Catholicism your relationship to Christ depends on your relationship to the church. In Protestantism it is the opposite. Your relationship to the church depends on your relationship to Christ.”

    that may have been true for you but I can’t vouch for it and neither can any true Catholic that I know. I ONLY was lead to and accept the Church because I love Christ more than my pride.

    God Bless
    Cary

  10. Cary,
    You really need to read Peter De Rosa’s book ‘Vicars of Christ’ to gain an insight into the very dark side of Rome’s history. With regards to why what Luther taught is still relevant today, I’d recommend: Rome and Justification by Dr Robert Preus. I had that very real privilege of being present when these papers were delivered. You also might care to listen to the White Horse Inn’s audio series, “What Still Divides Us?” – the debate between Protestant and Catholic scholars in the early 90’s – the papers on Justification and the very nature of the Gospel are most telling. Hope that helps.

  11. Howard,

    I appreciate your charity here, however, and I am aware of the “dark side of Rome’s history” that you present here. It is one thing that kept me in denial. But sinful man does not overcome the instrument of God. My point is not that Luther is not relevant but that his authority is illegitimate. Why should I accept Luther’s doctrines of Justification? How do you know and define the Trinity without the Church which you cast off? Reformation is one thing rebellion another.

    In Christ

  12. Cary,
    As Peter De Rosa himself points out, the clarity and definition you say are required came long before the see of Rome came to the fore – the basis for these essential truths is the teaching of Christ’s Apostles, not the church of Rome. The ‘rebellion’ which is murderous in that context is when any authority seeks to assert a theology which is contrary to the Apostolic Gospel. Luther re-affirmed the Apostolic doctrine of justification by faith through grace. Trent rejected this. If a ‘church’ seeks to negate or substitute the Gospel with another authority, another gospel, then that order is anathema according to Apostolic authority. That, I would argue, is a far more serious rebellion.

  13. Howard,

    How do you defend the Trinity? How do you know what IS Scripture? How do you know how to then interpret that Scripture? Just a few questions that need serious consideration.

    With regard to your statement, if you truly believe that then you should believe that at some point there was a total apostasy of sorts in the sense that the Church Christ promised to be with and protect failed…

    That is a serious and dangerous claim. Even if this is true: “If a ‘church’ seeks to negate or substitute the Gospel with another authority, another gospel, then that order is anathema according to Apostolic authority.”

    Did Luther have the ability or authority to restore the “true church”?

    Your definition of “the Apostolic doctrine of justification by faith through grace” exhibits a problem. If Luther had rejects the authority of the Church to declare doctrine then he also rejects the ability to declare any doctrine (ie Sola Scriptura, justification by faith, Trinity etc).

    This is not to say that some of his ideas weren’t good nor that changes didn’t need to be made in the practices of the Church that had been exploited by sinful men, but it doesn’t give him the right to overthrow the Church and replace it with his own.

    I am interested to read De Rosa’s book. I recommend and submit that on those things I have put forth you could look at the works Scott Hahn (Rome Sweet Home) or Mark Shea (By What Authority) but both might be too light for you. Perhaps you’ve read these or been there before, I dont know, but i do appreciate your openness, honesty, and frank nature in talking as Brothers In Christ.

    God Bless
    Cary

  14. by too light I mean that they may not be comprehensive or intellectually stimulating…if that is the case I recommend a good copy of the Church Fathers…

    Cary

  15. Cary,
    The nature of Christian doctrine and the truths which are the heart of this are very clearly affirmed at understand from the earliest days of Christianity, as seen in the New Testament itself, and this is certainly re-affirmed in the writings of many Christians of the earliest centuries (something which Luther, for example, sought to argue in his various debates with the scholars of Rome. The source of authority on any matter is Christ Himself, and the revelation He has supplied to His Apostles – that is the firm foundation.

    With regards to the dangers in relation to Rome itself, I’m not the only one who has affirmed such a problem. Here’s something to consider:

    “For nearly half a century, the church was split into two or three obediences that ex-communicated one another, so that every catholic lived under ex-communication by one pope or another and in the last analysis, no one could say with certainty which one had right on his side. The church no longer offered certainty of salvation. She had become questionable in her whole objective form. The true church, the true pledge of salvation had to be sought outside the institution.

    It is against this back-drop of a profoundly shaken ecclesiastical consciousness that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the church ultimately came to experience the church not as the guarantor but as the adversary of salvation”.

    Historical assessment of the reason for the reformation by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
    (now Pope Benedict XVI).

    I think that really helps to put the problem in context. If we accept this as a fair assessment of the situation – and I certainly do – then there was indeed a serious and dangerous problem indeed!

    You ask me if Luther ‘had the authority’ to restore the church. The authority, I believe, resides in the work of men faithfully declaring the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the basis upon which the ecclesia of God are called, assembled and gathered into redemption. Any authority which claims to be established upon Him but denies some essential aspect of the nature of this is contrary to the work of the Kingdom of God, and, whatever titles is may use of itself, is not for Christ, but against Him. Luther sought to re-affirm the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as clearly stated by the Apostle Paul, which is the power of God to salvation. If a power anathematises that truth, then it itself is accursed by the decree and authority of Christ, as stated by Paul. Are we truly comfortable with any authority other than that given by Christ Himself?

    Luther’s intention certainly wasn’t to overthrow – his aims at first were pretty modest (questioning the place of indulgences), but the response of the authority of the church made it clear that there were much deeper problems to be addressed. He could not, in all good conscience, ignore these, for the clear teaching of the New Testament is to affirm the truth and reject such error. The authorities, in the main, chose to reject such matters and become even more entrenched in their position, hence, the situation which ensued.

    It vital that we realise, as you have stated so well, that there are crucial issues at stake here, and these need to be addressed. Aside from Dr Preus’ excellent papers on this (previously mentioned), I’d also recommend ‘Roman Catholicism – Evangelical Protestants analyse what divides and unties us’, edited by John Armstrong. It briefly touches upon pertinent historical matters before looking at Roman Catholic doctrine today and why division is something that was essential and still needed today.

    Good to discuss this with you, Cary, if only ‘by long distance’ over the internet.

    With kind regards,
    Howard.

  16. (Corrected – now minus typos!)

    Cary,
    The nature of Christian doctrine and the truths which are the heart of this are very clearly affirmed and understood from the earliest days of Christianity, as seen in the New Testament itself, and this is certainly re-affirmed in the writings of many Christians of the earliest centuries (something which Luther, for example, sought to argue in his various debates with the scholars of Rome). The source of authority on any matter is Christ Himself, and the revelation He has supplied to His Apostles – that is the firm foundation.

    With regards to the dangers in relation to Rome itself, I’m not the only one who has affirmed such a problem. Here’s something to consider:

    “For nearly half a century, the church was split into two or three obediences that ex-communicated one another, so that every catholic lived under ex-communication by one pope or another and in the last analysis, no one could say with certainty which one had right on his side. The church no longer offered certainty of salvation. She had become questionable in her whole objective form. The true church, the true pledge of salvation had to be sought outside the institution.

    It is against this back-drop of a profoundly shaken ecclesiastical consciousness that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the church ultimately came to experience the church not as the guarantor but as the adversary of salvation”.

    Historical assessment of the reason for the reformation by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
    (now Pope Benedict XVI).

    I think that really helps to put the problem in context. If we accept this as a fair assessment of the situation – and I certainly do – then there was indeed a serious and dangerous problem indeed!

    You ask me if Luther ‘had the authority’ to restore the church. The authority, I believe, resides in the work of men faithfully declaring the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the basis upon which the ecclesia of God are called, assembled and gathered into redemption. Any authority which claims to be established upon Him but denies some essential aspect of the nature of this is contrary to the work of the Kingdom of God, and, whatever titles it may use of itself, is not for Christ, but against Him. Luther sought to re-affirm the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as clearly stated by the Apostle Paul, which is the power of God to salvation. If a power anathematises that truth, then it itself is accursed by the decree and authority of Christ, as stated by Paul. Are we truly comfortable with any authority other than that given by Christ Himself?

    Luther’s intention certainly wasn’t to overthrow – his aims at first were pretty modest (questioning the place of indulgences), but the response of the authority of the church made it clear that there were much deeper problems to be addressed. He could not, in all good conscience, ignore these, for the clear teaching of the New Testament is to affirm the truth and reject such error. The authorities, in the main, chose to reject such a contention and become even more entrenched in their position, hence, the situation which ensued.

    It is vital that we realise, as you have stated so well, that there are crucial issues at stake here, and these need to be addressed. Aside from Dr Preus’ excellent papers on this (previously mentioned), I’d also recommend ‘Roman Catholicism – Evangelical Protestants analyse what divides and unties us’, edited by John Armstrong. It briefly touches upon pertinent historical matters before looking at Roman Catholic doctrine today and why division is something that was essential and still needed today.

    Good to discuss this with you, Cary, if only ‘by long distance’ over the internet.

    With kind regards,
    Howard.

  17. To be fair here Howard, I could take quotes out of context as well. Where did you get that statement from Cardinal Ratzinger, in what document, what surrounded it, what was the context? What was the intention of the author? even a cursory glance on the internet can provide alternative answers:

    http://www.catholicintl.com/epologetics/dialogs/justification/horton-rebutal.htm

    Not to mention that things like this are useless for a serious, educated discussion. I’m not intending to be defensive or offensive, just trying to separate chaff from serious contentions.

    As for your other points:

    “The nature of Christian doctrine and the truths which are the heart of this are very clearly affirmed and understood from the earliest days of Christianity, as seen in the New Testament itself,and this is certainly re-affirmed in the writings of many Christians of the earliest centuries (something which Luther, for example, sought to argue in his various debates with the scholars of Rome)”

    One question: how did you receive the New Testament and how do you interpret it’s meaning? Why do you get rid of the ‘apocrypha’?

    http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2009/10/protestantism-and-early-church-fathers.html?showComment=1311876258892#comment-c1069140506613473875

    You also can’t take this mantle up and ignore the rest of what the Early Christians said and did, particularly in regards to their obedience to Rome.

    “The source of authority on any matter is Christ Himself, and the revelation He has supplied to His Apostles – that is the firm foundation.”

    Agreed here, and precisely why the Church is the Church and the Holy See the Holy See. Christ Himself via his authority precisely supplied that authority to the Apostles in general and Peter in Particular. Listen, I could rewrite all the arguments but many others have already covered this.

    “I think that really helps to put the problem in context. If we accept this as a fair assessment of the situation – and I certainly do – then there was indeed a serious and dangerous problem indeed!”

    Already addressed, here i would say that it’s fair assessment of what the Cardinal thinks Luther might have been thinking about the situation.

    “The authority, I believe, resides in the work of men faithfully declaring the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the basis upon which the ecclesia of God are called, assembled and gathered into redemption. Any authority which claims to be established upon Him but denies some essential aspect of the nature of this is contrary to the work of the Kingdom of God, and, whatever titles it may use of itself, is not for Christ, but against Him. Luther sought to re-affirm the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as clearly stated by the Apostle Paul, which is the power of God to salvation. If a power anathematizes that truth, then it itself is accursed by the decree and authority of Christ, as stated by Paul. Are we truly comfortable with any authority other than that given by Christ Himself?”

    A couple of points, who gets to decide which aspects are essential? Again if you REALLY believe what you’re saying then I think you have to think a total apostasy occurred…because the fullness of truth promised by Christ would have been non-existent. Finally, on your last question the answer is NO absolutely not but Christ gave Peter especially, and the Apostles in particular authority, priestly authority to bind and loose etc etc. Lest I need to point you to the biblical references?

    “Luther’s intention certainly wasn’t to overthrow – his aims at first were pretty modest (questioning the place of indulgences), but the response of the authority of the church made it clear that there were much deeper problems to be addressed.”

    I dont propose to understand his intentions, but regardless he had no authority to overthrow the authority you clearly say he appealed to and to make himself and his doctrine the authority.

    “He could not, in all good conscience, ignore these, for the clear teaching of the New Testament is to affirm the truth and reject such error. The authorities, in the main, chose to reject such a contention and become even more entrenched in their position, hence, the situation which ensued.”

    It’s contradictory to say that he could not ignore these since the “clear teaching of the New Testament is to affirm the truth and reject such error” while he rejected the “clear teaching of the New Testament” on the authority granted by Christ through His Apostles, especially Peter, and their appointed successors. This pick and choose mentality is exactly the problem outside the Church, you left for a practice you claimed incorrect so you could proclaim your own doctrine and practices which someone later decides is incorrect and creates their own church/doctrine to correct…

    “It is vital that we realize, as you have stated so well, that there are crucial issues at stake here, and these need to be addressed.”
    “Good to discuss this with you, Cary, if only ‘by long distance’ over the internet.”

    Agreed and Agreed and I truly appreciate your tone, hopefully my tone is adequately conveyed via internet but it’s always a hard thing to do.

    I am far from the most knowledgeable person that I know on these issues and I know I’m not covering them adequately. Nevertheless, we both agree that Christ and faith in His work is most important and I will pray for you and hope you will extend the same to me as it appears we are both only seeking His Truth. I’ve referenced a blog called Shameless Popery numerous times, only because I think it is charitable and discusses these issues honestly and openly. It had nothing to do with my conversion but I do find it educational. Maybe you can provide some insight over there…

    God Bless

  18. Cary,
    The key issue in all of this comes back to the matter of authority.
    We can go over the arguments at length, but there really is no need – as Peter De Rosa and others have candidly showed, the ‘authority’ of the Papacy and of Rome itself is a very late contrivance. which introduced and then elaborated all manner of claims regarding its primacy and right to validate doctrine.

    To give just one example from Rome’s history, the First Vatican Council (1869-70) under Pope Pius IX raised the Dogma of Papal infallibility to become the official teaching of Roman Catholicism. At that Council, Bishop Strossmayer questioned why such a doctrine should become authoritative, especially in the light of statements of prior Popes. He noted: “Gregory I calls anyone anti-Christ who takes the name of Universal Bishop; and contra-wise Boniface III made Emperor Phocas confer that title upon him. Paschal II and Eugenius III authorised duelling; Julius II and Pins IV forbade it. Hadrian II declared civil magistrates to be valid; Pius VII condemned them. Sixtus V published an edition of the Bible and recommended it to be read; Pius VII condemned the reading of the Bible.”

    If this is indeed the case, then the actual history of the real church has to be very different, and its continuance has to be looked for and understood away from the seat of Roman power. I can only encourage you to look at the history and ask where the actual authority of Christianity resides – that truly determines our approach to the very nature of truth and the manner in which the church continues, even in times of great darkness.

    With regards,
    Howard.

  19. Howard,

    A) Even IF these claims are true, it still leaves you with several questions. where does YOUR authority on doctrine come from? What is necessary for faith? How do you know which books are in the Bible (both Old and New Testament)? These are questions that have to be answered. You’re smart enough and educated enough to see that these pose real concrete problems for you.

    B) I would disagree with your claims in that at the very least papal supremacy is not only necessary but can be concretely seen both in Scripture and in history (see, Councils and approval of). De Rosa may have laid out a nice tidy set of claims and circumstances in his book but read the Fathers, or look at early Church history or even at Luther and it’s obvious that Rome and the Papacy were positions of definite authority. as you noted before Luther appealed to the authority of the Pope. Why?

    C) Strossmayer also later recanted. As a result of his comitment to Christ he put aside his personal disagreements and eventually came to the realization he was wrong. While he struggled with the doctrine (as you or I may struggle to understand the Trinity or other such mysteries to our minds) he never left the Church: “After the council Strossmayer maintained his opposition longer than all the other bishops and kept up a connection with Döllinger and Reinkens until October, 1871. Then he notified them that he intended to yield “at least outwardly”. Finally, on 26 December, 1872, he published the decrees of the council in his official paper. At a later date he repeatedly proclaimed his submission to the pope, as in his pastoral letter of 28 February, 1881, on Sts. Cyril and Methodius, expressing his devotion to the papal see at times in extravagant language.”

    He was human, he was wrong, he recognized it eventually, and repented because he loved Christ and His Church more than himself.

    Remember as well, I can find quotes of detractors about the Trinity as well, do you still believe in that doctrine?

    God Bless

  20. Cary,
    I’ve sought to be brief in my replies to date, simply because of the breadth of what your seeking to discuss here… small subjects like Christian authority, the validity of scripture, the trinity, soteriology… to name but a few! I will seek to give some time to each of your latest points over this weekend when other commitments (work and commitments to friends) are out of the way.

    Peter De Rosa and others have raised serious issues and questions, so I certainly see it as worthwhile facing these – that is why I mentioned Strossmeyer…. if what he stated is true regarding the Papacy’s fallibility on doctrinal matters, then why should we have any faith in its role at all?

    I hope to provide a more detailed reply before too long.

    Howard.

  21. Howard,

    Thank you. The key words here are if what he stated is true…but he later recanted and realized what he said wasn’t true…. Not to mention that even if he hadn’t recanted that his voice while important is one among many, where the many did not dissent. If you take the view that because he dissented then papal fallibility must be wrong then you’re in trouble accepting any Council, doctrine, Tradition, tradition etc if the case that there are any detractors…

    God Bless

  22. OK, let’s start by going back to my Strossmayer quote, and looking at a few of his statements in his speech.

    You replied: “he later recanted and realized what he said wasn’t true”, so let’s unpack what he said…(I’ve used standard Wikipedia comments where possible).

    “Gregory I calls anyone anti-Christ who takes the name of Universal Bishop”….
    Pope Gregory I wrote to Emperor Maurice A.D. 597, concerning the titles of bishops, “I say with confidence that whoever calls or desires to call himself ‘universal priest’ in self-exaltation of himself is a precursor of the Antichrist”.

    “Boniface III made Emperor Phocas confer that title upon him”.
    He sought and obtained a decree from Phocas which restated that “the See of Blessed Peter the Apostle should be the head of all the Churches”. This ensured that the title of “Universal Bishop” belonged exclusively to the Bishop of Rome.

    “Sixtus V published an edition of the Bible and recommended it to be read”.
    Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590) had a version of the Bible published in 1590 which he stamped with the papal Bull Aeternus ille decreeing it to be authentic”.

    “Pius VII condemned the reading of the Bible”.

    “quoting a passage from Venn’s excellent letters to Waterworth, in which he shows that the 4th rule of the Index if referred to in the most recent bulls of the Pope as of the highest authority.
    “(1.) Pius VII., in a letter to Ignatius, Archbishop of Quesn, Primate of Poland, dated June 29, 1816, alarmed at the progress of the Bible Society in that country, thus writes:
    “‘We have been truly shocked at this most crafty device, by which the very foundation of religion are undermined.’…‘We again and again exhort you, that whatever you can achieve by power, provide for by counsel, of effect by authority, you will daily execute by the utmost earnestness.’ And then he repeats the rules of the Index, Nos. 2, 3, and 4, and the Decree of Benedict XIV.
    “The same Pope, in his letter to the Archbishop of Mohilow, dated September 3, 1816, reproves him for having sanctioned the Bible Society and adds, ‘You ought carefully to have kept in view what our predecessors have already prescribed, — viz. that if the Holy Bible, in the vulgar tongue, were permitted everywhere, without discrimination, more injury than benefit would thence arise.’ He afterwards proceeds to quote the bull Unigenitus,as expressing the opinion of the Church; and in another passage of his letter, he reproves the Archbishop for quoting the first part only of Pius VI.’s celebrated letter to Martini, which is prefixed to the stereotype edition of the Rheimish New Testament, published at Belfast, 1839, saying, ‘That most wise Pontiff, for this very reason, commends a version of the Holy Scriptures made by that prelate, because he had abundantly enriched it by expositions drawn from traditions, accurately and religiously observing the rules prescribed by the sacred congregation of the Index.’
    “In the year 1820, Pius VII. approved of the decrees of the sacred congregation of the Index, which condemned and proscribed two editions of the New Testament translated into Italian by Martini.
    “These editions appear to have been exact reprints from the original work of Martini, but without any notes. The original work, consisting of 23 quarto volumes, needed no proscription. (Martini’s edition of the Bible needs no proscription, because it consists of 23 quarto volumes, and therefore cannot be purchased by the masses)”.

    So, Strossmeyer may have recanted,but his statements are inherently correct, which brings me back to my point – that what he said was true regarding the actual behaviour/actions of various Popes, so why place confidence in such an authority?

    My source for authority resides in the teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, as stated in the New Testament and re-affirmed by the early church long before the ascendancy of a bishop of Rome. This source provides all that is necessary for doctrine, correction, edification and praxis, as shown in the works of the early church fathers and the various early church councils which re-affirmed the essential truths of Christian doctrine. The bishop of Rome was not essential to any of this.

    It is not a case of denying that Rome has become a seat of authority, but questioning why this is the case and identifying exactly what that power represents – a source for good or ill. The aim of Peter De Rosa’s book (as, no doubt, it was for Strossmeyer in his original statement) is to soberly face up to certain issues and face questions that need to be asked. The real issues here, Cary, I believe, is are you prepared to do so?

    I believe Strossmeyer was entirely right to question in the manner he did, just as Luther was right to raise his concerns regarding Roman Catholic teaching on several issues – that is why I believe the true nature of the faith and the church cannot be defined in the manner you express.

    I would urge you to look at these matters further.

    With regards,
    Howard.

    • Howard,

      I have a really busy weekend but will get back on it Monday, cool?

      I hope you have a blessed Sunday!

      God Bless

  23. Howard,

    rather than bogging down steve’s site (thank you by the way), would you prefer to continue the convo via email? My email is scredsoxfan2@yahoo.com or @gmail.com

    Hope you had a great weekend

    God Bless
    Cary

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