Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bernard on Journey, Rest, and Peace

"It is so that these impious ones wander in a circle, longing after something to gratify their yearnings, yet madly rejecting that which alone can bring them to their desired end, not by exhaustion but by attainment. They wear themselves out in vain travail, without reaching their blessed consummation, because they delight in creatures, not in the Creator. They want to traverse creation, trying all things one by one, rather than think of coming to Him who is Lord of all. And if their utmost longing were realized, so that they should have all the world for their own, yet without possessing Him who is the Author of all being, then the same law of their desires would make them contemn what they had and restlessly seek Him whom they still lacked, that is, God Himself. Rest is in Him alone. Man knows no peace in the world; but he has no disturbance when he is with God. And so the soul says with confidence, ‘Whom have I in heaven but Thee; and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of Thee. God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. It is good for me to hold me fast by God, to put my trust in the Lord God’ (Ps. 73.25ff). Even by this way one would eventually come to God, if only he might have time to test all lesser goods in turn." - St. Bernard of Clairvaux "On Loving God" chapter vii

Peter Kreeft's Thoughts on Justification

"The gift of God's love is ours for the taking. I am a Roman Catholic. But the most liberating idea I have ever heard I first learned from Martin Luther. Pope John Paul II told the German Lutheran bishops that Luther was profoundly right about this idea. He said that Catholic teaching affirms it just as strongly and that there was no contradiction between Protestant and Catholic theology on this terribly important point, which was the central issue of the Protestant Reformation. I speak, of course, about "justification by faith" and its consequence, which Luther called "Christian liberty" or "the liberty of a Christian" in his little gem of an essay by that name.

Let us be careful to approach the point in the right way. I think most misunderstandings begin at this very first step. Let's begin with a solid certainty: God is love. God is a lover, not a manager, businessman, accountant, owner, or puppet-master. What He wants from us first of all is not a technically correct performance but our heart. Protestants and Catholics alike need to relearn or reemphasize that simple, liberating truth... it liberated me just as it had the Catholic Augustinian monk Luther 450 years earlier. The crucial sentence for me was: "We may think God wants actions of a certain kind, but God wants people of a certain sort." (Mere Christianity)

The point is amazingly simple, which is why so many of us just don't get it. Heaven is free because love is free. It is ours for the taking. The taking is faith. "If you believe, you will be saved." It is really that simple. If I offer you a gift, you have it if and only if you have the faith to take it.

The primacy of faith does not discount or denigrate works but liberates them. Our good works can now also be free - free from the worry and slavery and performance anxiety of having to buy Heaven with them. Our good works can now flow from genuine love of neighbor, not fear of Hell. Nobody wants to be loved merely as a means to build up the lover's merit pile. That attempt is ridiculous logically as well as psychologically. How much does Heaven cost? A thousand good works? Would 999 not do, then? The very question shows its own absurdity. That absurdity comes from forgetting that God is love.


The whole point of justification by faith is God's scandalous, crazy, and wonderful gift of love." - Peter Kreeft "The God Who Loves You" p. 23-25

Not exactly an analytical take on the issue, but a good read nonetheless.

The Roman Catholic condemnations seem to be on the issue of faith being the sole basis of our justification. This leaves works at least some spot for our trust and assurance of salvation. BUT what Kreeft and others have done, for the sake of sanity, is really said that faith plus the habitus or innate regenerated inclination towards love are the ground of our justification. So as long as you can say 'I love God' and in some way whatsoever mean it, you can have a grounding in your faith, because it is faith formed by love. Thus the anathemas of Trent are just barely dodged, and one can be a Catholic of the Pascalian/Jansenist flavour and remain orthodox.

According to J.V. Fesko, this also has a similitude to some outliers in the Reformed Tradition, such as Jonathon Edwards, Albert Ritschl, and others in the early 20th century who emphasized mystical union and the Fatherly judgments of God / Congruent merit, rather than the juridicial / imputation doctrines. Or in other words, if you heap up the Congruent merit, and believe that every time God judges a believers work he is polishing the spots from it (to use Calvin's analogy), and you believe that he imputes perfection to the person's infused faith, hope and love, THEN you can have some sort of assurance. But again, this is just barely dodging Trent, and probably outside the mainstream of Roman Catholic theology.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another Gospel and the Greek Text

I've been told not to 'go back under the yoke of bondage' as St. Paul taught the Galatians, meaning that I should not re-enter Catholicism because it is 'another gospel'. This has worked well, and I found myself reading Galatians daily to maintain my zeal. I'm reading a book by a Reformed theologian named Fesko about the History and summary of the doctrine of justification, understood to be the gospel in Protestantism.

It seems to me that the argument of Alister McGrath about Augustine is wrong for a few reasons. The argument goes that St. Augustine didn't understand Greek or Hebrew, and only used Latin to write his theology and commentaries, and when it came to the Psalms the Latin was terrible in it's blatant mistranslations. Likewise the Greek word logozomai which should have been understood as a forensic/legal term for impute/recount/repute/declare something as just, was translated into Latin as iustificare which means 'to make just'. Thus St. Augustine and all the Catholic expositers on justification to Trent and beyond, shared in this mistake, and thus conflated justification and sanctification into one process of salvation, whereas they should've kept these two processes distinct like the human and divine natures of Christ.

...However the Eastern Orthodox who worked in the original Greek, and presumably had no such iustificare translations, also interpret Scripture in this way, and see justification, sanctification, and glorification (Theosis) as all one indistinguishable process. Looks like it's back to the drawing board there.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Christianities (?)

C.S. Lewis famously described Christendom as a house with different rooms, from Congregationalism to Greek Orthodoxy in it's diversity. He is a man universally respected by everyone from Mormons to Baptists to Roman Catholics to Anglicans. He was one of the few great men that were Anglican on purpose, but he respected other creeds at odds with his own. He somehow managed to affirm sola fide in one place, and Purgatory in another.

In any case, I was thinking about him today as I listened to a discussion on the Great Schism/Orthodox-Catholic split of 1054. I am always amazed and perplexed by how people personally understand their faith. I know the intellectually fighting arena quite well, but it's a different thing entirely to look at the practical spiritual journeys of individuals. I was thinking about Photios 'the great' of Constantinople. What made him want to be a Christian? Why did he enter the priesthood? When he read the Scriptures what did he imagine they meant? What was the faith to him? When he died what were his thoughts about? Was he trusting in Christ as Lord and Saviour, as Billy Graham (and Romans 10) would tell him to? or was he thinking about the Filioque and his own 'orthodoxy' and merit before God?

He is only really considered a schismatic, and examined as a historical figure, but what did it mean for Photios to be a Christian? Is he in Hell or Heaven? I'm finding these questions more interesting now, as opposed to the supreme apologetic ones.

I am thinking about this today, because I realize that in my heart, the gospel feels like it is the offer of Free Grace and Righteousness to the repentant sinner trusting in Jesus apart from works. It is 'of the Lord', and an effectual call. But what did Photios think Christianity was? What did the Venerable Bede? What did saintly Augustine?

Am I (or anyone for that matter) allowed to say what I personally think Christianity is essentially/substantially and make that the measure of everyone else's orthodoxy?

I was looking for what Christianity was in the Vincentian way: believed everywhere, at all times, by everyone. But what if that doesn't exist? What if Christianity is as simple as saying "Jesus is Lord"? What if it is as simple as saying an "Our Father" and meaning it? What if it is as complex as Confessing every mortal sin in number and kind, and receiving the sacraments at the proper time and with the right disposition and dying in this state?

The more and more I look, the less and less sure I am. I don't think there are any easy answers. I had a Baptist pastor once tell me: There are no black and white answers to colorful questions. He might be right... but I'm starting to sound like a Kantian, if not a Relativist.

I was talking to my friend Fr. Scott, my Anglican Priest, and he was talking about the Orthodox Church, and how they haven't had time to go into Western Scholastic squables because they've been praying so much. "Is justification by faith alone or faith formed by love? - I don't know but the Communists are coming, let's pray". If the blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the church as Tertullian writes, then the Orthodox Christians of Russia must be a green tree with all they've suffered. Muslims, Commies, and everything in between. I don't really like Orthodox theology, I'm more of a Filioque guy myself (thank Thomas for that), but perhaps I might be leaning towards the sort of unIntellectual or rather non-polemical inquiry that I despised so much in my Evangelical upbringing.

Once again, my common rejoinder: I just don't know. I don't know where I'll end up, I truly and honestly don't, but I'm enjoying some time to just browse and not buy. It is a humbling experience. I have been so humiliated with all of these changes, and as John Donne wrote: Humiliation is the beginning of Sanctification, so perhaps this is all a part of God's unknowable Providence, I hope so.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Theologia Cordis

"Search me, O God, and know my heart" - Psalm 139:23

"O Lord my God, tell me what you are to me. Say to my soul, I am your salvation. Say it so that I can hear it. My heart is listening, Lord; open the ears of my heart and say to my soul, I am your salvation. Let me run towards this voice and seize hold of you. Do not hide your face from me: let me die so that I may see it, for not to see it would be death to me indeed." - St. Augustine of Hippo

Monday, June 7, 2010

Some Fathers on Peter and the Rock (1)

I'm trying to go through all the Church Fathers to find their views on Peter and the Rock, and by the help of my friend Matt, I have found 6 so far:

"In a passage in this book, I said about the Apostle Peter: ‘On him as on a rock the Church was built’...But I know that very frequently at a later time, I so explained what the Lord said: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,’ that it be understood as built upon Him whom Peter confessed saying: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and so Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church which is built upon this rock, and has received ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ For, ‘Thou art Peter’ and not ‘Thou art the rock’ was said to him. But ‘the rock was Christ,’ in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter. But let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable." - Augustine "Retractions"

""If, because the Lord has said to Peter, ‘Upon this rock I will build My Church,’ ‘to thee have I given the keys of the heavenly kingdom;’ or, ‘Whatsoever thou shalt have bound or loosed in earth, shall be bound or loosed in the heavens,’ you therefore presume that the power of binding and loosing has derived to you, that is, to every Church akin to Peter, what sort of man are you, subverting and wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord, conferring (as that intention did) this (gift) personally upon Peter? ‘On thee,’ He says, ‘will I build My church;’ and, ‘I will give thee the keys’...and, ‘Whatsoever thou shalt have loosed or bound’...In (Peter) himself the Church was reared; that is, through (Peter) himself; (Peter) himself essayed the key; you see what key: ‘Men of Israel, let what I say sink into your ears: Jesus the Nazarene, a man destined by God for you,’ and so forth. (Peter) himself, therefore, was the first to unbar, in Christ’s baptism, the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, in which kingdom are ‘loosed’ the sins that were beforetime ‘bound;’ and those which have not been ‘loosed’ are ‘bound,’ in accordance with true salvation.." - Tertullian, "On Modesty" 21

"And if we too have said like Peter, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ not as if flesh and blood had revealed it unto us, but by the light from the Father in heaven having shone in our heart, we become a Peter, and to us there might be said by the Word, ‘Thou art Peter,’ etc. For a rock is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and upon every such rock is built every word of the Church, and the polity in accordance with it; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.

But if you suppose that upon the one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the Apostles? Shall we otherwise dare to say, that against Peter in particular the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other Apostles and the perfect? Does not the saying previously made, ‘The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it,’ hold in regard to all and in the case of each of them? And also the saying, ‘Upon this rock I will build My Church?’ Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only, and will no other of the blessed receive them? But if this promise, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ be common to others, how shall not all things previously spoken of, and the things which are subjoined as having been addressed to Peter, be common to them?

‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ If any one says this to Him...he will obtain the things that were spoken according to the letter of the Gospel to that Peter, but, as the spirit of the Gospel teaches to every one who becomes such as that Peter was. For all bear the surname ‘rock’ who are the imitators of Christ, that is, of the spiritual rock which followed those who are being saved, that they may drink from it the spiritual draught. But these bear the surname of rock just as Christ does. But also as members of Christ deriving their surname from Him they are called Christians, and from the rock, Peters...And to all such the saying of the Savior might be spoken, ‘Thou art Peter’ etc., down to the words, ‘prevail against it.’ But what is the it? Is it the rock upon which Christ builds the Church, or is it the Church? For the phrase is ambiguous. Or is it as if the rock and the Church were one and the same? This I think to be true; for neither against the rock on which Christ builds His Church, nor against the Church will the gates of Hades prevail. Now, if the gates of Hades prevail against any one, such an one cannot be a rock upon which the Christ builds the Church, nor the Church built by Jesus upon the rock" Origen, Commentary on Matthew, Chapters 10-11).

These last three I have to re-check the sources again for.

""Upon this rock," not upon Peter. For He built His Church not upon man, but upon the faith of Peter. But what was his faith? "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." - John Chrysostom

"To Peter the Father revealed that he should say, "Thou art the Son of the living God." Therefore the building of the Church is upon this rock of confession; this faith is the foundation of the Church." - Hilary

""Faith, then, is the foundation of the Church, for it was not said of Peter’s flesh, but of his faith, that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ But his confession of faith conquered hell." - Ambrose of Milan

If I can go through the Fathers and find a consensus against it, not only can I prove Traditionally speaking that Rome is not the Rock on which the Church is built, but also that faith is what the Church is built on. That's a big if though, and only one of my plans.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Psalms 124-139 (lines that stood out)

"Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth." - Psalm 124:8

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides for ever." - Psalm 125:1

"May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy." - Psalm 126:5

"Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labour in vain." - Psalm 127:1

"Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways." - Psalm 128:1

"The Lord is righteous... ‘The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
We bless you in the name of the Lord!’" - Psalm 129:4, 8

"Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord...If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you" - Psalm 130: 1,3-4

"I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother" - Psalm 131:2

"Let your priests be clothed with righteousness...The Lord swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back...the Lord has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his habitation:
‘This is my resting-place for ever;
here I will reside, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless its provisions;
I will satisfy its poor with bread.
Its priests I will clothe with salvation,
and its faithful will shout for joy... " - Psalm 132: various

"How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
life for evermore." - Psalm 133 (I love the way it pictures oil running down the beard, I think of God's grace and blessings just overflowing from his ministry)

"May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion." - Psalm 134:3

"Your name, O Lord, endures for ever,
your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.
For the Lord will vindicate his people,
and have compassion on his servants." - Psalm 135:13-14

"It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures for ever" - Psalm 136:23

"Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy." - Psalm 137:6

"I bow down towards your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
above everything...The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me" - Psalm 138:2,8

"even the darkness is not dark to you" - Psalm 139:12

Personal Post: Confusion and the Death of Truisms

I'm supposed to spend the next week in prayer and scripture trying to figure out what religion I'm going to be in the end. I think it's a bad plan to just go by one's heart, but everyone seems to have suggested it. I've had Protestant moments and Catholic moments. I just need clarity. I think it's a pretty even balance as all my personal benefits fall on the Protestant side, and all my intellectual prowess falls on the Catholic side.

I feel so strange not having a specific creed. I feel like I'm standing infront of a table, and on the table is a Catholic Catechism, a Book of Concord, and the Westminster Confession of faith. I feel like I understand each of them fairly well. Although no one else seems to agree on this point. It will be interesting to see what a week will do (probably nothing), I keep asking God which side to choose, but he seems annoyingly bi-partisan. I'm finding comfort in the Psalms though, as always.

I was thinking about Edward Gibbon today, the famous English historian who I enjoy reading when I feel cynical. When he was at Magdalen college (where C.S. Lewis was I believe), he faced a rationalist theologian (I think he was CofE) and defended miracles based on the famous Catholic preacher, Bishop Boussett's writings, and eventually converted to Roman Catholicism. His father pulled him out of school, and sent him to Switzerland to live with a Reformed Pastor. Eventually his father said if he didn't revert to Protestantism he would disinherit Edward, and so Edward re-converted on Christmas Day. He said the Romish creed disappeared then from his mind like a dream. After that he wrote scathingly against all organized religion, and was known by some as the father of the English Enlightenment.

I tend to go with the existentialists and postmoderns who say that you cannot but be affected by what you are taught. My mom was trying to give me the Billy Graham / Baptist altar call talk today about 'trusting in the cross' we got in a fight when I told her how complex it was and that she hadn't studied the nature of the debate or understood it at all. I think I wish Edward Gibbon were around today so that I could talk with him. I am a blender of confused theology. I have the Evangelical Arminian decision theology that I was raised with, blended with the Methodism and Biblicism I learned in England, mixed with the Calvinism and Reformed theology I've read everywhere from Karl Barth to Jonathon Edwards, blended with the catholic moralism and neoplatonism of the Fathers, countered by the polemicism of Luther, Calvin, Loyola, and Bellarmine, blended with the Roman Catholic romanticism of Chesterton, Waugh, and Newman, blended with the intellectual foundation of Thomism, attacked by the Fideism of Kierkegaard, the subjectivism of Kant, the skepticism of Sartre, and all topped off with a liberal scoop of C.S. Lewis. My mind, is like a bunch of wires that short circuit now. Whenever someone says an evangelical-ism or a truism, all the arguments start going off in my head like a bar room brawl.

For example. I'll just pick trite phrases people have told me in the last few days and how I react to them inside.

"Do whatever makes you happy" - John Stuart Mill, utilitarianistic hedonism, selfishness, but could also be understood in the Augustinian/Aristotelian/Thomistic framework of choosing whatever ultimately is best for me. But most decisions in life don't make me happy, I should exercise even though it doesn't make me happy, but if I followed this advice I never would.

"Just follow the Bible" - Whose interpretation of the bible should I have? which book should I start at? If I read the Pauline epistles I will lean towards Protestantism, but if I read the Johannine literature I will lean towards Rome. Should I think bishops when I read apostles? should I think magesterium when I read church? Should I think Total Depravity when I read Sin and Adam? Who wrote the bible? Do the Fathers have the right to interpret it? or is it as Luther said, that they are soot-filled bags that poison the spiritual milk of the Word? Kant said you should only do things if you are to make them universal maxims, and I definately don't think everyone should just read the bible for themselves and interpret it without proper education, it is a hard book to understand.

"Just pray" - If the Calvinists are right and I am outside God's grace, then he won't listen to my prayers, if the Catholics are right my soul is dead and unable to access God's grace or resurrect my soul in order to hear from him or feel the leading of the Spirit. How should I pray? How will I know what an answer is and what an arbitrary idealization of my own random thoughts is present? Should I pray my Rosary or not? Should I use my Prayer book (Anglican) or will that lead me astray? Why should I pray if God already has made up his mind? If God is Good by nature, why would I pray to ask him to be good, wouldn't he already do whatever is best by necessity?


so ya. Lil bit confused... I just know I don't want to make decisions based on what other people are telling me, I have Catholics emailing me patristic citations, and Evangelicals inviting me to their bible churches, and an Atheist co-worker came up to me the other day and congratulated me for leaving Roman Catholicism like she had when she became an Atheist. (I wanted to kill myself because of the sin of scandal that I've caused with all of this). I have parents preaching, a girlfriend who is trying to be impartial (but favours her native Anglicanism), and even though I was trying not to think about it today, I looked down at my shoes which our Catholic chaplain bought me on a pilgrimage. Even my shoes are reminding me of the Reformation.


I'm gonna read some Psalms and try to get some exercise.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Careful Inquiry

"Have thou ever in thy mind this seal, which for the present has been lightly touched in my discourse, by way of summary, but shall be stated, should the Lord permit, to the best of my power with the proof from the Scriptures. For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell thee these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures." - St. Cyril of Jerusalem (ca. A.D. 350, Catechetical Lecture IV. 17)

I have no problem with the Fathers, I am still trying to learn them without merely proof-texting them, which is hard, because it seems that their proof-texts are the only thing people care about.

But what is their limit. This troubles me. St. Cyril here says that we are to weigh everything he says against the Scriptures. Of course the debate then immediately goes to 'whose interpretation of the scriptures', which I don't want to get into right now.

In the same way that I am extremely troubled by Trent declaring "concupiscence"/material original sin, what St. Paul calls "sin", I am disturbed by the way Tradition is treated.

I have abandonned the Newman-ian understanding that doctrine develops. The only thing that develops is heresy, the Arians argued that the Trinity was a development, and the catholics argued that it was a Tradition. What is true, must be either in Scripture or the public Tradition of the Church (councils and fathers).

In my personal scruples I was interested to find out from J.N.D. Kelly, that the Tradition of Penance/Reconciliation was quite different than it is now. For example, in the early church, a person could always receive communion unless they committed 3 sins: murder, adultery, apostasy. All other sins were considered to be forgiven merely by contrition and the petition in the Lord's prayer: 'forgive us our trespasses/dimmite nobis debita nostra'. As well, Penance -according to the Fathers- could only be formally done once. You got one shot, and once you had done your penance for a few years, the bishop would come to you and administer the Eucharist. No absolution was ever given, and the first record of absolution in A.D. 589 was called by a contemporary an 'excreable precept' for there to be a human absolution.

Then eventually we get Trent which says:

"the Lord then principally instituted the Sacrament of Penance, when, being raised from the dead, he breathed upon His disciples saying: 'Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained' (John 20:22-23). By which action so signal and words so clear the consent of all the Fathers has ever understood that the power of forgiving and retaining sins was communicated to the Apostles and to their lawful successors, for the reconciling of the faithful who have fallen after Baptism." (Sess. XIV, c. i)


So how do we get from 500 years of no confession to a priest, and the only mortal sins being murder, adultery, and apostasy, to: every time you deliberately lust you have to go to confession or you are damned.

This seems to be my issue. Tradition either is static or it develops. If it develops, then there really is a big problem with saying Revelation ended with Christ. If it is ongoing, then the Fathers can eventually be outgrown. For example, St. Augustine, Prosper, and St. Thomas Aquinas all taught the doctrine of reprobation, the idea that God predestines to Damnation.

After the debate with the Jansenists, the Magesterium decided that actually God gives sufficient grace to everyone. Bye bye doctrine of Reprobation, bye bye Tradition, make room for development.

This is an issue I need to carefully inquire into.

Likewise, I'm tired of reading pages of sifted quotes from the Fathers either for or against sola scriptura, sola fide, or any other doctrine. The fact that someone can even make up such pages shows how complex the issues are.

So in the end, if the Church directly contradicts the sense of scripture by saying concupiscence isn't sin, when Paul calls it "sin", does it have that kind of authority? St. Cyril seems to think it doesn't... that is until someone finds me another St. Cyril quote to show why he believed in sola ecclesia.

lord have mercy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

How I Feel Today

I have told my friend who is a priest in the ANiC that I am going to be received there, but now I have alot of Catholics proving to me that my intellectual 'escape route' has collapsed. It appears I am caught, and left with my true motive for leaving the Roman Catholic Church: I need assurance of God's grace and love towards me. I need to know that even though I haven't been to confession, God will still accept me with open arms.

Anyway, that's just me being honest, and I'm sure some Catholic will seize the opportunity to attack me for my behaviour. In any case, in my current weird position as an Anglo-Catholic holding Reformation soteriology, I've decided to really delve into the Fathers this summer, as well as exegesis on the issue of Justification. (to further confuse myself)

I came across this passage in St. Jerome's Letters tonight which was similar to how I feel sometimes:

"Oh! That I could behold the desert, lovelier to me than any city! Oh! That I could see those lonely spots made into a paradise by the saints that throng them! But since my sins prevent me from thrusting into your blessed company a head laden with every transgression, I adjure you (and I know that you can do it) by your prayers to deliver me from the darkness of this world... I have the will but not the power; this last can only come in answer to your prayers. For my part, I am like a sick sheep astray from the flock. Unless the good Shepherd shall place me on his shoulders and carry me back to the fold, (Luke 15:3-5) my steps will totter, and in the very effort of rising I shall find my feet give way. I am the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) who although I have squandered all the portion entrusted to me by my father, have not yet bowed the knee in submission to him; not yet have I commenced to put away from me the allurements of my former excesses. And because it is only a little while since I have begun not so much to abandon my vices as to desire to abandon them, the devil now ensnares me in new toils, he puts new stumbling-blocks in my path, he encompasses me on every side.

The seas around, and all around the main.

I find myself in mid-ocean, unwilling to retreat and unable to advance. It only remains that your prayers should win for me the gale of the Holy Spirit to waft me to the haven upon the desired shore." - Letter 2 (

please pray for me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I need a little more time than I thought to address the Catholic hate mail and remind the Protestants that I don't think they have 'won' the battle in the sense they think they have.

I am not a piece of meat. I have found a few points in the Roman Catholic confession untenable, and I have personally and existentially come to believe in the biblical yet unpatristic and unhistorical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone.

I no longer feel I am obliged to remain in communion with the Pope of Rome for my salvation, but I have nothing evil to say to him or to other Roman Catholics.

My reading of Scripture and Tradition as well as the interior witness of the Holy Spirit has led me to where I am, you are free to call me damned, heretic, or fool. I have no defence, only trust in Christ.

I am going to need some more time before I blog on anything, Triumphalism has become a bitter taste in my mouth.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ecclesiology (1) - Church Structure

The area in-between the *** are personal reflections and not properly arguments, so feel free to skip them.


I've now decided on my soteriology, an absolutely basic understanding that "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13), regardless of whether they are Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed or (ana)Baptist. That most simple gospel, that if I ask God for forgiveness, for the sake of Jesus Christ, he will not withhold it from me, because he desires that all should be saved, over and above the retension of a visible unified Church. So I have accepted this much of the Reformation, that God freely offers his grace to any whom the Spirit regenerates. The fact that Paul could rebuke Peter on a gospel issue, means to me that soteriology must come first.

But now comes the next challenge must be dealt with: Ecclesiology.

1. Which style of Church Governance is correct?


This model has support from Acts 1, and the succession of Matthias to Judas "bishopric" in the King James, or apostolic office. What does that mean however? The Fathers seem to indicate that each city or geographic diocese (a Roman Province decided on by the Pagan Imperial powers) had a bishop who was a figure of unity. However, if Paul and Peter were both in Rome, then that raises questions about the nature of the rule of 'one bishop one diocese'. In fact, if the Pope has universal jurisdiction, then really there is either only one global diocese/bishop, or 2 bishops in every diocese (again going against Tradition).

Likewise, the Methodists made a strong argument. For example, Timothy was allegedly to be appointed as Bishop of Ephesus, this tends to be the Roman Catholic argument. However, look at 1 Tim 4:14 "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery (or priesthood)." If Timothy was given his ministry (bishop) by the laying on of hands by the presbytery/priesthood, this means his succession was passed on by the priesthood, and not by the Episcopate. This means, as the Methodists will tell you, that all that is required to make a church is at least 3 priests validly ordained in apostolical succession, and they could then vote in a bishop (in the Alexandrian and Nicene Tradition, which states that bishops must be elected). An interesting argument to be sure.

Anyone arguing for a congregationalist style of church government like the Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Baptists, would have to base their argument on the ecclesial 'popular sovereignty' of Christians. They argue (quite rightly in terms of linguistics) that 'ecclesia's (churches) were assemblies in ancient Greece. For example, in Athens, the Ecclesia was a group of around 5000 men who would elect a leader like Pericles. Baptists argue that their 'bishops' (pastors) are elected by the congregations and that the 'laying on of hands' really means the raised hands that were used in voting. While the burden of proof is on them to show the truth to this unsubstantiated claim, it is still one argument. The case can be made that Presbyter/Priest, and Pastor/Bishop are actually all equivalent terms, and that in the hierarchy there is only two offices: laity and pastorate/presbytery.

I accept the authority of Scripture, the Fathers, and Tradition, and so the second two sources seem nigh unanimous in their support for the episcopal system of governance. As St. Ignatius of Antioch so harshly warned "do nothing without the bishop", and the Didache and other early texts seem to make the sacramental validity of the Eucharist to be dependent on either the presence or permission of a bishop in the line of apostles. I don't believe Tradition teaches a Petrine supremacy of jurisdiction though.

So, that leaves the Anglican Church of Canada, the Orthodox Church in America, and the Anglican Network/Anglican Church in North America (Evangelical & Anglo-Catholic split). I think Eastern Orthodoxy has gone against Antiquity and Tradition (ironically enough) by calling early medieval teachings 'apostolic tradition' (and thus falling into a quasi-Roman gnosticism of 'the secret tradition of the apostles'). The Anglican Church of Canada has gone against nature and grace by blessing homosexual unions and supporting abortion, leaving me the Anglican Church in North America, of which I am currently seeking membership.