Monday, January 22, 2007

If I do not believe this, what do I believe?

I am in my middle years. I go through self-doubts and one of the reasons I blog is that I get to know who I was, when the time comes. I mean, I hope to read what I wrote about and the replies I made to friends who interacted with me along the way. Having gone through subjective experiences lend me open to self introspection more often than average.

Doubts, I have them. I doubt who I am, I doubt if I really knew Christ, I doubt if I was his sheep, I doubt if he really happened to me etc. A wise pastor's wife said that I was going through male menopause. I don't know if that is true, but what I am certain of is that I got uncertainties. At this part of my life, my self tends to talk to me a lot, I get pre-occupied by the inner workings in me. These doubts stem from anxiety, the fear of the unknown, I mean ultimate unknown. Were do I go? What is happening? My feelings are off the chart, it is off the wall and nothing inside can I hold on. So what to do?

Then a gentle thought comes from Scripture, a principle, a lesson from Jesus comes to my mind that seems to challenge and convict me -- it comes from Luke 16, the conversation of the rich man with Abraham Lk 16:27-31

27"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

30" 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "


Here Moses and the Prophets refer to Scripture. Jesus through Abraham is saying, if you do not believe the scripture then no matter what experience you go through or even if someone comes down from heaven tell you the truth, or be alive again, you will not be convinced. If you do not believe scripture, you will not believe ie be convinced of the truth. If I do not rest my soul on what it says, there is really no help for me no matter what people say or whoever might say them to me.

This reminded me during my atheistic day while studying Confusianism, it teaches good things but in the end the authority comes from man - Confusius, and you can say so what Confusius, why should I follow you? Man has no authority, it is God who has the final authority.

Is the Bible true because it says it is true? Or is the Bible true because Jesus says it is true? The first seems circular to me, but in the second, Jesus gives his authority - his backing and approval on the Scripture. If I do not use Scripture as my final authority, then as Jesus said, I make my house on shifting sand. So the when the waters come, I need to stand on the rock.

20 comments:

Steve said...

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus quoted scripture as the means to counter the tricks of Satan. Jesus, being God, could have more easily just commanded Satan to stop and Satan would have. However, Jesus, being both fully divine and fully human, propery used scripture while Satan twisted scripture.

If Jesus, being fully God, uses his written word, then the written word must have the same authority as the spoken word of God.

L P Cruz said...

Very good point Steve, thanks.

I was reading the other day that even Thomas Aquinas believed in the authority of Scripture, who interestingly is the patron of many RC beliefs.

Jesus even said that it is HIS Words that will judge man in the last great judgment day, not the words of man or what words men have spoken about his word.

Another thing as Pastor Todd noted, there are those who do not believe in sola scriptura that uses scripture to disprove sola scriptura! This is rather amusing because, one is saying...

1. Scripture is not authoritative
2. We will use scripture to prove it is not authoritative.

Can you see here the weirdness of this project?

Lito

Venerable Aussie said...

St Thomas Aquinas believed in Sola Scriptura?

Sorry guys, this myth was debunked ages ago:

http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/a113.htm

The 10 second version:

"Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will." Summa Theologica, II-II, Question 5, Article 3

And thus we are back to the issue of guaranteed authority which, judging by the responses to my previous comments, no one here seems willing to tackle.

On your other point, the Church by whose authority Scripture was confirmed as authentic - ie the Catholic Church - is of course able to use these very Scriptures to confirm that "sola scriptura" (and indeed Sola Fide) are unscriptural and inauthentic doctrines, but rather, traditions of men (16th century men to be precise!).

Steve said...

So if sola fide is unscripture, then St. Paul must also be wrong. In Ephesians 2:8-9, St. Paul writes "For it is by grace (Grace Alone) you have been saved, through faith (Faith Alone) - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God _ not by works, so that no one can boast.

Sola Fida is not unscriptural and inauthentic doctrine or a tradition of men, but the center of the gospel.

If faith alone is not how we have saved, then what is? The Rome Church has replace faith with works. This is the same problem that the Jews had where they replaced faith with works (Romans 9:32).

If the Roman Church remained faithful to Holy Scripture, no one would could have a issue with the Roman Church. However, over the centuries, the Roman Church as slowly moved away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

L P Cruz said...

Venerable,

This is quote from Thomas Aquinas...

Objection: It would seem that it is unsuitable for the articles of faith to be embodied in a creed. Because Holy Writ is the rule of faith, to which no addition or subtraction can lawfully be made, since it is written (Deut. 4:2): “You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it.” Therefore it was unlawful to make a creed as a rule of faith, after Holy Writ had once been published.
Reply: The truth of faith is contained in Holy Writ, diffusely, under various modes of expression, and sometimes obscurely, so that, in order to gather the truth of faith from Holy Writ, one needs long study and practice, which are unattainable by all those who require to know the truth of faith, many of whom have no time for study, being busy with other affairs. And so it was necessary to gather together a clear summary from the sayings of Holy Writ, to be proposed to the belief of all. This indeed was no addition to Holy Writ, but something gathered from it. (Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 1, Article 9)

I do not deny that Aquinas is confusing and talks from both sides of his mouth and contradicts himself in which case he is unreliable, would you not conclude such?

Or let me put a proposition, if we ask Aquinas - Thomas which is the infallible rule for faith - the Magisterium or Scripture? How do you think he will answer.

But no matter, here is what Jesus says in the last day as to what will happen...

John 12:48
There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.

Lito

L P Cruz said...

To add at least a person who contradicts himself is no reliable authority on anything, at least you can say that, so neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant can appeal to him.

Kelly Klages said...

The question of authority, and specifically the authority of the pope, is really the issue on which the RC church stands or falls. Because Scripture is unclear (so it is thought), a single human authority is imperative to properly maintain the true Church on earth. Never mind that the EO church never acknowledged this singular supremacy of the bishop of Rome (perhaps substitute "councils" for "authority of the pope" here).

I think that the reason Catholics derisively view Luther as the "pope for Lutherans" is because it is unclear that Lutherans could sensibly believe that Scripture *is* clear, that it interprets itself, that false doctrine and schism is the result of unbelief and not mere interpretation differences, and that as important as bishops and authorities may be they are not above the clear teachings of Scripture.

What Luther espoused was not one person's opinion. In many instances he was addressing concerns held for years by any number of faithful Catholics. He felt that as a faithful Catholic himself, it behooved him to discuss such things and not to put up and shut up just to uphold the naked authority of men. Of course, in those days, daring to question the move of such-and-such pope would get you an Inquisition trial pretty speedily. But back to the point, most of the Lutheran Confessions were not written by Luther but by a number of concerned catholics. Catholics today, in their understanding of the all-importance of one single human authority, are forced to put "Luther" in that category for Lutherans. But that is not how Lutherans regard him.

L P Cruz said...

It is indeed a caricature of confessing conservative Lutherans to say that Luther is their pope. The Lutherans do not follow Luther on all things that is why they have confession.

It is interesting and amusing to hear the host Marcus Grodi of EWTN complaining about Lutherans not being as Marian as Luther, yet he complains that Lutherans follow Luther on sola scriptura. We are bad for following Luther on sola scriptura, and we are bad for not following Luther's Marian devotion.

Go figure...

Ayayay! We can never please...

L P Cruz said...

Additionally too, on authority Jesus has treated the Scriptures as authoritative.

I noticed too that Venerable equivocates on what he means by the Church - who is he referring to? Is he part of the Church or the Church is just the Magisterium?

Kelly Klages said...

As to the criticism of Lutherans not being as Marian as Luther but agreeing w/ Luther on Sola Scriptura-- that's another good example of the mistaken idea that comes from believing that every group must have a one-man, over-arching authority and so Luther must be "it" for Lutherans. They think that therefore all Lutherans are more or less obligated to agree with anything Luther ever said or thought, and therefore are being hypocritical in denying Luther's "Marian devotion." Despite the fact that the Confessions, including those penned by Luther, blow a huge hole through excessive Marian devotion (does anyone out there actually bother to *read* our Confessions?), Lutherans align themselves with our official confession of faith, not with every thought of Luther.

On certain forms of Marian devotion, penned by Melanchthon in our Confessions and thoroughly approved by Luther as well: http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgdefense/20_saints.html

Venerable Aussie said...

Hi Guys. FYI:

I don't know whether this is going to be good, bad or indifferent, but EWTN's Journey Home program this week features former Lutheran pastor now married Catholic priest Leonard Klein.

I googled him and came up with a UPI report in 2003 which said this: "Klein, who will convert with his wife and his daughter, is not just any minister. He was the editor of Lutheran Forum, a feisty highbrow journal defending faithfulness to Scripture and the 16th-century confessions... As Klein said, 'I realized that my view of Lutheranism as a reform movement for the Catholic Church meant that if I was really going to practice the best insights of the Reformation, I belonged inside the Catholic Church -- not outside it trying to make the Lutheran Church Lutheran.' "

You can watch it live or listen to it live here:

http://www.ewtn.com/audiovideo/index.asp?wings

at 12 noon Tues Melbourne time ( 7pm Monday Winkler time) and repeated 5pm Tues Melb, 2am Wed and 3pm Sunday).

You can even call in with questions or comments!

Steve said...

To be fair, Leonard Klein was a pastor in the ELCA, which is a very liberal chruch body that calls itself Lutheran but has left the Reformation when they gave in to Rome in the Joint Declaration.

So does the Roman Church have a double standard in allowing married men, like Rev. Klein, become a priest, but not premitting a single man who is a priest marry or a married member of the Roman Church become a priest.

I don't see any biblical mandate that a priet must be single. Since St. Peter was married and the Roman Church consider him the first bishop of Rome, is St. Peter a good example or a bad example?

L P Cruz said...

Hi All,

Pastor Brett the pastor of my church referred me to the article
I’ll stay here, where I stand
by Frank C. Senn (August, 2006 Forum Letter)


This article analyzes the conversion of Pastor Klein. As Rev. Senn pointed out the Lutheran Church is no longer a reform movement in the Roman Catholic Church. They [Lutherans] have been expelled and now they are a Church with their own Confession of Faith.

It is misleading to keep on thinking that the Lutherans are a reform movement.

ELCA is not faithful to the BoC, some of the pastors adopt only the Augsburg Confession throwing away the Smalcald Articles and that, so it is not surprizing that many ELCA pastors are becoming RC besides they signed the Joint Declaration so they can wake up one morning not knowing why they are Lutherans.


But I want to correct Venerable on the impression that the Church is the one that gives authority to the Bible. Back track a bit, no, it is not the Church that gives authority to the Bible, it is JESUS, see my quote on John 12 and the quote in this blog article.

In the end, when we stand in front of Christ - we will not hear the judgment from the lips of any Pope or even Reformer, but from the Supreme Lord of All - Christ Jesus.

Kelly Klages said...

Another reason to be discerning when feeling inclined to jump all over conversion stories, fascinating as they may sometimes be. Having been there myself, I find it very interesting to discover what changed a person's mind in their theological leanings-- and of course we ALL love to hear and share about those who left their church to join *ours*. :o) But for the excellent reasons mentioned above about this particular fellow, discretion and understanding is needed, lest "Lutheran" be misunderstood.

Jeff Tan said...

Before I jump into this debate, let me greet you all: Peace! Especially Lito, since his office is but a few strides from mine. :-)

Now to things I'd like to point out:

- on Sola Fide, one must wonder whatever happened to James 2:24? If I may suggest a better discussion of that thread here:

NOT By Faith Alone (by James Akin)

- The Catholic Church Magisterium does not deny the authority of Scripture (see, for example, Dei Verbum). But to claim that it is the SOLE source of authority is to deny that St. Paul referred to something else as the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:14-15). It is also to deny that Jesus referred to something else as the last resort when a brother offends against you, and refuses to listen to you, and witnesses (Matt 18:15-20). Now the last quote is somewhat of a problem, considering cases of excommunicated brethren up and forming, then pastoring, yet another Christian congregation. Sola Scriptura is itself problematic because one has to realize that the canon of Scripture was never identified by default, but was decided upon by the Church in councils -- not by the whole Church, but by her leaders -- the Magisterium, knowing full well that they do so with authority. It is in that sense that Church Magisterial authority steps in concerning Scripture: when Scripture cannot speak clearly for itself. St. Peter tells us in 2 Peter that no prophecy is given to easy and private interpretation, including those from St. Paul's letters.

Mark Shea has this brief examination of Scripture and Tradition understood together.

I would also suggest this tract by St. Francis de Sales on Holy Scripture.

- if Scripture was as clear and evident as claimed, then what of the thousands of Christian denominations who claim contradictory doctrines on the necessity and/or efficacy of baptism, on the same of the Eucharist, on the sinfulness of abortion and homosexual relationships, on the ordination of homosexuals, on the ordination of women, on the rapture, on being once saved, always saved, on predestination, on divorce and remarriage and adultery, etc.

Here's a better discussion on that by Dave Armstrong.

- On St. Thomas Aquinas, he wasn't contradicting himself. From what I understand, that is how he develops his arguments and discussions, by propositions and rebuttals.

- No arguments that it is Jesus who gives authority to the Scriptures because Jesus IS the Word. But he is the Word made flesh, and his authority, he also gave to his disciples who are flesh and Spirit, that they may bind and loose, and when he gave this particularly to Peter/Kepha/Rock, that he would build His Church on him, which would prevail against the very gates of hell, and He authorized Peter to bind and to loose with the keys of the Kingdom (Matt 16:13-20), which is in parallel with the Lord granting the keys, and the authority to open and to shut, to Eliakim (seems to mean "whom God establishes") in Isaiah 22. Who is Eliakim? He is in charge of the household of David, a vizier, with the king's authority.

Here's a useful link, too, on Papal authority.

Something must also be said about the Catholic Church and Scriptures. What would you expect of a faithful steward of the faith? (A) to jealously guard every portion and tradition as handed down by the Apostles "by word of mouth or by letter", ensuring that the interpretation and application thereof are faithful to Apostolic tradition, or (B) to print the Bible, give copies away and say "here you go, read it and be saved?" We know what has happened with (B), don't we, capably ignoring St. Peter's warning to make private interpretations, coming up with three different doctrines on baptism, the Eucharist and other things within a few short years?

Again, especially to Lito, peace. I am not spoiling for a shouting match, but I mulled this over for a few days and found that I must respectfully voice objections.

L P Cruz said...

Peace to you too Jeff,

We should discuss one principle at a time, perhaps start with authority of Scripture and your definition of "church". I often hear RC folk promote and lift highly the "church" yet there is no definition as to what they specifically mean by it. For us the church is visibly identified by all baptized believers in Christ.

Of course, the RCC does not deny the authority of scripture. They use that word -authority but it does not count as final arbiter. So we are not using the word authority in the same sense as the RC. RCC uses tradition as authoritative too and when scripture and tradition from common sensical taking are at odds with each other - tradition wins, for the RC.

Jesus said this with rebuke...
Mark 7:8
"8You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men."

Where do you find the commandment of God? Not in tradition but in his Word. If you study this passage, Jesus was upholding the authority of Scripture once again.

We differ in how the keys of the kingdom are given to the disciples, because for you, the disciples may violate scripture by traditional understanding of them. Whereas with us the disciples can not bind people's conscience outside the Word of God, in fact the disciples who do that have become false teachers and must be rejected.


The truth of the matter Jeff is that in my observation, the RC does not believe anything up until the Magisterium tells them what to believe.

Vincens defined catholicity to mean what has been believed by all Christians by all time. Papal infallibility and Bodily Assumption of Mary and Indulgences in Purgatory have not been believed by Christians from its start till today. So it is RCC who has departed from Catholicity.


Lito

Jeff Tan said...

"Of course, the RCC does not deny the authority of scripture. They use that word -authority but it does not count as final arbiter. So we are not using the word authority in the same sense as the RC. RCC uses tradition as authoritative too and when scripture and tradition from common sensical taking are at odds with each other - tradition wins, for the RC."

Could you please comment on this, Lito: when a Lutheran and a Calvinist are discussing the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, or the validity of infant baptism, and both are using Scripture as their authority, what wins?

L P Cruz said...

The one whose evidence comes close to Scripture.

For example, my view of the Eucharist was Zwinglian then Calvinist. I now believe that the Lutheran view is much closer to Scripture and stronger.

Now Calvin's view is different from Calvinist for Calvin affirmed the bodily presence of Christ he just did not try and explain how. Calvinist differ from Calvin on this.

As to baptism, Calvinist and Lutherans baptize for different reasons, but the point is that they baptize (what they do is more important than how they articulate why).


Also the development of understanding grows too. We grow in the knowledge of God - known as growing in grace. Our faith progresses, we go on a journey on the way to the Celestial City.

But in the end, Scripture is the basis for believing or an appeal to scripture is where we are to direct ourselves. We should stop were Scripture stops and go upto a point it permits us to go. The point is this --- here is the witness (Scripture) put it on the bar and examine it for yourself, you owe yourself the truth.


Yes, people do twist scripture to their advantage, that is the reason why you should examine it for yourself when someone says to you --believe this.

The attitude "Just tell me what to believe" is not a wise attitude to have because this misunderstands the sinfulness of man.

Even the Bereans studied scripture when Paul came to them with some teachings and Paul said that these Bereans were noble people - Acts 17:11 The TRUTH (Jesus) sets people free.


Jesus says that it is Scripture that speaks of Him and not traditions of men and Jeff when you find Jesus your Lord there, you will know that he has not left this world without a witness- he left his word and his Spirit.

His Spirit is in His Word - this is our thesis, where as RCC - His Spirit is in the Magisterium. This is similar to Pentecostalism to some extent.

We do not separte the HS from his Word and Sacrament (we have 2 - I know you have 7).


At anyrate this is the issue - what is the central teaching of Christianity according to Rome?

Jeff Tan said...

"The one whose evidence comes close to Scripture."

Yes, but who decides? Obviously the Calvinists of today sincerely believe that their evidence is closer to Scripture.

"As to baptism, Calvinist and Lutherans baptize for different reasons, but the point is that they baptize (**what they do is more important than how they articulate why** )." [emphasis mine]

I'm not sure if this is entirely true. If they cannot articulate why, then they may fall into error at some point. I think at the heart of Calvinist and Evangelical objections to infant baptism is the wrong notion of why baptism is performed at all. Their "why" is that it is mere fruit of salvation, therefore not in itself useful. Hence perhaps the reason they object to infant baptism is that there is no point since infants and children cannot exhibit fruits, being too young to repent and be saved.

"Also the development of understanding grows too."

You should read John Henry Newman's "An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine." It rings a bell.

"Yes, people do twist scripture to their advantage"

I sincerely believe, however, that most Christians do not intentionally twist scripture, not in a deceptive way just to win an argument.

"The attitude "Just tell me what to believe" is not a wise attitude to have because this misunderstands the sinfulness of man."

Never fear that this is my approach, nor is it that of the Catholic faith -- although, as a parent myself, I understand why many religious teachers would use this approach ("because I say so.").

"Even the Bereans studied scripture when Paul came to them with some teachings and Paul said that these Bereans were noble people"

There is nothing wrong or contrary to the Catholic faith about verifying doctrines using Scriptures. It is the cases where contrary interpretations surface that is worrisome, as it results in contrary doctrines, where the true one must come out.

"he left his word and his Spirit"

Yes, but he more explicitly left as his witnesses his Church. It's all over Scriptures itself, and it's all over the practice of the Church from the very beginning. Those bishops really are teachers, and they really do arbitrate disputes in order to identify the sound doctrines. What's more, he left his Word *to men*, entrusting them to bind and to loose, thus to teach authoritatively.

"Jesus says that it is Scripture that speaks of Him and not traditions of men"

He referred to corrupt tradition. He does not condemn all tradition, e.g., "the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us."

"where as RCC - His Spirit is in the Magisterium"

Not only in the Magisterium, the "teaching office". The Spirit is in the three-fold, solid and reliable support of Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium.

Here's an important excerpt from Dei Verbum:

This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

"At any rate this is the issue - what is the central teaching of Christianity according to Rome?"

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Are you pertaining to the absolute source of Christian teaching? If I'm going by the context of the original post, which was about Scripture, then that would be the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. It is only that we do not confine Jesus to Scriptures alone. "But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written." And as you say yourself, "the development of understanding grows too. We grow in the knowledge of God - known as growing in grace. Our faith progresses, we go on a journey on the way to the Celestial City." Likewise those doctrines coming from our growth in the knowledge of God came long after the New Testament was written up, and those doctrines were not written in the New Testament, but remain true and crucial articles of faith, e.g., the hypostatic union, the Trinity, etc.

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

To your question who decides? it is YOU. Do not be shocked I said this for after all it is YOU who decides that the Magisterium is correct because they say so. WE do decide things and we do have reasons for deciding one over the other. The question is the reasons we used for deciding.

Now in the above post you again use the word "church", and I quote Yes, but he more explicitly left as his witnesses his Church

Clarify by what you mean once again by the word Church for to me it means the body of believers - you and I , the disciples of Jesus who have died and those who are alive today. Remember my clarification before?

The HS is always connected to his Word and though the HS is in us believers, we may lose the HS. However the HS will never be lost from His Word. We lose the HS when we stop believing his Word ie when we reject it.

Now you quoted Verbum Dei, that is a fine quote but lofty words may be impressive but as Fr. Desanctis alleges - the RCC has 3 kinds of doctrines. What it declares is not exactly what it practices, according to him.

Let us not stray on contrary opinions on Scripture, just have a biblical support say of the Infallibility of the Pope or an individual for that matter?


On the last paragraph, I want to understand what the RCC considers to be the Gospel. Or forget the RCC for a while but answer the question for me --- what is the central teaching of Christianity.

And for an tangential comment...

Francis de Sales argued that the 419 Council of Carthage declared the canon of scripture as that of the RCC. Have you read the declarations of that Council ie all of its canons/declarations? That council did not recognize the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome but in fact were antagosnistic towards it. Besides the canon of scripture in that Council was under tentative review for comparison. The question too is this, if de Sales accepts one canon of Carthage 419 would he accept Canon XXVIII the forbids anyone from appealing to the Bishop beyond Africa, ie excludes Bishop of Rome. Thus implying the catholic church never believed in the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome.