Raniero Cantalamessa 2
Church of England

Fr Raniero Cantalamessa – Preacher to the Papal Household – to speak at Synod Eucharist

 

As the Queen and Supreme Governor of the Church of England inaugurates the tenth General Synod on 24th November, it has been announced that the ceremony will be preceded by Eucharist in Westminster Abbey, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will preside and Fr Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap (Preacher to the Papal Household – a Capuchin monk with his own website) will preach.

That’s nice and ecumenical.

According to Wikipedia (which is quoting the BBC) Fr Cantalamessa is “the only person allowed to preach to the Pope”, and is of the view that “the sensational coverage of alleged child abuse and cover-ups within the Roman Catholic Church was evidence of anti-Catholicism”, bearing similarities, he opines, to the “more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism”.

That’s not so nice and ecumenical.

But here’s the most interesting ecumenical bit:

On March 29, 2013, in a Good Friday homily delivered in St Peter’s Basilica, Cantalamessa preached in favor of clearing away “the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes, now only debris.” He then referred to St Francis of Assisi as exemplifying the creative destroyer of ecclesial traditions: “As happens with certain old buildings, over the centuries, to adapt to the needs of the moment, they become filled with partitions, staircases, rooms and closets. The time comes when we realize that all these adjustments no longer meet the current needs, but rather are an obstacle, so we must have the courage to knock them down and return the building to the simplicity and linearity of its origins. This was the mission that was received one day by a man who prayed before the Crucifix of San Damiano: ‘Go, Francis, and repair my Church’.”

Cantalamessa a radical? A reformer? A new Josiah? He shares with Justin Welby an ecclesial charismatic foundation grounded in the Alpha course:

All those who love Jesus love evangelisation, as well as everyone who takes their Christian vocation seriously – and this includes Christians of all denominations. We are no longer a transverse church but we are a people, who throughout all the different confessions of faith have in their heart the Gospel; not so much the affirmation of their particular group or particular church, but the proclamation of the Good News because they love Jesus.

Certainly in the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II and now also Pope Francis are pushing in this direction, and so any initiative in this direction – above all when it is characterised by a spirit like that of Alpha – an ecumenical spirit, a spirit of unity, not of proselytism – should be welcomed as a gift for the Church of today.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is of the view that the age of the Imperial Church is over. It appears to be an ecclesiology he shares with Pope Francis: the move is toward more localism, subsidiarity and contextual mission. Under this Pope, ARCIC relations will be less about banging Anglicans over the head with their “absolutely null and utterly void” Orders, or berating their sham of a Eucharist and their “ecclesial community” of a so-called church. Instead, the focus is on the person and ministry of Jesus. Christian unity is not a labour of man, but a work of the Holy Spirit. He sifts the wheat from the chaff and separates the sheep from the goats. He also purifies the Church: ‘For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him’ (2Cor 11:4).

Fr Raniero Cantalamessa has been called “an avowed apostle of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal” who is given to “speaking boldly like an Old Testament prophet”. He has a prophet’s beard, too. We could do with one or two more of those among the Church of England’s 468-strong voting Synod. Prophets, that is: not beards. Church House tells us:

For the first time there are slightly more elected women than men in the House of Laity – 50.5% to 49.5% (in 2005 40% of elected laity were women and in 2010 46%). In the House of Clergy, the number of women elected has increased to 32% (from 22% in 2005 and 29% in 2010). Three of the 53 members of the House of Bishops are women: the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, the Rt Revd Libby Lane and the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek…

Gender, sex, sexuality.. would it not be more useful to know that we have a Synod composed of ‘first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues‘ (1Cor 12:28)? What is the point of Synod meeting without the ministry of the prophetic? Oh, don’t expect to applaud what he (or she) has to say: it is unlikely that the prophet will have much patience for papers on global warming and the migrant crisis, or for reports on church buildings and resourcing the future. ‘A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house‘ (Mk 6:4).

But when the Preacher to the Papal Household speaks at an Anglican Eucharist without banging on about the real presence and denouncing it as anathema compared to the Sacrifice of the Mass, is he not signalling – even actualising – the end of “the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes (that are) now only debris”? Divine grace combined with human generosity is a life-giving force: indeed, it is the gift of salvation.

  • Albert

    But when the Preacher to the Papal Household speaks at an Anglican Eucharist without banging on about the real presence and denouncing it as anathema compared to the Sacrifice of the Mass, is he not signalling – even actualising – the end of “the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes (that are) now only debris”? Divine grace combined with human generosity is a life-giving force: indeed, it is the gift of salvation.

    If you mean by that, is he signalling that it is possible for a monarch to take control of a local Church, break it from the main body of the Church, change its ordinal so that what it hands on is different, then no.

    • Anton

      Is that a reference to Constantine?

      • Albert

        No.

        • Pubcrawler

          Leo IX?

          • Albert

            🙂

      • William Lewis

        It seems a rather tortuous reference, whomever he may be referring to.

        • Pubcrawler

          I think he means the author of Assertio Septem Sacramentorum.

          • William Lewis

            Oh yes, that Catholic reprobate.

          • Albert

            Actually, what I was trying to do was work out what Dr C was referring to, and I think it is the CofE…

          • William Lewis

            For the avoidance of doubt, I was referring to Henry VIII in my last comment, but I think that His Grace is referring to the RCC (and possibly the CoE) in his.

  • The Explorer

    “… banging on about the real presence and denouncing it as anathema compared to the Sacrifice of the Mass.”

    I’m not well versed in Catholic theology, but I thought the real presence was an integral part of the Mass. I know Luther believed in the real presence, and that that distinguished him from later reformers who held the bread and wine to be purely symbolic.

    Unless I’ve entirely misunderstood the final paragraph (which is eminently possible) I’d have thought the only people to denounce the real presence as anathema would be hard-line Protestants. (if they believed in anathema.)

    Can anyone explain?

    • Albert

      I think it depends on what you take by the word “it”. What is being denounced in that sentence? Is it the real presence, or the Anglican Eucharist? The sentence is certainly unclear, and it is made more unclear by the fact that, while many Anglicans would deny the real presence, many would affirm it. A further problem is that if one believes in the real presence, then I would have thought that one was more or less committed to some sense of Eucharistic sacrifice.

      • The Explorer

        Thank you. If you also find it unclear, I’m reassured.

        • If you believe in the Real Presence then it follows the Sacrifice of the Mass is a bloodless re-presentation of Christ’s death on the Cross and not, as some believe, a memorial service. We join Mary and John at the foot of the Cross.

      • carl jacobs

        I don’t think the sentence is unclear. The qualifying clause “compared to the Sacrifice of the Mass” means that “it” must refer to the Anglican Eucharist. Which sentence makes sense?

        1, But when the Preacher to the Papal Household speaks at an Anglican Eucharist without banging on about the real presence and denouncing [real presence] as anathema compared to the Sacrifice of the Mass

        2, But when the Preacher to the Papal Household speaks at an Anglican Eucharist without banging on about the real presence and denouncing [the Anglican Eucharist] as anathema compared to the Sacrifice of the Mass

        • Albert

          I agree with your reading of the sentence, in fact, a different reading did not occur to me until I read Explorer’s comment, then I realised that the sentence itself was unclear and open to both interpretations. Matters are made more unclear by the complexities of Anglican Eucharistic theology. After all, if one distinguishes “real presence” from “transubstantiation” (as many, perhaps, most Anglicans do, in the light of the relevant Article), then a sentence that distinguishes real presence from Catholic Mass begins to make sense.

          • carl jacobs

            I can see your point, but given the context of the sentence and the author of the piece, that alternate reading would seem to be excluded. Protestants associate Real Presence with the Mass almost exclusively. If a Protestant writer states that a RC speaking is “banging on” about Real Presence in a sentence about the difference between the RC Mass and the Protestant Eucharist, then the author’s context demands that the “banging on” be a positive apologetic message.

            It’s not unlike a secularist saying “Bible thumper.” It could mean “Someone who thumps the Bible in a negative sense” but the phrase is never read that way.

          • The Explorer

            When my wife says “Stop banging on about it,” she means “Shut up.” Whenever I’ve heard Bible thumper, it’s always been used in a negative sense, like God botherer or Jesus freak: someone who disturbs the tranquillity of unbelief.

            I spoke to a German Lutheran once who said he was happy to attend a Catholic Mass and partake of bread and wine because, as a Lutheran, he believed in the real presence. So there are Protestants who accept the real presence without accepting the Mass. I’ve never fully understood the distinction, and I thought that this might be the issue here.

            The ambiguity of the sentence reminds me of that postmodern favourite: ‘The lamb was too hot to eat.’: find three meanings.

            1. Too hot to run after its mother.
            2. Just out of the oven.
            3. Too spicy.

          • carl jacobs

            I was a Lutheran for 35 years, and I still cannot explain the Lutheran concept of Real Presence. However, Real Presence isn’t the problem with the Mass. The problem is rather its sacramental attachment to Justification and the idolatry associated with Eucharistic Adoration.

          • Albert

            Now there’s a set of sentences that make little sense. If real presence is not a problem then Eucharistic Adoration is not a problem, for one entails the other, and I would have thought the same would go for the attachment to justification.

          • carl jacobs

            Obviously it does make sense since Lutherans teach Real Presence without getting into the serious doctrinal distortions of Rome.

          • They’re philosophical concepts to help explain a mystery, as Jack understands it. Nowadays, we might talk about transubstantiation at quantum and sub-atomic levels. Who knows?

            Besides, Albert’s point stands about the Real Presence, however conceived, and Eucharist Adoration.

          • carl jacobs

            Besides, Albert’s point stands about the Real Presence, however conceived, and Eucharist Adoration.

            According to whom? It’s certainly not present in any Lutheran church or Lutheran theology that I have ever encountered. I had never heard of Eucharistic Adoration until I started reading about RCism.

          • The Explorer

            My own understanding is very simple; perhaps naïve. “Do this in remembrance of me.” It’s a coming together of believers in a symbolic reminder that God is our spiritual food. Deeper interpretations have always bewildered me: given what’s biblically recorded, I simply do not find the justification for them.

          • Apostolic tradition and the practice of the very early church reveal how they understood Christ’s words.

          • The Explorer

            Fair enough. This particular topic is one in which I feel out of my depth, and I cannot understand the violent passions it seems to generate. (I don’t mean on this particular thread, which is very civilised.) When I lived in France, in the absence anything Protestant nearby, I used to attend Catholic Mass sometimes without participating, and always came away with a sense of spiritual uplift. Perhaps because it was not conducted in my native language I missed some of the theological subtleties, but it felt like fellow Christians doing things in a rather different way from what I was used to.

          • dannybhoy

            And falls in line with our Lord’s statement..
            “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
            Matthew 18:20.
            That covers everything. So the bread and the wine remain just that; bread and wine, but where the Lord’s people meet to celebrate communion there He is..

          • Anton

            It is a supernatural event alright; Paul’s words about it to the Corinthians make that clear. The question at issue is whether the supernaturalness resides in the elements or the partaking.

          • Albert

            Go and join the Anglicans at worship – it goes on all over the place. As I’ve said many times before, I was even at a liturgy in which the Archbishop of Canterbury led Eucharistic Benediction.

          • Albert

            Well that assumes that Lutherans are consistent in their thought, but you’ve just said Appeals to “mystery” are used to cover up the holes.

            It seems to me that Real Presence must affect justification (and here I think I am supported by Calvin and Zwingli – although this is hardly an area of my expertise). How can Christ be present and not be effective (for something at least cf. 1 Cor.11)?

            Thus it seems to me that the bind one ends up with looks something like this:

            Luther:
            1. If the doctrine of the perspicuity of scripture is true then the doctrine of the real presence is true.
            2. The doctrine of the perspicuity of scripture is true.
            3. Therefore, the doctrine of the real presence is true.

            Calvin & Zwingli:
            1. If the doctrine of sola fide is true then the doctrine of the real presence is false.
            2. The doctrine of sola fide is true.
            3. Therefore, the doctrine of the real presence is false.

          • carl jacobs

            you’ve just said Appeals to “mystery” are used to cover up the holes.

            That was my assessment, and my frustration with them. I never said it wasn’t internally consistent. I just didn’t accept arguments like “God actively predestines to salvation but in so doing He doesn’t passively predestine to damnation. It’s a mystery.” OK, then. So if the Lutherans want to say “Christ is physically present in and around and through, but not He is not present in any corporeal sense related to the bread and wine, and it’s a mystery” they can do so. They can hypothesis some spiritual corporeal manifestation, and that very phrase should convey my confusion. The RC is (according to all my Engineering and Calvinist biases) more consistent in its presentation, I agree. But Lutherans aren’t bound by the RC philosophical constructs that underpin Transubstantiation.

            I am not nearly so concerned about the Lutheran presentation of Real Presence precisely because the Lutheran church rejected all the attending Roman errors. It is still after all a church that preaches Sola Fide. The problem with the Mass is precisely its attachment to Justification. The veil of the temple was rent asunder on Good Friday. The Roman Church put it back up only to have Luther tear it down once again.

          • Albert

            I never said it wasn’t internally consistent.

            But you have now:

            Christ is physically present in and around through, but not He is not present in any corporeal sense related to the bread and wine, and its a mystery

            Now if they are prepared to say such bizarre things, then I have every reason to think they are just generally inconsistent and don’t notice, what Calvin (and you, I think) see: real presence affects your doctrine of justification to the detriment of sola fide.

            I think also, as my syllogisms show that this confusion is not limited to Luther, but to Protestantism in general.

          • carl jacobs

            Is it any less bizarre than saying the substance of the bread has changed but the accidents have not? Your assertion is just as strange to me – perhaps more so since you then put the wafer into a Monstrance and worship it. And all this must be done by an ordained Priest who sits himself firmly between man and heaven just like the priests of the Old Testament.

            The Lutheran would assert that I am trying to make everything into a rational construct, and that I leave insufficient room for mystery. It’s a least a fair argument. I have no rational explanation for the hypostatic union, and I commit that entire subject to mystery. The argument between us then can at least exist within the bounds of Scripture. I don’t think that statement is internally inconsistent at all. I simply see no Scriptural reason to go there.

          • Albert

            Is it any less bizarre than saying the substance of the bread has changed but the accidents have not? Your assertion is just as strange to me – perhaps more so since you then put the wafer into a Monstrance and worship it.

            I cannot see any contradiction here. Where is the contradiction supposed to lie? But this looks contradictory to me:

            Christ is physically present in and around and through, but not He is not present in any corporeal sense related to the bread and wine, and it’s a mystery

            It seems that Christ is physically present, but not in any kind of body. That’s just contradictory. Physical presence just is bodily presence.

            And all this must be done by an ordained Priest who sits himself firmly between man and heaven just like the priests of the Old Testament.

            It is Christ’s priesthood who sits firmly between man and heaven, and which is effected in the ministry of the priest at the altar.

          • carl jacobs

            real presence affects your doctrine of justification to the detriment of sola fide.

            No, it doesn’t have to affect justification at all. There is no Scriptural connection between the two. RCism connects the two together. But that does not mean that Real Presence in and of itself demands some connection to justification. It just means that RCs insist that such a connection must exist.

          • Albert

            I cannot see any sense in saying Christ is present, but this has no effect. Consider Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is and He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit and So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

            Besides, your answer does not deal with the problem of incoherence in the Lutheran Eucharist.

          • The Explorer

            I used to think Luther accepted the Real Presence because he was emerging from a Catholic tradition. I assumed at the time that he would have come to reject it in due course, had he not had other issues so pressing that he never got round to it. But I now think he may have thought about it, and agreed with it.

          • carl jacobs

            Lutheran teaching on real presence is not Catholic teaching on real presence. The Lutherans have this mysterious ‘in and around and through” concept that I was never able to comprehend. The point was to separate the Real Presence of Christ from the actual physical elements of the bread and wine. There is no accidents/substance differentiation in Lutheranism.

          • “Consubstantiation” – Christ is really present but the bread and wine remain bread and wine.

          • carl jacobs

            Lutherans deny they teach consubstantiation. They teach “something else.” A Lutheran will tell you that consubstantiation is an incorrect label placed on Lutheran teaching by non-Lutherans.

          • Really? What do they call it then? And hasn’t Jack accurately summed up their belief, even if he got the term wrong? The bread and wine remain bread and wine but are also Christ’s Body and Blood?

            Jack remembers being at school and actually thinking the Lutheran account plausible …. then he was put straight, in no uncertain terms, by the Brothers.

          • carl jacobs

            I’m not sure. But the point was self-validating to me because I personally didn’t use the term until after I left the Lutheran church, and I had in fact learned it from non-Lutheran teachers.

          • You left the Lutheran Church? One step forward and two steps back, then.

          • carl jacobs

            Well, technically I was expelled. That’s a long story.

          • They expel people? Jack was unaware of this.

          • carl jacobs

            The church of which I was a member kicked me out. Sent me a letter and everything. It wasn’t like a national organization excommunicated me. As I said, it’s a long story.

          • Must have been a traumatic experience for you.

          • carl jacobs

            No, I was already out of the door of that church, if not yet the Lutheran church, to be honest. They formalized a de facto reality – although at the time I didn’t realize it. What made me angry was they they expelled me but not my wife.

            Many things about Lutheranism made sense to me after I left. Like for example the lack of exposition in preaching. That was a revelation. A Pastor would preach though a book verse by verse over several different Sundays? I had never heard of that concept before. The typical Lutheran sermon is based upon a single verse from Scripture. The pastor will develop some sort of theme from that text but he will not explain a text verse by verse. In my experience Lutherans are not well-taught in doctrine because they are never well-grounded in Scripture. Appeals to “mystery” are used to cover up the holes.

            The problem that eventually caught me up was this difference between Lutheran teaching and Scriptural exposition. Like for example the difference between Lutheran teaching on Baptism and Romans 9. That was the initial pebble that cracked the glass.

          • Albert

            Like for example the difference between Lutheran teaching on Baptism and Romans 9

            Interesting, can you go on?

          • Albert

            Good for you Carl, good for you!

          • Albert

            It’s hardly worth arguing about – I agree with your interpretation, but I would point out that belief in the Real Presence is more widespread among Anglicans than perhaps this comment allows, and would reiterate that it is sometimes held in opposition to transubstantiation.

          • Except the “Real Presence” means different things to different people.

            “One of the reasons the term ‘real presence’ has become a flexible friend is because it has been lifted from its full context. Historically theologians spoke of ‘the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament of the altar.’ But now it has been shortened to ‘the real presence’.”

            Interesting article here on the use of the term from the time of the reformation.

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/what-do-we-mean-by-the-real-presence

          • Albert

            Yes, in a sense that’s my point. When I was an Anglican (since Carl has started confessions about one’s past!), I believed in the real presence, but denied transubstantiation. Thus, Explorer’s interpretation cannot be ruled out by ecclesial context.

          • Latimer and Ridley used the term ‘real presence’. as an alternative to transubstantiation. It was a compromise term that denied transubstantiation and held to a symbolic and spiritual view of the sacrament. Because of Catholic pressure, there was a need to express the belief in as high a way as possible.

            Latimer, in his own words, used it in the sense: “that same presence may be called a real presence because to the faithful believer there is a real or spiritual body of Christ.” Ridley stated: “The true Church doth acknowledge a presence of Christ’s body in the Lord’s Supper to be communicated to the godly by grace… spiritually and by a sacramental signification, but not as a corporeal presence of the body of his flesh.”

            Catholics and the Orthodox Church believe in a “corporeal, substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The whole Christ is present, body, blood soul and divinity. It is not just a spiritual presence. Furthermore Catholics believe in an objective presence – not one which is only available to those who receive in faith.”

          • Albert

            Yes. The Anglican bishop, Jeremy Taylor wrote a book entitled: The Real Presence and Spiritual of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament Proved Against the Doctrine of Transubstantiation. He says this:

            The doctrine of the church of England, and generally of the Protestants, in this article, is,–that after the minister of the holy mysteries hath rightly prayed, and blessed or consecrated the bread and the wine, the symbols become changed into the body and blood of Christ, after a sacramental, that is, in a spiritual real manner: so that all that worthily communicate, do by faith receive Christ really, effectually, to all the purposes of his passion: the wicked receive not Christ, but the bare symbols only; but yet to their hurt, because the offer of Christ is rejected, and they pollute the blood of the covenant, by using it as an unholy thing. [Dum enim sacramenta violantur, ipse cujus sunt sacramenta violatur. S. Hieron. in 1 Malac.] The result of which doctrine is this: It is bread, and it is Christ’s body. It is bread in substance, Christ in the sacrament; and Christ is as really given to all that are truly disposed, as the symbols are; each as they can; Christ as Christ can be given; the bread and wine as they can; and to the same real purposes, to which they are designed; and Christ does as really nourish and sanctify the soul, as the elements do the body. It is here, as in the other sacrament; for as there natural water becomes the lava of regeneration; so here, bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ; but, there and here too, the first substance is changed by grace, but remains the same in nature.

            5. That this is the doctrine of the church of England, is apparent in the church-catechism; affirming “the inward part or thing signified” by the consecrated bread and wine to be “the body and blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received of the faithful in the Lord’s supper;” and the benefit of it to be, “the strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the body and blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the bread and wine:” and the same is repeated severally in the exhortation, and in the prayer of the address before the consecration, in the canon of our communion; ‘verily and indeed’ is ‘reipsa,’ that is, ‘really enough;’ that is our sense of the real presence; and Calvin affirms as much, saying, ‘In the supper Christ Jesus, viz. his body and blood, is truly given under the signs of bread and wine.” [Lib. 4. Inst. c. 7. sect, 32. De Missae Sacrific.] And Gregory de Valentia gives this account of the doctrine of the Protestants; that ‘although Christ be corporally in heaven, yet is he received of the faithful communicants in this sacrament truly, both spiritually by the mouth of the mind, through a most near conjunction of Christ with the soul of the receiver by faith, and also sacramentally with the bodily mouth,’ &c. And, which is the greatest testimony of all, we, who best know our own minds, declare it to be so.

            6. Now that the spiritual is also a real presence, and that they are hugely consistent, is easily credible to them, that believe that the gifts of the Holy Ghost are real graces, and a spirit is a proper substance

            According to this, the doctrine of the CofE and indeed of Calvin (interestingly) does not seem to be the doctrine of Carl who wrote earlier: Protestants associate Real Presence with the Mass almost exclusively. Although to be fair, I find Taylor’s account far from clear and so it is unsurprising if most Protestants fall of one side or other of the paradox.

          • Well, it certainly attempts to cover all bases and also remain in tune with the 39 Articles.

    • Pubcrawler

      I took the ‘it’ as referring back to ‘Anglican Eucharist’, not ‘real presence’; which might make more sense. (Long-distance anaphora and syntactic ambiguity, such fun!)

      • The Explorer

        Read that way, it does make more sense. Thank you.

    • As Jack understands it, some Anglicans do believe in the Real Presence, despite the Calvinist tone of many of their doctrines. It’s been an ongoing source of tension within the “via media”. The problem is that according to Catholicism valid ordination as a priest is required for this consecration to take place. And Rome has declared Anglican ordination since its form was changed to be invalid – so no transubstantiation into the Real Presence.

      Jack recently had the privilege of attending a Mass celebrated by a priest who has “crossed the Tiber” who is now a member of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. He was ordained according to Catholic rites. The liturgy was based on the Common Prayer Book and it was more Catholic in nature than the regular Mass Jack celebrates every Sunday in his local parish.

      • James M

        Which is why we need an unapologetically Catholic rite like that in use before Paul VI, ah, “got to work”. A start could be made by restoring all those prayers, phrases, and actions that were red-inked for the heinous offence of being too “RC”. Now that would be true ecumenism, because it would reflect the Faith of the Church far better than the “prefabricated” (thank you, Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI) rite most Mass-attending Catholics in the West are treated to. It would also get rid of a lot of abuses… It is not good to create a rift between the Faith of the Church, and the liturgical expression of that Faith. But that is what we have at present, in so much of the Church. Surely this is a textbook instance of a scandal 🙁

        • Jack regularly reads his father’s old Roman Missal after Mass on Sunday. Such beautiful prayers and so rich in Catholic theology and reflective of our Catholic faith …. and the readings unchanged to reflect the political correctness of ecumenicalism. So many sacred silences and reflections and so much honour and adoration given to Christ in the Real Presence. Whilst Jack accepts the New Order Mass is valid, it is a shell of the traditional Latin Mass.

    • James M

      Belief in the *Reality* of the Presence is *not* distinctively Catholic. One can believe in that, and be an Anglican, or even a Nonconformist. No. What *is* distinctive of the Catholic dogmatic teaching on the Eucharistic Presence, is that in the Sacrament of the altar Christ is ***Substantially*** Present. That He is Really Present, and Truly Present, are also both true, but neither is distinctive of the Catholic Faith in the Eucharistic Presence of Christ. The Council of Trent teaches that Christ is Present in the Blessed Sacrament in all three ways. No ecumenism can change this teaching, which is irreformable, and which it is heresy for a Catholic to reject. So “Boo !” to ARCIC.

      The late Michael Davies did an excellent job of explaining this often-ignored but crucial detail of Catholic dogma in one of his books on the post-Vatican 2 changes to the Mass.

      • Coniston

        Do not the Orthodox believe in the Real Presence (in every sense), but think that Transubstantiation (based on some philosophical concepts of Aristotle) is unnecessary? Not necessarily flawed, but unnecessary.

        • You are correct, they do. They believe it is a mystery beyond human philosophical terms. Here’s an article outling their approach.

          http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/worship/the-sacraments/holy-eucharist

          • Coniston

            Thank you.

        • Albert

          Perhaps we need to be a little careful. Has the Catholic Church defined all the stuff about accidents? This is what Trent says:

          Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.

          “Fittingly called transubstantiation”, that sounds like the Church saying “If you’re thinking about this in Aristotelian terms this is how it looks. The Church makes no claim for that being only way of looking at it, except that, whatever philosophical system one uses, one’s doctrine, if translated into Aristotelian terms, must be consistent with transubstantiation.

          • Coniston

            I would agree. A Divine Mystery cannot be reduced to a philosophical explanation, though such explanations may be of use at times.

          • Tutanekai

            So if we were to subject a few crumbs of the host and a few drops of wine to scientific analysis after the consecration, would we find each to be composed of human cell structures? Or was Christ’s earthly body made of flour and fermented grape juice?

            Ah, I forgot. It’s a “mystery”, isn’t it? A mystery how a tasteless wafer and dodgy plonk can be transformed into human flesh and blood whilst still retaining every appearance of their original substance.

            Isn’t the real mystery how otherwise rational human beings can believe in a magical transformation when what’s supposed to have been transformed stays exactly the same as it’s always been?

            H.C. Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” could have been written as a critique of RC eucharistic beliefs. His stories aren’t all that well known in the Catholic cultures of Central and Southern Europe, are they? Whereas in the Protestant North…

          • Albert

            The substance changes, but the accident remain the same. What do you know about substance?

          • Tutanekai

            We can only identify substance by reference to its accidents. If we see an object that looks like a horse, smells like a horse, feels like a horse and trots like a horse, we identify it as a horse. We don’t identify it as a goat. Or a Range Rover. Or a partridge in a pear tree.

            What the Church asks us to do is identify what looks, feels and tastes like a dry wafer and bad wine as the body and blood of Christ. It calls this a mystery and a miracle. I call it absurd. An absurdity bordering on delusion.

            If it looks like a wafer, and smells like a wafer, and tastes like a wafer, and if you plonk it under a microscope and observe the characteristics of a baked wheat flour product, what is it?

            It is, of course, a wafer.

            Call it the body of Christ if you like, but your words don’t change the wafery reality of the object itself. I might call it a 10 pound note and offer it as part payment for my next grocery bill. The grocer will probably object and say it’s not a 10 pound note, but just a dry wafer. At which point I could start waffling about substance and accident and transubstantiation, or I could reach into my wallet and pull out a real 10 pound note.

            Which action would, I wonder, lead to me leaving the store with the ingredients of my next dinner? Which action would leave the grocer thinking of me as a dishonest blagger trying to bluff a free meal?

            When he heaves it high, what exactly is Sir Priest showing us? A miracle, certainly. Every priest since VII routinely faces his flock while simultaneously turning his back on them to expose a long stretch of brass neck. That’s the real miracle of the eucharist – persuading otherwise rational individuals that a miracle is actually happening, whilst feeding them particularly unappetizing bar snacks…

          • Albert

            We can only identify substance by reference to its accidents.

            I don’t know much about all this, I’m afraid, but since, by definition the accidents are accidental to the substance, I would say what you wrote there is literally absurd.

            or I could reach into my wallet and pull out a real 10 pound note.

            Which is interesting, of course, for what is a 10 pound note but a piece of paper? And yet it is substantially a 10 pound note.

          • Tutanekai

            Is it absurd to draw conclusions about substances based on their accidents when their accidents are all we know about them? If so, then life is absurd.

            If accidents tell us nothing about the true substance of an object, then you’d better beware next time you’re reading your Bible. Maybe it’s really a big hungry wolf masquerading under the accidents of a dull and dusty tome, and when nobody’s looking it will gobble you up and end your career as a defender of the indefensible on forums such as this.

            One wonders how armchair Catholic philosophers get through the day without being completely immobilised by fear that the objects around them are not what they seem. Because if something that to all of our senses appears as an unappetising wafer is actually a slice of deified human flesh, then who knows what may be lurking inside your kitchen cupboard?

            Is your raspberry jam actually made of mashed babies? It may look like raspberry jam, and taste like raspberry jam, and if we examine it closely we may observe that it’s full of raspberry seeds, fructose crystals and all the other bits and bobs that go to make up a fruit conserve. But can you really be sure you’re not spreading bits of crushed infant cadaver on your toast in the morning?

            You may object that the raspberry jam hasn’t been consecrated, therefore its accidents must coincide with its true substance, because only a priest wearing a frock and chantîng magic words over a substance can cause that substance to change while its accidents remain the same. But how do you know that some rogue priest didn’t break into the raspberry jam factory one night and, in pursuit of some cultic religious objective, transform the substance of the vat of raspberry jam that your particular pot was drawn from into chopped children chowder? If nothing about it can tell you what it’s really made of, that danger must always be present.

            So next time you sit down to raspberry jam on toast in the morning, perhaps you should ask yourself what you’re really eating.

            Is that absurd enough for you? Is it any more absurd than claiming that a dry wafer becomes a slice of human flesh just because a man in a frock tells it to?

            Absurdity is part and parcel of all branches of the Christian religion that believe in transubstantiation. The juvenile desire to exert magic control over the mundane reality of the world we live in lies beneath it. Is there any real difference between children who read Harry Potter and their parents who believe in the magic powers of priests? I suppose at least the children have the valid excuse of immaturity…

          • Albert

            Is it absurd to draw conclusions about substances based on their accidents when their accidents are all we know about them?

            Of course not, and that is the usual means of knowing. But you’re begging the question here. With the Blessed Sacrament accidents are not only thing we know about it. The rest of your post, which I have only skim read, seems only to reproduce this error and apply it elsewhere.

            I ask you again, what do you know about substances? I wonder if you will give a non self-contradicting answer this time, unlike last night.

          • Tutanekai

            Accidents are all we know about the foodstuffs you refer to as the Blessed Sacrament. They’re all we can know. Anything else you think you know, you really only believe. And you clearly believe the entirely unsubstantiated account of their nature written down in a book you’ve convinced yourself is the word of an entirely unsubstantiated entity you call God.

            I’d congratulate you on your powers of imagination if your beliefs weren’t just a slavish aping of other peoples’ fantasies and suppositions and therefore more accurately described as credulity than imagination.

            Of course there’s no arguing with credulous belief. You’ll continue to believe in your stories and suppositions whatever anyone says because you’ve made the choice to believe in them, and that belief is now inextricably tangled up with your sense of personhood. You dignify it with the name of Faith in an attempt to distinguish it from childish fantasies like believing in Santa Claus. But what you call faith, I call fantasy. Best leave it at that, I think.

          • Albert

            Anything else you think you know, you really only believe

            I seem to recall that epistemology wasn’t your strong point. I doubt therefore that you will do well marrying epistemology and metaphysics – especially given that you began with a self-referentially incoherent statement.

            You dignify it with the name of Faith in an attempt to distinguish it from childish fantasies like believing in Santa Claus.

            So God is like Santa Claus. Thank you for demonstrating my point again, so eloquently.

          • Tutanekai

            The above response is par for the course in discussions with religionists. When they can’t counter your arguments, out spews the ad hominem denigration and the impotent insults.

            Every word you write illustrates the absolute necessity of ensuring that people like you are pushed to the margins of society where your incoherent rantings can do no real harm.

            Secular influences have been pretty successful in doing this, but we should never let our guard down. Blogs like this one that provide a forum for rabid religionists are useful tools for reinforcing that point.

          • Albert

            When they can’t counter your arguments, out spews the ad hominem denigration and the impotent insults.

            Your argument was based on a distinction between belief and knowledge, but you haven’t set out what that distinction is or given examples. Set out the distinction and we can go from there.

            Every word you write illustrates the absolute necessity of ensuring that people like you are pushed to the margins of society where your incoherent rantings can do no real harm.

            Ah… and now the truth comes out, people like me need to be marginalised. Our crime? Incoherence. But then (awkwardly) it wasn’t me that wrote:

            We can only identify substance by reference to its accidents.

            or begged the question:

            Is it absurd to draw conclusions about substances based on their accidents when their accidents are all we know about them?

            or set out the demolish an argument about substance, without (as far as I can see, although I haven’t read must of your posts beyond the first logical error) defining what substance is (despite the fact that this was the first question I asked.).

            or been rabid:

            Every word you write illustrates the absolute necessity of ensuring that people like you are pushed to the margins of society

            Awkward.

          • Tutanekai

            The only awkwardness I see here is in your clumsy attempt to avoid addressing my points by claiming dissatisfaction with how I express them.

            These really are diversionary tactics of a very amateur nature. Wouldn’t it be a bit simpler and far more honest just to admit that you haven’t got any answers?

            This whole attitude of “I won’t talk to you unless your questions fit into a format that I predetermine and control” reveals just how formulaic and empty this faith of yours really is. Any questions that disturb it – and the people who ask them – must be discredited.

            That’s what religious faith tries to do: shut down all questions except the approved ones that lead to rote answers. It tries, but it cannot succeed in fooling any but the most gullible. That’s why it no longer dominates society in countries where independent thinking is encouraged.

          • Albert

            I have said from the beginning that I don’t know much about this area. But if you are going to ask me questions, I do expect them to show enough understanding of the issues that questions make sense of the doctrine.

            This whole attitude of “I won’t talk to you unless your questions fit into a format that I predetermine and control” reveals just how formulaic and empty this faith of yours really is.

            If you mean, do I expect you to ask questions of the doctrine as we actually believe it, rather than of the straw man you are setting up to knock down, then yes, I do. If you are going to ask questions of us, then you do rather need to use the format that we do.

            That’s what religious faith tries to do: shut down all questions except the approved ones that lead to rote answers. It tries, but it cannot succeed in fooling any but the most gullible.

            I think this is just you getting frustrated that you don’t know enough about the doctrine or epistemology or metaphysics actually to critique it. Please note: I have asked various questions, which, had you answered them, would have given you the opportunity to focus your argument on what we actually believe. But you haven’t taken your chances. This is what we come to expect from secularists.

          • Tutanekai

            You refuse to answer any questions that tend in a direction your faith can’t provide rote answers for.

            This is what I’ve come to expect from religionists. When reality and common sense unite to undermine their beliefs, they simply ignore the problem and pretend it doesn’t exist. The best way to do this is to attack the questioner and accuse him of ignorance, or ill will, or both.

            Dismissing the entire secular world with a pompous accusation that we’re not asking the right questions reveals the weakness of your position. If your religion is truth, it should be able to answer ALL questions. If the questions have to be tailored to fit predetermined answers, the inadequacy of those answers is evident for all to see.

            What you’re doing here is no different from what dogmatists have done throughout time. Dream up an imaginary doctrine that pretends to be the answer to all questions, and then disallow the questions it can’t answer, and then go after those who ask them in an attempt to shut them down, by whatever means is necessary.

            The Inquisition lives on in the heart of every orthodox Catholic. The only difference is that now you can’t have us burned at the stake.

          • Albert

            Your questions are currently unintelligible. I can’t help that. Neither can I answer them. The moment, you change your arguments into something I can answer, I will.

            Don’t bother writing long responses – once I realise that you are not engaging with the doctrine that we believe (as opposed to the doctrine, you would like us to believe), I stop reading.

          • Tutanekai

            A typical religionist answer. If you don’t like the question, just pretend it doesn’t make any sense.

            How pitiful. If this is the best Christians can do, no wonder you’re now largely excluded from public debate.

          • Albert

            And that is a typical secularist’s answer. You misunderstand a doctrine and therefore cannot actually formulate an argument against it, and so end up asking a question that does not critique the doctrine.

            There are two possibilities:

            1. You don’t know enough about the doctrine.
            2. You do know enough, but are choosing not to change your question because you can see that the coherence of the doctrine stands.

            I don’t know which is the case here.

          • Tutanekai

            You missed out the third possibility, which isn’t surprising because it can’t been seen from the corner into which you’ve painted your mind.

            3. The doctrine is false.

          • Albert

            I’m looking at the possibilities of your not asking an adequate question. The truth or falsity of the doctrine is unaffected by that.

          • Tutanekai

            I’m looking at the possibility that your doctrine is inadequate when confronted by a perfectly coherent, relevant and pertinent question. You reject this out of hand by saying that if your doctrine can’t answer a question, there’s something wrong with that question. In doing so you reveal that your faith is not based upon a true spirit of enquiry, but rather upon a dogmatic and arbitrary decision to call your doctrine truth come what may.

            This is the great weakness of dogmatic truth. If it can’t stand in the face of all questions, it quite simply can’t stand. Defenders of dogmatic truth who seek to discredit questions for which their doctrine cannot provide adequate answers expose themselves as closed-minded zealots.

            It’s people like you who make it so very clear to anyone with a truly enquiring mind that religion and truth are two mutually exclusive concepts.

          • Albert

            I haven’t noticed a pertinent question, but as you think you’ve asked one, ask it again.

          • Tutanekai

            I’m not surprised you don’t recognise my questions as pertinent. If a question undermines your doctrine, you reject it out of hand as unacceptable … because it undermines your doctrine. It would be almost comical if it didn’t betray an absolute rigidity of spirit that would send a man to his death before it would admit the slightest possibility of an error in its dogmatic certainties.

            There’s no way past your attitude of assumed infallibility. You don’t want to understand anything that places your beliefs at risk. You’re the Catholic Church in microcosm, and as this conversation staggers to its close, you demonstrate very clearly why secular society and the Church can’t coexist without one neutering the other.

          • Albert

            Your question doesn’t undermine our doctrine, because it does not address our doctrine.

          • Tutanekai

            My questions address reality. We can certainly agree that your doctrine has nothing to do with that.

            Example: according to you, a piece of dry wafer that looks like a piece of dry wafer and upon examination is found to be made of the constituent parts of a dry wafer is actually human flesh. But only once a priest has chanted magic words over it.

            The fleshy nature of the dry wafer is neither visible nor detectable to any other human sense. But nevertheless flesh is what it is, because that’s what some deranged prophet decreed two thousand years ago. At least we think he decreed it, although he left no writings of his own, and all we know about his alleged utterances is written down in a book authored by second or third hand sources and then heavily edited. But that’s enough to deny the reality of the dry wafer and establish beyond all possible doubt that flour and water can be transformed into human flesh by priests and their incantations.

            That’s basically your doctrine. So how do you square it with the reality of the dry wafer? By inventing an artificial distinction between substance and accident and claiming that something that looks like a dry wafer is actually something else. You have no way of demonstrating it. But you don’t need to, do you? It’s true because you say so, and that’s all that counts.

            But I want to know, how can you prove that the dry wafer is really human flesh? How do you know? How can you confirm what your doctrine states? You can’t. So you have to accept the doctrine without any proof or corroborating evidence. Blind faith in something for which you have no proof.

            How is that reasonable?

          • Albert

            My questions address reality. We can certainly agree that your doctrine has nothing to do with that.

            What is reality? Your questions are as meaningful as asking an atheist, why he believes in the Qur’an, given all the violence in it. He doesn’t believe in the Qur’an so the question is out of order.

            Example: according to you, a piece of dry wafer that looks like a piece of dry wafer and upon examination is found to be made of the constituent parts of a dry wafer is actually human flesh. But only once a priest has chanted magic words over it.

            I don’t believe that.

            It’s true because you say so, and that’s all that counts.

            I don’t believe that either.

            But I want to know, how can you prove that the dry wafer is really human flesh? How do you know? How can you confirm what your doctrine states? You can’t.

            Yes I can.

          • Tutanekai

            Then go ahead, prove it.

            This should be good…

          • Albert

            1. Truth always speaks truly or there’s nothing true.
            2. Truth says that the bread is his body.
            3. Therefore, it is true that the bread is his body.

          • Tutanekai

            Your premise fails at point 2.

            Only by arbitrarily deciding that truth is incarnated in your God can you proceed to point 3. But you have no proof that your God even exists, let alone that he incarnates truth.

            So I repeat: go ahead, prove that a consecrated dry wafer is human flesh.

            To do so, you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt 1) that your God exists and is who the Bible and the Church claim he is, and 2) that the events narrated in the Bible are an accurate account of his sojourn on earth and his will for Mankind.

            I won’t accept self-supporting dogmatic declarations that God exists. They’re just an expression of personal opinion and are therefore worthless as a means of establishing fact. I require reliable, independently verified and corroborated evidence.

            So again I repeat: this should be good.

          • Albert

            Of course you were going to critique premise 2. Is this because you do not believe that it is rational to believe something without empirical evidence? The argument that belief in transubstantiation is irrational is yours. The burden of proof is on you to show that. Therefore, we cannot proceed further until you have established this point.

          • Tutanekai

            No, the burden of proof lies with you because your claim flies in the face of common sense.

            There is no discernable difference between an unconsacrated and a consacrated host. You claim the two are made of different substances, and that the chanting of magic words by a priest effects that change. It’s therefore your responsibility to offer proof in support of your claim.

            My claim that the unconsecrated and consecrated hosts are identical in every respect is borne out by the available evidence.

            So where’s your proof? If you don’t have any, your claim is dismissed out of hand as fantasy.

          • Albert

            No, the burden of proof lies with you because your claim flies in the face of common sense.

            You have faith in common sense?

            There is no discernable [sic] difference between an unconsacrated [sic] and a consacrated [sic] host.

            Yes, that’s our doctrine. You disagree?

            You claim the two are made of different substances, and that the chanting of magic words by a priest effects that change.

            No we don’t.

            It’s therefore your responsibility to offer proof in support of your claim.

            It can be reasonable to believe something without proof, can it not? I have set out an argument for transubstantiation, and the only argument you have put against amounts to an unevidenced claim that it is unreasonable to believe something without evidence. Well, I hardly need to answer that do I? So my argument currently stands.

            My claim that the unconsecrated and consecrated hosts are identical in every respect is borne out by the available evidence.

            Which is our claim too.

            So where’s your proof? If you don’t have any, your claim is dismissed out of hand as fantasy.

            Yes, that would be reasonable, if it is reasonable to dismiss every claim which is made without proof. But that claim has been made without proof. Therefore, it can be dismissed out of hand as fantasy, and so my argument stands.

            I have to say, it ought to be possible to come up with a more coherent and accurate argument against transubstantiation than this. I can.

          • Tutanekai

            You agree that the consecrated host exhibits no discernible difference from the unconsecrated host, and yet you claim that it is different, although you can produce no evidence to support this claim.

            You then claim that no evidence is needed, because no evidence can be shown that evidence is necessary to justify anything.

            And yet this is demonstrably false.

            If I am standing blindfolded on the edge of a precipice with a believer and we’re both blindfolded, so that neither of us realises that we’re in danger of falling, reliance on evidence very clearly increases my chances of survival.

            If the believer believes it’s safe to step forward, but has no evidence to back this up, he’ll provide me with clear evidence that his belief is wrong when he falls with a shriek and I hear the splat of his body as he hits the ground. His belief will have killed him. The evidence of his death will save me.

            If he believes it’s dangerous to step forward and doesn’t, his belief will not be confirmed. His life will be saved for now. But he cannot definitively know there is a danger until he has evidence that there is. So if he changes his belief and steps off the cliff, he’s a goner. Killed by the inadequacy of belief to provide the means of judging the safety of a situation.

            As I require evidence, I will not step forward under any circumstances until I have convincing proof that it’s safe to do so. My chances of survival are much greater than those of the believer.

            Repeat this scenario across many precipices and many pairs of believers and evidence requirers, and believers will continue to die, whereas those who require evidence will routinely survive. Evidence that evidence ensures survival is thus amply demonstrated.

            Even if you argue that right belief is just as good as evidence, how do you determine right belief without evidence? Without evidence, all you can do is make an arbitrary choice and then live or die by it.

          • Albert

            You then claim that no evidence is needed, because no evidence can be shown that evidence is necessary to justify anything.

            No. I denied that you had given a self-referentially coherent argument for evidence being always needed. My own position was nothing stronger than It can be reasonable to believe something without proof, can it not? And this you have not challenged. Your story proves nothing more than that evidence can be useful or necessary, but it does not say that it is always necessary.

            Consider an alternative story. You and I are not blindfolded, but are in front of the same precipice. We are trapped and need to get across to escape a polar bear behind us. There is nothing for it but to jump. It’s a long way. There’s no chance of doing it without believing in ourselves. But neither of us has jumped so far before, so we simply do not have evidence that we can do it. I jump and land on the other side, because I am capable of belief that transcends the evidence. You jump and fall to your death because you don’t believe.

            Repeat this scenario across many precipices and many pairs of believers and evidence requirers, and unbelievers will continue to die, whereas those whose belief can transcend evidence will routinely survive. Evidence that belief that transcends evidence ensures survival is thus amply demonstrated.

            What does this prove? That it is irrational to believe something on evidence? No. That there are no situations when evidence is necessary for belief? No. It just proves what I said at the beginning, that sometimes belief that transcends the evidence can sometimes be necessary. The lack of evidence known to me, does not entail the lack of the truth of a proposition or the irrationality of believing that proposition.

            What this means is that you have given no evidence to support the claim you need, and I guess I have given sufficient evidence that your claim is false. So since your claim is self-referentially-incoherent, and is falsified, it is irrational to believe it, and it is irrational for you to try to hold me to it. And therefore, you have given no reason at all to challenge my second premise.

          • Tutanekai

            It is possible to jump from one point to another. I’ve seen it done. I have the evidence.

            If there was a polar bear behind me and my only chance for survival was to jump, even if I wasn’t sure I could make it, I’d give it a go. What would the alternative be?

            What would count in such a situation would be physical condition and motivation. Great physical feats can be achieved by those who are properly motivated. Adrenaline is a powerful motivator. I’ve seen what it can do. I have the evidence.

            All of this evidence would justify jumping as my best option. I know nothing about you, but I’m in pretty good physical shape. I can run fast and I can jump long distances. Motivate me with adrenaline and I’d be capable of even more. I have good reason to believe I’d survive that jump. Would you?

            Maybe you would. But even if you did so based only on an unsupported belief that you could do it, you’d be doing something that’s evidentially possible. There’s nothing miraculous about jumping a gap. People do it every day. We have all the evidence we could possibly need that jumping gaps is possible.

            Where’s your evidence that bread can change into flesh? It’s never been observed. The rules of physics preclude the possibility. So as there’s no evidence it can happen, your belief is nothing more than wishful thinking.

          • Albert

            It is possible to jump from one point to another. I’ve seen it done. I have the evidence.

            It is possible to try to jump from one point to another, and fail. I’ve seen it done. I have the evidence.

            The fact that one person can jump a certain distance is not evidence that everyone can. Otherwise, why would they have the long jump in athletics meetings?

            What would count in such a situation would be physical condition and motivation. Great physical feats can be achieved by those who are properly motivated. Adrenaline is a powerful motivator. I’ve seen what it can do. I have the evidence.

            All of this is true, but insufficient, otherwise there would be no need for sports psychologists. People must believe in themselves and in their capacity to achieve their goals. If they don’t, there is a greater chance that they will fail.

            All of this evidence would justify jumping as my best option.

            No one is questioning that. The question is whether you would manage it.

            I have good reason to believe I’d survive that jump.

            You have good reason to believe that you would survive a jump when we haven’t specified the distance? By definition, you cannot have evidence for that. Therefore, this belief is irrational by your standards.

            But even if you did so based only on an unsupported belief that you could do it, you’d be doing something that’s evidentially possible.

            It’s only evidentially possible that we can do it, once we’ve done it, not before.

            So no, you have not succeeded in defending your point against objection. And my examples could be applied endlessly in sport. Look at how players lose their confidence even in things they can do – a tennis player loses a game and then a set because he loses self-belief. A snooker player wins a match, but has lost a session because he lost his confidence – his belief that he was able to win that afternoon session. And so on.

            Where’s your evidence that bread can change into flesh? It’s never been observed.

            So the only evidence you accept is observable evidence? So the bar of rationality is raised higher: a belief is only reasonable if it can be supported with observable evidence. Where’s tghe observable evidence for that? And how on earth do you expect to falsify our doctrine when we do not claim that the change takes place observationally?

            The rules of physics preclude the possibility.

            That’s just a category error. We are talking about metaphysics not physics. And if it comes to that, where do the rules of physics come from? What makes them work? What is your observable evidence for your answers to the previous two points? Surely you have it?

          • Tutanekai

            We’re at an impasse. You refuse to acknowledge that evidence is necessary to gain knowledge about something. You maintain that unsupported belief can tell us all we need to know. You can’t produce any evidence to back this up, but then you don’t feel obliged to. You claim that your fairy stories about gods and demons must be accepted on faith alone.

            I however do not possess that faith, and never will. I require evidence to believe in something. Stories, legends and hearsay are not enough. They are a kind of evidence, but only of the gullibility of the people who believe in them.

            The only difference this conversation has made to me is to increase the alarm I feel at the notion of a Christian, or any other kind of religionist, ever wielding any kind of power. Good thing that’s an unlikely prospect.

          • Albert

            You refuse to acknowledge that evidence is necessary to gain knowledge about something.

            Yes, certainly. Most of our beliefs come from authorities.

            You maintain that unsupported belief can tell us all we need to know.

            In some circumstances, yes – and here’s the key thing, you haven’t provided any evidence at all to deny that.

            You claim that your fairy stories about gods and demons must be accepted on faith alone.

            No I don’t. I simply observe that your argument for evidentialism is self-refuting and that your postion on it is therefore irrational on its own terms. I also believe that you will have a host of beliefs for which you will not be able to provide evidence.

            I however do not possess that faith, and never will. I require evidence to believe in something.

            What possible evidence could you provide for the first sentence?

            Stories, legends and hearsay are not enough. They are a kind of evidence, but only of the gullibility of the people who believe in them.

            You can dismiss our stories like that if you wish. But we don’t believe things which are self-referentially incoherent.

            The only difference this conversation has made to me is to increase the alarm I feel at the notion of a Christian, or any other kind of religionist, ever wielding any kind of power. Good thing that’s an unlikely prospect.

            That’s because you’ve not understood a word I’ve said. The position I have taken is not a uniquely Christian one. Epistemologists of all sorts of religious beliefs and none recognize the contradictions in your kind of evidentialism.

            And there’s a final problem with your evidentialism – at the most basic level, what is wrong with being irrational? Surely, someone who is irrational is at fault because they are not using their reason as they ought to use it or as it ought to function. But where will you get that “ought” from on your world-view?

          • Tutanekai

            We’re just going round in circles here.

            I say that evidentialism is not self-refuting. It is self-evident. What we know, we know because evidence confirms it. Everything else is just unsubstantiated belief.

            You say that evidentialism is self-refuting because I can’t produce evidence that evidence is necessary for knowledge. But without evidence, I have no knowledge. Ergo evidence is necessary for knowledge.

            And before you object I do know things for which I have no evidence, this is absolutely not true. For everything I KNOW, I must have evidence. Things for which I have no evidence, I do not KNOW.

            For example, I don’t know how much I weigh, even though I weighed myself just this morning. The scale displayed my weight, so I know how much the scale told me I weigh, but I have no way of knowing whether the scale was accurate, so I don’t KNOW how much I weigh. All I know is the figure the scale displayed, but I don’t know if that was a true reflection of my accurate weight. I therefore have no confirmed knowledge about my weight. It is not a fact and must be treated with skepticism. It may be my true weight, but I have no way of confirming this, because I have no verified evidence. Thus I cannot know my weight. The absence of verified evidence precludes knowledge. And this all the evidence I need to know that evidence is necessary to obtain knowledge.

            And as for the “ought to” behind the use of rationality, rational thought increases our chances of survival in a world where survival depends on an accurate understanding of cause and effect. As survival is a basic human instinct and we view it as a positive thing, we therefore ought to use rational thought in order to prolong our lives.

          • Albert

            But without evidence, I have no knowledge. Ergo evidence is necessary for knowledge.

            I agree with this. But you have two problems here. Firstly, what is the evidence that without evidence I have no knowledge? There have been plenty of heavyweight philosophers who believed that we have certain ideas imprinted on our minds before we gain any evidence. There are also those who think that we can know certain things a priori. I disagree with both positions. I think we need some kind of evidence in order to get started, to kick start the mind into action, if you like. But I cannot see any evidence for that, whatsoever. So your premise here is, as yet unevidential.

            Secondly, you are making a logical leap by moving from “Without evidence there would be no knowledge” to “Therefore, we must have evidence for each piece of knowledge we have.” The fallacy is as clear as this: the first form of life on earth had to come from something that was not life. Therefore, without a cause that was not living there would be no life. According to your logic, it follow that therefore, everything that is alive must be caused by something that is not alive. But that is plainly false. In other words, although without evidence we would know nothing, it does not follow that I must have evidence for every individual rational belief.

            Thus, at the moment, your argument rests on a premise which is currently self-refuting and proceeds by fallacious logic.

            And before you object I do know things for which I have no evidence, this is absolutely not true. For everything I KNOW, I must have evidence. Things for which I have no evidence, I do not KNOW.

            I’m not sure of the relevance of this. It seems to me that you are just making knowledge by definition something that is known by evidence. Is your definition something that you know by verified evidence? Okay let’s run with it. Presumably knowledge is distinct from belief in your definition. So I ask can we have rational beliefs? Or are all beliefs irrational?

            The absence of verified evidence precludes knowledge. And this all the evidence I need to know that evidence is necessary to obtain knowledge.

            By your definition, yes. But does the verified evidence need to be verified by something else? If not, it isn’t verified evidence and cannot stand. If it does need to be verified by something else, you’re stuck on an infinite regress. But no finite mind can know every object of an infinite set (even supposing such sets exist). Therefore, at some point you will become stuck on something that isn’t verified evidence. And that will mean the next item in the set will be resting on unverified evidence, and so will fail your test itself. And the whole chain will collapse from there. Moreover, you exclude truths that can be known a priori, like mathematical truths and logical truths. But these things are true and can be known. Therefore, your statement is false.

            And as for the “ought to” behind the use of rationality, rational thought increases our chances of survival in a world where survival depends on an accurate understanding of cause and effect.

            I don’t think you can help yourself to that at the moment, for although you attempted an answer to my story about jumping the precipice, my counter argument to that is currently unanswered. Thus you are begging the question. Indeed, your point is still unevidential anyway, for you need to show that there are no situations where someone who acts on belief rather than knowledge will be more likely to survive. And this you haven’t done. Therefore, your principle is unevidential, and excluded by your own position.

            Finally, you are assuming that people without faith will live longer than those who do. But this also is false. Consider this article in the Guardian no less:

            http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/31/oliver-james-religion-addictive-behaviour

            Or this comment from Professor Andrew Sims, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

            It is extraordinary and tragic that the findings of this large body of research,
            summarized in this chapter [showing the health benefits of religion], are not better known. If it were anything other than religious belief or spirituality resulting in such beneficial outcomes for health, the media would trumpet it and governments and healthcare organizations would be
            rushing to implement in practice.

            Thus I think your position is riddled logical leaps based on unevidential claims, held in the face of evidence to the contrary and excludes knowledge which is rationally (like a priori knowledge). Consequently, I think your epistemology is irrational by any standard, but especially by its own standard.

          • Tutanekai

            I can’t continue with this conversation because I’m currently using a smartphone, therefore addressing your points in any way that will not exhaust 1) my battery and 2) my patience is not possible.

            Suffice to say that the infinite regress argument is utter nonsense. If I have evidence I do not need evidence that the evidence I have has evidence because the mere fact of having evidence validates its status as evidence. It is self-evident.

            Something else that’s self-evident is what a colossal waste of time this is. It might be OK for elderly or unemployed armchair Internet commentators to engage in lengthy diatribes about arcane points of abstract philosophy. Intellectual masturbation is one way for them to fill up their day. But some of us don’t have the time for such idle pursuits.

            How long did it take you to write that last post? How many mindgasms did you have while doing it? What on earth will they achieve, apart from distracting you from what must be a pretty dull life? And finally, and perhaps most importantly, why don’t you get out a bit more?

          • Albert

            How long did it take you to write that last post?

            About 20 minutes, I think. I can type as fast as I think and nothing I said there was new or needed any thought by me. This is just fairly standard stuff. If you’re serious in discussing these questions, take a proper course in philosophy and look at epistemology and metaphysics, but do not, I suggest put forward such a silly form of evidentialism in any essays, or you’ll be eaten alive.

            Suffice to say that the infinite regress argument is utter nonsense. If I have evidence I do not need evidence that the evidence I have has evidence because the mere fact of having evidence validates its status as evidence. It is self-evident.

            I’m really surprised you think that, for evidently, when doing science, one sometimes has to refer back to things already known, and they to things known before that, eventually, one just gets to the point of saying that we do not know something, or that things just are that way. Now that’s fine, but you have created the infinite regress by demanding that we always need verified evidence for everything we know. Thus, in any sequence where we try to verify anything by something that we know, that second thing does, on your scheme, not on mine, need verifying. It’s your own principle that sets up the infinite regress.

          • Tutanekai

            *Sigh*

            Was that the best-spent twenty minutes of your life, do you think? Regurgitating hackneyed critiques of philosophical concepts you don’t understand in a vain attempt to manipulate others into believing in your imaginary god?

            I don’t have the time or the desire to pick your arguments apart because they’re getting so absurd and divorced from reality that to continue to engage with them has become impossible. Religious bigotry and blind zealotry are impervious to reasoned debate. My contempt for religion and the destructive effect it has on the human mind has been confirmed by this conversation. I now know how crazy crazy can get … and it’s quite frightening.

          • Albert

            Was that the best-spent twenty minutes of your life, do you think?

            Evidently not. You decide to take me on on philosophical matters and then complain that it’s all philosophical. You’re like a man who joins a rugby match and then complains that he doesn’t like running with the ball. You’re still labouring under the bizarre idea that my critique of your epistemology was religious. Well that just confirms what was obvious all the way through: despite the strident nature of your tone, you didn’t have the faintest idea what you were talking about, and as for your logic, well…

            With secular reason like yours, is it any wonder that as soon as a genuinely secular state was created after the French Revolution, the secularists, in the name of reason and purification from superstition, committed the greatest atrocities Europeans had ever done?

          • Tutanekai

            “You take me on…”

            In your dreams. Where clearly you think of yourself as some kind of mighty warrior with a mighty intellect defending truth, justice and the Catholic way.

            Why not just say “I’m smarter than you, so don’t mess with me, you fool!” That’s what you really mean. A fine example of Christian humility and caritas you turned out to be.

            What is it about the Christian religion that attracts egomaniacal self-worshippers whose main aim in life is to try to humiliate anyone who disagrees with them? Is it the whole “90 pound weakling” syndrome spilling over into adult life?

            You were the kid nobody wanted on their team at school, weren’t you? Specky four eyes who always dropped the ball and let the side down.

            Catholicism seems to be especially rife with this kind of character. And in their hands religion turns into a weapon of revenge. They wouldn’t survive 10 seconds in a real fight, so they condemn violence. But give them a keyboard and they’ll happily beat their opponents over the head until they knock them out.

            Trouble is I’m not knocked out. I’m still here. My arguments have not been countered despite all your crowing and triumphalism and claims of victory. And now you’ve revealed yourself for who you really are. The class nerd desperately trying to prove his superiority over everyone by arguing them into a corner with his (relatively) quick-witted, but utterly manipulative and malevolent double-talk. The mask has fallen. And good Lord (if there is a Lord, and if he’s good) is the face behind it ugly!

            Your philosophical stultiloquence does not fool me. Behind it lurks an egocentric malevolence so astonishing that if there were such a thing as hell, it would be very clear where it was coming from. But there is no hell, or at least no proof of one. So the simplest and best explanation is that your desire to beat your opponents into submission in whatever way you can stems from feelings of utter personal inadequacy.

            Hell hath no fury like the class nerd spurned. He turns into a priest, or a rabid Internet blog commentator (or both), and then there’s hell to pay…

          • Albert

            In your dreams. Where clearly you think of yourself as some kind of mighty warrior with a mighty intellect defending truth, justice and the Catholic way.

            Calm down! I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant that you decided to tackle me on a philosophical question – as I stated. You appear to be now in such a state that you’re taking everything as a blot on your masculinity.

            My arguments have not been countered despite all your crowing and triumphalism and claims of victory.

            Well, you can put it to the test. Go and do a proper course in philosophy, especially epistemology (note this need not be in any way a religious thing to do) and just see how well the arguments you have presented here get on. But I warn you, it will take courage, because the way you see the world at the moment will be deconstructed before your eyes.

            They wouldn’t survive 10 seconds in a real fight

            I think you need to grow up. You decided the territory and the questions. You decided it would be philosophy not a fist fight.

            Behind it lurks an egocentric malevolence so astonishing that if there were such a thing as hell, it would be very clear where it was coming from.

            Go back and read your own posts. Look at how much abuse you have directed at me, compared with what I have said to you.

  • IanCad

    A more cheerful, outgoing, happy chap, would be hard to imagine.
    Just the kind of fellow to pour out our troubles to it would appear.
    Good fun all round. Can’t help but wonder if he could maintain that happy countenance discussing weighty matters with a staunch Protestant.

    • James M

      Some staunch Protestants – not excluding Scottish Calvinists – are very cheerful people, so why not ? That species of Protestant is all too often treated as non-existent by ecumenists, possibly because they are utterly devoted to Christ, and won’t tolerate anything that even seems to diminish Him. But it is these very people whom ecumenists need to pay attention to – instead, ecumenists talk only to those who are like-minded with themselves, people who will concede and concede until there is nothing left.

      One example will serve for all. After the Pope’s visit in 1982, the Revd. David Samuels, who had been against it, left the C of E and joined astricter Protestant group. I know this from his 1982 book, “Pope or Gospel ?” Ecumenism will be an even worse joke than it already is, if the only Anglicans to whom Rome makes overtures are the “moderate”, “Mr Sensible”, “high”, or ecumenically-minded ones. It needs to address itself to solid, principled anti-Papist Protestants who want nothing to do with it, perhaps, who know little of it. But where in ecumenism is that effort being made ? A million people will read a Jack Chick tract for every one who reads something from ARCIC, and it is not good enough to shrug off readers of those wretched publications as “bigots” or “fanatics”. For those publications are very influential in spreading fictions, about Catholics, and about most people who are not Dispensationalist KJV-only Fundamentalist Independent Baptists. A real ecumenism would not ignore those who reject its blandishments.

      • IanCad

        Well, Yes. Even the late Ian Paisley, thought by many to be above humour, was a great man for a laugh. Completely comfortable with his theology and uncompromising in his principles eucmenism could never influence his like.
        IMO, that’s how it should be. Truth cannot compromise except after prayerful searching of the Word.
        Quite frankly, the movement terrifies me. Religion, when it is in a position of power, rarely hesitates to use it.

      • Albert

        This is an important point. When I was in the CofE, I heard this complaint from the Eastern Orthodox who complained that the CofE only sent sympathetic people to talk to them, and that gave the impression to the Orthodox that the two bodies were closer than they were. I felt the Orthodox were politely saying they thought the Anglican policy was dishonest. Certainly, when I became a Catholic I found something similar had been going on. Through ARCIC the CofE and Catholicism seemed to have come closer than they really did.

        This is what slightly worries me about Catholics preaching at Anglican Eucharists. I sense there is a naivety amongst cradle Catholics with regard to ecumenism. Catholics make simple gestures (like preaching at an Anglican Eucharist) and suddenly you get Anglicans claiming Apostolicae curae has been made null and void. The same thing happened for example, when Paul VI gave Michael Ramsey his episcopal ring.

  • Mike Stallard

    Anyone – anyone – who can pull the CofE’s head out of its own backside is most welcome, I should have thought.

    • Anton

      Only Christ can do that.

      • Albert

        Yes, but he may work through someone else:

        I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

        • Anton

          I hope He is welcome.

          • Albert

            ??

          • Anton

            Christ’s views on various things would make Him UNwelcome to some in the CoE.

          • Albert

            Doesn’t William of Baskerville in The Name of the Rose say something like “Have you ever found a place where God would have felt at home?”

          • Anton

            Maybe. It’s decades since I read the book and saw the film and I was an atheist then.

          • Albert

            My point is that Christ would surely be to some extent unwelcome wherever sinners meet.

          • Pubcrawler

            “Foxes have dens, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”

  • Fr Raniero Cantalamessa has preached to Saint Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis. His sermons are often complex and deeply spiritual. In all honesty, Jack struggles at times with the implications of some of his theology and teachings.

    • Anton

      That did occur to me. Doubt it but let’s see.

      • Jack was being mischievous. He cannot, so will not.

    • James M

      God forbid. The Gnostics were “deeply spiritual”, but Christian ? Hah ! As C. S. Lewis – now there was a man with a functioning intellect – pointed out, being spiritual is not a recommendation, since the devil is a spirit. The friar needs to be Catholic, not spiritual.

      • Albert

        Interesting. I wonder what you make of The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.

        • James M

          Fair point. Not being St Paul or one of his hearers, all I can do is go by what the Church teaches. Maybe your question should be asked of C. S. Lewis ? STM the devil, spiritual though he is, was most definitely “judged” – see the gospels, *passim*, and St Jude, and Revelation.

          BTW: why this “person” tushery ? Stylistically, it’s hideous and calls attention to itself.

          • Albert

            I think I would want to say that the fact that someone is called “spiritual” does not tell us either way whether they are to be followed. Naturally, I think there is only one authority worth following when it comes to the interpretation of Christ, and it is Catholic.

            As for “person” apologies, I just googled the passage to save me typing it, and that’s what came up.

      • He may be both, of course. Who is Jack to judge?

        • James M

          Maybe we shall see.

      • Anton

        Every man is as “spiritual” as every other, just as every man is as physical as every other. It’s about what spirituality he has.

    • Albert

      Re the edit: it would also be subject to some kind of disciplinary action, wouldn’t it?

  • The Inspector General

    He’s only asking for the end of the Vatican, that’s all. Perhaps replaced with independent bishops reliant on the teaching of the religious orders, such as Capuchins. Generalists guided by Specialists. It could work, you know…

    • carl jacobs

      It’s a good start. It would mean the end of Papal infallibility. Magisterial infallibility would soon follow. The Gnosis that is Sacred Tradition would be discarded in due course. The dogmas built on the above – Trent, the Marian dogmas – would collapse of their own weight. Then there would be a real prospect of reconciliation.

      • The Inspector General

        People have been walled up for implying much less than he is…

      • Albert

        Somehow, I think there has been a misinterpretation of Raniero Cantalamessa’s words. I mean surely, a more plausible interpretation is that he would expect the CofE to get over this bizarre, imperial claim that HMQ is the Supreme Governor of the CofE. After all, let’s remember that when it was first dreamt up, Tudor historians hastily had to create a myth that England was an Empire and that was supposed to justify the claim.

        • Anton

          Indeed. As bizarre and imperial as the claim that the Pope is more than the Bishop of Rome.

          • Albert

            Not at all. The Tudor claim that England was an empire was a historical fiction. But the Catholic Church does not claim the Pope is more than the Bishop of Rome. His authority comes from being the Bishop of Rome.

          • Anton

            The empire stuff was superfluous; Henry could just have declared himself as being in the place of the Pope in his realm, rather than in his fictitious empire. The principle is the same.

            The Pope’s authority as Bishop of Rome is confined to that diocese.

          • Albert

            No that’s not true in either case. The Tudors realised that kings just did not have the kind of authority they claimed for Henry. Here’s the relevant document:

            This realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the Imperial Crown of the same, unto whom a body politic compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of Spirituality and Temporality, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience.

            Now this is an obvious fiction. England wasn’t an empire, and it’s plainly false to say that she had been accepted as such in the world. So what this amounts to is a backhanded admission of what ought to be obvious to any Christian, that the claims of the secular, English crown over the Church of Christ are bogus – even by the standards that are set up to proclaim it.

            The Pope’s authority as Bishop of Rome is confined to that diocese.

            But this claim, on the contrary is falsified over and over again by history. You don’t have to be a Catholic to see this. Take canon 6 of the First Council of Nicea, which every one accepts because it gives us the most important parts of the Creed:

            Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also.

            However you interpret this, it makes it plain that, as a matter of historical fact, and supported by an excellent authority, as early as 325, the Pope’s authority was not confined to the diocese of Rome.

            Thus there is no parity between the historically false claims of secular power over the Church in England and the historically true claims of the Bishop of Rome beyond the limits of his diocese. This is simple fact, and theological considerations and commitments are left unaffected by them in the case of Rome, but are totally affected in the case of the crown and the CofE.

          • Anton

            We agree that Henry VIII was simply inflating his case by claiming to run an empire. All I am saying is that his claim to run the church in England is as invalid as the Pope’s. I couldn’t care less about Nicean conclusions of where authority lies. The original church was non-hierarchical and if you want to go round that again I’m more than willing. On top of which the indefinite extension of the apostolic succession is an unscriptural fiction designed to give Rome the claim to be the one true church no matter how disgracefully it behaves – and has done if you look at the Popes of the pornocracy, Benedict IX, Alexander VI and Julius III (who elevated a teenage rent boy with whom he was having sexual relations to be a Cardinal), to name just a few.

          • Albert

            I think the problem here is that in one case (Rome) you are making a theological claim and in another (CofE) you are making a historical claim. That had rather confused me until this moment. As far as I can see now, you seem to agree that the CofE’s claim is historically untenable but that Rome’s claim is historically founded. It’s just you disagree theologically with both.

            The original church was non-hierarchical

            That is plainly false:

            And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.

            Indeed, the whole notion of the Church as a body plays, especially in the ancient mind, into the idea of a hierarchical body.

            This also is false:

            On top of which the indefinite extension of the apostolic succession is an unscriptural fiction designed to give Rome the claim to be the one true church

            Apostolic succession is hardly designed to give Rome the claim to be the one true church. The Orthodox use apostolic succession to argue against Rome.

            no matter how disgracefully it behaves

            Are you a donatist then? Be careful if you make that point that you do not fall foul of scripture:

            Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

            But by rejecting donatism, we stand fast only through faith in Christ

          • Anton

            Your declaring that something is false does not make it so. Neither you nor the Pope is infallible. You are thinking in hierarchies when you quote 1 Corinthians 12, but that is eisegesis. Individuals had the gifts described by Paul but the hierarchy of authority in the church as described in the New Testament is simple: each congregation was run by a plurality of male episkopoi (literally, overseers, but the word also translated as ‘bishop’) who were also its presbyeroi (elders); one word describes function, the other, seniority. Chapter and verse on request. A congregation was founded by an apostolos – a ‘sent one’ – who of course had unique authority there until he had appointed elders and passed on. After that, the elders would raise others to eldership from amongst the congregation as God called, doubtless in response to loss from persecution and from death by other means. I am aware that you have responded to this description in the past but your response did not, in my opinion, constitute refutation.

            As for the donatist issue… when the persecution lifted then I would have been willing to have back in the church those who, out of cowardice, had betrayed their brothers in Christ, but NOT AS LEADERS. I am uninterested in the matter of whether the sacraments are valid or not (whatever that means) irrespective of who ministers them. I simply would not accept them from a leader who had been reinstated after betraying his congregation, and I’d start meeting with others who took the same view.

          • Umm … you’d have shunned Saint Peter and all the Apostles, bar John, then.

          • Anton

            Peter obviously had a pastoral role over the rest but, just as there were special circumstances relating to the foundation of any single congregation (its founding apostolos had unique authority there until he passed on), so with the very first Christian movement, and Peter had that senior role. The idea that he handed it on, or was authorised to, is inconsistent with the longterm congregational self-government that the NT clearly institutes. Look also at the 7 congregations n Asia Minor in Rev 2&3 – Jesus takes personal oversight of each and sends a message to each; he does not send one letter to a hierarch in authority over all of them; nor does he order a diocesan merger.

          • Jack meant Peter denied knowing Christ during the crucifixion and, therefore, according to you, being a coward, was unfit to lead the new Church.

          • Anton

            At that moment he was indeed unfit, but he didn’t have to lead it before Jesus’ Ascension and by the time he had seen the risen Christ and been anointed at Pentecost he was fit for the role Christ had given him. God bless(ed) him.

          • And he can bless and reform others, Anton. That’s greatest of sinners can be transformed by God into great servants of the Church. We all pass through trials and by grace, at a time of God’s choosing, come out the other side.

          • Anton

            Yes – Amen to that!

          • Albert

            He sends a message to each via a messenger. We know also that local churches did have some kind of ministry set over them (who was doing all the preaching, etc.?) Your notion of a non-hierarchical NT church just does not square with the evidence and therefore cannot be used as an argument against Catholicism. But that means that the historical evidence of the Pope’s authority, that I think you have accepted, cannot be dismissed either.

          • Anton

            By “the evidence” you mean the post-apostolic historical evidence, but there is other evidence, namely the New Testament, and if the historical evidence reveals a deviation from the NT then the NT is what any Christian should go by. As for who did the preaching – those in the congregation given the gift, as mentioned in 1 Cor 12. Remember that in the early days there were ethnic Jews in the church who knew the OT like the back of their hands.

          • Albert

            Yes I mean post apostolic evidence, my point being that I don’t think the NT evidence supports your points and therefore, there is nothing to contradict the historical evidence.

            As for who did the preaching – those in the congregation given the gift mentioned in 1 Cor 12. Remember that in the early days there were ethnic Jews in the church who knew the OT like the back of their hands.

            This does not seem to be the NT position. Firstly, what is the evidence that preaching is simply charismatic? Secondly, we have direct evidence to the contrary:

            Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you. Practice these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

            Similarly, the appointment of a replacement apostle is not on the basis of charismatic gift or prior knowledge of the Gospel. But there is no doubt that the apostolic church was hierarchical, at least insofar as it was based on the hierarchy of the apostles, who clearly exercised full authority (under Christ) over the community.

            So I think your position deviates from the NT and since you have said that we should follow the NT not the deviation, it follows that we must accept that the Church is and should be hierarchical. All of which can be accepted without becoming a Catholic, although it is clearly consistent with Catholicism in a way in which your model of church is not.

          • Anton

            It will become obvious who has the gift of teaching. You seem to speak as if a finger from the clouds points to someone and a voice thunders “This Man”, but that is not the way it works – and it has worked pretty well in the three all-members-ministry congregations I’ve been in since quitting the CoE. (Since then I’ve changed congregation only when changing town, by the way.)

            Your “there is no doubt” and “clearly” rhetoric does not amount to evidence for your following assertions.

          • Albert

            As regards the finger from clouds, that is pretty well what happened in Acts 1. The fact that someone appears to have a gift of teaching does not mean that they do – this is surely the evidence of 2 Tim.4.14-16:

            Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will requite him for his deeds.
            Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one took my part; all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!

            And then there’s Titus 2.15: Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. Surely your model is precisely that a pastor whose “gift of teaching” seems not as good as someone else’s can be disregarded. But it is evident that Titus does just have authority from Paul and not only that, he has authority to appoint other elders (1.5). And how will he do this? We know the answer already from 1 Tim 4.14 and 5.22 – laying on of hands. At no point is the decision of who gets this authority simply a question of who already has the gift of teaching. And it is evident that the Church is hierarchical and that some kind of hierarchical succession is being created.

            So I’m still left in “no doubt” that your congregations do not in fact reflect the NT pattern – no unanswered evidence has been brought in defence of that model, and plenty of evidence against it, has been left unanswered. You can’t blame me for not following your model, when it seems clear to me that it deviates from the NT pattern.

          • Anton

            Deciding who has the gift of teaching is ultimately a matter of human discernment guided by the Holy Spirit, and it can’t be reduced to a set of rules. Not in your denomination, nor in mine.

            The founding apostolos of a congregation has authority to appoint elders/overseers once he decides that the congregation is mature enough. In Titus 1:5 Paul tells Titus to do this for the congregations that they were both familiar with. Nothing in your comment falsifies my exegesis of a decentralised apostolic church structure. Appointment of Elders normally proceeds by laying-on of hands, whether by the founding apostolos or by the existing elders, fine.

          • Albert

            Yes, but all you’ve argued for here is a hierarchical Church, in which authority is passed on in succession. I’m defending nothing more. Obviously, I think the Church will try to appoint the right people, but being (or seeming to be) the right people is not the same as being appointed or having that authority.

          • Anton

            I’ve argued (if you go back up the thread)) for no hierarchy ABOVE a congregation once it is spiritually mature, and governorship by a council of men who are part of that congregation. Authority is recognised by the laying-on of hands.

          • Albert

            I don’t think it is consistent with the scripture. The authority discerning whom to ordain is not the congregation, but those who have apostolic authority. Of course, those who do this discerning are part of the Church, but there is no sense that they have been delegated from the congregation. On the contrary, their authority comes from the apostle Paul. Thus the model here is “catholic”. There is no suggestion that authority is recognized by the laying on of hands. On the contrary – this is evident from the warnings and rules concerning whom to ordain by the laying on of hands.

            So no. I see no reason to think your model of church is scriptural, and every reason to think it isn’t.

          • Anton

            Who mentioned ordination? Not me, not the New Testament! The idea of an officer class in God’s people who have a monopoly on ministering the sacraments is grotesque.

          • Albert

            I’m just using ordination as a short hand for authority which is clearly given in the scriptures through the laying on of hands. Change the terminology if you like. The idea of a distinct ministry (“officer class” is your term) is clearly and explicitly set out in scripture – you can condemn it if you like.

          • Anton

            You are just saying “O yes it is”. There is no scriptural sanction for a separation between “ordained” and “laity” in the New Testament. Moreover the usual ceremony of ordination in churches that have it declares that the ordinand is “ordained as a priest”. That is odd because he already is one according to St Peter himself (1 Pe 2:9) and Rev 1:6. What else is ordination, then, but an attempt to bamboozle the so-called laity that they are not priests?

            The ordained are separated, in churches that do ordination, by two things:

            1. They get paid by the laity. You won’t find that in The New Testament!

            2. They have a monopoly on ministering the sacraments. Whether you believe there are two sacraments or seven that is still the case in churches that do ordination. The sacraments are where the supernatural is said to reside in such churches. Nonsense! The supernatural rests with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and they are available to ALL Christians; 1 Corinthians 12 is clear about that. So the notion of ordination hobbles the ministry of the so-called laity.

            authority… is clearly given in the scriptures through the laying on of hands

            We need to distinguish two meanings of “authority”. Suppose a man has authority in the sense that he is a leader-type personality. In the context of the church, authority of that sort is God-given. He is then given permission to wield that gift in the church by being made an Elder, a process that involves the laying-on of hands. Hands are laid on by the founding apostolos if the man is in the first draft of Elders, or by the existing Elders in subsequent cases.

          • Albert

            I’m not just saying “O yes it is”, I think you are. I keep giving scripture, and you keep asserting. For the reasons already given, I think there clearly is a difference between ordained and laity in the NT. Just because those words are not used, does not mean the idea isn’t there.

            1 Pet.2.9 does not say someone is a priest any more than it says someone is a nation. Of course the whole body is priestly, and in that sense everyone is a priest, but that does not mean everyone has a ministerial priesthood. No one who believes the Church has priests thinks there is not a priesthood of all believers. He thinks they are not expressing the same elements of Christ’s priesthood.

            1. They get paid by the laity. You won’t find that in The New Testament!

            Yes you do in 1 Corinthians 9.

            2. They have a monopoly on ministering the sacraments. Whether you believe there are two sacraments or seven that is still the case in churches that do ordination.

            No. Baptism can be validly administered by the laity, and in marriage the ministers of the sacrament are the couple themselves, not the priest.

            The sacraments are where the supernatural is said to reside in such churches. Nonsense! The supernatural rests with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and they are available to ALL Christians; 1 Corinthians 12 is clear about that.

            Again no, you just don’t understand Catholicism enough to make these statements. It’s not a question of either the sacraments or the laity, the supernatural rests in both. This is plain from scripture. If you deny that, then that’s just another reason for me to regard your kind of Protestantism as a deviation from scripture. 1 Cor.12 is not a good proof text for you to use for it is so repeatedly clear that gifts are distributed such that Christians have different functions.

            Suppose a man has authority in the sense that he is a leader-type personality

            That is not authority in the scriptural sense, for it is fleshly, until it is sanctified by grace. This is presumably where Alexander the Coppersmith was in the wrong.

            He is then given permission to wield that gift in the church by being made an Elder, a process that involves the laying-on of hands.

            No, a man receives authority in that moment – the decision to lay hands on may be made for reasons of the person already being authoritative, but that’s another matter. Look at the criteria in Acts 1 – nothing at all about being a leadership personality. Gosh, if that’s what it’s all about why would Christ choose most of the apostles?

            Hands are laid on by the founding apostolos if the man is in the first draft of Elders, or by the existing Elders in subsequent cases.

            That’s too neat – I don’t think it is first and second, it is just that after the apostles, or if they are not present then the elders can clearly lay hands on the next lot. But what’s crucial is that the elders are clearly delegates or successors of the apostles, not delegates of the congregation.

            I just cannot see how your position is biblical. I’m sorry about that, but I really can’t.

          • Anton

            Your denomination is headed by a man who lives in a palace, has his own State, and jets round the world negotiating with national leaders, and you say that MY position isn’t biblical? I look forward to your deriving THAT from the New Testament. The apostolic church was based on the synagogue model, not the Temple model.

            you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light – 1 Peter 2:9. By speaking of a holy nation Peter makes clear that he is addressing churches, ie congregations, not just their leaders; and he calls us, God’s people, believers in Christ this: a royal priesthood. I am a priest. You are a priest.

            You don’t get the gifts of the Spirit among the so-called laity much in Roman Catholicism today, do you? If they properly understood their biblical status as God’s priests, that might happen more.

            I wrote: “Suppose a man has authority in the sense that he is a leader-type personality”, and you responded: That is not authority in the scriptural sense, for it is fleshly, until it is sanctified by grace. It is a poor show that you deliberately cut me off at that point when my next sentence was: “In the context of the church, authority of that sort is God-given.” Readers might think that you wantonly were distorting my words.

            1 Corinthians 9 is about an apostolos, who is a peripatetic church-planter in today’s language. He obviously needs financial support to fulfil his calling. He is not an elder/overseer in a congregation in one place indefinitely for life. These men should work, to be able to look their congregation in the eyes and say that they are serving them, not vice-versa. Notice that in the NT there are several elders per congregation – should they all be supported? (NB I fully accept that paid clergy do a vast amount of work today, but that is because their church systems have disempowered the ‘laity’, so they have to do the spiritual work of an entire congregation, and if they are conscientious it wears them out. Again, the system of ordination is the problem.)

          • Albert

            Your denomination is headed by a man who lives in a palace, has his own State, and jets round the world negotiating with national leaders, and you say that MY position isn’t biblical?

            This is just more donatism, and it isn’t true anyway. The Holy Father lives in a hotel room. As for dealing with world leaders, what’s wrong with that? It says in my Bible that Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers.” What does it say in yours?

            speaking of a holy nation Peter makes clear that he is addressing churches, ie congregations, not just their leaders; and he calls us, God’s people, believers in Christ this: a royal priesthood.

            I never said he was addressing only their leaders, I would have thought my comment made it clear I understand him to be addressing everyone. My question is simply, what does he mean?

            You don’t get the gifts of the Spirit among the so-called laity much in Roman Catholicism today, do you?

            That is just ignorant. My experience of Catholic laity is that they are much more Spirit filled and have a much greater range of gifts than ever I experienced in Protestantism. That’s my experience. What are the sources for your claims?

            It is a poor show that you deliberately cut me off at that point when my next sentence was: “In the context of the church, authority of that sort is God-given.” Readers might think that you wantonly were distorting my words.

            Does it ever occur to you that I might have just misread your comment? After all, you do not say his personality is the result of grace, you say it is God-given. Well isn’t everything? And personality would be something that one would think is there prior to grace and is then worked on by grace. Would naturally regard personality as given by God in creation. So I think it is unfair of you to suggest I am wantonly distorting your words. In any case, if this leader-type personality is the fruit of grace, then why can it not be the fruit of the laying on of hands? So your point doesn’t really stand. You can’t complain if I didn’t get an argument that tells just as clearly in my direction as yours.

            1 Corinthians 9 is about an apostolos, who is a peripatetic church-planter in today’s language

            I cannot see that anyone who reads Galatians or Acts 1 thinks an apostolos has any equivalent in today’s Church.

            He obviously needs financial support to fulfil his calling. He is not an elder/overseer in a congregation in one place indefinitely for life. These men should work, to be able to look their congregation in the eyes and say that they are serving them, not vice-versa.

            I just cannot see the distinction here. Paul shows that it is possible for an apostle to earn his living, because he does so! Crucially, he makes it clear that he does not need to do so. Thus it is not true that he obviously needs financial support to fulfil his calling. And he says this: In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. Surely, it isn’t only those who are apostles who proclaim the gospel? We know that Timothy shared with Paul in that (Phil 2.22), so Timothy is able to get his living that way, as a command of the Lord. But Timothy is an elder, not an apostle, so elders are able to get their living that way. And so your condemnation of the practice would appear to be a condemnation of the Lord’s own command, while contradicting what scripture expressly says about Paul’s lifestyle.

            Notice that in the NT there are several elders per congregation – should they all be supported?

            If a congregation is large enough to require several elders, then it is presumably able to support several elders.

            You say,

            These men should work, to be able to look their congregation in the eyes and say that they are serving them, not vice-versa.

            but scripture says:

            Let him that is taught in the Word, minister unto him that teacheth, in all good things.

            so the Bible appears to teach, again, the opposite of what you said.

            So it seems to me that if there is a problem here, it is a problem with biblical teaching (contrary to your last paragraph). But there is no problem with biblical teaching. Therefore, there must be a problem with your own and I am back again, just thinking your position isn’t biblical.

          • Anton

            You can deflect by pointing out that the present Pope happens not to live in a palace, but the point remains: your denomination is headed by a man who is entitled by his election to live in a palace, has his own State, and jets round the world negotiating with national leaders. That is about as far from the way Jesus Christ lived his life as you can get.

            After He returns, Christians will be a royal priesthood openly; before then, we are to live humbly. The papacy is not designed to live humbly – quite the opposite. As for running a State, Christ said that his kingdom is not of this world, so how come the Pope’s is? Negotiating with heads of State is just a remnant from the days when he told heads of State what to do, which is the same abuse as the one just mentioned.

            If you want to claim that 1 Peter 2:9 and Rev 1:6 do not imply that all Christians are priests, please show your reasoning.

            My experience of Catholic laity is that they are much more Spirit filled and have a much greater range of gifts than ever I experienced in Protestantism. That’s my experience. What are the sources for your claims?

            My own observation. I have plenty of Catholic friends including priests and although nowadays I live farther from the place I made them it is not unusual to find me at a Mass when I am there. I don’t see much of it in other congregations where there is ordination either.

            Does it ever occur to you that I might have just misread your comment?

            Forgive me; I can only comment on the words you set before me.

            So your point doesn’t really stand.

            Your favourite phrase when the discussion runs into the sand! I’m content to let readers decide.

            I just cannot see the distinction here. Paul shows that it is possible for an apostle to earn his living, because he does so!

            Yes, Paul worked (as a tentmaker) in at least one place where he was an apostolos in order to make a point, but as apostoloi are peripatetic that was not the norm. The point that he was making (to the Thessalonians) strongly suggests that congregation leaders should work for their living as well as being elders. Congregation leaders are in one place indefinitely whereas apostoloi move on; if you “cannot see the distinction” then I don’t think anybody would be able to explain it to you. It is true that there are no apostoloi in the biblical sense in our land today, but just go to China…

            Christ was the ultimate peripatetic apostle, and he was supported financially during his ministry; see Luke 8:3.

            I wrote: “These men [elders] should work, to be able to look their congregation in the eyes and say that they are serving them, not vice-versa.” You quote scripture: Let him that is taught in the Word, minister unto him that teacheth, in all good things and strangely you regard that as rebutting what I said. Not all teachers are elders! Teaching is one of the gifts listed by Paul in 1 Cor 12. Some elders will surely have this gift but plenty of others who have it will not be elders. Only where there is the dead hand of ordination will the sermon be given by the same man – who also leads the congregation – most weeks.

          • Albert

            You can deflect by pointing out that the present Pope happens not to live in a palace, but the point remains: your denomination is headed by a man who is entitled by his election to live in a palace,

            Do you not know the difference between schism, heresy and sin? You can prove nothing from this at all.

            and jets round the world negotiating with national leaders. That is about as far from the way Jesus Christ lived his life as you can get.

            How on earth is bringing peace between say, Cuba and the US unChristlike. Do you not know that we will judge angels? Do you not know also that the Catholic Church is a huge provider of social and material care for the poor and oppressed? This is why governments work with the Church, to coordinate their efforts. But you want the Holy Father not to assist in that, on the grounds that it is unChristlike?

            As for running a State, Christ said that his kingdom is not of this world, so how come the Pope’s is?

            The Pope has a state so as to maintain his independence from secular power.

            If you want to claim that 1 Peter 2:9 and Rev 1:6 do not imply that all Christians are priests, please show your reasoning.

            I have already done so. In the Church you have only one priesthood – Christ’s and this is expressed as a universal priesthood and a ministerial priesthood. The point being that the people of God are a priest because they are the body of Christ, who is a priest. But within the body, as scripture shows, there are various functions. So you argument commits a kind of set theory fallacy.

            My own observation.

            Well, your observation conflicts with mine. But it is your point and so the burden of proof rests with you.

            Your favourite phrase when the discussion runs into the sand! I’m content to let readers decide.

            If anyone is reading this, I hope they can see that your argument, as you want to put it counts in both directions, and therefore does not support any particular position, including your own.

            Yes, Paul worked (as a tentmaker) in at least one place where he was an apostolos in order to make a point, but as apostoloi are peripatetic that was not the norm. The point that he was making (to the Thessalonians) strongly suggests that congregation leaders should work for their living as well as being elders.

            Can you clarify this for me. The passage I was speaking about was 1 Cor. you’ve now referred to Thess. I’m a bit unclear on your point therefore.

            It is true that there are no apostoloi in the biblical sense in our land today, but just go to China…

            There are no apostles in the NT sense (Acts 1 and Galatians) in China.

            Not all teachers are elders!

            True, but I would have thought all elders are teachers. But in any case, the issue here is whether one who teaches can earn his living from the Gospel. Scripture says they can. But all ordained people are teachers, ergo.

          • Anton

            You can prove nothing from this at all.

            I’m not in the deductive logic business at this point. I’m pointing out the glaring discrepancy between the way Christ lived his life and the way the Popes do. Christ moved among the common people, lived without material possessions and was dependent on others for accommodation, and said his kingdom was not of this world. The Popes have an opulent palace at their disposal located in their own State – very much a kingdom of this world – and move among Heads of State. If you want to call them politicians then I have no objection – John Paul II was a very good one indeed – but politics is law and the gospel is grace and they don’t mix, for new wine bursts the old wineskins.

            I don’t accept that the reason the Pope has his own State is independence from secular power. After a six decade standoff the papacy was granted independence of a small area round the Vatican 85 years ago in return for political support for Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship. The right way for Christians to deny control of secular power over their spiritual lives is by being willing to accept persecution.

            I am aware that the Roman Catholic church is a major provider of social services in many countries and I consider that it has been unfairly castigated for its imperfections in that role. I’m not sure that it is what a church should be for, though, and I’m unconvinced that the gap could not be filled by other organisations and charities.

            you have only one priesthood – Christ’s and this is expressed as a universal priesthood and a ministerial priesthood

            So why does the ceremony of ordination say that the candidate is “ordained as a priest“? The clear implication is that he was not a priest beforehand, is it not? That is why, if you ask a pew Catholic whether he is a priest – Yes or No – he says “No” even though he is. Categories of priest are simply a rationalisation for an unscriptural state of affairs.

            Re Paul the apostolos working in Thessalonika, I was referring to 1 Thess 2:9 and 2 Thess 3:8.

            What NT category of church worker would you call the people who go to remote parts of China today and spread the gospel, please?

          • Albert

            I’m not in the deductive logic business at this point. I’m pointing out the glaring discrepancy between the way Christ lived his life and the way the Popes do.

            The context of your original point was, I think, about where the real church is. If you think the sinfulness of the minister is relevant to that, then I think you are just wrong. If you think it is not, then I cannot see why you would bring it up. How does it add to the conversation?

            If you want to call them politicians then I have no objection – John Paul II was a very good one indeed – but politics is law and the gospel is grace and they don’t mix, for new wine bursts the old wineskins.

            I cannot see it that way. I have always felt Protestant have a tendancy to manichaeism and this seems to be that. Grace perfect nature, thus a good deal of morality is just about making nature work as well as possible. Did not Jesus warn us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. And then there’s this: And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

            After a six decade standoff the papacy was granted independence of a small area round the Vatican 85 years ago in return for political support for Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship

            This looks like Hitler’s Pope territory. Let’s have the evidence, please.

            The right way for Christians to deny control of secular power over their spiritual lives is by being willing to accept persecution.

            Of course, but given the nature of human beings, it’s not so straight forward. Far better to create a situation in which the papacy is less likely to be pushed around by the secular power.

            I’m not sure that it is what a church should be for, though, and I’m unconvinced that the gap could not be filled by other organisations and charities.

            That private opinion is hardly a condemnation of the Church’s charitable work.

            So why does the ceremony of ordination say that the candidate is “ordained as a priest”? The clear implication is that he was not a priest beforehand, is it not? That is why, if you ask a pew Catholic whether he is a priest – Yes or No – he says “No” even though he is. Categories of priest are simply a rationalisation for an unscriptural state of affairs.

            I’m not saying that everyone is a priest in the same sense as the priest at the altar. But then, nothing in scripture suggests that either. We know full well that the entire people of God can be called a priesthood or priests (or nation, or kings etc.) without claiming that each exercises that in the same way. After all, in Exodus 19 God says: you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. But there is no doubt that there is still, in the OT a ministerial priesthood. Now none of this proves that that state of affairs would be reflected in the NT, but it does mean that the odd passages you quote in defence of your position, do not have to, indeed are not likely to support your position. And that being so, you need an argument from somewhere else.

            I do not think that the passages from Thess tell us anything at all about the legitimacy of ministers earning their living from the congregation.

            What NT category of church worker would you call the people who go to remote parts of China today and spread the gospel, please?

            An evangelist. You can use the word apostle too, if you like, but it isn’t being used in the sense that Peter was an apostle.

            Now it seems to me that you have made 3 claims in this discussion:

            1. The NT Church was not hierarchical
            2. There was no apostolic succession
            3. Ministers may not earn their living from the congregation

            I cannot see that any good evidence has been provided for any of these claims, and yet, abundant and explicit evidence has been provided for their contradictories, and so I am left entirely unconvinced that your ecclesial structure has any kind of scriptural warrant.

          • Anton

            I wrote: “I’m pointing out the glaring discrepancy between the way Christ lived his life and the way the Popes do.” You replied: The context of your original point was, I think, about where the real church is. If you think the sinfulness of the minister is relevant to that, then I think you are just wrong. If you think it is not, then I cannot see why you would bring it up. How does it add to the conversation?

            I don’t need your permission to widen the discussion! If you don’t wish to discuss the discrepancy between the way Christ lived his life and the way the Popes do, feel free not to.

            I wrote: “politics is law and the gospel is grace and they don’t mix, for new wine bursts the old wineskins.” You replied: I cannot see it that way.

            Fine. That is, in one of your stock phrases, your private opinion. You call that Manichaeism; how so? There is more dualism in late-mediaeval Catholic art depicting Satan in charge of hell than in evangelical protestantism. Satan is going to be helpless and suffer in hell, as the Bible makes clear.

            I wrote: “After a six decade standoff the papacy was granted independence of a small area round the Vatican 85 years ago in return for political support for Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship.” You replied: This looks like Hitler’s Pope territory. Let’s have the evidence, please.

            It is well documented. Look up “Lateran Treaty” (of 1929) on Wikipedia or anywhere else. Nothing to do with Cornwell’s shabby book.

            I wrote: “The right way for Christians to deny control of secular power over their spiritual lives is by being willing to accept persecution.” You replied: Of course, but given the nature of human beings, it’s not so straight forward. Far better to create a situation in which the papacy is less likely to be pushed around by the secular power.

            Not straightforward to be willing to accept persecution? But that is the vocation of Christians, for the armour that protects the Christian is spiritual, not physical (Ephesians 6:10-18). Those who wish to lead a godly life will suffer for it (2 Timothy 3:12). The papacy has no exemption from New Testament verses that apply to more humble believers.

            I am making no condemnation of the Roman Catholic church’s charitable work, nor do I wish to.

            But there is no doubt that there is still, in the OT a ministerial priesthood. Now none of this proves that that state of affairs would be reflected in the NT, but it does mean that the odd passages you quote in defence of your position, do not have to, indeed are not likely to support your position. And that being so, you need an argument from somewhere else.

            Is this not simply a way of avoiding coming to grips with the arguments I make based on those passages?

            Now it seems to me that you have made 3 claims in this discussion:
            1. The NT Church was not hierarchical
            2. There was no apostolic succession
            3. Ministers may not earn their living from the congregation
            I cannot see that any good evidence has been provided for any of these claims, and yet, abundant and explicit evidence has been provided for their contradictories, and so I am left entirely unconvinced that your ecclesial structure has any kind of scriptural warrant.

            I don’t doubt that you cannot see it and are unconvinced. But I am writing for others as much as for someone who would assert that “white was black if the hierarchical church defined it” (to quote Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises). I have already set out, above, my arguments from scripture for those things, and need not repeat them.

          • Albert

            I don’t need your permission to widen the discussion!

            Of course you don’t, but if you don’t make it clear you are no longer making an on topic ecclesiological point and are instead pointing towards someone else’s sins (if that is what they are) then forgive me if misunderstand or I think little of that.

            You call that Manichaeism; how so?

            Your post gave the impression of not wanting to help the world, as if to do so was off limits. If I’m wrong in that, then I don’t understand your meaning.

            There is more dualism in late-mediaeval Catholic art depicting Satan in charge of hell than in evangelical protestantism.

            There is no dualism there, and art is not doctrine, anyway.

            It is well documented. Look up “Lateran Treaty” (of 1929) on Wikipedia or anywhere else.

            I don’t have time to do your research for you. Which bits of the wikipedia (or other documentation)?

            Not straightforward to be willing to accept persecution? But that is the vocation of Christians, for the armour that protects the Christian is spiritual, not physical (Ephesians 6:10-18). Those who wish to lead a godly life will suffer for it (2 Timothy 3:12). The papacy has no exemption from New Testament verses that apply to more humble believers.

            Well, you’re the one who is supposed to believe we can be simul iustus et peccator. The issue is not about exempting anyone (what an uncharitable interpretation), the issue is trying to avoid a situation in which a weak or misguided Pope might be compromised.

            I am making no condemnation of the Roman Catholic church’s charitable work, nor do I wish to.

            No, but you said you are not sure that it is what the Church is for. Certainly, it does not exhaust her mission, but it is p[art of her mission. Now if you do that on a global scale as the Catholic church does, then you need to work with others and they with you, to have the best success. And if that helps everyone to work more charitably and for justice, then why would any Christian complain about that? Why ditch all that, just so that we can say to a few Protestants, “See, the Pope does not busy himself with world leaders”? It just makes no sense.

            Is this not simply a way of avoiding coming to grips with the arguments I make based on those passages?

            It is a way of saying that those passages by themselves do not yield the conclusions you wish to draw from them. It’s clear that the word “priest” is used in scripture in more than one way. So your attempt to make us all priests in the same way simply fails. You just don’t have the evidence for it, and therefore these passages cannot tell against the evidence that the ancient church was hierarchical.

            But I am writing for others as much as for someone who would assert that “white was black if the hierarchical church defined it” (to quote Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises).

            That’s not a quotation from the Spiritual Exercises. you need to check your sources before making such an ad hominem. In any case, an ad hominem is not an argument. You have given very little biblical evidence in defence of your position, and I do not think you have given any that I have not replied to. It is evident from scripture that the NT Church was hierarchical, this is expressly stated and is evident in the activity of the apostles. It is evident that there was some kind of succession – that ministers are not delegates of their congregations – but that this succession came by laying on of hands. It is evident that ministers are able to earn their living from the congregation – this is clearly stated in scripture. Thus, your attacks on the Catholic Church (and the CofE and any other hierarchical body) fail.

          • Anton

            I said widen the discussion, not change the subject. Let readers verify whether I veered off topic.

            I wrote: “There is more dualism in late-mediaeval Catholic art depicting Satan in charge of hell than in evangelical protestantism.” You replied: There is no dualism there, and art is not doctrine, anyway. I can play at legalism too: where did I say that art was doctrine? Please explain how paintings (and clergy-approved mystery plays) that depict Satan in charge of hell and God in charge of heaven are not dualistic, given that Satan will suffer helplessly in hell (Matt 25:41). I don’t doubt that those painters believe in the final triumph of Christ over Satan, but these particular paintings, which adorn countless late mediaeval and Renaissance Catholic churches, are dualistic.

            I wrote: “After a six decade standoff the papacy was granted independence of a small area round the Vatican 85 years ago in return for political support for Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship.” You want me to be more specific; I shall be, although this is not “research” but merely digging in the writings of others. Mussolini and Pius XI regularly communicated to (rather more than with) each other via communiques and intermediaries. Mussolini, formerly anti-clerical, realised once in power that he might use the church to legitimise his rule. Meanwhile Pius was no lover of democracy and realised that Mussolini was pragmatic about the church as communists were not. Mussolini donated to church building restoration and had his family baptised. In 1929 came the Lateran Pacts, in which Mussolini granted the papacy sovereignty over Vatican City and Pius dropped his insistence on control of a larger areas of Rome. Consequently Pius could travel freely around Rome without fear of arrest. Pius also got a large sum of money and freedom of the church within the religious sphere and education. Mussolini got churchly recognition of the Italian State that he already controlled with a grip of iron; big deal! Transparently Mussolini required more, although it could not be acknowledged in the terms of the Lateran Pacts (here: http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/treaty.htm ). What he wanted – and history reveals he got – was Catholic support for his regime. That is why he boasted that the Vatican was pumping his genocidal invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 as a “holy war”. All of this has been known by those willing to look for decades, but now it can be documented with the recent opening of archives about Pius XI and Mussolini; the definitive book on the subject is The Pope and Mussolini by David Kertzer (2014).

            It’s clear that the word “priest” is used in scripture in more than one way. So your attempt to make us all priests in the same way simply fails.

            If we are talking about the church then we must restrict ourselves to the New Testament, for the Old is superseded. In the NT there is no textual evidence whatsoever for more than one category of hiereus (priest), with the exception of Christ as High Priest. If you disagree, tell me where! Furthermore, an ordinand is ordained “as a priest”, not “as a category-B priest” where pew Catholics are category-A priests. The clear implication is that Rome did not regard him as “a priest” beforehand (even though he was a category-A priest). The only conclusion is that Rome denies category-A priesthood in practice and pays only lip service to it when pressed in conversation like these. That is why pew Catholics invariably say no if they are asked simply “Are you a priest?”

            You just don’t have the evidence for it, and therefore these passages cannot tell against the evidence that the ancient church was hierarchical.

            The evidence for it is repeated in the preceding paragraph and I have explained higher up the thread from scripture how the apostolic church was not hierarchical. I don’t have evidence that would satisfy you, but that doesn’t exist because you are committed Roman Catholic. Let’s see what readers think.

            I wrote: “But I am writing for others as much as for someone who would assert that “white was black if the hierarchical church defined it” (to quote Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises).” You replied: That’s not a quotation from the Spiritual Exercises. you need to check your sources…

            It is on p141 of this online edition of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises:

            http://www.ccel.org/ccel/ignatius/exercises.pdf

            I have refuted your comments. Therefore your argument fails.

          • Albert

            Please explain how paintings (and clergy-approved mystery plays) that depict Satan in charge of hell and God in charge of heaven are not dualistic, given that Satan will suffer helplessly in hell (Matt 25:41).

            Dualism is the teaching that matter is evil. The status of the devil has nothing to do with it. I think in any case, you are confusing a number of things. Hell is clearly a state in which a number of evil spirits are to be found. All that needs to be said is that it would be like a prison with no guards. The most powerful will push everyone else around. There is no suggestion that the devil has any kind of sovereignty.

            After a six decade standoff the papacy was granted independence of a small area round the Vatican 85 years ago in return for political support for Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship.

            I know very little about this, but I simply observe that you have given no evidence for your original claim: the papacy was granted independence of a small area round the Vatican 85 years ago in return for political support for Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship. You have given no evidence that support was in return for the Vatican state. On the contrary, the evidence you cite points in the other direction: hopes that Abyssinia might be a mission field, hopes that Mussolini would be better than communism – hopes which were reasonable, given the circumstances. But these reasons would be in place whether or not the Vatican was a state. Therefore, you have not provided evidence in support of your claim.

            If we are talking about the church then we must restrict ourselves to the New Testament, for the Old is superseded.

            No, we are talking about the meaning of words in the NT. I don’t believe you really think one cannot appeal to the OT for background.

            Furthermore, an ordinand is ordained “as a priest”, not “as a category-B priest” where pew Catholics are category-A priests.

            The whole people of God is described as a priesthood in both the liturgy and Catholic teaching. We are perfectly capable of seeing that the same word, as in scripture, may have different but related meanings.

            The only conclusion is that Rome denies category-A priesthood in practice and pays only lip service to it when pressed in conversation like these

            Not so, the whole body is priestly – that’s actually fundamental to Catholic ecclesiology of seeing the Church as the body of Christ. Surely, you can see we take that very seriously?

            The evidence for it is repeated in the preceding paragraph and I have explained higher up the thread from scripture how the apostolic church was not hierarchical.

            Even if I accept your point about the priesthood, that does not do away with NT hierarchy. For that hierarchy, to be a hierarchy need not be about priests. Everyone could be a priest, but not everyone would be a leader, for example. I do not see that you have answered the evidence of Paul saying “First apostles…”, nor about him issuing commands, nor about laying on of hands coming from him and those to whom he has given authority, rather than from the congregation. All this is begging as far as I can see. But if I ask for you evidence that it is non-hierarchical, then I get this stuff about priests or Jesus speaking in Revelation, but as I’ve shown, that is not evidence there was no hierarchy, it is perfectly consistent with there being hierarchy. Therefore, we have good evidence that the NT church is hierarchical, and none that it isn’t.

            But I am writing for others as much as for someone who would assert that “white was black if the hierarchical church defined it

            That is not what it says, even in your translation. Here’s the full quote:

            To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.

            To say black is white is just contradictory, but to say that what I see as white is black is a statement on our subjectivity and how we must not trust is against the judgement of the Church. Consider how a colour-blind person would accept the authority of someone who was not colour-blind on colours they confuse. A better way of expressing the point, as in the translation of some, is “what seems to me to be white…” It’s worth also pointing out that this is just an analogy, for the Church does not claim authority in such matters. Finally, you used it as an ad hominem. But an ad hominem isn’t argument, but something given in the absence of an argument…

          • Anton

            I’ve been using “dualism” throughout to mean the view that there are two gods, one good and one evil, and that they are roughly equal in power. There are (appropriately!) at least two meanings of the word:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism_(disambiguation)

            So we’ve been talking past each other here. Let’s drop this part.

            I know very little about this, but I simply observe that you have given no evidence for your original claim: the papacy was granted independence of a small area round the Vatican 85 years ago in return for political support for Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship. You have given no evidence that support was in return for the Vatican state.

            No evidence that you would accept, perhaps, but I doubt that any such can exist. What I have shown is that Mussolini granted the existence of Vatican City as an independent State after decades in which the Pope had been at risk of arrest if he ventured outside his complex, and that Mussolini gave the Roman Catholic church freedom to function throughout Italy, and also gave it a lot of money. You don’t think a monster like Mussolini, with an anti-clerical track record to boot, did all that out of the goodness of his heart, do you? It is obvious that he wanted something that the church could give him, isn’t it? And it is a matter of record that he got papal support for his regime, to the extent that the Vatican was silent even when Mussolini launched a genocidal invasion of Abyssinia in 1935. That is motive-and-correlation evidence of the sort that is perfectly acceptable in court. It is also nothing new, but Kertzer’s book, to which I have referred you, provides the hitherto missing documentation.

            Kertzer also shows, interestingly and for the first time (from newly released documents) that Pius XI was planning a speech against Mussolini’s violations of the Lateran Pact, just as he had had a reluctant (it emerges) Cardinal Pacelli – the future Pius XII – draft Mit Brennender Sorge to protest against Hitler’s violations of the Reichskonkordat. The speech against Mussolini was drafted and multiple copies were printed for distribution to Italian bishops, but Pius XI died less than a week before he was due to give it. Mussolini had spies in the Vatican and knew about the speech, and he leant on Pacelli – who was camerlengo during the interregnum – to have the speech set aside and the copies destroyed. Pacelli complied.

            As for hierarchy, the word used in hierarchical church systems for people set above congregations is episkopos, but in scripture there are multiple episkopoi per congregation, not multiple congregations under one episkopos (or even one per congregation). And they are the same people as the presbyteroi. St Paul calls for the presbyteroi of the congregation at Ephesus (Acts 20:17) and then addresses them collectively as episkopoi (20:28). Plurals in James 5:14 and Acts 14:23 & 20:17 show that each congregation had several. So there are no words left in scripture to describe a hierarchy above congregations. (An apostolos was a church planter, but once he has founded a congregation and passed on it runs governed by its council of these men.) Therefore your argument fails.

            When I sourced that quote from Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises which you denied was there, I committed the sin of abbreviating it slightly. I’ve written elsewhere as a physicist on the question of colour and perception. But you get the idea of what Loyola means: What I was brought up to call white when I saw it, I will believe is what others call black even if I still perceive it as what I used to call white, if the church says so. What I am saying is that you are of that ilk. Take that as you wish!

          • Albert

            I do not think art shows the devil has equal power with God or is a god.

            Regarding Mussolini, it doesn’t follow that because the Vatican was silent about certain things that this was because of the Lateran Treaty. There are other explanations of that, and these I have given. What Mussolini hoped to get out of it, does not show that this is what was agreed. So I don’t think you have proved this point.

            As for hierarchy, I do not need to claim that the NT had exactly the same system as Catholicism has now. I need only to show that there was some kind of hierarchy, that is, that there were some individuals set above congregations. This I have shown. Your comment here does not address that. All you’ve shown is that there were several people in the hierarchy. Well, who’s denying that? On the contrary, by showing there were several people in the hierarchy, you show that there was a hierarchy. I add further, that scripture shows that this hierarchy was handed on by laying on of hands from the apostle, and does not arise from the congregation. I add further to that that it is scripturally legitimate for ministers to gain their living from their congregations.

            I might add at this point a word about that. Strictly speaking the word used is “stipend”. The distinction is important in terms of meaning. The idea is not that a minister is paid for his work, but rather that he is paid so he can work. I find it hard to see how this can be condemned from a biblical point of view, and I cannot see that you have provided scripture to do that.

            When I sourced that quote from Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exerciseswhich you denied was there, I committed the sin of abbreviating it slightly.

            Precisely, and I said it wasn’t there, and I was right. The difference between the two statements may be linguistically small, but in terms of the meaning the different is literally infinite. One is a contradiction, and the other is a meaningful statement about not trusting subjectivity. Now if you mean to say that I am somehow wrong for submitting my private judgement to an authority, then I say you have no faith in God. If on the other hand, you are willing to submit your private judgement to God, then even your ad hominem fails, even if we take you as correcting quoting Ignatius.

          • Anton

            Are you not undertaking nitpicking on minor points in order to avoid the major ones? My congratulations on spotting that my slight abbreviation of Loyola changed the meaning slightly, when the point I was making is (obviously) that you would call black white if the Pope said so. Perhaps you regard that as a compliment.

            Those late mediaeval and Renaissance paintings of judgement show souls either sent to heaven to be with God, or sent to hell to be tortured by Satan and grinning demons. But Matt 25:41 states that Satan and the fallen angels will suffer in hell. Hell is portrayed as Satan’s realm in the paintings. But he will have no realm. So this is dualism. Therefore your argument is invalid.

            Regarding Mussolini… I don’t think you have proved this point.

            I’ll bet you don’t! First, please answer what else Mussolini could have wanted in return for granting the Pope a small State, freedom of movement, a large sum of money, and rights to do education in Italy? After that you can read Kertzer’s book, which uses recently released documentation to show beyond doubt that Mussolini was seeking church support as a quid pro quo – and got it, even for deeply immoral acts like the invasion of Abyssinia. I have conformed to convention by giving the reference so that you, or any reader who wishes, can locate it if fuller detail is desired.

            As for hierarchy, I do not need to claim that the NT had exactly the same system as Catholicism has now. I need only to show that there was some kind of hierarchy, that is, that there were some individuals set above congregations. This I have shown. Your comment here does not address that. All you’ve shown is that there were several people in the hierarchy. Well, who’s denying that? On the contrary, by showing there were several people in the hierarchy, you show that there was a hierarchy.

            As I have said more than once, by hierarchy I mean ABOVE congregations. The governing council of a NT congregation was part of it. The founding apostolos was above a congregation but, once he had appointed elders/overseers and passed on, it was autonomous under God. There is simply no word left in the NT Greek to describe anybody above the governing council. Episkopos, presbyteros and apostolos are all accounted for, and you do not find superepiskopoi or anything else in the NT letters or Acts. Do you understand what I am saying even if you disagree? Please answer Yes or No. Then (and only then), if you disagree, please explain why.

          • Albert

            Are you not undertaking nitpicking on minor points in order to avoid the major ones? My congratulations on spotting that my slight abbreviation of Loyola changed the meaning slightly

            It is this lack of precision that undermines most things you say. There is in an infinite difference between the two points. Just because it is only a couple of words: consider the difference made in the meaning by a sentence with or without the word “not” in it. By misquoting Loyola you made it into a quite different sentence with no meaning, but the sentence he gives is perfectly meaningful.

            when the point I was making is (obviously) that you would call black white if the Pope said so.

            Then you evidently still haven’t understood either the saying, or my interpretation of it last time, or my showing of its application. You also haven’t addressed how the point impacts on you with regard to authorities that you do accept. Finally, you haven’t addressed the fact that you are using an ad hominem here, not an argument. This is not nitpicking minor points.

            Those late mediaeval and Renaissance paintings of judgement show souls either sent to heaven to be with God, or sent to hell to be tortured by Satan and grinning demons. But Matt 25:41 states that Satan and the fallen angels will suffer in hell. Hell is portrayed as Satan’s realm in the paintings. But he will have no realm.

            I can only assume that you are unfamiliar with the biblical doctrine of sin. Don’t you see that sin, though it may bring other punishment is its own punishment? The fact that spirits abuse one another in hell is their own punishment as well as the punishment of others. It has nothing to do with realm or sovereignty etc. So your interpretation makes no sense. Moreover, even if it did, it would not be dualism, even by your own standards, for it would not imply Satan was a god or equal to God. Moreover, that point would have been understood by painters and commissioners alike, since dualism in your sense, was condemned by the Church as heresy. So what we have here is what we so often have with Protestants, an unjust attempt to marshal the evidence to make it look bad. But it’s failed here on several points.

            First, please answer what else Mussolini could have wanted in return for granting the Pope a small State, freedom of movement, a large sum of money, and rights to do education in Italy?

            I have no doubt that it is as you say, from Mussolini’s point of view, but that does not tell us what the Vatican actually agreed to. Besides, Mussolini also hoped for other things: good PR at home and abroad – these things alone would have made it worth his while, together with the tidiness that it created in his state. But your position on this fails anyway, because your purpose in bringing this up was to say that the Vatican being independent is not the reason for the papal states. But even if I concede your point on Mussolini (which I don’t because you haven’t provided any evidence for it), it would still be possible for the Vatican to say “We’ll do this short term submission for the long term benefit of having proper independence”. It would be much the same way as a country that tolerates war may do so for the long term goal of peace. So your argument fails, even if you have evidence, (which you don’t).

            After that you can read Kertzer’s book, which uses recently released documentation to show beyond doubt that Mussolini was seeking church support as a quid pro quo – and got it, even for deeply immoral acts like the invasion of Abyssinia. I have conformed to convention by giving the reference so that you, or any reader who wishes, can locate it if fuller detail is desired.

            Am I right in thinking that Ketzer’s book is one you haven’t read yourself? So here again, I am left being expected to make your case for you. This is an area that I do not know much about, but I do know, with the equivalent case of Hitler, that it is very easy to make a false case against the Church. In this case, I have already sufficiently explained the policy you allege to the Vatican and to Mussolini, without imputing the agreement you keep alleging, and so your keeping bringing it up does not prove anything.

            As I have said more than once, by hierarchy I mean ABOVE congregations.

            Yes, and I have repeatedly shown how the ministers are above the congregations. First you have the apostle, who hands on his authority to elders, who hand on their authority to other elders. It’s clear that these elders have authority over the congregations, and do not derive that authority from the congregations for it comes via the laying on of hands, not of the congregation but of the apostle and his successors. If you wish to say that the word “congregation” includes the elder, then I have no problem with that, but it does not affect the material point: the people do not in the NT create their own ministers, nor is the authority in the congregation equal, but those who have received laying on of hands from an apostle have authority. That’s what I call a hierarchy.

            once he had appointed elders/overseers and passed on, it was autonomous under God.

            What is your evidence for that?

            There is simply no word left in the NT Greek to describe anybody above the governing council. Episkopos, presbyteros and apostolos are all accounted for, and you do not find superepiskopoi or anything else in the NT letters or Acts.

            And these are, as I have said they are: they are not elected from the congregation, but appointed by the apostle and his successors.

            Do you understand what I am saying even if you disagree? Please answer Yes or No. Then (and only then), if you disagree, please explain why.

            It looks like you think I am dodging something – which I find extraordinary, under the circumstances. I hope my answer is clear – I understand the question, yes. I disagree with your point for the reasons I have repeatedly shown and which for the most part, you have failed to answer.

          • Anton

            O, let readers decide whether or not you are nitpicking about the Loyola issue. I don’t know why you are saying it is an invalid argument simply because it is ad hominem. It always was an ad hominem comment about how you argue. That was its point.

            In your further comments about dualism you are failing to engage with the point that in the paintings Satan and demons are portrayed as torturing condemned human souls, but not as themselves suffering. The visual message, then, is that hell is where Satan is free to deploy his power and heaven is where God resides, which by His power he keeps free from Satan and evil. Two realms means dualism in the eternity that is post-judgement – regardless of the fact that God actually has infinitely more power than Satan. Let me boil it down: the paintings show Satan as not powerless or suffering in hell, but as powerful there; yet the scriptures tell us he will suffer and will be powerless in his suffering. Is this not a contradiction between the pictures and the scriptures? Whatever else you may reply, please include a clear Yes or No to this question.

            I have not yet read Kertzer cover to cover; he is my current reading and I have read enough to say what I have said already about Pius XI and Mussolini with confidence, or else I would not have said it. If I refer you to a reference for details, that is not asking you to make my case for you. I am making a statement – a ‘case’ – and saying: here is backup if you wish to check it or go into it in more detail. That is scholarly convention, without which every research paper written would have to be the size of a library.

            I wrote: “As I have said more than once, by hierarchy I mean ABOVE congregations.” You responded: Yes, and I have repeatedly shown how the ministers are above the congregations. First you have the apostle, who hands on his authority to elders, who hand on their authority to other elders. It’s clear that these elders have authority over the congregations… If you wish to say that the word “congregation” includes the elder, then I have no problem with that, but it does not affect the material point: the people do not in the NT create their own ministers, nor is the authority in the congregation equal, but those who have received laying on of hands from an apostle have authority. That’s what I call a hierarchy.

            Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding. By “hierarchy above congregations” I mean that multiple congregations are grouped together to receive oversight from the same source (whether from one person or a higher council). THAT is what I assert is absent from scripture (once the founding apostolos of multiple congregations has passed on), and I find nothing in your present response that denies my argument for it. Therefore your position is not tenable and your argument fails.

          • Albert

            An ad hominem is an invalid argument, as I understand the matter.

            In your further comments about dualism you are failing to engage with the point that in the paintings Satan and demons are portrayed as torturing condemned human souls, but not as themselves suffering.

            They are committing sin, therefore, they are being punished.

            I have not yet read Kertzer cover to cover; he is my current reading and I have read enough to say what I have said already about Pius XI and Mussolini with confidence, or else I would not have said it.

            But can you see that you have not in fact given evidence for your claim? There’s been a lot of this follow that, therefore this because of that, but that’s not the same thing.

            Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding. By “hierarchy above congregations” I mean that multiple congregations are grouped together to receive oversight from the same source (whether from one person or a higher council)

            This now makes some sense. I would say that, that hierarchy is the apostle himself. Your position is to knock out the apostle with his death and assume his place wasn’t filled. My position would be to say that necessarily, the scriptural evidence kind of dries up at that point: it necessarily comes from apostolic days and so it does not show us what happens after the apostles are all dead. What it does show us is that, while they lived, many congregations were grouped under a single minister – the apostle. That is not possible now, so whatever one does is a development from the scriptural era. I would observe that having someone with oversight of several congregations, retains the shape of the NT church, in way that your model does not. It is also what we find as soon as we can check the pattern after the NT era. Thus it seems that the churches retained the apostolic shape – which is surely what you would expect them to do. This seems particularly plausible because it is likely that a town would include several congregations, and yet Paul writes to the ministers as if they are one.

          • Anton

            An ad hominem is an invalid argument, as I understand the matter.

            That is true if you are setting out a train of logical reasoning. But that is not what I was doing (as I said).

            They [Satan and demons in hell in late-mediaeval paintings of judgement] are committing sin, therefore, they are being punished.

            Nonsense. If you commit sin then you WILL be punished – and hell is, in the last analysis, where. A man who fornicates is not being punished during the act; at that moment he is probably enjoying it, in fact. Yet in these paintings Satan and his legions are torturing people and are not portrayed as suffering in the slightest. They are portrayed doing exactly as they did on earth before the last judgement, except that they are now limited to doing it in hell. Such paintings may be great art but they are theologically warped.

            can you see that you have not in fact given evidence for your claim?

            Can you see that you are artificially restricting your definition of evidence? I already explained that but you have ignored it. A cynic might think you were saying this so as to be able to respond as you have.

            I’m glad that we are now both clear what I mean by “hierarchy above congregations”. But with that settled I disagree with the comments you have made immediately above, for several reasons:

            1. Apostles in the Bible generally show no interest in the congregations they had founded once these was mature enough for them to appoint elders/overseers in each (and just look at what ‘episkopos’ means); doing that would have been a distraction from their anointed task of keeping moving as church planters.

            2. Jesus’ letters to the seven congregations in a region of Asia Minor in Rev 2&3 show his personal oversight of congregations; he did not write it to someone in overall care of all seven (geographically, they’d make a reasonable diocese) giving a breakdown of each congregation; nor did he order a diocesan merger. This is obviously significant.

            3. Above all, there is no word or phrase in the NT Greek for any replacement of the founding apostolos to whom he might hand on his authority over the group of churches he founded. (What if he died suddenly? No such problem arises with congregation leadership by a council of several men.) The word apostolos means “church planter”, and ‘episkopos’ and ‘presbyteros’ are words already in use for the men who are part of a congregation and who govern it (eg, Acts 14:23, 20:17, 20:28, James 5:14). To make your case, you would need to identify a further Greek word or phrase in the NT letters or Acts. Can you?

            Furthermore you are mistaken that early church history, immediately after the apostolic era, backs up your view that several congregations received oversight from the same human source. What you find shortly after the last NT writings is each congregation run by a single man, called its episkopos, with nobody set above him. Only some centuries later did several congregations in a region come under one man (still known – confusingly – as the episkopos). Therefore your argument is invalid. (As for the fact that there was one episkopos per congregation by the second century, I’ve given verses showing that there were many episkopoi in a single congregation in the NT, so the change to a single one, no matter how soon after the apostolic era, was unsanctioned.)

          • Albert

            That is true if you are setting out a train of logical reasoning. But that is not what I was doing (as I said).

            I have no need to quarrel with that, it is eloquent.

            What you did was to misquote something, so that it didn’t mean what the actual quote meant. When I gave the actual quote and pointed out that its actual meaning is perfectly reasonable, and that, if any point was to be drawn from it, it would apply to you as well regarding authorities you do accept, you said I was nitpicking.

            Nonsense. If you commit sin then you WILL be punished – and hell is, in the last analysis, where. A man who fornicates is not being punished during the act

            This is why sola scriptura doesn’t work. You’re tapped within your own superficial reading of scripture. God is the highest good, who alone can satisfy. When one sins one cuts oneself off from God. But how can cutting oneself off from one’s highest good not be its own punishment? As scripture says “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” How can falling short of the glory of God, not be its own punishment? Does not St Paul say that those who engage in homosexual acts receive the punishment for this in their own persons? The indignity of such acts is itself its own punishment – the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, as he puts it . Of course, you may say, that they enjoy it, but that someone enjoys a base pleasure instead of a transcendent one is thereby suffering a punishment. As Paul shows – the mind is darkened and one cannot appreciate the goodness of God. Thus the fact that evil spirits enjoy inflicting pain does not mean they are sovereign, it means they are not. It means they do not even have sovereignty over themselves to stop themselves harming themselves and remaining cut off from the glory of God. So the paintings, if understood in a biblical context do not show dualism, but the very opposite of dualism.

            Can you see that you are artificially restricting your definition of evidence? I already explained that but you have ignored it. A cynic might think you were saying this so as to be able to respond as you have.

            I do not know about the Church in the Abyssinian crisis, therefore I cannot argue with new evidence. But I do not need to, because, you haven’t provided evidence for your conclusion. Just because this follows that, does not entail this occurred because of that. Britain and France did not enforce League of Nations sanctions against Italy in this crisis, and Britain even allowed Italy to us Suez to supply her troops. But it hardly follows from this that the reason Britain and France did what they did was that they wanted the Vatican to be an independent state! I have already sufficiently explained Vatican actions and you have not made the link with your conclusion. Moreover, even if, the Vatican did give support to Italy in return for the papal state (which had happened 6 years earlier, so it’s hardly part of the quid pro quo) it would not follow that the rationale behind the papal state is not independence. The Vatican could simply have regarded working with Mussolini as a necessary evil. So you haven’t provided evidence or reason for your own conclusion. It’s your argument, the burden of proof rests on you.

            1. Apostles in the Bible generally show no interest in the congregations they had founded once these was mature enough for them to appoint elders/overseers in each (and just look at what ‘episkopos’ means); doing that would have been a distraction from their anointed task of keeping moving as church planters.

            Rot. Where is your positive evidence for this claim? Paul clearly sends a subordinate to sort out problems. You will say that this is because that church was not mature. But then your position becomes unfalsifiable and what is unfalsifiable is not based on evidence. Therefore, you must either concede this biblical evidence, or admit that your own position is not based on biblical evidence.

            2. Jesus’ letters to the seven congregations in a region of Asia Minor in Rev 2&3 show his personal oversight of congregations; he did not write it to someone in overall care of all seven (geographically, they’d make a reasonable diocese) giving a breakdown of each congregation; nor did he order a diocesan merger. This is obviously significant.

            He intervenes through a member of hierarchy. But nothing of my position prevents Jesus exercising immediate jurisdiction over his churches, so your point is irrelevant. You may as well argue that because, certain saints, while accepting Rome’s authority, nevertheless, admonished Rome, that therefore they did not accept Rome’s authority. But that’s absurd.

            3. Above all, there is no word or phrase in the NT Greek for any replacement of the founding apostolos to whom he might hand on his authority over the group of churches he founded.

            Because, obviously, he was there at time, so we would expect little if anything on this, even if he had made some plans. Remember: the letters tend to show us what is not agreed, not what is. Paul is dealing with immediate problems, we have very little on other matters. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Moreover, if the point I made in response to 1 is correct, then 3 is simply false.

            Furthermore you are mistaken that early church history, immediately after the apostolic era, backs up your view that several congregations received oversight from the same human source. What you find shortly after the last NT writings is each congregation run by a single man, called its episkopos, with nobody set above him.

            You mean that in a city the size of Antioch or Rome, there is only one congregation? Seriously? Have you never read Romans 16?

            But none of this is defending your original point against mine. I am not arguing that the NT was episcopal in the later sense. I am arguing simply that it was hierarchical, that the hierarchy came from the apostle and his successors, not from the congregation. Nothing you have said has defended your ecclesiology here.

          • Anton

            I made a slight misquotation, which you are seizing on with the effect of avoiding what I always said was my main point in quoting it, which is that you would call black white if the Roman Catholic church said so. On further consideration I’m surprised that you didn’t take that as a compliment.

            Sinning is its own punishment in real time? Why then does God bother to enact judgement for sins at the last day, if the miscreant has already been punished?

            I do not know about the Church in the Abyssinian crisis, therefore I cannot argue with new evidence. But I do not need to, because, you haven’t provided evidence for your conclusion.

            As I said, you are ignoring evidence of the sort that is inconvenient to your position. Further up this thread I explained that Pius XI did conspicuously well out of Mussolini in 1929 and that subsequent to that time the Roman Catholic church in Italy was supportive of his regime. That is known in courts as indirect evidence (in this case, for a quid pro quo). Indirect evidence, as its name implies, is a category of evidence, contrary to your assertion. As for direct evidence, read Kertzer’s book, to which I have referred you – but I’m not surprised that you show no wish to.

            Beyond pointing out that the size of a city does not necessarily correlate with the size of its church (if it is a very recently founded congregation, for instance), that the first churches were house churches, and that the multiple-elder/overseer model described in scripture probably means that there was one elder leading each housegroup, with the elders meeting from time to time to discuss their pastoral and other problems, I’ve nothing to add to what I’ve already said about hierarchy. That is because I don’t consider that your most recent comments amount to any sort of refutation of my position. I don’t mind if you disagree.

          • Albert

            I made a slight misquotation, which you are seizing on with the effect of avoiding what I always said was my main point in quoting it, which is that you would call black white if the Roman Catholic church said so. On further consideration I’m surprised that you didn’t take that as a compliment.

            You didn’t make a slight misquotation you completely changed the meaning so that it taught an absurdity and not a truth. Once the truth of the quotation was revealed you would have to accept it if it were applied to authorities you accept. It was in any case not an argument. Of course I wouldn’t call black white if the Catholic Church said I should. That just shows a failure to understand how the magisterium works. But that wasn’t quote you gave either.

            Sinning is its own punishment in real time? Why then does God bother to enact judgement for sins at the last day, if the miscreant has already been punished?

            Because it is not a sufficient punishment, among other things. But you’re arguing against scripture now.

            That is known in courts as indirect evidence (in this case, for a quid pro quo). Indirect evidence, as its name implies, is a category of evidence, contrary to your assertion.

            Indirect evidence: if a man is accused (i.e. there is already reason to think it is him) of fraud, and after the alleged fraud, he suddenly starts spending lots of money, that is indirect evidence. But it is not indirect evidence if he was already spending lots of money before (e.g. because he was wealthy). In other words, indirect evidence only works where we have prior reason to suspect this person and there is a change in behaviour. Similarly, it would not work if we could explain the suddenly spending by the fact that he had suddenly come into money through the lottery, inheritance etc. My guess is, that given the state of things at the time, the Vatican was fairly pro-Mussolini anyway prior to 1929, so the analogy is closer to the rich man, and the Vatican also had reasons for keeping quiet over Abyssinia, so the analogy is close to the man who comes into money. So your argument would not convince a court. Moreover, the issue is not whether the Vatican agreed to support Mussolini, but whether that shows the rationale for the papal state is not the independence of the Vatican. I keep repeating this point, but you don’t answer it, thus your argument fails – and you do not have evidence for it.

            Beyond pointing out that the size of a city does not necessarily correlate with the size of its church (if it is a very recently founded congregation, for instance)

            I gave evidece for my point: Romans 16 which clearly envisages several congregations in one city.

            that the first churches were house churches, and that the multiple-elder/overseer model described in scripture probably means that there was one elder leading each housegroup, with the elders meeting from time to time to discuss their pastoral and other problems

            My position does not require anything more than that! After all, my point is that there is a hierarchy. I add to that that there is a unifying figure in the person of the apostle. I find it fascinating that you think that my last post does not add anything. For surely, in order to defend your position, you need to provide evidence of this claim:

            Apostles in the Bible generally show no interest in the congregations they had founded once these was mature enough for them to appoint elders/overseers in each

            and further that not only did not show interest, but that the congregations became autonomous of the apostles. This is the heart of your claim against mine. And yet, there is no evidence for it, except for a couple of things you said which I have answered.

            Beyond that, you have not defended your claims that there was no succession and that ministers could not earn their money from their congregations. There is plain, and repeated evidence of both in the NT, and, as with the lack of hierarchy, no evidence of the contrary.

          • Anton

            I consider that there is a difference between quality and quantity of argumentation and I believe that you have not falsified my exegesis of early church polity. Also that you continue to divert from my main point about the Loyola quote, and that Satan shows no signs of suffering and every sign of being in charge of hell in those dualistic late-mediaeval portraits of heaven and hell. One further question about that: Do you think that he is or will be in charge of hell, or will be as helpless there as human souls? Please also expand on your comment on Romans 16. Beyond those points, if we are each convinced that the impartial reader would take our own side then that is an adequate place to stop. Certainly I am.

          • Albert

            I consider that there is a difference between quality and quantity of argumentation and I believe that you have not falsified my exegesis of early church polity.

            But you haven’t really given any evidence for your position, have you? What is the evidence from scripture, that local congregations became independent of the apostles at some point? I have shown evidence that they are under apostles, and their successors as appointed by the laying on of hands. Now where’s the evidence that was only for a seaon?

            Also that you continue to divert from my main point about the Loyola quote

            Please explain the point I am missing. Perhaps if you quoted it properly in the first place, I would get your point.

            and that Satan shows no signs of suffering and every sign of being in charge of hell in those dualistic late-mediaeval portraits of heaven and hell

            This is based on a doctrine of sin which is contrary to scripture. You said sin is not a punishment for sin, but scripture shows that it is. Moreover, just because devils may enjoy inflicting pain, does not mean they are sovereign in hell, it means they are not. It just does not follow, and so your dualism point fails.

            Do you think that he is or will be in charge of hell, or will be as helpless there as human souls?

            In the face of sin, he will be more helpless than human souls. Again, the original issue was the dualism of certain types of Protestantism. You can draw no conclusions from Catholic art about doctrine – especially when it is so easily open to alternative interpretation.

            Please also expand on your comment on Romans 16.

            If you read Romans 16 is seems to show that there are several congregations in the one city:

            Greet Prisca and Aq’uila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I but also all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks; greet also the church in their house.

            That’s clearly one congregation. But then we read this:

            Greet Asyn’critus, Phlegon, Hermes, Pat’robas, Hermas, and the brethren who are with them.

            That’s apparently a second congregation.

            Greet Philol’ogus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olym’pas, and all the saints who are with them.

            And now a third, presumably. And then Paul says this:

            All the churches of Christ greet you.

            Which rather suggests that he is able to speak for them all – indicating authority over them all. Which is similar to we find in 1 Corinthians:

            As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached?

            This suggests, again that local churches are not independent of each other. Now given the lack of evidence that this unifying polity was abolished, and the other evidence that there was a clear hierarchy handed on by laying on of hands, it is clear that you are not able to claim that churches which have a hierarchy (Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox) have departed from scripture. On the contrary, it has raised questions about whether independent congregations are deviating from scripture. You chose the argument, and the territory.

          • Anton

            Bear in mind that ekklesia simply means ‘gathering’. Those could perfectly well be housegroups under the authority of the council of elders of the church in Rome, with one elder leading each housegroup.

            Feel free to consider that, because I’m not responding to your other points, you have won. If I responded then I’d simply be repeating points that I don’t consider you have falsified (even if you consider it).

            And then Paul says this: All the churches of Christ greet you. Which rather suggests that he is able to speak for them all – indicating authority over them all.

            Which rather contradicts the Catholic view that Peter was the one with universal authority! Can you prove that Romans and Corinthians were written in the interval between Peter’s death and Paul’s death? Can you even prove that Peter died first? And if so then why isn’t Paul regarded as the second Pope by the Roman Catholic church?

          • Albert

            Bear in mind that ekklesia simply means ‘gathering’. Those could perfectly well be housegroups under the authority of the council of elders of the church in Rome, with one elder leading each housegroup.

            I expect that that is the case – the issue is that the elders’s appointments came from the apostles, not the congregations, and there was some overriding structure linking the congregations, so that they are not independent of each other.

            If I responded then I’d simply be repeating points that I don’t consider you have falsified

            To be honest, I do not see that you have said anything in defence of your view that local congregations became independent.

            Which rather contradicts the Catholic view that Peter was the one with universal authority!

            I’m not aware that that is Catholic teaching. I cannot see why it should be, and I can see why it shouldn’t be.

          • Anton

            The original elders’ appointments came from the apostle who founded that church (who is not necessarily one of the apostles of the NT era). Thereafter, as elders die from natural causes or persecution, the elders in a congregation replace the losses by identifying who in that congregation is suited to be co-opted, and a ceremony then takes place in which the elders lay hands on that man, following which is is another elder. But that congregation (including its elders) IS “the church in place X” and no human has spiritual authority over it. Remember that the presbyteroi (elders) are also episkopoi (overseers); I have given the scripture references which establish that. Who shall oversee the overseers, once the founding apostolos is gone forever?

          • Albert

            and no human has spiritual authority over it.

            I was with you until that point (setting aside questions about the meaning of the word apostle in the first sentence). What is the evidence for this claim that no human has spiritual authority over it? The apostle dies and somehow, contrary to the prior arrangement in the days of the apostle, each congregation suddenly becomes independent. How do you know this? It’s no good, talking about the terms of the ministers in the days of the apostle, for it is the period after the apostle that we are discussing. Whatever happened there was some kind of change.

            Now it’s clear that whatever arrangements (if any) Paul left for his churches after his death, we do not know precisely what they were. You simply assume that the apostolic arrangement, in which there was an overarching authority in the form of the apostle himself, simply stopped and the churches became independent. But why think that? What is the evidence?

            It seems implausible to me for the following reasons:

            1. It would change the shape of the churches – but we do not have any evidence for such a shape change.
            2. It would mean that the role of unifier of several churches simply stopped – but why would there be need for that role in the life of the apostle, but not afterwards?
            3. If Paul really wanted the churches to be independent, why does he on several occasions refer to the practices of other congregations? This strongly suggestions the congregations were not to be independent of each other.
            4. Similarly, Paul is clearly moving his appointed people about to trouble shoot problems (e.g. Titus 1.5). So he already has commissioned some authority above the local congregations, who can move from one place to the next. These clearly already have the unifier role and might, to use later language, be said to be above individual parishes.
            5. You say that the apostle had oversight while the congregation was immature. But what of those who were immature when he died? Some kind of other oversight must have been supplied, so even on your model, in the post-apostolic period you have to admit oversight from outside of the congregation, don’t you? Well what was that, and what is your evidence for it?

            Isn’t the most likely thing that after the death of the apostle, that role of oversight of several congregations will have been continued? Silence on it, does not tell us that role suddenly and abruptly stopped. It just reflects the fact that we do not have evidence of that period. It may well be that, in some places, a leader of the elders would have had such an oversight role, with others – Timothy appears to be that, even in Paul’s lifetime (e.g. 1 Tim.5.17-19). It may well be that that was precisely the structure Paul left in place when he died. They are all called “elders” but these offices are clearly fluid, and it is clearly the case, from scripture that some elders (Timothy) have authority over others. It’s clear that this authority has come in succession from Paul himself. I would have thought that point tells strongly in favour of my position, for it is basically the principle on which the Catholic polity rests.

            One thing were I am at a disadvantage here, is that I am unclear exactly what the polity is that you are defending. From what you are saying, would assume only presbyterianism would be acceptable to you. Is that right? For you clearly need laying on of hands to come from somewhere beyond the local Christian community. For the same reason, I don’t really know how you use the words “congregation” and “church”. Do these words apply to each individual group (e.g. each house church – a small group of people?) or does it apply to groups of house churches (i.e. there is an authority over the house churches uniting them)? This unclarity is perhaps causing confusion between us. My ecclesiology is public. What is yours? Perhaps if you explained how it worked from the smallest cell upwards, and also how you think the church today should be structured, it would stop us talking past each other.

          • Anton

            I am unclear exactly what the polity is that you are defending.

            I have expounded that multiple times; using words, moreover, that plenty of people have understood in talks which I have given (as their responses show). Please reread what I have written.

            As to what happened after the NT was (in retrospect) complete, we have in it episkopoi, presbyteroi and apostolos, roles which I have described above many times. If there were to be a category of overseer above multiple congregations, the NT would have a way of distinguishing them from intra-congregation overseers. But there is nothing of the sort, no word such as archepiskopos or anything else. You say “these offices are clearly fluid” but words have definite meanings and describe people with definite functions.

            In presbyterianism multiple congregations are overseen by a higher council. No, that is not acceptable to me. I insist that the NT describes, after a congregation’s founder has passed on, governance of each congregation by an internal council of men, but nobody in spiritual authority over and above that council.

            If the apostolos died abruptly, the congregation he is coaching would presumably know that he had considered it unready for self-governance by an internal council, and would put out feelers as to what to do, to nearby congregations and their elders. The NT does not cover this situation. It isn’t a legalistic document. What is clear is that relations of authority depend on people knowing each other personally. The apostolos gets to know the congregation he has founded; that is how he can decide, at the right time, who is suitable to become an elder. Subsequent elders are raised from inside the congregation, so that they know the people they have authority over and vice-versa. This is not possible with another supracongregational tier of oversight; such persons could not know personally the people in all the congregations they oversee. It then becomes bureaucratic administration, law rather than grace.

            Paul refers to the practices of other congregations as examples.

            I’ll do my best to clarify the housechurch issue. A housechurch is a single congregation that has no premises to meet in (if for example there is persecution). So it meets in houses of its members, for worship, corporate prayer, teaching and communion. Probably each such ‘homegroup’ is led by one member of the council of elders, and there may be some traffic between homegroups. This is not in the NT, of course, and I am not saying it must be so; it is simply what tends to happen where there can be no premises for the entire ekklesia. (Of course, many congregations that do gather in their entirety on Sundays also have midweek homegoups.) In one town there should be one ekklesia unless both the population and the number of Christians is huge; then you can have something like separate ekklesia north and south of the river that runs through the city.

          • Albert

            I have expounded that multiple times; using words, moreover, that plenty of people have understood in talks which I have given (as their responses show). Please reread what I have written.

            But you misquoted the passage, and so I think you misunderstood it (clearly, in fact, because the point you tried to make out of it, cannot be got out of the original passage). I have seen no evidence that you have grasped its meaning.

            As to what happened after the NT was (in retrospect) complete, we have in it episkopoi, presbyteroi and apostolos, roles which I have described above many times.

            No. Apostolos in the sense of Peter or Paul actually dies out.

            If there were to be a category of overseer above multiple congregations, the NT would have a way of distinguishing them from intra-congregation overseers.

            But there is someone who has oversight of multiple congregations: the apostle! The question is what happens next.

            If there were to be a category of overseer above multiple congregations, the NT would have a way of distinguishing them from intra-congregation overseers. But there is nothing of the sort

            I think you are stuck rather legalistically on words, not realities and functions. Timothy, clearly has some kind of seniority over other ministers. So what is he? The words episkopoi and presbyteroi may be interchangeable, but it evident from scripture that not everyone who is called by those terms has the same authority. Timothy at least is senior and made by Paul, whatever Timothy is called.

            I insist that the NT describes, after a congregation’s founder has passed on, governance of each congregation by an internal council of men, but nobody in spiritual authority over and above that council.

            This is the heart of your claim, it seems to me. What is the evidence for it? Where is this description? I keep asking this question, but as far as I can see, all you give is a range of inferences from other text, which need not be accepted (as I keep pointing out).

            the congregation he is coaching would presumably know that he had considered it unready for self-governance by an internal council, and would put out feelers as to what to do, to nearby congregations and their elders.

            Two things here: firstly, who would decide this? There doesn’t seem anyone on your model to decide this. Secondly, it means one congregation is governed by another. You say that this is to do with maturity. What is the evidence for that? Moreover, congregations are not people who become mature and stay mature. Through the demise of good people, a mature congregation can suddenly become immature. What happens then, and where is this concept of mature congregation in the Bible?

            Subsequent elders are raised from inside the congregation, so that they know the people they have authority over and vice-versa.

            Yes, but what is the evidence that the congregation, by themselves can do this? 2 Tim.1.6, rather suggests that it is not the elders of the congregation by themselves that lays hands on, but a minister representing the wider Church: the apostle.

            This is not possible with another supracongregational tier of oversight; such persons could not know personally the people in all the congregations they oversee. It then becomes bureaucratic administration, law rather than grace.

            But on your model (which I cannot see anywhere in scripture), there is no way of dealing a congregation that has become insular, problematic or defective. But Titus is left in Crete precisely to deal with this kind of problem. You’re not saying this kind of defectiveness only happens when the apostles were alive, are you? So given that, in the NT era, it was possible to deal with these problems, what has happened to that remedy once the apostle is dead?

            Paul refers to the practices of other congregations as examples.

            Paul is not suggesting the Corinthian Church might like to do as everyone else. He is saying that they must do as everyone else. The Church is a body that transcends locality, that surely is his point: it points to the universality of the church alongside the locality of it.

            Thank you for your explanation of housechurches as a single congregation. So what you are saying, I think is that a church may, in certain circumstances, be made up of several congregations? So when you say, Subsequent elders are raised from inside the congregation, so that they know the people they have authority over and vice-versa. Do you mean that elders are raised up from the congregation in the housechurch, or the congregation of the church of the town, which is made up of lots of housechurches? In other words, how local is this raising up elders, and where do you find biblical evidence of this going on?

          • Anton

            I am not interested in providing evidence that I correctly understood what Loyola was saying, although my essay on colour would satisfy you; that is not what I used it for.

            An apostolos simply means “someone who is sent” in Greek, and in context it means “sent to start a church”. Such people have never died out. It is eisegesis to speak of the first generation of them as “THE apostles” ie as if they were the only ones. It still goes on today in parts of the world.

            I’m sorry but I’ll take no criticism from you on grounds of legalism.

            This is the heart of your claim, it seems to me. What is the evidence for it?

            Please reread what I have written several times in this thread.

            You asked what happens if an apostolos dies while coaching a congregation and I made suggestions, as the NT is silent. What you have ignored in your response is my comment that the NT is not a legalistic constitution for congregations. It is all about how not to be legalistic. How could you miss this?

            Re your last para, you are again thinking in terms of a formal constitution, committees, procedures etc. Exactly the sort of thing that reduces a lining church to a dead one, and has done in church history.

          • Albert

            am not interested in providing evidence that I correctly understood what Loyola was saying

            Because there is none. You misquoted it, because you didn’t understand it.

            Let’s cut to the chase: there is direct evidence for a hierarchy in the NT (the apostle), and for succession by laying on of hands (e.g. 2 Tim.1.6) and for ministers earning their living from the gospel (1 Cor.9.13-14). But you want to limit these practices, so therefore, I ask:

            Is there direct evidence (i.e. an example or an explicit teaching saying so) for any of these claims:

            1. Congregations became independent once they became mature.
            2. Succession to the eldership, by laying on of hands, came entirely from within the congregation.
            3. Ministers not being allowed to earn their living from the Gospel.

            We can look at the indirect evidence (i.e. inference from other things) afterwards.

          • Anton

            You misquoted it, because you didn’t understand it.

            You have no idea whether I understood it or not and are guessing. I understood it and I have written an essay, several years ago, about the physics and perception of colour (including black and white). I abbreviated the quote and in the process slightly changed its meaning because that was peripheral to the point I was making regarding your blind (which is an appropriate word) loyalty to Rome. I have now said that several times, and it suits me well if readers wish to verify your repeated refusal to take the point.

            I am not going to have my discussion of the hierarchy question artificially limited by your categories (direct or indirect evidence), or your refusal to look at the meaning of words (apostolos) as they appear in the NT rather than through a thousand years of hierarchical church history, or your avoiding the absence of any word in the NT for someone overseeing the overseers, or your avoidance of my point that NT churches are a band of brothers in which the leaders know their flock personally – impossible if there is a higher tier.

          • Albert

            The quote you gave was absurd on its own terms. The real quote is not absurd, but expresses a truth, which given a different authority, you would accept.

            peripheral to the point I was making regarding your blind (which is an appropriate word) loyalty to Rome. I have now said that several times, and it suits me well if readers wish to verify your repeated refusal to take the point.

            But I have already shown that that is mere prejudice. If Rome told me black was white, I would not accept it. I’ve said that already. So what is the point you are making?

            The distinction between direct and indirect evidence was yours. I simply used it. The reality is that there is direct evidence showing churches are not independent of each other, but rather subordinate to an apostle. You claim that at some point they do become independent of each other. If you could provide direct evidence of that, you would.

            The problem, of your position is that assumptions drawn from your philosophy of language are wrong. The meaning of words is not something you can draw simply of etymology or some other fixed use. The meaning of words is dependent on use and context. So, the word “apostle”. You say it comes from to send out, and therefore missionaries are apostles. I agree – we use the word that way too. But you then fix this word so that it does not have other meanings, which scripture shows it does have from the context.

            There is clearly a group, that to belong to, you needed to see the risen Christ, that is to say to be part of this group, you needed to receive the faith from Christ. These we call apostles too, and even here there is some distinction: Acts.1.22-25, it is the burden of much of the letter to the Galatians, and we find the same idea in 1 Cor. 9 & 15. In this sense, an evangelist is not an apostle (so Ephesians 4.11). On the other hand, sometimes the word “apostle” is used in such a weak way that it doesn’t even appear in translation (e.g. 2 Corinthians 8.23). So you can’t try to make up for the lack of direct evidence by fixing the terminology, when scripture’s use of terminology is fluid and uses the same word to refer to more than one office.

            And this applies also to presbyters and elders. You want to make those two terms have the same referent. This may be correct, but it does not follow that this office was “flat” – there is a clear seniority within it as Timothy shows (1 Tim.5.17-19 assuming Timothy is an elder, if he isn’t then your point fails anyway). Thus the fact that you cannot find a word for this difference, does not mean that there was no seniority – scripture shows that there was. The lack of word for it, as recording in scripture, does not prove it wasn’t happening. Scripture shows it was. Moreover, the bewildering amount of travelling Timothy did, shows he was not a local pastor, but a universal one.

            Now when Paul died, is it not most likely that Timothy, simply continued this role – a senior pastor with authority over more than one place? You agree that Paul does not tell us what arrangements he is making for all his churches when he dies. Do we not have evidence, that he is simply dealing with succession management in the way he uses him and that Timothy takes on this role as Paul has trained him?

            So we have evidence, that there was a hierarchy, that this hierarchy was passed on by the laying on of hands, and that this passed on hierarchy had authority in more than one place, and over other people whose position may have had the same title as his. Against this, what evidence can you provide for your position?

            Now you started this by saying that the hierarchical structure is a deviation from scripture. I put it to you, that the very least that can be said, is that your position is uncertain. And that’s ironic, because I don’t believe in sola scriptura – and yet I can argue my case purely on scripture, with direct evidence, to counter all of your indirected evidence. Given the lack of clarity in scripture that your position requires, it’s pretty hard to see how you can hold both your ecclesiology to be true and your position on sola scriptura and the perspicuity of scripture also to be true.

          • Anton

            Watch me.

            Words have meanings. And all that 1 Tim 5 shows is that different elders may have different roles.

          • Albert

            Whatever Timothy’s office is called, he is evidently above the elders – a position he presumably retained when Paul died.

            Now where is your concept of mature congregation found in the NT, and what is your evidence that such congregations were independent?

          • Anton

            Concept of mature congregation? That was left to the judgement of the founding apostle. Get beyond those legalistic blinkers; the NT is not a rulebook! Evidence that they were independent – presented multiple times in this thread above, please reread.

          • Albert

            Concept of mature congregation? That was left to the judgement of the founding apostle.

            I’m asking for evidence that this concept existed in such a way that the congregations became independent.

            As for evidence that they were independent – I’ve presented that multiple times in this thread above, please reread.

            I can see nothing directly stating that. All of your inferences, I believe I have answered. Scripture plainly shows the NT churches to be hierarchical. You provide no direct evidence that that changed. Your indirect evidence is either open enough to be consistent with a hierarchical church continuing or is contrary to how scripture uses words. This is the authority you chose to condemn others.

            Do get beyond those legalistic blinkers – the NT is not a rulebook!

            And yet you started by condemning those who deviate from it! Moreover, you keep fixing language in ways that are contrary to the way scripture uses the words. That is legalism.

          • Anton

            That would not be legalism but error. And I disagree, obviously – or else I would not have written what I did. We disagree also that you have answered (in the sense of rebutted) my exegeses and contextual comments regarding hierarchy, and also regarding what happened when a congregation was spiritually mature.

          • Albert

            I think your position is legalism and error, actually.

            We disagree also that you have answered (in the sense of rebutted) my exegeses and contextual comments regarding hierarchy

            Certainly, but I cannot see where you have defended your position except for where you have repeated positions that my position already excludes (if correct).

            and also regarding what happened when a congregation was spiritually mature.

            I do not think I disagree with your argument here, because I do not think you have given an argument for it.

            Why not just give me a quick summary, of your evidence for the claim that when Church became mature they became independent?

          • Anton

            Because I already have. Please reread what I’ve written above.

          • Albert

            I don’t think you have. I think you are just evading the problem you face. Why not just put it here again, briefly? I can repeat my position in this way.

          • Anton

            I don’t believe I face any problem, at least in convincing impartial readers. I have no reason to suppose that you will take my points any better for repeating them yet again.

          • Albert

            So we seem to have reached the point where you give up. This is how it started:

            You made some snide comment about Churches, such as mine, that you say, deviate from scripture. On each of the points that you initially claimed about that, it has been possible to find examples of what the hierarchical churches do.

            You claim that you have answered all that by saying things changed, but I don’t think you have said anything that has not been answered by me. Along the way, you have misquoted things, and ignorantly attributed to me things I do not believe.

            And so we reach a different position from where we started: you will claim what you claimed before: communities such as mine, deviate from scripture. But on the strength of your showing here, I am now making a claim I didn’t make before: communities such as yours deviate from scripture.

            I add to that, that because of the sheer difficulty of assessing your position (not least, your failure to restate it simply (as I have done, with my own position, repeatedly), for me to see if there is anything I have not addressed) that your ecclesiology, if true, provides yet more evidence that sola scriptura and the perspicuity of scripture are not true.

          • Anton

            I have indeed given up on trying to convince you, because I unhappily consider that even decisive evidence would not sway you from any position held by the Roman Catholic church (which does not merely add to scripture but adds claims that are inconsistent with it – a comment I mean as fact, for snideyness may be in the eye of the beholder). That is a great shame, but at least we share faith in Jesus Christ.

          • Albert

            I unhappily consider that even decisive evidence would not sway you from any position held by the Roman Catholic church (which does not merely add to scripture but adds claims that are inconsistent with it – a comment I mean as fact, for snideyness may be in the eye of the beholder).

            Can you not see the paradox here? I have argued on scripture alone (except for one point, I didn’t push about the post biblical world reflecting the world I believe is found in scripture). But as a Catholic, I do not need to argue on scripture alone. I do not need to prove my point there, so what you say here is untrue. You need to prove your point from scripture, I do not. I can simply give up the argument, shrug my shoulders and either say legitimate developments came later, or that I am not knowledgeable enough about scripture to defend it. So you’re quite wrong, about decisive evidence. I could accept decisive evidence that our pattern was not there, and still be a Catholic.

            the Roman Catholic church (which does not merely add to scripture but adds claims that are inconsistent with it – a comment I mean as fact, for snideyness may be in the eye of the beholder)

            I fully accept that we do not get all our certainty about the things we believe from scripture alone. But I do disagree about the inconsistency stuff. I add that, after years of study of scripture, most of which took place in the CofE under Protestant teachers, I simply cannot see how Protestantism can claim biblical foundations. I know that’s what its ministers say, but I think these discussions show how hard it is to defend Protestantism (especially the sola scriptura stuff) by the standard of scripture. Besides, most of the time, one can sit back and let Protestants argue with each other, thereby, challenging their beliefs about the perspicuity of scripture.

            That is a great shame, but at least we share faith in Jesus Christ.

            This is true, and it is at least fun arguing! And good to be forced to keep so much scripture at the forefront of one’s mind!

          • Anton

            Al his stuff about “needing” to prove one’s point begs the question of who feels the need, and to whom, and whether it is possible in terms of the “recipient’s” susceptibility to reasoned argument.

            Catholics argue with each other too! As for unity, it is unity in Christ that matters, as brought by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4). I take the disunity between hierarchies – Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic (that’s a split that predates the Reformation by five centuries), various protestant denominations – as God’s way of telling us that hierarchy is not his way. I suspect that one day persecution will lop off the careerist hierarchies and then there will be just Christians, no longer Orthodox, Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists etc.

          • Albert

            I’m not making a psychological point, when I speak of needing to prove, I am taking about what might be necessary for a position to be coherent or justified.

            Now several times you have questioned my capacity to recognise a reasonable argument when it comes across. Does it never occur to you, that I might have the same view of you? Doubtless you will appeal ad populum for that, but who knows? and why does that matter anyway.

            Now of course, Catholics argue too, but if you say scripture is sufficient and clear, and then disagree about key things, you give the impression that scripture isn’t clear and sufficient.

            I suspect that one day persecution will lop off the careerist hierarchies and then there will be just Christians, no longer Orthodox, Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists etc.

            I think to suggest people in our hierarchies are careerists is very uncharitable. I would observe that ambition blights all structures, and flatter more local ones, often have the worst problems because there is no external authority to challenge things when things start to go wrong. But I would say that the “careerist hierarchies” have experienced longer and probably more serious persecution than the more recent structures, and have shown great sticking power.

          • Anton

            Does it never occur to you, that I might have the same view of you? Doubtless you will appeal ad populum for that

            Of course the possibility has occurred to me. But it isn’t my business.

            I think to suggest people in our hierarchies are careerists is very uncharitable.

            It varies with time and place but I have grave reservations about, for instance, the 18th century Anglican episcopacy and the Popes of the Pornocracy and the Renaissance. As for the value of higher oversight, the proportion of Catholic paedophile priests is thankfully small but the proportion of bishops who covered it up, among bishops in whose dioceses it is known to have gone on, appears to be 100%. So the pattern is not challenge, which you assert hierarchical oversight would provide, but the opposite, ie cover-up. I find no reason to suppose it would be much different in other hierarchies.

          • Albert

            Catholic paedophile priests is thankfully small but the proportion of bishops who covered it up, among bishops in whose dioceses it is known to have gone on, appears to be 100%

            If you really believe that, then you are not just uncharitable, but also gullible. Actually, the number of paedophile priests was tiny – far smaller than the population, unfortunately, the problem of priests with temptations for teenage boys was higher, but not higher than in the population as a whole and not higher than similar institutions.

            Now as for the bishops, if you actually do some research, rather than just relying on the media, you will find out that whereas there are some egregious examples of bishops covering it up, most fall into three categories:

            1. Those who followed the advice of the time – which turned out to be wrong.
            2. Those who dealt with it properly.
            3. Those who simply did not know that a particular priest was abusing.

            It turns out that most of the cases were in category 3. So whereas every time you hear of an abusing priest decades ago, you might uncharitably assume the bishop covered it up, the most likely thing is that he did not know.

            Now as for your proposed system, there is no one above the congregation to appeal to in these cases. And given that the desire to defend an institution is a risk in every institution, and given that smaller independent communities are more likely to be insular (my experience of congregations like yours, which is limited, is that they often end falling foul of strong personalities) which of these two systems is most likely to prevent abuse?

            There’s so much anti-Catholic prejudice and judgements based on that prejudice in your posts that I do not think you can have rationally justified opinion on most of these matters.

          • Anton

            There’s so much anti-Catholic prejudice and judgements based on that prejudice in your posts that I do not think you can have rationally justified opinion on most of these matters.

            How convenient for you. I took the trouble to say that I thought other hierarchies would not perform any better. Again your mindless loyalty is showing. It is “my church right or wrong” when it should be “My Lord right or wrong, and I know he is never wrong.” But the church can be wrong. Any church. In this case, your church.

            I also made no comment about the relative proportions of paedophiles in the general population and in the Catholic priesthood within Western-style nations. As you have chosen to bring up the subject by insisting that the latter proportion is smaller, please cite the statistics and state how they were come by. Is it not the case that Catholic priestly celibacy is likely to attract a profile of person that gains sexual gratification in other ways? As to whether it has done so, read the book “Goodbye Good Men” by Michael Rose, a traditionalist Catholic in the USA.

            Paedophilia is a criminal offence, so “dealing with it properly” means informing the civil authorities. Christians are meant to obey the law (apart from regulations such as emperor-worship). How often were they informed, rather than the bishop simply shuffling the offending priest off to another parish to do it again, or to a job without pastoral duties?

            I have looked at the Murphy Commission report in Ireland (available online) and this website for the USA:

            http://www.bishop-accountability.org

            Those sources are based on public-domain information, much of it deriving from court cases.

            Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, the head of the Congregation for Clergy, based in Rome, wrote a letter on September 8th, 2001 to Bishop Pican of Bayeux commending him for refusing to inform French police of a paedophile priest and even giving parish work to him. (“I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration. You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history… preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest.”) These facts emerged after the priest in question had been sentenced to 18 years in jail; the bishop received 3 months suspended for failing to report him. Hoyos has since stated (in a talk on April 16th, 2010 at the Catholic university in Murcia, Spain) that when Pope John Paul II read Hoyos’ letter congratulating the bishop of Bayeux, he authorised Hoyos to copy it to all bishops: clear papal encouragement to defy national criminal law and deny justice to victims.

            And you say that this is the better system. You need to clean out the Augean stables.

          • Albert

            Hang on a minute, this was your claim:

            As for the value of higher oversight, the proportion of Catholic paedophile priests is thankfully small but the proportion of bishops who covered it up, among bishops in whose dioceses it is known to have gone on, appears to be 100%.

            This is factually false – you have swallowed prejudices, and fallen away from evidence. So I do not see that you can make the following claim:

            I took the trouble to say that I thought other hierarchies would not perform any better. Again your mindless loyalty is showing. It is “my church right or wrong” when it should be “My Lord right or wrong, and I know he is never wrong.” But the church can be wrong. Any church. In this case, your church.

            My church right or wrong – is another prejudice you hold. I have repeatedly denied it, but you don’t hear that, because it does not conform to your prejudices. The Church is only always right in a very small number of cases, and only on things which have nothing to do with policy. In those cases, it is not the Church who is guaranteeing the outcome, but Christ. Thus my position is no different from yours, except that I see Christ operating like that in the Church on rare occasions. You really need to understand infallibility.

            I also made no comment about the relative proportions of paedophiles in the general population and in the Catholic priesthood within Western-style nations. As you have chosen to bring up the subject by insisting that the latter proportion is smaller, please cite the statistics and state how they were come by.

            There’s plenty of evidence. It’s all in the John Jay report.

            Is it not the case that Catholic priestly celibacy is likely to attract a profile of person that gains sexual gratification in other ways?

            Possibly, but given that most abuse goes on in the home, you would also have to say that a married ministry has the opposite effect.

            Paedophilia is a criminal offence, so “dealing with it properly” means informing the civil authorities.

            That does not follow, and as it happens wasn’t the law on this matter. But none of this supports your claim that the proportion of bishops who covered it up, among bishops in whose dioceses it is known to have gone on, appears to be 100%.

            I find your reading curious. You seem to spend a lot of time reading things with the design of trying to show the Catholic Church is bad. Of course it is bad, it is full of sinners – the clergy as much as everyone else. Why you seem to have such a fascination with finding out own sins is anyone’s guess. But nothing in Catholicism requires me to believe that hierarchy will act wisely or well in any situation, I simply point out that it provides an extra layer of oversight – similar to that exercised by St Paul in the scriptures, that your congregations do not have.

          • Anton

            When you are in a hole, stop digging – but if you don’t wish to, that’s OK with me.

            I have taken the trouble to inform myself about the sins of the Roman Catholic church mainly because I found the standard of argumentation online where Catholics and protestants disputed to be low, and so I decided to work up my own knowledge from Catholic sources and, re Catholic church history, the better contemporary sources. Not much of my time is taken up with this.

            My church right or wrong – is another prejudice you hold. I have repeatedly denied it, but you don’t hear that, because it does not conform to your prejudices.

            I hear it. I deny it. Let readers decide for themselves. It’s fine by me.

            And if you name ONE bishop who went to the police, which they are now being advised to do by the Vatican, that falsifies everything I have said on the topic? Pull the other one.

            I wrote: “Paedophilia is a criminal offence, so “dealing with it properly” means informing the civil authorities.” You replied: That does not follow, and as it happens wasn’t the law on this matter.

            We are talking about an organisation that claims to uphold moral righteousness in the world. It has a duty to expose and expel its miscreants, not cover them up.
            Tell me, what concern did Rome EVER show to the victims of those paedophile priests before it was forced to by public exposure?

          • Albert

            I have taken the trouble to inform myself about the sins of the Roman Catholic church mainly because I found the standard of argumentation online where Catholics and protestants disputed to be low, and so I decided to work up my own knowledge from Catholic sources and, re Catholic church history, the better contemporary sources. Not much of my time is taken up with this.

            Well, it looks to me that you do this because you cannot defend your positions sola scriptura. The fact that your argument on this began (as usual) with an unsubstantiated error of fact (the 100% figure followed by serial misunderstandings of the magisterium (which I corrected several time in our discussion of Loyola), suggests you have the same problems here.

            I hear it. I deny it. Let readers decide for themselves. It’s fine by me.

            Well that’s just stupid and offensive. It shows how hard you find it to correct your prejudices. I have no problem condemning bishops who have been negligent in matters of child abuse. Obviously, I don’t know how far up that negligence goes, but I certainly think the hierarchy was wrong in failing to deal with it sooner. I’ve said these things so often, but you don’t hear evidence, partly because you don’t seem to get the distinction between the Church and the hierarchy.

            At the same time, you keep ignoring the problems with your own congregations. So let me give some evidence here. From the John Joy report:

            The Southern Baptist church represents the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.94 The Baptists gained attention in 2008 because of their failure to implement a “pedophile” database to keep track of accusations of abuse against ministers and church officials. Time magazine labeled this inaction as one of the top ten underreported news stories in 2008, and stated that “while the headlines regarding churches and pedophilia remain largely focused
            on Catholic parishes, the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse.”9

            You see that? the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards This was still a problem in 2008!! This cannot be understood in the context of a different culture, in which sex with minors was regarded sin by the adult, that the child would forget.

            Now will you stop throwing stones at your glass house? Why have you not checked this evidence before attacking us? We are under attack by you, because we have the better structure for recording and dealing with the problem and therefore the evidence is easier to find.

            Even before people started worrying about child abuse 14% of cases were reported to the police (who typically did nothing – the culture was just different). This alone falsifies your ignorant claim. Instead, a range of other treatments were followed, which were recommended and believed to work. They didn’t. All that was wrong, I deeply regret that. But if you wish to make something against the Catholic Church, and it be evidence based, you need to show how the Catholic Church was so much worse. But the aforementioned quote shows that is not possible, because you did not have the structure even to record the problems, let alone deal with them.

            And that is something I have said all along. Your argument against hierarchy fails here too – the evidence is against you.

          • Anton

            it looks to me that you do this because you cannot defend your positions sola scriptura.

            I have told you why I educated myself about the Church of Rome, although viewed through Catholic blinkers it might look as you describe.

            I wrote: “I hear it. I deny it. Let readers decide for themselves. It’s fine by me.” You replied: Well that’s just stupid and offensive. It shows how hard you find it to correct your prejudices.

            If you are as happy as I am for readers to decide that for themselves from what we have written then this part of our discussion has reached a natural stopping point.

            I have no problem condemning bishops who have been negligent in matters of child abuse. Obviously, I don’t know how far up that negligence goes, but I certainly think the hierarchy was wrong in failing to deal with it sooner.

            Then you presumably condemn Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, the head of the Congregation for Clergy based in Rome, who wrote a letter on September 8th, 2001 to Bishop Pican of Bayeux actually commending him for refusing to inform French police of a paedophile priest? And you condemn John Paul II for authorising Hoyos to copy it to all bishops, thereby giving clear papal encouragement to deny justice to victims? That’s good.

            At the same time, you keep ignoring the problems with your own congregations. So let me give some evidence here. From the John Joy report: The Southern Baptist church represents the nation’s largest Protestant denomination…

            But I’m not a Southern Baptist!

            if you wish to make something against the Catholic Church, and it be evidence based, you need to show how the Catholic Church was so much worse. But the aforementioned quote shows that is not possible…

            Please see the aforementioned quotes from Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos.

          • Albert

            I have told you why I educated myself about the Church of Rome, although viewed through Catholic blinkers it might look as you describe.

            Or maybe the problem is that you view scripture through Protestant blinkers? Did that never occur to you? Scripture warns us all of this. Why would it not occur to you that what scripture says might apply to you?

            If you are as happy as I am for readers to decide that for themselves from what we have written then this part of our discussion has reached a natural stopping point.

            I am most certainly happy for readers to decide for themselves whether you, a Protestant, know better than I do, what I believe – especially, given the litany of errors of fact in this thread which you have made about Catholic teaching.

            Then you presumably condemn Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, the head of the Congregation for Clergy based in Rome, who wrote a letter on September 8th, 2001 to Bishop Pican of Bayeux actually commending him for refusing to inform French police of a paedophile priest?

            I most certainly condemn that, assuming the story is as you say (as I think it is). I didn’t need you tell me the problems associated with that Cardinal – I knew and condemned this before – if I had the time, I could probably find on the internet, where.

            And you condemn John Paul II for authorising Hoyos to copy it to all bishops, thereby giving clear papal encouragement to deny justice to victims? That’s good.

            That part is more obscure, but if he did that, then yes, of course.

            But I’m not a Southern Baptist!

            Read the whole quote:

            while the headlines regarding churches and pedophilia remain largely focused on Catholic parishes, the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse.

            Now this most certainly applies to your kind of structure, since the wrong kind of structure is precisely the one you have been defending in this thread: the lack of hierarchical structure. Not only have you been defending this, per se, but you have been suggesting the hierarchical structure is part of the problem. Well of course it’s part of the problem, but the evidence suggests that, compared with the structure you propose, it is part of the solution.

            Please see the aforementioned quotes from Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos.

            You can’t draw a conclusion from only one example – even from multiple examples. You need all the evidence – and that is what we find in the John Jay Report. Let me give you the quote again, since you evidently didn’t read it the first time:

            The Southern Baptist church represents the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. The Baptists gained attention in 2008 because of their failure to implement a “pedophile” database to keep track of accusations of abuse against ministers and church officials. Time magazine labeled this inaction as one of the top ten underreported news stories in 2008, and stated that “while the headlines regarding churches and pedophilia remain largely focused
            on Catholic parishes, the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse.

          • Anton

            Or maybe the problem is that you view scripture through Protestant blinkers? Did that never occur to you?

            I think of myself ultimately as a “Bible Christian” rather than a “protestant” – just like the many persons coming to Christ in remote parts of China who rightly regard Catholic, protestant (and Orthodox) merely as terms in European church history.

            I am most certainly happy for readers to decide for themselves whether you, a Protestant, know better than I do, what I believe

            I nowhere did that; I am making my comments based on what you have freely said you believe.

            I wrote: “But I’m not a Southern Baptist!” You replied: Read the whole quote: while the headlines regarding churches and pedophilia remain largely focused on Catholic parishes, the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse.

            You need to stop thinking in hierarchies. One of the many reasons I am glad to be in a congregation constituted on the scriptural model I have described is that it has no blood on its hands, no record of child abuse among its leaders, no cover-up of such disgraces.

            You recently asked me above if I was “giving up” on the exegesis of the scriptural model of church polity in our dialogue and I incorrectly said Yes. My more accurate answer is: please read again what I have written above. Others have had no difficulty in understanding it. I do regret that I am unable to make it any clearer.

          • Albert

            I think of myself ultimately as a “Bible Christian” rather than a “protestant”

            Fine, but in the end, we all interpret scripture from a position, and that position has been given to us by some kind of tradition. For both of us, that tradition is firstly, Western. Then, yours is Protestant tradition. It leads you to read the Bible in one way. Mine is Catholic tradition – it leads me to interpret the Bible in another way. There’s a degree to which all people have some kind of blinkers on that they can’t take off. But I would say that I am familiar with doing both. I lost the Protestant blinkers because Protestantism didn’t actually seem to work.

            I nowhere did that; I am making my comments based on what you have freely said you believe.

            This was the exchange:

            I said: My church right or wrong – is another prejudice you hold. I have repeatedly denied it, but you don’t hear that, because it does not conform to your prejudices.

            And you replied: I hear it. I deny it. Let readers decide for themselves. It’s fine by me.

            Please explain what you mean here.

            You need to stop thinking in hierarchies.

            What even when the report says lack of hierarchy is part of the problem?

            One of the many reasons I am glad to be in a congregation constituted on the scriptural model

            But it isn’t the scriptural model as far as I read scripture.

            I have described is that it has no blood on its hands, no record of child abuse among its leaders, no cover-up of such disgraces.

            In my local parish there is none of that as well. Compare your tiny congregation with the Catholic Church. In the world, only China is larger than we are. We are involved throughout the world. To give an example of the depth of care, the Catholic Church provides a quarter of the world’s AIDS health care (despite our size, this is disproportionately large). In Sub-Saharan Africa, we provide 12 million school places. We have nearly a million and a half, clergy and religious (monks and nuns). Obviously, with more people, and longer history, more involvement, we will have larger amounts of wickedness. So tell me, how many people are in your congregation on a Sunday? Let’s compare it my congregation, where I go on Sunday.

            My more accurate answer is: please read again what I have written above. Others have had no difficulty in understanding it. I do regret that I am unable to make it any clearer.

            Well, this is what happens with you. You make an argument. I believe I answer it, and you don’t come back and say how my answer fails. You simply refer to what you have already said. But that’s what I think I’ve answered. My position is clear, it is public (because we have a public Catechism), and I set out my claims repeatedly. I do not hide anything. If there is unclarity in what I have said or the someone’s understanding of Catholicism, I clarify. So I find your unwillingness to repeat or clarify when I think I have answered you, looks like evasion. Do you see the problem?

          • Anton

            So I find your unwillingness to repeat or clarify when I think I have answered you, looks like evasion. Do you see the problem?

            Looks to whom like evasion? I am going by the fact that multiple others who are not totally committed to Roman inerrancy, and who do not necessarily agree with me, readily grasp what I say.

            I have nothing but good to say about social work done worldwide by Catholics. I don’t think it should be a church-organised activity though; rather, activity done by people who are Catholics, or protestants, or other Christians.

            You want to play “my congregation is bigger than yours”? I grew out of that sort of game in the communal showers after school sports.

            What I meant by “stop thinking in hierarchies” is that you attempt to stick the sins of the Southern Baptists on me although I am not a Southern Baptist, simply because you regard my congregation and the Southern Baptists as protestants, by which you presumably mean not Catholic or Orthodox. Again, I’m not playing your game.

            in the end, we all interpret scripture from a position, and that position has been given to us by some kind of tradition. For both of us, that tradition is firstly, Western. Then, yours is Protestant tradition. It leads you to read the Bible in one way. Mine is Catholic tradition – it leads me to interpret the Bible in another way.

            Is that really true? The question of ‘interpretation’ enters only when the meaning of verses is not obvious, and that is the exception rather than the rule in the Bible, for God intended his words to be understood by the common folk, rather than by professional philosophers and today university scholars. Most of the difficulties are resolved by better knowledge of the culture of the Ancient Near East in general and Judaism in particular. Notably, the Law of Moses was designed by God to be understood by everybody in a predominantly agrarian culture. Otherwise it would be unfair of Him to require people to conform to it.

            Before you retort, “So why is there so much division among protestants about interpretations?”, my answer is twofold: (1) the different interpretations are simply excuses to hang personal fallings-out upon, and the real problem is not enough love (a problem as bad in Roman Catholicism, I believe); (2) the disagreements lead to differing denominations when a hierarchy divides into two over such an issue, and – yet again – such hierarchies are unscriptural. I consider that the absurd divisions into multiple hierarchies – which began in 1054 with Rome and Orthodoxy – is God telling us that hierarchy is not His way.

            According to your position the Papal States should have been heaven on earth – everybody baptised, all Catholic churchgoers, the Pope as king. That is not the view taken by their people when they were offered an alternative in the 19th century, is it? Civil rights there were a disgrace compared to many European countries.

          • Albert

            I am going by the fact that multiple others who are not totally committed to Roman inerrancy, and who do not necessarily agree with me, readily grasp what I say.

            The issue is not whether you or others grasp what you say. The issue is whether you and others grasp the arguments against you. Here are some cases in point:

            You want to play “my congregation is bigger than yours”? I grew out of that sort of game in the communal showers after school sports.

            But that wasn’t the point I was making. What I said was:

            In my local parish there is none of that as well. Compare your tiny congregation with the Catholic Church…We have nearly a million and a half, clergy and religious (monks and nuns). Obviously, with more people, and longer history, more involvement, we will have larger amounts of wickedness.

            So to make a comparison between your community and mine, we need to compare at similar scales. So you missed this point.

            What I meant by “stop thinking in hierarchies” is that you attempt to stick the sins of the Southern Baptists on me although I am not a Southern Baptist, simply because you regard my congregation and the Southern Baptists as protestants

            But that is not the point that I made. The point that I made was: the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse. The point was not about Protestant, but the lack of hierarchy being the problem. I must have quoted that line at least three times and given that argument at least three time. So this is a second point you missed.

            Is that really true? The question of ‘interpretation’ enters only when the meaning of verses is not obvious

            But you’ve just missed two arguments, in plain English. So this point isn’t correct.

            and that is the exception rather than the rule in the Bible

            That depends on how close you think the full meaning of scripture is to its surface meaning. Scripture suggests greater depth.

            Your explanation of divisions between Protestants is harsh. I think Protestants disagree because they sincerely disagree.

            I consider that the absurd divisions into multiple hierarchies – which began in 1054 with Rome and Orthodoxy

            Oh no. They are much earlier than that…!

            According to your position the Papal States should have been heaven on earth – everybody baptised, all Catholic churchgoers, the Pope as king.

            Really? Where have I said that?

            Civil rights there were a disgrace compared to many European countries.

            Civil rights is a complicated issue. Take an enemy of Catholicism, writing at that time: JS Mill. He write On Liberty because he is concerned that in the coming democracy, the majority will simply push around the minority. Certainly, I think the Vatican’s response to politics of that time was wrong. But it was a prudential misjudgement, and one for which, at the time, there was good reason.

          • Anton

            I replied: “You want to play “my congregation is bigger than yours”? I grew out of that sort of game in the communal showers after school sports.” You responded: But that wasn’t the point I was making. What I said was [partial quote from a preceding post]. So to make a comparison between your community and mine, we need to compare at similar scales. So you missed this point.

            You failed to quote these further words of yours: So tell me, how many people are in your congregation on a Sunday? Let’s compare it my congregation, where I go on Sunday. Am I seriously expected to believe that that wasn’t an attempt at “My congregation is bigger than yours”?

            As for the abuse records, I am going, as does everybody except you it seems, by allegations of abuse that come to the attention of the civil authorities. It is then easy to collate what denomination is involved and do the sums.

            I wrote: “The question of ‘interpretation’ enters only when the meaning of verses is not obvious”. you replied: But you’ve just missed two arguments, in plain English. So this point isn’t correct…. That depends on how close you think the full meaning of scripture is to its surface meaning. Scripture suggests greater depth.”

            Well, yes and no. The Law of Moses is a legal code and therefore designed for agriculturalists to understand every word. Now, it is true that by looking at it against ancient manmade codes such as Hammurabic and Roman law you can learn about God’s priorities compared to man’s: an exquisite balance of justice and mercy, an emphasis on upholding relationships and less on materialism, and no cruelty for its own sake in the punishments, only deterrence. But nobody needs to know those things for salvation, and salvation is what the Bible is about; if you try to make it a textbook of law, or philosophy, or science, or anything else, it would be as long as the Jews have made the Talmud (for instance), and inevitably become gnostic because few people have the time and capacity to learn that much stuff.

            I wrote: “According to your position the Papal States should have been heaven on earth – everybody baptised, all Catholic churchgoers, the Pope as king.” You replied: Really? Where have I said that?

            Where did I say you had said that? I am saying that it follows from your position. As for civil rights being complex: not when you don’t have them they aren’t.

          • Albert

            Am I seriously expected to believe that that wasn’t an attempt at “My congregation is bigger than yours”?

            Yes, and you clearly aren’t understanding the argument. Why would I put all the argument in first and then just say “My congregation’s bigger than yours, therefore…”? That would make no sense. Your claim is that your congregation is free of such things. So is the congregation where I worship. Unless your congregation is actually much bigger than mine, the fact that your congregation is free of such things tells us nothing compared with my local parish.

            I’ve been regularly involved in about 8 different parishes, 3 Catholic, 5 Anglican, in my life. As far as I am aware, none of these problems has occurred in any of them. So in order to make a comparison, we would need to scale up your kind of congregation to the size of both international communions to get a sense of how clear of these problems your type of church is. Or to put the matter another way, levels of child abuse are thankfully, sufficiently low that it is very unlikely that it will have occurred in the particular congregation of which one is a part. The fact therefore that your congregation does not have this kind of problem is not evidence, that you congregation is less at risk. Do you not see that your position is naive and puts children in your care at risk?

            As for the abuse records, I am going, as does everybody except you it seems, by allegations of abuse that come to the attention of the civil authorities. It is then easy to collate what denomination is involved and do the sums.

            And where are these records, what do they say? Besides, you’re still missing the point – the report itself said lack of hierarchy was a problem, not only in discipline, but also in record keeping, and that the latter was making it difficult for survivors to know what was going on, and for other interested parties to track the problem.

            Now regarding scripture. I don’t agree that the surface meaning is always clear and I don’t accept the downgrading of the more profound elements of scripture. As for what is necessary for salvation, it depends on what you mean. If you mean, is scripture clear that Jesus is your saviour, then yes it is clear. If you mean, is scripture clear on the Trinity or incarnation, let alone ecclesiology, sacraments, justification, canon of scripture, proper mode of interpretation etc. then no, scripture is not clear.

            As for civil rights being complex: not when you don’t have them they aren’t.

            On the contrary. Guy Fawkes didn’t have civil rights, but then he was hardly a believer in them either.

            Where did I say you had said that? I am saying that it follows from your position.

            That might be what you mean. It’s not what you said. And what you mean is wrong. No one who understands Catholic ecclesiology would believe the point you mean. And that of course is the whole of this latest round of argument: it’s not whether you (or others, or me) understand what you say, but whether you understand the arguments against you. This post is just further evidence that you don’t.

          • Anton

            I wrote: “Am I seriously expected to believe that that wasn’t an attempt at “My congregation is bigger than yours”?” you replied: Yes, and you clearly aren’t understanding the argument.

            I’m think I’m understanding it alright. You talk about the Roman Catholic hierarchy when it suits and congregation level when it suits. The point is that you have chosen to place yourself under a system that only admitted its sins of paedophilia when those sins were called by the world, and which has engaged in a huge amount of covering up. I would feel sullied if I were in such a system, although I am not you.

            Do you not see that your position is naive and puts children in your care a t risk?

            Have you NO sense of irony?

            I wrote: “As for the abuse records, I am going, as does everybody except you it seems, by allegations of abuse that come to the attention of the civil authorities. It is then easy to collate what denomination is involved and do the sums.” You replied: “And where are these records, what do they say?”

            Please see the references I have already given above: The Murphy Report in Ireland, the Cloyne report in part of Ireland, the Adriaenssens report in Belgium, and http://www.bishop-accountability.org in the USA.

          • Albert

            You talk about the Roman Catholic hierarchy when it suits and congregation level when it suits.

            Obviously, when we are trying to make some kind of comparison, it’s no good talking about hierarchy, since you don’t have one.

            The point is that you have chosen to place yourself under a system that only admitted its sins of paedophilia when those sins were called by the world, and which has engaged in a huge amount of covering up. I would feel sullied if I were in such a system, although I am not you.

            All human systems have been sullied in this way. Your congregation may have been clear. But then again so is mine (and all those I’ve ever been in). So this tells us nothing. Had there been abuse in one the congregations I attended, would it have been properly addressed in the past? Quite possibly not. Would it have been addressed in a way that seemed right to experts at the time? Hopefully. Would your congregation have been any better? The evidence is not.

            Have you NO sense of irony?

            Do you think that children are not at risk in your congregation?

            Please see the references I have already given above: The Murphy Report in Ireland, the Cloyne report in part of Ireland, the Adriaenssens report in Belgium, and http://www.bishop-accountability.org in the USA.

            I’m not asking for evidence of Catholic abuse. I’ve more or less read the entire John Jay report. I’m asking for the evidence that communities, structured like yours are actually safer. The claim that children are at potentially greater risk in communities with no hierarchy did not come from me, but from the John Jay report. You are the only person I have ever met who thinks a comparison is made by considering only one party.

          • Anton

            You are the only person I have ever met who thinks a comparison is made by considering only one party.

            Where did I say that? You are the only Catholic I have ever met who presumes to pontificate to members of other denominations about child abuse. I conclude that, indeed, you have no sense of irony.

            I wrote: “The point is that you have chosen to place yourself under a system that only admitted its sins of paedophilia when those sins were called by the world, and which has engaged in a huge amount of covering up. I would feel sullied if I were in such a system, although I am not you.” You replied: All human systems have been sullied in this way. Your congregation may have been clear. But then again so is mine (and all those I’ve ever been in).

            I am pleased that there has been nothing paedophilic in your congregation; mine neither. But the difference, which you are conspicuously failing to take into account, is that your congregation is part of a system which enacted cover-up and which admitted guilt only when the world forced it to. My congregation isn’t. You say in the context of paedophilia that “All human systems have been sullied in this way” but it is not true. In particular, it is not true of mine.

            Do you think that children are not at risk in your congregation?

            Certainly not from the elders! They are married men, which helps.

          • Albert

            Where did I say that?

            You didn’t. But you keep saying Catholicism is worse and yet providing no evidence of any other community for a comparison. I on the other hand have provided evidence, from the largest report into child abuse in any institution, that the ecclesiology you propose makes the problem harder to deal with.

            You are the only Catholic I have ever met who presumes to pontificate to members of other denominations about child abuse. I conclude that, indeed, you have no sense of irony.

            I conclude that you don’t read anything I say.

            But the difference, which you are conspicuously failing to take into account, is that your congregation is part of a system which enacted cover-up and which admitted guilt only when the world forced it to.

            I’m not failing to take that into account, you are still missing the point. Your claim is that the hierarchical structure of Catholicism and Anglicanism is part of the problem. But the evidence of the John Jay report is that communities that do not have such a hierarchy have even greater risks.

            You say in the context of paedophilia that “All human systems have been sullied in this way” but it is not true. In particular, it is not true of mine.

            I didn’t say all human communities have been sullied in this way. I said “All human systems”. Just because your congregation has not been so sullied, does not mean no congregation using your system has not been sullied. Do you deny that churches like yours (even if you have never been to one) can have problems with paedophilia?

            Certainly not from the elders! They are married men, which helps.

            Errrr….most abuse takes place in the family. Please tell me that your congregation has a proper child protection procedures in place, which do not begin with the assumption “The elders wouldn’t do such a thing…they’re married.”

          • Anton

            Where did I make that assumption? I am dealing with probabilistic inference here, and the Catholic ordained priesthood is more likely to attract men who do not wish to marry and who prefer to express their sexuality in other ways. Read Goodbye Good Men by Michael Rose for an exposee by a Catholic of the atmosphere in North American Catholic seminaries. Do tell me what you consider to be “proper child protection procedures” and I shall answer your question.

            As for comparison, the secular press have it in for all Christians and it is Rome that comes out worst. If you want to rescale the stats by the number of Catholic priests or protestant congregation leaders, by all means go ahead. When you have the most influential Pope for decades praising the Head of the Congregation for Clergy for writing a latter congratulating a bishop who covered up for a paedophile priest, you may expect trouble. It’s all about the public reputation of the church isn’t it? Not a care is expressed about the victims until the secular media latch on to the truth. If the Roman Catholic church cared more about its reputation in God’s eyes then things would have been dealt with differently.

            The John Jay report is now rather dated.

            I read everything you say but I don’t take it all seriously, and I’m not interested in diversions.

          • Albert

            So your view is that single men are more likely to abuse children and therefore, you don’t need to worry about your married elders. Good grief. I don’t know what a proper child protection policy looks like, but I am sure it eschews your attitude: Certainly not from the elders! They are married men, which helps.

            As for comparison, the secular press have it in for all Christians and it is Rome that comes out worst.

            If you want to know what’s going on, it probably isn’t the secular press you need to read. Remember the comment in the John Jay report that the Baptist Church’s failure in this was one of the most under reported stories.

            If you want to rescale the stats by the number of Catholic priests or protestant congregation leaders, by all means go ahead.

            We can’t. Because we don’t seem to have any from communities without hierarchies – as I’ve already pointed out, probably four times now.

            When you have the most influential Pope for decades praising the Head of the Congregation for Clergy for writing a latter congratulating a bishop who covered up for a paedophile priest, you may expect trouble.

            This is not an established fact, but if he did, he was very wrong.

            If the Roman Catholic church cared more about its reputation in God’s eyes then things would have been dealt with differently.

            I am not defending the Catholic Church on child abuse. I am questioning your dangerous, and unevidenced assumption that we are worse because we are hierarchical.

            The John Jay report is now rather dated.

            So the point it made about 2008 is not true?

            I read everything you say but I don’t take it all seriously

            I don’t take you seirously now. I have done, but the moment you said Certainly not from the elders! They are married men, which helps. you lost all credibility (in fact, you had lost most of it, by constantly ignoring evidence I have provided).

          • Anton

            So your view is that single men are more likely to abuse children and therefore, you don’t need to worry about your married elders.

            I didn’t say single men. Single men may marry; most do. I said men who choose a life that involves never marrying. That is different, obviously. Also your second clause does not follow in logic from the first – although I have confidence in the elders of my particular congregation.

            I don’t know what a proper child protection policy looks like

            Yet you ask me to demonstrate that we have one. When you can tell me what you consider reasonable, I’ll tell you what we do – and it is not nothing.

            If you want to know what’s going on, it probably isn’t the secular press you need to read.

            Well it certainly isn’t Catholic press releases of the era before cover-up became impossible.

            I wrote: “I read everything you say but I don’t take it all seriously” You replied: I don’t take you seirously now. I have done, but the moment you said…

            You are free to take any view of me that you wish.

          • Albert

            Given that the celibate state is commended to us by scripture, I find it odd that you think it dangerous. I’m also awaiting the evidence on this.

            I have confidence in the elders of my particular congregation.

            I’m sure you do, and I expect you have good reason to, as well. My point is however, that it would be dangerous and irrational to do so simply because yours in a non-hierarchical community and they are married.

            Yet you ask me to demonstrate that we have one.

            No I didn’t, I asked you to say that you have one. I’m quite certain that if it is any good, it will be not be pared down because you have a non-hierarchical, married ministry and therefore the risk is less.

            Well it certainly isn’t Catholic press releases of the era before cover-up became impossible.

            I haven’t quoted the secular or Catholic press. The only authority I have cited is the John Jay report, which was part paid for by the US Government.

            You are free to take any view of me that you wish.

            Thank you. It’s not what I wish, but where the evidence is leading, in my view.

          • Anton

            Given that the celibate state is commended to us by scripture, I find it odd that you think it dangerous. I’m also awaiting the evidence on this.

            What Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 7 is that it is better to marry than to burn. The evidence of history is decisive that celibacy of the Catholic ordained priesthood is a failure; see H.C. Lea’s book An historical sketch of sacerdotal celibacy in the Christian church. Lea was a scrupulous scholar who quoted original documents and left judgement to the reader. According to Lea (2nd ed, p137) the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle in 836AD admitted that many convents were brothels, a situation no better in the Middle Ages (p264-5). The Council of Trent caused Rome to stop collecting the ‘cullagium’ tax on priestly mistresses, as an alternative to enforcement of the celibacy regulations. Rinaldi, the 17th century historian who was invited to continue the Vatican librarian Baronius’ church history, records Archduke Ferdinand of Austria telling the papacy that desire for marriage was almost universal among German-speaking Catholic parish priests, and that scarcely one in a hundred was not openly or secretly married (Annales Ecclesiastici, AD1562 no. 60; 1563 nos 138 & 139; 1564 no. 29). In parts of Africa today it is common for Catholic priests to have long-term mistresses who are regarded as wives; the overlooking of this practice by Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo within his diocese forced his resignation in May 2009.

            Paul also said that episkopoi, meaning at that time congregation leaders, should generally be married men (1 Tim 3). Deviation from scripture always has bad consequences.

            I wrote: “I have confidence in the elders of my particular congregation.” You replied: I’m sure you do, and I expect you have good reason to, as well. My point is however, that it would be dangerous and irrational to do so simply because yours in a non-hierarchical community and they are married.

            Indeed. My critique of Roman Catholicism is less about priestly paedophilia and more about the cover-up by the very hierarchs charged with ensuring that the church is clean. It is the cover-up rather than the original crime that has caused the hitherto unthinkable collapse of Catholic sentiment in the Republic of Ireland, according to more than one friend there. Those hierarchs feared man more than God. What does that say?

            All in the congregation I am part of who are involved with children’s ministry are CRB-cleared, although that only tells you if there has been any brush with the authorities in the past, of course. I believe we also have two adults together with any children’s group at any one time. There might be more; I am not part of this ministry and don’t know.

            Thank you. It’s not what I wish, but where the evidence is leading, in my view.</I

            Again, you are free to take any view that you wish!

          • Albert

            Observing that there has been ill-discipline in the Catholic Church is not evidence that a celibate priesthood is a failure. Moreover, to draw any kind of conclusion here, you need to show that there is some kind of causal connection that makes celibate clergy worse. That may be true, but my understanding of the evidence is that that is not true, and that, if anything, the evidence points the other way.

            Paul also said that episkopoi, meaning at that time congregation leaders, should generally be married men (1 Tim 3).

            He also says that he wishes everyone was like him. So clearly your interpretation is wrong. What he means, surely, is that no bishop should have been married more than once.

            My critique of Roman Catholicism is less about priestly paedophilia and more about the cover-up by the very hierarchs charged with ensuring that the church is clean. It is the cover-up rather than the original crime that has caused the hitherto unthinkable collapse of Catholic sentiment in the Republic of Ireland, according to more than one friend there. Those hierarchs feared man more than God. What does that say?

            There is truth in everything you say here, although it is not the whole truth. But you have digressed. You wanted to say that the hierarchy is somehow worse, but you have provided not evidence for that, and I have provided evidence to the contrary. To put this another way: there are draw backs of both positions from the point of view of child protection, but the evidence I have cited is that, matters are actually worse when there are nor hierarchs to appeal to.

            All in the congregation I am part of who are involved with children’s ministry are CRB-cleared, although that only tells you if there has been any brush with the authorities in the past, of course. I believe we also have two adults together with any children’s group at any one time. There might be more measures; I am not part of this ministry and don’t know.

            That sounds excellent. And what is suggests is that there is no complacency “despite” the fact that you do not have a hierarchy but do have married pastors.

          • Anton

            Observing that there has been ill-discipline in the Catholic Church is not evidence that a celibate priesthood is a failure.

            What would you categorise as failure?

            Here is from 1 Timothy 3 in a fairly literal translation: the episkopos is to be without reproach, a man of one woman… he must run his own household well, his children accepting his authority in full; for if someone doesn’t know how to run his own household, how can he run a congregation that is of God?

            So congregation leaders are to be monogamous family men with children. This is not a “interpretation”. It is what Paul says. Failure to heed scripture always has bad and often unpredictable consequences.

            You wanted to say that the hierarchy is somehow worse, but you have provided not evidence for that, and I have provided evidence to the contrary.

            Do you mean the Southern Baptist thing in the Jay Report or something else?

            Without a hierarchy above congregations (and by ‘congregation’ I include the council of elders) any evil is limited to one place. But the typical action of a Catholic bishop a few decades ago when parishioners became disgusted was to move the priest on to another diocese, there to do it again to another dozen or so boys… and so on. Much worse!

          • Albert

            What would you categorise as failure?

            I haven’t thought about it. It’s not my argument. It’s yours. What do you categorise as failure?

            So congregation leaders are to be monogamous family men with children. This is not a “interpretation”. It is what Paul says. Failure to heed scripture always has bad and often unpredictable consequences.

            But you yourself said this was only “generally” the case. And it was clearly not the case with Paul himself, nor with what he wished for others. Now your interpretation is odd, you say, congregation leaders are to be monogamous family men with children. But Jesus says, For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.” It seems odd to interpret 1 Tim. 3 in a way that makes Matt.19 look wrong. And then there’s Revelation 14.4. How is Jesus’ teaching in Matt.19 observed in your congregation?

            Do you mean the Southern Baptist thing in the Jay Report or something else?

            It makes a point from the Southern Baptists which it explicitly applies to other Protestants where they share the same non-hierarchical structure. It’s no good you saying “I’m not a Southern Baptist” because the report does not say you need to be – it says simply that you will be susceptible to these problems if you have no hierarchical structure.

            Without a hierarchy above congregations (and by ‘congregation’ I include the council of elders) any evil is limited to one place.

            That is obviously false. A congregation might expel a wayward minister – and he would then move in to another congregation, without so much as any kind of therapy. Catholic responses varied, but even where priests were moved (and they typically were not installed in new parishes unless they had had treatment), at least the bishop knew his history. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not defending what has gone wrong in Catholicism on this, I am simply saying your previous statement is demonstrably false.

          • Anton

            I asked: “What would you categorise as failure?” you replied: I haven’t thought about it. It’s not my argument. It’s yours.

            That is disingenuous, given that you introduced the word: Observing that there has been ill-discipline in the Catholic Church is not evidence that a celibate priesthood is a failure.

            Paul was an apostolos, not an episkopos, and his single status suited him to the peripatetic life it entailed. By “generally” I mean that an episkopos should not have to resign automatically upon the death of his wife. The third eunuchs reference in Matt 19 is presumably to apostoloi such as Paul. rev 14:4 refers to a specific number of men in the endtimes when there is such a crisis that marriage and settling down is not possible. Paul says as much in an earlier crisis in 1 Cor 7:26.

            A congregation might expel a wayward minister – and [under a non-hierarchical system] he would then move in to another congregation, without so much as any kind of therapy.

            THERAPY? Divine therapy is what is needed, nothing less, and a man who received it after committing acts that Jesus said warrant worse punishment than being thrown weighted into the sea would not seek further church leadership. As for the unrepentant, your words suggest that you are again thinking of an ordained man whose ordination qualifies him for leadership and a salary; but that is not part of the system I advocate either. Above all, though, a Christian who moves to another congregation is normally enquired after by the elders of his new congregation in a letter to the elders of his old. That is scriptural.

          • Albert

            That is disingenuous, given that you introduced the word

            No it’s not. You made an argument that it was a failure, whether you used the word or not. It’s your argument, the burden of proof rests on you. You are disingenuous, for critiquing me for not supplying the definitions and terms necessary for your own arguments.

            Paul was an apostolos, not an episkopos, and his single status suited him to the peripatetic life it entailed

            That’s just poor, considering what he says about other apostles. But in any case, he says he wishes everyone was like him. I don’t accept your limiting of scripture in the way that you do on this. What also about the widows in the NT. They seem to have a focus on celibacy. Where’s all that in your congregation. You can’t brush this away.

            THERAPY? Divine therapy is what is needed, nothing less, and a man who received it after committing acts that Jesus said warrant worse punishment than being thrown weighted into the sea would not seek further church leadership.

            Therapy clearly didn’t work in this case. But therapy would have been part of an overall structure of repentance and penance. Therapy does work sometimes in that theological context.

            As for the unrepentant, your words suggest that you are again thinking of an ordained man whose ordination qualifies him for leadership and a salary; but that is not part of the system I advocate either.

            No, not at all. Is there no sense in which someone in a ministerial position in one congregation may move to another and have a similar position there?

            Above all, though, a Christian who moves to another congregation is normally enquired after by the elders of his new congregation in a letter to the elders of his old.

            And if he doesn’t tell them where he was before? And how do you answer the critique of the John Jay Report on this?

          • Anton

            I wrote: “That is disingenuous, given that you introduced the word.” You replied: No it’s not. You made an argument that it was a failure, whether you used the word or not. It’s your argument, the burden of proof rests on you.

            O, let the reader decide. As for “burden of proof”, don’t people resort to the language of legalism when they are on the defensive?

            I’m not going to be diverted into a discussion of apostoloi away from the fact that 1 Tim 3 is clear that episkopoi shall be married or have been married. Do you dispute this, given that Paul says they should be a man of one woman and run their own household well? Please include a clear Yes or No in any answer.

            And if he doesn’t tell them where he was before?

            He should be asked why he is reluctant to divulge that information, and if he still stonewalls then he should not be made welcome.

          • Albert

            O, let the reader decide. As for “burden of proof”, don’t people resort to the language of legalism when they are on the defensive?

            I’m interested in the rationality of your argument. If you want to claim, contrary to published evidence, that the Catholic structure puts children at risk because it is a hierarchical structure, then you need to defend that claim. Asking me to define your concept for you, is not defending that claim. I don’t have to do anything until you have established your concept. In saying I’m on the defensive, I think you’ve completely misunderstood this conversation. I don’t have to argue on your turf if I don’t want to. I don’t think sola scriptura works, so I don’t have to defend our polity on those grounds. You haven’t provided evidence for your claims that your polity is safer than ours, and I have provided evidence that it is not. It’s your argument, and you aren’t defending it.

            I’m not going to be diverted into a discussion of apostoloi away from the fact that 1 Tim 3 is clear that episkopoi shall be married or have been married. Do you dispute this, given that Paul says they should be a man of one woman and run their own household well? Please include a clear Yes or No in any answer.

            Yes, I do dispute this, on two grounds. Firstly, I think it is a misinterpretation, and secondly, I think you are lurching back towards legalism in thinking this is the only way in which things can be done.

            Paul says an episkopoi should be the husband of one wife. But there is also evidence of ministers being unmarried, and of celibacy being commended. The wording also is odd. It does not say they should be married, but the husband of one wife. What is this in contrast to? It cannot be in contrast to polygamy, as that is unacceptable anyway. It cannot be in contrast to a divorced and remarried man, for that is adultery (do you have that BTW in your congregation?) and so is unacceptable anyway. What about a widowed man? Now on your reading a widowed man could not be an episkopoi either. But that makes no sense. So it would appear to be in contrast to a widowed man who remarries. In other words, if a married episkopoi loses his wife (very common in the ancient world) he must remain celibate – like Paul. If a man has a family however, and is considered for this position, then clearly, he cannot have it if he cannot even manage his own household.

            Secondly, regarding legalism. There is nothing binding the church for ever to one NT pattern. This ought to be obvious, from the fact that there isn’t one NT pattern, and what we have is very unclear. On which note, I raised last time the question of widows being enrolled. Do you enrol widows in your congregation? Please include a yes or no in any answer.

          • Anton

            I don’t have to argue on your turf if I don’t want to.

            Of course you don’t. That’s why I said let the reader decide.

            You have said what you think 1 Tim 3 doesn’t mean, and what it means in one situation (death of an episkopos’s wife) when it is taken together with some other scriptures. So tell me, please, what you believe are the implications for an episkopos’s marital state to say, with Paul, that an episkopos is to be without reproach, a man of one woman… he must run his own household well, his children accepting his authority in full; for if someone doesn’t know how to run his own household, how can he run a congregation of God’s?

            There is nothing binding the church for ever to one NT pattern.

            Fine, let’s deviate from scripture whenever we feel like it.

            You said, several posts ago, What also about the widows in the NT. They seem to have a focus on celibacy and followed up with Do you enrol widows in your congregation?

            That is presumably a reference to 1 Timothy 5 where Paul says (in verse 9) that no widow younger than 60 years should be put on the roll. The question is, what roll? Church membership? Or those to be supported materially by the congregation? (Notice that baptism is the NT transition to membership, and that decisions were taken and discussed in the NT church by men.) Which of these alternatives do you think, in the light of the preceding verses and of verse 16? Widows who are Christian are welcome in our congregation.

          • Albert

            So tell me, please, what you believe are the implications for an episkopos’s marital state

            I’ve answered that already. Is your interpretation that an episkopos must be married?

            Fine, let’s deviate from scripture whenever we feel like it.

            That was an invalid inference – I pointed out that there isn’t one single NT model. Moreover, you have now to tread a very difficult line. On the one hand, you want to bind everyone to one NT model (despite the fact that there is more than one, and that you haven’t been able to show what it is, or that your congregations follow it) but at the same time, you warn against legalistic interpretations of scripture, on the grounds that it isn’t that kind of document. Law or spirit?

            Church membership? Or those to be supported materially by the congregation?

            It is obvious that there is a third possibility – yes, material help (v.16) but also celibacy (vv.11-12). How exactly, in your congregation are verses 11-12 observed?

          • Anton

            It wasn’t clear to me and might have been as part of a wider response. Please do me the favour of pasting in (since you say it’s already written), your answer to what you take to be the implications of 1 Tim 3 for an episkopos’s marital state.

            As for 1 Tim 5:11-12 about not putting younger widows on the list – which I take to be a list of these needing financial support – we make sure informally that nobody is destitute, but we don’t systematically maintain such a list, because the Welfare State makes it unnecessary at present in our land

            If you want my exegesis of these verses, Paul at 1 Tim 5:11-12 says that marriage involves overcoming the younger widow’s dedication to Christ and therefore brings judgement. Yet in v14 he exhorts younger widows to marry. A way to reconcile these apparently contradictory verses is needed. I suggest that Paul is speaking at v11-12 about marrying a non-Christian husband (the size of the pool of available men inside the church was very small in those days), or about being willing to give her body in the hope of attracting a husband. In v14 about marriage within the faith and proper behaviour. That is also consistent with 1 Cor 7.

          • Albert

            Please do me the favour of pasting in (since you say it’s already written), your answer to what you take to be the implications of 1 Tim 3 for an episkopos’s marital state.

            How often I have asked you to do that because I don’t think you have addressed a position and you simply reply “Please re-read my posts.” This is my interpretation:

            If a man has a family however, and is considered for this position, then clearly, he cannot have it if he cannot even manage his own household.

            This is, I think the only plausible interpretation, given that Paul cannot be requiring all episkopoi to be married. It seems to me that this is key to understanding the passage. I’ve asked you to clarify your point on that, which seems central, but oddly, you don’t given an answer. Please give a yes or no to the question of whether Paul means to prohibit for all time, a single man taking that role.

            I think your interpretation of 1 Tim.5.11-12 is false. Firstly, what is the evidence here that Paul is thinking of a non-Christian husband, so it is ad hoc. Secondly, whatever Paul is prohibiting to enrolled widows, he is permitting to unenrolled widows. Now this cannot be the possibility of marrying a non-Christian husband, for that was not permitted anyway (see 1 Cor.7.39 & 2 Cor.6.14). Again, I might ask whether your congregation follow scripture here.

            Therefore, I think the contradiction simply remains on your reading.

          • Anton

            How often I have asked you to do that because I don’t think you have addressed a position and you simply reply “Please re-read my posts.”

            That was because I had explained myself multiple times and was unable to put it any more clearly.

            This is, I think the only plausible interpretation, given that Paul cannot be requiring all episkopoi to be married. It seems to me that this is key to understanding the passage. I’ve asked you to clarify your point on that, which seems central, but oddly, you don’t given an answer. Please give a yes or no to the question of whether Paul means to prohibit for all time, a single man taking that role.

            I certainly don’t think that a widower should have to lose his position as an episkopos upon the death of his wife. As to whether a never-married man should be barred from the NT role of episkopos, I’m not sure but it does seem to follow. What I can add is that debarring married men from the episcopacy is flagrantly antiscriptural in light of this passage.

            I think your interpretation of 1 Tim.5.11-12 is false.

            You are entitled to your opinion! How do you reconcile 1 Tim 5 v11-12 and v14?

          • Albert

            That was because I had explained myself multiple times and was unable to put it any more clearly.

            You had repeated points which I had already answered.

            I’m not sure but it does seem to follow.

            If so, it follows that the husband in an infertile couple should not become and episkopos either.

            What I can add is that debarring married men from the episcopacy is flagrantly antiscriptural in light of this passage.

            If Paul is enjoining celibacy for a widowed episkopos, then celibacy is clearly permitted and inevitable in some cases. It is also commended in other places. In Paul’s time however celibacy for all episkopoi would be impossible, because they were relatively new converts. So one could simply say the Church applied Paul’s principles consistently, in a new situation.

            How do you reconcile 1 Tim 5 v11-12 and v14?

            The way it seems Paul does:

            But refuse to enrol younger widows; for when they grow wanton against Christ they desire to marry, and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge.

            The pledge here appears to be the pledge to Christ to remain celibate (it’s contrasted with wantonness (sex) and marriage. It seems then that by being enrolled widows were making some kind of pledge, but the younger widows were sometimes violating that. No contradiction now. No ad hoc additions that contradict other bits of scripture. The only problem with this interpretation, I suggest is that your congregation almost certainly does not follow it.

          • Anton

            “one could simply say the Church applied Paul’s principles consistently, in a new situation.”

            Nonsense. Episkopoi should, as a rule, be visibly running their own children well. Paul nowhere states that that applies for only one generation; it is clearly a statement pertaining to the church era.That means episkopoi will mostly be married men. Too bad that some denominations make that impossible.

            Please state what you mean by “enrolled” – on a to-be-supported list or on a church membership list.

          • Albert

            Paul never said that what he is describing applies only to the time he is describing either. Moreover, as you have pointed out before, this is not a legal document, so it cannot stand as prescptive for ever. We simply do not know what exactly was going on in Paul’s churches. Therefore, you are trying to impose a standard that cannot be known.

            Moreover, you have added the “as a rule” bit there – so you are already modifying Paul’s position. I ask again, what of those men who are married, but infertile? On your reading they cannot be an episkopos – regardless of their suitability. That doesn’t make sense. What about a man that has been widowed? By your reading he cannot be an episkopos. That doesn’t make sense (as I think you agree). And a single man, who chooses the state that Paul himself wishes everyone would take, he can’t be an episkopos?

            Please state what you mean by “enrolled” – on a to-be-supported list or on a church membership list.

            That she is recognized as having made a pledge to remain a widow for Christ, and is supported as a result.

          • Anton

            That is more eisegetical than you accuse me of. Paul makes no mention of any pledge not to marry again, so you are making an inference – just as I did. Making an inference is unavoidable if 1 Tim 5 v11-12 is to be reconciled with v14 (as it must be, for God does not contradict himself). We differ on how. Can you provide any evidence from the earliest (non-canonical) church writings of such a pledge?

            Just as I’d say that a man who loses his wife should not automatically be stripped of his role as an episkopos, nor should he be automatically be stripped if his children die in a fire (for instance). I suggest that the ratio of episkopoi who are married with children to episkopoi who are married without children might roughly match the ratio in the congregation. But I’m not sure. What I am sure is that a regulation which insists that all episkopoi be celibate is utterly incompatible with 1 Tim 3.

          • Albert

            That is more eisegetical than you accuse me of. Paul makes no mention of any pledge not to marry again, so you are making an inference – just as I did. Making an inference is unavoidable if 1 Tim 5 v11-12 is to be reconciled with v14 (as it must be, for God does not contradict himself). We differ on how.

            No it’s not. Paul does speak of a pledge. It is a pledge that is broken when the widow marries again. Therefore, it is a pledge not to marry again. You on the other hand, raised the question of marrying outside the faith, for which there is no evidence in this text, and which would be irrelevant, because it was not permitted anyway.

            Just as I’d say that a man who loses his wife should not automatically be stripped of his role as an episkopos, nor should he be automatically be stripped if his children die in a fire (for instance). I suggest that the ratio of episkopoi who are married with children to episkopoi who are married without children might roughly match the ratio in the congregation.

            Fine, but then you have undermined your argument for marriage being required (if you are making that now – it’s still unclear). If an episkopos must be able to govern his children, then, strictly speaking he must have children to govern. If he doesn’t, then strictly speaking, he cannot be an episkopos. But you don’t seem to accept that conclusion – therefore, you agree with me that the relevant verses do not require this to be so if they are not relevant, but must apply if they are.

            This what Paul says eslewhere:

            Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband…I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

            Paul is clearly setting out celibacy as preferable, although each person must act according to the grace God has given. It seems extraordinary that Paul can say all this, about a state he has himself, but then forbid those who follow this way from being episkopoi.

            But I’m not sure. What I am sure is that a regulation which insists that all episkopoi be celibate is utterly incompatible with 1 Tim 3.

            But then of course, according to you our episkopoi are not those of scripture, so the command cannot be directed at them. A bishop is actually more like your definition of an apostolos – since he is peripatetic. Thus the rationale works in the other direction towards celibacy. But you do think that you episkopoi are the same as those of scripture. Therefore you deviate from your interpretation 1 Tim.3 in allowing widowers to continue as episkopoi, in allowing a man of an infertile couple to be an episkopos (if you do allow that), in allowing a man who has lost all his children in fire to continue as an episkopos and from 1 Cor.7 in refusing a celibate man to take the office.

          • Anton

            Paul does speak of a pledge. It is a pledge that is broken when the widow marries again. Therefore, it is a pledge not to marry again.

            Your “therefore” is false. Here is a counter-example: it might refer to a baptismal pledge of allegiance to Christ, part of which involves not marrying outside the faith (1 Cor 7:39). Of course, presenting a counter-example does not prove that my counter-example is the case and your explanation is wrong, or vice-versa. To go further, other verses must be brought into play. I invoke the principle of non-contradiction: Paul exhorts younger widows to marry in 1 Tim 5:14, and any encouragement to be a financial burden on the church by pledging not to marry again is against what he is saying. Remember that the church at Corinth didn’t have much money to spare (1 Cor 1:26).

            There is no mention of what qualifies a widow to go on the list, so this qualification has to be inferred. That fact cuts both ways in our discussion. Remember also that the church at that point was a tiny minority; the chances of an eligible man turning up in the congregation for every widow is small, hence the temptation to marry out of the faith which I take Paul to be warning against in 1 Tim 5:11,12.

            Fine, but then you have undermined your argument for marriage being required (if you are making that now – it’s sti ll unclear). If an episkopos must be able to govern his children, then, strictly speaking he must have children to govern. If he doesn’t, then strictly speaking, he cannot be an episkopos.

            What I said was I am not sure whether this is a rigid rule or a general principle. Certain comments in Proverbs obviously represent wisdom yet counter-examples exist, meaning that that proverb is a principle rather than a rule. Certainly an episkopos whose wife dies and whose children have married and moved out should not be automatically stripped of his episkopacy. But even if 1 Tim 3 on episcopal qualifications is simply a general principle then it is violated by a celibate episcopacy such as yours is (theoretically), isn’t it? As for Paul praising celibacy, yes indeed, but that is certainly a general principle rather than the legalistic rule as Roman Catholicism has made it for its ordained priests.

            according to you our episkopoi are not those of scripture, so the command cannot be directed at them. A bishop is actually more like your definition of an apostolos – since he is peripatetic. Thus the rationale works in the other direction towards celibacy. But you do think that you episkopoi are the same as those of scripture. Therefore you deviate from your interpretation 1 Tim.3 in allowing widowers to continue as episkopoi…

            According to me? There are multiple episkopoi per congregation according to eg Acts 20:28 (where Paul addresses the episkopoi of Ephesus), yet multiple congregations placed under one episkopos in Roman Catholicism today. I agree entirely that the word episkopos has changed in meaning in your denomination, from its meaning in the NT. (It is as it is used scripturally in my congregation.) By what authority has that deviation from scripture been made?

            So, compensating for that deviation, the scriptural principle (or perhaps regulation) by which congregation leaders should be married men must nowadays in the Roman Catholic church be applied to the ordained priests who run congregations. But they too are forbidden to marry, are they not?

          • Albert

            Here is a counter-example: it might refer to a baptismal pledge of allegiance to Christ, part of which involves not marrying outside the faith (1 Cor 7:39).

            Your argument assumes that young widows are more likely to marry outside the faith if they take a pledge. But Paul does not say this and it seems implausible. Firstly, why would that be the case? Secondly, surely the practice of a pledge would make that less likely. So your reading
            is less plausible than mine.

            Moreover, in v 16 Paul distinguishes between real widows and widows. This rather suggests that there are two categories, those who have taken a proper pledge and must now be supported by the Church and those who have not and can still be supported by their families.

            Remember also that the church at that point was a tiny minority; the chances of an eligible man turning up in the congregation for every widow is small, hence the temptation to marry out of the faith which I take Paul to be warning against in 1 Tim 5:11,12

            I don’t think this works. After all, if it were that small the rule would be impossible. But was it that small anyway? The evidence of Romans would suggest not. But the key problem here is why marrying out of the faith is a greater risk for a woman who has taken a pledge. I can’t see
            that.

            As for Paul praising celibacy, yes indeed, but that is certainly a general principle rather than the legalistic rule as Roman Catholicism has made it for its ordained priests.

            What role does celibacy have in your community?

            I think Paul is simply saying an episkopos cannot have been married more than once (thus a widower must now be celibate) but that if he were married, he could not be an episkpos if he couldn’t manage his own house properly.

            legalistic rule as Roman Catholicism has made it for its ordained priests.

            I don’t know what you mean by legalism. It’s a law, that’s for sure. My objection to your reading is that you are taking something that isn’t a law and making it into one. I don’t object to laws per se though.

            There are multiple episkopoi per congregation according to eg Acts 20:28 (where Paul addresses the episkopoi of Ephesus), yet multiple congregations placed under one episkopos in Roman Catholicism today. I agree entirely that the word episkopos has changed in meaning in your denomination, from its meaning in the NT. (It is as it is used scripturally in my congregation.) By what authority has that deviation from scripture been made?

            I think the NT picture and terminology are both fluid and that you go beyond scripture in demanding, beyond what scripture says, that it must be one way, fixed, regardless of how our situation is different from theirs (by which I am referring to the loss of the apostle).

            So, compensating for that deviation, the scriptural principle (or perhaps regulation) by which congregation leaders should be married men must nowadays in the Roman Catholic church be applied to the ordained priests who run congregations.

            There are two points: firstly, are our episkpoi what Paul is talking about? We may have the same word, but the ministry may just be legitimately different, since it now takes account of the loss of the apostle, which your ministry does not. This being the case, it might make better sense of the bishop to be celibate like Paul, but in any case, it would mean the NT injunction would not
            apply here. Secondly, is that NT injunction an injunction for ever and always?

            And does not the ban on ministers in second marriages point towards celibacy? I would like to know, please, whether you would have episkpoi who have remarried after the death of a first
            spouse. It seems to me that, whatever the passage bans, it is that.

          • Anton

            What (scriptural) ban on a minister in his second marriage after the death of his first wife? He marries his first wife and moves from being a man of no woman to a man of one woman. His first wife dies and he reverts to being a man of no woman. He marries his second wife and is again a man of one woman – which is the criterion in 1 Tim 3:2 based on the literal Greek. St Paul says that marriage ends at death (Romans 7:1-3). To Timothy, Paul is saying that polygamists and adulterers won’t do as episkopoi. I take the view he is also saying that divorcees who remarry during the lives of their ex-wives won’t do. My elders/episkopoi are all living with their first wives.

            Your argument assumes that young widows are more likely to marry outside the faith if they take a pledge. But Paul does not say this and it seems implausible.

            I am arguing that this is a baptismal pledge. That is a necessary condition for a someone to marry outside the faith, obviously. What do you mean?

            1 Tim 5:16 merely says that there are widows on the list to be supported, and others who are not – because their families are able to support them.

            What role does celibacy have in your community?

            We find that they tend to have different callings; they can spend more time in ministry and some of those ministries are perhaps riskier as our government is becoming less and less tolerant of free speech.

            I think the NT picture and terminology are both fluid…

            Yes, is not the only way you can avoid a contradiction between Catholic practice and scripture to deny the meaning of words? Or to suggest, with no basis, that it applies only to the generation that Paul is addressing?

          • Albert

            To Timothy, Paul is saying that polygamists and adulterers won’t do as episkopoi.

            That can’t be the reason, as polygamists and adulterers cannot function in the community at all.

            I am arguing that this is a baptismal pledge. That is a necessary condition for a someone to marry outside the faith, obviously.

            Sorry, I just cannot see an argument there, unless you are suggesting young widows should not be become Christians.

            We find that they tend to have different callings; they can spend more time in ministry and some of those ministries are perhaps riskier as our government is becoming less and less tolerant of free speech.

            Our Lord was very counter cultural in being celibate. He commends it. Paul commends it. How is it commended in your community as something someone will take upon themselves, as opposed to a situation in which they find themselves?

            Yes, is not the only way you can avoid a contradiction between Catholic practice and scripture to deny the meaning of words?

            No. I just need to notice that we may not use words in the same way in different situations, and that the pictures of polity we get from the NT don’t necessarily add up to a one size fits all account of what was going on, even then.

          • Anton

            Nonsense, polygamists who convert should not be required to ditch all wives but one, thereby leaving the rest destitute. They are not suitable as episkopoi though. Nor the divorced and remarried.

            How is it commended in your community as something someone will take upon themselves, as opposed to a situation in which they find themselves?

            I believe that some have felt that calling. You seem to think in terms of rules aka law. Grace is what the New Covenant is about.

          • Albert

            Nonsense, polygamists who convert should not be required to ditch all wives but one, thereby leaving the rest destitute. They are not suitable as episkopoi though. Nor the divorced and remarried.

            I never said that. However, the would not be able to participate in the full life of the Church while being in a state of grave sin. You can see Paul makes this point clearly.

            I believe that some have felt that calling. You seem to think in terms of rules aka law. Grace is what the New Covenant is about.

            But the passage itself is clearly speaking of a rule. So you are arguing with scripture.

          • Anton

            I’m not, but those who think in terms of law rather than grace accuse others of (in the literal sense) licentiousness.

          • Albert

            It is clearly an example of licentiousness for a man to be polygamous, or to be remarried after divorce. I’m not saying these things are equal, but viewed from the perspective of the teaching of Christ, it is licentiousness. As Paul says of one example of sexual immorality:

            Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.
            Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber — not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”

            Now this being so, it is clearly impossible for polygamous people or those who are divorced and remarried to remain as they are within the NT Church. Both are adulterous. Therefore, Paul’s point cannot be about that, as such persons cannot be fully within the life of the Church anyway. You can’t answer all that by saying it is about grace and not law.

          • Anton

            Does your church require those who come to faith while in second marriages with the first spouse still alive to go back to the first spouse? Should it?

            Also, what would you say to a polygamist who comes to faith, eg a Muslim, in a traditional ie non-welfare-state culture?

          • Albert

            Does your church require those who come to faith while in second marriages with the first spouse still alive to go back to the first spouse? Should it?

            Not necessarily. But they can’t receive Holy Communion. What’s the policy of your congregation?

            Also, what would you say to a polygamist who comes to faith, eg a Muslim, in a traditional ie non-welfare-state culture?

            Probably that he would have to abstain from sex with any but the first wife, while looking after the others. Of course, for us, this is a real world problem. I don’t know whether the answer I have given is the one that happens.

          • Anton

            That is unfair on the other wives, who can reasonably expect to be given children. Moreover your suggestion is bound to deter conversions in such a culture. Polygamy was tolerated in the Old Testament, and I’d simply say: No more wives until or unless all of these ones predecease you, and no question of you being an episkopos in this state. NB While Christians are not under Mosaic Law, Exodus 21:10 shows the drift of God’s thoughts on this issue – decent precedent.

            My view of the first issue is revealed in the following hypothetical Q&A which I wrote some time ago. Please note also the precedent in Deut 24:1-4 by which return to a former spouse is often forbidden. The Elders of the congregation I am in take a more liberal view than me, although they all live with the only women they have ever married. (Don’t get too quickly on your high horse about unanimity in the RC church, by the way; I know plenty of Catholics who don’t accept various Roman doctrines.)

            Q: The marriage I am in is the second marriage for me (or my spouse), and the former husband/wife is still alive. I have become a Christian. In the gospel Christ says that my marriage is adulterous, but where he mentions remarriage he does not regard the contract as void (since a certificate of divorce is needed to end it and children are legitimate), and Christ also sees divorce as sinful. What should I do?

            A: I am glad you see that there is a problem. This
            question must have been asked often in the early church, but it is not addressed in any New Testament letter. There is sin either way and scripture sets out how to deal with sin, not how to weigh sins against each other. You must consult God yourself. It is up to him to decide what sin to forgive – provided that you are genuinely sorry – and what sin you must avoid. One size does not fit all and if you approach God with a readiness to obey, so that it is ‘his will and not yours,’ then he will make clear the course you should take. I would expect God to take account of: the welfare of any children (of either marriage); whether you told your current spouse about the first; whether you divorced in order to marry your current spouse (in which case the wronged spouse should also be consulted); and your responsibility to show Christ to all who are personally involved, and to the world, in your actions. If your spouse also converts then you should seek God’s will jointly.

          • Albert

            That is unfair on the other wives, who can reasonably expect to be given children.

            Lots of things are unfair – when a father goes to prison for instance, it is unfair on the children. But these wives are not bound – the marriage is invalid.

            Moreover your suggestion is bound to deter conversions in such a culture.

            As was the cross to Jews and Greeks and our teaching on homosexuality in the modern world.

            I think the case you give in the Q&A could be an example of the Pauline Privilege.

            It is up to him to decide what sin to forgive – provided that you are genuinely sorry – and what sin you must avoid.

            But is the sin being repented of? It’s not clear in your example.

          • Anton

            I fully agree it must be repented of. Discerning that is a matter for the Holy Spirit in the persons ministering to the situation. That is beyond rules. Not by coincidence does Jesus not tell the woman at the well which husband to go back to!

            No, polygamous marriages are not invalid. Perhaps you have in mind our Christian wedding liturgy which is designed such that polygamy involves breaking one’s word, but marriages in polygamous cultures are not phrased like that. I believe you are simply not taking seriously enough the issues of conversion in a polygamous culture and I suggest you reflect on Exodus 21:10.

          • Albert

            Repentance means more than remorse, it means stopping the sin. Thus the reality of the situation is determined by the marital state.

            No, polygamous marriages are not invalid. Perhaps you have in mind our Christian wedding liturgy which is designed such that polygamy involves breaking one’s word, but marriages in polygamous cultures are not phrased like that. I believe you are simply not taking seriously enough the issues of conversion in a polygamous culture and I suggest you reflect on Exodus 21:10.

            I’m surprised to find you appealing to the OT law to determine this. Seems somewhat paradoxical. Moses permitted divorce, but Jesus says remarriage after divorce is adultery. The law was given for transgressions because of hardness of heart. But this cannot apply to a Christian and was only “grudging” anyway.

          • Anton

            You misunderstand me, I’m not appealing to OT law as binding, I’m using OT law as a guide to God’s thinking.

            Repentance means more than remorse, it means stopping the sin.

            But I am talking about a situation where there is sin either way; please see my Q&A. Tough on the kids too?

          • Albert

            You misunderstand me, I’m not appealing to OT law as binding, I’m using OT law as a guide to God’s thinking.

            Okay, I see that, but the OT in this case simply tells us what evils God permitted prior to the new dispensation. It does not make evil good.

            But I am talking about a situation where there is sin either way; please see my Q&A. Tough on the kids too?

            Mmmm…certainly tough on the kids, but that does not mean there is sin either way. The way the Catholic Church would deal with this would be to say that, if it is impossible for separation from the new “spouse” and impossible to return to the original family, then, the person in the second marriage should either abstain from sexual intercourse or else not receive communion.

          • Anton

            I think it’s artificial to accept somebody at church but not at the Communion table. I agree that these situations are difficult; all I’m saying is that where there is sin either way I don’t think that the situation can be reduced to a flowchart of rules.

          • Albert

            What is your alternative – drive them out completely? I’m not sure that there is sin either way – the sin was in getting to this position. There may be harm either way, but that is a different matter.

            Anyway, the issue is that clearly polygamous men could not be proper members of the Church (whatever that actually meant) and so it is implausible to assume that’s what Paul meant. Therefore, his teaching is something else.

          • Anton

            If they accept Jesus Christ as Lord then they should be able to become full members of the church once the pastoral situation is resolved; and I am saying that that might involve more than any set of regulations found in the Bible.

            Paul is saying in 1 Tim 3 that episkopoi should each be men of one woman and that they should be longstanding Christians – meaning that their commitment to one woman has been visible for a long time. Polygamists who come to faith should not therefore be episkopoi. Men with a living ex-wife whom they divorced long before their conversion probably should not be, either, but I am not certain. One of the differences between us is the degree of certainty that you express about these difficult pastoral difficult situations. Whether you are right or not, I am not sure; but I am aware that it is possible to be certain yet wrong.

          • Albert

            If they accept Jesus Christ as Lord then they should be able to become full members of the church once the pastoral situation is resolved; and I am saying that that might involve more than any set of regulations found in the Bible.

            I accept all that, but would urge that it cannot violate what is set out in the Bible.

            Polygamists who come to faith should not therefore be episkopoi.

            I agree, but suggest that this is so obvious that it cannot be Paul’s meaning here.

            Whether you are right or not, I am not sure; but I am aware that it is possible to be certain yet wrong.

            And that is the key move. If it is possible for us to wrong about what Paul is getting at in this passage and what he intends, it is hard to argue from it that one form of ministry is contrary to his intention. You cannot argue with confidence that Paul is requiring episkopoi to be married with children, and thus the passage ceases to be prescriptive.

          • Anton

            You wouldn’t perchance have an agenda aiming to suggest that a verse which, at the very least, commends episkopoi to be married with children, actually intends them to be celibate, would you?

          • Albert

            I have two points: 1. The passage is difficult to interpret, and no one actually follows it as law. Thus is cannot be used against Catholic practice. 2. In preventing a widowed and remarried man from being an episkopoi, then in the light of the rest of NT teaching on celibacy, the passages points in that direction, as a kind of logic. But it would be special pleading, and just plain wrong, to say that it actually intends them to be celibate or that the logic must end up there.

          • Anton

            Re 1, I am content to leave it to readers to decide whether a passage of St Paul stating that episkopoi should be men of one woman whose children respect them is compatible with the celibacy required in Catholic ordination. Re 2, your last sentence is unclear; to what does “it” refer, please; and, for the sake of clarity, end up where?

          • Albert

            If the passage doesn’t require episkopoi have children, it cannot require that they have a wife.

            Re “it” in the last sentence “it” refers to the passage.

          • Anton

            Thank you. As I said, I am content to leave it to readers to decide whether a passage of St Paul stating that episkopoi should be men of one woman whose children respect them is compatible with the celibacy required in Catholic ordination.

          • Albert

            Or indeed with any tradition which permits unmarried men in general (despite Jesus and Paul themselves being in this state and it being commended by both), or married men without children, or widowed men.

            They can also judge for themselves whether a tradition which does not have an order of pledged widows is consistent with what Paul says.

            They may just judge that the passage isn’t clear or prescriptive.

          • Anton

            Indeed, in which case they may also judge that black is white and white black. That is their privilege.

          • Albert

            And if they make that move, they will condemn your tradition as a deviation from scripture because it doesn’t follow 1 Tim. More likely they will have a more sensible reading of scripture that sees the passage as part of the ancient Church working itself out.

          • Anton

            And how do you decide which other parts of the New Testament don’t apply today because they are just “the ancient Church working itself out”?

          • Albert

            You can’t. That’s why sola scriptura fails. How do you answer that question? For you surely cannot contend that you follow 1 Tim. exactly as it is laid out: always married, always with a wife living, always with children and a pledge for widows etc.

          • Anton

            Anything other than scripture in the rule of faith is just men saying “my word is as valid as God’s”. That some parts of scripture are hard to work out does not, logically, imply that external principles must be brought to bear, does it?

            When a scripture saying that episkopoi should be men of one woman whose children treat them with respect gets turned into a mandatorily celibate episcopacy then it is obvious that the interpretive principles used are wrong or misapplied or both.

          • Albert

            Anything other than scripture in the rule of faith is just men saying “my word is as valid as God’s”.

            No that doesn’t follow, and it isn’t the rule found in scripture and so it dissolves in its own acid.

            That some parts of scripture are hard to work out does not, logically, imply that external principles must be brought to bear, does it?

            Scripture plainly and explicitly teaches it is not a matter of an individual’s interpretation. Somehow, the interpretation must be that of the Holy Spirit. What I was getting at though is that your tradition doesn’t really follow 1 Tim. so you have the same problem – except that in your case, you contradict your own rule (which contradicts itself). We do not have that problem.

            When a scripture saying that episkopoi should be men of one woman whose children treat them with respect gets turned into a mandatorily celibate episcopacy then it is obvious that the interpretive principles used are wrong or misapplied or both.

            But the application of the text is unclear – all we know is that neither of it applies it as it says.

          • Anton

            Good luck in reconciling the fact that Paul says episkopoi should be men of one woman whose children treat them with respect with a compulsorily celibate episcopacy. It is fine by me that those two things should be juxtaposed prominently in the public arena.

          • Albert

            Good luck with reconciling it with widowed or married or childless episkopoi. I just don’t think you are taking the text seriously, by being slavishly literal with one state, but not the rest. Good luck with reconciling your failure to have pledged widows.

          • Anton

            None needed, thank you. Pledged widows are not mentioned anywhere in the NT in specific terms. i repeat, you believe it is possible to reconcile a mandatorily celibate episcopacy with Paul’s requirement that they be men of one woman whose children respect them. In raising the grey edges of Paul’s statement you are ignoring the word “mandatorily” there.

          • Albert

            Pledged widows are there, you cannot explain them away, just because you don’t have them. As for the requirement, the key point here is that you only take the bit of it you want as a requirement. The rest you ignore.

          • Anton

            Nonsense, you haven’t shown the pledge broken in 1 Tim 5 isn’t the baptismal pledge to Christ as we have discussed above. I am ignoring grey areas but there is one that isn’t and I am delighted to continue pointing out that you believe it is possible to reconcile a *mandatorily* celibate episcopacy with Paul’s requirement that they be men of one woman whose children respect them.

          • Albert

            Nonsense, you haven’t shown the pledge broken in 1 Tim 5 isn’t the baptismal pledge to Christ as we have discussed above.

            Yes I have. You just haven’t accepted the argument. There is no way that it can be taken as a baptismal pledge, for there is nothing contradictory to a baptismal pledge in widows marrying. You’ve begun with the conclusion you want and screened out evidence to the contrary.

            I am ignoring grey areas but there is one that isn’t and I am delighted to continue pointing out that you believe it is possible to reconcile a *mandatorily* celibate episcopacy with Paul’s requirement that they be men of one woman whose children respect them.

            But the grey areas shed light on the whole thing. It isn’t possible to reconcile your practice with your interpretation of this passage. But you started the whole “deviation” thing.

          • Anton

            There is no point in our repeating ourselves. In the absence of any mention of what pledge is broken in 1 Tim 5, I think it is her baptismal pledge if the widow marries a non-Christian, and you think it is a pledge not to remarry. We can each accuse the other of eisegesis.

            We have discussed extensively 1 Timothy chapters 3 and 5. How about chapter 4, wherein Paul says that

            in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits… Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, who… forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe

            This brings to mind insistence on a celibate clergy and no meat on Fridays.

          • Albert

            I hope I am expressing your interpretation correctly, when I say it is this: Paul is saying widows should not be baptized until they are 60.

            I think it is enough simply to state that position to see it is false. Moreover, as one looks at the rest of the passage he also says:

            Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband; and she must be well attested for her good deeds, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, relieved the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. But refuse to enrol younger widows; for when they grow wanton against Christ they desire to marry

            If your interpretation is followed, it would exclude from baptism a woman who has been widowed twice, and is not attested for her good deads, has not had children etc. I think it is pretty obvious that this is not the meaning Paul is getting at. All that must be swallowed because you import to the text a suggestion that Paul does not want Christians to marry outside the faith – something which is not mentioned here. If that were Paul’s meaning wouldn’t he give this warning when he tells us not to marry outside the faith? And if it were Paul’s meaning, why does it not apparently apply to men? A further problem is that in a period of high mortality, being widowed would be common. So, if your interpretation is correct, Paul would surely be forbidding baptism to all women below the age of 60 in case they end up marrying outside the faith. But there is no hint of that.

            Isn’t it obvious that the reason you will not allow scripture to speak here is nothing other than that, having set up your interpretation of 1 Tim. as a stick to beat the Catholic Church, you cannot allow it to beat your own? Your reason for your interpretation appears to be nothing other than that Paul must be forbidding baptism to widows under the age of 60 because otherwise your own congregation would be deviating from scripture. The simplest explanation is that your congregation deviates from scripture. Except that I wouldn’t say that, I think your reading of scripture is just wrong.

            in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits… Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, who… forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe

            Marriage is forbidden to no one in the Catholic Church. Some choose freely not to enter into it – and numerous passage in scripture, including this particular letter, endorse this course, not to mention the highest authorities leading by example. As for abstaining from certain foods, does not our Lord comment fasting to us? How exactly is that followed in your congregation?

          • Anton

            No, I am not saying that and nor does it follow. People should be baptised as soon as they have professed faith and demonstrated repentance in some significant way. Not something that babies can do, by the way.

            1 Tim 4 says that liars will “forbid people to marry”. In the Roman Catholic system, episkopoi are forbidden to marry. It fits.

            In our congregation there has been both individual and corporate fasting. The point is to do it for specific ends, not blindly every week or year as a rule. That is legalism.

          • Albert

            No, I am not saying that and nor does it follow. People should be baptised as soon as they have professed faith and demonstrated repentance in some significant way.

            How does that fit with your reading of 1 Tim.5? Paul is saying that widows under 60 should not be enrolled. The only question is what “enrolled” means. What do you think it means? Up to now, you’ve been talking about baptism as far as I can see. E.g. you haven’t shown the pledge broken in 1 Tim 5 isn’t the baptismal pledge to Christ as we have discussed above

            1 Tim 4 says that liars will “forbid people to marry”. In the Roman Catholic system, episkopoi are forbidden to marry. It fits.

            Episkopoi choose not to be married as part of their vocation. No one requires them to make that commitment. Paul is clearly condemning a manichaean approach in which marriage per se is condemned. He is no more condemning someone for choosing a vocation of celibacy in accordance with the Lord’s example, than he is condemning those who fast in accordance with Lord’s example.

            In our congregation there has been both individual and corporate fasting. The point is to do it for specific ends, not blindly every week or year as a rule. That is legalism.

            I love the way you lurch between making the NT law by which to condemn Catholicism and then back to anti-legalism. It just seems inconsistent. The truth is that scripture does not give us hard and fast rules about fasting. Fasting is clearly encouraged. No rules are fixed as to whether this should be weekly or only for a particular thing. If you want to introduce that law, then on what basis do you do so?

          • Anton

            Grace means walking the tightrope between legalism and license. Without divine assistance and correct knowledge you fall off.

            It is Roman Catholicism, not me, that demands fasting in Lent, and on Fridays (no meat). In our congregation we fast corporately and individually for specific things, not to a calendar.

            I’ve already stated above what I take “enrolled” to mean. Do go up the thread and reread it.

            The liars to whom Paul refers in 1 Tim 4 are not necessarily telling *everybody* not to marry. The text does not imply that. But they are telling some persons. An episkopos is a person. A Catholic episkopos meets a woman and wants to marry her. But he is forbidden to by a church rule that is not in scripture. It fits Paul’s description.

          • Albert

            It is Roman Catholicism, not me, that demands fasting in Lent, and on Fridays (no meat). In our congregation we fast corporately and individually for specific things, not to a calendar.

            Both are consistent with scripture.

            I’ve already stated above what I take “enrolled” to mean. Do go up the thread and reread it.

            I already quoted what you on this. I can’t go throw such a long thread. Why don’t you just explain it again, if it is not the position I quoted you on?

            The liars to whom Paul refers in 1 Tim 4 are not necessarily telling *everybody* not to marry. The text does not imply that. But they are telling some persons. An episkopos is a person. A Catholic episkopos meets a woman and wants to marry her. But he is forbidden to by a church rule that is not in scripture. It fits Paul’s description.

            The point there is that it is unclear. That is evident from your use of the word “necessarily”. The passage does not require your reading, although the comparison with fasting is instructive. There of course, Paul isn’t talking about giving up certain foods at certain as being luxurious, but more likely foods considered unclean. Thus, you cannot simply cite the words and assume you have the meaning.

            An episkopos is a person. A Catholic episkopos meets a woman and wants to marry her. But he is forbidden to by a church rule that is not in scripture.

            Yes it is. Because on your legalistic reading, he couldn’t be an episkopos unless he was already married.

          • Anton

            And on your church’s legalistic reading he could only be an episkopos if he *wasn’t* married, despite Paul’s references to wife and kids. If a RC episkopos meets a woman he wishes to marry, he is forbidden to. That matches exactly the situation Paul speaks of in 1 Tim 4. As for 1 Tim 3, that the exact application is not totally clear in its fine details is irrelevant to the fact that Paul refers to the episkopos as a man of one woman and refers to his children. You have to be very highly educated indeed to find that hard to understand.

          • Albert

            But what you aren’t getting is that no one actually follows precisely what Paul says, and it would be such an odd Church if we read him so unintelligently, that it is surely the case that Paul never intended such a reading. We are all adapting to our particular circumstances. It’s special pleading to demand that of us, but no one else. You have given no adequate explanation for the details of 1 Tim.3&5.

            Even your own argument is contradictory. On the one hand you say that our episkopoi are not those of the NT. Fine. Then 1 Tim.3 does not apply to us, but it does apply to you (at least you claim it does) and yet you don’t follow it literally either. Just as you employ special pleading to avoid the plain meaning of 1 Tim.5 with regards to widows. In the light of the example of Christ and St Paul and the plain teaching of both, and the fact that you don’t follow a literal reading of 1 Tim.3&5, I find it extraordinary that you suddenly demand, on the basis of 1 Tim.3 that an episkopos be married. Why does he not have to be all the other things? If on the other hand you have a broader reading of the word “episkopos” to include our episkopoi, then why will you not allow a broader reading of the rest of the passage – especially to make the passage comprehensible in the light of everything else the NT says?

            You lurch between legalism and liberalism and between exegesis and eisegesis,not with a view to finding out what scripture says but with a view to making scripture match your congregation but condemn ours. If you’re going to do that, why bother with scripture at all? Just condemn us like the secularists do.

            That matches exactly the situation Paul speaks of in 1 Tim 4.

            What is the situation in 1 Tim.4?

          • Anton

            You have given no adequate explanation for the details of 1 Tim.3&5.

            I’ve given no explanation that satisfies you, but I am becoming sceptical that any such exists or could exist even where I believe there are clear contradictions between Rome and scripture. That’s why it is sometimes sufficient for me to point out to any readers where I believe those contradictions are; certainly I have been enabled to clarify my position.

            I’ve quoted 1 Tim 4 already above and explained its applicability. Please reread my comments.

          • Albert

            I’ve given no explanation that satisfies you

            Or may be it is that your position is just unsatisfactory. I hold the same view on you and what I regard as unscriptural elements in Protestantism.

            I’ve quoted 1 Tim 4 already above and explained its applicability. Please reread my comments.

            As usual, I do not see that you have made any points which I have not responded to. You recently tried this suggestion that I reread your comments, but that was in answer to a post in which I had directly quoted one of your posts on that topic. No clarification was forthcoming.

            A case in point:

            I’ve quoted 1 Tim 4 already above and explained its applicability. Please reread my comments.

            It was not the quotation or the applicability that I was questioning, but your claim about the situation of 1 Tim.4. Again, no explanation of what that situation was, and how you know, has been forthcoming (I’ve just checked). So I ask again, what is the situation of Paul’s writing? Your claim was about the situation:

            That matches exactly the situation Paul speaks of in 1 Tim 4.

            So I think this “please reread my comments” gambit is wearing thin. When I re-read your comments, I find you have ignored your own earlier points, or are in fact entirely silent on thing you claim to have expressed already. And that’s without commenting on the situations in which I have already provided an answer to your arguments, suggesting that they contradict scripture or suffer some other implausibility.

          • Anton

            It’s not a gambit. I’ve explained myself as fully as I am able, and I am satisfied with my explanations. I acknowledge that you are not.

          • Albert

            You think that to quote something and to suggest its applicability is to explain its situation? Each of those words is yours – I am not putting them into your mouth. Thus I cannot see how you are satisfied with your explanations. If we all did that, it would be very easy to condemn anyone, but we would not thereby speak for scripture.

          • Anton

            I’m sorry but I’ve better ways to spend my time than dispute with someone who won’t concede that the mandatorily celibate Roman Catholic episcopacy is inconsistent with Paul’s words to Timothy that an episkopos should be a man of one woman whose children respect him. I am happy to continue broadcasting that that is your position, however.

          • Albert

            Well, it’s a bit late to say that now – we’ve been arguing for about two weeks! It’s also a little odd that you pick out one feature and claim that as Paul’s position, but quietly ignore all the other things he says that contradict your position and practice. You basically take a situational view of the passage except where it suits (which effectively means exonerate you and condemn Catholicism).

            If that’s Protestantism, I’m glad I’m out of it

          • Anton

            You don’t need me to learn what protestantism is. Just read the Bible under the assumption that all Christians and collectives of Christians are capable of error.

          • Albert

            Which would lead me to believe that Christ’s promise to lead us into all truth is void.

            BTW do women cover their heads when they pray in your congregation?

          • Anton

            That promise is for those who have the Holy Spirit. Not all who call themselves Christian do. The dividing line is not between Catholic and protestant but within both sets; therefore both sets are capable of error.

            What do you understand by a head covering?

          • Albert

            How does an individual know whether he has the Holy Spirit?

            What do you understand by a head covering?

            I suppose that depends on the “situation” Paul was writing in. How do you understand it? What happens at your place?

            The true Church cannot err.

          • Anton

            Who told you that? What you take to be the true church?

            As for head coverings, Jesus answered a catch question with another question that the pharisees declined, following which he refused to answer them. That’s good enough precedent for me.

          • Albert

            Who told you that? What you take to be the true church?

            Yes, but I’d worked it out anyway. It follows from the nature of faith.

            As for head coverings, Jesus answered a catch question with another question that the pharisees declined, following which he refused to answer them. That’s good enough precedent for me.

            There is no precedent here. Jesus’ reasons for not replying clearly were that he would have been crucified too early if he told them the truth. It seems to me that your position would be better seen in his words:

            But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

            Why not just put out there what your congregation does? Or what can I learn from your unwilling to say?

            This is one of the many problems of this discussion. The Catholic Church, as befits the light of the world, is a city built on a hill top that cannot be hidden. Thus it is easy to criticise us. But who can tell what goes on in your congregation when you will not bring it into the light?

          • Anton

            Infer what you like; like Jesus, I don’t answer questions put in bad faith. Or answer my question about the nature of the head covering first.

            I put my trust in Jesus, not any church. Certainly not yours, given (among other things) the blatant contradiction between its mandatorily celibate episcopacy and Paul’s words to Timothy that an episkopos should be a man of one woman whose children respect him. The wiggle room regarding those verses is not sufficient to reduce them to meaninglessness as would be necessary to reconcile them with Catholic practice.

          • Albert

            Infer what you like; like Jesus, I don’t answer questions put in bad faith.

            Says he who has just been trying to critique the Catholic Church for two weeks on the grounds that it deviates from scripture. You have the advantage that your church is not built on a hill top. Who knows what goes on in your congregation? Therefore, I have to ask, whereas you can know in advance of asking what we do.

            You seem still to be missing the point (and if you got this you wouldn’t have the arrogance to claim to see into my soul by accusing me of bad faith). The issue is that all congregations in some ways recognize things found in scripture as being situational and not universal. If your congregation was built on a hill top I would already know what they were and then you would perhaps begin to grasp what I am saying about 1 Tim. But as it is, your congregation is hidden and so it is hard for me to illustrate my position with reference to yours. You see, you need to withdraw you claim of bad faith.

            I did not mean not to comment on the head covering, it got lost in my exposure of the inadequacy of your claiming to be like Jesus when he refused a question. I take a head covering to be at least, something, in addition to hair or hair preparation like a clip or band, which is placed on the head. My purpose in setting out this definition is to keep the meaning of the passage without knowing exactly what form the head covering Paul may have known.

            I put my trust in Jesus, not any church. Certainly not yours

            But mine is his!

            given (among other things) the blatant contradiction between its mandatorily celibate episcopacy and Paul’s words to Timothy that an episkopos should be a man of one woman whose children respect him.

            I agree it is contradictory, if one takes the passage in all literalness. But that would lead to absurdities, which even you won’t defend. Therefore, all literalness is not appropriate here. I put it to your that, on the terms you wish to impose on us, your congregation violates scripture by:

            1. Allowing widowed episkopoi to continue in ministry.

            2. Allowing married episkopoi to have that ministry even if they do not have children.

            3. Not having an order of widows.

            4. Allowing women to pray without covering their heads.

            I think that I have only had an answer to point 1. That’s sufficient to demonstrate my point. It’s hard to get an answer from you on 2 and 4, so I ask you whether you follow the letter of scripture here. As for 3, the only way of getting off that hook is by saying it is about baptism, but unless you are in the business of refusing baptism to women who are not well attested for her good deeds, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, relieved the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way you violate scripture also.

            I would further point out the contradiction here in Paul’s literal words is interesting. You want to say, that an episkopos must be married because he must have demonstrated he can care for his children. But a similar formula is used of the requirement of widows in 1 Tim. 5: as one who has brought up children. But Paul makes it clear earlier in the chapter, that he does not mean by this that a widow must have had children:

            If a widow has children or grandchildren.

            So contrary to what he says later, a widow can be a widow without children. In fact, vs.4-5 rather suggests a widow cannot be enrolled if she does have children. So Paul’s teaching is just contradictory if we take him with all literalness. But that makes no sense. Clearly then, Paul’s point is that if a widow has children, she must have brought them up (well presumably, though he doesn’t say that!). But a woman who has had children but failed in that task because she is a gossip cannot be enrolled. Contrary to a woodenly literal reading, a widow can be a widow if she has never had children.

            Thus Paul’s position cannot be taken in all literalness as you would have it with the purpose of condemning us. And if it is so taken your practice will contradict scripture one way or another.

            None of which is me arguing your congregation is contrary to scripture. It’s me arguing that it is contrary to scripture by your own standards of biblical interpretation. So condemn us if you like, but know that you condemn yourself, if you so do.

          • Anton

            I agree it is contradictory, if one takes the passage in all literalness. But that would lead to absurdities, which even you won’t defend”

            The absurdity here is Rome’s deviation from scripture.

            Because you have asserted that I’m accusing you of bad faith: I’m not; I’m asserting that you have Roman blinkers on. I think you really believe what you write. I find that fact extraordinary, but that’s my problem. And it’s simply an assertion; if you regard it as an accusation, that is your imputation.

            I’m not sure about the meaning of the head covering either.

            My congregation is not hidden, by the way; I am simply choosing not to publicise it *here*, just as I don’t give my full name.

            I wrote: “I put my trust in Jesus, not any church. Certainly not yours” and you replied: But mine is his!

            Yes, the Orthodox say that too. And others.

            So condemn us if you like, but know that you condemn yourself, if you so do.

            Only if your reasoning above is watertight!

            Re your points 1-4, 1 & 2 relate to the wiggle room over 1 Tim 3 that we both accept exists, but (as I’ve said) the wiggle room is not infinite and cannot be used to reduce scripture to meaninglessness – and the contradiction with Catholic practice stands. Re 3, we disagree for the reasons already expounded above in the thread; please reread. Re 4, it is extraordinary that you make a assertion about my congregation without my having told you what goes on in it. Why then should I bother to?

          • Albert

            Because you have asserted that I’m accusing you of bad faith: I’m not; I’m asserting that you have Roman blinkers on. I think you really believe what you write. I find that fact extraordinary, but that’s my problem. And it’s simply an assertion; if you regard it as an accusation, that is your imputation.

            Well, this is what you said:

            Infer what you like; like Jesus, I don’t answer questions put in bad faith. Or answer my question about the nature of the head covering first.

            How can that not be an accusation?

            I’m not sure about the meaning of the head covering either.

            But we can agree that it involves the head being covered in some way, can we not? Does that happen in your congregation?

            My congregation is not hidden, by the way; I am simply choosing not to publicise it *here*, just as I don’t give my full name.

            I’m not asking for you to tell me where you worship. It’s just that when I try to find out whether your congregation is consistent with your literalist approach to scripture, you become somewhat coy. I wonder why.

            Yes, the Orthodox say that too. And others.

            What difference does that make?

            Re your points 1-4, 1 & 2 relate to the wiggle room over 1 Tim 3 that we both accept exists, but (as I’ve said) the wiggle room is not infinite and cannot be used to reduce scripture to meaninglessness – and the contradiction with Catholic practice stands.

            But what all the things put together show is that Paul had a view that, if someone was married, and they had children then that person needed to show they could manage their household properly before they could take responsibility in the Church. Now if that is what it means – and the issues in 1 Tim.5 show that, not to mention his own celibacy and teaching on that – then it follows that your whole argument fails, as contrary to the meaning of scripture.

            If you take 1 Tim.5 at the level of your literalness for 1 Tim.3 the chapter itself becomes contradictory, thus, I argue, your interpretation is contrary to the meaning intended by the Holy Spirit, since God is not a God of confusion.

            Re 3, we disagree for the reasons already expounded above in the thread; please reread.

            My Protestant commentary on this book eschews your interpretation of both passages. It points out that the expression “husband of one wife” (cf. something similar of the widow) is a figure of speech which can be variously translated, but probably not in the way that you want (even if that is the literal meaning of the word). Where we disagree is over the fact that you take a lot of that passage as non binding, except for the bit which is probably a figure of speech!

            Re 4, it is extraordinary that you make a assertion about my congregation without my having told you what goes on in it. Why then should I bother to?

            I did not make an accusation – except on the point where you have admitted your congregation deviates from your interpretation of scripture and on 3 where you deviate to what I take to be an utterly reasonable interpretation of scripture, so as not to condemn your own congregation (a condemnation which, I repeat, I wouldn’t foist on your congregation even if you don’t have an order widows). I made it explicitly clear that I did not have any information on the rest. I was suggesting that, given the evidence I had (which is that you seem to avoid answering these questions even while you are happy to talk at length about what you take to be our shortcomings) this was a likely inference. I was inviting you to knock down the suggestions. But you haven’t taken me up on that. Curious.

          • Anton

            OK, I did imply that you were asking a question in bad faith. I forgot that and in regard to that particular question I stand by it. But nothing here is so curious as your claim that there is no contradiction between the Vatican’s mandatorily celibate episcopacy and Paul’s words to Timothy that an episkopos should be a man of one woman whose children respect him.

          • Albert

            Thank you for being honest. I’m sorry and baffled that you think you know what is in my soul. I hope you have a good defence for when you stand before Him who does know what is in my soul.

            But nothing here is so curious as your claim that there is no contradiction between the Vatican’s mandatorily celibate episcopacy and Paul’s words to Timothy that an episkopos should be a man of one woman whose children respect him.

            Then you need to read more carefully. I have already said, it is plainly contradictory at the level of the literal meaning of the words. But I have shown that the passage should not be taken in such a wooden way: you don’t it results in absurdities, an understanding of the figure of speech at use here means its literal meaning is not a literalistic meaning and comparison with things Paul says only a few lines later shows that he did not intend in that way. Thus there is no contradiction between the Catholic position, and the passage.

            I notice that you have not taken the opportunity to show that your congregation does not violate scripture on those various topics I raised. It would be nice if you would have the openness and be fair-minded enough to tell me the truth on those things, especially given the nature of your attacks on the Catholic Church. I doubt that you will though.

          • Anton

            There is no “defence” from God. You are again thinking legalistically. Those who have faith get let off. That does grant excuse to behave with license, but I think you would do well to consider my words about blinkers, and about eisegesis toward a desired end rather than exegesis to follow the scriptures wherever they lead, rather than suppose I am wronging you.

            Like Jesus I’m not answering catch questions.

            You claim that there is no contradiction between the Vatican’s mandatorily celibate episcopacy and Paul’s words to Timothy that an episkopos should be a man of one woman whose children respect him. That is auto-discrediting which is why I am willing to repeat it. As Paul says, if a man cannot run his own household well, how can he run God’s? That is not a transient reason that can apply only in the church’s first generation. And you determinedly ignore the fact that *some* uncertainty over the application of Paul’s words is not the same as reducing them to meaninglessness. Is it not the case that you have to ignore it, because otherwise the Catholic position would be falsified?

          • Albert

            There is no “defence” from God. You are again thinking legalistically.

            The whole notion of justification is legal terminology. What do you think it means when Jesus says:

            But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man

            and

            I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

            Those who have faith get let off.

            The Bible says:

            For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

            and

            Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’

            You go on:

            I think you would do well to consider my words about blinkers, and about eisegesis toward a desired end rather than exegesis to follow the scriptures wherever they lead, rather than suppose I am wronging you.

            You say that I am acting in bad faith. You wrong me. And I have repeatedly shown that scripture cannot possibly mean what you need it to mean for it not to condemn you, by your interpretation.

            Like Jesus I’m not answering catch questions.

            You’re not like Jesus. What you have done is to spend a great deal of time attacking us by standards, which it does not appear apply to you.

            You claim that there is no contradiction between the Vatican’s mandatorily celibate episcopacy and Paul’s words to Timothy that an episkopos should be a man of one woman whose children respect him.

            I did not say that. I said that there is no contradiction with what he means – and that his meaning is clear from a range of considerations.

            As Paul says, if a man cannot run his own household well, how can he run God’s?

            But does not Paul, who was celibate also run God’s household? So you condemn the Lord for appointing him despite him never having run his own household. Your position is quite bonkers. And in 1 Tim 5, Paul says that widows must be one who has brought up children and yet only a few verses earlier he makes it clear that she doe snot need to have brought up children. The point in both cases is the same: if the person has had children, they must have brought them up well. I think you admit that a man who is married but childless can be an episkopos, so your interpretation is a kind of doublespeak – you condemn yourself from your own mouth.

            That is not a transient reason that can apply only in the church’s first generation.

            And yet your bizarre attempt explain away 1 tim.5.11 was precisely to speak of it applying only to the church’s first generation. So again you condemn yourself from your own mouth.

            And you determinedly ignore the fact that *some* uncertainty over the application of Paul’s words is not the same as reducing them to meaninglessness.

            I haven’t done that – I have simply excluded your interpretation as false given how Paul uses the language.

            Is it not the case that you have to ignore it, because otherwise the Catholic position would be falsified?

            I can happily follow the Protestant exegete on my shelf and have no worries about the Catholic position. The truth is, you are determined to try to falsify the Catholic position, while hiding your own, and you are determined to do so, even by recourse to extraordinary eisegesis, absurdity and inconsistency.

            Even with your attempts to hide what goes on in your own congregation, it is still evidence that your congregation is condemned by your own interpretation, since you allow episkpoi to carry on even when widowed.

          • Anton

            If you really are operating in good faith then you have, in the past, blinded yourself to the faults of Catholicism to a degree I have never before encountered in intelligent men, and I count among my friends some truly hardline Catholics. Anybody who can say and mean that a mandatorily celibate episkopacy is consistent with scriptures saying that episkopoi should be men of one woman each, whose children respect them, because to run God’s family you have to run your own well, is blind. And I am unable to make the blind see; Christ alone can do that. If he does, come back to me.

            You continue to ignore my point that, while there is some uncertainty over the exact applicability of the verse, that uncertainty is not infinite, as it would have to be for the Catholic position to hold. Is that because it is fatal to your position? Also I never said that 1 Tim 5:11 is applicable to only the first generation of the church; I suggest it is relevant wherever there are too few Christian men for Christian widows to remarry. That will be the case in many newly evangelised lands throughout the last 2000 years.

            There is indeed a legal aspect to atonement, but it is not the only one. I don’t know how to explain the wider aspects of the grace that is involved in the atonement to someone who sees it *all* as a legal process.

            Even with your attempts to hide what goes on in your own congregation, it is still evidence that your congregation is condemned by your own interpretation, since you allow episkpoi to carry on even when widowed.

            Try that one in a courtroom outside your head rather than the one inside it!

          • Albert

            If you really are operating in good faith then you have, in the past, blinded yourself to the faults of Catholicism to a degree I have never before encountered in intelligent men, and I count among my friends some truly hardline Catholics.

            Or may be you just don’t understand what I am going on about. But rather than have the humility to wonder if you just don’t get what I am sdaying, you would prefer to accuse me of bad faith. Bad show, Anton.

            Anybody who can say and mean that a mandatorily celibate episkopacy is consistent with scriptures saying that episkopoi should be men of one woman each, whose children respect them, because to run God’s family you have to run your own well, is blind.

            But you think that it is possible to be an episkopos, even if one is widowed, and I think you also hold it to be possible, even if he is married and childless. How do you reconcile that? I’m sure you do it the same way I do it. Also, you don’t appear to have an order of widows, and you don’t seem able to see that what Paul says about marriage and widows sheds light on 1 Tim.3. You also don’t seem to get that the Protestant commentary I have, which is hardly defending Catholicism, nevertheless, disagrees with you on your interpretation. Think it possible, Anton, that your understanding of scripture, is mistaken. You’d better hope it is, because otherwise, you contradict the passage yourself when you allow a widowed episkopos.

            And I am unable to make the blind see; Christ alone can do that. If he does, come back to me.

            Such arrogance. Is it possible that it is your arrogance that prevents you from seeing your own position as being different from scripture? After all, scripture says:

            The LORD detests the proud

            You go on:

            You continue to ignore my point that, while there is some uncertainty over the exact applicability of the verse, that uncertainty is not infinite, as it would have to be for the Catholic position to hold.

            I have answered that already several times. My claim is not that the uncertainty means the meaning is infinite (what a bizarre thing to say), my claim is that clarity brought from other passages shows the meaning of the passage is not yours. You set Paul against himself.

            Also I never said that 1 Tim 5:11 is applicable to only the first generation of the church

            Your point was to say that passage applied in the early church but does not apply now. That’s all I need for my point.

            There is indeed a legal aspect to atonement, but it is not the only one. I don’t know how to explain the wider aspects of the grace that is involved in the atonement to someone who sees it *all* as a legal process.

            Where on earth have I said that? Again, the lack of charity is astonishing. You accuse me of bad faith and then impute to me things I have not said and do not believe. This comment of yours is apparently directed against the scripture I quoted. Enough said.

            Try that one in a courtroom outside your head rather than the one inside it!

            Well, why will you not say what your congregation does? Should not the church be a city built on a hill top not hinder under a basin? I fear the reason may not be a good one.

          • Anton

            As I have told you, and just like Jesus, I don’t answer questions put with design to trap. I call that practice bad faith. Now you pose as the wronged party because of that comment!

            Think it possible, Albert, that your understanding of scripture, is mistaken. And once again, in your comment that otherwise, you contradict the passage yourself when you allow a widowed episkopos, you ignore my point that uncertainty over how widely a passage is applicable is not of infinite extent. Is that because it is fatal to your position that a mandatorily celibate episkopacy is scriptural?

            Re 1 Tim 5 I think simply that you have distorted what I said. Generally, this is a dialogue between you and me about scripture, so I am not interested in the commentaries you quote. Let them simply inform your words.

          • Albert

            As I have told you, and just like Jesus, I don’t answer questions put with design to trap. I call that practice bad faith. Now you pose as the wronged party because of that comment!

            You have spent a lot of time condemning us. Well, Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” All I am asking is that there be a level playing field. Asking that you judge yourself by the same standard as you subject us to is not a trap. It’s justice! Although if you think it is a trap, it would seem to be because you know your position will not stand in the light of scripture, and so you hide it. But then you accuse me of bad faith.

            Think it possible, Albert, that your understanding of scripture, is mistaken.

            It is entirely possible. But you raise the standard for yourself by condemning my Church and me as having bad faith. In your previous post you accused me of a moral failing as being the cause of my interpretation. Is that something you are entitled to impute Anton, when it might just be that you misunderstand what scripture means.

            And once again, in your comment…you ignore my point that uncertainty over how widely a passage is applicable is not of infinite extent.

            How can you possibly say that, when what I wrote was:

            My claim is not that the uncertainty means the meaning is infinite (what a bizarre thing to say), my claim is that clarity brought from other passages shows the meaning of the passage is not yours.

            In saying the meaning is not yours, I am necessarily limiting the meaning of the passage.

            Re 1 Tim 5 I think simply that you have distorted what I said.

            How? Did you not claim that the passage applied then, when there were fewer men to marry within the faith? And was not your conclusion that therefore, the passage did not apply now? If that isn’t your position, what is it?

            Generally, this is a dialogue between you and me about scripture, so I am not interested in the commentaries you quote.

            Well then, don’t try to see into my motivation. Your claim was that I only took the position I do because of the Catholic Church. You forget that I wasn’t always a Catholic. I simply do not think that the passage can be interpreted as you do. It results in flat contradictions. I used my Protestant exegete just as surety that this is not Catholic blindness, since a Protestant can reject your reading, with similar arguments.

          • Anton

            Well, it seems you can go round in circles without my help from now on.

          • Albert

            I only go round in circles because I keep having to make points you will not answer. I think your congregation is condemned out of your own mouth. That’s what you get for judging us.

          • Anton

            A very odd comment given that I declined to answer your question about it.

          • Albert

            Which was odd in itself…but I was talking about the thing you had admitted.

          • Anton

            I told you that, like Jesus, I don’t answer questions designed to trip one up. *Admitted* is courtroom language again, OT style.

          • Albert

            You like to take shots at others without being shot yourself. That is not the way of Christ. Admitted is courtroom, but not only courtroom language. You don’t follow 1 Tim.3 literally, but you condemn us for not doing so. That is not the way of Christ, either.

          • Anton

            I don’t mind cut and thrust. How determinedly you refuse the notion that ambiguity in the application of 1 Tim 3, while existing, is not unlimited. Unlimited ambiguity means anything can mean anything, which his absurd. This limitation is deadly to the fidelity to scripture of the Catholic *mandatorially* celibate episcopacy.

          • Albert

            I don’t mind cut and thrust. How determinedly you refuse the notion that ambiguity in the application of 1 Tim 3, while existing, is not unlimited.

            This is just untrue. I have on two occasions explicitly denied that. I have also given an interpretation which falsifies that claim. Your problem is that you don’t realise that because I disagree with your interpretation (which requires one to move arbitrarily from literal to non-literal depending on which bits suit or do not suit your case and in such a way as to reduce Paul’s reasoning in 1 Tim.5 to literal absurdity). That’s nothing to do with thinking the passage has infinite meaning, it has, on the contrary to see that it has a meaning which is not contradictory.

          • Anton

            I disagree with most of that. Let readers decide.

          • Albert

            Actually, let God decide.

          • Anton

            That’s what scripture is for.

          • Albert

            Let God decide which is the meaning he intended. You don’t seem to be able to distinguish between scripture, your interpretation of scripture, and God’s meaning in scripture.

          • Anton

            But that’s what I think of you.

          • Albert

            That’s a bit silly. I don’t believe in sola scriptura, or the perspicuity of scripture. Necessarily then, I recognize a distinction between scripture, my interpretation of it, and God’s meaning. But for you Protestants, there is a level in which they must be the same, for how else could you know God’s meaning unless they coincide?

          • Anton

            Interpretation enters only when verses are hard to understand, which most aren’t. You are concentrating on the exception rather than the rule. Even then one generally need only know the cultural background. It is not necessary to pack off the Bible to the academy and philosophers to make sense of, for God speaks in a way that his people will understand. He is God and he is aware how to speak so as to be understood by believers. Misunderstandings are the exception rather than the rule.

          • Albert

            Interpretation enters only when verses are hard to understand, which most aren’t. You are concentrating on the exception rather than the rule.

            No I’m not. All language has to be interpreted. How much more when it is God’s language?

            Even then one generally need only know the cultural background.

            What an incredibly naturalistic view of scripture you have.

            Misunderstandings are the exception rather than the rule.

            Really? When was the last time you looked at the history of heresy?

          • Anton

            We’ve been round that above; please refer. What an incredibly sophisticated view of scripture you have!

          • Albert

            We have certainly been in the situation where you suggest I should read things you claim to have written earlier. But as we have also seen before, it doesn’t follow that it is actually there.

            What an incredibly sophisticated view of scripture you have!

            There’s no need to sniff. Scripture is inspired by God. It is given that we may comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth. It’s not something that can be reduced to the coordinates of your, or any human mind:

            First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

          • Anton

            We have certainly been in the situation where you suggest I should read things you claim to have written earlier. But as we have also seen before, it doesn’t follow that it is actually there.

            Check it out for yourself then!

          • Albert

            I’ve wasted too much time doing that before, only find it wasn’t there.

          • Anton

            Happened once in about 10 upward referrals, because of my imperfect memory which I conceded at the time. Don’t look, then.

          • Albert

            I think it is more than that – at one point you forgot what you had said yourself! But the point is this. If you ask me a question, I show you the courtesy of giving you the answer again so you don’t have look. If I ask you a question, you tell me you have already answered it and expect me to go and look – even though we know it often isn’t there at all, and it is very hard to find things on a long thread. I think you should do your own defending, TBH, because after a while, it looks like you are just being evasive. Just as you are, when you make accusations against us, but mysterious refuse to give enough data about your own congregation to see if you are being hypocritical.

          • Anton

            Not more hypocritical than Jesus when he refused to answer catch questions. I’m sorry if you think that a request to re-examine our existing dialogue is unreasonable.

          • Albert

            I’m sorry, you cannot draw comparisons between yourself and Jesus (obviously). Jesus refused to answer catch questions, not because they were catch questions (see how he answers at his trials), but because he was not ready to be crucified.

            In contrast, my questions are not catch questions – they are designed simply to see whether you apply the same standards to yourself as you use to condemn others.

            I would point out that I don’t actually need you to answer my questions – you’ve already shown you don’t accept all of 1 Tim.3 at the literal level, and no one can accept 1 Tim.5 in that way without accusing scripture of absurdity.

          • Anton

            Jesus is my model and I don’t think you can be as confident as you are what his reasons were. As for 1 Tim 3 and 5, readers may view my explanations of these above and decide for themselves whether your last sentence preceding is accurate.

          • Albert

            It’s your argument that you are being like Jesus, so you must know his reasons. He does sometimes answer catch questions. So you must know why he doesn’t when he doesn’t and why he does when he does.

            As for 1 Tim 3 and 5, readers may view my explanations of these above and decide for themselves whether your last sentence preceding is accurate.

            As usual, you appeal to the gallery. Perhaps that’s the reason you don’t want a fair fight. Anyway, I think it’s pretty obvious that you don’t follow 1 Tim 3 and that 1 Tim 5, if read as you read it, is contradictory. I’m happy for anyone still reading this to judge that.

          • Anton

            Fair fight is false analogy. In a fight, one side is knocked out and can’t continue. In internet dialogue, one side can make what it considers a decisive point and the other side can continue speaking. I consider that you have been, Perhaps you think the same of me. But it isn’t an accurate analogy.

            Allow me to clarify: Jesus did not answer catch questions in the terms in which they were put to him, even when he did give a verbal response to the questioner.

          • Albert

            Allow me to clarify: Jesus did not answer catch questions in the terms in which they were put to him, even when he did give a verbal response to the questioner.

            Yes, he did:

            Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

            I consider that you have been, Perhaps you think the same of me.

            I most certainly do of you. It’s hilarious that you think that of me, given that you don’t even answer the points I direct against you. It seems to me that you are evasive because when you do try to answer, your answer is obviously false. I don’t expect anyone reading this would be taken in by your suggestion (which you later denied, but it was there) that Paul is talking about baptism in 1 Tim.5.11.

          • Anton

            Then we clearly have different expectations. And I consider some of your replies to be “obviously false” too.

          • Albert

            Fine. But I show why -repeatedly. You simply refer me to comments you haven’t made.

          • Anton

            You said, based on one error I made, that you weren’t willing to check.

            Jesus, by the way, could have prevented himself getting crucified and still answered any question he wished. He was God. See also Luke 4:28-30.

          • Albert

            Based on several errors.

            Jesus, by the way, could have prevented himself getting crucified and still answered any question he wished. He was God.

            But he was also man, and thus not in fact, above human history and society as you imply. There was no guarantee that he could slip away from the crowd as he does in Luke 4 – unless he was to perform a miracle of course.

          • Anton

            And who knows that? Not me, and not you.

          • Albert

            If you don’t know what Jesus can and cannot do, you cannot make your argument. But just leaves mine…

          • Anton

            No, you are implicitly reckoning you know where the dividing line is in Him between the divine and the human. Was Luke 4 a miracle or not? Neither of us knows…

          • Albert

            Your argument requires you to know that. But you’ve admitted you don’t.

          • Anton

            Ditto!

          • Albert

            My argument is a response to yours. You have the burden of proof here. For your argument to work, you need to know why Jesus did not answer some questions in order to show that he provides some kind of precedent for you not answering the questions I ask you. The moment you admit you don’t know (and you’ve done that) your argument rests on nothing.

          • Anton

            Burden of proof in whose eyes? That is legalism again, together with your twisted rhetoric.

          • Albert

            An argument which is ultimately without evidence or reasoning, is not really an argument.

          • Anton

            Indeed it isn’t! (Various of your comments passim.)

          • Albert

            For example?

          • Anton

            Readers won’t find that hard to answer. I’ve shown what I consider to be errors in your reasoning multiple times above.

          • Albert

            Of course – is that an answer, or just another evasion? What they will find is serial occasions where you seek to judge others by standards you avoid for yourself.

          • Anton

            In your opinion. I’m happy for people to read this thread from top to bottom and decide that for themselves.

          • Albert

            Why not give them a helping hand and show them? You seem to want to make everyone do all the donkey for you.

          • Anton

            Reading an online thread is not so hard as you seem to think it is.

          • Albert

            It is when the points aren’t there. Also you can only get so many comments on a page, so you can’t search easily. Why not just help people out, and give examples? I would.

          • Anton

            I think you just want to go round the houses again. I consider that I’ve made my points.

          • Albert

            No. I want to expose the fact that you seem a little shy about bringing up the points where you say you have answered the arguments against you. Readers can judge for themselves.

          • Anton

            I think you just want to go round the houses again. I’ve made my points I want to.

          • Albert

            I’ve made my points I want to.

            Quite! That’s the problem. You set out to make certain points against the Catholic Church and you made them. Then you discovered that they could be applied against you and you didn’t like it.

          • Anton

            That is not an accurate summary of the situation, as readers may verify for themselves.

          • James M

            And Christ was betrayed by one Apostle, denied by another, deserted by others, and chose as the “vessel of election” a man with Christian blood on his hands, who seems, to judge from Acts never to have got over what he had done before his conversion.

            If the moral probity of its agents is to be the test of Christianity, it was DOA in the Apostolic Age – never mind the 9th or 16th centuries. Besides, it’s not very gracious to go digging up other men’s sins, alleged or real – and it tempts people to respond in kind, which is not gracious either 🙂 The only result is to increase ill-feeling on both sides: hardly something members of a *reconciling* Church should do. Accusation is not God’s activity – He, is not the accuser. Someone else does that.

          • Albert

            It also of course, plays into the hands of unbelievers who, not knowing the theology, think the poor behaviour of churchmen falsifies the Church. Thus it’s quite a bad move for a Protestant to make for confessional reasons.

          • Anton

            At some point a new convert has to choose a congregation and (unless he goes to an independent one) a denomination. The historical record of denominations and of their leadership is a legitimate part of making that choice – in the light of 1 Tim 3 on the way church leaders should live – as well as being part of legitimate historical study per se.

            It’s similar to making a choice of spouse – St Paul says that you have to marry in the faith so you have to “judge” the faith of the people you meet.

          • Old Nick

            If it is an historical fiction, it is one as old as Bede, who lists seven Anglo-Saxon kings who possessed ‘imperium’ – and Bede was surely as aware as anyone else who has read any Roman history (even if his was the dimwitted Orosius) that ‘imperium’ is a complex word and does not mean merely ‘power’.

      • James M

        Such a reconciliation would be worthless, as such an eviscerated Catholicism would not be Catholic, but a fraud. Not a single dogma is negotiable, nor can any of them be, ever. There is no cause which could justify the surrender of even a single one. Death would be preferable.

        Gutting it of dogma would be suicidal, for all dogmas are believed with the same grace of faith – snip off the Immaculate Conception or Transubstantiation or Papal Infallibility or Indulgences, and there is no reason to believe in the Hypostatic Union or the Ascension of Christ or His Virginal Conception. They live – or die – together. To destroy the root of one, is to destroy the root of all. All that would be left would be “reconciliation” with a denatured and empty shell. It is far better that the two communions stay apart, than that such a “reconciliation” as that should happen.

        “Staunch Protestants” will of course have a very different view of the matter, and so they should, if they are in earnest about their Protestantism. To accuse them of bigotry, as some do, is
        ridiculous.

    • Who’s the “he” you are referring to, Inspector?

      • The Inspector General

        The monk…

        • Then, being Roman Catholic, he’s asking for no such thing.

  • IanCad

    The problem with this whole ecumenical business is that we know exactly who will become boss.

    • Yes, Our Lord Jesus Christ and His earthly representatives.

    • Albert

      That’s not a problem, that’s providence.

  • preacher

    where will it all end this denominational struggle for power & Authority, either shared or outright? God alone knows who are His children & who are charlatans, – Wolves in sheep’s clothing.
    Nicodemus was a religious & pious man, yet his famous meeting with Jesus showed that custom & tradition, even belonging to the right race & being a priest who strived to keep the law in a strictly orthodox religion was insufficient to guarantee being a child of God.
    The club one belongs to carries no weight at the final judgement. Only being born again of the Holy Spirit & salvation by Jesus’ Blood shed on the Cross of Calvary will suffice. This can not be taken for granted & should be top of the agenda at the Synod.
    Revival begins in the Church & only when the Church takes God seriously & turns in repentance, will God send it.

    • sarky

      From the outside all this squabbling looks pathetic, like handbags at dawn. Do you not care how you are percieved?

      • William Lewis

        Is truth not more important than perception? Even for an unreconstructed moral relativist such as yourself?

        • sarky

          Arh yes, but who judges whose truth is true?

          • William Lewis

            Either you or God. Take your pick.

      • IanCad

        Sarky,

        You should rejoice at this “squabbling,” for, if things were otherwise, there would be one religion. It would be powerful and likely to not tolerate dissent. It would write laws and endeavor to control the souls of men.

        The naivety of the irreligious never ceases to amaze me.

        Many years ago on Any Questions, when a little boy, I well remember Peter Hall’s response to a question about ecumenism. “Wonderful.” He said. “All religions are the same anyway.”

        Silly Man!
        Don’t copy him Sarky.

        • The Explorer

          Bertrand Russell, ridiculing religion, made the observation that Hindus say God forbids beef; whereas Muslims say it is pork that He forbids. Obviously, this distinction is so important that people must kill one another about it.

          Whatever one thinks of Russell, he was clear that not all religions say the same thing.

          • IanCad

            True; but to most Atheists, all considered impotent.

        • sarky

          Oh I am rejoicing. Anything that exposes the silliness of religion is a good thing.

        • Dreadnaught

          IC The naivety of the irreligious never ceases to amaze me.

          Don’t so naive IC 🙂

      • dannybhoy

        ” Do you not care how you are percieved?”

        We don’t need to.
        We’ve got you Sarky, our very own thorn in the flesh.. ;0)

      • preacher

        Hi Brother, From the outside looking in many things appear to be what they’re not! Wait until you’re on the inside before you make any statements or draw wrong conclusions, then many things will be much clearer.

        Blessings. P.

  • mbtimoney

    Sorry to be pedantic, but Fr. Cantalamessa is a friar, not a monk.

  • len

    “Fr Cantalamessa is “the only person allowed to preach to the Pope”,(that rules out the Holy Spirit then?

  • Albert

    I ask you the question you asked me. How long did it take you to write all that? You know I won’t read it.

    A concerted attack that attempted (without success, but failure doesn’t excuse the malevolence that provoked the attempt) to undermine my world view and make me question the very basis of my existence.

    You attacked my faith, and I defended it. Nothing that I said to you was intended to or should have caused you to doubt your existence. Nor did I set out to undermine your world view – rather you did that, firstly by attacking a doctrine of my Church and secondly by attacking the whole idea of faith. I simply defended my position. It’s a bit odd of you to complain about undermining your world-view, when you were clearly trying to do that to me.

    Now I understand that you say I was unsuccessful in defending my position to you. But I have told you what to do if you want to know if your position makes proper sense. I can’t really see the problem. What is so fragile about your epistemic position that it can’t take a little stress testing? I’m religious and yet I’ve taken the trouble to study secular philosophy, why don’t you? Now if you are convinced by your own position at the end of it, then what have you lost? Nothing. But you will have gained confidence in it and probably learnt to defend it better. But if your position is as problematic as I think it is, wouldn’t it be better for you find it out?

    So I just don’t see the problem, but I suggest that if philosophy bothers you so much, you don’t engage in it – and probably means, not attacking the religious beliefs of others.

    • Tutanekai

      Careful. More of your insufferable superiority complex is leaking out via self-satisfied remarks such as “I have told you what to do…” Have you indeed? And who in the hell are you to tell anyone what to do? God’s representative on earth? Or just a sad old man who’s fooled himself into thinking he’s an infallible oracle?

      “Pride goeth before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”. If you don’t recognise it, that’s a quote from your own holy book. Where are all these fruits of the Spirit that are supposed to rain down on true believers like you? Humility and forbearance are certainly conspicuous by their absence.

      I’m still waiting for proof that any of your fantastic stories about gods and demons and magical bread are true. And whether or not an evidentialist need for proof can be criticised, which I consider far from proven by the contrived objections you have raised, you have still not offered any justification for the efficacy of the religious approach.

      You believe a fantastic story because you want to believe it. That’s what your faith boils down to. But you can offer no convincing explanation of why your faith is better than anyone else’s. Even if you dispose of every other objection, you still can’t convince me that one fairy story is better than all the others.

      • Albert

        If I was a scientist arguing with a non-scientist it wouldn’t be pride if I thought I knew better than the other fellow. If he tried to critique say, the theory of evolution but did so only by misrepresenting it, it wouldn’t be arrogant of me to tell him his argument failed. If he misrepresented scientific method, I would not need to lack humility to correct him.

        If you want to argue about philosophical matters, in my opinion, you need to read some philosophy. If you want to argue about Christian doctrine, you need at least to know what it is. I’ve done both, and so therefore, yes, I do think I am informed on these matters. Does that make me arrogant? I don’t think so. What would make me arrogant is if I argued with similar self-confidence on matters that I haven’t studied…or threw a fit when I found I was answered.

        • Tutanekai

          You have not answered me. You’ve merely put forward a contrived set of ridiculous arguments that bear no relation to anything real. And you’ve done so in an arrogant and condescending manner conveying a clear message that you consider yourself to be some kind of moral authority, while I’m an ignorant fool who must be patronised and treated with contempt.

          This is the true face of Christianity. And it’s ugly.

          • Albert

            This is the true face of Christianity.

            Let’s not pretend that you started this as an honest enquiry about Christianity. You had your narrative, and it is that religious people are your intellectual inferiors and you started the argument to demonstrate that and to manifest your contempt of us. And now you’re piqued because it didn’t work out that way. But, eager to maintain your narrative, you’ve now moved to a purely personal attack on me (something which was never absent from your posts anyway), so that by saying I’m immoral you are able to claim that Christianity is immoral – a logical fallacy, if ever there was one.

            Personally, I would have thought I would have been more patronising if I had pretended you had attacked our doctrine instead of misunderstanding it, and that your epistemology wasn’t self-refuting.

          • Tutanekai

            I have never claimed that all Christians are less intelligent than all Atheists. But I do believe Christians lay whatever intelligence they possess aside when they start talking about gods and demons and magic bread.

            The intelligence that lets us work out cause and effect by stidying evidence is of no use when it comes to religious faith. And you don’t need to be intelligent to believe in god. As it’s an arbitrary decision based on nothing more than an emotional desire for Daddy to make everything alright, even the simplest minds can geasp it. Indeed the more naive and uncomprehenfing you are, the greater the likelihood is you’ll be religious. This is borne out by so many studies, it’s impossible to deny.

            As a group, Christians are less intelligent than Atheists. But that doesn’t mean every Christian is stupid. Just that he has a greater chance of being so.

            The important question here is why someone like you who is clearly possessed of a degree of intelligence chooses to lay that intelligence aside and seek answers in children’s tales of spooks and magic.

            To me the excuse that a particular philosophical argument doesn’t answer your questions to your satisfaction is not valid. Just because you judge one rational argument to be insufficient doesn’t mean that it’s justifiable to abandon rationality altogether and just make up answers as you go along. Which is what religion does, and then turns those answers into articles of faith that may not be disagreed with on pain of excommunication, or execution for apostasy, or whatever other dire punishment it feels will best preserve its stranglehold on “truth” and – even more importantly – its power and influence in society.

          • Albert

            But I do believe Christians lay whatever intelligence they possess aside when they start talking about gods and demons and magic bread.

            We don’t believe in magic bread. I don’t believe in gods, though I do believe in God. But I need evidence for this claim: Christians always lay aside their intelligence when they talk about God. At the moment, this claim is irrational by your standards.

            As it’s an arbitrary decision based on nothing more than an emotional desire for Daddy to make everything alright, even the simplest minds can geasp it.

            Always? Everywhere? What’s your evidence? What’s difficult about your posts is that you claim some kind of intellectual or moral high ground, while littering your posts with these kinds of prejudices. But if you have to get over these prejudices first, it’s not surprising that you find it hard to believe these things. I mean, what do you think I mean when I say I believe in God? What do you, do you think I am naming when I speak of “God”?

            To me the excuse that a particular philosophical argument doesn’t answer your questions to your satisfaction is not valid.

            It’s not an excuse. I simply cannot answer your questions on transubstantiation because they are not about that topic. Obviously, if our doctrine says the host continues to look like bread after the consecration, then our doctrine will not be answered by complaining that it continues to look like bread. That is our doctrine!

            Just because you judge one rational argument to be insufficient doesn’t mean that it’s justifiable to abandon rationality altogether and just make up answers as you go along.

            This is just anti-evidential. I do believe that there is sufficient reason, including evidence, to believe the things I do. But I freely admit it is insufficient to meet your bar. But then I think your bar is itself irrational, and so I will critique that, rather than submit to it.

            And that last point is part of the problem – actually your bar moves up and down depending on whether you want a particular belief to be true or not.

            Indeed the more naive and uncomprehenfing you are, the greater the likelihood is you’ll be religious. This is borne out by so many studies, it’s impossible to deny.

            I don’t deny that. The question is, what does it show? I say that what it shows is that it is natural to be religious. An atheist philosopher like Stephen Law admits that to a degree an atheist almost has to educate himself out of believing. This modern education does admirably, since it tends to assume naturalism.

          • Tutanekai

            If it’s natural to be religious and that makes it OK, why isn’t it OK to wreak revenge on someone who’s hurt you? After all, it’s natural to be angry and to want to wreak revenge. But Christianity tells us this is wrong. How can that be, if being natural is all that’s necessary to validate a feeling or an idea?

            So many things that are natural are called sin by Christianity that a Christian is going to have a lot of trouble justifying a belief in god by calling it natural.

            This is just one of the many and varied nonsensical ideas in Christian thinking. There are so many others, like human flesh masquerading as bread, human blood masquerading as wine, dead people coming to life, virgins suddenly reproducing, donkeys talking and pigs committing suicide, to name just a few.

            To believe in Christianity, you have to suspend belief in the way the world works. Bread and wine that a witchdoctor has chanted magic words over do not become flesh and blood. They remain as bread and wine. They look like bread and wine. They taste like bread and wine. To every human sense they ARE bread and wine. Nothing about them hints at any sort of miraculous new substance. So there is no proof they’re anything except what they always were.

            The eucharist is the Emperor’s New Clothes served up in a paten and chalice. Nothing happens, and we’re all supposed to marvel in wonder at the miracle of transubstantiation. If I see a miracle happen, then I’ll marvel in wonder at it. But until that happens, it’s just a fairy story. Nothing more.

          • Albert

            If it’s natural to be religious and that makes it OK, why isn’t it OK to wreak revenge on someone who’s hurt you?

            I never said that. I never meant that. I don’t believe it. This is what is so peculiar about you. You emphasise evidence to the point of absurdity at the theoretical level, and then express beliefs at the practical level which are completely lacking in evidence. You confuse your modes of reasoning with evidence.

            To believe in Christianity, you have to suspend belief in the way the world works.

            If you put it like that, Christianity is absurd. But is your description sound? How do you know about “the way the world works”? You know by observation, and you assume that it will always work that way. But that point would only be reasonable if you knew why the world works the way it does. And that is something that you cannot know, for being metaphysical, it goes beyond what you can have “verifiable evidence” for. And thus, it is not something you can know. And that means you cannot constrain the world the way you want to. Does the world always work the way you think it does? May be, may be not. But you can’t know that.

            Now I asked you a number of questions, largely asking for evidence for points you made before. You have provided none. Let’s come down to this one:

            I mean, what do you think I mean when I say I believe in God? What do you think I am naming when I speak of “God”?

          • Tutanekai

            How can I possibly know what weird concept of godhead is floating around in your head? Michelangelo’s beardy patriarch? Poussin’s cloud-surfing octogenarian? The Force? Aslan? Your own face in the looking glass?

            Why don’t you tell me?

            On reflection, you being Britain’s Best Catholic means it can’t be any of the more exotic alternatives I mention above. It will have to have the Holy Office’s seal of approval stamped all over it, won’t it? You wouldn’t dare depart from that tired and threadbare script, so you have little choice but to tiptoe your way along the narrow, winding path through a kind of latae sententiae minefield that keeps you in check by threatening to blow you up the moment you so much as breathe on an unorthodox paving stone. Your concept of god must therefore be stultifyingly conventional. A regular Tertullian fest.

            “The object of our worship is the one God, who, by the word of his command, by the reason of his plan, and by the strength of his power, has brought forth from nothing for the glory of his majesty this whole construction of elements, bodies, and spirits; whence also the Greeks have bestowed upon the world the name ‘cosmos’”

            In other words, the Great Sky Fairy who magicked everything into being and mystically consists of three persons in one: the beardy father, his beardy son, and a vague and invisible spirit drifting about the place snooping on us and interfering with our supposed free will by planting leadings and convictions in our hearts.

            You have no proof of the existence of this strange hive being. There are no physical traces of him that you can show as evidence. And the philosophical musings you indulge in trying to justify his existence are full of holes you could drive a bus through.

            An example: Atheists don’t know who or what created the earth, therefore according to you our theories must be completely false because we possess no knowledge about how the universe began. You claim this ignorance invalidates our entire philosophy. Whereas your ignorance you just plug up with god and then claim to have answers for everything.

            But how plausible are your answers? You invent a god to create the universe, and then try to side-step the issue of who or what created him by conveniently naming him eternal. As if the concept of eternity existed anywhere except in your mind. Even then, as finite beings, we can only vaguely visualise eternity. There’s a reason for this: it doesn’t exist in any reality we know. It’s a fictional concept.

            How do I know this? Well, when was the last time you saw evidence of anything eternal? You never have, because all things are finite. This you try to deny by saying that I can’t be sure that this is how the world works, that I can’t be sure that flesh doesn’t masquerade as bread, and blood as wine. But just as equally, you can’t be sure that they do. Without evidence, you have nothing to base your claim on.

            Logically, if this Holy Spirit of yours is more than a figment of your imagination, he/it should be out there leading us to god and planting a conviction of his existence in our hearts. So why then are larger and larger numbers of people abandoning faith as a meaningless concept? If he’s there, he doesn’t seem to be doing a particularly good job of convincing us of it, does he? An omnipotent god can’t persuade a weak and puny mortal man that he exists? It’s not as if that conviction would rob us of free will. It didn’t rob Satan of his ability to revolt, did it? It didn’t rob the angels who fell with him of their independent choice of sides?

            If angels with all of their direct knowledge about the existence of god don’t have faith in him, what chance have we got?

            If I’m wrong and this god does exist, he didn’t design the universe very well, did he? He didn’t people it with beings who could sense him and know what he wanted from them. He didn’t provide us with a clear and unambiguous instruction manual of his plan. All we got was a mind seated in the physical and rational world that relies on material evidence in order to gain knowledge, and a dodgy, debatable and much edited compilation of various incoherent and contradictory writings that are so open to interpretation, we’ve ended up not with one concept of god, but hundreds, if not thousands.

            I don’t believe god exists because I can see no evidence that he does, and for such an outrageous concept that flies in the face of everything I know about how the world works, there really needs to be evidence. Otherwise I have nothing to base acceptance on except an arbitrary act of will.

            If my evidence is not valid, why should an arbitrary act of will be? If I arbitrarily decide that green is red and red is green, will that make these colours swap places? If I wake up tomorrow morning, will the grass be red and my blood green? No, they won’t be. So much for the power of arbitrary acts of will to define reality.

            Every criticism you level at my evidentialist stance can also be directed at your reliance on faith. How do you know that faith is necessary? How do you know it means anything? It cannot be enough to have faith in faith, because how do you know that faith is reliable? To make it reliable, you have to have arbitrarily decide that it is. At which point you’re altering reality to conform to your own personal desire (or trying to).

            I can display my evidence for corroboration, and if it stands up, others will come to the same conclusions I do. These conclusions will not be based on my will alone, but rather on objective and independent multiple analyses of the evidence.

            Your conclusions however will be based entirely on a foundationless act of will. Nothing about your method of arriving at your religious beliefs forces anyone else to share them, because you can produce no evidence that others can independently and rationally verify. If you look at the state of religion, fragmentation is the overriding theme. Thousands of religions, cults and sects clutter up the philosophical landscape with their bewildering myriad of beliefs, all based on arbitrary acts of will. Is it any surprise?

          • Albert

            How long did that take to write? I’ve read probably for less than 20 seconds, because it’s clearly the usual ignorant rigmarole.

            How can I possibly know what weird concept of godhead is floating around in your head?

            Very easily. If you were informed at all on this question, you would know already that as a Catholic, my doctrine of God is called “classical theism.” Now you don’t know what that is do you? I know you don’t you, because, I did happen to see the expression “Sky Fairy” jump off the page. If you understood anything at all about what the word “God” names in the Western philosophical tradition, you would know that you are more like a fairy than God is.

            So here again, in the name of reason and evidence, you “criticize that whereof you know nothing” (as Ruse said of Dawkins).

          • Tutanekai

            It took me about twenty minutes to write my last post. Sound familiar?

            It makes no difference whether you read what I write or not. Even if you do, you never attempt to answer any difficult question. You just ignore it and change the subject, usually to make a personal attack, or an attack on all Atheists, or an anti-Dawkins rant, or something of the kind. This is when I know I’ve found my mark. If you refuse to address a question, it’s because you don’t know how to.

            My question about the reliability of faith still stands. You’ve made no attempt to answer it. And I doubt you will. If you tried, you’d have to address the basic weakness of the religious viewpoint, which is what you want to avoid at all costs.

            That’s the sort of debater you are. You pound on what you perceive to be the weaknesses of your opponent’s argument, but if he gets anywhere near the weaknesses of yours, you start to rant about something completely unrelated in an attempt to divert attention away from things you’d rather were not scrutinized too closely.

            It’s not that easy to throw me off the trail however. I’ll ask once more, if you claim that a requirement for evidence is not logically defensible because I can’t produce any evidence that evidence is always needed, how do you defend faith? How can you have faith in faith if you routinely discount faith as proclaimed by other religions? You say that Islam is not the true faith, but by what criteria can you judge this? If all that faith requires to be justified is faith, how can any religion be false?

            You can’t tell me why your faith is right and everyone else’s is wrong. So it boils down to an arbitrary decision to adhere to a random set of beliefs and defend them against all others for no reason other than they must be right because YOU believe them. And there you have the big fat egotistical truth sitting at the core of Christianity. The basic creed of your religion might as well be “I’m right because how can I possibly be wrong, and you’re wrong because you’re not me, therefore I must be God!”

          • Albert

            It took me about twenty minutes to write my last post. Sound familiar?

            I was being ironic. You used the question as a criticism and then did the same thing yourself. I merely exposed your inconsistency.

            Even if you do, you never attempt to answer any difficult question.

            Really? Which question would you like me to answer? In the meantime, why do you not answer my questions?

            My question about the reliability of faith still stands.

            Of course it does, and I will answer it when you set up a rational standard for evidence, but not before.

            That’s the sort of debater you are. You pound on what you perceive to be the weaknesses of your opponent’s argument

            That’s what you do in a debate. The person putting the argument (you) has to defend the argument first. The person answering does not have to answer the argument if he can show it is invalid. And if it is self-refuting, as here, he is irrational if he attempts an answer.

            but if he gets anywhere near the weaknesses of yours

            But you haven’t got near any weaknesses. Just because you think you have, doesn’t mean you have.

            It’s not that easy to throw me off the trail however.

            Only because you’re not on the trail in the first place.

            How can you have faith in faith if you routinely discount faith as proclaimed by other religions? You say that Islam is not the true faith, but by what criteria can you judge this? If all that faith requires to be justified is faith, how can any religion be false?

            Let’s take an analogy of a moral question. It can be reasonable to hold a moral proposition to be true without evidence. A person can hold for example that it is always wrong to torture small children purely for fun without evidence that it is wrong. Provided he knows what a child is and what torture is, and that his faculties are working, he knows it is wrong. Now, it’s no good saying “Well in that case, you can accept any moral claim without evidence.” Obviously it isn’t. For a start, such a person has to reject this proposition: “It is not always wrong to torture small children purely for fun.” So your argument fails. But there’s more to be said here:

            You say that Islam is not the true faith

            Yes, for several reasons: firstly, because as I already hold Christianity is true, I necessarily hold Islam to be false. Secondly, I know that Islam is not true because it holds its holy book to be dictated by God. Yet it is evident that this holy book contains errors. Therefore it was not dictated by God. Therefore, Islam is false.

            Now, can you give evidence for the proposition “It is always wrong to torture small children purely for fun”?

            You can’t tell me why your faith is right and everyone else’s is wrong.

            Come on Mr Evidentialist, what’s your evidence for this claim? It seems obvious to me that it is false.

            “I’m right because how can I possibly be wrong, and you’re wrong because you’re not me, therefore I must be God!”

            You think all Christians think they are God? What’s your evidence?

          • Tutanekai

            I see we’re back to usual merry-go-round of “I don’t have to answer your questions because I (in all of my moral infallibility) have pronounced them to be nonsensical, but you must answer mine because I have asked them, therefore they are perfect, just like me…”

            You were looking for proof that Christians think they’re god? Read your own words. They provide all the proof anyone could need of exactly how Christians make god in their own image.

            The same arrogance and dogmatism that killed so many people in Paris last week stares out from the pages of this blog. There’s little difference between a Muslim and a Christian fundamentalist. Both want to destroy our way of life. Both want the equivalent of a Caliphate. Neither will succeed.

          • Albert

            I have pronounced your questions nonsensical, because they variously (i) under cut themselves (ii) don’t address our doctrine, instead of what you think is our doctrine.

            The same arrogance and dogmatism that killed so many people in Paris last week stares out from the pages of this blog.

            You seriously think that pointing out the illogicality in your position puts me in the same category as those murderers?

            There’s little difference between a Muslim and a Christian fundamentalist

            You think I’m a Christian fundamentalist?

            Both want to destroy our way of life.

            I don’t want to do that.

            Both want the equivalent of a Caliphate.

            What are you on? Christians don’t want a Caliphate. Why don’t you supply some evidence based comments?

          • Tutanekai

            Who are you to “pronounce” anything? You have great confidence in your own opinion, don’t you? But who ever pronounced you infallible?

            You clearly think you are. That’s what religion does to a naturally stubborn and self-regarding character. Want evidence for that statement? Read your own posts. You’ll find all the evidence anyone could ever need.

            Yes, I think you’re a Christian fundamentalist. Anyone who can believe what you believe can’t be described in any other way. And yes, I think you want to destroy our way of life. Catholics who want to impose Catholic doctrine on the rest of us are actively trying to change the way we live. They want us to worship their plaster idols, subordinate our way of life to their rigid dogma and change our laws to discriminate against the people they hate.

            It wouldn’t be very different from a Caliphate. Gays would be driven back underground. You probably wouldn’t throw them off buildings, but you’d outlaw their way of life, marginalize them, put them in “re-education” programs and then look the other way when despair made them take their own lives. Women would be reduced to the status of skivvies for their husbands and children. Abortion would be outlawed, cementing the status of women as wombs and domestic slaves. Your imaginary god only knows what you’d do to the transgender community. Prison camps? Or would burning at the stake make a comeback? Burn their bodies to save their souls … that’s how the Catholic Church used to deal with heretics and incurables.

            Want evidence? Look at Spain under Franco. Look at Italy under Mussolini. Look at post-independence Ireland. The Vatican collaborated with all those regimes. If the doomsayers on this blog are right and extreme right-wing governments come to power in Western Europe and turn the clock back to the 1930s, will the Church refuse to work with them? Or will it jump at the chance to wipe out freedom as we know it and impose a rigid and dogmatic social model on us all, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it?

            History lets us answer that question leaving very little room for doubt.

          • Albert

            Who are you to “pronounce” anything? You have great confidence in your own opinion, don’t you? But who ever pronounced you infallible?

            I was using your word!

            That’s what religion does to a naturally stubborn and self-regarding character. Want evidence for that statement? Read your own posts. You’ll find all the evidence anyone could ever need.

            Says the man who, from the beginning is serially abusive and constantly tells me what I think when I don’t. You are deeply religiously and philosophically ignorant, and yet you pronounce on these matters from an extraordinarily exalted pinnacle. In my experience, that is usually done by an atheist. A case in point:

            you’d outlaw their way of life, marginalize them, put them in “re-education” programs and then look the other way when despair made them take their own lives

            No I wouldn’t.

            Abortion would be outlawed,

            If you mean, would we make killing the innocent wrong, then yes, we would. Why don’t you?

            Burn their bodies to save their souls … that’s how the Catholic Church used to deal with heretics and incurables.

            That was wrong and a long time ago, but we’ve reflected hard on that and realised it was contrary to our faith. But atheists have murdered in such large numbers, in living memory, that often we don’t even know how many they have killed to the nearest 10 million.

            Whatever the 1930s tells us, the movements then were secular, not Christian.

          • Tutanekai

            Franco’s Spain was steeped in Catholicism and his regime openly supported by the Spanish hierarchy. Same thing for the Irish Republic, whose social and education policies were formulated and run directly by the Church.

            Mussolini’s regime also overned with the tacit support and collaboration of the Church.

            In none of these cases can the government properly be called secular. The Church played a leading role in aiding and abetting the government to persecute anyone who stood against the Catholic-fascist or Catholic-republican agenda. This is well-documented historical fact. The Church’s hands are covered in blood. Deny it all you like. Few will believe you.

            Much harm was also done by secular regimes, but the kind of secularism that caused the harm bore all the hallmarks of religion, with a rigidly enforced dogma, officials who mirrored the role of priest, and charismatic leaders who ruled without any respect for democracy or public opinion. These regimes were not like our secular parliamentary democracies. They had more in common with the Church than anything else.

            Of course you’ll deny all of this. Your dogmatic certainties about the Church’s innate virtue blind you to the reality of its bloody, violent and repressive history.

            Modern society recognises just how dangerous the Church can be and has progressively rendered it less and less capable of harming others by gradually restricting its power and sphere of influence. But even in its gelded state, it can and does still cause harm.

            Take for example the Church’s stigmatization of the gay and trans communities. By declaring them to be disordered and incapable of genuine love for each other, it reduces these people to the status of defective subhumans. It then shouts this opinion far and wide, and wrings its hands in fake horror and simulated compassion when they’re beaten up, or killed, or persecuted and discriminated against.

            The moral responsibility of the Church for the continuing persecution of gays in many parts of the world is clear. The lies it spreads and the hypocrisy of its attitude in claiming to love these people when the hatred and rejection it preaches are so very clear makes it morally reprehensible on a par with the worst Fascist and Communist regimes. In fact it’s worse. At least the Nazis were honest about hating their victims.

            If you support the Church, you support institutionalised homophobic hatred, not to mention all the other evils it perpetrates against other groups it has decided are unacceptable.

            Society recognises this and understands the need to contain the Church, keeping it well away from power. And yet it doesn’t go far enough. Priests who preach that Blacks are intrinsically disordered are dealt with swiftly and efficiently. But they defame and insult the gay community at will. This points to the fact that ithe Church still exercises too much power. Like all hate groups, it needs to be driven to the margins of society and punished whenever it incites hatred, violence and discrimination.

            It’s my fervent hope that in years to come an admission of Catholicism, or Christianity in general, will be greeted by the average person with the same disgust and incredulity as an admission of racism or sexism.

            We’re part of the way there already and the vast majority of young people already associate Christianity with homophobia and condemn it. And once the elderly bigots and homophobes who keep the Church going at the moment die off, the goal will be achieved.

            Of course you won’t live to see it. Everything about your posts points to your advanced age. So you’ll more than likely die still hoping that current levels of homophobia and all the other bigotries that taint Christianity and make it such a hypocritical and contemptible faith can be maintained. The fact that this is unlikely to happen won’t discourage you. People like you are always confident of miracles, even though they never happen.

            But that’s OK. One man dying with the hope that the people he hates will be destroyed changes nothing in the overall scheme of things. Live – and dle – with your vain hopes. History will follow its own course without any reference to you.

          • Albert

            Franco’s Spain was steeped in Catholicism and his regime openly supported by the Spanish hierarchy.

            Certainly and it is not surprising. He was fighting Communists who were already killing Catholics in large numbers. It’s easy to complain after the event, but the wickedness of fascism was not so clear, and given that you would end up with one side or another probably seemed better. A couple of years ago for instance, we wanted to bomb Assad and support the rebels in Syria, now we want to bomb the rebels even if it result in Assad staying. Again, Churchill sided with Stalin, but that did not make him a communist, it just made him anti-Hitler.

            Much harm was also done by secular regimes, but the kind of secularism that caused the harm bore all the hallmarks of religion

            Ah yes. The old “Stalin was really religious routine.” Why don’t you go the whole way and argue that Martin Luther King was not religious? – as Hitchens did.

            Take for example the Church’s stigmatization of the gay and trans communities.

            Why does every conversation with a secularist always seem to end up talking about homosexuality? What is so important about having sex with people of the same sex?

            You keep talking about what society recognizes, but who is society? Evidently, as you are using it, I and all religious people are excluded from it. Thus it is simply a rhetorical ploy to alienate the people you don’t like. It is that hatred that seems to me to motivate so much irrationality in your posts.

          • Tutanekai

            So you admit that the Church has form when it comes to collaborating with fascism. And you wonder why those who suffered under fascism have deeply negative feelings towards it.

            And yes, Stalin’s brand of communism was essentially a personality cult. Very similar to Christianity in many ways. Certainly closer to it in form and structure than to modern parliamentary democracy.

            Secularists frequently quote the example of the Church’s heartless treatment of the gay community because it illustrates so well what happens when arbitrary dogma and stubborn arrogance conspire to cause insufferable bigotry and intolerance. And Christians hate to be reminded of it.

            Your conscience pricking you, is it? How many nervous breakdowns and suicide attempts have you personally helped to drive vulnerable gay youths unfortunate enough to have been born into Catholic families to?

            Do you cut a notch into your reredos for each job well done? Does the diocese set objectives? It wouldn’t surprise me. The stories I’ve heard from gay survivors of a Catholic upbringing all speak of escalating hostility and psychological manipulation when the initial de-gayification efforts fail, as they always do.

            Why so desperate to brainwash gays into pretending to be straight? Is your monthly fixed income supplemented for every miraculous transformation you manage to pull off? Or at least get your victim to lie about…

          • Albert

            Are you really saying that communist violence was religious?

          • Tutanekai

            Soviet Communism was a form of religion. Most early twentieth century secular movements were. It isn’t surprising that the first generations to leave Christianity behind kept the form but substituted new content. Minds schooled in obscurantist nonsense can’t just shake it off and replace it with reason in one easy step. Evolution is a gradual process.

          • Albert

            Okay so you’ve now gone for the unfalsifiable thesis. Have you read any Popper or Flew? Do you know the meaning of the expression “Death of a thousand qualifications”? Let’s review what’s happened here:

            1. You’ve set up a standard of evidential rationality that is so high it defeats itself.
            2. You’ve attempted to attack one of our doctrines, without (curiously, in the light of 1) checking the doctrine, so that your argument cannot work.
            3. You then ignore 1 to accuse me of believing things which you have no evidence I believe, which I do not believe and which, if you had checked the evidence you would have known I would not be likely to believe.
            4. You now defend a position which you are protecting by definition, so that evidence to the contrary (which is abundant) cannot touch it.

            How can this possibly be evidential?

            Your rational standard moves up and down, not according to any evidence or reasoning, but according to how you feel about something – how much you hate it as far as I can see. That’s why people like you are so dangerous – you don’t even know the points at which you depart from evidence.

          • Tutanekai

            Manipulative control freaks who try to twist their opponents’ words and use them as weapons in a never-ending struggle for domination generally go in to politics or the Church. It’s clear what your choice was.

            By all means do carry on trying to take me out with your meaningless and rather comical “analysis”. As it’s all based on false premise after false premise fueled by a pathological hatred of the secular influences that have reduced your tribal death cult from its former glory to the status of oddball minority sideshow, your spleen and invective are understandable.

            Carry on venting if it makes you feel better. You can’t do any harm considering your only audience here is made up of confirmed bigots and religious obsessives who’ll agree with whatever you say as long as it’s uncomplimentary of me, and Atheists in general. You might fool them. But you don’t fool me. I know malevolence when I see it.

          • Albert

            Manipulative control freaks who try to twist their opponents’ words and use them as weapons in a never-ending struggle for domination generally go in to politics or the Church. It’s clear what your choice was.

            So let’s be clear: you manipulated our doctrine, then attacked your manipulation, then objected when I failed to accept that our doctrine was what you said. Then you’ve not merely manipulated my words, but attributed to me things that you have pulled out of nowhere.

            your only audience here is made up of confirmed bigots and religious obsessives

            Which begs the question: why did you bother to post here? But I’ve given the answer to that already.