Mark Rylands 2
Church of England

Mark Rylands mocked by fellow clergy for coming out as a Brexit Bishop

 

“It was beginning to seem like there would never be a Brexit bishop,” began the blog post on 1st April this year, a date which was lost on the good majority of readers as they whooped and cyber-fist-bumped the Rt Rev’d April Hooker for her “stirring and truer words” about the need for the UK to leave the European Union. It is now July; the EU Referendum is past; it looks as though we are leaving (it may take some time); and one bishop really has girded his loins and decided to come out.

The Rt Rev’d Mark Rylands is Bishop of Shrewsbury. In his letter to the Church Times, he sets out clearly, cogently, intelligently and faithfully why he, as a bishop in the Church of England, believes the UK will be better off out of the EU, in particular because of what it could mean for the church’s mission. It is worth noting that his coming out as a Brexit Bishop was initially a cause of disbelief among his fellow clergy, followed by “lively conversation” and then some “gentle mocking”. Please don’t read over those apparently affable reactions without considering that incredulity may be infused with contempt; “lively conversation” may be interspersed with derision and disparagement; and “gentle mocking” may tease and taunt, but beneath the chaff is the condescending sneer of those who know better, which easily becomes an expression of ‘hate’.

Does the Dean of Exeter think the Bishop of Shrewsbury is “stupid”? Does the Dean of Manchester believe the Brexit Bishop is “racist”? Does the Dean Emeritus of Durham berate him for acquiring a few new fascist and anti-Semitic “friends”? Is this the new division: Remain sheep and Brexit goats? Is this what Mark Rylands meant by “lively conversation” and “gentle mocking”? To his letter:

Why I voted for Brexit

At my bishops’ cell group in May, I came out as a Brexit bishop. My episcopal friends, at first, did not believe me. The following 24 hours, brought some lively conversation mixed with a certain amount of gentle mocking.

Yes, I voted to leave the EU. For all the usual reasons that were cited over the past months – democratic deficit, huge central staff salaries, waste of resources in Brussels and Strasbourg, loss of both sovereignty and oversight of UK laws- I have long hoped for reformation of the EU. In February, I felt pity for David Cameron hailing a renegotiation barely worthy of the name. It showed that the EU leaders did not see the need for any reform. It smacked of arrogance.

Whilst in agreement with the EU’s outlook on tackling climate change and its policies on GM seeds, there were other reasons why I voted to Leave:

The EU’s commitment to its member states means it can be a bad neighbour to outsiders. Its actions impact adversely on poorer countries through various trade policies, most notably the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The EU’s export subsidies for EU agricultural products have disastrous consequences on food security and undercut agricultural sectors in the poorest nations. CAP is bad news for Africa. Jesus teaches us that our neighbour is not just our next door neighbour but everyone. Leaving the EU does not mean shunning Europe. We are Europeans and we will still have strong relationships with EU nations. Being able to make our own trade agreements, however, gives us opportunity to be more globally linked.

The EU does not seem to be good news for the poorest nations in the Eurozone. Countries in the single currency, struggling economically, appear stuck with low growth. Unable to devalue their currency, they are trapped in a rut of depression. Youth unemployment in Spain, Greece and Italy has soared and extremist political groups are gaining a strong foothold.

The UK has a proud history of welcoming migrants and has benefitted from the presence and contribution migrants make to society. Unrestricted EU immigration, however, means that we end up discriminating against non-EU nationals. This seems especially perverse when the UK has strong relationships with many other countries of the world through the Commonwealth, not just with the EU. The barriers to employing people from overseas, beyond the EU, have become more numerous. For a Church in the UK that is weak in mission, it would be particularly welcome to have greater freedom to invite missionaries from the global south to help us evangelise our country and rediscover our Christian roots.

Unrestricted EU immigration has been adversely affecting the poorest people in the UK. It may seem great if you want to employ a plumber, a nanny or a builder but to those competing with immigrants for jobs, houses or places at schools, it looks very different.

As we approach life ahead, post referendum, here are a few ways God may beckon us to build bridges, heal divisions and bring unity.

1. Listening to the marginalised: Our hope is in Christ who unites all of us. The referendum has highlighted fault lines and divisions in our society. Churches are called, like Christ, to stand with the voiceless and the marginalised. Some of those voices have been racist and xenophobic. Undoubtedly, this is the case and we are not aligning with that. We must, however, align ourselves with those who feel unheard, not allowing them to be dismissed as ‘uneducated’ and ‘stupid’. Why are so many people so angry? The new work around Mission on urban estates may have something to teach us here. But let’s not forget the rural poor have also spoken loud and clear in this referendum. How can we hear these voices, discern where we need to lament and learn how best to respond?

2. Hospitality: many churches already offer extensive ministry of hospitality to migrants and minority ethnic communities. Can we learn from those who model good practice?  A question for Churches Together Groups to put on their agenda for the next meeting:  How may we better demonstrate and bring reassurance of our care for EU citizens and other foreign nationals in our communities?

3. Being in Europe does not mean you have to be in the EU. All across the UK there are towns and villages twinned with towns and villages in France and Germany. And there are many dioceses that have formal links with other dioceses across Europe. Sharing meals and hospitality; exploring faith and ideas, enjoying laughter and conversation with our neighbours across the channel: Let’s do more of it! Such hospitality can strengthen our bonds of friendship more than any policy or agreement. After all, loving football does not mean you have to love FIFA.

Mark Rylands

If you pray, please do so for the witness and courage of Mark Rylands, Bishop of Shrewsbury. He understands the unification of ethics and politics; of moral duties and the exercise of virtue. He views Brexit in the context of God’s comprehensive governance and divine jurisprudence. He reshapes the geo-political ethic to comply with the doctrine of Christian compassion and salvation. He is prepared to speculate on a different truth from that set forth by the Established Episcopacy. In short, Mark Rylands interprets distinctively the nature of European goodness, and preaches a higher practical judgment; a greater pleasure and happiness. The Church needs a few more like him.

  • Richard

    I voted to Remain, but Mark Rylands’ letter makes for refreshing reading in its Christ-centredness. Democracy and independence are fine, but what next? Perhaps we would all benefit from reading the prophet Amos, who preached vehemently against the injustice he saw in 8th century BC Israel and Judah.

  • Anton

    He should think himself lucky. Nigel Farage faced multiple death threats:

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/686146/Strain-family-life-death-threats-Nigel-Farage-Ukip-leader-resignation

    Had these threats been made against an imam who called for sharia law here, or against a member of Stonewall calling for more ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of gays, the police would have investigated (and rightly so). It says it all about today’s establishment that they enforce the law selectively in this way.

  • Martin

    Perhaps the one serious matter untouched by the bishops in their comments on the referendum was the question of the dishonesty at the heart of the EU. It is an organisation with no oversight, whose financial audits have never been passed. It is about lies and corruption, yet the majority of bishops think we should have voted remain. When one of their number raises serious questions they mock and deride. Where is their morality? I don’t think they fit Paul’s requirements:

    if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
    (Titus 1:6-9 [ESV])

    BTW, what is that idol doing to the right of his head?

    • Anton

      There is only a pillar to the right of his head.

      • Martin

        Anton

        Our right, his left.

        • Anton

          Sounds political!

  • Anton

    Not sure I agree with twinning of towns: I see that as a way for councillors to get free holidays in nice parts of Europe paid for by council tax payers. But his point that Europe is not the same as the EU is the key one.

    • Old Nick

      Schools too.

      • Anton

        Yes, but they at least contain pupils whose parents are council taxpayers.

        • Old Nick

          Quite, it is not just the councillors, children also benefit.

          • Anton

            Yes but that’s acceptable, just as people without children don’t (or shouldn’t) mind subsidising the education system. But the subsidy of free European junkets for councillors is not acceptable.

          • Old Nick

            We agree (Psalm 68 [67], 6).

  • magnolia

    Respect to him for his courage, discernment and discussion and analysis of what are the real deep issues, rather than what has often seemed too like the emotive blowing of sea spume from one side to the other.

    And great to see a Bishop who respects democracy.

    I thought George Carey and Mike Hill were also Brexit….

  • Watchman

    I am disappointed that the bishops arguements seem to be based, not in any interpretation of God’s Word but an interpretation of the pragmatics of missology. There are a number of arguments from scripture that point us towards Brexit without us having to second guess God’s geographical and demographic preferences. (It is true that the spread of the gospel at the time of the early church was greatly assisted by the borderless Roman Empire and the commonality of the Greek language but this was not given to men to arrange but was done under the auspices of the mystery of the Godhead.).

    Europe has dethroned God and replaced Him with a mixture of the secular and the Satanic and it astonishes me that any cleric could possibly consider that we, as a nation, would be better served in our relationship with our Creator than as an organ of such an organisation. It has also come into existence through subterfuge and deceit; do we really want to be a party to that subterfuge and deceit; is that what our God would want for us?

    Isaiah records God’s attitude towards the Assyrians:

    Isaiah 10:12-14
    But when the Lord finishes all His work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, He will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for his arrogant acts and the proud look in his eyes.” For he said: I have done this by my own strength and wisdom, for I am clever. I abolished the borders of nations and plundered their treasures; like a mighty warrior, I subjugated the inhabitants. My hand has reached out, as if into a nest, to seize the wealth of the nations. Like one gathering abandoned eggs, I gathered the whole earth. No wing fluttered; no beak opened or chirped.

    This sounds as though it is reporting the history of the European Union: the arrogance, the self reliance, the plundering of national coffers, the removal of national boundaries, the subjugation of the populace and the lack of protest at the way this was done until Brexit ………

    Surely, the EU has invited the punishment God promised Assyria upon itself. I don’t really want to be part of that punishment.

    • Royinsouthwest

      Assyria was an aggressive military power. The EU is not. You can be against British membership of the EU without pretending that it is the Fourth Reich.

      • Watchman

        I can think of many attributes of the Assyrian Empire that are not shared with the EU and the idea that I am pretending that the EU is the Fourth Reich is coming strictly from your over fertile imagination. The bible is an inexhaustible record of the likes and dislikes of our Creator; he has done this for our benefit in order that we may live lives pleasing to Him. When we come across behaviour that He finds distasteful we would be wise to avoid it – this goes for nations as well as individuals.

        P.S. I think you are defining “aggression” far too narrowly.

      • Old Nick

        The EU may not be the Fourth Reich but it wants to have its own army, and that army will presumably extend the policy (to use the phrase of von Clausewitz) by other means of the likes of Lady Ashton. At least the Assyrians were competent.

  • Uncle Brian

    The most impressive feature of Bishop Mark Rylands’ letter is that he puts the CAP first. Everything he says about it here has been said over and over again at least since the nineteen seventies, if not earlier, but the arguments have invariably fallen on deaf ears. And it’s not only African countries whose economies are damaged. For example, the so-called ABC group of sugar-exporting countries – Australia, Brazil, and Cuba – have lodged formal complaints from time to time, not that they’ve done much good. Australia’s sugar cane is grown in the far north, in Queensland, where the closest export market is Indonesia. And yet there have been times when beet sugar grown in France and Belgium was being shipped to Indonesia so cheaply, thanks to EU subsidies, that Queensland couldn’t compete.

    Selling a product for less than the production cost is the primary definition of dumping, and dumping is what the EU has been practising year in and year out, with impunity. In fact, dumping has long been the cornerstone of the CAP.

    • Dreadnaught

      Excellent observation Brian. For as long as I can remember ‘3rd world’ countries have had progressive advocates that have called for Trade not Aid. The CAP serves to placate the French ‘hobby farmers’ who regard it a cultural birthright.

      • Royinsouthwest

        I have some sympathy with French “hobby farmers” who want rural life to thrive instead of having villages turn into mere dormitory towns but if that is what the French want they should pay for it themselves rather than expect that agricultural policy of the whole of the EU to be shaped in French interests.

        • Dreadnaught

          Quite so. ‘Crofters’ in Scotland get funding just for hammering in a few fence posts and completing a work in progress report annually – ‘it’s our culture init’ say the online stocks and shares gambling Cockney Crofters.

          • Old Nick

            A croft has been defined as a small piece of land entirely surrounded by regulations.

        • Anton

          How exactly does the CAP function? I thought our grain barons who make the landscape an agridesert got paid large sums while our small hill farmers got screwed. That seems to be the opposite of France? Is some of this a UK policy rather than an EU policy? If anybody can enlighten me then I’d be grateful.

        • Albert

          I have some sympathy with poor farmers from the developing world who struggle to work their way out of poverty not because the EU refuses to help them, but because the EU actively discriminates against them in favour of rich EU farmers.

          • Ivan M

            Much as I would like to commiserate with poor Third World farmers, it is not them, who are able to take advantage of market access to the EU market, but rather the much larger agri-businesses. This is the market’s doing as they need to be large and well-financed operations to take care of scale, quality, marketing, hygiene, transport, waste and the health and diseases regulations.

          • Albert

            As I understand it, there is plenty of evidence that the CAP has harmed farmers from the developing world. I’m not really all that interested in the mechanism by which it has done so.

          • Ivan M

            Food self-sufficiency is or was a national security goal in most countries. I suppose in that sense the market was distorted against poor countries. My point is that it is not the poor farmers who stood to gain from international trade but rather the richer, more well-connected businessmen within those countries. I imagine that some specialised markets such as that for flowers and rare spices might have benefited from the high labour input of the poor farmers, but for almost all others these farmers are not competitive at current prices.

          • Albert

            Food self-sufficiency is or was a national security goal in most countries.

            And that seems fair enough to me. But is that the only thing that drives the CAP?

            My point is that it is not the poor farmers who stood to gain from international trade but rather the richer, more well-connected businessmen within those countries.

            The evidence is that tariff walls are part of the problem too.

            I imagine that some specialised markets such as that for flowers and rare spices might have benefited from the high labour input of the poor farmers, but for almost all others these farmers are not competitive at current prices.

            If that were true, why have the tariff wall? Obviously they are more competitive, because labour is cheaper.

          • Ivan M

            The poor do not benefit, their labour will still be priced the same against a basket of necessities. The businessmen do, the local fixers do. I may be biased in my assessment because of my limited experience.

          • Albert

            I’m limited in terms of experience too, but I have read about this, and in any case, it seems evident that if you place a tariff wall against a poorer farmer, he and his family will suffer.

    • Merchantman

      As the good bishop hopes for the demise of CAP; I wonder what the apostle Peter would make of the fishing grounds returning to Britain. Certainly there is hope that as he lets down his nets there will be a more plentiful catch. Good News. Fish Freedom Friday anyone?

    • Ivan M

      There is little to no dumping now. CAP wine lakes and butter mountains have all disappeared. There was a surge some 8 to 10 years ago, it has dissipated in the interim. I’ll know it as I live in Singapore where we import these things.

  • Inspector General

    “…extremist political groups are gaining a strong foothold.”

    Wonder if he’s heard about the one in the UK out to subvert democracy and impose their MINORITY view on us all…

  • We must align ourselves with those who feel unheard, not allowing them to be dismissed as ‘uneducated’ and ‘stupid’. Why are so many people so angry?

    At a wild guess, bishop, they are angry because Third World immigration has made them feel like foreigners in their own country, and because they are sick and tired of being told by those whose lives are blissfully untouched by immigration that the diversity which is wrecking their communities is ‘a gift’.

    • dannybhoy

      Not disagreeing with the sentiment of Bishop Ryland’s statement, but agreeing with the logic of your own observation because it is true.
      If we carry this ‘compassion for others’ to its logical conclusion, the indigenous population should buy a piece of desert somewhere, up sticks and relocate; allowing migrants and ethnic minorities to take over our homeland completely.
      But of course it wouldn’t work. Very quickly this old country of ours would spiral into chaos, corruption and neglect..
      I applaud the Bishop’s stand though, and it highlights the fact that these men of the cloth are more closely allied to the spirit of the age than they are Christ’s kingdom.

      • Inspector General

        …and spiral into violence, Danny. Young London lad murdered by his own…just being alive seems to be the reason.

        • dannybhoy

          It’s tribalism at its most negative.

          • Inspector General

            Personally, one would bar uneducated thickos (of any colour) from settling in the UK. We can’t use them and they are dangerous…

          • dannybhoy

            I agree with you on that score too, although I have to emphasise that no Christian can condone the ill treatment in any form of someone who is different. We should all come under the (British) laws of the land, and the law should be applied firmly.

          • Pubcrawler

            We produce plenty of our own anyway. γλαῦκ’ Ἀθήναζε (that is, coals to Newcastle)

          • Would that include the Irish, Inspector?

          • Inspector General

            No

          • Hmm, uneducated Irish thickos are okay then.

          • Pubcrawler

            Well, somebody’s got to dig the canals…

          • Not stealing jobs from the British, then?

          • Pubcrawler

            Not if no Brits are doing the job already, no.

          • carl jacobs

            Two points. Take down.

          • Three points ….

          • carl jacobs

            A Take Down is worth two points in wrestling. Or is this some kind of weird Cricket Rule…

          • Jack understands a Take Down can score 2, 3 or 5 points in free-style wrestling.

          • carl jacobs

            My brief perusal of Google shows a rather broad range of scoring systems. Which makes the NCAA scoring system canonical of course. Therefore I was right.

            You may admit defeat now.

          • American college wrestling rules cannot possibly be “canonical”! Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman (both international and Olympic sports) use the point scoring system Jack referred to.

          • carl jacobs

            Of course it can. NCAA wrestling is the highest level of wrestling in the US. Ergo, it’s canonical. Certainly you can’t consider anything canonical if it’s associated with an organization as corrupt as the IOC.

          • Highest level in the USA? What kind of argument is that? American college wrestling is regional; Free style and Greco-Roman are international sports.

          • carl jacobs

            It’s an argument from authority, of course. As determined by Act of Congress. Surely you have learned by now that the US is the keeper of standards.

          • “Surely you have learned by now that the US is the keeper of standards.”

            Hmm … (cough) … quality of candidates for the Presidency … (splutter).

            [Take Down. 5 points]

          • carl jacobs

            No, that is -2 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

          • It’s a contact sport, Carl. Now, if Jack had mentioned Chilcot that may have been unsporting conduct but only because there’s some room (just) for debate.

          • carl jacobs

            Chilcot means nothing to me. I know why the war was fought. I know why it needed to be fought. I’ve explained it many times in many different forums.

  • Dreadnaught
  • steroflex

    My question:
    What is the point of Anglican bishops?
    What are they actually for?

    • dannybhoy

      They are part of the authorative, hierarchical Church descended from the time of Emperor Theodisis (379-395AD).
      Many changes were made over the centuries to theology and practice (celibacy of the priesthood for example), but essentially it was this power structure that defined what a bishop was. And in the context of a hierarchical system it worked. But it wasn’t strictly Biblical.

      • Albert

        I think you need to study the ante-Nicene Church if you mean to suggest the episcopate originates in the time of Theodosius. If that isn’t your point, then I find it opaque.

        • steroflex

          I know the theology. I also know the text about render unto Caesar. And the way that the prophets treated the monarchy too.
          But honestly I am not sure that is relevant. We must be practical. A Church that marries the spirit of the age ends up a widow in the next. etc.

          • Albert

            I don’t see this as a defence of the original point. Episcopacy is not the invention of the Constantinian Church, and it is lazy to suppose that it is. There may be all sorts of reasons to oppose episcopacy, or establishment, but the idea that episcopacy is a 4th Century imperial invention isn’t one of them, because it isn’t.

          • Old Nick

            Not only lazy, wrong.

        • Martin

          Albert

          The episcopate certainly doesn’t originate with the Bible and that is all that matters. When the error arose doesn’t matter, what matters is that it is not found in Scripture.

          • Anton

            I take it you are referring to the grotesque inversion that has taken place from the scriptural many episkopoi per congregation to today’s many congregations falling under one episkopos. I always ask by what authority – implicitly greater than that behind scripture – was the change made?

          • steroflex

            Wrong wrong wrong.
            All of you.
            My brother pointed this out to me about lady priests. While you, he said, were all worried about the Pauline doctrine of women and the Christology of the Apostolate, you forgot that women cannot be left alone at night in an open church, that they cannot risk visiting people’s houses and that they prefer kiddies to grown ups – especially men grown-ups.
            The same argument is true about Anglican Bishops. they do everything except look after their parishioners.

          • Anton

            ?

            Please clarify.

          • steroflex

            Rather than all the clever theological and historical footwork, how about asking some basic questions:
            Every organisation, especially religious ones, benefits from wise people being in charge to keep the loonies from taking over. Some of the most powerful religious leaders in the world come from the most extreme Protestant and indeed Muslim organisations. Bishops evolved because they were necessary. There is quite a lot in the New Testament about this actually.
            Modern Bishops of the Anglican variety multiply alarmingly in numbers. Meanwhile their churches empty. Instead of action, they pontificate about things which they know absolutely nothing about. This alienates a lot of people on the other side.
            In no way are they doing the job.
            Hence my original question: what are they for?

          • Anton

            “Every organisation, especially religious ones, benefits from wise people being in charge to keep the loonies from taking over.”

            I think the UK has just benefited from the loonies voting differently from the people in charge!

            I’d thought your question was rhetorical. But it’s a serious point that today’s episcopate might not conform to the pattern set out in the New Testament, even if that’s not where you thought the discussion would go. IHf the episcopate isn’t scriptural in one thing, it might well not be so in others.

          • steroflex

            Just one more thing.
            There is a ton of stuff in the Gospels about God being the God of the living. To read this blog’s comments, you might have thought the CoE was a history/archaeological club!
            That, I must admit, was at the bottom of my mind as I wrote my first comment too.

          • Anton

            I think that the ossification of the CoE is not unrelated to its political role, which in turn depends on its structure, which is far from the scriptural one. I know plenty of Anglicans who are committed to Christ and am glad of it, but I experienced those correlations at first hand and eventually changed denomination.

          • Albert

            The canon of scripture does not originate with the Bible. But the issue of when the episcopate arose is the issue since it was about that that the original claim was made. It is simply a matter of history.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The canon was what the early churches agreed and was clearly in formation during the apostles lifetime, the episcopate arose long after that and has no justification in Scripture.

          • Pubcrawler

            “was clearly in formation during the apostles lifetime”

            Clearly? Pray expand.

          • Martin

            PC

            And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
            (II Peter 3:15-16 [ESV])

          • Albert

            The canon was what the early churches agreed and was clearly in formation during the apostles lifetime, the episcopate arose long after

            When do you think the canon was fixed? When do you think the episcopate arose?

          • Anton

            By episcopate he clearly means the form of the episcopate in which one episkopos was over multiple congregations. He will be well aware that the word episkopos appears in the NT. But let him reply to you; I am merely trying to clarify the issue here.

          • Albert

            By episcopate he clearly means the form of the episcopate in which one episkopos was over multiple congregations.

            In which case, he is not referring to the original historical claim. In any case, such a ministry was exercised int he NT by the apostles.

          • Anton

            That would be for Martin to comment on; I’m just trying to clarify.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The canon was fixed when God decided it was, as for the episcopate, it arose after the time of the apostles, like most other errors.

          • Albert

            Is that seriously an answer that satisfies you? You’ve tried to show that something post apostolic is some kind of corruption, but when I point out that the canon is post-apostolic you say that. The episcopate BTW necessarily comes after the apostles since the episcopate is about succession.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The canon isn’t post apostolic age for those books regarded as the canon were written and accepted while the apostles were still alive. It wasn’t a later decision by men.

            If God had wanted an episcopate why did He not lay down the requirement in the Bible? There is no succession to the apostles.

          • Albert

            The canon isn’t post apostolic age for those books regarded as the canon were written and accepted while the apostles were still alive.

            I think that there is no evidence to support that, and that it is untrue. In any case, you are still reliant on tradition to tell you what was accepted in the apostolic era. So your kind of Protestantism still rests on assumptions it eschews.

            If God had wanted an episcopate why did He not lay down the requirement in the Bible?

            More urgently: If God wanted things only to be legitimate if they are required in the Bible why did he not make that a requirement in the Bible? Your position is again contradictory. Moreover, it fails as an interpretation of scripture. The Bible is clearly not the kind of literature that is a legal constitution. It is a record of what was going on at the time. And as with all records, it is incomplete (it says so), and it is describing a process of what is going on, but the process is necessarily incomplete. Thus we can see Paul making provision for what will become the episcopate in his use of Timothy and Titus. There is no evidence of, or evidence of development towards you human tradition of a flat structure.

          • Martin

            Albert

            You are silly, do you think that no thought had been given to what was Scripture before the council met to discuss it? Indeed, do you think that God had stood by and allowed men to decide what was Scripture and what was not? In the writing of those books there is clear evidence of God’s hand. As Peter says:

            And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
            (II Peter 3:15-16 [ESV])

            Paul clearly understood the nature of what he was writing:

            To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. (I Corinthians 7:12 [ESV])

            so I fail to see why those early Christians would not have understood that what they had was Scripture. God did make it clear what was Scripture, As Paul tells us:

            For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
            (I Corinthians 13:12 [ESV])

            During the Apostolic Period it was as if they had an imperfect mirror of polished metal to see their nature in. With the completion of the the New Testament, which clearly shows us our nature, it was as if they saw themselves face to face.

            Paul isn’t creating an episcopate with Titus and Timothy, he is making use of them due to his own inability to do what is needed. If they were the foundation of the episcopate it is unthinkable that Paul would not have laid down some explicit rules as he did with deacons and elders. The flat structure existed, it had no need of development.

          • Albert

            You are silly, do you think that no thought had been given to what was Scripture before the council met to discuss it?

            Where have I made reference to a council?

            Indeed, do you think that God had stood by and allowed men to decide what was Scripture and what was not?

            No. I think he sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Church – but that necessarily had to happen after the writing of the canon was complete.

            In the writing of those books there is clear evidence of God’s hand.

            What kind of evidence? You are aware, I take it, the the first list of NT books that coheres with ours is from the second half of the 4th Century? I assume you also know that the earliest Church included books in the canon that we do not regard as canon, but as tradition.

            2 Pet is referring to the OT.

            Your reference to 1 Cor.7 does not help your cause. Paul is distinguishing between his own word and the word of the Lord. Later he says:

            Now concerning the unmarried, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.

            Now if he understood his writing as scripture, it is hard to see how he would write like this, distinguishing the commands of the Lord from his own opinions.

            For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
            (I Corinthians 13:12 [ESV])

            How on earth is this supposed to demonstrate anything?

            Paul isn’t creating an episcopate with Titus and Timothy, he is making use of them due to his own inability to do what is needed. If they were the foundation of the episcopate it is unthinkable that Paul would not have laid down some explicit rules as he did with deacons and elders.

            As usual, your argument rests on you thinking you know things that you do not know. In this case, you think you know what Paul would do in certain situations. Moreover, you don’t actually know what Paul did say in terms of instructions, since he writes:

            So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

            In any case, my argument is twofold: 1. The apostles were a hierarchy. 2. Timothy and Titus are raised above the other elders by Paul. The first point you can hardly deny, but I see from another post that you are doing your best to evade it. The second point is made clearly:

            Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching Never admit any charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

            Timothy clearly has authority over other elders, there was no flat structure, it is a human tradition.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Are you telling me that you aren’t thinking of what you think of when discussing the creation of the canon?

            The Church is those who are Christians, it isn’t an organisation. And there is no reason for God to have waited until the canon was complete before endorsing those books that were in it.

            And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
            (II Peter 3:15-16 [ESV])

            Clearly 2 Peter isn’t referring to the Old Testament but also to what Paul had written.

            That Paul is distinguishing between what he thinks and what he has received makes it clear that he knows that he is writing what is Scripture.

            The apostles were not a hierarchy over the elders and Timothy and Titus were not raised above the other elders. Timothy and Titus acted as agents of Paul. You seem to imagine you can state what Paul do, of what his intentions were beyond what he says.

            Paul isn’t instructing Timothy alone to give honour to good elders, it is instruction to the whole church. If Timothy had been placed in authority over other elders Paul would not have neglected to say so. And you cannot claim that we don’t have all that Paul wrote or said so he might have, we can only judge on what Scripture says.

            It all comes down to we have evidence for the creation of deacons and elders, we have no evidence for any other roles.

          • Albert

            Are you telling me that you aren’t thinking of what you think of when discussing the creation of the canon?

            Did you re-read that sentence before posting? I assume you are suggesting that I am thinking of a council when discussing the canon of scripture. But I’m not. There isn’t a council which gives a definitive answer on this (until Trent). There are councils which express views, and some end up with the same list as we have, but the canon is not settle by an authoritative council.

            The Church is those who are Christians, it isn’t an organisation.

            The Church is a body and bodies just are organisations.

            And there is no reason for God to have waited until the canon was complete before endorsing those books that were in it.

            From which you seem to invalidly infer that God therefore endorsed the books before the canon was complete.

            That Paul is distinguishing between what he thinks and what he has received makes it clear that he knows that he is writing what is Scripture.

            How?

            The apostles were not a hierarchy over the elders and Timothy and Titus were not raised above the other elders. Timothy and Titus acted as agents of Paul. You seem to imagine you can state what Paul do, of what his intentions were beyond what he says.

            If Timothy has authority to judge an elder, he has authority over the elder.

            Paul isn’t instructing Timothy alone to give honour to good elders, it is instruction to the whole church.

            Evidence?

            If Timothy had been placed in authority over other elders Paul would not have neglected to say so.

            It is evident from the context that this has happened. You seem so stuck in the letter of scripture that you forget that these two men knew each other outside of letters. We find the same in Titus, where Paul says This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you. Is it your view that the first Titus knew of why Paul had left him in Crete was when Titus read this letter?!

            And you cannot claim that we don’t have all that Paul wrote or said so he might have, we can only judge on what Scripture says.

            I can make that claim, but I don’t need to – it’s obvious from the passages themselves.

            It all comes down to we have evidence for the creation of deacons and elders, we have no evidence for any other roles.

            We have apostles having a different role from those and associating others with them in that authority. That is sufficient to establish the apostolic succession. Apostolic succession is far clearer from scripture than your idea of sola scriptura, which is a 16th Century innovation.

          • Martin

            Albert

            I wonder what you mean by an authoritative council.

            The church is the congregation of believers, the body of believers if you prefer, and it is not an organisation.

            It certainly seems to me that Peter was saying that God had endorsed at least some of Paul’s writing before the completion of the canon:

            And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
            (II Peter 3:15-16 [ESV])

            And that Paul distinguishes between what he thinks and what he has received makes it clear that he knows he is writing Scripture.

            The churches have the authority to judge an elder, so where is Timothy different in that. We have Paul’s writing to us to tell us so. It, of course, doesn’t matter what was written that we do not have, since we do not have it.

            There is no evidence of apostolic succession in Scripture, otherwise it would not have been necessary for Paul to have instructed them in what to do, they would have had the authority to make up their own minds. They were agents, not successors.

          • Albert

            I wonder what you mean by an authoritative council.

            I was responding to what you were accusing me of believing. The simple fact is that your history is wrong. The canon was not decided by a Council.

            The church is the congregation of believers, the body of believers if you prefer, and it is not an organisation.

            Are you some kind of manichee? A body just is an organisation. Why have you got such hang ups about organisation?

            It certainly seems to me that Peter was saying that God had endorsed at least some of Paul’s writing before the completion of the canon

            Fine. How do you know to include, say, Revelation, but not Barnabas? The earliest Church had those two the other way around.

            And that Paul distinguishes between what he thinks and what he has received makes it clear that he knows he is writing Scripture.

            For the Nth time. Why do you think this? It seems obvious that it is the other way around. If Paul thought that everything he was saying was a command of the Lord, why does he say “Actually, I have no command of the Lord, but I give you my own opinion”?

            The churches have the authority to judge an elder, so where is Timothy different in that.

            He is different in that Paul gives authority to him, to not the church.

            It, of course, doesn’t matter what was written that we do not have, since we do not have it.

            How’s that an argument for anything?

            There is no evidence of apostolic succession in Scripture, otherwise it would not have been necessary for Paul to have instructed them in what to do, they would have had the authority to make up their own minds. They were agents, not successors.

            I remain unconvinced that you know what succession means, but in any case, I have given repeated evidence of apostolic succession – at least as a process beginning, in scripture. Paul gives authority to Timothy and Titus, this was because their ministry was needed. Their ministry was needed not because Paul was alive, but because it was needed. It makes no sense to think it lapses when he dies.

          • Martin

            Albert

            A body is a collection of parts and each part has its purpose, it isn’t an hierarchical organisation that tells parts outside the body what to do.

            I’m afraid I have to rely on other with specific knowledge, just as I have to rely on those who know the language.

            Where did I say that Paul thought that everything he was saying was a command from the Lord? I see no difficulty in the writer of Scripture knowing he is writing Scripture.

            The authority of the elder comes from God and God’s word, not from Paul. As Paul contradicted Peter when he was wrong, so an elder, or any member of the Church, would be entitled, on the basis of Scripture, to challenge any apostle they could demonstrate was wrong.

            You have given no evidence of apostolic succession.

          • Albert

            A body is a collection of parts and each part has its purpose, it isn’t an hierarchical organisation that tells parts outside the body what to do.

            If you read 1 Cor.12, I don’t think you will end up with that opinion. In any case, as I have abundantly demonstrated, scripture shows the apostles having power to command and power to hand on that power to command.

            Where did I say that Paul thought that everything he was saying was a command from the Lord?

            If it is scripture then it is all a command of the Lord in some sense.

            The authority of the elder comes from God and God’s word, not from Paul.

            Why then do they have to receive laying on of hands?

            As Paul contradicted Peter when he was wrong, so an elder, or any member of the Church, would be entitled, on the basis of Scripture, to challenge any apostle they could demonstrate was wrong.

            That is certainly true – it’s true of Catholicism, but it does not follow that Catholicism has a flat structure. After all, how does anyone know who is right?

            You have given no evidence of apostolic succession.

            Very funny.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Where is the pope in 1 Corinthians 12, or cardinals or any other form of hierarchy? It seems to me that there is a sense of equality.

            Not all Scripture is a command from the Lord.

            What do you imagine is passed on in the laying on of hands, sweat, nothing more. It is symbolic of a contract perhaps.

            How does anyone know who is right? By reading the word of God, that’s how. The Bible is the authority and if you can point out to the minister that the Bible contradicts him he should accept correction.

          • Albert

            Where is the pope in 1 Corinthians 12, or cardinals or any other form of hierarchy? It seems to me that there is a sense of equality.

            Where are the offices of Deacon and Elder in 1 Cor.12 that you accept exist? They’re not there, but you still accept them. It is hard to see how you can maintain a sense of equality when the passage says:

            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.

            Moreover, Peter does seem to be established in some sense in 1 Cor, together with some kind of order:

            he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

            You say:

            Not all Scripture is a command from the Lord.

            But commands in scripture are clearly from the Lord!

            What do you imagine is passed on in the laying on of hands, sweat, nothing more. It is symbolic of a contract perhaps.

            Here you show your complete contempt for the word of God. What does scripture say about the laying on hands:

            Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

            And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

            Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.

            Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands

            But you call it “nothing more” than the passing on of sweat.

            How does anyone know who is right? By reading the word of God, that’s how.

            And how does anyone know his interpretation of scripture is correct?

            The Bible is the authority and if you can point out to the minister that the Bible contradicts him he should accept correction.

            What, like you do?

          • Martin

            Albert

            1 Corinthians 12 is speaking of temporary miraculous gifts, as the next chapter explains. Deacons and Elders are mentioned throughout the post Resurrection New Testament, but popes and cardinals not at all.

            Peter was doubtless given a special treatment in order that he might realise his sin was forgiven.

            This command isn’t from God:

            Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. (Daniel 5:2 [ESV])

            You imagine that the Holy Spirit is passed on by the laying of a sweaty palm on someone’s head? But of course you also imagine that bread and wine are changed to flesh and blood while still retaining the appearance of bread and wine so I shouldn’t be surprised. The Holy Spirit is God, He cannot be passed on by the will of Man.

            How does one know his interpretation of Scripture is correct, by means of the Holy Spirit who dwells within him.

          • Albert

            <i.1 Corinthians 12 is speaking of temporary miraculous gifts, as the next chapter explains.

            The next chapter does not explain that, it simply points out that some of these things will not endure “when the perfect comes.” As for them all being miraculous, I’m amazed you think that:

            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. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

            So no, your interpretation does not work here and therefore, the objection you raised against me counts against yourself. Moreover, we wouldn’t expect Popes and Cardinals to be mentioned, since they necessarily only exist in the post apostolic world.

            Peter was doubtless given a special treatment in order that he might realise his sin was forgiven.

            If that’s the best a Protestant can do in response to passages like Matthew 16 and Luke 22, then let Protestants for ever remain silent!

            This command isn’t from God:
            Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded

            Are you serious? You’re just being childish now, I think. Clearly, that isn’t a command of scripture, but when Paul commands his people, God commands.

            You imagine that the Holy Spirit is passed on by the laying of a sweaty palm on someone’s head?

            Again, you make no attempt to understand what you mock. You seem to think that between the purely symbolic and the crudely carnal, there is no alternative. If you understood what we believe about this, you would see that it is exactly what scripture says:

            Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

            There’s no sense that it is passed on like sweat.

            But of course you also imagine that bread and wine are changed to flesh and blood while still retaining the appearance of bread and wine so I shouldn’t be surprised.

            You remind me of those who said:

            “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”… But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? …After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.

            The Holy Spirit is God, He cannot be passed on by the will of Man.

            No one is saying that he is. We’re just doing what the Bible says we should do. If you don’t want to do that, take your complaint to the scriptures.

            How does one know his interpretation of Scripture is correct, by means of the Holy Spirit who dwells within him.

            In the first instance, he needs to know the scriptures, and it is becoming increasingly clear that you don’t. Besides, why should accept this, given the evidence against it?

          • Martin

            Albert

            That these are all grouped together is a very good indication that they have the same miraculous origin. Such gifts were temporary and ceased with the close of the Apostolic Age.

          • Albert

            Administration is miraculous? Teaching, helping – are purely miraculous and of the apostolic age? If your argument is resting on this claim, your argument is defeated.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Hardly, what do you know of what skills the Holy Spirit can impart?

          • Albert

            Which is of course, not the same thing as answering my argument to your original claim.

          • Martin

            Albert

            That a body requires a hierarchy? You’ve yet to prove that God’s Church does.

          • Albert

            My claim was that not all of those gifts are miraculous. I have amply proved God’s Church is hierarchical. But you won’t accept scripture because it does not accord with your “experience”, it seems to me.

          • Martin

            Albert

            You haven’t proven God’s Church is hierarchical, your church may be but that merely shows how far from God’s Church it is. You do seem rather poor at proving your claims.

          • Albert

            I have shown that it is apostolic, that the apostles have authority others do not have, that they oversee several churches, and that they can hand on some of their authority to others. In favour of your non-hierarchical Church you have said…

          • Martin

            Albert

            Paul had authority as the founder of churches and by his ability to argue from Scripture. He worked to support himself, he didn’t rely on the donations from those who thought that by giving they were gaining Heaven. He had nothing that could be passed on.

          • Albert

            If this is so, why does he speak so often of being an apostle? Secondly, if he has nothing to pass on, why does he pass on his authority to Timothy and Titus?

          • Martin

            Albert

            What does his saying he is an apostle add to what I’ve said? Timothy and Titus were acting on his behalf, not on their own authority.

          • Albert

            I think you are making a false dichotomy here. It’s not either they are acting on their own authority or they are acting on his. It is that part of his authority has been given to them.

          • Martin

            Albert

            That means they are acting under his authority.

          • Albert

            It’s both, obviously. A teacher in a classroom has his own authority, and derives his authority from the Head. If the Head dies, he retains his authority.

          • Martin

            Albert

            A teacher gains his authority from his employer. In the case of the Christian, they gain their authority from the Bible, God’s word.

          • Albert

            No. A Christian gains his authority from Christ through the Church. What is your basis for saying that a Christian gains his authority from scripture (assuming you mean only from scripture)?

          • Martin

            Albert

            The Church is the assembly of all Christians, not an organisation. Christians gain their authority from the Bible, which is Christ’s words since Christ is God.

          • Albert

            These are just claims given without evidence, and in the face of evidence I have given.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Don’t be so silly, The whole of the New Testament tells us that the Church is the assembly of all God’s people. You’ve given no evidence of anything otherwise.

            To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
            (I Corinthians 1:2 [ESV])

            And where else would Christians get their authority than from the words of God? Your evil hierarchy of ignorant men just prevents men and women from hearing the gospel.

          • Albert

            Don’t be so silly,

            Let’s see shall we? This was your claim:

            The Church is the assembly of all Christians, not an organisation.

            Now you say:

            The whole of the New Testament tells us that the Church is the assembly of all God’s people.

            I have no difficulty with that, but it is not the same claim as the one I disagreed with. For it does not follow that the Church is not also an organisation, because it is the assembly of Christians. Obviously, the Church is more than just an assembly of Christians. The whole NT shows that also. Perhaps if you were consistent in your claims.

            And where else would Christians get their authority than from the words of God

            Your claim rests on the claim that only in scripture do we find the word of God. But that claim is not found in scripture. Ergo…

          • Martin

            Albert

            The two sentences are the same point. The Church is not an organisation, it is the assembly of God’s people.

            You think we would find the word of God in the traditions of the idolatrous church of Rome? No, we don’t, we see the traditions of foolish, godless men.

          • Albert

            You must despise an awful lot of scripture (or not know a great deal of it) if you really think scripture teaches the Church is nothing more than an assembly of people.

            You think the Catholic Church is idolatrous because you do not really believe in the incarnation. The Word was made flesh, but you say “No, we will only have a text.”

          • Martin

            Albert

            The Church is the assembly of God’s people, not just people. And I assure you I believe Jesus was both a normal physical man and God. Two natures in one person, God’s revelation to mankind, now having a new nature.

          • Albert

            You’re still not saying what scripture says of the Church: it isn’t merely God’s people. I’m sure you formally believe in the incarnation, it’s just you don’t get its meaning.

          • Martin

            Albert

            I’ve checked through the references to church in the New Testament and not one of them indicates other than the congregation of God’s people whose Head is Christ. I don’t see any evidence of what you claim.

          • Albert

            I never said anything about it being a different congregation. The issue here is that the Church is not merely the people of God. The Church is the body of Christ, the fulness of him who fills all in all. As such, it is not reducible simply to the people who make it up, and, since it is a body, it is an organisation of some sort. You seem not to see the force of what scripture is saying here.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The issue is the justification of the episcopate, and none has been produced from Scripture, the only appeal is to history. Thus the episcopate is evidence of the departure of the churches from the teaching of Scripture.

          • Albert

            The issue is the justification of the episcopate

            No. In this particular thread, that is not the issue. The issue is whether the episcopate originated in the time of Theodosius.

            and none has been produced from Scripture

            That’s not true at all, although admittedly, the emphasis of my discussion with you on another thread has been my evidence undermining your assertion that there was no hierarchy in the NT Church.

            Thus the episcopate is evidence of the departure of the churches from the teaching of Scripture.

            Thus your non-hierarchical structure is evidence of the departure of your community from the teaching of scripture.

          • Anton

            Orthodoxy has hierarchies too; why should we heed you rather than them where there are differences?

          • Albert

            Look at the Synod at the moment. The Orthodox bishops cannot agree amongst themselves. This is the tail of history from the beginning. The episcopate, to fulfil its function needs a central authority, just as the apostles had one in Peter.

          • Anton

            Absolutely. The central authority is Jesus Christ.

          • Albert

            Precisely. And how is his authority manifest?

          • Anton

            Via the Holy Spirit.

          • Albert

            Which begs the question again.

          • Anton

            It is the scriptural answer and that’s good enough for me. If you want to ask a different question, feel free.

          • Albert

            But it’s the meaning or application of scripture that is being disagreed over. Each person can claim his position is that of Christ, or the Holy Spirit. But scripture warns us (as the bewildering differences between Christians also confirms) that not every position claimed for Christ, is of Christ – even when scripture is invoked.

          • Anton

            Absolutely. How to find the Spirit’s directing is the question. Your answer is: Rome alone is to be relied on to discern the Spirit correctly. I dispute that.

          • Albert

            Your answer is: Rome alone is to be relied on to discern the Spirit correctly.

            This is a classic Protestant error. That is not the Catholic answer.

            But what is your answer?

          • Anton

            I take it to be a corollary of the Catholic position. Do correct me if I am wrong; I welcome that.

          • Albert

            And that of course is the problem. Protestants tend to think they know what Catholics think, and often they are wrong. Then they make inferences from what they think Catholics think and then attribute that back to Catholicism.

            Here’s your claim:

            Your answer is: Rome alone is to be relied on to discern the Spirit correctly.

            The true claim is that when Rome is discerning the Spirit (i.e. defining something), she will do so correctly, but that does not mean to say no one else can, only, at most, that we cannot know with certainty whether they are. But that would only really apply in a situation of controversy.

          • Anton

            From which what I said follows as a corollary, does it not? And this IS a situation of controversy.

          • Albert

            From which what I said follows as a corollary, does it not?

            No. The college of bishops, properly constituted can also correctly discern the Spirit.

            And this IS a situation of controversy..

            Not from a Catholic point of view it isn’t, and that is the only relevant consideration.

          • Anton

            Relevant to whom? Why, if you hold that view, did you bother to descend from Olympus and enter this discussion at all?

            I used “Rome” as a shorthand for “the Roman Catholic church”, by the way, not the papacy; so my corollary is a correct inference from the formal Catholic position.

          • Albert

            Relevant to whom?

            As I said:

            Not from a Catholic point of view it isn’t, and that is the only relevant consideration.

            You ask:

            Why, if you hold that view, did you bother to descend from Olympus and enter this discussion at all?

            I entered the discussion when a historical claim was made, which mainly touched Anglicanism, but could have touched Catholicism. Since then, the discussion has moved (as always) to Catholicism. Therefore, it is Catholic understanding that is under discussion, now.

            I used “Rome” as a shorthand for “the Roman Catholic church”, by the way, not the papacy; so my corollary is a correct inference from the formal Catholic position.

            Well that’s a very unclear way of using the term – as this discussion has demonstrated. As if Catholicism is reducible to Rome! This is what happens when Protestants use inaccurate terms, as slightly abusive, rather than using the proper accurate terms.

          • Anton

            You mean its own terms. But it is the Church of Rome, is it not?

          • Albert

            If you are talking a Catholic about Catholicism, and you use words differently from how Catholics use term when speaking of Catholicism, then you can only expect to be misunderstood.

          • Anton

            If Catholics appropriate words from their generally understood meaning and take them to mean something different then there is indeed going to be misunderstanding.

          • Albert

            This is just utterly ignorant. Look at how the words are used historically, and you will see the “Church of Rome” refers to the Church in Rome. Church as the Church of Constantinople, or of Jerusalem, or of Ephesus refers to the Church in these places. Protestants later changed the term to be one of abuse, as if the whole Catholic Church was simply “Rome”. So your post here falls on your own head.

          • Anton

            Of course it is the Church of Rome, because its boss is in Rome and claims the whole world as his diocese, a hubris matched by the Church of England which should really call itself the Church in England. (It got the idea from Rome, of course.) But “Rome”as an abbreviation is not necessarily abuse – I’m sure that bishops frequently talk about “what Rome thinks of such-and-such”, just as diplomats often speak of what “London” thinks.

          • Albert

            claims the whole world as his diocese

            No he doesn’t.

            “Rome”as an abbreviation is not necessarily abuse – I’m sure that bishops frequently talk about “what Rome thinks of such-and-such”, just as diplomats often speak of what “London” thinks.

            If a bishop uses the word “Rome” in that case, he is not referring to the whole Church. Let us remember that this is a historical discussion in which we are talking about the episcopate. In that context “Rome” refers to Rome, not the whole Church. Here’s Irenaeus:

            Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

            Here we find the word “Church” in the plural, because, although all the Churches form one Church, nevertheless, the local Church is a body of itself, provided it maintains unity. This is the unbroken position of the Catholic Church to this day. Here again, at the Council of Ephesus in 431:

            Juvenal, the bishop of Jerusalem said: Let the letter of the most holy and reverend Cælestine, archbishop of the Church of Rome, be read, which he wrote concerning the faith.

            While Cyril writes:

            according to the limits defined in the writings of our brother of blessed memory and most reverend fellow-minister Celestine, Bishop of the Church of Rome, be well assured then that you have no lot with us, nor place or standing (λόγον) among the priests and bishops of God.

            And again

            Projectus, a bishop and legate of the Roman Church said, May it please, etc. [The same as Arcadius had said verbatim!]

            And afterwards the most holy and beloved-of-God Cyril, bishop of the Church of Alexandria, spoke as is next in order contained; Siricius, notary of the holy Catholic (καθολικῆς) Church of Rome read it.

            Now in none of this, is the expression “Church of Rome” taken to mean the whole Church. And yet you accuse us of changing the terminology…

          • Anton

            Not that term; ‘Rome’ has always been a context-dependent word. (Once it meant the Emperor.) Bishops and priests, and I’m not going to demonstrate it again. The reader can find my arguments in this thread and find your responses and judge for himself.

          • Albert

            “Church of Rome” does not mean historically what you claim it means. I have demonstrated this with sources. You have provided no sources, as any reader of this thread can judge for himself.

          • Anton

            I too am happy for the reader to judge.

          • Albert

            So long as he judges the evidence cited here, I am more than happy for that to be so.

          • Martin

            Albert

            I don’t care when the error arose except that it arose after the time of the apostles and is unscriptural. It was clearly part of a process of power seeking by men. I fail to see how you could say that a non hierarchical structure is a departure from Scripture when you can find no hierarchical structure in Scripture.

          • Albert

            I don’t care when the error arose except that it arose after the time of the apostles and is unscriptural.

            Is it the fact that it arose after the apostles that makes it an error, or is it simply an error?

            It was clearly part of a process of power seeking by men.

            No. It was the following of apostolic practice.

            I fail to see how you could say that a non hierarchical structure is a departure from Scripture when you can find no hierarchical structure in Scripture.

            I have given endless evidence of hierarchy in scripture, which you have not answered. Do you agree that the apostles were a hierarchy?

          • Martin

            Albert

            It’s an error because it doesn’t align with the Bible. The apostles were dead, there was no continuation of their practice. You have given no evidence of a hierarchy in the NT for the Church.

          • Albert

            Yours is an error because it doesn’t align with the Bible. I have shown how the process of apostolic succession is found in scripture, and I have shown that the apostles are a hierarchy.

          • Martin

            Albert

            You haven’t shown how the process of apostolic succession is found in Scripture.

          • Albert

            I have, in the persons of Timothy and Titus. And you have more or less conceded this when you said they act as Paul’s agents.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Timothy and Titus only had authority in the tasks Paul gave them while he was still alive. Once he was dead his authority was too, unless you are going to say that his authority passed to what he had written.

          • Albert

            No. Timothy receives his authority from Paul, and therefore keeps his authority from Paul. Why would Paul give it, for it to lapse when he is dead? The need for it remained.

          • Martin

            Albert

            When Paul dies his authority dies with him. However those writings that are Scripture retain their authority as Scripture.

          • Albert

            When Paul dies his authority dies with him.

            The point you need to defend is that the offices and officers he had set up also die with him.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The offices are deacon and elder, they continue.

          • Albert

            And the additional authority given to Timothy and Titus, does that die?

          • Martin

            Albert

            What authority.

          • Albert

            The authority to command.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The only authority the Christian minister has is the authority of Scripture.

          • Albert

            And scripture teaches this where? And why is your answer contrary to what scripture says, insofar, as it is clearly Paul who gives the authority to command to Timothy and Titus?

          • Martin

            Albert

            Where else does authority come from? Even Jesus used the Bible as authority:

            But he answered, It is written,

            Man shall not live by bread alone,
            but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
            (Matthew 4:4 [ESV])

            What authority does the pope have, none whatsoever.

          • Albert

            Which part of your post here defends your claims

            The only authority the Christian minister has is the authority of Scripture.

            Answer: none of it.

          • Martin

            Albert

            And this is your answer to Scripture?

          • Albert

            No. It’s my answer to your unevidenced claim to be interpreting scripture. You really have to get away from this idea that what you think is what scripture teaches.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Nothing to do with what I think. Everything to do with what Scripture teaches.

          • Albert

            But you don’t teach what scripture teaches. You simply teach what a certain kind of Protestantism teaches, and very occasionally, you attempt to find a passage of scripture that might be used to support your view.

          • Martin

            Albert

            I always endeavour to teach what Scripture teaches.

          • Albert

            I made no comment on what you endeavour to do, but what you actually do.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Then I am sorry you are unable to benefit.

          • Albert

            Benefit from what?

          • Martin

            Albert

            My understanding of Scripture.

          • Albert

            That’s humility in action.

        • dannybhoy

          Albert my point is that there is a difference between the New Testament defintion of a bishop, and what that role came to mean. I suspect the division of the Body of Christ into the priesthood and the laity had something to do with it.

          http://tyndalearchive.com/scriptures/www.innvista.com/scriptures/compare/bishops.htm

          • Pubcrawler

            Is it a definition? Or is it a general term whose referent is in flux in the embryonic church, only becoming a fixed technical term once the organisation of disparate congregations coagulates and becomes more standardised?

          • Anton

            There were, with Pauline approval, multiple overseers (episkopoi) in the congregation at Ephesus (Acts 20:28).

          • Pubcrawler

            There were. That doesn’t undermine my point: is his use of the word a technical term with specific definition, or a general one which, through semantic drift, came to be applied to a different role? Paul’s concern was with the right preaching of the gospel, not technical minutiae of ecclesiastical governance (such as there was at the time).

            The Apostolic Fathers were no less fluent in koine than Paul, they understood the word perfectly well.

          • chiefofsinners

            ‘Semantic drift’ eh? I wonder what that phrase originally meant.

          • Pubcrawler

            Technical term in its coinage, it has a specific meaning.

          • Anton

            In 1 Timothy 3 he distinguishes them from diakonoi, implying something specific.

          • Pubcrawler

            But again: did he intend it to be an inviolable and unchangeable technical term, applied within a structure that he foresaw and intended to be the only permitted model for ecclesiastical organisation? If you assert yes, I will ask how you know this. And as a supplementary, how the immediately post-Apostolic church, far closer to and more knowledgeable about both the state of affairs at the time and the possible meanings of the vocabulary used than we can ever be, got it so wrong.

            (Sorry for tardy response: been in the pub)

          • Anton

            Which pub…?

            The New Testament isn’t a legal document which takes trouble to define terms like a mathematical paper. The meaning of some terms has to be worked out from their usage. In 1 Timothy 3 Paul is talking about what it takes to be an overseer (episkopos) and the fact that he distinguishes it from diakonos means that they are distinct roles and therefore have some kind of formal meaning within the church. What we see in scripture is that an apostolos goes to a place, preaches, makes converts, appoints episkopoi when he thinks that they are mature. That pattern links Acts 20 and and 1 Timothy 3 and is why episkopos can be taken to have the same meaning in each passage.

            Of course, the founding apostolos retains a position of unique authority over that congregation – that too is clear from scripture – but his job is to go to another place and start another congregation, and it is the exception rather than the rule that he has to go back to deal with trouble (as Paul did with the congregation at Corinth). When he dies, is he replaced? No title is given for a unique overseer above the overseers (ie, plural episkopoi), and it would be semantically incoherent usage to call the episkopoi by that name if there were such a role continuing indefinitely.

            So I believe that a pattern is discernible in scripture. That the church deviated young from it is a great shame, but it does seem that the miracles died off fairly rapidly too (and led to the claim that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were for the apostolic era only even though the Holy Spirit is for the whole church era…) Perhaps the leap from Hebrew to Greek culture is responsible.

          • Albert

            Certainly there is development. But that would be true of many things – the canon of scripture or the doctrine of God, for example. I would need greater clarity to comment on your point about the division into priesthood and laity. I would need to know what you think existed “prior” to that. These are historical points, and it is by no means clear that the history neatly fits what Protestants of a certain type think.

          • Martin

            Albert

            What is clear is that you cannot create a scriptural basis for the hierarchy and role of priest in the Christian Church. It is all, as you say, a development and hence a departure from what Scripture says. In just the same way, the acceptance of ‘gay’ marriage is a development and a departure. The conclusion is clear, your church has departed from Scripture and places its own opinion in judgement over Scripture. Your authority is sola ecclesia rather than sola scriptura.

          • Albert

            What is clear is that you cannot create a scriptural basis for the hierarchy and role of priest in the Christian Church.

            That’s what you want to believe. But I have given endless, unanswered evidence to the contrary on another thread.

            It is all, as you say, a development and hence a departure from what Scripture says.

            Firstly, you haven’t waited to see what I was saying had developed, but secondly, if you think development means a departure from scripture, I can only conclude you know little about theology and theological history. For by your argument, more or less everything will be viewed as a departure from scripture.

            In just the same way, the acceptance of ‘gay’ marriage is a development and a departure.

            No. It is a departure, not a development – at least as I am using the word “development”.

            The conclusion is clear, your church has departed from Scripture and places its own opinion in judgement over Scripture. Your authority is sola ecclesia rather than sola scriptura.

            See how little evidence you have produce to defend your conclusion. From the evidence of our discussion on the other thread, I would have thought I should be saying to you:

            The conclusion is clear, your church has departed from Scripture and places its own opinion in judgement over Scripture. Your authority is sola Martina rather than sola scriptura.

          • Anton

            “That’s what you want to believe. But I have given endless, unanswered evidence to the contrary on another thread.”

            This is an obvious reference to an earlier exchange between Albert and me, and I invite readers to locate it and judge for themselves whether this present assertion is true.

            Your authority is sola Roma, and your denomination has used the apostolic succession to get away with murder. Literally. But it’s only another circular argument: we are right because we are the church, and we are the church therefore we are right.

          • Albert

            This is an obvious reference to an earlier exchange between Albert and me

            No it isn’t. It is a reference to thread going on yesterday between me and Martin.

            Your authority is sola Roma

            Your authority is sola Antona

            and your denomination has used the extrabiblical apostolic succession of episkopoi to get away with murder. Literally.

            That’s very confused. Tradition etc. only has authority in teaching faith and morals, it cannot be legitimately used to justify sin.

            But it’s only another circular argument: we are right because we are the church, and we are the church therefore we are right.

            Not quite. You are missing out the place and faithfulness of Christ in ensuring the Church is faithful despite the wickedness of her members.

          • Anton

            And whatever you write is sola Alberta unless you are quoting verbatim, word for word with no changes, from documents formally approved by the Roman Catholic church. Any change whatsoever from these documents and you are, according to your own logic, placing your own ‘private interpretation’ on them.

            “You are missing out the place and faithfulness of Christ in ensuring the Church is faithful despite the wickedness of her members.”

            Aren’t you defining ‘faithfulness’ here merely as getting doctrine right? Faithfulness is to be lived, and wicked lives do not indicate faith.

          • Albert

            And whatever you write is sola Alberta unless you are quoting verbatim, word for word with no changes, from documents formally approved by the Roman Catholic church.

            Not so. If you mean I personally appropriate the faith of the Church, then your point is trivially true. But if you mean that my private judgement is somehow above the Church then it is false. My private judgement is subject to the authority and correction of the Church. So I learn from the Church when I study, and should I fall into error, I can be corrected. This is a far cry from the Protestant confusion between “The Bible says” and “I interpret the Bible to mean”.

            Aren’t you defining ‘faithfulness’ here merely as getting doctrine right?

            Christ’s faithfulness to his Church does not entail stopping free will from falling into sin. It is about the means of salvation always being available.

            Faithfulness is to be lived, and wicked lives do not indicate faith.

            Even if true, that does not alter the issue: Christ’s promise to the Church is not that his faith will not fail, so therefore he is okay, it is rather that his faith will not fail, so even if he falls, the teaching of the Church is available to all.

          • Anton

            But my private judgement is subject to correction too. The difference is that when this happens it is (mostly) via conversations with other Christians, not handed down from Rome with an assertion of doctrinal inerrancy as if it were Christ himself speaking.

            Any comment on any piece of writing is an interpretation unless it comprises verbatim repetition. It makes no difference whether that piece of writing is the New Testament, the Catholic catechism or even yesterday’s Times newspaper.

          • Albert

            But my private judgement is subject to correction too. The difference is that when this happens it is (mostly) via conversations with other Christians, not handed down from Rome with an assertion of doctrinal inerrancy as if it were Christ himself speaking.

            This is inadequate for faith for two reasons. Firstly, it rests on private judgement, and faith cannot rest on something so subjective and erroneous. Secondly, you will likely only hear those Christians you trust. But that means, you will only hear those Protestants who make broadly the same errors as you.

            Any comment on any piece of writing is an interpretation unless it comprises verbatim repetition. It makes no difference whether that piece of writing is the New Testament, the Catholic catechism or even yesterday’s Times newspaper.

            That is true, but the purpose of a doctrinal statement is to place us in a particular relationship with the Church and thus with Christ. So this is not a purely intellectual situation of agreeing with what (we think) is meant. It is about adopting a form of life. Moreover, a doctrinal definition excludes false positions more than anything. It is clearly false to imply that a Catholic has a much freedom in the interpretation of scripture as a Protestant. Thus, the cases are not parallel.

          • Anton

            That presupposes a notion of freedom, and hence of free will – not so easy when you consider the relation of believers to the Holy Spirit.

            I am myself nonconformist and I have friends Catholic, Anglican and even Eastern Orthodox with whom I have discussed these things cordially. Then I am exposed to differing viewpoints in forums such as this, not least by your good self. It is simply not true to say that my position is only ever reinforced because I discuss it with like-minded persons.

          • Albert

            That presupposes a notion of freedom, and hence of free will – not so easy when you consider the relation of believers to the Holy Spirit.

            This needs some elaboration. What do you mean?

            It is simply not true to say that my position is only ever reinforced because I discuss it with like-minded persons.

            I was speaking more about psychology than anything else. It’s normal to allow a better hearing to someone who is endorsing what we think.

          • Anton

            Yes, but that’s true of everybody!

            Free will – another time. It deserves to be disentangled from the present issue. I believe there are paradoxes which we are meant to grow in the pondering of, rather than resolve.

          • Albert

            Of course it’s true of everyone. That’s my point!

          • Anton

            And also with you, then. There is traffic between all denominations because of interactions.

          • Martin

            Albert

            You have given no evidence from Scripture for the creation of an episcopal hierarchy, though you do seem to have gone on endlessly about it.

            If you think that Scripture allows you to create things it doesn’t mention then what you call theology isn’t Christian theology. There are plenty of people who would call the acceptance of ‘gay’ marriage a development and point to the church of Rome’s ‘development from Scripture’ as a justification.

            The evidence is very clear, the church of Rome claims the authority to interpret Scripture. That means they have placed themselves in the place of authority over Scripture. I have never said I am an authority.

          • Albert

            You have given no evidence from Scripture for the creation of an episcopal hierarchy, though you do seem to have gone on endlessly about it.

            Here’s what’s happened:
            You claimed that the NT Church was not hierarchical.
            I have given evidence that it was.
            The episcopate, I say, is in succession to the apostolic hierarchy.

            If you think that Scripture allows you to create things it doesn’t mention then what you call theology isn’t Christian theology.

            I think you know very little about your own doctrines then. All doctrine develops as people think and reflect, make connections and ask new questions. The issue at hand necessarily requires development, since the NT ministry included apostles, and the apostles, we all agree were the foundation only. Thus, some kind of development is necessary.

            Catholics maintain the same shape of the Church only with bishops in the place of the apostles. We can see Paul for example, making provision for this in the Pastorals, and we can see it is the pattern in the period immediately after the apostles. You on the other hand, abandon the apostolic shape and have created a “flat” structure. There is no basis in scripture for this, and so, on your own terms, your position is untheological.

            There are plenty of people who would call the acceptance of ‘gay’ marriage a development and point to the church of Rome’s ‘development from Scripture’ as a justification.

            Not just our developments, but everyone’s. The Trinity for example, the incarnation, justification etc. all these in their present forms represent developments. You can’t avoid developments, the canon itself and the means by which we interpret it are developments. It is bogus reasoning to think that because some developments are legitimate, therefore any development is legitimate. I cannot help the fact that some Protestants reason so poorly. I observe that this is why God gave us a Magisterium to prevent such unstable thinking.

            The evidence is very clear, the church of Rome claims the authority to interpret Scripture. That means they have placed themselves in the place of authority over Scripture. I have never said I am an authority.

            To be an interpreter of scripture does not place one above scripture. We are all interpreters, so on your terms, you are above scripture, and to be condemned for it.

          • Martin

            Albert

            You haven’t shown that the NT Church was hierarchical, despite your claims.

            You’ve claimed that the episcopate is the successor to the apostles but provided no evidence of that succession.

            There is no requirement fro a development from the apostles.

            Rome does not maintain the same shape of Church, it has created a hierarchy for which there is no NT justification.

            All those theological constructs are based on what the Bible tells us, they are not developments but systematisation of what is already present in the Bible.

          • Albert

            You haven’t shown that the NT Church was hierarchical, despite your claims.

            I have shown that the apostles formed a hierarchy. I have also shown that they gave this authority to Timothy and Titus. Therefore it was hierarchical.

            You’ve claimed that the episcopate is the successor to the apostles but provided no evidence of that succession.

            I have shown the process beginning with Timothy and Titus. But at the moment, my purpose is simply to demonstrate that the NT Church was hierarchical.

            There is no requirement fro a development from the apostles.

            I have already explained why your own position is such a development, and you have not answered.

            Rome does not maintain the same shape of Church, it has created a hierarchy for which there is no NT justification.

            The NT shape is this: the local Churches are under the jurisdiction of the apostle. This is the same shape we have, only with bishops instead of apostles.

            All those theological constructs are based on what the Bible tells us, they are not developments but systematisation of what is already present in the Bible.

            Developments just are systematisation of what is already present in the Bible!

          • Martin

            Albert

            No, you haven’t shown that the apostles formed a hierarchy, you have shown that one apostle continued to be concerned for the churches he had been instrumental in forming.

            Timothy and Titus were never given authority, they acted as the agents of the apostle Paul

            There is no evidence that the NT Church was hierarchical.

            My position is not a development, the two roles created in the Church remain, deacons and elders.

            The NT bishops were the elders of the local churches, not successors to the apostles.

            Systematisation is not the same as development.

          • Albert

            No, you haven’t shown that the apostles formed a hierarchy, you have shown that one apostle continued to be concerned for the churches he had been instrumental in forming.
            Timothy and Titus were never given authority, they acted as the agents of the apostle Paul

            Paul has authority that the members of the Churches do not have. How else can Timothy and Titus be his agents?

            There is no evidence that the NT Church was hierarchical.

            Well, here’s a dictionary definition:

            a system in which members of an organization or society are ranked according to relative status or authority.

            You do admit, surely that the apostles have authority that others do not have?

            My position is not a development, the two roles created in the Church remain, deacons and elders.

            The NT never says the apostolic oversight role lapses with their death. Therefore, your position is a development.

          • Martin

            Albert

            If you read the letter to the Galatians, the remarkable thing is that Paul does not argue that because he is an apostle, telling them that they must obey because he is an apostle, but he lays out the difference between the salvation that is by grace and what they have been told they need to do by the Judaizers. On the one hand, they heard by faith, on the other they performed the works of the law.

            Clearly Paul is pointing them to what they know, not saying you must obey because I am an apostle.

            In the same way, Timothy and Titus, indeed any elder, is to make appeal to the law.

            Curiously, it seems natural to me that when a man dies his oversight role lapses with him. Why would the Bible need to mention that?

          • Albert

            If you read the letter to the Galatians, the remarkable thing is that Paul does not argue that because he is an apostle, telling them that they must obey because he is an apostle, but he lays out the difference between the salvation that is by grace and what they have been told they need to do by the Judaizers. On the one hand, they heard by faith, on the other they performed the works of the law.

            My feeling is that you do not know the Bible very well. It’s pathetically easy to find Paul commanding his Churches:

            And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things which we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living.

            And indeed, he passes this authority on. To Timothy, for example, he writes:

            Command and teach these things.

            So you see, Paul has the authority to command, and he hands on this authority to Timothy. That’s really all I need to demonstrate.

            Curiously, it seems natural to me that when a man dies his oversight role lapses with him. Why would the Bible need to mention that?

            That is certainly curious. The purpose of ministry is not to elevate the minister, but is given for the Church. Thus, if oversight is needed for the Church, it cannot be that it lapses when the minister dies.

          • Martin

            Albert

            I note that you didn’t have an answer to my point from Galatians.

            The Church, remember, is the people, not an organisation. When a minister dies then so does his authority. Indeed, when a minister moves on to another church he does not leave his authority behind.

          • Albert

            I note that you didn’t have an answer to my point from Galatians.

            Yes I did, I simply pointed out that elsewhere Paul does command people, the fact that he does not command people in Galatians is therefore mute. I only need one example to prove my point, and I have several. I do not need an example in every letter. But if you wish to press the point, I can only ask you why Paul is so insistent on claiming to be an apostle, if it does not give him such authority?

            The Church, remember, is the people, not an organisation.

            The Church is not just the people, in the way a group of people at a market are a people. The Church is people organised, how else can it be called a body?

            When a minister dies then so does his authority. Indeed, when a minister moves on to another church he does not leave his authority behind.

            Fine, but he then leaves behind his vacant office, and if he has appointed other people, they do not cease to hold office because he is no longer there.

          • Martin

            Albert

            And did not the prophets command, do not elders command? Paul is a witness to the risen Christ but his authority is in the gospel.

            The Church is the people, God gives the gifts.

            But oncew the apostles died there were no apostles to take their place. Each church had its elders and each had the words of the apostles. There was no need of a successor, the office had ceased to exist.

          • Albert

            And did not the prophets command, do not elders command?

            Where do they command Paul?

            Paul is a witness to the risen Christ but his authority is in the gospel.

            Yes, but his being a witness to the resurrection is not the only element of his authority.

            But oncew the apostles died there were no apostles to take their place. Each church had its elders and each had the words of the apostles. There was no need of a successor, the office had ceased to exist.

            If you really think there was no need to have someone have that kind of oversight as exercised by the apostles, your doctrine of the Church is too small.

          • Martin

            Albert

            What do you think Paul meant by:

            except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. (Acts 20:23 [ESV])

            His being a witness to the Resurrection is the basis for his authority.

            On the contrary, my doctrine of the Church, together with my doctrine of God is vastly greater than yours.

          • Albert

            His being a witness to the Resurrection is the basis for his authority.

            While witnessing the resurrection is clearly essential for being an apostle. Witnessing the resurrection does not make one an apostle. This is evident from Paul himself:

            For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

            For the same reason, it is not enough to say someone’s authority is the Gospel, as if having the gospel makes one an equal authority. So your original claim makes not biblical sense.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The authority is the Bible.

          • Albert

            Paul’s authority was plainly not the Bible (at least not the Bible we have)!

          • Martin

            Albert

            Plainly?

          • Albert

            Yes, because the Bible we have was not yet written. Besides, as I’ve shown elsewhere, Paul clearly has other authorities, because he says so.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The majority of that Bible was written, and Jesus used it as His authority as well. Seems to me that Paul was in good company.

          • Albert

            The majority of that Bible was written

            In other words, you’ve now conceded my contention that Paul’s authority was plainly not the Bible (at least not the Bible we have)!

            You also have this bizarre idea that because I believe Paul’s authority was not only the Bible, that therefore, it wasn’t the Bible. How can you interpret the word of God, when you make such elementary errors of logic in interpreting human words? And when you make an error interpreting scripture, what corrects you?

          • Martin

            Albert

            Of course Paul’s authority was the Bible, it was Jesus’ authority as well. As far as you’re concerned even your church has authority over the Bible since only it can truly interpret it.

          • Albert

            Of course Paul’s authority was the Bible, it was Jesus’ authority as well.

            I think we must be using the word “authority” in differing ways, and frankly, in ways that are now unhelpful. After all, Jesus plainly did not get the Last Supper from the Bible. Rather it is in the Bible because it came from Jesus. Ditto Paul.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Here is Jesus using the Bible as His authority:

            At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath. He said to them, Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.
            (Matthew 12:1-8 [ESV])

            And another:

            And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause? He answered, Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. They said to him, Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away? He said to them, Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.
            (Matthew 19:3-9 [ESV])

            And where did the Lord’s supper come from if not the Passover Meal?

          • Albert

            Here is Jesus using the Bible as His authority

            Where has I denied that Jesus saw the Bible as authoritative? I am denying two things: 1. That it is our Bible that is in play, and 2. That the Bible is his only authority. Nothing you have put here challenges either point.

            And where did the Lord’s supper come from if not the Passover Meal?

            Two things here, as I understand it, the precise celebration of the Passover Meal is not described in scripture – although some of it is. Jesus was using tradition, therefore (and example perhaps). Secondly, the Last Supper is plainly not derived from the scripture Jesus had. If you disagree, please give the OT reference for Jesus taking the bread and saying “This is my body” for example.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Jesus use the Bible as His authority, not that it is His only authority because He has his own authority based on His ability to perform miracles but His basis is always the Bible. And it isn’t our Bible, it is God’s word not ours. That it was not complete is obvious, bu it was sufficient then and so much more sufficient now.

            Of course the Lord’s Supper is derived from the Bible, that doesn’t mean every act has to be a quote from the Old Testament. A derivation is not a copy, as you seem to imagine.

          • Albert

            Jesus use the Bible as His authority, not that it is His only authority because He has his own authority

            Thank you. That is the point I was making.

            based on His ability to perform miracles but His basis is always the Bible.

            Not quite. His authority is the Father: When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.

            And it isn’t our Bible, it is God’s word not ours.

            My expression “our Bible” means the list of books we have now, I do not mean to suggest it is not God’s word (obviously).

            Of course the Lord’s Supper is derived from the Bible, that doesn’t mean every act has to be a quote from the Old Testament.

            Precisely.

            A derivation is not a copy

            Which is why I believe that Timothy and Titus derive their authority from Paul, without, as you seem to suppose, it being an exact copy of Paul’s authority.

          • Martin

            Albert

            It’s the argument I’ve been making all along. The Bible is both His authority and the Fathers, so naturally He’d use it.

            Obviously? I’ve met plenty who don’t take that view. And those books have always been Scripture, it didn’t take someone writing a list to make them so.

            Timothy and Titus acted under what authority Paul had, they were agents, not independent authorities.

          • Albert

            It’s the argument I’ve been making all along. The Bible is both His authority and the Fathers, so naturally He’d use it.

            That certainly isn’t what you’ve said, and it doesn’t add anything to your position if it is. You need to demonstrate sola scriptura – all you keep doing is showing that scripture is authoritative. Well obviously, as a Catholic who believe in scripture and tradition as authoritative, I have no argument with any evidence that show scripture is authoritative. One of the problems here is that your hatred of Catholicism seems to outstrip your knowledge of it.

            Obviously? I’ve met plenty who don’t take that view.

            I meant obviously from the point of view of my posts it’s all been about the canon of scripture, not about whether the Bible is the word of God or not. If you think that as a Catholic I don’t believe the Bible is the word of God, then that’s another thing you don’t understand about what you hate.

            And those books have always been Scripture, it didn’t take someone writing a list to make them so.

            It’s just endless false dichotomies with you isn’t it? Obviously, as the word of God, each text of the NT is scripture from the moment it is written. However, that does not mean that every genuine Christian recognized every text as such, or that they didn’t have texts which they thought were scripture, which in fact aren’t. Why don’t you do some historical research?

            Timothy and Titus acted under what authority Paul had, they were agents, not independent authorities.

            Another false dichotomy. They have authority from Paul, but they are not independent from him.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Of course it’s what I’ve said. In any case you wouldn’t accept that Scripture alone is the authority whatever the evidence.

            And no, as a ‘Catholic’ you don’t accept Scripture is authoritative. You insist that your ‘Church’, which is somewhat different from the biblical Church, alone has the right to interpret Scripture, which neatly places your ‘Church’ alone as the authority. Of course the fact that your ‘Church’ also decrees what is tradition covers that possible loophole. How could a Christian react to something as opposed to biblical Christianity with anything other than hatred?

            I’m sure that there were still those with doubts about some texts after the writing of the list of books as there were before. Let’s face it, Luther had doubts about some books.

          • Albert

            And no, as a ‘Catholic’ you don’t accept Scripture is authoritative. You insist that your ‘Church’, which is somewhat different from the biblical Church, alone has the right to interpret Scripture, which neatly places your ‘Church’ alone as the authority. Of course the fact that your ‘Church’ also decrees what is tradition covers that possible loophole. How could a Christian react to something as opposed to biblical Christianity with anything other than hatred?

            Obviously, I think scripture is authoritative, and I think that the Catholic Church’s interpretation of scripture is more authoritative than my own or your interpretation. What evidence can you bring that your interpretation is the right one? The whole point of having an interpretation of scripture is because we think scripture is authoritative, so your position is literally absurd. So this statement of yours is simply wrong, and since this has been repeatedly shown to you, I am puzzled as to why you keep repeating your misrepresentations. Although your reference to hatred at the end is perhaps a clue.

            I’m sure that there were still those with doubts about some texts after the writing of the list of books as there were before.

            It’s not a question of doubt. Some books were not regarded as scripture, others were that shouldn’t have been.

            Let’s face it, Luther had doubts about some books.

            Precisely. Knock out the traditional teaching of the Church and the canon disappears as well…

          • Martin

            Albert

            If you are dependent upon your church’s interpretation of Scripture it isn’t Scripture that is the authority, it’s your church. Nothing absurd about that.

            I feel the same way about your’gospel as Paul felt about the Judaisers, and for the same reason:

            Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. (Philippians 3:2 [ESV])

            Your religion, which is not Christianity, is of the same sort that they taught. Your religion binds the sinner ever closer to their sin, requiring of them impossible requirements and leading them closer to Hell:

            And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
            (II Corinthians 11:12-15 [ESV])

            Do you think that Paul did not hate their teaching?

            Of course they are doubts, don’t be so silly, and they came long before your heretical church existed.

          • Albert

            If you are dependent upon your church’s interpretation of Scripture it isn’t Scripture that is the authority, it’s your church. Nothing absurd about that.

            So why doesn’t it follow that: If you are dependent upon your interpretation of Scripture it isn’t Scripture that is the authority, it’s your. Nothing absurd about that. ?

            I feel the same way about your’gospel as Paul felt about the Judaisers, and for the same reason

            Our Gospel is explicitly that of scripture. The only place your formulation of scripture occurs in scripture is when it is condemned, in favour of ours.

            Of course they are doubts, don’t be so silly, and they came long before your heretical church existed.

            Do you share those doubts? If not, what do you know that others, like Luther, did not?

          • Martin

            Albert

            I go to Scripture to see what it says, you go to your church to see what Scripture says.

            No, your gospel is not explicitly that of Scripture, for you teach that the grace of God is only the enabler of salvation, not its reality. Like the Judaisers you require your converts to do something, which the Bible never does.

            I don’t share those doubts, like many others. By the grace of God we have knowledge that Luther never had.

          • Albert

            I go to Scripture to see what it says,

            But it is still you who is interpreting it – of course, you claim the Holy Spirit is guiding you, but I make the same claim for the Catholic Church.

            No, your gospel is not explicitly that of Scripture, for you teach that the grace of God is only the enabler of salvation, not its reality.

            This is theologically unclear. I don’t know what you mean, at the moment and so I don’t know whether what you say here is the position of scripture/Catholicism.

            Like the Judaisers you require your converts to do something, which the Bible never does.

            To do what?

            I don’t share those doubts, like many others. By the grace of God we have knowledge that Luther never had.

            What is that knowledge, and how do you know it? And why wasn’t it given to Luther?

          • Martin

            Albert

            Every real Christian has the Holy Spirit who aids them in their understanding of Scripture. The church of Rome lost any connection with Christianity long ago.

            Do you not believe that grace only allows a persons acts to gain them salvation. Baptism, attendance at Mass and other sacraments are required. Your beliefs are like that of the Judaisers. Christians, on the other hand, believe that God’s grace alone, without any act of the sinner, saves the sinner.

            Luther didn’t have the large number of manuscripts that have been discovered sin his day.

          • Albert

            The church of Rome lost any connection with Christianity long ago.

            This is just an assertion. Don’t you realise that you look as far from scripture to me, as I do to you? Don’t you see that from my point of view, your religion is a kind of apostasy, a denial of key elements of the revelation of God, because you exalt yourself over his divinely appointed interpreter? There’s no point in just throwing assertions around therefore.

            Do you not believe that grace only allows a persons acts to gain them salvation.

            We believe in faith working through love. Sometimes that means action, for we are told, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. We believe that God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Following scripture, we believe grace really saves us, it really changes us. If you have a different faith from scripture, be honest about it. You do not have such faith in grace.

            Baptism, attendance at Mass and other sacraments are required.

            We follow the words of scripture: Baptism . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

            He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

            Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

            Again, if you wish to follow a different teaching from scripture, be honest about it.

            Your beliefs are like that of the Judaisers.

            That’s plainly not true. We do not require people to follow the specifically Jewish law – although the moral commandments bind everyone.

            Christians, on the other hand, believe that God’s grace alone, without any act of the sinner, saves the sinner.

            Depending on quite what you mean, Catholics believe that too.

            Luther didn’t have the large number of manuscripts that have been discovered sin his day.

            Do you really believe what you write? One minute you claim the Holy Spirit guides you to know the canon. The next, it is your careful study of ancient manuscripts. How many have you studied, and what precisely was it, in your soul, that lead you to believe one was canon and not another?

          • Martin

            Albert

            Of course it’s an assertion, but it’s an assertion backed up history. Rome sought to raise itself to pre-eminence over the other churches, The pride of Rome was its downfall with its processions and fancy robes. It became an arm of the state and then took upon itself the functions and powers of state. It became not the interpreter of God’s word but the opponent of it and the oppressor of God’s people. Of course you see any challenge to Rome’s rule as apostasy, it defies its false claims.

            The only thing that saves the sinner is God’s mercy. Why would anyone think that doing good, if they were capable of it, would gain them any credit. It is what you are meant to do anyway. Doing right doesn’t save you and it doesn’t make up for the wrong you have done either. You don’t believe grace saves you, you believe you have to add to grace, you fail to follow Scripture:

            But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
            (Ephesians 2:4-8 [ESV])

            The dead can do nothing to gain life, Lazarus didn’t have faith he would be raised.

            Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (I Peter 3:21 [ESV])

            It wasn’t the mere water baptism that saves, that only washes away the dirt, but the washing of our souls, the raising of the dead, of which baptism is only a symbol. Yours is the teaching that departs from Scripture. You require acts from the one seeking salvation, just as the Judaisers did. Grace, for you, is not enough, works are required to gain salvation.

          • Albert

            Rome sought to raise itself to pre-eminence over the other churches

            Actually it was a claim made by other churches.

            The only thing that saves the sinner is God’s mercy.

            Agreed.

            Why would anyone think that doing good, if they were capable of it, would gain them any credit.

            Because they’ve read the Bible:

            For [God] will reward every man according to his works: to those who by perseverance in working good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life. There will be . . . glory and honour and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

            He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life

            the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

            Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.

            Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

            You say:

            You don’t believe grace saves you, you believe you have to add to grace

            No I don’t.

            It wasn’t the mere water baptism that saves, that only washes away the dirt, but the washing of our souls, the raising of the dead, of which baptism is only a symbol.

            Interesting, the passage does not say that baptism is a symbol of our salvation, it says Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you.

            Why don’t you believe the words of scripture?

            But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
            so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

            But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Sure guv, it wasn’t me that wanted a knighthood, it was the missus. I only did it for her.

            Tell me, what good can the dead do?

            For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
            (Ephesians 2:8-9 [ESV])

            And once you are saved your good deeds are not your own, but Christ’s:

            For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
            (Ephesians 2:10 [ESV])

            What gains us credit is Christ, nothing else.

            God does reward us according to our deeds, but they have no influence on our salvation.

            So tell me, if someone was never baptised, never went to church, never attended Mass, never made confession, would they be saved?

            It’s the baptism not made with water.

          • Albert

            Sure guv, it wasn’t me that wanted a knighthood, it was the missus. I only did it for her.

            All I’m doing is showing your posts are littered with inaccuracies. You claimed Of course it’s an assertion, but it’s an assertion backed up history. Rome sought to raise itself to pre-eminence over the other churches, but our earliest records on the subject show the claims being made for Rome. Now you criticise me for pointing out your error of fact. Ho um.

            Tell me, what good can the dead do?

            Have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”

            You say: And once you are saved your good deeds are not your own, but Christ’s

            Why do you replace scripture with the late Medieval Catholic nominalism? If they are not my own, then they are not my good deeds. The true position, found in scripture, is that they are my good deeds because they are Christ’s in me:

            “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do”

            I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

            Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

            God does reward us according to our deeds, but they have no influence on our salvation.

            How can you say that, when I have just quoted scripture saying precisely that? It seems to me that you hate Catholicism more than you love scripture.

            So tell me, if someone was never baptised, never went to church, never attended Mass, never made confession, would they be saved?

            That would depend on whether they were morally at fault for not having done these things.

            It’s the baptism not made with water.

            But Jesus says: I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

          • Little Black Censored

            “…a development and hence a departure from what Scripture says.”
            It depends on what you mean by “departure”.
            The Church has to develop, and the process should be according to the Holy Ghost acting through the Church’s Councils and the successors of the Apostles. You seem to regard the Bible as a kind of Koran.

          • Anton

            Development and departure are general words; let’s keep it concrete. If a structure of church governance arises which differs from that described in the New Testament – which is accepted to be authoritative – then by what authority has that change been made?

          • Albert

            If you want to take that as your stance, then it is clear that your own position, which lacks wider apostolic oversight is a departure without authority.

          • Anton

            Strange response. I asked a question, Albert. Here it is again:

            If a structure of church governance arises which differs from that described in the New Testament – which is accepted to be authoritative – then by what authority has that change been made?

          • Albert

            I think this is actually question begging, rather than questioning. There are two problems: firstly, you assume that the NT Church structure is clear, consistent and universal. I would have thought it uncontroversial to say it is none of those things. Secondly, you think your position is that of the NT. As my answer to the first question shows, I think that is evidently false.

            My position is that no one’s Church follows the NT pattern, for the NT pattern presumed the oversight and command of the apostles. Since that oversight no longer exists, then any position is in fact a development. Therefore, developments are not automatically departures.

            As Catholics, we retain the same basic structure of congregations overseen by a ministry which unites several parishes, the difference being that this ministry is that of a bishop not an apostle. You on the other hand, carry on without that wider oversight which was plainly practised in the NT times.

            From a purely historical point of view, it is clear to me that the Catholic position is closer in shape to the NT picture.

          • Anton

            It is possible, of course, to be certain yet wrong.

            Odd that I twice ask a question about authority and you twice fail to answer it. Please see my comment on this subthread to Pubcrawler about how it makes no sense to have one apostolic-derived overseer over seeing the overseers (episkopoi, plural per congregation). The latter wouldn’t then really be overseers, would they?

          • Albert

            It is possible, of course, to be certain yet wrong.

            Absolutely! That would be a reason to doubt the epistemic status of Protestant faith.

            Odd that I twice ask a question about authority and you twice fail to answer it.

            That’s not odd at all. I’ve explained why your question isn’t the correct one in these circumstances. It’s rather like the wife beating question, insofar as to answer it is to assume the point under debate.

            Please see my comment on this subthread to Pubcrawler about how it makes no sense to have one apostolic-derived overseer over seeing the overseers (episkopoi, plural per congregation). The latter wouldn’t then really be overseers, would they?

            Someone can be in command, and yet be under the command of someone else. There’s a good example here:

            For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.

            And a line manager is also managed himself. He may have oversight of his department, and yet someone else will have oversight over him. Or to take a biblical example, the fact that there are overseers does not mean that the apostles do not have oversight over them.

          • Anton

            That was the Roman army, not the church! Some confusion between the two is forgivable, of course.

            But you undermine your own position by not calling the leader(s) of a congregation, ie ordained Catholic priests, episkopoi as well as the local Catholic bishop.

          • Albert

            You’re talking about what words mean. You are saying there is a contradiction here. But my comparison (and it wasn’t only an army comparison, you seem to avoid the others I gave) is sufficient to show that there is no contradiction here. Therefore, further evidence is needed of a contradiction – e.g. a clarification, by scripture of the terms, in such a way as to make the contradiction unavoidable. This is not done by joking about only one of the comparisons.

            But you undermine your own position by not calling the leader(s) of a congregation, ie ordained Catholic priests, episkopoi as well as the local Catholic bishop.

            How? What seems to be going on here, with both you and Martin, is that you think you know what must be entailed by the truth of Catholicism. What makes you so sure you are right about that?

          • Anton

            Episkopos means Overseer and has come to mean in your system a man who oversees a number of congregations. You talk about the need to get terms right, but ‘right’ in your eyes means Catholic usage, and the Roman Catholic church might think it has a monopoly on inerrancy but it does not have a monopoly on the meaning of words.

          • Albert

            I know what the word means. The issue is your claim that there is a contradictions. That is not demonstrated by idle chatter about Catholicism.

          • Anton

            We’ve discussed that on previous threads, as I said, and I am happy for readers to inspect them for themselves.

          • Albert

            I really don’t think I have discussed your alleged contradiction over the use of the word “overseer”. In any case, a contradiction is something that is easy to show. So why not just show it, in such a way as deals with the objections I have already given?

          • Anton

            Because (and I mean this factually) I don’t consider your objections have any force.

          • Albert

            Fine. Why do you think they haven’t any force, and why haven’t you defended your own position?

          • Anton

            It doesn’t need defending if the attacks on it have no force. I’ve replied to your objections once and am not going to go round your whirlygig any further on this subject. If you think that means you have won, feel free to think so. This is in no way a concession.

          • Albert

            You have made an assertion which you have not defended. A position does not stand simply because you disagree with the evidence against it. A position stands on the strength of the defence of it given. And you have given none.

            I’ve replied to your objections once and am not going to go round your whirlygig any further on this subject.

            You have not replied on this thread, and I do not think we have discussed your particular argument anywhere else.

            As usual, you are playing the confidence trick of claiming to have answered something you haven’t addressed, and hoping on one bothers to go and check…

          • Anton

            I wouldn’t do that because anybody might check and call me out on it. The point is that I consider you haven’t rebutted me, and if you consider you have then we are both happy to let the reader decide. If you want to call me a confidence trickster then that is between you and your conscience.

          • Albert

            How many times have you played this card of saying you have already answered an argument I have given? You do it in almost every exchange. When I ask you to say where or to repeat the argument you refuse.

          • Anton

            It’s not card-playing. I could say that in almost every exchange you split hairs and make distinctions without differences and thereby reduce scripture to meaninglessness – something which even God’s word is susceptible to, because it presupposes the meaning of words. I call this legalism and it looks to me like a defensive tactic whenever Rome’s antiscriptural doctrines are threatened, although I’m sure you don’t see it like that.

          • Albert

            And if I ask for examples of distinctions without differences, you will perhaps say that you have pointed them out already…

          • Anton

            On previous threads I have. I just don’t think the discussion will go anywhere, because it seems to me that you apply different standards of rhetoric whenever a doctrine of Rome is threatened and in other discussions. Of course you won’t think that’s so, but if it is then there is no way I’d be able to convince you of it. That’s why I give up and appeal to the reader.

          • Albert

            On previous threads I have.

            I could write your posts for you! In fact, it must occur to some people that I am writing your posts as well as my own!

            I just don’t think the discussion will go anywhere, because it seems to me that you apply different standards of rhetoric whenever a doctrine of Rome is threatened and in other discussions.

            You can’t land your punches without misrepresenting that with which you disagree. The moment words are used to reflect the reality of the Catholic Church, your arguments collapse, and you resort to “I’ve explained this elsewhere.”

            Of course you won’t think that’s so, but if it is then there is no way I’d be able to convince you of it.

            Only someone who wants to be convinced is going to be convinced by arguments that are so imprecise they misrepresent the position they attack.

          • Anton

            On a couple of occasions I learnt that what I’d thought about Rome and what it actually held was significantly different, and thank you for that; but more often it is as I have said, distinctions without substantive differences. Your constant imprecations to give examples would simply lead back into the same mire when discussing each, which is why I am not doing so any more.

          • Albert

            but more often it is as I have said, distinctions without substantive differences

            Two things here: 1. You do not give any examples, so it is therefore impossible for me to defend myself against your assertion. 2. The fact that you do not notice any substantive difference does not mean there is none, it just means you do not notice it.

            which is why I am not doing so any more.

            It’s not a question of “any more” as if you have been doing it already, it is a question of not doing it at all. And that’s the problem. It’s a rhetorical tool to cover up the fact that your positions only work when you do not attack Catholicism, but your parody of it.

          • Anton

            I don’t agree but I respect your freedom to believe that. My bottom line is that I believe you apply different standards of rhetoric whenever a doctrine of Rome is threatened and in other discussions. In the former you get pedantic and hair-splitting so as not to concede what I believe is to the unbiased observer an obvious point. In other discussions you reason cogently, like most people here. I don’t expect you to agree with me; I’m explaining why I’m unwilling to spend more time on it with you.

          • Albert

            My bottom line is that I believe you apply different standards of rhetoric whenever a doctrine of Rome is threatened and in other discussions.

            But do you make this statement from a position of ignorance or of knowledge? I simply use words consistently, as they are meant to be used in Catholic discourse. You show repeated ignorance of that discourse, but expect your misrepresentations to carry the day. Since you are arguing on a predominantly Protestant board, you are likely to get away with it.

            The second thing you do is say you won’t repeat points you say you have already made. But I say you have made no such points. Now if you simply stopped posting at that point, your assertion that you have already answered my points might just convince a non-observant reader. But instead, you carry on, as here, arguing about the argument itself instead of defending points you claim already to have made. But the fact you keep going, only without defending your assertion of having answered already, suggests it’s just a smoke-screen. You clearly have the time to defend your assertion, but you choose not to. Why?

          • Anton

            The second thing you do is say you won’t repeat points you say you have already made. But I say you have made no such points. Now if you simply stopped posting at that point, your assertion that you have already answered my points might just convince a non-observant reader. But instead, you carry on, as here, arguing about the argument itself instead of defending points you claim already to have made

            I thought it was you who were prolonging this!

            Since you are arguing on a predominantly Protestant board, you are likely to get away with it.

            What do you mean?

          • Albert

            I thought it was you who were prolonging this!

            I prolong it for the most part by asking you “repeat” the arguments you claim to have used already.

            What do you mean?

            I mean that Protestants typically don’t understand Catholicism. I speak from experience. Therefore, when you misrepresent Catholicism, or you claim I am being pedantic when I point out that you are misrepresenting us, most Protestants are not likely to spot the injustice of your position.

          • Anton

            Absurd – of course they can. Is that not an excuse for the fact that most don’t take my arguments up? And it’s “injustice” now rather than “incorrect”; good job the Inquisition is finished!

          • Albert

            A false claim is an unjust claim. But I’m only speculating about Protestants on the basis of my experience.

            No further attempts to justify your view then…

          • Anton

            As I consider that you refuse to accept correct arguments where Rome is involved, I’ve no further points to make. I haven’t had for a long time (and have openly said so) but you seem unable to say that we disagree and leave it at that.

          • Albert

            As I consider that you refuse to accept correct arguments where Rome is involved, I’ve no further points to make.

            I consider that you refuse to use correct arguments where Rome is involved, and therefore you have no further points to make.

            I haven’t had for a long time (and have openly said so) but you seem unable to say that we disagree and leave it at that.

            Because we typically do not reach that point. You use bogus arguments which misconstrue Catholicism. For me to say we agree to disagree would be to concede your misrepresentation as true. But it isn’t true. And faith is too important for that kind of concession.

          • Anton

            We agree that I have no further points to make to you, anyway. But it is an absurd non sequitur for you to say that agreeing to disagree would be to concede what I say as true. When people agree to disagree it means that they disagree, obviously, about whether something is true or false.

            You also generalise in a rather pontificatory manner by disparaging “protestant arguments”. Had I done the same about Catholics you would have been grumbling as usual, and on this occasion rightly so. Sauce for the goose?

          • Albert

            But it is an absurd non sequitur for you to say that agreeing to disagree would be to concede what I say as true. When people agree to disagree it means that they disagree, obviously, about whether something is true or false.

            If I agree to disagree, it seems to me that I validate your misrepresentation of Catholicism as a valid position with which I disagree. That’s not true. Your interpretations are misrepresentations.

            You also generalise in a rather pontificatory manner by disparaging “protestant arguments”. Had I done the same about Catholics you would have been grumbling as usual, and on this occasion rightly so. Sauce for the goose?

            If I misrepresent Protestantism and it is drawn to my attention, then I think I should take the correction. But that does not seem to apply to you. So yes, you’re right, what’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander, but you can’t afford for that to be the case, a lot of the time.

          • Anton

            “If I agree to disagree, it seems to me that I validate your misrepresentation of Catholicism as a valid position with which I disagree. That’s not true. Your interpretations are misrepresentations.”

            We can agree to disagree about whether they are misrepresentations!

          • Albert

            I am a Catholic. You are a Protestant. I have been a Protestant, and have converted largely as a result of study. Why on earth would I concede that your misinterpretations are anything but?

          • Anton

            I believe that they are are misinterpretations, but you do not seem to understand that silence is not equivalent to acquiescence.

          • Albert

            I am not going to agree that your misinterpretations are valid.

          • Anton

            I am not asking you to agree with anything I write. You are welcome to your opinion that they are misinterpretations and I am happy to let readers decide for themselves.

          • Albert

            On what basis do readers decide for themselves? Are they educated in Catholic theology? My experience is not. Now let us suppose the audience has only a hazy grasp of Protestantism. How would you like it, if I said something like “Protestantism is plainly false, because Protestant eschew the Our Father.” Let us suppose that you said that Protestants do say the Our Father, it’s just that you call it the Lord’s Prayer and you gave evidence of that. Let us suppose that I said I had already answered those arguments, that I find your distinctions pedantic and you introduce them only to prevent Protestantism being falsified. Let us suppose further that I say “Let’s agree to disagree and let our readers decide.” How would you feel about that?

          • Anton

            I consider further dialogue with you about ecclesiology to be a waste of time, which is why I’m not doing it here. It’s really as simple as that.

            By the way, you seem to think that because you shifted from one protestant denomination to Roman Catholicism you understand that which you have rejected, namely ‘protestantism.’ I converted too, from the CoE with which I logged on pretty much by default following my adult conversion, and did so as a result of further Bible study and experience. So I have done my thinking too. You make the common Catholic error of supposing that all protestants are the same. Which is odd given that you also tax protestants with being divided!

          • Albert

            I consider further dialogue with you about ecclesiology to be a waste of time, which is why I’m not doing it here. It’s really as simple as that.

            Which is not of course an answer to the question I asked. I wonder why. It’s funny though how much time you have to spend arguing about arguing. I would have thought that was a waste of time if you think arguing about ecclesiology is a waste of time. And that’s the problem: your willlingness to argue about the argument, while claiming lack of time to argue about the subject, rather suggests an incapability to defend your positions on the latter.

            You make the common Catholic error of supposing that all protestants are the same.

            Under the circumstances, I think that must be one of the most thoughtless things you’ve ever written down here. Is it really likely that I haven’t noticed that not all Protestants are the same? Oh and look here, you’ve answered your own argument:

            Which is odd given that you also tax protestants with being divided!

            Precisely! And I would add that by the very fact of being an Anglican I knew that there are lots of different types of Protestant – since not all Anglicans are the same. As a result, I read widely in Protestant theology, before realising its flaws.

            Moreover, your comparison with yourself is fallacious. Yes, you have moved from one Protestant denomination to another, without ever having been a Catholic. I have moved from one Protestant denomination (a particularly divided one, in which one necessarily encountered a wide range of Protestants). How does that observation mean you are as well equipped as me to speak about Catholicism (in which you have never partaken), or that you are no less equipped to speak about Catholicism than I am about Protestantism (in which I have)?

          • Anton

            You again lump all protestants together, but this time you deny with the other hand that you do it. No I have not been a Catholic, and that – unlike when I became a Christian – was a very deliberate decision when I quit the CoE. You hint that, because I am not a Catholic, I am unfit to comment critically about Catholicism. This is just another version of your “I win because I’ve been both” nonsequitur. Would you extend that logic to Islam? Or witchcraft?

          • Albert

            I have not lumped all Protestants together.

            You hint that, because I am not a Catholic, I am unfit to comment critically about Catholicism.

            I wonder if you actually my posts sometimes. That is not at all what I have said, or hinted at, or think. My claim, endlessly repeated here, is that your understanding of Catholicism is often a misunderstanding, and that since you have never been a Catholic, it is unreasonable for you to think that your grasp of Catholicism is better than mine, or even equal to it.

            But since this point has been lost on you, here are some highlight from your own posts:

            You are welcome to your opinion that they are misinterpretations and I am happy to let readers decide for themselves.

            I believe that they are not misinterpretations,

            We can agree to disagree about whether they are misrepresentations!

            So given that you have completely understood my position, why now do you try to make it seem as if I am saying something different?

            This is just another version of your “I win because I’ve been both” nonsequitur. Would you extend that logic to Islam? Or witchcraft?

            If I am attacking Islam and an educated Muslim tells me I am misrepresenting his religion, and provides sources in support of his position, I think it would be very odd for me to pretend I know as much as he does.

          • Anton

            On a couple of occasions you have corrected significant misconceptions of mine about Catholicism, for which I am grateful. The other ‘corrections’, the vast majority, are generally distinctions that make no real difference, when I paraphrase Catholic doctrine. But I have said that before. I am not going to give examples because I believe, after our previous exchanges, that you’d say the differences mattered, and bog it down in minutiae. This exemplifies what I see as your tendency to argue differently about Roman Catholicism and about other subjects that appear on this blog. I ask the reader to judge for himself whether this is so.

          • Albert

            The other ‘corrections’, the vast majority, are generally distinctions that make no real difference, when I paraphrase Catholic doctrine.

            Who are you to judge, given that you are capable of making “significant misconceptions”? Whether a misconception is significant or not depends very much on the effect of the misconception, and a good grasp of that can only come when one understands without significant misconception the wider context. But since you make significant misconceptions, you can’t do that. Therefore, you are in no position to claim they make no difference.

            I am not going to give examples because I believe, after our previous exchanges, that you’d say the differences mattered, and bog it down in minutiae.

            Of course not – that would open up the possibility of your point being falsified.

            This exemplifies what I see as your tendency to argue differently about Roman Catholicism and about other subjects that appear on this blog.

            I would aim to be equally accurate with everything, however, it is unlikely to be the case that I am capable of being equally accurate with topics that I do not know about as well (but perhaps only understand as well, or as poorly as you understand Catholicism).

            I find it hard to see how that is a fault of Catholicism, or my defence of Catholicism.

          • Anton

            Who are you to judge, given that you are capable of making “significant misconceptions”?

            Thankfully I don’t need your permission. Or your church’s. We don’t burn people here any more. As for misconceptions, I suppose you have never made a mistake in your life? I’m not infallible, but then, who is?

            Of course not – that would open up the possibility of your point being falsified.

            In good faith I cooperated with your mode of dialogue for a long time in several threads, but came to the conclusion that it was who who refused to concede when shown wrong. Clearly we each think that of the other, and I don’t mind what opinion you hold of me. But it is nonsense to say that I am covering up and playing defensive, as anybody can verify. I disengage because I value my time.

          • Albert

            Thankfully I don’t need your permission. Or your church’s. We don’t burn people here any more. As for misconceptions, I suppose you have never made a mistake in your life? I’m not infallible, but then, who is?

            I’m talking about whether your position is reasonable, not whether you have the right to make it. Since you have made significant misconceptions about Catholicism, it is unreasonable to think you are not making others which diminish your sense of what is significant in other arguments. But I defend your right to be unreasonable, obviously.

            In good faith I cooperated with your mode of dialogue for a long time in several threads, but came to the conclusion that it was who who refused to concede when shown wrong.

            That’s just the same point again: you think you have shown me to be wrong, but I can see your position rests on significant misconceptions. Rather like Martin, you sometimes mistake a premise for the whole argument.

            Clearly we each think that of the other, and I don’t mind what opinion you hold of me.

            Yes, but what’s irrational about your position is that you think I misconceive Catholicism, or misrepresent it, even though you have never been a Catholic and you know you have had significant misconceptions about it. On the other hand, I do not think you misconceive Protestantism – I think it would be the height of hubris for me to think that of you. Thus we do not hold the same opinion of each other.

            But it is nonsense to say that I am covering up and playing defensive, as anybody can verify. I disengage because I value my time.

            No, that is nonsense, for you are quite prepared to use your valuable time to argue about the argument, rather than about the substance of the argument (what I really want to argue about). You cannot have it both ways.

          • Anton

            In your mind, no doubt. But I do not believe you think straight where this subject is concerned. If you believe I am expending time now it it negligible compared to the time I spent previously, making long posts pointing out the problems with Catholicism which you declined to concede; or would waste if I answered your questions above on this thread. I consider that on previous occasions you took the dialogue into nitpicking and rhetorical tricks becaues you had no real answer, and at that point I disengaged intellectually and invited the reader to decide for himself. Readers may also decide how well or ill-informed I am about Roman Catholicism in the light not only of my comments but your responses. Or don’t you trust readers to ‘get it right’ even after you’ve put your viewpoint?

          • Albert

            In your mind, no doubt. But I do not believe you think straight where this subject is concerned. If you believe I am expending time now it it negligible compared to the time I spent previously, making long posts pointing out the problems with Catholicism which you declined to concede; or would waste if I answered your questions above on this thread.

            But your perspective to judge that is one which, by your own admission has contained significant misconceptions; significant misconceptions, you have thanked me for correcting. And yet, you now think you are in the position to judge that you have no significant misconceptions, but that, on the contrary, the misconceptions or misrepresentations are mine.

            Readers may also decide how well or ill-informed I am about Roman Catholicism in the light not only of my comments but your responses. Or don’t you trust readers to ‘get it right’ even after you’ve put your viewpoint?

            But to judge without significant misconceptions, they need to lack significant misconceptions themselves. Is it your view that our readers have a better grasp of Catholicism than you do? If so, why do you need to attack Catholicism? they would surely be able to do it for themselves. But if you don’t think they have a better grasp of Catholicism than you do, why especially should I judge they are better placed to judge my faith than you are?

            Or don’t you trust readers to ‘get it right’ even after you’ve put your viewpoint?

            This is another point. Since you refer to points you claim to have made against Catholicism, but which I cannot recall you making, I am not able even to show my viewpoint, because you do not disclose yours. So you are expecting me to accept that people who know less about Catholicism, will be able to see how correctly to answer points I do not think you have made, without me being able to express my viewpoint against those points. Do you see the problem?

          • Pubcrawler

            “Episkopos means Overseer”

            inter alia. Part of the ‘fun’ of translating Greek into English (and vice versa) is that it is far more than a simple matter of lexical substitution — polysemy is as much a cause of head scratching as differences in grammar and syntax. (I speak as one who has done an awful lot of this.)

            “it does not have a monopoly on the meaning of words”

            Nor does Protestantism, as I’ve been trying to get across.

          • Anton

            I do know that episkopoi appear in the OT!

          • dannybhoy

            I think the best word is ‘accountable’, which fits in with confessing our sins to one another (James), and ‘we are all part of one body’ (Ist Corinthians 12).
            The Body of Christ is organic,rather than an organisation.

          • Albert

            The thing is that when Paul uses his body metaphor, he doesn’t just say “and everyone is equal”. He is saying that everyone is equally part of the body. But the metaphor in itself and as Paul expresses it speaks of order with some parts being superior to others:

            On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

            You say:

            The Body of Christ is organic,rather than an organisation.

            It’s both, isn’t? A body, especially an organic body, cannot exist without a great deal of organisation.

            So it seems to me that this flat structure that some Protestants argue for is plainly not that of scripture.

          • dannybhoy

            ” He is saying that everyone is equally part of the body. But the metaphor in itself and as Paul expresses it speaks of order:”
            I totally agree Albert, and I think you should see that is what I have said in my responses to you and Uncle Brian. Where we differ is that I believe the body should be involved in the selection and ‘deselection’ of leaders/elders/bishops; not just other priests.

            It is that laity-priesthood divide that I struggle with in the Anglican Church, and by inference of course the Catholic Church.

          • Albert

            That’s very refreshing Dannybohy. I would say that the clergy being responsible for the selection of the next generation of clergy is not the only way the Catholic Church can be. I think it likely that the laity are involved in the selection of clergy. I’m not so sure about the laity deselecting leaders however.

          • dannybhoy

            By the clear teaching and authority of the Scriptural record which you as a Church acknowledge.

          • Albert

            You’ve lost me.

          • dannybhoy

            Me too! I can’t find the relevant comment, so please ignore it.
            .

          • Albert

            🙂

          • dannybhoy

            Albert,
            If you remain willing to engage, tomorrow (or some time soon), I hope to approach this subject in a more positive and hopefully fruitful way.
            Because you do raise an issue which I think evangelical Christians like myself recognise as lacking in our congregations, but it’s how and if we could actually find a (parallel) way forward.
            Right now it’s football and as a true Englishman I’m rooting for Wales..

          • Albert

            🙂 Enjoy!

          • Martin

            Albert

            The apostolic oversight is found in the Bible.

          • Albert

            And the apostolic oversight is not simply of only one local Church, but of several, is it not?

          • Martin

            Albert

            You misunderstand me, the apostolic oversight is the Bible. The apostles have died, the Bible is their words and the authority.

          • Albert

            You misunderstand me, the apostolic oversight is the Bible.

            As I have explained, that does not work, and it is a post biblical tradition, and therefore nullified by your own argument.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Funny that, Paul seems to agree with me:

            All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
            (II Timothy 3:16-17 [ESV])

            As does Peter

            And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
            (II Peter 1:19-21 [ESV])

          • Albert

            Funny that, Paul seems to agree with me

            The key word there is “seems” – and it doesn’t seem so to me. But if you wish to use 2 Tim 3 to defend your claim that apostolic oversight is the Bible, show how.

            Ditto Peter – a confusing passage for you to quote, given that it contains the memorable line, mistranslated in your version:

            First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation

            τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες ὅτι πᾶσα προφητεία γραφῆς ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως οὐ γίνεται

            A line, which, one would have thought, ought to give a great deal of pause to Protestants who set themselves up as their own interpreters of scripture, in violation of this particular scripture you have cited.

          • Martin

            Albert

            So you hadn’t realised that the apostles were subject to Scripture? And those parts of Scripture written by the apostles are now the continuation of their oversight.

            Oh wow, I hadn’t realised you were the best Greek scholar, far better than those who actually produced the translations.

            Nothing in that Scripture is opposed to Christians, through the Holy Spirit, understanding what the Bible says. It does condemn the church of Rome’s demand that everyone accept its understanding.

          • Albert

            So you hadn’t realised that the apostles were subject to Scripture? And those parts of Scripture written by the apostles are now the continuation of their oversight.

            This is confusing two things. Oversight and scripture are plainly not the same thing, for scripture does not have sight except through interpreters, and that places us back where we started.

            I note you have not attempted to answer my request for a defence of your view of that from St Paul.

            Oh wow, I hadn’t realised you were the best Greek scholar, far better than those who actually produced the translations.

            I don’t pretend that, but I compared some different translations and found yours to be rejected by many. I have also consulted a Greek commentary which gives very good reasons to reject your translation, both on the basis of the lexical evidence and of the basis of the context in the passage itself. But the passage was yours, I was just showing it did not need to mean what you say it means. What’s your evidence for your translation of it?

            Nothing in that Scripture is opposed to Christians, through the Holy Spirit, understanding what the Bible says.

            Perhaps not, but that interpretation is excluded elsewhere, for example, the passage of Paul I already cited:

            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.
            Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

            Now since some Christians at least are not able to interpret through the Holy Spirit, since scripture shows they do not have this gift, and since interpretations without the Holy Spirit are clearly not acceptable, it follows that any brand of Christianity that requires individuals to make such judgements cannot be biblical Christianity.

            But that does not mean Christianity is false. Christ is still faithful, it just means human tradition has got in the way and needs to be removed. But it should be evident that that unfaithfulness to biblical Christianity is not that the error of Catholicism, for, as you say:

            the church of Rome’s demand that everyone accept its understanding

          • Martin

            Albert

            If you say that the Scriptures do not have oversight, although the Spirit uses them in the hearts of men, then clearly there is no apostolic oversight once the apostles had died.

            I’m not sure what defence you want me to give.

            The ESV doesn’t seem all that different, I imagine you reject that as well.

            19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:19-21 (ESV)

            You will note I had no difficulty including a reference.

            No, that passage from Paul does not exclude Christians understanding the Bible by the Holy Spirit. You have taken it out of its context and seek to misuse it.

            Indeed, you seek to force everyone to accept Rome’s understanding. a church that has no apostles, no prophets, whose teachers against God’s Word call themselves ‘father’.

          • Albert

            If you say that the Scriptures do not have oversight, although the Spirit uses them in the hearts of men, then clearly there is no apostolic oversight once the apostles had died.

            That’s a non-sequitur.

            The ESV doesn’t seem all that different, I imagine you reject that as well.

            As I’ve pointed out translations vary. However, there are good grammatical and contextual reasons to reject this translation. What reasons do you give to support it?

            No, that passage from Paul does not exclude Christians understanding the Bible by the Holy Spirit. You have taken it out of its context and seek to misuse it.

            Explain how.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Actually I think it does follow.

            I’d accept the translation because it is made by persons with a better knowledge of the language than I and the translations all appear similar.

            I’ve explained how, try reading what I wrote again.

          • Albert

            Actually I think it does follow.

            You complain about me not including basic biblical references. You don’t even bother to cite the parts of my post that you are replying to. This makes it very hard to follow what you are saying. But I note, as usual, that you do not explain why you think that (whatever it is that you are referring to here).

            I’d accept the translation because it is made by persons with a better knowledge of the language than I and the translations all appear similar.
            I’ve explained how, try reading what I wrote again.

            You haven’t explained your own reasons, and you miss out the fact that many, and possibly most translations disagree with you. If the authority of the translator is your argument, you cannot defend your translation. You would have to say no more than that it is possible.

          • Martin

            Albert

            If you’re too lazy to provide references I don’t see why I should go to the bother of pasting what you have said. I expect you to have remembered your own words.

            I’ve used the parallel facility on Bible Gateway, the translations all seem to agree: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Peter%201%3A19-21&version=NIV;KJV;NKJV;ESV;NASB I wonder which translation you are referring to that doesn’t.

          • Albert

            If you’re too lazy to provide references I don’t see why I should go to the bother of pasting what you have said. I expect you to have remembered your own words.

            I expect you to remember the passages of scripture I cite – if you know them. But as for me remembering which of my own words you are replying to, when we are running about 5 conversations concurrently seems much more unreasonable.

            As for the translation of 2 Pet, two of them agree with you NIV, ESV, two are ambiguous at best (the two KJB versions – which are open to either interpretation) and one disagrees with you NASB. And these are the translations you have picked. If I add in a few others: RSV, ISV, CJB, we find the other interpretation. Now from a Catholic point of view, it makes no difference which way it is translated: both meanings are consistent with our faith. But from a Protestant point of view, if the RSV etc. are correct, you’re in real trouble. It’s not surprising then to find some Protestant translations favouring your reading (even though, in order to sustain it, they have to add words that are not there in the Greek). The strength of my translation is surely therefore to be found in that there are any Protestant translations that agree with it.

          • Martin

            Albert

            As you know it wasn’t the references you had already made, all I had to do was look at your previous post, as you did.

            So what you are saying is that scholars differ in how they translate. However I don’t see that the difference is as earth shattering for Evangelicals as you seem to think. It seems to me that they are all saying the same thing.

          • Albert

            So what you are saying is that scholars differ in how they translate. However I don’t see that the difference is as earth shattering for Evangelicals as you seem to think. It seems to me that they are all saying the same thing.

            Then you are missing the point. If scripture says scripture is not a matter of individual interpretation, and scripture adds that not everyone has the spiritual gift of interpretation, then it follows that many individual Christians will not be able to interpret scripture, adequately (as scripture warns later in the letter). Therefore, they need a guide and even those who do have the gift of interpretation or prophecy need recognising, and this is done, in the letters we have by the apostle, using his authority or criteria.

            The divisions in Protestantism are eloquent of this.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The passage nowhere speaks of Christians not having the ability to interpret Scripture.

          • Albert

            It speaks of the gift of interpretation – that is, the very spiritual gift that you need an individual to have if you are to get around 2 Pet.1.20.

          • Martin

            Albert

            There’s a difference between a miraculous gift of interpretation and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

          • Albert

            1. Is this true? 2. What difference does it make?

          • Martin

            Albert

            Paul, in speaking to the Corinthians says:

            these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

            The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
            (I Corinthians 2:10-16 [ESV])

            Clearly the Christian who Paul is addressing is included in the ‘we’. Therefore that Christian will also understand what God has given, His word the Bible.

            On the other hand, the special gifts are greater than what we normally have, we all speak our own language but we do not have the ability to speak in languages we have not learned. Therefore the gift of interpretation is a higher gift than the gift given to every Christian.

          • Albert

            Clearly the Christian who Paul is addressing is included in the ‘we’. Therefore that Christian will also understand what God has given, His word the Bible.

            This is clearly not the case. There are two reasons why not. Firstly, the passage you quote says this:

            And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

            So although others have the spirit, the spirit still needs to be intepreted for them. This ought to be obvious. If Paul’s disciples were all so spiritual, how is it that they keep getting it so wrong that he has to write to them in such firm terms?

            Secondly, your quotation stops too soon. It continues:

            The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?

            So plainly Paul is not including the Christians he is addressing the in the “we” for he says that he isn’t. This is despite the fact that, as Paul says: Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

            So having the spirit of God does not mean one is automatically spiritual in the sense of being able to judge things spiritually. A similar point is made in Hebrews, where we read:

            For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food; for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.

            This Protestant idea that every time the Bible speaks of some gift or other, it means to speak of everyone is plainly contrary to scripture – even to the scripture you cite. We are left with the passages you cite actually supporting the passages I have given about not all interpreting, and the unstable twisting the scriptures.

          • Martin

            Albert

            No, the spirit doesn’t need to be interpreted for for them, they have the Holy Spirit, He does the interpretation. And the question applies to Peter as well, if he was so spiritual how did he get it so wrong over the Judaizers? We all get things wrong from time to time.

            And the people who Paul was writing to, as the passage shows, were showing immaturity in their faith. It wasn’t that the Christian is unable to be spiritual, but that they were failing to be spiritual enough.

            Paul is including those he is addressing and chiding them, they should have been able to understand but their jealousy and strife were disabling their spiritual understanding. Your reference to Hebrews bears this out.

            Your problem is that you imagine the clergy are set apart form the laity, there is no such distinction in Scripture. A person does not need to be of a special group to be used of God.

          • Martin

            Albert

            So you claim without any evidence.

          • Albert

            I have given reason already for why it doesn’t work. As for it being a post biblical tradition, this follows of necessity given that the biblical period and the apostolic period are the same thing. Thus, if your position were true, you would be able to point to a passage of scripture in which an apostle writes that after their death, their authority passes to the scriptures. But you can’t do that. On the contrary, the scripture actually speaks of the need to follow the tradition they gave, as well as their letters.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Do you not think that in speaking of following their writings that Scripture is telling us that the apostles authority passes to the Bible?

            And where is your text where we are told how to appoint the successors to the apostles. Does it mention the colour of smoke coming from a chimney?

          • Albert

            Do you not think that in speaking of following their writings that Scripture is telling us that the apostles authority passes to the Bible?

            No. Because the Bible as we know it, did not exist yet. They are saying we should hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. That is, we should follow their teaching regardless of its form. But how do you know what is apostolic and what is not? Even if you could be sure of authorship, it is obvious that not all parts of the canon are written by apostles. Besides, you still need the tradition of the Church to have kept the canon properly.

            And where is your text where we are told how to appoint the successors to the apostles.

            I think I have more than demonstrated the point that the apostles handed on something of their authority and structure. Here’s another passage:

            These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.

            We also have a range of hierarchical positions in the NT Church: apostle, elder, ἐπισκοπή etc. The idea that this is a flat structure is quite absurd.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The Bible may not have been complete but it existed and as each part was written it was expanded. We have all that God has required us to have and we know what was apostolic by the witness of those who went before us, by their testimony.

            And again, where is the text where we are told how to appoint the successors to the apostles? There are only two roles given in the Bible for the Church, deacon and elder, and neither role should be solitary.

          • Albert

            The Bible may not have been complete but it existed and as each part was written it was expanded. We have all that God has required us to have and we know what was apostolic by the witness of those who went before us, by their testimony.

            So you admit that what is in the canon is passed on to us by tradition. How do you know the tradition is correct, given that you think it is so corrupt?

            Secondly, how do you know that We have all that God has required us to have?

            And again, where is the text where we are told how to appoint the successors to the apostles?

            We see Paul doing it! And even if we didn’t your argument would have any force if you could prove from scripture that we cannot do anything that we cannot prove from scripture. But you can’t do that.

            There are only two roles given in the Bible for the Church, deacon and elder, and neither role should be solitary.

            Apostles?

          • Martin

            Albert

            The canon is passed on by testimony, a testimony that can be tested by our own experience.

            We have all that God has required us to have because it is all we have.

            Paul is not appointing successors. The original apostles were not appointed by men so why would men appoint their successors and thus the apostles are not an office.

          • Albert

            The canon is passed on by testimony, a testimony that can be tested by our own experience.

            Experience you say? What do you mean by experience? When you read Psalm 137 saying Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! do you get some kind of warm feeling? you honestly think that experience enables you to tell a canonical book from a non-canonical book and an authentic line from an inauthentic scribal interpolation? So you have to fall back on testimony – but that is just tradition, and tradition is something you reject.

            We have all that God has required us to have because it is all we have.

            I’m sure scripture includes all God intended it to include, but does it include everything we need? If you think it does, you must be able to prove that from scripture itself.

            Paul is not appointing successors. The original apostles were not appointed by men so why would men appoint their successors and thus the apostles are not an office.

            You’re arguing against a straw man. Successors are not apostles. You need to understand the doctrine you disagree with.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Perhaps if you had spent some time studying the Psalms and understood how God used the people of Babylon to humble God’s people. But their behaviour went beyond what was right so that God would vent His wrath upon them in their turn. Truly the Blessed One would return their deeds upon them.

            If God had failed to provide all we need would He be God?

            If successors are not apostles they are not successors.

          • Albert

            Your first paragraph does not address how you know that passage is scripture, and that is the point you must address.

            If God had failed to provide all we need would He be God?

            I never said he failed to provide all we need. You are assuming that the only way God can provide for us is through scripture. This is false.

            If successors are not apostles they are not successors.

            And so it becomes clear that you do not understand the doctrine. You are picking at the words and not asking how the words are used.

          • Martin

            Albert

            So now you are suggesting that Psalm 137 is not Scripture. I’ll take that to mean that you are passing judgement on what Scripture says. Are there other passages that offend you that you question are Scripture? It seems that it is not Scripture that is your authority but your own opinion.

            So how would you suggest that God provides what is missing and, more importantly, how do we test that it is from God?

            So where does this doctrine arise from and, again, how has it been tested?

          • Albert

            So now you are suggesting that Psalm 137 is not Scripture.

            If you really think that is what I am suggesting, then I think you have difficulty understanding the written word, which is precisely my point. This is what I said:

            Your first paragraph does not address how you know that passage is scripture, and that is the point you must address.

            So how would you suggest that God provides what is missing and, more importantly, how do we test that it is from God?

            Through apostolic tradition and authority.

            So where does this doctrine arise from and, again, how has it been tested?

            From the apostles and it is tested against apostolic tradition and the apostolic Magisterium.

          • Martin

            Albert

            I’ve already addressed how we know what is Scripture. Why have you got a problem with Psalm?

            Actually it is quite clear that Christ accepted the Psalms as Scripture so, no, it goes beyond the apostles and has nothing to do with Rome.

          • Albert

            I’ve already addressed how we know what is Scripture. Why have you got a problem with Psalm?

            I don’t think you have. You said you know by experience, but you’ve not explained what that experience is, nor how you know you should trust it. You’ve also said we know by testimony, but testimony is nothing more than tradition, which you don’t accept. So it seems to me that you have literally no consistent reason think the canon is correct.

            Why have you got a problem with Psalm?

            Nothing. I’m trying to work out what your experience is that verifies the Psalm.

            Actually it is quite clear that Christ accepted the Psalms as Scripture so, no, it goes beyond the apostles and has nothing to do with Rome.

            Several problems here: 1. How do you know Christ accepted it? You know from the canonical Gospels. But how do you know to accept them? 2. Even if Christ did accept Psalms, how do you know it is the same list of Psalms we have? 3. Even if the list is the same, how do you know that that line wasn’t added later by a wicked scribe?

            The answer is that you don’t have answers to these questions, but you accept the canon on the basis of the Church’s tradition. Tradition which you reject.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Strange, you didn’t explain why you have a problem with the psalm. Why is it that you want to challenge the authority of Scripture? Are you trying to say that only a church who has no connection to the apostles, that has been led by evil people in the past, that has created a hierarchy of clergy, that indulges in the worship of idols can say what is Scripture?

            My trust in the Bible comes from the testimonies of those who went before supported by my experience of the Bible. That’s a bit more than the tradition that support worshipping Mary and the ‘saints’.

          • Albert

            Strange, you didn’t explain why you have a problem with the psalm.

            This is how the discussion went:

            You: Why have you got a problem with Psalm?

            Me: Nothing [i.e. I don’t have a problem with this Psalm – how could I it’s scripture!]. I’m trying to work out what your experience is that verifies the Psalm.

            Now if you cannot work out what I mean, how can you work out the meaning of scripture?

            Why is it that you want to challenge the authority of Scripture?

            Are you being deliberately dishonest so as not to lose face?

            Are you trying to say that only a church who has no connection to the apostles, that has been led by evil people in the past, that has created a hierarchy of clergy, that indulges in the worship of idols can say what is Scripture?

            Obviously not!

            My trust in the Bible comes from the testimonies of those who went before supported by my experience of the Bible. That’s a bit more than the tradition that support worshipping Mary and the ‘saints’.

            But the testimony comes from those whom you falsely accuse of worshipping Mary! You seem to have dropped your “experience” claim.

          • Martin

            Albert

            You seemed to imagine that I’d have a problem accepting that Psalm 137 was a part of Scripture. I gave you a brief exegesis of the passage, demonstrating that there is no problem. I fail to see your point. You seemed, to me, to be challenging Scripture.

            The testimony does not come from the church of Rome, it existed long before that church existed but you still seem to say that church can say what is in Scripture.

            My experience is that God’s word is entirely sufficient and provides what I need day by day. That has been the experience of countless Christians down the ages.

          • Albert

            You seemed to imagine that I’d have a problem accepting that Psalm 137 was a part of Scripture. I gave you a brief exegesis of the passage, demonstrating that there is no problem. I fail to see your point. You seemed, to me, to be challenging Scripture.

            I’m challenging how you know it is scripture. You gave two answers: experience and testimony (which is the same as tradition). But neither position has been defended.

            The testimony does not come from the church of Rome, it existed long before that church existed but you still seem to say that church can say what is in Scripture.

            You have this bizarre idea that Catholics identify the Church with the See of Rome. But in any case, you are a sola scriptura Protestant, you reject all tradition. And yet you have to accept it in order to have the canon. It’s so contradictory, and since a contradiction conveys no information whatsoever, it’s hard to see what your position is based on.

            My experience is that God’s word is entirely sufficient and provides what I need day by day.

            And who are you to judge? Your knowledge of scripture is , well, not exactly exhaustive, is it? Besides, where does scripture elevate your experience (or your judgement of it) to being such an authority? And how exactly does you experience help you know what’s scripture and what’s not?

          • Martin

            Albert

            No, testimony isn’t the same as tradition. You claim all sorts of things lead to your tradition yet you are unable to provide justification for the idolatry of the mass, the worshipping of Mary and the saints, the creation of the division into clergy and laity and all that encompasses, the idea that you have to build up righteousness in order to avoid purgatory, indeed purgatory itself. So that isn’t what causes me to accept certain books as God’s word.

            Where I have tradition, it is subject to Scripture, your tradition is above Scripture.

            Who am I to judge? I am one of the redeemed, one whose sin’s have been forgiven, who has received a new heart. I am part of the Church, God’s people. I have received the Holy Spirit and I see in the Bible all I really need to live this life and rely on Him. He has not betrayed me and never will and I see Him in His word.

          • Albert

            No, testimony isn’t the same as tradition.

            Obviously testimony is a kind of tradition, and since the testimony of the canon is relatively late (4th Century for the NT), you cannot accept one without the other.

            You claim all sorts of things lead to your tradition yet you are unable to provide justification for the idolatry of the mass, the worshipping of Mary and the saints, the creation of the division into clergy and laity and all that encompasses, the idea that you have to build up righteousness in order to avoid purgatory, indeed purgatory itself. So that isn’t what causes me to accept certain books as God’s word.

            But your position is plainly contradictory. For when you say “unable to provide justification” you mean, presumably, justification from scripture. Now even if I accept your claim (and I don’t), you can’t provide justification for the canon from scripture. You can’t have it both ways. If you don’t need to provide justification for the canon from scripture, why should I for other things you consider addition.

            Where I have tradition, it is subject to Scripture, your tradition is above Scripture.

            In both cases our interpretation of scripture is subject to tradition, and in both cases our knowledge of the canon is the fruit of tradition, not scripture itself.

            Who am I to judge? I am one of the redeemed, one whose sin’s have been forgiven, who has received a new heart. I am part of the Church, God’s people. I have received the Holy Spirit and I see in the Bible all I really need to live this life and rely on Him. He has not betrayed me and never will and I see Him in His word.

            But you have’t proved that being one of the redeemed means you can trust your judgement. On the contrary, given your limited grasp of scripture and theology, and the warnings of scripture about these things, you should have a little more humility:

            Already you are filled! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong.

            And

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

          • Martin

            Albert

            The NT we have was almost completely accepted by the beginning of the second century. The books were in circulation long before a list was compiled.

            You compare the Mass, which is in clear contradiction to the remembrance of the Lord’s Supper, with the canon? Don’t be so silly, the mass was a human invention, a long time after the canon was created.

            As I’ve said, the books of the Bible are a matter of the testimony of the early Church, long before the heresies of Rome.

            It seems to me that my grasp of Scripture is better than yours, which is based on what you have been told to believe, rather than a study of Scripture. And, unlike you, I test my judgement against what Scripture actually says. Perhaps you need to invest in some humility.

          • Albert

            The NT we have was almost completely accepted by the beginning of the second century.

            Can you provide evidence that claim, please?

            You compare the Mass, which is in clear contradiction to the remembrance of the Lord’s Supper, with the canon? Don’t be so silly, the mass was a human invention, a long time after the canon was created.

            That is to assume the point you wish to prove. It is also to fail to understand the point I made: that you are resting on tradition when you use the canon.

            As I’ve said, the books of the Bible are a matter of the testimony of the early Church, long before the heresies of Rome.

            This is just an assertion. I need to see the evidence.

            It seems to me that my grasp of Scripture is better than yours, which is based on what you have been told to believe, rather than a study of Scripture.

            I did my academic biblical study as a Protestant.

            And, unlike you, I test my judgement against what Scripture actually says.

            And I did that, as a Protestant, and found Protestant teaching not to be there.

            Therefore, I conclude by posting your last sentence back to you: Perhaps you need to invest in some humility.

          • Martin

            Albert

            So you’d disregard the references Ignatius made and the version of the NT Marcion produced as being evidence? The NT was being used by Christians in the second century, they didn’t wait for it to be approved of in the 4th century.

            The difference between what you call tradition and what is really tradition is that your tradition was invented by men.

            You must have gone to a very poor college to have such a poor understanding of Scripture. You seemingly cannot see how the heresies of Rome have come into existence. I’ve not had that benefit, but I can see your errors as plain as day.

          • Albert

            So you’d disregard the references Ignatius made and the version of the NT Marcion produced as being evidence?

            I want to see the specific evidence for your claim. I want to see the quotation.

            The NT was being used by Christians in the second century, they didn’t wait for it to be approved of in the 4th century.

            No one claimed that they did wait until then – nor does my position rely on that. Why don’t you try to understand the arguments against you?

            I’ve not had that benefit, but I can see your errors as plain as day.

            As even this post shows, you have not understood the basic elements of this argument, you seem not to be able to understand the basic English in which it is written, and yet, you think you understand the words of God!

          • Martin

            Albert

            You mean like this quote of Matthew 10:16 in writing to Polycarp:

            Be in all things wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove.For this purpose thou art composed of both flesh and spirit, that thou mayest deal tenderly with those [evils] that present themselves visibly before thee. And as respects those that are not seen, pray that [God] would reveal them unto thee, in order that thou mayest be wanting in nothing, but mayest abound in every gift.

            Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16 [ESV])

            Or to the Ephesians:

            Let my spirit be counted as nothing for the sake of the cross, which is a stumbling-block to those that do not believe, but to us salvation and life eternal. Where is the wise man? where the disputer? Where is the boasting of those who are styled prudent? For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost. He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water.

            There’s a bunch of references there, tho’ no doubt you’ll dispute them.

            So it’s quite clear that the Christians were using what we call the New Testament long before anyone sat down and wrote out a list of the books in it. Indeed, it would be surprising if they hadn’t.

          • Albert

            Are you really posting this stuff? I’m not denying that parts of the NT were being used from the first – obviously they were. I am asking you to demonstrate the the NT as we have it now was accepted before the Fourth Century – i.e. that they had an identical list of books, nothing missing, nothing added, nothing different.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Why would a list be necessary? It’s quite clear that the whole of the NT was in use centuries before the Fourth Century, otherwise there would have been nothing to put on that list.

          • Albert

            You are aware that not all the books were recognised as scripture prior to the Fourth Century, and that some books were recognised as scripture that aren’t?

          • Martin

            Albert

            Of course, different people had different views.

          • Albert

            And how would you have known which was the right view?

          • Martin

            Albert

            By means of the Holy Spirit that dwells in each Christian.

          • Albert

            He dwells in me too. But does the Holy Spirit promise to tell you what is canon and what is not? And if it comes to that, how does the Holy Spirit manifest this knowledge to you?

          • Martin

            Albert

            The Holy Spirit leads the Christian into all truth. Would that not include what is Scripture?

          • Albert

            What Jesus promises is that the Holy Spirit will “guide you into all the truth.” Now the “you” here is plural, not singular. Secondly, he does not say that it will happen all at once. Thus you cannot make the claim that the Holy Spirit guides individuals in the way that you need. Or if you do, you need another text.

            Secondly, if it is all so easy, why didn’t Luther (and others) have this gift of the Spirit? It’s hard to see how the Reformation can be sound if the fountain head was himself not a Christian.

            Thirdly, how do you know any biblical text you rely on to prove this point, is itself scripture?

          • Martin

            Albert

            Last time I checked Christians are not in the singular bu the plural.

            Luther wasn’t the fountain head of the Reformation, Christ is. And Luther had a lot to unlearn, which the Holy Spirit aided him in. Curiously Christians are not perfect in knowledge in this life, the idea of growth is very much allied to being a Christian.

            How do you know any claim of your church is truthful seeing how dishonestly they have promulgated idolatry.

          • Albert

            Last time I checked Christians are not in the singular bu the plural.

            This is question of set theory. The fact that something is true of a group of people, does not make it true of the individuals in that group as individuals. Parliament can pass laws, an individual MP cannot pass laws. The Church is made up of individuals, yet no individual by himself is the Church.

            And Luther had a lot to unlearn, which the Holy Spirit aided him in.

            And what about you? Do you have a lot to unlearn, or did original sin only happen to other people?

            Curiously Christians are not perfect in knowledge in this life, the idea of growth is very much allied to being a Christian.

            So how do you know the canon?

            How do you know any claim of your church is truthful seeing how dishonestly they have promulgated idolatry.

            You’d condemn Jesus for his positive use of Number 21.8-9, if it enabled you to attack Catholicism.

          • Martin

            Albert

            So what you’re saying is that because Rome has gone off on its own merry way it has abandoned the understanding of the greater Christian congregation.

            We all have a lot to unlearn, those who have been part of the heretical church of Rome especially so. I had to unlearn what I’d learnt from the Charismatic Movement. Reformation is an ongoing process.

            Remember, I have the Holy Spirit, you do not. You have to rely on your marxist pope.

            The bronze serpent was a special case, it pointed forward to a sacrifice, it doesn’t excuse crucifixes and statues of ‘saints’.

          • Albert

            So what you’re saying is that because Rome has gone off on its own merry way it has abandoned the understanding of the greater Christian congregation.

            Is it really likely that I am saying that?!

            We all have a lot to unlearn, those who have been part of the heretical church of Rome especially so. I had to unlearn what I’d learnt from the Charismatic Movement. Reformation is an ongoing process.

            More urgently, you need to unlearn your late Medieval Catholic nominalism.

            Remember, I have the Holy Spirit, you do not.

            Who are you to say I do not have the Holy Spirit. Did Luther remove Matthew 12.31 from your Bible?

            You have to rely on your marxist pope.

            If you think that you know nothing of Catholicism or Francis.

            The bronze serpent was a special case, it pointed forward to a sacrifice, it doesn’t excuse crucifixes and statues of ‘saints’.

            How do you know? It seems you are condemned from your own mouth.

          • Albert

            I’ve explained it already – twice, I think. But the idea that apostolic oversight is not found in scripture and is therefore a post biblical tradition. If you disagree, cite the scripture that teaches it.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The apostles died and had no successors. There is nothing in Scripture that says otherwise. Their words live on in the Bible.

          • Albert

            You keep repeating this, and I keep giving evidence to the contrary. It is obvious that the Bible cannot exercise apostolic oversight, therefore, your church is a development, or perhaps a regression from the biblical position.

          • Martin

            Albert

            You’ve provided no evidence for successors to the apostles. Nor have you provided any evidence for a structure of the Church that requires anything other than plural elders/overseers in each individual local church.

          • Albert

            I have provided evidence for both. You have provided no evidence for your flat structure, neither have you provided evidence for the doctrine of sola scriptura. But even if I concede that principle, we still don’t end up with you Christo-communist doctrine of the Church.

          • Martin

            Albert

            No you haven’t provided evidence, you’ve made claims. But the flat structure is clearly taught:

            The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
            (I Timothy 3:1-7 [ESV])

            This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
            (Titus 1:5-9 [ESV])

            That is hardly a Christo-communist doctrine of the Church, rather it is a position whereby all Christians are responsible to the Lord, where those who serve are responsible to the Lord and to those they serve.

          • Albert

            No you haven’t provided evidence, you’ve made claims.

            I have provided several types of evidence:

            1. Apostles clearly had authority that others did not have. This means they formed a hierarchy.
            2. Apostles clearly handed on some of this authority to other (e.g. to command or to judge elders). Therefore, something of the apostolic hierarchy was handed on.

            But the flat structure is clearly taught…That is hardly a Christo-communist doctrine of the Church

            Precisely. The scripture does not teach a flat structure – this is evident from the passages themselves you quote, in which some are given authority that others are not. This is not Christo-communist, because it isn’t flat.

            rather it is a position whereby all Christians are responsible to the Lord, where those who serve are responsible to the Lord and to those they serve

            That’s just a statement of a hierarchical structure! As I keep repeating: I don’t think you understand what you are disagreeing with.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The apostles didn’t hand their authority on to others.

            The Scriptures do teach a flat structure, a group of elders/overseers in each local church with the duty to care for the believers and with a responsibility to those believers and God alone.

            You know what I’m disagreeing with, the creation of levels above the local minister and the creation of a clergy.

          • Albert

            The apostles didn’t hand their authority on to others.

            I’ve already given examples of that.

            The Scriptures do teach a flat structure, a group of elders/overseers in each local church with the duty to care for the believers and with a responsibility to those believers and God alone.

            I wouldn’t call that a flat structure. I would call that a local hierarchy. Anyway, you have given no evidence for it, and you have not answered my evidence to the contrary.

            You know what I’m disagreeing with, the creation of levels above the local minister and the creation of a clergy.

            I would disagree with that too. But I don’t see a creation of such levels, I see the continuation of such levels, from the apostles onwards, with the creation of what you call a flat structure, and what I would call the renunciation of apostolic structure, in the 16th Century.

          • Martin

            Albert

            You’ve claimed that Timothy and Titus are examples of the apostle Paul handing his authority on, I dispute that. You’ve not produced any examples of any other apostle doing so.

            What you cal ‘the local hierarchy’ is hardly a hierarchy and is the only evidence of any structure being created. It was clearly the structure of the Ephesian church. It’s strange, on the one hand you speak of a continuation of apostolic authority without a continuation of the apostles and then you speak as if this apostolic authority structure, without apostles, never had a beginning.

          • Albert

            You’ve claimed that Timothy and Titus are examples of the apostle Paul handing his authority on, I dispute that. You’ve not produced any examples of any other apostle doing so.

            On what basis do you dispute it?

            You’ve not produced any examples of any other apostle doing so.

            Yes, I did. I referred to Acts 6. A different office, of course, but still a handing on.

            Then in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul says this:

            I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.

            What is included in those traditions? It seems evident from the early Church that they included apostolic succession. But you don’t have any of these traditions, because, contrary to the plain teaching of scripture you only accept scripture (or so you claim).

            What you cal ‘the local hierarchy’ is hardly a hierarchy

            Some people have authority, and others do not. That’s a hierarchy.

            is the only evidence of any structure being created

            So what? Do you only accept the authority of scripture when it repeats things?

            It’s strange, on the one hand you speak of a continuation of apostolic authority without a continuation of the apostles and then you speak as if this apostolic authority structure, without apostles, never had a beginning.

            Errr….really? Surely, I’ve been arguing its origin in the apostles.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Timothy and Titus didn’t receive authority of their own, they acted as Paul’s agents.

            Acts 6 is about the creation of deacons, those who look after the physical needs of the people, they aren’t any sort of hierarchy, hence their name which means servant.

            So what do you think these traditions are? Do you think they are the worship of Mary or the saints, or purgatory? Somehow I don’t think they are such man made traditions invented by the bishops of Rome. Seems to me that Paul is talking about teaching that comes from God. Isn’t funny, too, how Paul goes on to say:

            But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (I Corinthians 11:3 [ESV])

            Strangely there’s no mention of any hierarchy there. No priest, no cardinal, no pope.

            So show where the early church appointed successors to the apostles and why did God think it so unimportant that He didn’t include it in the Bible.

            It’s simple, everyone is answerable to God’s word. If you can’t prove what you claim from the Bible it doesn’t stand. The deacons and elders are not a hierarchy. And yes, I do expect Scripture to repeat anything that is important doctrine.

            Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (I Timothy 5:19 [ESV])

            You can’t claim the structure start in the apostles if the apostles do not continue.

          • Albert

            Timothy and Titus didn’t receive authority of their own, they acted as Paul’s agents.

            This is your assumption – it doesn’t say that. It simply says that they had this authority. But my point is wider than that, it is to say a)There was this authority above the congregations – it resided with the apostle and b) the apostle was able to hand that on in some sense to others. These points falsify your eccelsiology.

            Acts 6 is about the creation of deacons, those who look after the physical needs of the people, they aren’t any sort of hierarchy, hence their name which means servant.

            All ministry is service. The point is that the apostles hand on some thing of their ministry, through the laying on of hands.

            So what do you think these traditions are? Do you think they are the worship of Mary or the saints, or purgatory? Somehow I don’t think they are such man made traditions invented by the bishops of Rome.

            What he handed on was a form of life, a way of doing things or understanding things. This is kept in the Church informs out thinking. Contrary to the expressed word of scriptur,e you have cut yourself off from it.

            Strangely there’s no mention of any hierarchy there. No priest, no cardinal, no pope.

            I can’t see why there would be.

            So show where the early church appointed successors to the apostles and why did God think it so unimportant that He didn’t include it in the Bible.

            Even if I concede the evidential point (which I don’t) the lack of evidence of this in the Bible would only be a problem is sola scriptura is true and taught in scripture, but it isn’t true and it isn’t taught in scripture.

            It’s simple, everyone is answerable to God’s word.

            True and scirpture makes clear the problems of interpretation of scripture.

            If you can’t prove what you claim from the Bible it doesn’t stand.

            You cannot prove that from scripture, and so it cannot stand.

            You can’t claim the structure start in the apostles if the apostles do not continue.

            Yes I can. What’s to hinder it?

          • Martin

            Albert

            Since there is no evidence that Timothy or Titus were give a role with the authority of apostle the evidence is that they were acting under the instructions of Paul. And Paul relied on the Bible itself for His authority. That Paul was able to challenge Peter indicates that your ‘ecclesiology’ is in error.

            The apostles hand on nothing from their ministry, they merely set apart the chosen men.

            No, the Church does not retain “a form of life, a way of doing things or understanding things”, that is what the Bible is for and through the Holy Spirit every Christian can understand. You place the authority of the Church above Scripture, it is the opposite, the authority is Scripture.

            That there is no mention of hierarchy demonstrates that the hierarchy is not of God.

            You can provide no evidence for your position so it falls. When the apostles die their authority dies with them, there is no apostolic legacy outside the Bible.

          • Albert

            Since there is no evidence that Timothy or Titus were give a role with the authority of apostle the evidence is that they were acting under the instructions of Paul.

            He has plainly given them some of his authority.

            And Paul relied on the Bible itself for His authority.</i.

            Yes, but not only the Bible, for he says:

            For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

            Please cite which part of the Bible, Paul got this from.

            That Paul was able to challenge Peter indicates that your ‘ecclesiology’ is in error.

            You know nothing about my ecclesiology. Numerous saints have challenged popes, even laypeople like St Catherine of Siena or St Maximus the Confessor. What don’t you do some research before you make such silly claims? They’re terribly compromising to your position.

            No, the Church does not retain “a form of life, a way of doing things or understanding things”, that is what the Bible is for and through the Holy Spirit every Christian can understand.

            I have shown already that even the passages of scripture don’t support the last claim, but the first claim is plainly contradicted by the many passages of scripture that speak of the need to maintain the tradition.

            You place the authority of the Church above Scripture, it is the opposite, the authority is Scripture.

            You place your own authority over scripture.

            That there is no mention of hierarchy demonstrates that the hierarchy is not of God.

            Does that follow? If so, wouldn’t it also follow that as there is no mention of our canon demonstrates that our canon is not of God? I don’t think so, and that is because the claim you make here is not in scripture and therefore, on its own hopeless logical is also not of God. But I don’t accept the premise that there is no mention of hierarchy.

            You can provide no evidence for your position so it falls. When the apostles die their authority dies with them, there is no apostolic legacy outside the Bible.

            That’s actually quite funny, because you have provided not evidence for the second claim!

          • Martin

            Albert

            No, he had sent them under his authority, that isn’t the same as giving them authority.

            And why do you not understand the difference between Paul using Scripture as his authority and passing on what he had received? You will, of course, notice that what Paul is speaking of is just a remembrance.

            But remember, popes are not Peter, the one you claim was the leader of the Church.

            The problem with what you call tradition is that it isn’t recorded in the Bible and quite often goes against the commands not to worship idols.

            I do not place my authority over Scripture, for I have none. You however, by claiming that the church you belong to has the authority to interpret Scripture place your church in authority over Scripture.

            I’m awaiting your demonstration of an apostolic legacy outside the Bible. One that isn’t polluted by the history of Rome’s wickedness of course.

          • Albert

            No, he had sent them under his authority, that isn’t the same as giving them authority.

            They are able to do some of the things he does. Therefore, the have some of his authority.

            And why do you not understand the difference between Paul using Scripture as his authority and passing on what he had received? You will, of course, notice that what Paul is speaking of is just a remembrance.

            According to the Bible, the word of God is living and active. The word of God is not reducible to a text, especially, when the key elements of our faith have not yet been written down. I asked you for a biblical quote for Paul’s account of the Last Supper. You have provided none because you know full well that there is none, and therefore, your claims that Paul got his authority from the Bible is factually false, and a reflection of your bibliolatry.

            The problem with what you call tradition is that it isn’t recorded in the Bible and quite often goes against the commands not to worship idols.

            No it doesn’t.

            I do not place my authority over Scripture, for I have none.

            Precisely. You have no authority to interpret scripture.

            You however, by claiming that the church you belong to has the authority to interpret Scripture place your church in authority over Scripture.

            So when the Church interprets scripture the Church is above scripture. When you interpret scripture, you aren’t above scripture.

            I’m awaiting your demonstration of an apostolic legacy outside the Bible. One that isn’t polluted by the history of Rome’s wickedness of course.

            I’ve already given you Irenaeus, and you said it wasn’t evidence!

          • Martin

            Albert

            The prophets speak with God’s authority, it doesn’t mean they have authority..

            For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
            (Hebrews 4:12-13 [ESV])

            And the Bible is like a mirror, held up to our gaze that we might see our own natures laid bare. The Holy Spirit wields it to separate soul and spirit. It is sharper than any sword of Man cutting both ways. You are a fool if you cannot see the power of God’s word. Your predecessors did, that is why they hid the Bible from the laity for so long.

            Isn’t it strange that Jesus is recorded as reprimanding those who opposed Him for not reading the Scriptures. It’s almost as if He expected them to understand them:

            Jesus said to them, Have you never read in the Scriptures:
            The stone that the builders rejected
            has become the cornerstone;
            this was the Lord’s doing,
            and it is marvelous in our eyes?
            (Matthew 21:42 [ESV])

            You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
            (John 5:39-40 [ESV])

            Paul seems to expect people to understand as well:

            And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.
            (Acts 17:2-3 [ESV])

            When your church proclaims that it alone is able to understand and interpret Scripture it is placing it’s authority above Scripture. It’s pretty poor in its self-appointed task as well.

          • Albert

            The prophets speak with God’s authority, it doesn’t mean they have authority..

            Which point are you answering?

          • Martin

            Albert

            Your claim that Timothy & Titus had authority of their own.

          • Albert

            I did not say that they had authority as prophets, though they may have done, but that Paul had given them authority.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Nor did I, just that Paul had not given them authority for it was not his to give.

          • Albert

            What? Paul plainly gave authority, it says so. Of course, it can’t be so on your theology, but that’s because your theology is just that, and not that of the Bible.

          • Martin

            Albert

            And when do you take your theology from the Bible? Just show me where Paul gives them authority.

          • Albert

            I’ve done this repeatedly. In 1 Timothy he repeatedly tells Timothy to command things, for example.

          • Martin

            Albert

            No, they carry Paul’s authority, not their own.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The apostles were not over groups of churches and in any case, the apostles died and left no successors.

          • Albert

            The apostles were not over groups of churches and in any case

            Paul? He clearly writes to numerous churches and expects to be obeyed.

            the apostles died and left no successors.

            That is a claim for which you have furnished no evidence, but, as I have said repeatedly, Paul clearly sets up Timothy and Titus as some sort of successors. Thus your position is plainly set against scripture.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Paul writes to the churches he founded. Does any other apostle write to churches and lay down rules for them?

            Paul doesn’t set up Titus and Timothy as successors. And nor does any other apostle. It is clear from Scripture that the apostles died and left no successors.

          • Albert

            Paul writes to the churches he founded. Does any other apostle write to churches and lay down rules for them?

            This is an odd argument. On the hierarchical structure you wouldn’t necessarily expect anyone else to write to churches other than those who had authority over them – i.e. the apostles who founded them. And this is why your point is ironic, for we see this kind of thing going on anyway. Paul writes to the Romans, even though he did not found the Church at Rome. Moreover, St Peter, is clearly writing to a Church that Paul has written to, so clearly what you say here is falsified by the Bible.

            Paul doesn’t set up Titus and Timothy as successors. And nor does any other apostle. It is clear from Scripture that the apostles died and left no successors.

            You keep asserting this, but I have provided on numerous occasions passages that contradict what you say.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Isn’t it strange that you can only point to one apostle that you claim set up a hierarchy, and even he never speaks of setting up such a hierarchy.

          • Albert

            I can point to the 12 who clear have an authority and rank not shared by others. You seem to have a problem simply because the word hierarchy is not used. Presumably, you worry about the Trinity, too.

          • Martin

            Albert

            There are plenty of people who have authority in the New Testament, but there is no hierarchy.

          • Albert

            If some people have authority over others, then there is a hierarchy. That’s what words mean.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The prophets have authority over apostles.

          • Albert

            If that is so, how is it that Paul gives instructions to prophets and gives criteria for judging who is, and who is not a prophet? Anyway, this is what the Bible says:

            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.

            It is clear that apostles are superior to prophets.

          • Martin

            Albert

            And all those offices have passed away, we are left with deacons, who busy themselves with the physical needs, and elders/overseers who minister to spiritual needs.

          • Albert

            Why should they pass away, if Paul has handed authority on. I repeat: Paul has handed that authority on not because he is alive, but because it is needed. Why should that unifying authentic teaching role be needed in the time when plenty of people were around who met Jesus (not just the apostles), but not be needed when they are all dead?

          • Martin

            Albert

            We have the ‘authentic teaching role’ in the Bible. And where did Paul hand his authority on?

          • Albert

            We have the ‘authentic teaching role’ in the Bible.

            We have an authentic teaching role in the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible claim to be the only authentic teaching role, nowhere does it say individuals can interpret it aright. On the contrary, scripture points out that there are other sources, and that individuals cannot know they interpret correctly.

          • Martin

            Albert

            And you think these other sources wear a funny hat and live in Rome.

          • Albert

            If that’s the level of your replies then I can only assume you are on the cusp of becoming a Catholic.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Come over to the other side of the Tiber and join us,

          • Albert

            What reason do you give for doing that? I was on your side of the Tiber, and if I you have given me any reason to do anything, it is to stay where I am.

          • Martin

            Albert

            I doubt it, more like you were paddling around in the middle.

          • dannybhoy

            There are no successors to the Apostles, at least no record of that can be found in Scripture. (that’s kind of like Islamic teaching re Mohammed’s successor..)
            The Apostles had a clear ministry as we have been discussing, and that was to preach, teach and baptise with Holy Spirit anointing and authority.

          • Martin

            LBC

            The Bible is the authority, not the Church or councils. There are no successors to the apostles, we have their words in the Bible and that is where they, being dead, still speak. Councils and churches are but men and as prone to error as any.

          • Little Black Censored

            The Bible is the authority? By whose authority – the Bible’s?
            Logically that is circular nonsense. Without the Church you would never even have heard of the Bible.

          • Martin

            LBC

            The Church is the congregation of believers, they were the ones who collected the various documents They are not a hierarchy of priests. The Bible is God’s creation, it carries God’s authority

          • Martin

            LBC

            The Church didn’t create the Bible, God did and God gives the Bible its authority. God also causes His word to be circulated around the Church, which is the congregation of His people.

            Those who have falsely sought to call themselves the Church, the false clergy, tried to hide the Bible from the common man.

          • dannybhoy

            I think it really starts with Acts 1 and the twelve disciples now become the twelve apostles, called to fullfil the Great Commission… as stated in chapter 2:37-39.
            As the community of believers grew through the apostle’s ministry disputes broke out over the distribution of food Acts 6, and here we have the first mention of men being appointed to roles.
            Seven men chosen to organise and oversee the distribution of food; chosen NOT by the apostles, but by the community. The apostles then laid hands on them and prayed for them.
            As more congregations sprung up, it seems that groups were loosely structured, the main emphasis being on evangelism and baptism and discipleship.

            Acts 11 mentions prophets v27 and elders v30. But notice in v29 it says that it was the disciples (congregation) who determined to send financial help to the elders in Judaea, through Paul and Barnabas..
            Acts 13 mentions prophets and teachers
            Acts 15 The Jerusalem Council again mentions the apostles and elders (of the congregation.)

            I think the heart of this issue can be found in verse 22
            Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.”

            In God’s Church there is Holy Spirit appointed leadership and there are anointed roles (prophets,teachers etc.), but they are functional rather than hierarchical distinctions.

          • dannybhoy

            People might find this article helpful..
            “BISHOP (Gr. episkopos, overseer). Originally the principal officer of the local church, the other being the deacon or deacons (1Tim.3.1-1Tim.3.7).
            The title “elder” or “presbyter” generally applied to the same man;
            “elder” referring to his age and dignity, and “bishop” to his work of
            superintendence. As the churches multiplied, the bishop of a larger
            church would often be given special honor, and so gradually there grew
            up a hierarchy, all the way from presiding elders to bishops (over
            groups of churches), then archbishops.”
            https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/bishop

          • Uncle Brian

            Danny, I fully agree with you that there is strong Biblical support for the claim that episkopos and presbyteros were two Greek words designating the same appointed “overseer” or “elder” in the early Church. The clearest evidence for this is found, I think, in Paul’s farewell discourse to the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20:17—37. In v. 17 Luke describes them as presbyteroi. In v. 28 Paul commands them to “keep watch over … the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you episkopoi.

            Now we know that, historically, at some date after the close of the Apostolic period the Christian ekklesiai (assemblies, communities, churches) promoted selected members of the ministry to a higher level of authority as regional coordinators, whose job it was to make sure that the local elders remained faithful to their vocations, both in their teaching of the Gospel and in their personal moral conduct. These regional coordinators may also, perhaps, have had a say in the appointment of new elders, whenever a new Christian community emerged that needed one or when an existing elder died or became unable, for reasons of age or infirmity, to remain in office. These regional coordinators were given the name of episkopoi.

            This far, Danny, I expect we’re in agreement, aren’t we? But before we go any further, I’d like to ask you a question. What, exactly, is it that you are objecting to in this historical development? Are you saying it was wrong for the churches to appoint regional coordinators at all, with the right to exercise a certain degree of authority over the local elders? Or are you simply objecting to their changed use of the word episkopos? If they had called them something else instead, would that have made it okay?

          • Martin

            Brian

            “Now we know that, historically, at some date after the close of the Apostolic period the Christian ekklesiai (assemblies, communities, churches) promoted selected members of the ministry to a higher level of authority as regional coordinators, whose job it was to make sure that the local elders remained faithful to their vocations, both in their teaching of the Gospel and in their personal moral conduct. These regional coordinators may also, perhaps, have had a say in the appointment of new elders, whenever a new Christian community emerged that needed one or when an existing elder died or became unable, for reasons of age or infirmity, to remain in office. These regional coordinators were given the name of episkopoi.”

            Rather makes my point.

            I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.
            (Acts 20:29-31 [ESV])

            Funny thing is, Paul doesn’t refer to any hierarchy that they are to obey in order to avoid these errors. Seems to me that those creating these hierarchies were those wolves Paul is referring to.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you, Martin. I’m glad you’ve joined in. May I take it, then, that when I asked, “Are you saying it was wrong for the churches to appoint regional coordinators at all, with the right to exercise a certain degree of authority over the local elders?”, your answer is Yes?

          • Martin

            Brian

            Of course my answer is yes. There is no basis for it in Scripture.

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin, there are two ways of approaching the enforcement of rules and regulations. In the context of the European Union, which we’ve been hearing a lot about lately, they have sometimes been referred to as “the British way” and “the French way”.

            1. The British way. Anything that is not explicitly prohibited is permitted.

            2. The French way. Anything that is not explicitly permitted is prohibited.

            You have chosen the French way. I have no quarrel with that. After all, we’re all free to choose. However, nineteen hundred years ago, give or take, a certain unknown number of unidentified overseers and elders in the early Church chose to go the other way. My personal view, for what it’s worth, is that, on the whole, it’s probably a good thing they did. If no one had ever made the attempt to put a centralised coordination mechanism in place, the world would have been left with hundreds of autonomous local communities or assemblies, each of them entirely free to go their own way in matters ranging from forms of worship to the doctrine of the Trinity, the date of Easter, whether or not to celebrate the Eucharist and, if so, how, what to expect from the congregation in terms of marriage, adultery, and divorce, and everything else that Christians still disagree about to this day.

            Some of the wealthier communities would have been able to afford a copyist’s fees to replace worn-out copies of the Gospels and the Epistles, but there would never have been a single agreed set of books that constituted the New Testament, nor a single agreed text of each book individually. Poorer communities would have had to do without books altogether. How long would Christianity have survived in conditions like that? It’s a hypothetical question and there can therefore be no verifiable answer, but I would hazard the guess, Not very long at all.

          • Martin

            Brian

            Actually I have chosen the biblical way. A structure has already been decreed and you want to depart from that structure. What appears to have happened is that some men sought to have power over others, in direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches and changed the elder/overseer from a servant to a ruler.

            Do you imagine that the Holy Spirit is incapable of causing Christians to be united on what matters? On the other hand, your centralised control has taken the gospel and added to it, creating a gospel that is not a gospel.

            Just as it isn’t necessary to celebrate Christmas, it isn’t necessary to celebrate Easter for the Bible tells us we may celebrate it when we choose. The Lord’s Supper is the only celebration authorised in the Bible and we are free to have that remembrance when we choose. In all things the Bible is the authority, and an appeal to Scripture is very simple indeed.

            Do you imagine those early churches were rich and employed copyists? I think the evidence is that those who could read and write copied the books they could lay their hands on. And I have no doubt that churches would have felt it incumbent upon them to provide copies to those who could not. There was pretty much consensus among them too as to what was Scripture and members from different congregation would have met together whenever they were able.

            Do you imagine that the survival of Christianity depends on the will of men? It seems to me that it has survived, despite the best efforts of men, some of whom claim the name of Christian, to destroy it.

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin, I have picked out four points to reply to. I hope this approach does justice to your carefully reasoned argument.

            1. A structure has already been decreed and you want to depart from that structure.
            As I see it, a structure has been described but not decreed. Can you give me chapter and verse for the decree?

            2. Do you imagine that the Holy Spirit is incapable of causing Christians to be united on what matters?
            The first thing we would all need to be united on is our conception of “what matters”. Are we fully united on that point? I don’t think so.

            3. There was pretty much consensus among them too as to what was Scripture and members from different congregation would have met together whenever they were able.
            Look at all the hundreds of variant readings in the Greek manuscripts. Look at the quarrels about whether James, Revelation, and the Epistle of Clement should be included in the canon or left out. If that was the closest the early Church could get to a consensus, with all the hierarchical structure it had put in place to hold the local congregations together, imagine how much further they would have fallen short of full consensus if they had had nothing more to rely on than mutual goodwill. Yes, they would have met together from time to time, I don’t doubt that. But we can’t take it for granted that their meetings would invariably – or even usually – have resulted in agreement.

            4. Do you imagine that the survival of Christianity depends on the will of men?
            Yes, I do. The Christian religion we have today has been handed down from generation to generation, without a break, for close to two thousand years. A lot of human effort has gone into that. In each generation there have been enough people prepared to make the necessary response to God’s will. If there had ever been a single moment when there weren’t enough of them, it would have ended there and then.

          • Martin

            Brian

            In describing the structure the structure has been decreed. The structure some have adopted has not even been described in Scripture.

            I wouldn’t expect that all those who call themselves Christians would agree, for the simple reason that a great many of them are not Christians.

            The variants in the manuscripts are down to the fact that they are manuscripts, handwritten, often under difficult conditions. Most of the variants do not change the meaning. Those that do are pretty obvious and we have very goo hold on what the texts originally said. The consensus of what is Scripture has held and still holds.

            God created His Church, it has continued to exist despite the attempts by Rome to destroy it. The Church will continue to exist because God will continue to save souls, it has nothing to do with human effort.

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin, I see I failed to make my meaning clear. I’ll try again, though I was hoping I wouldn’t need to spell it out in such detail and at such tedious length.

            In describing the structure the structure has been decreed.
            No. Describing and decreeing are two quite different uses of language. In the Biblical context, we would expect a decree to contain wording along the lines of “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not” or, at the very least, a verb in the imperative.

            Let us go back for a moment to my comment higher up in this thread about Paul’s farewell address to the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20. In v. 17 Luke describes them as presbyteroi. In v. 28 Paul commands them to “keep watch over … the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you episkopoi.” As I said in that comment, I see this as strong Biblical support for the claim that episkopos and presbyteros were two Greek words designating the same appointed “overseer” or “elder” in the early Church. There aren’t many places in the NT where both those Greek words are found so close together in a single passage, so let us concentrate on this one for the time being.

            Now, in Chapter 20 of Acts there are a few verses in which Paul gives commands or orders, though I don’t think they can all be called “decrees”. When the boy falls out of the window, he says, “Don’t be alarmed” (in the NIV translation). When he tells the elders about their duty to their flocks, he uses (in the same translation) the imperatives, “Keep watch,” “Be shepherds,” “Be on your guard,” and “Remember.” I can’t see any others. In particular, I can’t see Paul “decreeing” anything about the use of the words presbyteros and episkopos. Can you?

          • Martin

            Brian

            Seems to me that the instructions for the creation of elders/overseers both describes and decrees the structure of the Church in each town:

            The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
            (I Timothy 3:1-7 [ESV])

            This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
            (Titus 1:5-9 [ESV])

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin, I fully agree that those two passages are very much to the point. In particular, Titus mentions both overseers and elders, in language which strongly suggests – like the passage in Acts 20 – that the two words may have been interchangeable names for the same office.

            However, let us imagine that in Antioch or Alexandria or anywhere else, a generation or two after the deaths of Peter and Paul, the local Christian community now has one or more bishops, each of them exerting a certain degree of authority over a number of local assemblies, which all have their own elders. Someone – let’s call him “Martinus” – comes along one day and accuses them of disobeying the rules laid down in these two passages from Paul’s epistles. A spokesman for the bishop answers, “No, I don’t think we have disobeyed any rules. We’re in full compliance with all the requirements laid down by the Apostle. All our bishops and all our elders are above reproach. The husband of one wife? Yes. Sober-minded? Yes, all of them.” And so on down the list, giving his assurance that they tick all the boxes. So what will Martinus reply to that? Can he point to any of Paul’s qualifications that they are failing to comply with, simply by the fact that the bishop and the elder are no longer one and the same person, but one of them has been promoted to a higher rank than the other?

          • Martin

            How about this:

            (I Timothy 3:1-7 [ESV])
            This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
            (Titus 1:5-9 [ESV]) emphasis mine.

          • Uncle Brian

            The bishop’s spokesman replies, “Yes, we have elders in every town.”

          • Martin

            Brian

            The elder/overseer, bishop if you must, is the role of the local leaders of the local congregation. They have no authority outside of their congregation.

          • Uncle Brian

            Yes, that seems to be the structure described by Paul. Described but not decreed.

          • Martin

            Brian

            I’d say it was both a description and a decree.

          • Uncle Brian

            Yes, Martin, you’ve said that before. And, as I’ve said before, you’re free to place that interpretation upon Paul’s words. But it is only your interpretation, of course. You won’t find it in black and white in Scripture.

          • Martin

            Brian

            You’ll find it in black and white in my Bible, have you removed it from yours?

          • Uncle Brian

            Chapter and verse, Martin? C’mon, out with it! Don’t keep it a secret!

          • Martin

            The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

            Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
            (I Timothy 3:1-13 [ESV])

            if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
            (Titus 1:6-9 [ESV])

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin,

            Circles, going round in, you are.

            These are the same passages you quoted in earlier comments. Paul does not draw a clear distinction between “elder” and “bishop”. We’ve known that all along. The distinction first appeared, as far as anyone knows, in the early Church some time after Paul’s death. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to consider the distinction is prohibited because it is not explicitly permitted in the NT. Other people, myself included, take the opposite view, that the distinction is permitted because it is not explicitly prohibited in the NT. You have not found any passage in the NT where the distinction is explicitly prohibited.

          • Martin

            Brian

            There is no distinction between elder and overseer, the two are the same and each local church should have at least two.

            Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them:

            Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
            (Acts 20:17,28 [ESV])

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin, if you look a little higher up on this thread, you’ll find this:

            Uncle Brian dannybhoy • 10 days ago

            Danny, I fully agree with you that there is strong Biblical support for the claim that episkopos and presbyteros were two Greek words designating the same appointed “overseer” or “elder” in the early Church. The clearest evidence for this is found, I think, in Paul’s farewell discourse to the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20:17—37. In v. 17 Luke describes them as presbyteroi. In v. 28 Paul commands them to “keep watch over … the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you episkopoi.”

            Now we know that, historically, at some date after the close of the Apostolic period the Christian ekklesiai (assemblies, communities, churches) promoted selected members of the ministry to a higher level of authority as regional coordinators, whose job it was to make sure that the local elders remained faithful to their vocations, both in their teaching of the Gospel and in their personal moral conduct. These regional coordinators may also, perhaps, have had a say in the appointment of new elders, whenever a new Christian community emerged that needed one or when an existing elder died or became unable, for reasons of age or infirmity, to remain in office. These regional coordinators were given the name of episkopoi.

            So now you’re just recycling my old comments. You have not yet shown me a passage in the NT prohibiting the Church from ever creating a distinction between the terms episkopos and presbyteros at some future date. I’m still waiting for your “Thou shalt not”.

          • Martin

            Brian

            There is no distinction and it is not for the Church, or any individual church, to change that. And no, there is no need for a ‘thou shalt’.

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin, my friend, it’s the moment of truth. It’s time to face facts. You’re looking for something that isn’t there. Neither in Paul’s epistles nor in Acts nor anywhere else in the Bible will you find a single verse prohibiting the Church from ever creating a distinction between the terms episkopos and presbyteros at some future date. Ever since the Reformation, if not earlier, thousands of people, day in and day out, have been anxiously thumbing the pages of their Bibles, hunting for this mythical “commandment” of St Paul. If there was such a “commandment”, someone would have found it by now, after five hundred years or more of searching. It doesn’t exist. I’m sorry you’ve had all that trouble, but it’s time to forget about it and get on with more fruitful pursuits instead.

          • CliveM

            “get on with more fruitful pursuits instead”

            Applies to one or two others on both sides of the devide as well.

          • Uncle Brian

            It certainly does! That’s something we can agree on, at least.

          • Martin

            Brian

            Why would there need to be a commandment? The two mean the same role, that is all there is to it. It is merely the desire of men for power that has created the distinction.

          • Uncle Brian

            As I’ve said all along, Martin, you’re entitled to your opinion.

          • Martin

            Brian

            The decree is the description, the elder is the overseer.

          • Uncle Brian

            The decree is the description,

            That is the logical flaw. That is the weak link in the chain. That is where your whole argument is fed into the shredder.

            As I said in an earlier comment, describing and decreeing are two quite different uses of language, and that goes for St Paul’s Greek as much as it does for English. If anyone tells you St Paul has ordered, or commanded, or instructed, or even advised or recommended, the Church to maintain the offices of episkopos and presbyteros unchanged from the situation he describes in Ephesus and elsewhere, be on your guard. They are deceiving you. They are hoodwinking you. They are spreading an untruth.

          • Martin

            Brian

            So where is the suggestion in the Bible that the single office should be split?

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin, you’re repeating yourself. As you already said, St Paul gave the Church no commandment at all about splitting, one way or the other. He didn’t say “Split” and he didn’t say “Don’t split.”

          • Martin

            Brian

            It is rather good isn’t it. And as the referenced press release has suggested I’ve requested that the deans either cease their practice of ordaining women or provide a biblical basis for it.

            And why would there need to be command saying don’t split when there is no split in evidence?

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin, you seem to be asking me to use my imagination to guess why a certain topic is never mentioned anywhere in Paul’s epistles. It’s hardly a scientific approach but okay, I’ll do my best. One possibility that springs to mind is this. We know from Titus 1:5 that when Paul left Crete for good, he told Titus to make sure the Christians there went on obeying the rules Paul had laid down for them. “I left you in Crete, so that you could put in order the things that still needed doing and appoint church elders in every town” (TEV).

            At some later date Titus must have moved away, or retired, or died. When that happened, either he may have picked someone else to carry on doing the same job, or if he didn’t, then the local elders may perhaps have picked one of their own number to act as Titus’s replacement. Does that make sense to you?

            However, this is only a conjecture. All we know for certain is that Paul never left any explicit instructions, one way or the other.

            Therefore whichever church it was – in Crete, in Corinth, in Antioch or Alexandria or anywhere else – that first appointed a bishop to oversee the other elders, it was not disobeying any rule laid down by Paul.

          • Martin

            Brian

            So you can’t actually demonstrate the hierarchical structure has any basis in Scripture. A Christian is therefore free to reject it.

          • Uncle Brian

            As I’ve said before, a Christian is free to believe that the distinction between bishop and elder is permitted because it is not explicitly prohibited in the NT. A Christian is also free to believe that the distinction is prohibited because it is not explicitly permitted in the NT.

          • Martin

            Brian

            Both kinds?

          • Uncle Brian

            Isn’t two enough? How many more do you want?

          • Martin

            Brian

            I doubt that any church is so acting.

          • Martin

            Brian

            There are explicit instructions, to create a multiple elder/overseer role in churches.

          • Uncle Brian

            Apart from “elder”, “bishop” and “deacon”, there are at least five other terms used in the NT to refer to people who have been appointed to hold a special position of some kind within the Christian community. Paul lists all five in Eph. 4.11: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor (or shepherd), and teacher. Adding elder, bishop and deacon, that makes eight terms altogether, or possibly one or two more that I haven’t found. But eight are enough to be going on with for the time being. Let me ask you a couple of questions about them.

            It’s impossible, I think, that all these terms should designate the same elder or bishop, since Paul’s explicit purpose in this verse is to show that the Lord gave different gifts (domata in v. 8) to different people. So the first question is: Are the eight all of equal rank within the Christian community, or is Paul saying that some of them rank higher than others? If so, which are the highest ranks and which are the lowest?

            The second question: Presumably Paul is referring to himself when he uses the term “apostle”. But where does Titus fit in? Is he an “apostle” as well, or if not, what is he?

          • Martin

            Brian

            Well the apostles were those who had seen the risen Christ and were appointed by Him as those who would initially spread the gospel. Of course since the word also means delegate it could be used of those sent out. But they would not be sent out in the same sense.

            Prophets were those who, before the Bible was complete, spoke form God. They had a miraculous gift that isn’t available today.

            An evangelist is one who preaches the gospel, it might be an officer of a church or someone who is part of the congregation, it’s an activity more than a office.

            Pastor and teacher are all activities undertaken by an elder. Again it isn’t an office.

            Your problem seems to be that you want rank within the Church yet the Bible is clear that there is no such thing.

            For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
            (I Corinthians 12:12-13 [ESV])

          • Uncle Brian

            Pastor and teacher are all activities undertaken by an elder. Again it isn’t an office.

            That certainly sounds like a reasonable hypothesis but, as a matter of interest, how do you know that? Where does that information come from?

            Your problem seems to be that you want rank within the Church yet the Bible is clear that there is no such thing.

            Well, Martin, it’s not really a question if what I want or don’t want. There is rank within the Church, at least in the sense of what you aptly call the “split” between the positions of elder and bishop. I don’t know when it first arose, possibly not until after Paul’s time. But what about Titus? You haven’t answered my second question. Was he an apostle, a prophet, a shepherd, an overseer … ? What was he?

          • Martin

            Brian

            Rank gives authority whether the person with it is right or wrong. Authority in the Church is based upon the Bible, that is open to all.

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin, let me repeat my questions without using the controversial word “rank”, which makes no material difference.

            In the passages from Ephesians, 1 Timothy, and Titus that we have been looking at here, Paul uses at least eight different terms to designate people who have been appointed to hold a special position of some kind within the Christian community. In alphabetical order:

            Apostle
            Deacon
            Elder (or presbyter)
            Evangelist
            Overseer (or bishop)
            Pastor (or shepherd)
            Prophet
            Teacher

            Question 1
            Pastor and teacher are all activities undertaken by an elder. Again it isn’t an office.
            That certainly sounds like a reasonable hypothesis but, as a matter of interest, how can you have certain knowledge of that? Where does that information come from?

            Question 2
            Which of the eight terms most accurately describes Titus, whom Paul instructs to “appoint church elders in every town”?

          • Martin

            Brian

            Where do you have requirements for any office other than deacon or elder/overseer? If there are other offices why are there no requirements for that office.

            I’d say that Titus was acting as Paul’s delegate, carrying Paul’s authority. But I’d suggest that, as with the creation of deacons in Acts, Titus wasn’t doing the appointing but facilitating the churches appointing.

          • Uncle Brian

            Question 1
            Where do you have requirements for any office other than deacon or elder/overseer? If there are other offices why are there no requirements for that office.
            Martin, you’re answering my Question 1 with another question — in fact, with two other questions. Let’s see if I’ve understood your argument here. You seem to be saying, “Nowhere in Acts or the Epistles do we find any requirements for the offices of evangelist, pastor (shepherd) or teacher, therefore no such offices existed in any of Paul’s churches.” Can you please confirm that this is an accurate presentation of your argument.

            Question 2
            (a)
            I’d say that Titus was acting as Paul’s delegate, carrying Paul’s authority.
            Is “delegate” an office, in the sense that the eight terms I listed earlier are offices?

            (b) But I’d suggest that, as with the creation of deacons in Acts, Titus wasn’t doing the appointing but facilitating the churches appointing.
            If “Titus wasn’t doing the appointing,” he was clearly disobeying Paul’s order. In Titus 1.5 the verb καταστησης (katasteses) is in the second person singular of the aorist subjunctive, meaning “[that] you should appoint” or “[that] you might appoint”.

            http://biblehub.com/interlinear/titus/1-5.htm

          • Martin

            Brian

            There is no evidence that evangelist, pastor or teacher are offices. They are simply roles.

            No, delegate isn’t an office, it’s an activity. And Titus could not possibly know the persons within the local churches as well as the people in the churches did so he clearly could not adequately apply the tests.

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin

            There is no evidence that evangelist, pastor or teacher are offices. They are simply roles.
            I agree that there is no evidence to show that they were offices. But is there any evidence to show that they weren’t offices?

            No, delegate isn’t an office, it’s an activity.
            In that case, what was Titus’s office?

            And Titus could not possibly know the persons within the local churches as well as the people in the churches did so he clearly could not adequately apply the tests.
            Paul gave Titus clear instructions to appoint elders in every town. Paul makes this absolutely clear by putting the verb that means “to appoint” in the second person singular.
            So now you are accusing Paul of setting Titus an impossible task.

          • Martin

            Brian

            You can provide no evidence that they were other than roles and you want me to provide that they were not offices? And why would Titus require an office? Paul made Titus responsible for ensuring each church appointed elders.

          • Uncle Brian

            You can provide no evidence that they were other than roles and you want me to provide that they were not offices?
            Martin, thank you for confirming that there is no evidence in the Bible to support your claim that evangelist, pastor and teacher were not offices but only roles. I don’t know whether they were offices or not. Nobody knows, not even Paul himself. Take Romans 12.4 in the AV, For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office. The word for “office” here is praxis, which is usually translated as deed, work, practice or action. When Paul wrote his epistles in Greek, did he draw a distinction between “office” and “role”? I don’t think so.
            And why would Titus require an office?
            Thank you for the information that it is possible to legitimately hold a position of authority in the Church without having been appointed to any of the “offices” named in the Epistles.

            Paul made Titus responsible for ensuring each church appointed elders.
            No, Martin, that’s not what it says in the Bible. That’s not what St Paul is telling Titus to do. You’re still making the same mistake.

          • Martin

            Brian

            The evidence is that only two offices are mentioned with requirements. The fact that the AV translates a word as ‘office’ is a weak argument in the the AV still shows a lack of reformation in that it speaks of bishops, a more modern translation says:

            For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, (Romans 12:4 [ESV])

            And we must remember, Stephen functioned as an evangelist whilst he held the office of deacon.

            Titus didn’t hold a position of authority, he had influence as an associate of Paul and that would be sufficient to bring to the churches the instructions regarding elders. If it were only the apostles and those they sent there would, today, be none to appoint elders for the apostles are no more and there are only two offices, that of deacon and elder, of which each local church should have more than one.

            And why do you attach ‘St’ to Paul#s name? All Christians are saints, all Christians are of equal rank though differing in function.

          • Uncle Brian

            Martin

            The evidence is that only two offices are mentioned with requirements. The fact that the AV translates a word as ‘office’ is a weak argument in the the AV still shows a lack of reformation in that it speaks of bishops, a more modern translation says:
            For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, (Romans 12:4 [ESV])

            Yes, Martin, we seem to be in agreement that “offices” is probably not the best word for it, even though it’s the word the AV uses.

            And we must remember, Stephen functioned as an evangelist whilst he held the office of deacon.
            No, on this point I disagree with you. Your distinction between “function” and “office” is a false one. Paul makes no such distinction. Stephen was both a deacon and an evangelist. That’s as much as we can say with certainty.

            Titus didn’t hold a position of authority, he had influence as an associate of Paul and that would be sufficient to bring to the churches the instructions regarding elders. If it were only the apostles and those they sent there would, today, be none to appoint elders for the apostles are no more and there are only two offices, that of deacon and elder, of which each local church should have more than one.
            Paul tells Titus to appoint elders. That’s what you keep forgetting. Titus is the one who does the appointing.

          • Martin

            Where is there any evidence of Stephen being appointed an evangelist? And in any case, are not all Christians called to be evangelists? On the other hand Stephen’s appointment as a deacon is clearly recorded.

            I note you don’t mention any successors to the apostles in ‘appointing’ elders.

          • Uncle Brian

            And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. (Eph. 4.11)

          • Martin

            Brian

            No deacons or elders, how interesting.

          • Uncle Brian

            Yes, isn’t it. Okay, Martin, I’ll willingly let you have the last word. This has been a very instructive discussion for me. I’ve never before had the chance to hold such a long and detailed conversation about these questions, either face to face or online, with someone whose views are so different from my own.

            I think you told me once, a long time ago, which Church you belong to, but I’m afraid I can’t remember now. Is it one of the Baptist Churches?

            Thank you, Martin. I look forward to our next conversation!

          • Martin

            Brian

            By persuasion I’m a Particular Baptist, though I doubt you will find any churches so named. In essence I hold to a Reformed position and currently attend a Congregational church.

          • dannybhoy

            You have pre-empted the direction I was going to take with Albert.
            I need to make it clear that I am not interested in proving anything, only in exploring issues with people whose faith and traditions I respect, even if we disagree. My wife and I are members of our local Churches Together, we respect the Catholic priest who attends, I pull his leg, I acknowledge where he has spoken with wisdom, and I see him as a man; just like me (but with more problems ;0)
            For in the broadest sense we Christians however deep our faith and conviction, remain but men, and we will stand before our Lord to give an account of ourselves to Him who bought us with His blood.
            So what I was going to say to Albert was that (based on a reading of Acts) I think he has a point about bishops.
            Bishops came to be leaders of Christian communities, and as Christianity spread, they became more influential in their communities.
            As the Christian Church spread across the known world, a bishop became even more influential, especially where Christianity became the accepted faith.
            I chose Acts because in Luke’s narrative we see three degrees of recognised leadership/authority.
            1)The Apostles, formerly disciples preaching the Gospel with signs and wonders and bringing people into the Kingdom.
            Their authority derived from being witnesses to Christ’s ministry and resurrection, and their subsequent anointing by the Holy Spirit.
            2) The leaders and enablers within the nascent Church, recognised by the Apostles and the brotherhood/fellowship/disciples; whatever you want to call them.
            3)The fellowship themselves, who, don’t forget, had been baptised in the Holy Spirit and were recognised as a part of the Church, part of that Royal Priesthood.(Hebrews and elsewhere).
            So to keep it brief I can see a role for Bishops,even a need for Bishops; but Bishops who have been elected to that office not by fellow priests, but by the prayerful deliberations of the leaders and enablers and congregations.
            I think where the Catholics and Anglicans have gone wrong is in departing from that model described in Acts.
            Now again whilst I accept that the Church has developed over time, I still believe that the priesthood – laity dichotomy is a false one, unsupported by the New Testament.
            So yes, I can see where we have lost out in terms of direction and authority, but I think that position and authority must come from the Body of Christ, based on what the New Testament teaches regarding the Gospel and Church unity.
            Also if a Bishop fails in his/her leadership or teaches contrary to Scriptural revelation, the Body of Christ has the authority to request that they stand down and another replace them -as shown in Acts 1. Note too UB,

            “15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled….
            The brothers Brian, and as far as I can see there is nothing in the New Testament that allows for a priesthood that rules over the laity. There is only the Body of Christ with its gifts and ministries.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you, Danny, for such a long and densely packed reply to my question. It’ll take me some time to digest it all but I promise to get back to you eventually, probably tomorrow (Friday). For the time being, let me just say this:

            I need to make it clear that I am not interested in proving anything, only in exploring issues with people whose faith and traditions I respect, even if we disagree.

            My approach exactly, though I’m afraid I don’t always manage to keep such a civil tongue in my head as I know I ought to. As you will have noticed from time to time.

          • Uncle Brian

            Hello again, Danny. You’ll see that I’ve split your post into five sections here. I hope I haven’t acted unfairly in doing this. If I have, please let me know and I’ll willingly go back and do my homework again!

            1. … men who wanted power and influence for their own sake took over Christ’s Church…
            Certainly. No doubt about it! It’s a constant struggle to keep the pendulum from swinging too far to either side, too much power or too little. Organisation and management of some kind are needed to keep the machine running, but it’s not easy to keep a lid on the fat-cattery and worse that usually ensues, whether the machine in question is a national government or a football federation or a church.

            2. …three degrees of recognised leadership/authority in the early Church.
            Yes, but as Martin has pointed out in one of his comments on this thread, the Apostles are all dead now. So we’re left with just two degrees, that you aptly label “the leaders and enablers” on the one hand and “the fellowship themselves” on the other.

            3. I can see a role for Bishops, even a need for Bishops; but Bishops who have been elected to that office not just by fellow priests, but by the prayerful deliberations of the leaders and enablers and congregations.
            Here you’re beginning to take me into deeper water. I thought the bishops and priests, the episkopoi and the presbyteroi, were the ones you were labelling “the leaders and enablers.” I seem to have misunderstood you there.

            4. … The priesthood – laity dichotomy is a false one, unsupported by the New Testament.
            The modern English word priest is derived, through Jerome’s Latin, from the Greek word presbyteros meaning “older” or “elder”. In Acts and the Epistles, not all the followers of Christ, by any means, have the status of elders. And the ones who aren’t elders, the ones who are just the congregation, “the fellowship themselves”— aren’t these the ones we mean when we speak of “the laity”?

            5. As far as I can see there is nothing in the New Testament that allows for a priesthood that rules over the laity.
            “Rule” is a pretty loaded word. I don’t think it’s the word the priests themselves would use to define the nature of their relationship with their congregations, though of course in practice I agree it can be hard for an onlooker to tell the difference between “ruling” and “shepherding”.

          • dannybhoy

            Great stuff UB.
            “In Acts and the Epistles, not all the followers of Christ, by any means, have the status of elders. And the ones who aren’t elders, the ones who are just the congregation, “the fellowship themselves”— aren’t these the ones we mean when we speak of “the laity”?”

            Yes, but by calling them the laity we intentionally or no diminish their place as an equal part of the Body of Christ.
            Note that in Acts the Apostles did not see themselves as apart from the congregation of believers, and in several places it makes clear that decisions were affirmed by all concerned.
            Of course we know that there is always a leadership. When I lived on kibbutz there was a leadership, or perhaps more accurately individuals who by virtue of education or skill or force of personality influenced others. (St Peter springs to mind.)
            But in making a distinction between the people in the congregation with no specific role or title and those recognised/trained as priests, I think the stage was set for a dichotomy of authority not recognised in the New Testament.
            Just one example:
            II Timothy 2>
            “20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”

            I think the growth in recognition of the role of ‘Bishops’ led to the eventual formation of a hierarchical system which more closely resembled an earthly power structure than any described in the Scriptures. So I don’t think ‘stand alone’ Bishops were wrong, as long as they stayed close to their flock(s) and were fully focussed on Christ Jesus. We know that there were many such Church leaders.
            I suppose one could say that excluding the Anglican tradition Protestant/non Conformist groups lost the anointed leadership and authority a Bishop could bring, and the Catholic and Anglican traditions lost the organic fluidity displayed in the early Church.
            Now some will say that this is the inevitable result of progress, but I don’t agree. I don’t see where vestments and palaces and attendants fit into the Church or Body of Christ as described in the New Testament.
            I think a lot of bad teaching is going on particularly in some charismatic churches, led by ‘apostles’ or ‘prophets.’ If the evangelical church had some kind of oversight grounded in Scripture, grounded in the Gospel, and leaving aside the more controversial issues, we might see a much healthier and effective Church.

          • Albert

            I think there is some confusion here, which I have noticed in other Protestant posts. The scriptures cited here in no way contradict an hierarchical understanding of the Church. If you think they do, please show how.

            In God’s Church there is Holy Spirit appointed leadership and there are anointed roles (prophets,teachers etc.), but they are functional rather than hierarchical distinctions.

            Please explain your distinction between “functional” and “hierarchical”.

          • dannybhoy

            Albert did you read my link below?
            https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/bishop

            It goes on to say,
            ” The origins of the monarchical bishop and the threefold ministry of bishop, presbyters, and deacons are wrapped in some mystery. Among the Apostolic Fathers* only Ignatius speaks of monarchical episcopacy, and with him the emphasis is on unity around the bishop in perilous times, not on the divine institution of the office. Gradually, with the disappearance of the charismatic ministry, the opposition from Gnosticism, and the imperial recognition of the church in the fourth century, the single bishop in charge of a diocese or group of churches emerged. Normally he was the head of a city or town church. Furthermore, with the adoption bythe church of the divisions within the empire, there also evolved bishops among bishops-that is, pope, patriarch, metropolitan, and
            archbishop. The division of Eastern and Western Christendom, the close association of church and state, and the rise to power in the West of the see of Rome, had an important effect upon the development of
            episcopacy. During and after medieval times bishops were both spiritual and temporal lords. This tradition is still reflected in England, where anumber of bishops have seats in the House of Lords.”
            That’s how I see it developing in the Church; from an organic dynamic evangelistic believing community to an organ or structure of State. less fluid, more rigid.
            What I think is the point of disagreement is what is meant by the Apostle’s teaching? Clearly in Luke’s account of the Acts of the Apostles, the apostles themselves saw their ministry as preaching salvation through Christ the Messiah, backed up by their personal testimony and Holy Spirit bestowed authority.
            There are no accounts in the New Testament where the Apostles laid out the structure of the Church in hierarchical terms.
            St Peter that key early Church figure, calls himself “an Apostle of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter1:1
            The same title given to the other disciples -Apostles. He makes no other claim of eminence for himself. There is nothing in his first epistle that could give rise to the offices, practices and rituals which came to distinguish the later Church structure.
            Let’s go his second epistle.
            He starts off by repeating his role as an Apostle, but adds that he is also a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
            He then describes what we believers need to do and be in order to secure our salvation.

            No mention there of communion/mass/the veneration of Mary or the confession of sins to a priest..
            Chapter 3 he talks about false prophets and teachers who will come and will lead Christians into error.
            He finishes on the coming of the Lord, and talks about our beloved brother Paul and his teachings.
            Still nothing about minstry roles or hierarchies within the Church.
            As to the distinction between ‘functional’ and ‘hierarchical’ roles.
            Functional as in organic: roles assigned so that an organism may function properly. Roles assigned as essential but not superior to.
            Hierarchical as in a structural organisation. Roles assigned to make the structure work, but adding (human) recognition or reward or power, leading to divisions on the grounds of importance rather than relationship.

          • Albert

            Albert did you read my link below?

            No I didn’t. Sorry. I do have other things to do, and I did study this at university, so I’m a bit lacking in motivation to read such links. I would have to say that confessionally evangelical scholarship of the period tends to be the least convincing. Your link is a good example:

            only Ignatius speaks of monarchical episcopacy, and with him the emphasis is on unity around the bishop in perilous times, not on the divine institution of the office.

            I cannot think that the person who wrote that has really read Ignatius with a scholarly mindset. Nevertheless, what you have quoted here is surely sufficient, of itself to raise questions about your original post – depending on exactly what you meant by it.

            That’s how I see it developing in the Church; from an organic dynamic evangelistic believing community to an organ or structure of State. less fluid, more rigid.

            That’s an assumption that unites liberals and evangelicals. The trouble is, is it really what the record shows? I think the picture, even of the NT, is much more interesting.

            There are no accounts in the New Testament where the Apostles laid out the structure of the Church in hierarchical terms.

            I think we can see it happening. In any case, the apostle embodied and hierarchical structure.

            The same title given to the other disciples -Apostles. He makes no other claim of eminence for himself.

            We find the same thing with Pope St Gregory the Great, so that proves nothing. You can’t deduce the equality of office from the humility of the office holder.

            Let’s go his second epistle.

            One of the problems is that Protestants, in particular, do not read the NT as the NT Church did. You tend to read the NT as a kind of constitution, as if, having the NT is enough instruction to start a Church. But this is not how the NT Church saw. The Church already existed, so things you find absent, may just be absent because they are already in place and presumed.

            No mention there of communion/mass/the veneration of Mary or the confession of sins to a priest

            That’s an interesting list. For we know that communion did take place the early Church, and what evidence we have of it, shows it was very important and very powerful. And yet, you’re right, there is no mention of it in 2 Pet. So we have two possibilities: either, communion did not happen in Peter’s Church or it wasn’t as important as elsewhere, or, the fact that communion is not mentioned does not tell us it was not going on and was not important. Now clearly, only the second option makes sense. Therefore, the absence of evidence for certain practices is not evidence of absence. That’s the difference between seeing scripture as a stand alone constitution (Protestant reading) or as a witness to a living community already in existence (Catholic reading).

            He finishes on the coming of the Lord, and talks about our beloved brother Paul and his teachings.

            Which a useful reminder about the danger of relying on one’s own interpretation of scripture, if memory serves.

            Still nothing about minstry roles or hierarchies within the Church.

            Or indeed about holy communion, or the canon of scripture, or justification, or circumcision etc. Why not? Because these things had already been received, and were not, at that time and place, causing concern.

            Functional as in organic: roles assigned so that an organism may function properly. Roles assigned as essential but not superior to.
            Hierarchical as in a structural organisation. Roles assigned to make the structure work, but adding (human) recognition or reward or power, leading to divisions on the grounds of importance rather than relationship.

            What about authority? If some people have authority which other have not, is that hierarchical or functional?

          • dannybhoy

            The New Testament is a collection of letters describing the birth of the Church and its growth. It is not a constitution, but it is a record. To ignore what is plainly taught and described in its pages is to question the wisdom of the Church fathers.

            Incidentally and as you well know, the Book of Acts is included in the Catholic canon of Scriptures.

            “This is the full list of the New Testament books of the Catholic Bible:
            The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
            The Acts of the Apostles
            The Letters of St. Paul to the Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon
            The Letter to the Hebrews, the Letters of James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Jude
            Revelation (the Apocalypse).”
            So one can legitimately assume that the writing are accepted as a true record and source of wisdom and instruction regarding the birth and early years of the Church. So why would we go on to override it and teach something else?
            Once you negate it as a source of Christian teaching and wisdom, then you open the door to all kinds of weird teaching that has no source or precedent in those letters.

            Why, a group of powerful people could arise decide what was true, what must be obeyed etc. and become so convinced that they were right that they became ruthless in their pursuit and application of their convictions…

            “So we have two possibilities: either, communion did not happen in
            Peter’s Church or it wasn’t as important as elsewhere, or, the fact that
            communion is not mentioned does not tell us it was not going on and was
            not important. Now clearly, only the second option makes sense.”

            It’s no that communion or rather the breaking of bread didn’t happen, but how it happened, and what was said and believed when it happened..

            Did the early Church as described in the NT venerate Mary, did it teach that we must confess our sins to a priest? No.

            “What about authority? If some people have authority which other have not, is that hierarchical or functional?”

            It is Holy Spirit ordained/endorsed authority, as demonstrated by the Church’s judgement of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5.

          • Albert

            The New Testament is a collection of letters describing the birth of the Church and its growth. It is not a constitution, but it is a record. To ignore what is plainly taught and described in its pages is to question the wisdom of the Church fathers.

            Agreed.

            Incidentally and as you well know, the Book of Acts is included in the Catholic canon of Scriptures.

            Why did you think you needed to say that?

            So one can legitimately assume that the writing are accepted as a true record and source of wisdom and instruction regarding the birth and early years of the Church. So why would we go on to override it and teach something else?

            Who has said that we should?

            Once you negate it as a source of Christian teaching and wisdom, then you open the door to all kinds of weird teaching that has no source or precedent in those letters.

            Quite!

            Why, a group of powerful people could arise decide what was true, what must be obeyed etc. and become so convinced that they were right that they became ruthless in their pursuit and application of their convictions…

            Is there a word missing here?

            It’s no that communion or rather the breaking of bread didn’t happen, but how it happened, and what was said and believed when it happened..

            Precisely. The failure of Peter to mention it, is not evidence that it didn’t happen.

            Did the early Church as described in the NT venerate Mary,

            Yes.

            did it teach that we must confess our sins to a priest?

            That’s less clear. But there is clearly a ministry of reconciliation, and various references both to the power to absolve and to confess. Like lots of things, like the canon of scripture, this had perhaps not reached a point of clarity and coherence. But if you regard that as a failing, you will reject a lot more than confession.

            It is Holy Spirit ordained/endorsed authority, as demonstrated by the Church’s judgement of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5.

            And what authority do you think Catholics think a bishop has?

          • Anton

            Yes, a dreadfully antiscriptural division. Scripture is perfectly clear (Rev 1:6, 1 Peter 2:9) that all Christian are priests, but the ceremony of ordination declares the ordinand “a priest” (NB not any subcategory thereof) – so what was he regarded as before? If you have been brought up in a denomination that does ordination, it takes a long time, once you have grasped these scriptures, to learn to think of yourself as a priest.

          • Pubcrawler

            It does muddy the waters somewhat that the English word ‘priest’ is used to translate two distinct Greek words…

          • Anton

            Not in my English Bible. And that’s not by accident.

          • Pubcrawler

            Your comment doesn’t distinguish, though.

          • Anton

            I’ve got confused which comment you mean. Could you put a fuller question, please?

          • Uncle Brian

            Pubcrawler, I once read an explanation that goes something like this. Is it true?

            In the Vulgate, Jerome opted not to translate the Greek noun presbyteros into standard Latin, which would have meant finding a suitable noun meaning something like ‘old man’ or ‘elder’. Instead, he simply transliterated the Greek word, thus coining a new Latin noun, which none of his readers would have understood unless they knew Greek.

            What Latin noun, if not presbyterus, did earlier translators use?

          • Pubcrawler

            Interesting question. I’ve not really explored the vetus Latina and how it differs from the Vulgate (I’m a Hellenist more than a Latinist), but a quick skim suggests that earlier Latin translations had seniores for presbyteroi. Why Jerome chose not to follow suit … dunno. It may be that, even though day-to-day fluency in Greek was dying out in the West, vestigial technical/liturgical/ecclesiastical vocabulary or other ‘assimilated’ words remained (as is the case with Latin in the West now). Think kyrie in the liturgy of the Latin Mass.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thanks for your reply. I would imagine, in any case, that in the early English Church, say in Bede’s period, there wouldn’t have been anybody left with a knowledge of Greek. I believe presbyterus was never used in Latin outside the Biblical and Church context. As far as English Christians were concerned, then, it might quite easily have lost its original meaning “elder” and come to be simply the standard designation of an ordained minister of religion, slotted in between episcopus and diaconus. Does that sound plausible to you?

          • Pubcrawler

            Plausible, yes. But this is outside my field so that’s not to be taken as ex cathedra (oooh, look, another Greek word in Latin).

            I’m curious now, though, so when I’m a tad less busy I’ll do some investigating.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you. I look forward to that! Another Greek word that occurs to me is “psalm”, which my dictionary tells me originally had to do with plucking the strings of a lyre or harp.

            In the meantime, perhaps you’d care to take a look at a comment I’ve just posted, addressed to Dannybhoy, asking him a question about his objection to the word episkopos. It’s about a dozen comments down from this one.

          • Pubcrawler

            Ah yes, psalm. Also Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Apocalypse, Bible…

            Your question to danny encapsulates this subthread.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thanks, Pubcrawler. That puts paid, then, to my hypothesis that by Bede’s time the knowledge that Jerome’s presbyterus had originally, in Greek, had the meaning “elder” would have disappeared down the memory hole.

            I’ve just been looking at the Codex Gigas, in which nearly all the books of the NT are said to follow the Vulgate but one or two, including Acts, are copied from earlier “Vetus Latina” translations. The farewell discourse to the Elders of Ephesus is in the lower half of the second column on this page (link below), in the block beginning with the big capital A for Adduxerunt puerum in v. 12, down to the end of the chapter at deducebant eum ad navem. The word presbiteros is clearly legible as the translation (transliteration) of presbyterous in v. 17, but I haven’t been able to make out the word that appears as the translation of episkopous in v. 28. It looks a bit like presbiteros all over again, but I think I must be misreading the handwriting.

            http://www.kb.se/codex-gigas/eng/Browse-the-Manuscript/Nya-Testamentet/Apostlagarningar/?mode=1&page=541#

          • Pubcrawler

            Good find! I’ll have a close look with my palaeography hat on tomorrow.

          • Pubcrawler

            v. 28 is ep[iscop]os

            Interestingly, Vulgate has maiores at v. 17.

          • Uncle Brian

            Ah! Now that you’ve explained it to me, I can see what my error was. I was trying to read the two words posuit epos as one word. No wonder I couldn’t make any sense of it.

            Is that an online Vulgate you’re quoting from? If so, could you provide a link? In the online Vulgate at the Holy See website, the word in v. 17 is presbyteros !

            http://www.vatican.va/archive/bible/nova_vulgata/documents/nova-vulgata_nt_actus-apostolorum_lt.html#20

          • Pubcrawler

            Oh.

            I was using this one:

            http://www.latinvulgate.com/lv/verse.aspx?t=1&b=5&c=20#20_17

            Curiouser and curiouser… I guess I’m going to have to find a copy of the Vulgate with an apparatus criticus

          • Uncle Brian

            Well, the one at the Holy See website is titled Nova Vulgata, Editio Typica Altera. Could that mean the text undergoes an aggiornamento from time to time? I don’t suppose it’s intended for scholarly use, rather for pastoral use.

          • Pubcrawler

            Yes, that could be it.

            Right, pub o’clock, the weekend calls. Been an interesting diversion.

            Bom fim de semana.

          • Uncle Brian

            Obrigado, para você também! Até segunda!

        • Old Nick

          Irenaeus in the 2nd century was already pretty voluble about the Apostolic Succession.

          • Albert

            It was exactly him I was thinking of (and others)!

  • Albert

    Mmm…I feel a certain amount of pleasure in that his arguments are so close to my own, as expressed here. But then again, my own arguments are those I have picked up from others. The key thing is, these arguments put the burden of proof onto the remanians. What kind of people voted to remain, to keep the CAP, to maintain the undemocratic processes that are causing such poverty and misery in the Mediterranean. Far from being on the defensive, we should ask remainains how they answer these arguments.

    • carl jacobs

      You just do not understand, Albert. Europe is an unmitigated good. Nothing must stand in the way of its creation. These troubles you mention are minor trifles compared to the meeting magnificent Progress of Man that will be achieved by the New European Order.

      FWIW, I was watching a documentary yesterday called “Voices of Vichy” which consisted of Vichy propaganda films from 1940 to 1944. They showed some film of French volunteers fighting on the Eastern front. These volunteers were called … the Forces of Europe. There was in fact a great deal of European integration talk in those films. It struck me as pertinent.

  • David

    Praise God for Bishop Mark Rylands.
    His arguments, based upon the real world not theory and wishes, are sound. They overlap substantially with mine.
    More clear thinking like his is much needed instead of the unrealistic, out of touch, wooly “thinking” of most of the episcopacy.
    His is a brave and lonely position.
    But it is like that too if you are a vicar or, since my retirement, a mere volunteer and Lay Minister like myself.
    This disdain for anyone who does not conform to the fashionable, dominant, intolerant liberal-left position runs right through the C of E. I remember various reactions when five years ago I calmly let it be known that I had joined Ukip, and would be campaigning with them, because they were the only party not in thrall to the greedy, out of touch establishment and because they were determined to free us from the bondage of the EU. You could have heard a pin drop !
    But they are not laughing now !

    • Anton

      I am.

  • preacher

    Most of the clergy are comfortable with the cosy religion that they believe represents the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s unchallenging, safe, undemanding & regrettably – Dead !.
    They are ‘ Old Wine skins ‘ & will oppose any change that threatens their positions & authority, so they voted ‘remain’ out of fear.
    Thank God for the Mark Rylands of this World, who show a light of hope for a dark Church & World. A fresh new wine that in time will, one hopes, burst the old skins & deluge the planet with the refreshment of revival & a new reformation that has been prayed for & needed for decades.

    • Albert

      Steady on, preacher. Much as I deplore the judgementalism of the remain side, I find it hard to see how you can make the leap from remain to this kind of judgement.

      • preacher

        Well Albert I feel that it’s obvious – When the Lord preached openly, His main protagonists were the Sanhedrin, who sat quietly under the Roman authority because it suited them. When they felt threatened, they used the Roman governor to rid themselves of Him.
        But there were members of that body (e.g Nicodemus) who believed that He was not just another would be Messiah, but The one they had been waiting for & as we see their courage in speaking out rewarded in the book of Acts when many priests & Rabbis became believers after the resurrection & Ascension.
        Had they followed the herd mentality, those Jewish believers who were responsible for the speed of the spread of our faith would have been still under the Law in the Temple. So I thank God for the Mark Rylands of this World who have the public courage to stand up & speak out for what they believe.

        • Albert

          I cannot see how this is much of a defence of your original post.

          • preacher

            What’s to defend ? I express an honest opinion that comes from my experience, & as a response to a man being ‘gently mocked’ by others who hold different opinions to his. I feel that too often people in a leadership position can take a mocking stance against those that disagree with them, thus encouraging followers not to disagree or form their own opinions. this often leads to pride on the part of said leaders & nullifies their usefulness as humble shepherds who love the sheep & serve their flocks by leading, guiding & searching for the lost.
            Religion & politics are two subjects that when mixed together cause more grief than enough.
            Blessings. P.

          • Albert

            On most of the issues underlying this discussion, I suspect we agree. But I don’t think the charges you laid in your original post can be defended.

          • preacher

            O.K

          • dannybhoy

            Albert,
            I think what preacher is saying is another facet of what we were discussing about leadership and authority in the Church….

  • The Explorer

    The Catholic commentator Clifford Longley observed that when he was a child racism was good and buggery was bad, and now buggery is good and racism is bad. The same sort of reversal applies to coming out. Coming out as gay or even as an atheist was once controversial, but both are now more or less de rigueur if you want to get anywhere.

    Whereas admitting to a fondness for coconut ice, and even more to being a Brexter, requires real courage.

    • Dreadnaught

      Coming out as gay or even as an atheist was once controversial…

      So was being a Jew or a Protestant or as a Catholic … at one time in this Christian country. How far do you want to turn the clock back?

      • The Explorer

        So was being a Christian when this was once a non-Christian country. So is being a Christian now that this is once again a non-Christian country. How far do you want to put the clock forward?

        • Dreadnaught

          I detect a bit of ‘girly’ petulence there Mr E; I expected perhaps a little more of a considered rebuttal than that.

          • The Explorer

            You may detect it: probably because you want to find it. It doesn’t mean it’s actually there.

            Bertrand Russell made the point that political prisoners in one system would be welcomed as heroes in a rival system. In the same way, my point was that what is accepted/rejected by one generation can be reversed by the next generation.

            You are arguing, I think, about the intolerance of Christian society. Fair enough, but it’s a different point and we aren’t having the same conversation.

    • Ivan M

      You have to hide your pina colada?

      • The Explorer

        I think I had George Orwell at the back of my mind, who observed somewhere that admitting to a hankering for coconut ice was one of the most disgraceful things you could say in the modern world, and almost as pariah-making as preferring Kipling to Gerard Manley Hopkins.

  • chiefofsinners

    Clearly a bishop who has not read the beatitudes lately (New European Version):

    Blessed are the poor in Hungary for theirs is the kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Blessed are the Greek, for they shall inherit the dearth.

    Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for self-righteousness, for they shall
    be self-satisfied.

    Blessed are the peurile of heart, for they shall be God.

    – MatthEU 5, ©Claude Junker

    • Pubcrawler

      I’m not sure Junker will be calling the Hungary blessed so long as they thirst to protect their borders, mind.

  • len

    Good to see a Bishop with a brain and not afraid to use it!.

  • Vox Populi

    A very good piece on Bishop Rylands! Compare the views of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York…both get slammed by this piece http://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/rev-jules-gomes-bishops-choke-on-brexit-humble-pie/

  • Redrose82

    “The Church needs a few more like him” I think that should read “a lot more like him”