Baalshamin-Temple destroyed 2
Extremism

The apocalypse of Islam and the signs of the times

 

The Temple of Baalshamin predated Mohammed by six centuries. It was a cultural jewel in the Syrian desert, revealing to the world a glimpse of the pre-Islamic religions of the region; bearing witness to Graeco-Roman myths and standing as a monument to rites and rituals long extinguished by higher powers. It is now a pile of rubble; blown to pieces by ISIS – the satanic Islamic State; the Daesh of devils and demons. When Muslim fundamentalists aren’t inventing new ways of slaughtering the infidel, they’re raping the culture by shattering the antiquities and artifacts which preceded the rise of Islam. Everything before Mohammed must go: it is year zero; the past is darkness and death.

What does it mean? Is this the apocalypse? Is the kingdom at hand? Will our suffering soon cease? Is the Day of the Lord imminent?

The questions aren’t new; nor is the apprehension of tribulation and the feelings of despair. Indeed, Baalshamin was built precisely at that time when Jewish apocalyptics were at their zenith.

Apocalyptic literature belongs mainly to the period 200 BC – AD 100. It developed out of prophecy, mainly as a response to the political situation of the era and the threats surrounding Judaism. The more the Jews felt their faith and culture to be threatened by encroaching syncretism and subsumed to an omnipotent pantheon of Graeco-Roman gods and goddesses, the more they directed their yearnings toward a dramatic intervention by God to restore the Jewish nation to its former glory – to another age of King David (Pss 23-25).

There are numerous examples of the genre throughout the Old Testament (eg Isa 24-27; Zech 9-14; Joel 2f; Ezek 38f), and the New Testament (eg Mk 13, 2Thess 2; and, of course Revelation or The Apocalypse of St John). It is also evident in the inter-testamental writings of the Apocrypha (eg I Enoch). ‘Apocalypse’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘unveiling’ or ‘revealing’ (of previously unknown or secret things). Examination of these writings establishes certain common features and recurrent themes.

Firstly, then as now, there is a great pessimism. Despair and doom prevail, almost as if Jewish apocalypticists had lost all sense that God could or would act in their present. Their only hope lay in a future intervention by God, who was believed to shape history and bring time to an ordered culmination. When the world appears hopeless, and God’s people are helpless to change anything, then apocalyptic makes its entrance. It is the last straw, the only place left to turn. The world makes no sense and it never will until there is some kind of divine intervention. Only God Himself has the power to remove the forces of evil which have become entrenched in all the institutions of the world. The message is one of perseverance and hope.

Secondly, it is deterministic. History is seen to follow a reo-ordained plan which culminates in a crisis and God’s subsequent intervention. This irruption carries with it the ultimate eschatological consequence: there will be a final judgment, when the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished. Unlike prophecy, where the people were called to repent in order to escape impending judgment, apocalyptic eschatology maintains that repentance is no longer possible: judgment is inevitable and the day is fixed.

Thirdly, the literature is replete with symbolism, often using animals to represent men or institutions, and the language is cryptic. There are visions, dreams and heavenly journeys. Thee are numbers, sequences and metaphors of enigmatic essence. Angels fly about and devils ride out. You may interpret, but you are likely to be wrong.

Fourthly, it is manichaean, with good and evil in universal conflict. Spiritual forces are seen to stand behind human activity and history, and Satan’s powers bring immense sorrows and oppression. But God ultimately ushers in a glorious age – new heavens and new earth. The conflict is cosmic, but so is the restoration.

Finally, there is a whole futurist dimension which illuminates the present age, giving a future hope to generations beyond that of the first-century believers. You can quibble over whether the Apocalypse of St John is preterist, historicist, futurist or idealist. He wrote out of his immediate situation: his prophecies would have historical fulfilment. But he anticipated a future consummation and revealed principles which operated beneath the course of history. No single apprehension of the End Times is the whole truth.

And so we come to our present; their future.

Right when the Jewish people were longing for the Messiah to establish a kingdom of justice with God as king, Jesus was born. The preceding centuries’ absence of a prophetic voice had created a vacuum within which apocalyptic writings had flourished, and with them came a high expectation that the messianic age was about to vanquish the rule of Rome and herald the re-birth of a sovereign Israel. Sections of the Gospels (eg Jn 6:1-15) tell of this.

And still they speak.

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel’ (Mk 1:15). Through all the murder, mourning, poverty and pain of the present, Jesus points to a future act of God when the people shall be comforted, satisfied and blessed; when the pure in heart shall see God (Mt 5:8). The Islamist comes to devastate and destroy: Jesus came to instil hope. The kingdom ‘now’ remains one of suffering: the kingdom ‘future’ is the promised desire of ages. The martyrs and witnesses to righteousness will surely go to heaven (Rev 6:9-11), but Daesh will go to damnation (Rev 20:11-15). This is the apocalypse of truth.

  • The Explorer

    For Christians a temple to Baal would belong to the time of darkness; although they wouldn’t blow it up. (Although pagan sacred groves were sometimes cut down.) A monastery or a church, however, would not. (Even if the C of E seems headed that way.)
    For ISIS, or IS or Daesh or whatever they are, temple, monastery and church belong alike to the time of darkness. That makes a difference as to what one has a duty to dispose of.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      And they broke down the pillar of Baal, and broke down the house of Baal, and made it a draught-house (latrine) unto this day. 2 Kings 10:27

      • The Explorer

        Yes, I suppose the closest Christian equivalent is ‘Acts’ 19:19 when the Ephesian magicians burned their books.

  • Dreadnaught

    What does it mean? Is this the apocalypse? Is the kingdom at hand? Will our suffering soon cease? Is the Day of the Lord imminent?

    If we had our digital technology at the time I’m sure WWs 1 & 2 (as just two references among so many) would have engendered a similar response; but the human race is still here. The main difference between now and then of course, being in the lack of will to respond in kind, to global savagery.

    • alternative_perspective

      And this itself is prophesied, another one of the signs of the times…

      • Ivan M

        And cries in the wilderness were prophesied too. It is all there in the Book.

  • Anton

    When the Israelites, the people God had chosen, went into Canaan they were commanded to tear down the pagan altars. If we are going to be strictly biblical then we should, while doing nothing to further it, welcome the destruction by ISIS of pagan monuments, while deploring the killing of people of all faiths and the desecration of churches. It is all very well to talk of cultural relics but temples of Baal were the heart of a culture that practised child sacrifice. Let’s get our priorities straight.

    • Ivan M

      The Catholics had better hide their family silver and gold from you.

      • Anton

        ?

        I said that I’d do nothing to further such destruction. Catholics are, moreover, Trinitarian Christians – as am I. It is the political aspect of their church (in fact, of any church) to which I object.

        • Ivan M

          Well then you are a good egg. But there are others…

  • Anton

    Is Your Grace adopting a liberal-theological position that was invented several centuries after he departed this earth corporeally? That position states that “apocalyptic” writing is a literary genre. There is indeed symbolism in the use of body parts of a statue, or animals, to describe empires, but much apocalyptic writing is simply using the language of 2000 years ago to describe events such as meteorite strikes and nuclear warfare of which there was no understanding at the time. Your Grace states that “Apocalyptic literature belongs mainly to the period 200 BC – AD 100” but gives in the next paragraph as examples from the Old Testament Isaiah, Zechariah, Joel and Ezekiel. I hope he is not doubting the unambiguous inference from other words of these prophets (or of Daniel) that they lived several centuries earlier?

  • The Explorer

    The Apocalypse is something Christianity (and certainly this Christian) struggles with. Premillenialism, Postmillennialism, Amillenialism, Dispensationalism: take your pick. Then add the Islamic version to the mix.

    It figures that Islam, having borrowed so many of its ideas from Christianity, should have an Apocalyptic vision of its own. I haven’t really got my head round it (help, anyone) but it seems there will be the reign of the Mahdi. (Twelfth Imam for Shias.) At this time the Islamic Christ will return to destroy Christianity finally and establish global Islam. Opposing the Mahdi and the Islamic Christ is the sinister figure of the Dajjal, the Islamic Antichrist. (As far as I can work it out, the Dajjal is remarkably like our Christ.)

    Why it matters is that it probably makes sense to Muslims. They want the arrival of the Mahdi and their political decisions and actions can help bring this about.

  • Johnny Rottenborough

    Everything before Mohammed must go

    Even Mohammed isn’t safe: ‘The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca’s millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone. Dozens of key historical sites dating back to the birth of Islam have already been lost and there is a scramble among archaeologists and academics to try and encourage the authorities to preserve what little remains.’

    With little or no regard for its own heritage, fundamentalist Islam—actually, make that plain ordinary Islam—is a threat to all heritage. I wonder if Stonehenge is on Blaster Bilal’s list?

    • Ivan M

      Dealing with the Wahabees, the sons of Shaitan occupying Edom would go a long way to cure the ISIS of their fanaticism.

    • David

      And in Timbuktu I understand.

  • David

    I feel conflicted over this destruction. On the one hand I am truly appalled at the loss of these ancient buildings representing fascinating physical links with past cultures and religions. But then I am interested in all things ancient, especially architecture.

    On the other hand I am aware that as Christianity weaned people off their formerly pagan worship rites, in these islands and elsewhere in the world, churches were often established on top of the ruins or remains of the pagan temples. Sometimes the shift was done gently, as by Augustine’s mission to England, and sometimes by violence, as in some parts of Peru or Colombia by the conquering Spanish. But the end result was that the pagan shrines went and churches were built.

    On balance I feel that this extremely destructive act shows that they are afraid of anything that is “other”, even when what they afraid of is long dead.

    As an aside it is very clear that these destructionists give zero thought to how future locals could earn a living from tourism, if one could ever imagine peace being re-established. They are living purely in the NOW. I do hope that this fatal psychological weakness can be turned against them. IS understand only brute destruction and they can only be dealt with on that basis.

    But why or why is the money supply to these people not being switched off ? It is surely here that sanctions are required not against Russia ?

    • Orwell Ian

      ISIS uses crude tactics against people and property but its moneymaking methods are highly sophisticated, especially for such a new terror group. It’s not just a matter of stopping external funding. They make $1 – $2 million a day from oil sales, large sums in ransoms from kidnappings, more from extorting “taxes”, not to mention outright theft, control of crops, and – it is alleged – organ “donations” from the recently departed.
      Their tendency to blow up any ancient shrine is moderated only be the need to remove saleable antiquites before detonation.

      • David

        OK but my point is, could sanctions work – nothing in, nothing out, including oil, crops and artefacts ?

        • Orwell Ian

          I doubt sanctions would work. They are even smuggling oil into Turkey with impunity. There isn’t the will or the competence within adjacent nations to surround them with a “ring of steel”.

          • David

            As I feared, “there isn’t the will or competence” in the surrounding nations – very worrying. One wonders what the military strategists have in their minds as to options ?

          • Orwell Ian

            More of the same it would seem. Targeted air and drone strikes aimed at degrading ISIS and not a lot else. I can’t see a major ground intervention happening and even if it did it could seriously backfire as in Libya.

          • David

            Yes there’s a strong political aversion to boots on the ground. Maybe this an aerial containment and degrading scheme and there’s a longer term one in the background. We can but guess. The policies and alliances are so complex in this region especially around the Kurds, Turkey and the US.

        • Anton

          Yes they could, but it would take America to do that and China, Russia would not wish it so it would not happen.

          • David

            Yes it’s nothing if not complicated.

      • The Explorer

        Antiquities presumably belong, along with the structure, to the Time of Darkness. Shouldn’t they therefore be destroyed along with the buildings? Are you suggesting that ISIS are guilty of inconsistency?

        • Orwell Ian

          Perhaps allah is content to overlook the inconsistency when there’s money to be made.

  • The Explorer

    There’s that famous photo of the Soviets blowing up a church. But that wasn’t the whole story. Other churches were preserved as museums, with formerly-functioning parts labelled up to explain what they had been for: font, altar etc. The aim was to show what had once been believed, and the superstitions that had been escaped from.

    There seems to be a similar ambivalence within Islam. IS is committed to the destruction of the non or pre Islamic. But in the past, some religious buildings survived Islam with the addition of minarets. Hence the Parthenon and St Sophia. For the design and construction of the Dome of the Rock the Muslims drew on the skills of the infidel Byzantines. The Suleiman mosque in Istanbul was designed by the Greek Sinan.

    • Ivan M

      One Kaganovich Stalin’s henchman was crowing about it. Mother Russia has lost her undies! But the Russians have rebuilt the Church under the Universal Hero V Putin

      • The Explorer

        ISIS’s successors will have a lot of rebuilding to do!

        • Ivan M

          What’s left is preserved in the British Museum. I do not want to give the bums any ideas.

  • The Explorer

    When does the Time of Darkness relate to? Is it anything before Muhammad, or anything in a culture before that culture is Islamicised?

    Suppose Britain (or whatever it’s called by then) became Islamicisied in, say, 2095. Would everything pre 2095 belong to the Time of Darkness, or simply anything before Muhammad? Either way, Stonehenge and any Roman remains would get it for sure.

    • Ivan M

      Jahaliyah the Time of Darkness when people used water instead of pebbles for their ablutions.

  • len

    Jesus Christ says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.(John 10:10)
    What man dead in his sins needs is’ Life’. Only Jesus Christ can give Life!.
    So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam(Jesus Christ), a life-giving spirit.(1 Corinthians 15;45)
    Islam can only offer the certainty of death and the false hope of ‘some sort of deal’ with Allah if he murders in the name of Allah which is an obvious deception.Why ‘obvious’?. Because Islam which takes it ‘authority’ from the God of the bible who says the soul who murders will not enter Heaven….
    The souls of those beheaded by Islamic militants calls out to the God of heaven for Justice…So ‘the reward’ these Islamic militants are going to receive is Judgement by the God of the Bible for their crimes…

  • dannybhoy

    Or it could simply be that Western civilisation is on its way down, and we are witnessing all the signs of cultural and moral implosion that follow.. I think it has been said somewhere that when a culture loses faith with the values that built it, sex, indulgence and moral relativism take over.

    As a consequence the international stability afforded by a strong West begins to disintegrate as nations and ideologies vie to fill the vacuum.
    Nothing happens overnight. That’s why we as the Church are called to remain vigilant.

    • David

      Indeed !
      Was not the 18th C a time of self-indulgence, corruption and degradation here in the UK. But in swept the 19th C Victorian era of strong faith, fairer political reform and enormous energy and creativity from our industries. Are we not now perhaps in an 18th C mode ? The job of the True Church is to stay strong ready for the upturn. That’s my belief anyway.

  • The Explorer

    Ignorant as I am about most of the ancient architecture of the Middle East, I’d never even heard of these places ISIS have destroyed until they did so. I’d never heard of the Buddhas of Bamiyan until the Taliban did for them. It’s a bit like fauna being made extinct in Amazonian rain forests. I generally didn’t know they had ever existed until they ceased to do so.

    If this Jahiliyyah crowd got going on Krak des Chevaliers, or Petra, or Abu Simbel, or the Pyramids that would at least give me some sort of frame of reference.

    • chiefofsinners

      It’s a bit like when David Icke prophesied that Tyne and Wear would fall into the sea. It might have done for all I know.

    • Ivan M

      Its a sort of Baedeker of the bomb

  • preacher

    I think it wise to look at the wider picture, not just at the destruction employed by I.S.

    In a World that has made wealth & prosperity it’s god along with moral decay & the massacre of the unborn for profit, the World stock markets are trembling & shaking themselves to pieces.
    They still may recover, but this appears to be like the tremors before an earthquake, would any sane person ignore such warnings ?.
    These things may not be harbingers of the end, but we would do well to wake up from our sleep & prepare for whatever the Lord has planned, which may not be what we expect ! the Jewish people had waited for Messiah for generations, they wanted a military leader who would destroy their enemies & herald World rule for Israel.
    They got the suffering servant – the Lamb of God who brought salvation to Jew & Gentile alike.
    Watch & Pray, read the Scriptures, Preach the Gospel to whoever will listen. Love one another do not fear the scorn, threats or ridicule of mankind. The Only one we must please is the Lord, who for the joy that was set before Him, went to the Cross – & through it to bring everlasting life to those that love Him& serve Him.

  • michaelkx

    “The Islamist comes to devastate and destroy: Jesus came to instil hope”, well said your Grace. forgive me if I am wrong, but these ISIS fellows seem to think that when you remove all the infidels and there ‘idles’ from the earth, and we are all good followers of Mahammad, the great imam will come and rule the earth? if that is so it would explain a lot.

    • The Explorer

      Their activity certainly seems to have something to do with bringing the rule of the Mahdi.

      • Anton

        Sunni and Shia have different eschatologies.

        • The Explorer

          They both have the concept of the Mahdi; they just disagree as to who he is. They both seem to think their actions can hasten his coming. In that respect, both groups have vague similarities to Postmillennialism.

      • michaelkx

        explorer thank for putting me right its Mahdi’s reign, could I think of the right word. no but all this is worth thinking about. come Lord Jesus come.

        • The Explorer

          You’re welcome, and you’re right anyway. For the Shia the Mahdi is the Great or Twelfth Imam, but not for the Sunni.

  • Inspector General

    When we talk about apocalypse, we need to consider the logistics behind it. Either a large asteroid is heading our way at some point, with Christ riding it in at 45000 miles an hour, or we destroy ourselves by our own hand. And that would entail the hydrogen bomb. It’s only this year that a certain presidential anti Christ has given Iran the thumbs up to develop their own nuclear weapons, (What did you THINK that country wants the technology for!), so it’s a few years off at least before some (probably dud) hydrogen bomb is dropped on Israel and they retaliate by vaporising Tehran. And then Pakistan comes to its muslim neighbours help…

    Anyway, keep cheerful, you pious Christian doom-mongers who consider human life a sin against God that must not go unpunished in this world. You’ll get your desire soon enough…

    • The Explorer

      If you’re right, that picture will be repeated as a nuclear mushroom cloud.

      • Inspector General

        Yes

    • Anton

      There will be “blood, fire and pillars of smoke” (Joel 2:30). Sound like a nuclear detonation?

      Despite that I regard biological weapons as a bigger threat.

      • Inspector General

        Biological weapons were in the forefront of military thought in the 1950s. But it was recognised that when the rain came to wash the whatever away, that would be the end of it. But the desert, that’s a different matter…

        • Anton

          Biological weapons have come on a lot since the 1950s. Think genomes.

      • Ivan M

        Sounds like the Burning Man concerts

      • sarky

        Or a volcano??? Something our ancestors would have been familiar with and they would have been more than aware of their destructive power. Think you need to look at these things in context and not project them.

        • Anton

          That’s the point – they would have been familiar with volcanoes and would have been able to use the terms of 2000 years ago for them, which they didn’t. Nothing about a mountain or the earth vomiting forth fire.

          • sarky

            Same meat different gravy!

    • Ivan M

      Sure I hear that the bomb parts are available on line at Farnell or DigiKey. The Iranians just have to assemble them, then Kaboom

      • Inspector General

        Good Lord! Always said we just don’t hang enough people in this world. Let’s hope the survivors don’t continue the mistake. One suspects they won’t…

        • Ivan M

          An atom bomb is not something that you can just throw together, as in a variant of a cargo cult science. There are very precise parameters that have to be satisfied, otherwise you either have a dud or at best a radiation bomb, the so-called “dirty bomb”. The engineering challenges are huge, though the physics have been well understood for many decades now. The Mossad heroes who go around killing Iranian scientists are largely if not wholly hitting the physics people. It is pure murder, nothing else.

          When Obama and the P5+1 say that they have cut off all pathways to the Iranian bomb they know what they are talking about. I suspect the Yahooligan already knows this. His worry is that if the Shias don’t get the bomb, then there is no way the Sunni Arabs would be allowed to get one, or borrow from Pakistan. And where does that leave tiny, beleaguered Israel with her Samson option backed up with nuclear arsenal of a couple of hundred bombs? By what right does a small country, that has not signed on to the NPT, get to dictate to others that already have?

          http://www.lobelog.com/the-next-middle-east-nuclear-challenge-israel/

  • Albert

    Firstly, then as now, there is a great pessimism.

    This is true in tired all Europe. But in other parts of the world, even where the Church is persecuted, there is great sense of hope, passion and the joy in the Holy Spirit. Catholic theology speaks of “source Churches”, that is of the parts of the Church which will give new life to the rest. In the 16th Century the source Churches were Italy and Spain. In Vatican II they were France and Germany. Now, the idea is that the source Churches come from South America, not least Argentine. Hence the coming of an Argentinian Pope. So for all the sadness of this wanton destruction, we must not confuse the pessimism of our part of the world, with the whole picture.

    • Anton

      “In the 16th Century the source Churches were Italy and Spain.”

      Did you really type that about Luther’s century with a straight face?

      • Albert

        It literally never occurred to me to include anything coming from the Protestant Reformation, since I was talking about the the Church.

        • Anton

          Does that say more about you or about the church?

          • Albert

            We use the word “Church” in different ways. But look, when I was a Protestant, another Protestant said to me that the Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning – of course, that’s hyperbole, but it has a serious point. Look at Luther’s century. Where is the mission? It’s the Catholics. That’s why Brazil is the largest Catholic country. Calvin didn’t think mission was necessary, since he thought that as other countries had rejected the Gospel once, this showed they were predestined to hell. What we get from the Protestant Reformation (and you don’t have to be a Catholic to see this) is division, confusion, error, Erastianism, loss of missionary zeal and eventually, secularism. Now even if I grant that some good things came from the Protestant Reformation, it’s hard to see how something that produces all that evil fruit can itself be called a “source Church”.

          • Anton

            At the time of the Reformation the nations that went protestant did not have anywhere to do mission in. To the west was an ocean, to the south-east and across the Mediterranean was Islam. Catholic nations, by an accident of history, had Latin American and some places in the far east.

            It is nothing but absurd for a Catholic to criticise protestants for Erastianism.

            You wrote “It literally never occurred to me to include anything coming from the Protestant Reformation, since I was talking about the the Church.”

            So was I ! Do you regard protestants who profess the Nicene Creed as saved? If not, you will be differing from the teaching of your denomination. If so, then their collectives are churches, are they not?

          • Ivan M

            You will have to account for the fact that Catholic countries stayed Catholic. In various continents and climes. Nation such as Mexico, Brazil, Angola, and Timor Leste. The Catholics were out for God, glory and gold; though not necessarily in that order. Nonetheless mad king Phillip II was prepared to see his treasury depleted rather than give up the Spanish mission in the Philippines. By contrast what did the Dutch and British do on the level of governments?

          • Anton

            Government can’t enforce Christianity. Then it becomes law, which is exactly what Paul explained it isn’t, by contrasting law (the old way) with grace (the new). Attempts to do this lead only to an inauthentic Christianity. As for secularism, that is an abuse of the freedom won at the Reformation. Yet God values freedom of conscience most highly.

          • Ivan M

            Tell that to the various European princes who enforced Protestantism in their own countries. Fact is the Protestants were no great shakes when it came to religious freedom either. Now of course they had to justify their rapine, hence the Protestants’ own version of the Jahaliyah, the Time of Darkness, the Dark Ages of Catholic ignorance and beastliness.

          • Anton

            I am against ALL political Christianity. You can’t mix law and grace.

          • Ivan M

            Well OK then, sorry for the strawman act my friend.

          • Anton

            No problem; it never got personal.

          • Albert

            At the time of the Reformation the nations that went protestant did not have anywhere to do mission in. To the west was an ocean, to the south-east and across the Mediterranean was Islam. Catholic nations, by an accident of history, had Latin American and some places in the far east.

            But why didn’t the Protestant reach out across the Atlantic? And why was there an explicit theology against mission?

            It is nothing but absurd for a Catholic to criticise protestants for Erastianism.

            No it isn’t.

            Do you regard protestants who profess the Nicene Creed as saved? If not, you will be differing from the teaching of your denomination.

            Catholics don’t normally ask the question, even of themselves “Are you saved?” because they know that the Bible has an explicitly dynamic understanding of the word “saved” which does not allow for the Protestant understanding. However, of course we regard Protestants as Christians, and we do not think that being a Protestant is necessarily a bar to salvation.

            If so, then their collectives are churches, are they not?

            No that doesn’t follow, and it isn’t the teaching the of the Catholic Church.

          • Anton

            “But why didn’t the Protestant reach out across the Atlantic? And why was there an explicit theology against mission?”

            When protestant nations got an empire, the faith went with it; that is matter of record. As for your second question, being against all politicised churches I can’t answer for the Anglicans, but the nonconformists had no such theology for they preached to the slaves in the British empire and provided the impetus behind virtuous Anglicans like Wilberforce who got slavery banned.

            It is absurd for a Catholic to grumble about Erastianism because that word means politicised churches and Rome has, historically, been the largest example of that.

            I wrote: their [protestants] collectives are churches, are they not? you replied: “No that doesn’t follow, and it isn’t the teaching the of the Catholic Church.” Well, not being a Catholic, I couldn’t care less what its teaching says about the congregations I’m in. And this time you can’t burn us.

          • Albert

            When protestant nations got an empire, the faith went with it; that is matter of record.

            I’m not denying that at all. I would just observe that that is the Erastian nature of things – they didn’t reach out, except for as part of a secular Empire.

            but the nonconformists had no such theology

            Yes, by definition! But I never said all Protestantism was was Erastian.

            It is absurd for a Catholic to grumble about Erastianism because that word means politicised churches

            No, it’s more precise than that. It is about the subservient nature of the relationship of the Church to the state. I don’t think the Catholic Church can really be accused of that – there may have been occasions where in some places, she was on the losing side of that kind of battle, but that’s another matter.

            Well, not being a Catholic, I couldn’t care less what its teaching says about the congregations I’m in.

            So why are you making something of it?

            And this time you can’t burn us.

            Nor you us. We don’t want to.

          • Anton

            I’m sorry but I’m not convinced that Rome wouldn’t if it could. Not if it were magically given to it tomorrow, of course, but as it gained the power to do it, so that power would corrupt it again as it did first time.

            Please remember that I am against ALL politicised churches. There have been times and places where certain protestants would have persecuted me for that. Protestantism isn’t monolithic in the way your denomination is.

            PS They reached out to slaves; isn’t that good enough?

          • Albert

            Power might corrupt it, that’s true. But that’s true of all human institutions – let’s remember that when Protestants got worldly, they also sometimes slipped into persecution. The difference for future Catholics in that state is that they would have to go against clear teaching that it was wrong. What the Protestants would be going against is unclear.

            Protestantism isn’t monolithic in the way your denomination is.

            Which is why one of the notes of Protestantism I gave earlier was error and division.

            They reached out to slaves; isn’t that good enough?

            Good enough for what?

          • Anton

            To satisfy your grumbling that protestants didn’t do mission. As I said, early protestants had nobody to do mission to as they were hemmed in by Catholics, Muslims and oceans. When that ceased to be the case, missionaries evangelised the slaves in the British Empire (and were instrumental in getting slavery abolished) and went all over Africa. Remember SPCK.

            I wrote: Protestantism isn’t monolithic in the way your denomination is. you replied: “Which is why one of the notes of Protestantism I gave earlier was error and division.” I’d rather have every man his own Pope than every man under one Pope, because then nobody is going to burn anybody else for honest differences of opinion, are they? In any case, Eastern Orthodoxy had split from Rome centuries before Luther; why should I heed Rome above them?

            “What the Protestants would be going against is unclear.”

            To you!

          • Albert

            To satisfy your grumbling that protestants didn’t do mission. As I said, early protestants had nobody to do mission to as they were hemmed in by Catholics, Muslims and oceans.

            That’s the only period I’m interested in, because you spoke of Luther’s century and at that time there was a lack of missionary theology (except for trying to convert Catholics). What came later does not address the point you made. To point out that they got on with mission when the secular authority got on with empire is to support the point I was making. If nothing else, what one sees from the Protestant communities is that they were exhausted and inward looking. The Catholic Church simply spread the Gospel.

            I’d rather have every man his own Pope than every man under one Pope

            Exactly. You would rather have division and error than Papacy. I don’t think I am imputing to Protestants anything they should be offended by. You prefer division and error to the Papacy. Likewise, in saying that your communities are not churches, I mean nothing more than that they are not churches in the sense that we understand the word. But then you don’t want to be churches in the sense that we understand. I expect I believe nothing less materially speaking about your communities than you do. It’s just that I believe rather more about the body of Christ, than you.

            “What the Protestants would be going against is unclear.”

            To you!

            No, to them. Protestant did not find the Bible sufficiently clear to stop them persecuting minorities (often other Protestants!), now if such a period of Protestant power returns, why will they find anything in the Bible to stop the temptation again?

          • Anton

            Probably not. Political power pollutes any church. Yours was the grossest example in history but, as I have said, I am against ALL politicisation of ALL churches, because law and grace don’t mix.

            “That’s the only period I’m interested in, because you spoke of Luther’s century and at that time there was a lack of missionary theology… The Catholic Church simply spread the Gospel.”

            You have ignored my point that mission starts where it is and expands outwards. Protestantism did that. In view of the fact that by an accident of history protestant nations had no colonies at that time whereas Catholic ones did, what course of action by early protestants would have prevented your criticism?

            I wrote: I’d rather have every man his own Pope than every man under one Pope and you replied: “Exactly. You would rather have division and error than Papacy.” It’s good that we have reduced the dialogue to an elementary proposition about which we take opposite sides. But let me rephrase it thus: I’d rather have freedom of conscience and some disagreement over fine details under the umbrella of Christ than be burned for disagreeing with an ecclesiastical megalomaniac.

          • Albert

            Yours was the grossest example in history but, as I have said, I am against ALL politicisation of ALL churches, because law and grace don’t mix.

            It was also the largest, so its kind of inevitable on your premise. Moreover, every culture is entitled to defend itself, and what that justly entails is judged different in different cultures. So for the US in 1945, that involved nuking civilians – even though the threat to US culture was minimal.

            You have ignored my point that mission starts where it is and expands outwards. Protestantism did that.

            No I didn’t. I just observed that they didn’t.

            what course of action by early protestants would have prevented your criticism?

            Well, the English had a great deal of international trade in the 16th Century. Why did the missionaries not follow that, as the Catholics did? Why is it that it is considerable time afterthe establishment of the 13 Colonies that mission really kicks off in N.America?

            It’s good that we have reduced the dialogue to an elementary proposition about which we take opposite sides.

            I’m just simply pointing out the consistency of my position, in the light of the evidence ypou are bringing.

            I’d rather have freedom of conscience and some disagreement over fine details under the umbrella of Christ than be burned for disagreeing with an ecclesiastical megalomaniac.

            And so would it, but these aren’t the only two options. Indeed, even you must admit that you have failed to describe the Papacy with complete fairness there.

          • Anton

            You say that every culture is entitled to defend itself but every Christian should, regardless of cultural or national affiliation, abhor the use of force in furtherance of the faith and in the persecution of persons who hold different opinions from the church provided that they hold them peaceably.

            “Well, the English had a great deal of international trade in the 16th Century. Why did the missionaries not follow that, as the Catholics did?”

            Keep going – which trade links did you have in mind, please?

            “Compare all this with just the Jesuits and the distinction in terms of life is vast.”

            The Roman Catholic church established many ‘missions’ in Latin America, Catholic communities of converted indigenous peoples with land to provide a living. Converts were often not permitted to come and go from the mission freely, however, reducing them to neo-slavery after they had converted.

            I wrote: I’d rather have freedom of conscience… than be burned for disagreeing with an ecclesiastical megalomaniac. you replied: “you have failed to describe the Papacy with complete fairness there.”

            What else is the absurd doctrine of papal infallibility? Moreover the 27 assertions of Dictatus Papae lodged in the papal register for 1075AD include these:

            * it may be permitted to him to depose emperors

            that of the Pope alone all princes shall kiss his feet

            * he may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men [such as monarchs who oppose the Pope]

            * he himself may be judged by no one

            * the Roman pontiff… is… made a saint by the
            merits of St. Peter

            * he alone can depose or reinstate bishops

            * his name alone shall be spoken in the
            churches [what about Christ?]

            * that this is the only name in the world

            Is that or is that not ecclesiastical megalomania?

          • Albert

            You say that every culture is entitled to defend itself but every Christian should, regardless of cultural or national affiliation, abhor the use of force in furtherance of the faith and in the persecution of persons who hold different opinions from the church provided that they hold them peaceably.

            Agreed. But the Bible is not evidently so clear that Protestants agreed on that then. So on sola scriptura, our present custom of not doing that would have no force and they could fall back into religious violence.

            Keep going – which trade links did you have in mind, please?

            Annoyingly, I’ve shut the links I got that from, but it’s clear that you have people like Drake circumnavigating the world, so it’s hard to see that the Protestant English are hemmed in. They can go abroad for trade and piracy, but not the Gospel, it seems. Moreover, even when they do belated establish missions in their own colonies they are for the colonisers, on the whole, not the population.

            Converts were often not permitted to come and go from the mission freely, however, reducing them to neo-slavery after they had converted.

            Wasn’t that because the secular power said they were slaves unless they lived in the missions? You can hardly blame that on the Jesuits – but imagine if the Jesuits had been Erastian.

            What else is the absurd doctrine of papal infallibility?

            It is the doctrine that Christ has ensured that his teaching will be faithfully taught and known to have been taught even when Christians are divided.

            Moreover the 27 assertions of Dictatus Papaelodged in the papal register for 1075AD include these

            I never said there were no papal meglomaniacs – you find people with such problems in all situations. But this document does not support your point since it is clearly not an infallible teaching. Therefore, you have not established that the only choice is between Protestant division and papal megalomaniacs.

          • Anton

            “Agreed. But the Bible is not evidently so clear that Protestants agreed on that then. So on sola scriptura, our present custom of not doing that would have no force and they could fall back into religious violence.”

            The Bible is perfectly clear; Christ never coerced anybody. It’s just that some protestants failed to cleanse themselves sufficiently of unscriptural but longstanding Catholic methods.

            When you find where you think the early protestants – British or continental – could have spread the gospel but failed to, I’ll gladly respond.

            I wrote, regarding Catholic missions in Latin America, Converts were often not permitted to come and go from the mission freely, however, reducing them to neo-slavery after they had converted. You replied: “Wasn’t that because the secular power said they were slaves unless they lived in the missions?” You raised the question, so please provide some documentary evidence. But in any case I am not talking about where they lived – which basically means ate and slept regularly – but about their freedom of movement.

            I quoted some of the inflated assertions about the papacy in Dictatus Papae (1075AD) and you responded that “I never said there were no papal meglomaniacs… But this document does not support your point since it is clearly not an infallible teaching.”

            I never said it was claimed to be infallible. But it is a telling example of ecclesiastical megalomania (which is what I was pointing out) and no Pope has ever disavowed it.

            I also spoke of “the absurd doctrine of papal infallibility” and you responded that it “is the doctrine that Christ has ensured that his teaching will be faithfully taught”. Not one non-Catholic Christian believes it (not to mention the rest of the world), and also about half of Catholics quietly don’t, according to some polls that ask whether the Pope can be infallible given that he is simply a man. If this was always true then it was tardy of Rome to take 1800 years to pronounce it formally, don’t you think? It also means that becoming a Catholic means signing up to binding doctrine yet unwritten, something no man should do.

            Moreover the formalisation of the doctrine (in 1870) is based largely on forged documents – and which were known in 1870 to have been forged. When in the mid-12th century the jurist (legal commentator) Gratian wrote his Decretum, which became the basis of Catholic canon law, 313 out of 324 quotations supposedly from letters of the popes of the first four centuries are from forgeries. This and the role of forgeries in earlier asserting the primacy of Rome over the Greek-speaking eastern churches has been documented by the Catholic historian Ignaz von Döllinger. When in the 13th century Thomas Aquinas set up his blueprint for Catholic society, including the ideas that would underpin papal infallibility, he repeatedly (and unknowingly) quoted such documents as authoritative. The pseudo-Isidorean decretals involved were proven to be forgeries in the 17th century by David Blondel (a French protestant). But there was never any Catholic re-evaluation of doctrine as a result, and within two centuries papal infallibility had been built on doctrines deriving from these forgeries, thereby stamping on renewed attempts to place a general council above the papacy – which had been the only way to resolve the schism of the 14th century. Von Döllinger was an ordained professor of history and a man of principle who knew that the side of the discussion advocating papal infallibility rested its case on false documents; see section 7 (‘Forgeries’) of chapter III of his book The Pope and the Council (published in 1869 under the pseudonym ‘Janus’).

          • Albert

            The Bible is perfectly clear; Christ never coerced anybody.

            That depends on how one reads the Cleansing of the Temple. But I think it is slightly irrelevant anyway, for the issue is not so much about religion as about how a commonwealth operates. Unless you think Jesus was a pacifist and expected us to be so, then you have to leave open the possibility that the state may need to use force in self-defence against religion.

            It’s just that some protestants failed to cleanse themselves sufficiently of unscriptural but longstanding Catholic methods.

            So scripture isn’t so clear, after all. If you say such things, why should I argue against the perspicuity of scripture?

            When you find where you think the early protestants – British or continental – could have spread the gospel but failed to, I’ll gladly respond.

            Given that they could circumnavigate the world for the sake of trade, I would have thought they could have got more or less anywhere to spread the word. Consider how the Jesuits went to Japan, even though it was not a colony. So, how about I say any part of the world which was not already Christian, or part of a European colony. That leaves quite a lot, doesn’t it? And you still miss the damning evidence, that even when Protestants did have colonies, their attempts to convert the locals are too little too late and largely focused on the colonisers themselves!

            You raised the question, so please provide some documentary evidence.

            It’s not a controversial point. Try here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guaran%C3%AD_people#Slavery, read slavery and then look at Jesuit missions.

            I never said it was claimed to be infallible. I was pointing it out as a prime example of ecclesiastical megalomania, and no Pope has ever disavowed it.

            It’s clearly contrary in parts to the teaching of the Church, for the rest, it has no need to be disavowed because it has nothing to do with any era other than time it came from, and has no binding authority.

            not one non-Catholic Christian believes it (not to mention the rest of the world

            Actually, although that ought to be true by definition, it isn’t! There are quite a lot of Anglo-papalists who believe it!

            and also about half of Catholics quietly don’t, according to some polls that ask whether the Pope can be infallible given that he is simply a man.

            As you say, please provide documentary evidence.

            If this was always true then it was tardy of Rome to take 1800 years to pronounce it formally, don’t you think?

            Not if it takes 300 years to come up with the Creed, and 400 years to set out even the grammar of the incarnation. Moreover, the doctrine of papal infallibility although it was dogmatised in 1870 was believed long before then – it is far more ancient than your solas. So if your argument makes sense, it undermines Protestantism. Happily for both of us, it doesn’t make sense.

            Thank you for your lecture on Dollinger – it may surprise you to know that that is hardly news. What is news to me is this bit: Moreover the formalisation of the doctrine (in 1870) is based largely on forged documents – and which were known in 1870 to have been forged. What are your sources for these comments? Have you read Newman on Papal Infallibility, for example? Read his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine and see if you think it is based on your forged documents.

          • Anton

            “Unless you think Jesus was a pacifist and expected us to be so, then you have to leave open the possibility that the state may need to use force in self-defence against religion.”

            Force in self-defence? Only against religions that advocate force. I can think of one, and it is not apostolic Christianity.

            I wrote: It’s just that some protestants failed to cleanse themselves sufficiently of unscriptural but longstanding Catholic methods. You replied: “So scripture isn’t so clear, after all. If you say such things, why should I argue against the perspicuity of scripture?” Do whatever you like. It is an illegitimate inference of yours that scripture isn’t clear; you are wrongly assuming that the failure of cleansing to which I refer is due to incomprehension rather than emotional attachment.

            “you still miss the damning evidence, that even when Protestants did have colonies, their attempts to convert the locals are too little too late and largely focused on the colonisers themselves!”

            You can get away with this kind of disingenuity only by: artificially focusing on one era of protestantism; neglecting organisations like SPCK; neglecting the protestant achievement in Africa; and forgetting that the first protestants spent a lot of time explaining the gospel, aka justification by faith rather than works, to Catholics. Granted that in some places protestantism was imposed topdown, but that was the Catholic stance too. Cuius regio, eius religio was not a good principle and, as I have said, I am against ALL political Christianity.

            “Try here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…, read slavery and then look at Jesuit missions.”

            That is the Latin American experience in only a small part of the coninent. Were the Spaniards who sought to enslave them excommunicated, please?

            “It’s [Dictatus Papae, 1075] clearly contrary in parts to the teaching of the Church, for the rest, it has no need to be disavowed because it has nothing to do with any era other than time it came from, and has no binding authority.”

            You are thinking legalistically when you say “no need”. There is a crying *moral* need for Popes to disavow such megalomanic and embarrassing statements.

            “Not if it takes 300 years to come up with the Creed, and 400 years to set out even the grammar of the incarnation.”

            The Creed to which you refer was formulated very rapidly in response to the heresies of the day, which were not problematic in those earlier 300 years. Your implication that it took the finest Christians 300 years of sweating and straining to summarise their faith in that Creed is not an accurate view of early church history.

            I have no idea what you mean by “the grammar of the Incarnation”. NT and OT (Isaiah) are perfectly clear that Jesus is both man and God.

            “So if your argument makes sense, it undermines Protestantism. Happily for both of us, it doesn’t make sense.”

            That is another example of your favourite rhetorical device of attempting to turn logic back on your opponent. Whether it holds here, readers may decide for themselves. The most absurd example was claiming I was into Mariolatry when Catholic churches are full of statues of her that are prayed to.

            “Thank you for your lecture on Dollinger – it may surprise you to know that that is hardly news. What is news to me is this bit: Moreover the formalisation of the doctrine (in 1870) is based largely on forged documents – and which were known in 1870 to have been forged. What are your sources for these comments?”

            Clearly you didn’t read my next sentences, in which I cited section 7 (‘Forgeries’) of chapter III of Dollinger’s book The Pope and the Council.

          • Albert

            Force in self-defence? Only against religions that advocate force.

            I agree with you, but I’m just trying to work out how that comes from scripture, in such a way that a future Protestant with power will feel bound by it. Moreover, a lot of the time Catholics and Protestants were at war with each other, so do you see the point? The boundary here is unclear.

            It is an illegitimate inference of yours that scripture isn’t clear; you are wrongly assuming that the failure of cleansing to which I refer is due to incomprehension rather than emotional attachment.

            As Isaiah says:

            For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

            I think the reason Protestants violently persecuted other people is because, in the complexity of the situation, scripture simply isn’t clear on this one.

            You can get away with this kind of disingenuity only by: artificially focusing on one era of protestantism; neglecting organisations like SPCK; neglecting the protestant achievement in Africa

            This is just disingenuous. You are forgetting where you started. You made the claim about Luther’s century. You can’t talk about all the splendid missions in the 19th Century (for example) to deal with that. In Luther’s century, Protestant had next to no Gospel missions, just trade missions – and this is the pattern in the next Century, proving that it was not just lack of colonies that was the problem.

            Were the Spaniards who sought to enslave them excommunicated, please?

            That was the papal position, whether it was enforced in far away South America, I don’t know.

            There is a crying *moral* need for Popes to disavow such megalomanic and embarrassing statements.

            If the document is in some obscure library, and no one really knows what it means (it’s not a list of papal pronouncements, but a list of headings of some document that doesn’t appear to exist), then there is no need to disavow it.

            The Creed to which you refer was formulated very rapidly in response to the heresies of the day, which were not problematic in those earlier 300 years. Your implication that it took the finest Christians 300 years of sweating and straining to summarise their faith in that Creed is not an accurate view of early church history.

            This is also disingenuous. I never gave any implication of Christians straining for 300 years. I said simply Not if it takes 300 years to come up with the Creed, and 400 years to set out even the grammar of the incarnation. It seems that when you cannot engage with the point, you are happy to misrepresent me. The key question at Nicaea was whether the Logos was a creature or not. That question could only arise once the idea of creatio ex nihilo had clearly been articulated. As Andrew Louth says, it was what the two sides at Nicaea agreed upon that caused them to disagree. This is how development of doctrine works. Questions arise which hadn’t arisen before, and in that a clearer understanding also arises. Hence, prior to Nicaea, it is perfectly possible to find orthodox Christians, not only not teaching the Trinity as Nicaea would have it, but teaching what would appear in the light of other developments, to be Arianism. Similarly, with the 5th Century Christological developments. Now if that is the case with the key doctrines, then it is not surprising if things aren’t all that clear with those which are less central. That’s all I’m saying.

            That is another example of your favourite rhetorical device of attempting to turn logic back on your opponent.

            I certainly enjoy imposing the same standards on my opponents thoughts as they seek to impose on me. I don’t think atheism is evidential, I don’t think your solas are biblical. That’s not a rhetorical device, that’s how I see it – and I argue it.

            That is another example of your favourite rhetorical device of attempting to turn logic back on your opponent. Whether it holds here, readers may decide for themselves.

            And they will presumably judge for themselves that you haven’t answered the point: it is far easier to find evidence of Papal Infallibility (questions of developments as outlined above kept in mind) than your solas. Now if your argument against novelty works (which it doesn’t) then it clearly undermines your solas.

            The most absurd example was claiming I was into Mariolatry when Catholic churches are full of statues of her that are prayed to.

            No one prays to a statue, although the statue may help to focus the mind in prayer. But what no Catholic believe, is what you believe, that is, that Mary somehow changed Jesus’ mind, and got him to do something which was contrary to his will – i.e. there was some sin involved somewhere. You made that point quite explicitly in order to try to show that Mary was not sinless. Thus, in order to avoid the Immaculate Conception, you ended up placing the creature above God. That’s not a rhetorical device I’m using, it’s a logical conclusion deduced from what you said.

            Clearly you didn’t read my next sentences, in which I cited section 7 (‘Forgeries’) of chapter III of Dollinger’s book The Pope and the Council.

            I did read them, I just discounted them on the assumption that you couldn’t be using a book published in 1869 to give an historical account of events that happened in 1870. Dollinger was a good historian, but not that good! Now you have disabused me of that credit I had given to you, please explain how 1869 is your source for the events of 1870.

          • Anton

            I wrote: Force in self-defence? Only against religions that advocate force. You replied: “I agree with you, but I’m just trying to work out how that comes from scripture, in such a way that a future Protestant with power will feel bound by it… The boundary here is unclear.” My answer is precedent: Jesus never coerced anybody into believing but simply warned them of the consequences of wrong belief and left them free to make their own decision. Where protestants failed to live by that it is because they had not cleansed themselves sufficiently of Catholic tradition that Europe was a Christian continent and that dissenters should be persecuted. I am against ALL politicised Christianity.

            The first protestants WERE busy doing mission in the 16th century – to Catholics who believed in justification by works. Imposition of protestantism (or Catholicism) from above doesn’t change hearts; grassroots mission was needed too.

            Re the Latin American experience, I complained that locals were not permitted to come and go freely from Catholic missions, and you suggested that that was because the “secular power” regarded itself as free to enslave them them otherwise. But that would have been reason to warn them what might happen to them if they quit the mission, not to ban them from leaving. They were enslaved already! Moreover, the secular power was the crown of Spain (or Portugal) and the Catholic church could have told its wearer that slavery was improper had it wished. Moreover

            The papal register is an “obscure library” so far as Roman Catholicism goes??

            At Nicaea and other councils I support anti-Arianism unreservedly because it is antiscriptural, but any attempt to detail HOW Christ is both fully divine and fully human and to discuss details of the relations among the persons of the Trinity beyond what scripture has revealed is vanity.

            Calling someone out for unsound logic is of course perfectly reasonable, provided you can make it stick. Where I decline to engage it is because I think you haven’t, in a situation in which I am content to let the reader decide. When we both reach that point, the subthread ends.

            I have no idea why you think I am citing Dollinger (1869) as describing events in 1870. I am saying that Dollinger (1869) should have been heeded in the 1870 council (which obviously would not have been possible had he written later). The point you are refraining from engaging with is that he provided decisive evidence that the historical documents central to the case put by the Infallibilists were forged or were based on documents that had been.

          • Albert

            My answer is precedent: Jesus never coerced anybody

            And the answer of persecutors of that period is that they were not coercing anyone to believe but to desist, with a view to defending the innocent from the danger of what the “heretics” proclaimed.

            Where protestants failed to live by that it is because they had not cleansed themselves sufficiently of Catholic tradition that Europe was a Christian continent and that dissenters should be persecuted.

            No, it is because scripture is not sufficiently clear, by itself, that that is wrong.

            The first protestants WERE busy doing mission in the 16th century – to Catholics who believed in justification by works.

            Catholicism does not believe in justification by works – how many times do we have to go through this? We believe what scripture says: a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. But I have already answered this point – the power struggle with Catholics is not mission.

            But that would have been reason to warn them what might happen to them if they quit the mission, not to ban them from leaving.

            I would like to see the evidence of the ban. What was actually said?

            Moreover, the secular power was the crown of Spain (or Portugal) and the Catholic church could have told its wearer that slavery was improper had it wished.

            It did. The first papal pronouncement of the era against slavery was in 1435 and others followed. Prior to that of course, in Catholic Europe, slavery largely did not even exist. In contrast, much later the mission filled Protestant British were not even baptizing their slaves, let alone banning it and they did not have any slave code to protect slaves.

            The papal register is an “obscure library” so far as Roman Catholicism goes??

            Yes, as far as your Catholic in the street is concerned. I notice that you ignored all the other things I said about the matter – as usual.

            At Nicaea and other councils I support anti-Arianism unreservedly because it is antiscriptural, but any attempt to detail HOW Christ is both fully divine and fully human and to discuss details of the relations among the persons of the Trinity beyond what scripture has revealed is vanity.

            But the point is that answering Arianism is a development of doctrine. In the Third Century the homoousion was heresy, in the Fourth it is the mark of orthodoxy. And that’s perfectly consistent because the questions and the context of the questions change. If that is true of the Trinity, then how much more so with lesser matters? Moreover, what scripture has revealed about the relations of the person of the Trinity is the very question at issue. I agree Arianism is anti-scriptural, but there are more grounds for it than your solas.

            Calling someone out for unsound logic is of course perfectly reasonable, provided you can make it stick.

            You wish to say that Papal Infallibility is false because the doctrine is not ancient. I say the doctrine is more ancient than your solas, ergo… That sounds like making the logic stick.

            I have no idea why you think I am citing Dollinger (1869) as describing events in 1870. I am saying that Dollinger (1869) should have been heeded in the 1870 council (which obviously would not have been possible had he written later).

            Your claim was this:

            the formalisation of the doctrine (in 1870) is based largely on forged documents

            When I challenged your claim that the definition was based on those documents (citing of course people like Newman as evidence to the contrary) and asked for evidence of your claim that it was based on such documents, you said

            Clearly you didn’t read my next sentences, in which I cited section 7 (‘Forgeries’) of chapter III of Dollinger’s book The Pope and the Council.

            Well, what am I to make of all that, except that you think Dollinger’s book is evidence that the Council was “largely based” on those documents?

            The point you are refraining from engaging with is that he provided decisive evidence that the historical documents central to the case put by the Infallibilists were forged or were based on documents that had been.

            No that’s exactly the point I’ve been challenging. The Infallibilists’ case was not based on those documents (whose inauthenticity was widely accepted long before the Council). Moreover, I don’t think documents like those contained in the False Decretals have anything much to do with Infallibility, and the kinds of points they make can often be found in authentic documents.

          • Anton

            “persecutors of that period [said] that they were not coercing anyone to believe but to desist, with a view to defending the innocent from the danger of what the “heretics” proclaimed.”

            Great excuse for the Inquisition! God regards people as responsible for what they believe; that is why he judges people as individuals. As I said, Jesus never tried to force his viewpoint on anybody.

            “scripture is not sufficiently clear, by itself, that that is wrong.”

            That is true only if you are blinded, either intellectually or by attachment to a wrong point of view.

            “the power struggle with Catholics is not mission.”

            It was in relation to Catholic claims that you had to have the Catholic sacraments, when in fact faith in Christ is sufficient and catalyses the believer to do most of the things Catholics call sacraments.

            I wrote: that would have been reason to warn them what might happen to them if they quit the mission, not to ban them from leaving. You replied: “I would like to see the evidence of the ban.”

            You didn’t question it earlier! I’ll revisit my sources, which might take a bit of time.

            “The first papal pronouncement of the era against slavery was in 1435 and others followed.”

            In 1452 Pope Nicholas V in Dum Diversas granted the king of Portugal, with reference to Africa, the right to “invade.. the saracens and pagans… wherever they may be and to reduce their persons into perpetual slavery.” This might have been a Bull against Islamists and against pagan mercenaries who fought with them, but Portugal nevertheless started the transatlantic slave trade, while in 1493 Pope Alexander VI in Eximiae Devotionis extended this right to Spain in respect of the peoples of the Americas. The papacy was not consistent in its opposition to slavery, was it?

            “the mission filled Protestant British were not even baptizing their slaves, let alone banning it and they did not have any slave code to protect slaves.”

            You are talking about the first empire formally to ban slavery outright. Baptism of babies does nothing for them unless they later profess faith, and nonconformists were zealous in offering Christ to the slaves before abolition. Some Anglican bishops had shares in slave plantations, I believe, but I am nonconformist not Anglican.

            “But the point is that answering Arianism is a development of doctrine.”

            Nonsense. Anybody with a working knowledge of scripture could do it. The aim is to prove that Jesus IS divine rather than just Very High as Arians hold. Isaiah (9:6) spoke in the Judaic context of the miraculous birth of a baby who would be divine, and Jesus accepted Thomas’ gasped comment “My Lord and God” (John 20:28); had Jesus not been divine then Thomas would have been rebuked for idolatry. QED.

            I now understand your responses re Dollinger and infallibility. It is indeed my contention that the theological underpinning of the doctrine is based in the main on forged documents, albeit laundered through mediaeval writers who were misled and quoted them in good faith. By 1869 the theological case for infallibility was circulating among Catholic scholars and Dollinger pointed out these problems with it. He was ignored and this hubristic doctrine was pronounced the next year.

          • Albert

            Great excuse for the Inquisition! God regards people as responsible for what they believe; that is why he judges people as individuals. As I said, Jesus never tried to force his viewpoint on anybody.

            It’s not really an excuse – it’s the reasoning given at the time. Society is permitted to use force to defend itself. Heresy was seen as a threat to society and the well-being of others. Therefore, violence was justified, not to coerce faith (though doubtless that happened), but to prevent harm. This isn’t my position, but I cannot see how scripture forbids that.

            That is true only if you are blinded, either intellectually or by attachment to a wrong point of view.

            And so you claim that scripture did not do what God intended of it, but that’s a position that is contrary to scripture. Moreover, you haven’t given any reason to suppose your position is true. Just because never compelled people to believe, doesn’t mean to say that it is wrong to use violence to protect others from unbelief. Again, that’s not my view, I’m just wondering what argument you are going to use – if the matter is so clear.

            It was in relation to Catholic claims that you had to have the Catholic sacraments, when in fact faith in Christ is sufficient

            Faith alone is not sufficient:

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

            And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.
            He who believes and is baptized will be saved”

            Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

            We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.

            When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

            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 clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

            You continue:

            You didn’t question it earlier!

            Because I thought it was sufficient to point out that if they left, they would be enslaved. Apparently not, although I’m unclear of what it is in the link you gave that I am supposed to be looking at – perhaps I am reading too quickly.

            The papacy was not consistent in its opposition to slavery, was it?

            No sadly, not. But the picture you have given is very confused, as I can see no evidence that the relevant rights were extended to Spain – but again, perhaps I am reading to too quickly. But you miss the point: the practice of the Church will often be less than the teaching of the Church. In contrast, Protestants on this seem pretty consistent: they didn’t even both to baptize slaves – presumably they realised that once the slaves were their brothers in Christ, it would be hard to keep them. Better to let them go to hell than have to give them up. I find it extraordinary that you want to pick a fight on this territory.

            Baptism of babies does nothing for them unless they later profess faith

            Feeble. Not all Protestants believe that, and in any case, we aren’t only talking about babies.

            You are talking about the first empire formally to ban slavery outright.

            Not true. Protestant Britain banned the slave trade (which it had perpetrated and profited from) first, but it did not ban slavery at that time. This continued until 1833. Slavery was first banned by Catholic Spain in 1811 (although some colonies did not accept the ban).

            Some Anglican bishops had shares in slave plantations

            and had to be reimbursed when slavery was abolished!

            The aim is to prove that Jesus IS divine rather than just Very High as Arians hold.

            Actually, that was the issue in question, not the aim.

            Jesus accepted Thomas’ gasped comment “My Lord and God” (John 20:28); had Jesus not been divine then Thomas would have been rebuked for idolatry. QED.

            Actually, it’s not as easily done as that. Arians had no problem, it would appear with Christ being called God. After all, Jesus himself said:

            Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, `I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken), do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, `You are blaspheming,’ because I said, `I am the Son of God’?

            So simply calling Jesus “God” does not solve the problem – rather it is the place where the discussion begins. Then there are a number of passages that Arians could appeal to to deny that the Logos is homoousios with the Father (something scripture never says), but rather subordinate to him.

            It is indeed my contention that the theological underpinning of the doctrine is based in the main on forged documents

            Okay, so that’s your contention, but what is the evidence for that and what is your evidence for your original claim that the formalisation of the doctrine (in 1870) is based largely on forged documents – and which were known in 1870 to have been forged.

          • Anton

            “Society is permitted to use force to defend itself. Heresy was seen as a threat to society and the well-being of others. Therefore, violence was justified, not to coerce (though doubtless that happened), but to prevent harm. This isn’t my position, but I cannot see how scripture forbids that.”

            If you cannot see how torturing and burning peaceable people is against the worldview propounded in the New Testament then the eloquence of Homer and Shakespeare combined would not convince you, let alone mine. I am abstaining from this and one or two other points because we are merely going round in circles.

            You quoted me as writing: It was in relation to Catholic claims that you had to have the Catholic sacraments, when in fact faith in Christ is sufficient and responded “Faith alone is not sufficient”. Just as I said, but which you missed, because you cut off my quote: …faith in Christ is sufficient and catalyses the believer to do most of the things Catholics call sacraments. Such as baptism – something we agree is a sacrament without need of the welter of quotes you provide.

            “I’m unclear of what it is in the link you gave that I am supposed to be looking at – perhaps I am reading too quickly.”

            It provides evidence for my claim, which you questioned, that the natives of Latin America were not free to come and go from Missions (regardless of whether they wished to run the risk of being grabbed outside it for slavery); in that respect their status on the missions matched the definition of slavery.

            I wrote: The papacy was not consistent in its opposition to slavery, was it? and you replied: “No sadly, not. But the picture you have given is very confused, as I can see no evidence that the relevant rights were extended to Spain – but again, perhaps I am reading to too quickly.”

            Here are the references again: In 1452 Pope Nicholas V in Dum Diversas granted the king of Portugal, with reference to Africa, the right to “invade.. the saracens and pagans… wherever they may be and to reduce their persons into perpetual slavery.” This might have been a Bull against Islamists and against pagan mercenaries who fought with them, but in 1493 Pope Alexander VI in Eximiae Devotionis extended this right to Spain in respect of the peoples of the Americas. Here is Dum Diversitas in English:

            http://unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.de/2011/02/dum-diversas-english-translation.html

            (it prefers “perpetual servitude” to “perpetual slavery” but the Latin word servus generally means “slave”). Here is Eximiae Devotionis which can easily enough be put into GoogleTranslate if necessary to verify my assertion:

            https://la.wikisource.org/wiki/Eximiae_devotionis

            Here is the context of the latter Bull:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter_caetera

            “Protestants on this seem pretty consistent: they didn’t even both to baptize slaves – presumably they realised that once the slaves were their brothers in Christ, it would be hard to keep them…”

            Where do you get the claim that protestants didn’t baptise slaves from? If you mean converts among the slaves – generally made by nonconformists rather than the CoE – then they were indeed baptised. If you mean babies born to slaves, baptism does them no good unless they subsequently profess faith. Hitler was baptised but clearly had no faith and I doubt that his baptism did him any good after his suicide.

            “Protestant Britain banned the slave trade (which it had perpetrated and profited from) first, but it did not ban slavery at that time. This continued until 1833. Slavery was first banned by Catholic Spain in 1811 (although some colonies did not accept the ban).”

            We might need to define terms here. When Britain banned slavery it meant that a man was free in principle to walk off his former master’s land, seek employment elsewhere, and have the same rights under the law as anybody else. Can you confirm that that was indeed the legal situation in Spanish possessions after 1811, please?

            I wrote: Some Anglican bishops had shares in slave plantations and you added: “and had to be reimbursed when slavery was abolished!”

            That’s interesting – as I said I am against all politicised Christianity – please can you give further details?

            I wrote: The aim is to prove that Jesus IS divine rather than just Very High as Arians hold. and you replied: “Actually, that was the issue in question, not the aim.”

            I think we are at cross purposes here. I meant that the aim of Trinitarians in dispute with Arians is to prove that Jesus is divine, rather than just Very High as Arians hold. Are we not in agreement about the positions held by Arians and Trinitarians? But I continue to maintain that the Arian position that Jesus is not divine is detonated by Isaiah 9:6 and John 20:28. No need for all that philosophising about homoousios. All that is necessary is to add that this was a Jewish context in which “divine” meant divine in the same way as the unique and omnipotent creator of the universe who had revealed himself to Israel. As for John 10:34-5, it refers to Psalm 82 which is about high rulers who have the power of gods, ie judgment, on this earth. But it still speaks of one omnipotent God and that is the context for Isaiah 9:6 and John 20:28.

            I wrote: It is indeed my contention that the theological underpinning of the doctrine [of papal infallibility] is based in the main on forged documents and you replied: “what is the evidence for that and what is your evidence for your original claim that the formalisation of the doctrine (in 1870) is based largely on forged documents – and which were known in 1870 to have been forged.?”

            Döllinger examined in detail the arguments circulating among Catholic scholars just before 1870 for papal infallibility. I am not aware of any new arguments between the publication of his book in 1869 and the promulgation of the doctrine in 1870; are you? He did this work because he knew that the issue was about to come to a head and he found that the pro-Infallibilist arguments were based on strands that ran back to forged documents, often the pseudo-Isidorean decretals which Rome knew full well by 1870 were forgeries. Why did Rome never re-examine its doctrines once these decretals were exposed two centuries earlier, to rid itself of false doctrine based on false papers?

          • Albert

            If you cannot see how torturing and burning peaceable people is against the worldview propounded in the New Testament then the eloquence of Homer and Shakespeare combined would not convince you, let alone mine.

            Of course I can! Can you not read what I have said? I have not defended the practice, I have just said that I can see nothing in scripture that forbids it. It’s plainly contrary to the scriptural worldview, IMO, but as it does not forbid the practice, someone else might take a different view. And I would say that if scripture is so clearly against it, then why do you follow Protestants who also permitted the practice. It’s no good saying they needed to be purifed from such Catholic abuses. Scripture is the tool to purify them. Therefore, if they weren’t purified, either scripture does not plainly forbid this practice, or scripture does not do what you think it should do. Moreover, having now allowed their culture to undermine their reading of scripture, doesn’t that undermine everything? Can’t I just say (as I actually think) that their nominalism undermined their reading of scripture, and that’s why they came up with such strange doctrines as sola fide (not a doctrine, anyone who is not a nominalist can accept, I wouldn’t have thought)? And what about your beliefs? Mightn’t any part of your belief itself be a product of your culture? As with Mary being a sinner, so here with burning of heretics: in order to attack Catholicism, you undermine your own faith. Strange set of priorities.

            Let me give you a modern comparison: the bombing of Japan with nuclear weapons. I cannot for the life of me see how any Christian can think such attacks were consistent with the biblical world-view. But I still see that scripture obviously does not plainly forbid it. I dare say you agree with that bombing, do you? Can you at least see the consistency between recognizing that scripture does not forbid X and yet believing X is contrary to the scriptural worldview?

            it prefers “perpetual servitude” to “perpetual slavery” but the Latin word servus generally means “slave”

            I’m really not sure either of us knows enough about all this – but I don’t really see the point of arguing the case. I have already admitted that papal practice was not what would one wish on this question, and certainly lagged behind Catholic teaching. What you seem blind to is that long before Protestants even existed, let alone got around to abolishing slavery, a Pope was condemning the enslaving of people.

            Where do you get the claim that protestants didn’t baptise slaves from?

            Stark: For the Glory of God.

            When Britain banned slavery it meant that a man was free in principle to walk off his former master’s land, seek employment elsewhere, and have the same rights under the law as anybody else.

            In 1833 that is what happened (as I understand it), but that wasn’t what happened in 1807 in which only the trade was banned (it had already been banned by the US and in the French Empire (only to be reintroduced by Napoleon).

            Can you confirm that that was indeed the legal situation in Spanish possessions after 1811, please?

            That’s what I understand by “abolition of slavery”. Amongst Catholics the abolition movement has a long history. For example, St Bathilde was campaigning to end slave trading in 7th Century By the time we are talking about, those who reduced others to slavery were excommunicated, and the Inquisition was explicitly teaching this. Where that leave Alexander VI, I don’t know, but then he’s hardly an admirable pope!

            Details of CofE compensation from slavery are found here:

            http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/feb/09/religion.world

            I think we are at cross purposes here. I meant that the aim of Trinitarians in dispute with Arians is to prove that Jesus is divine, rather than just Very High as Arians hold.

            Obviously, that was the aim of the Trinitarians. But that is not evidence that scripture is undoubtedly Trinitarian in the Nicene sense. The point at issue is simply that the matter could be disputed and argued over from scripture. If something so important can be going on 300 years after Christ, then is it surprising that the finer points of ecclesiology take longer to dogmatise?

            Döllinger examined in detail the arguments circulating among Catholic scholars just before 1870 for papal infallibility. I am not aware of any new arguments between the publication of his book in 1869 and the promulgation of the doctrine in 1870; are you?

            You’re not seriously trying to claim that the only documents and arguments in favour of Papal Infallibility in 1870 were those answered by Dollinger in 1869 are you? Oh dear, you are:

            Why did Rome never re-examine its doctrines once these decretals were exposed two centuries earlier, to rid itself of false doctrine based on false papers?

            Because it wasn’t based on these false papers, rather the false papers were based on the papal doctrine. The False Decretals, for example are 9th Century! You don’t seriously think that the papacy is a 9th Century invention do you? I became convinced of the papacy on much earlier evidence than this. Besides the False Decretals were not designed to elevate the papacy, rather to use the elevated status of the papacy, already agreed to minimize the authority of Emperor over local churches, by minimizing the authority of the Metropolitans. (Thus, you would actually agree with the aim if not the method of the Decretals!) Now if the papacy was not already recognized as having grounds to claim such authority, who would believe the fraud? And why pick Rome? Why not just pick a publican in Glasgow?

          • Anton

            “if scripture is so clearly against it, then why do you follow Protestants who also permitted the practice.”

            I don’t. I follow scripture.

            “It’s no good saying they needed to be purified from such Catholic abuses. Scripture is the tool to purify them. Therefore, if they weren’t purified, either scripture does not plainly forbid this practice, or scripture does not do what you think it should do.”

            That’s a false dichotomy. They weren’t willing to let it purify them of that particular antiscriptural tradition. The Reformation got rid of many such things but not this one.

            I asked: Where do you get the claim that protestants didn’t baptise slaves from? You replied: “Stark: For the Glory of God.

            Please keep going! I still don’t know if you mean baptism of babies born to slave women, or of converts made by nonconformist missionaries, who I assert were baptised. Does Stark clarify?

            “Details of CofE compensation from slavery are found here:”

            Thank you for that reference.

            “that is not evidence that scripture is undoubtedly Trinitarian in the Nicene sense. The point at issue is simply that the matter could be disputed and argued over from scripture. If something so important can be going on 300 years after Christ, then is it surprising that the finer points of ecclesiology take longer to dogmatise?”

            I think it is; I’ve previously given two scriptures that show Christ is divine, and “divine” to Jews mean in the same way as the Creator; while Matt 28:19 pretty much wraps it up about the Trinity. (I’ll give more exegesis about the divinity of the Holy Spirit if you ask – it’s not difficult.) Those who disagree, such as Arians, can make a lot of noise, but quality and quantity of argument are not the same thing. The point is that the Councils gave authority to congregation leaders to say to Arians: Shut up or be thrown out! The exegesis was not difficult but the Arians would not shut up prior to the Councils and this was not an era in which they could be silenced by burning them.

            You wrote: “You’re not seriously trying to claim that the only documents and arguments in favour of Papal Infallibility in 1870 were those answered by Döllinger in 1869 are you?”

            Tell me: Have you read his book? (I have.) I have also read the sceptical book Infallible? published by Hans Küng in 1971 when he was still a Catholic, which set out in detail the arguments proposed in 1870 that were taken to underpin papal infallibility. (I trust you will not descend to lazy ad hominem arguments here.) When in the mid-12th century the jurist (legal commentator) Gratian wrote his Decretum, which became the basis of Catholic canon law and from which many mediaeval theologians derived their knowledge of the early church, 313 out of 324 quotations supposedly from letters of the popes of the first four centuries are from forgeries, as Döllinger showed. When in the 13th century Thomas Aquinas set up his blueprint for Catholic society, including the ideas that would underpin papal infallibility, he repeatedly (and unknowingly) quoted such documents as authoritative. Küng goes into the Aquinas connection to the doctrine of infallibility in detail. Papal infallibility is based strongly on the (supposed) writings of the early popes of which most proved to be forged. I can’t recall if those “quotes” were made up in the pseudo-Isidorean decretals but Döllinger can be checked for that online at the URL I quoted previously.

            If you think that the 1870 arguments for infallibility are otherwise, please be more specific.

          • Albert

            I don’t. I follow scripture.

            But your doctrine aren’t in scripture, you only think you find it there. No one who had not been schooled in Protestant thought or the developments immediately preceding the Protestant Reformation would hold such views. This is evident from the absence of anyone claiming sola fide prior to the Protestant Reformation. So we can say this, at least: either sola fide is false, or sola scriptura is.

            That’s a false dichotomy. They weren’t willing to let it purify them of that particular antiscriptural tradition. The Reformation got rid of many such things but not this one.

            That makes them very bad people doesn’t it? They are quite happy to let their reading of scripture tear Christians apart, but not to let scripture stop them tearing each other apart.

            I still don’t know if you mean baptism of babies born to slave women, or of converts made by nonconformist missionaries, who I assert were baptised. Does Stark clarify?

            Here’s the quote: “In contrast [to the Catholics], the British did not baptize slaves or seek their conversion to Christianity – indeed several colonial assemblies imposed heavy fines on Quakers for doing so”. What’s key there, is what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t say fines were imposed on non-conformists, but on Quakers specifically. It seems that there wasn’t much missionary zeal amongst the non-conformists, after all.

            I think it is; I’ve previously given two scriptures that show Christ is divine, and “divine” to Jews mean in the same way as the Creator

            You keep saying this, but you haven’t dealt with my reference to Psalm 82.6 quoted in John 10.34. Moreover, however we look at this, we have to modify the beliefs of the Jews. For if the word “divine” can only refer to the creator (which is probably not true, in the light of the previous quote), then we must also acknowledge that the key OT belief about God is his oneness:

            Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

            But Jesus clearly distinguishes between himself and God:

            Jesus said to him, Why call you me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

            and says

            the Father is greater than I.

            While Paul seems to say the Son of God is in fact created:

            He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him.

            The order of creation appears to be first Christ, then everything else through him – an idea which was not novel, I think.

            And if you want and OT proof text to go with yours from Isaiah, the Arians could cite:

            The LORD created me at the beginning of his work,the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

            In the light of these points, and the undermining of your own argument with John 10, it seems that Arians can easily defend themselves on this territory. The key move is that whether one is a Trinitarian or an Arian, one has to to modify the Jewish picture: either one admits with the Arians that “god” can be applied to the highest of creatures (and John 10 permits this) or one accepts with the Trinitarians that “the Lord is one” is not the last word on the subject.

            Thus, although these texts were endlessly argued about, the matter is not decided on these grounds. Indeed, if it were so clear, we wouldn’t have orthodox Christians of earlier centuries providing succour to the Arians with their often subordinationist language. The matter was resolved instead, I think on the nature of the salvific relationship Christ establishes for us with his heavenly Father. This can only be Trinitarian – but that, naturally is a far more sophistacated discussion, which can only even be addressed properly once the idea of creatio ex nihilo has developed to the degree that there is no intermediate place between creature and creator. Now since that doesn’t take place until the Fourth Century, it is not until the Fourth Century that we get an adequate account of the equality of the Son with the Father. Now if that takes more than 300 years, we have to accept that lesser doctrines will be developing more slowly.

            Those who disagree, such as Arians, can make a lot of noise, but quality and quantity of argument are not the same thing. The point is that the Councils gave authority to congregation leaders to say to Arians: Shut up or be thrown out

            Now that really is to read back your own ecclesiology into the early Church. The Council of Nicea was not congregationalist, but Catholic. Thus it did no such thing as to give authority to congregation leaders to throw out the Arians, the Council did that itself. The Council explicitly anathematises the Arians. Any local congregation that did not accept this would have been anathematized as well. If you’re worried about developments in ecclesiology being later, then, as with your solas, you will have to ditch your Protestant ecclesiology too.

            Tell me: Have you read his book? (I have.) I have also read the sceptical book Infallible? published by Hans Küng in 1971 when he was still a Catholic, which set out in detail the arguments proposed in 1870 that were taken to underpin papal infallibility.

            No, but I don’t need to read these books – at least not cover to cover (I looked at part of Kung to see what it was about). If these books do not answer the arguments on which I think the doctrine is based, why should I read them? Catholics call the False Decretals, “false”, because they are false, not because they are true. We do not rest on them. Newman’s argument for infallibility is not touched by these questions of forged documents.

            Gratian wrote hisDecretum, which became the basis of Catholic canon law and from which many mediaeval theologians derived their knowledge of the early church, 313 out of 324 quotations supposedly from letters of the popes of the first four centuries are from forgeries, as Döllinger showed.

            I don’t think that was shown by Dollinger – it was known already. But it makes little difference. Dollinger is a historian, not a theologian. This was a matter of theology. Besides, it is abundantly clear, that the papacy is not created by these forgeries. This is a point that I keep making, it drives a horse and cart through your argument, and yet you keep ignoring it.

            When in the 13th century Thomas Aquinas set up his blueprint for Catholic society, including the ideas that would underpin papal infallibility, he repeatedly (and unknowingly) quoted such documents as authoritative.

            Well, have you read Aquinas’ comments on this? (Not just Kung on Aquinas) This is what he says:

            As stated above (Objection 1), a new edition of the symbol becomes necessary in order to set aside theerrors that may arise. Consequently to publish a new edition of the symbol belongs to that authority which is empowered to decide matters of faith finally, so that they may be held by all with unshaken faith. Now this belongs to the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, “to whom the more important and more difficult questions that arise in theChurch are referred,” as stated in the Decretals [Dist. xvii, Can. 5. Hence our Lord said to Peter whom he madeSovereign Pontiff (Luke 22:32): “I have prayed for thee,” Peter, “that thy faith fail not, and thou, being once converted,confirm thy brethren.” The reason of this is that there should be but one faith of the whole Church, according to 1 Corinthians 1:10: “That you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you”: and this could not be secured unless any question of faith that may arise be decided by him who presides over the whole Church, so that the whole Church may hold firmly to his decision. Consequently it belongs to the sole authority of the Sovereign Pontiff to publish a new edition of the symbol, as do all other matters which concern the whole Church, such as to convoke a general council and so forth.

            I don’t know if the quotation from the False Decretals or not, but take out the quotation from the Decretals and the argument still stands. Besides, Aquinas was thinking of the pope as acting as head of the Council. And this is nothing new – it was set out and followed at councils far earlier than the Decretals.

            Papal infallibility is based strongly on the (supposed) writings of the early popes of which most proved to be forged.

            It just so isn’t. Look, I became convinced of the doctrine not because I believed in the decretals, but even though I didn’t.

            If you think that the 1870 arguments for infallibility are otherwise, please be more specific.

            I wondered when you might ask that, for surely it makes more sense to argue about what I do believe than what I don’t. Well, it’s fairly standard stuff. As you’ve argued about Arianism, let’s start there. Doctrine develops. New questions arise. Scripture turns out not to be clear enough on these new questions, and so there is a division. But the Church, sometimes after some agony, is able to know what Christ gave us, because, as a result of his express promise, what he has revealed is with us always. Thus the Church can decide such matters, on the basis of the Word living within her by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence, although scripture may not be clear on the answer to a question (so with the Arians the issue could not be decided by wooden proof-texting, but by knowing the relationship established with God), the Church does know what scripture was referring to, because she carries within her the reality revealed.

            But if this is the case, how can anyone know which side has the true faith? For if it could be read out of the Bible, the division would not arise in the first place. Thus, in the nature of the Church, from the very beginning the Church has had a marker. The true Church is that which is in communion with Peter, to whom Christ said: You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. and “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you [plural, meaning all of you], that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you [singular] have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”

            So it is that the Primacy of Peter as found in Rome abounds in ancient literature. As time goes on, it becomes clear that when Christians depart from Rome they fall into heresy. Again, it becomes clear that sometimes, the only way to know which side is correct is to see which side goes with Rome. This is particularly clear in the case of Chalcedon.

            So, given the nature of the revelation (transcendent) and the promises of Christ, it is antecedently probably that some kind of guide has been given (or to be precise, some place where Christ is known to be guiding). As Newman says:

            It is antecedently unreasonable to suppose that a book so complex, so systematic, in parts so
            obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be given us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could possibly, from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its inspiration does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are private readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is historical, what is
            fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is literal, what is idiomatic and what is grammatical, what is enunciated formally and what occurs obiter, what is only of temporary and what is of lasting obligation? Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too exactly justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many countries where private judgment on the text of Scripture has prevailed. The gift of inspiration requires as its complement the gift of
            infallibility.

            Now given the state of NT teaching on Peter and the position of the early Church, and the reality of events, it seems clear that the seat of that gift is Roman.

          • Anton

            I wrote: I don’t. I follow scripture. and you replied: “But your doctrine aren’t in scripture, you only think you find it there.”

            I was speaking of not trying to enforce belief and, as I said, Jesus never did that; he simply warned of the dire consequences of wrong belief. As you have repeated more than once that my claim is not in scripture and is merely eisegesis, where in scripture did Jesus coerce anybody into believing? As for the solas, we discussed them on a previous thread where I explained that the NT builds on the OT which does not need any church tradition to understand it. Your church traditions are simply exegesis for a Greek-philosophical rather than a Hebraic culture: valuable within that culture, but provisional.

            I wrote: They weren’t willing to let it purify them of that particular antiscriptural tradition. You replied: “That makes them very bad people doesn’t it?”

            Not as bad as those who didn’t let themselves be purified of ANY antiscriptural church traditions. We are all fallen.

            “Here’s the quote: “In contrast [to the Catholics], the British did not baptize slaves or seek their conversion to Christianity – indeed several colonial assemblies imposed heavy fines on Quakers for doing so”. What’s key there, is what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t say fines were imposed on non-conformists, but on Quakers specifically. It seems that there wasn’t much missionary zeal amongst the non-conformists, after all.”

            The Quakers WERE nonconformists, for they were Christians (in that era) who were English yet not Anglicans. Other nonconformists followed. The East India Company for long refused – shamefully – to let missionaries into the lands they ran; the CoE even had shares in slave plantations and certainly refused to evangelise slaves; and please don’t underestimate the difficulty of access to slaves – if you went to the West Indies as a missionary you would not be admitted to slave plantations. But the Quakers and then others managed it, contrary to your assertion.

            “you haven’t dealt with my reference to Psalm 82.6 quoted in John 10.34.”

            I did; did you miss it? Here it is, copied from higher up the thread with one minor alteration: As for John 10:34-5, it refers to Psalm 82 which is about high rulers who have the power of gods, ie judgment, on this earth. But the psalm still speaks of one omnipotent God who is the context for Isaiah 9:6 and John 20:28.

            “the Arians could cite: The LORD created me at the beginning of his work,the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

            That is a reference to the notion of wisdom, in whose mouth words are put. It is eisegetical to say that Jesus is speaking – and it is wrong given that Wisdom describes herself as feminine in this passage.

            I wrote: The point is that the Councils gave authority to congregat ion leaders to say to Arians: Shut up or be thrown out You replied: “that really is to read back your own ecclesiology into the early Church. The Council of Nicea was not congregationalist, but Catholic. Thus it did no such thing as to give authority to congregation leaders to throw out the Arians, the Council did that itself. The Council explicitly anathematises the Arians”

            Yes indeed; the news from Nicea that Arians were anathematised would circulate and church/congregation leaders/bishops/Elders (let’s keep that discussion separate) could then throw unrepentant Arians out and point to the decision if those Arian grumbled. Before Nicea, that was not possible. Surely we agree here?

            “If these books do not answer the arguments on which I think the doctrine is based, why should I read them?”

            It is not for me to say what you “should” read, but you might miss out on truth.

            “Newman’s argument for infallibility is not touched by these questions of forged documents.”

            Newman regretted the formalising of the doctrine of papal infallibility yet said he had always believed it. What a hypocrite!

            “Dollinger is a historian, not a theologian. This was a matter of theology.”

            Dollinger was a lifelong academic church historian who was also an ordained Catholic priest and you say he was not educated enough to understand the theology of a faith which its Founder emphasised was for all men? That is royal nonsense.

            “Besides, it is abundantly clear, that the papacy is not created by these forgeries. This is a point that I keep making, it drives a horse and cart through your argument, and yet you keep ignoring it.”

            That is just shouting louder. It drives a horse and cart through my argument only in your own mind. The papacy grew, and the pseudo-Isidorean decretals were written to bolster it in theological clashes with the Eastern churches, but Kung showed that the arguments for papal infallibility depended heavily on Aquinas which depended heavily on forgeries. We agree on one thing: it is time to see what *your* (Newman’s?) arguments for infallibility are.

            “This is what he [Aquinas] says: As stated above (Objection 1), a new edition of the symbol becomes necessary in order to set aside theerrors that may arise. Consequently to publish a new edition of the symbol belongs to that authority which is empowered to decide matters of faith finally, so that they may be held by all with unshaken faith. Now this belongs to the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, “to whom the more important and more difficult questions that arise in theChurch are referred,” as stated in the Decretals [Dist. xvii, Can. 5. Hence our Lord said to Peter whom he made Sovereign Pontiff (Luke 22:32): “I have prayed for thee,” Peter, “that thy faith fail not, and thou, being once converted,confirm thy brethren.” The reason of this is that there should be but one faith of the whole Church, according to 1 Corinthians 1:10: “That you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you”: and this could not be secured unless any question of faith t hat may arise be decided by him who presides over the whole Church, so that the whole Church may hold firmly to his decision. Consequently it belongs to the sole authority of the Sovereign Pontiff to publish a new edition of the symbol, as do all other matters which concern the whole Church, such as to convoke a general council and so forth.

            Peter was first among equals in the apostolic church but he didn’t chair the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) even though he was present, and it is eisegesis to assert that his priority was handable-on to later bishops of Rome. That is held by you bbut it is faith in something extrascriptural. That is up to you, but it must not be imposed on other Christians who do not share it.

            “As you’ve argued about Arianism, let’s start there. Doctrine develops. New questions arise. Scripture turns out not to be clear enough on these new questions, and so there is a division.”

            Certainly it is necessary to apply scripture in novel situations that have not been considered before, but that is not the same as saying that “doctrine develops”, with which I disagree. As for division, the point is to retain unity under Christ while still disagreeing. This IS possible. but when hierarchies fall out then the man in the pew faces a choice that Christ never intended.

            “So it is that the Primacy of Peter as found in Rome abounds in ancient literature. As time goes on, it becomes clear that when Christians depart from Rome they fall into heresy.”

            Clear to you! Some of us think that by 1517 Rome was gravely in error in ways which we have discussed on other threads.

          • Albert

            As you have repeated more than once that my claim is not in scripture and is merely eisegesis, where in scripture did Jesus coerce anybody into believing?

            Just because Jesus did not do something does not make it impermissible of itself. On which note, I see you have not answered my question about nuclear weapons. Do you accept their use in cases such as those of 1945?

            As for the solas, we discussed them on a previous thread where I explained that the NT builds on the OT which does not need any church tradition to understand it. Your church traditions are simply exegesis for a Greek-philosophical rather than a Hebraic culture: valuable within that culture, but provisional.

            But that’s the point. It is only with certain philosophical assumptions that sola fide becomes possible. And since those philosophical assumptions do not exist in biblical times, the doctrine cannot be held to be biblical.

            Not as bad as those who didn’t let themselves be purified of ANY antiscriptural church traditions.

            Oh dear, a double condemnation, for clearly I think every anti-Catholic Protestant tradition is an antiscriptural tradition. But you keep missing the point about sola scriptura and the efficacy of scripture. If scripture is what you say it is, shouldn’t they have noticed it? If on the other hand, they allowed other considerations to get in the way, doesn’t that raise questions about everything they and you think about scripture?

            The Quakers WERE nonconformists

            In a sense, so were the Catholics in England. The key thing is that your ancestors didn’t follow suit. The Quakers were outliers, and I don’t think you would follow them.

            the CoE even had shares in slave plantations and certainly refused to evangelise slaves

            And there’s the contrast between the Protestant world and the Catholic one. Neither is satisfactory from our perspective, but which would you prefer to be part of as a slave? Now it’s not good saying “Well that was just the CofE”, for there is a problem that attacks your position on religious violence. For why was the CofE so bad on this? Was it not because scripture does not clearly forbid slavery? Indeed, it actively permits it. Now if scripture is all that you claim it to be, that should not be so.

            I did; did you miss it?

            But what you’ve written there is not a solution to the problem, but a statement of it. You claimed the Trinity by saying this: “divine” to Jews mean in the same way as the Creator;. Now, I’m not at all sure whether you are right about the word “divine” in OT, so I’m sticking to “God”, and clearly the word “God” can be used of those who are not God, provided they have been given God’s power. And that is exactly what the Arians taught.

            That is a reference to the notion of wisdom, in whose mouth words are put. It is eisegetical to say that Jesus is speaking – and it is wrong given that Wisdom describes herself as feminine in this passage.

            But your reference to Isaiah is similarly eisegesis. The difference here is that Proverbs 8 is normally held to be the background for Col.1.15. Now I gave you a whole range of biblical passages, and at most you’ve dealt with a few (and I don’t think you are convincing even here), but many are outstanding.

            Surely we agree here?

            Yes, but the key thing is the Council kicks them out – it does not simply give authority to the local churches to do so. Here we have a higher level authority than the local church, making a decision that the local church must accept.

            It is not for me to say what you “should” read, but you might miss out on truth.

            You can say that about any book. I think you need to do more reading on Arianism and on the development of doctrine. You seem to me to missing out on a lot of truth, albeit much that will be very uncomfortable for a Protestant (I speak from experience). But what I know is that the historical case of Dollinger is not of Kung is not an answer to the argument I have for infallibility. To be honest, given how short life is, I think it is a bit odd to look at a mid-19th Century history of anything, unless one has other reasons to read that particular text.

            Newman regretted the formalising of the doctrine of papal infallibility yet said he had always believed it. What a hypocrite!

            That’s not hypocrisy. He thought the definition was inopportune, even though he believed it. How is that hypocrisy? Have you never believed something but not said it, in a particular time?

            Dollinger was a lifelong academic church historian who was also an ordained Catholic priest and you say he was not educated enough to understand the theology of a faith which its Founder emphasised was for all men? That is royal nonsense.

            I didn’t say that, I said theology was not his discipline. What Dollinger does not get, as Newman points out, is the theological nature of development. But let me take you at your word: Dollinger’s a clever man, well educated, as you say. He has a great knowledge of the historical shape of theology. What did he think of the Reformation? Will that change your mind? Of course not! You judge me by a standard you will not accept for yourself.

            The papacy grew, and the pseudo-Isidorean decretals were written to bolster it in theological clashes with the Eastern churches, but Kung showed that the arguments for papal infallibility depended heavily on Aquinas which depended heavily on forgeries.

            The reason I am driving a horse and cart through your argument is that your argument is based on the assumption that papal infallibility is based on the decetals. How many times do I have to say this? I don’t believe papal infalliblity is based on the decretals? I must have said that endlessly. Would it help if I set it to music?

            Peter was first among equals in the apostolic church but he didn’t chair the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) even though he was present, and it is eisegesis to assert that his priority was handable-on to later bishops of Rome. That is held by you bbut it is faith in something extrascriptural.

            I don’t accept that, but even if I did, it’s still feeble. You’ve tried to claim that papal infallibility comes from the decretals of the 9th Century. When I say there is earlier patristic evidence which falsifies that, you cut right back to the Bible, as if the patristic era did not exist. Now I accept that tradition is theoretically not important for you, but it was the fathers at Vatican I and that is the historical contention here. And since you are not addressing that your argument fails.

            That is held by you bbut it is faith in something extrascriptural. That is up to you, but it must not be imposed on other Christians who do not share it.

            But sola scriptura is a very late extrascriptural invention! It’s far later than the papacy. You are cutting off the branch you are sitting on.

            Certainly it is necessary to apply scripture in novel situations that have not been considered before, but that is not the same as saying that “doctrine develops”, with which I disagree.

            Okay, so how do you account for the fact that a certain subordinationism is orthodoxy in the ante-Nicene era, but not afterwards?

            As for division, the point is to retain unity under Christ while still disagreeing. This IS possible.

            It depends on the nature of the division.

            Some of us think that by 1517 Rome was gravely in error in ways which we have discussed on other threads.

            Yes, when judged from certain stand points. But judge your own tradition from those stand points themselves and you will see that you are in grave error.

          • Anton

            “you have not answered my question about nuclear weapons. Do you accept their use in cases such as those of 1945?”

            Too many things are different about that situation for me to accept it as relevant to what we were discussing, but if I were President Truman I’d have used it. Today we look back and say “Nukes – argh no!” but back then it was just a new and more powerful weapon and there was a war on. People say that the USA could have blockaded Japan into submission, rather than invade the mainland at cost of millions of US soldiers’ lives or nuke the Japanese, but that argument ignores Stalin’s opportunistic declaration of war on Japan a few days earlier with the aim of snapping up territory. Truman would have noticed that declaration when he ordered the bombings.

            I wrote: The Quakers WERE nonconformists. You replied: “In a sense, so were the Catholics in England. The key thing is that your ancestors didn’t follow suit.”

            Well, we are quibbling about terminology. The usual meaning of “nonconformist” in England is “protestant outside the Established church”. Don’t blame me if you don’t like that definition; I didn’t invent it.

            “And there’s the contrast between the Protestant world and the Catholic one. Neit her is satisfactory from our perspective, but which would you prefer to be part of as a slave? Now it’s not good saying “Well that was just the CofE”, for there is a problem that attacks your position on religious violence. For why was the CofE so bad on this? Was it not because scripture does not clearly forbid slavery?”

            I decline to have my answer “that was just the CoE but I’m nonconformist” blocked off. You need to understand that protestants, unlike Catholics, do not all believe that there should be a single church hierarchy. Some of us don’t believe in church hierarchies. We have discussed that before.

            I wrote: Newman regretted the formalising of the doctrine of papal infallibility yet said he had always believed it. What a hypocrite! You replied: “That’s not hypocrisy…”

            O, I can’t be bothered to argue that (or one or two other things). I don’t consider that you have downed my arguments and (i think) vice-versa, so let readers of this exchange decide for themselves. Why, though, did Newman think 1870 was a bad time for it?

            “Would it help if I set it to music?”

            Provided it is not in the idiom of most modern worship songs then by all means have a go…

          • Albert

            Regarding Truman – it’s interesting, you adopt a position which, although not explicitly condemned in scripture, is, in my reading plainly contrary to the scriptural world-view. And if you can nuke Japanese civilians in a good cause (to protect others from Japan) then surely, you can burn a heretic, not to make him orthodox, but just to protect others. Personally, I would do neither, and think your utilitarian reasoning and conclusion unChristian. But the point is that, these matters seem to have a kind of openness about them. Now if Christians get power, will Catholics be able to burn heretics? I don’t think so – there is no too much doctrinal development against it. But a sola scriptura Protestant seems to have nothing more opposed to it than he did in 16th Century.

            The usual meaning of “nonconformist” in England is “protestant outside the Established church”. Don’t blame me if you don’t like that definition; I didn’t invent it.

            I’m happy with that. It’s just that I’m not sure whether the Quakers were Protestants in any sense that could have been recognized at the time by other Protestants. But let that pass, we have only one kind of non-conformist doing the business. The rest (including your forebears) don’t seem all that bothered. Remember the original claim was about a lack of missionary zeal amongst Protestants. Now if it turns out that only one kind of Protestant (and not a very representative type at that) was engaged in trying to convert slaves, then, I think the point is made.

            I decline to have my answer “that was just the CoE but I’m nonconformist” blocked off. You need to understand that protestants, unlike Catholics, do not all believe that there should be a single church hierarchy.

            I don’t see how that answers my point. The issue is lack of missionary zeal, and, in this precise point, the lack of clarity of scripture on slavery, and the effect of that on the case about religious violence.

            Why, though, did Newman think 1870 was a bad time for it?

            He said a couple of things I think:

            He said that dogmatic definitions should only arise as a stern and painful necessity and not as a luxury of devotion. He thought the definition would be an obstacle to Protestants who might otherwise wish to become Catholics. I think he also worried that the Ultramontanes would cause it to be defined in a way that was less helpful than it ought to be.

            Provided it is not in the idiom of most modern worship songs then by all means have a go…

            How about a plainsong antiphon?

          • Anton

            “Regarding Truman – it’s interesting, you adopt a position which, although not explicitly condemned in scripture, is, in my reading plainly contrary to the scriptural world-view.”

            Really? Please show me that. Truman’s responsibility was to the American people and I’d say that his decision worked out better for the Japanese too in view of Stalin’s declaration of war the week before.

            “if you can nuke Japanese civilians in a good cause (to protect others from Japan) then surely, you can burn a heretic, not to make him orthodox, but just to protect others.”

            No, that’s a false analogy – too many differences between the situations.

            “I’m not sure whether the Quakers were Protestants in any sense that could have been recognized at the time by other Protestants. But let that pass”

            No! They were among the most serious Christians in England at the time. They’ve gone New Agey now but it was only their worship meetings that really differed.

            “we have only one kind of non-conformist doing the business. The rest (including your forebears) don’t seem all that bothered.”

            That’s a biased way of saying that the Quakers led the way and the other nonconformists followed. Someone was going to be first.

            I wrote: Why, though, did Newman think 1870 was a bad time for it? You replied, in part: “He said that dogmatic definitions should only arise as a stern and painful necessity and not as a luxury of devotion.”

            What? A doctrine which is capable of binding Catholics to things yet unwritten should not be formalised as soon as it is realised? Newman is as deeply intellectually dishonest as his dissembling in Tract 90 always suggested.

            “How about a plainsong antiphon?”

            Do upload it to YouTube and notify me here!

          • Albert

            Really? Please show me that.

            You cannot do evil that good may come of it (cf.Rom.3.8). Now what went on in Japan is plainly an act of killing the innocent, that good may come of it. (I take it civilians are innocent.)

            Truman’s responsibility was to the American people

            That’s a terribly secular view. No one’s authority is only to his own people. On that rate Pharaoh was right to kill the first born of the Israelites.

            No, that’s a false analogy – too many differences between the situations.

            Yes, the Japanese civilians were innocent.

            No! They were among the most serious Christians in England at the time.

            As I understand it, they were unsacramental. I think many key Protestants would not have recognized them therefore.

            They’ve gone New Agey now

            A warning, perhaps – one century, the most serious Christians, then in time, they cease to be recognizably Christian. Such is the chaos of Protestantism. Did not the Lord warn of such: If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.

            You say:

            it was only their worship meetings that really differed.

            Worship is not incidental.

            That’s a biased way of saying that the Quakers led the way and the other nonconformists followed.

            That’s exactly what I wasn’t saying. It’s not that they led and others followed, it’s that a group of outliers did one thing, and the rest of you did nothing. Contrast that with the Catholics. And the key thing here is missionary zeal, which was lacking.

            What? A doctrine which is capable of binding Catholics to things yet unwritten should not be formalised as soon as it is realised? Newman is as deeply intellectually dishonest as his dissembling in Tract 90 always suggested.

            I cannot follow your argument here, I can infer with some confidence however, that you have judged Newman on prejudice, that is without hearing his defence. Have you read his Apologia Pro Vita Sua? The one thing that books established, even for Protestants, was his honesty.

            Do upload it to YouTube and notify me here!

            I will go one better. I will write it and send it to the Vatican with the suggestion that it be the antiphon for the Feast of the Chair of St Peter: I do no-o-o-o-o-o-t believe Papal Infallibility rests on the False Decretals or any other forgeries. No-o-o-o-o-o-r do I believe the Vatican I definition rested on them. Alleluia

          • Anton

            “You cannot do evil that good may come of it (cf.Rom.3.8). Now what went on in Japan is plainly an act of killing the innocent, that good may come of it. (I take it civilians are innocent.)”

            God’s view is that all deserve death. Now, neither Truman nor I is God, but civilians are part of Japan and are as free to bail out of war industries as Japanese soldiers are to refuse military orders. The Christian king/president has to live with his responsibilities to his people and his conscience, which should be God-informed. Neither of those factors can be neglected and sometimes your options come down to the lesser of two evils. I rejct your analogy with Pharaoh.

            “As I understand it, they [Quakers] were unsacramental. I think many key Protestants would not have recognized them therefore.”

            They deviated farther from the Bible as time went on, but I think you will find that early on they simply didn’t require an ordained priesthood to do those things.

            Me: They’ve gone New Agey now. You: “A warning, perhaps – one century, the most serious Christians, then in time, they cease to be recognizably Christian. Such is the chaos of Protestantism.”

            No; such is the chaos of deviation from scripture.

            “it’s that a group of outliers did one thing, and the rest of you did nothing. Contrast that with the Catholics. And the key thing here is missionary zeal, which was lacking.”

            You are placing your definitions to suit yourself; I too would have been an “outlier” in that era, and it is me you are in dialogue with.

            “I cannot follow your argument here, I can infer with some confidence however, that you have judged Newman on prejudice, that is without hearing his defence. Have you read his Apologia Pro Vita Sua? The one thing that books established, even for Protestants, was his honesty.”

            I started it online a while ago but gave up. There is no defence possible for a man who says it is OK for you to assent to words which plainly meant one thing to their writers, with which you disagree, simply because of slight ambiguities. Or who, after his move, consistently used the word ‘Catholic’ to mean ‘Christian’ – an understandable confusion in an Italian or Spaniard, but disingenuous in one who must have known many who were personally committed to Christ within the Church of England. Yes, I accuse him of dissembling in Tract 90 and of disingenuity after his move. It is also unconscionable for him to believe that a doctrine demanding Christians might have to sign up to dogmas yet unwritten should not be formalised if it is believed to be true.

          • Albert

            God’s view is that all deserve death

            God’s “view”? I didn’t think God had views. But I can’t see what difference it makes – we cannot do what God can do.

            but civilians are part of Japan and are as free to bail out of war industries as Japanese soldiers are to refuse military orders.

            What? You think Japanese civilians were combatants? Even the children?

            The Christian king/president has to live with his responsibilities to his people and his conscience

            No leader is only responsible for his own people.

            Neither of those factors can be neglected and sometimes your options come down to the lesser of two evils.

            Sometimes we have to permit the lesser of two evils, but we can never do the lesser of two evils.

            I rejct your analogy with Pharaoh.

            Why? Everything you’ve said here seems to make the analogy fit well.

            They deviated farther from the Bible as time went on, but I think you will find that early on they simply didn’t require an ordained priesthood to do those things.

            I don’t think they ever had any sacraments.

            No; such is the chaos of deviation from scripture.

            I think the two things are much the same – hence the chaos.

            You are placing your definitions to suit yourself; I too would have been an “outlier” in that era, and it is me you are in dialogue with.

            You mean you are unsacramental?

            There is no defence possible for a man who says it is OK for you to assent to words which plainly meant one thing to their writers, with which you disagree, simply because of slight ambiguities.

            You obviously didn’t read enough. Newman’s point is that the latitude required for a Catholic reading of the Articles was already permitted in the CofE for other positions.

            Or who, after his move, consistently used the word ‘Catholic’ to mean ‘Christian’ – an understandable confusion in an Italian or Spaniard, but disingenuous in one who must have known many who were personally committed to Christ within the Church of England.

            As I say, you didn’t read enough. Newman dated his Christian conversion not to 1845 when he became a Catholic, but to his Evangelical experience aged 15. And as a Catholic he could write: I am far of course from denying that every article of the Christian Creed, whether as held by Catholics or by Protestants, is beset with intellectual difficulties; and it is simple fact, that, for myself, I cannot answer those difficulties.

            I think this requires some reflection. You accuse Newman of dishonesty. But you do not wait to hear his defence. You accuse Newman of misusing the word “Christian”, but again, your accusation is unfounded. And then you say this:

            It is also unconscionable for him to believe that a doctrine demanding Christians might have to sign up to dogmas yet unwritten should not be formalised if it is believed to be true.

            Now this sentence is difficult to understand, but I think you mean that if something is believed to be part of the faith then it ought to be formalised. Is that your meaning?

          • Anton

            “You think Japanese civilians were combatants? Even the children?”

            i didn’t say it and it does not follow from what I did say; please stop distorting my words and, if you wish to reply, reply to what I said.

            I wrote: The Christian king/president has to live with his responsibilities to his people and his conscience. You replied: “No leader is only responsible to his own people.”

            That’s why I also mentioned his conscience.

            “Sometimes we have to permit the lesser of two evils, but we can never do the lesser of two evils.”

            OK wise guy, what would you have done had you been Truman, and why? Invade Japan at cost of million GI’s lives? Blockade it? (During both of those actions Stalin would pick off Japanese islands and volunteer the Red Army to join in an all-out invasion and sacrifice a million Russians for part of Japan.) Nuke it? Something else? Please tell me.

            “You mean you are unsacramental?”

            You’d do well to state what you mean by the word, because I deny that ordination is recognised by God as singling persons out for ministering the sacraments. I regularly partake of believers’ communion and regard it as important. I believe one should be baptised by one’s own choice, and I have been.

            “You obviously didn’t read enough. Newman’s point is that the latitude required for a Catholic reading of the Articles was already permitted in the CofE for other positions.”

            I read enough but long ago. Newman is entitled to his opinion but I disagree.

            “You accuse Newman of dishonesty. But you do not wait to hear his defence.”

            That is true. I verified for myself that he consistently used the word ‘Catholic’ to mean ‘Christian’ after his move to Rome, and I believe this is disingenuous in one who must have known many who were personally committed to Christ within the Church of England. That you say he dated his conversion to his 15th year, when he committed to Christ in a protestant tradition, makes this worse, not better.

            Finally, and with greater clarity than I wrote before, papal infallibility implies that Catholics must be willing to accept in advance whatever the Pope declares ex cathedra, whereas protestants can show potential converts exactly what they would be signing up to (as, to my knowledge, can representatives of all other major religions). If Newman genuinely believed that, it is appalling that he didn’t think potential converts should be told so without delay.

          • Albert

            i didn’t say it and it does not follow from what I did say; please stop distorting my words and, if you wish to reply, reply to what I said.

            The only category of people that you can legitimately target in war are combatants. Now if you don’t believe that, please explain your moral theory of violence.

            That’s why I also mentioned his conscience.

            Conscience is not a get out clause. A politician, as every human being has, has duties to anyone he comes into contact with or will be directly affected by his actions. No amount of conscience can alter that duty.

            OK wise guy, what would you have done had you been Truman, and why? Invade Japan at cost of million GI’s lives? Blockade it?

            This is just mad. I don’t have to have an answer to that, to see that the course he took was wrong. Let me make a comparison from the same war: what would you have done if you were Hitler? Wait for the Russians to invade or attack first? You don’t need an answer. Only if one accepts a non-Christian consequentialism does one have to answer that question.

            During both of those actions Stalin would pick off Japanese islands and volunteer the Red Army to join in an all-out invasion and sacrifice a million Russians for part of Japan

            I think we need to remember that Stalin’s declaration of war on Japan was actually something that Churchill and Roosevelt had asked him to do. Why? Because it was assumed that Russia also fighting Japan would hasten the collapse of Japan.

            You’d do well to state what you mean by the word, because I certianly deny that ordination is recognised by God as singling persons out for ministering the sacraments.

            They didn’t practice any sacraments. Now given that some sacraments are of divine command, it is hard to see that all Protestants would recognize Quakers as Christians, let alone Protestants.

            I read enough but long ago. Newman is entitled to his opinion but I disagree.

            But you don’t know what his opinion is!

            I verified for myself that he consistently used the word ‘Catholic’ to mean ‘Christian’ after his move to Rome

            I have falsified that already, with two examples and yet you persist in making the same falsified point. How on earth have you “verified” this, anyway?

            That you say he dated his conversion to his 15th year, when he committed to Christ in a protestant tradition, makes this worse, not better. I cannot see that any defence against a charge of disingenuity exists.

            Apart from direct evidence to show that you are simply wrong on this! That he thought he became a Christian when he became a Protestant, surely shows that he believed Protestants were Christians – as a matter of logic. And this is the point confirmed by my other text. But no. No amount of evidence will falsify your determination to see Newman a disingenuous.

            Finally, and with greater clarity than I wrote before, papal infallibility implies that Catholics must be willing to accept in advance whatever the Pope declares ex cathedra… If Newman genuinely believed that, it is appalling that he didn’t think potential converts should be told so without delay.

            Newman was far from thinking that a convert should not accept what the Pope declares when he speaks ex cathedra. He also explicitly taught that the Pope’s declarations were infallible when certain conditions were met. He was not hiding anything. This is his public teaching – you can see it laid out in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. He simply thought it was unnecessary and unhelpful that that, which he continually impresses upon converts, should be dogmatized. But then, as you haven’t read much Newman, I’m not surprised you don’t get that. What I am surprised about is that you again have such harsh judgements when you are openly in want of evidence and clearly falsified by the evidence.

            Let me give you an example of his teaching on the importance of converts accepting ex cathedra declarations. In an address to a mixed congregation – i.e. Catholics and those thinking of converting, he speaks of the Immaculate Conception thus:

            The Church is the oracle of religious truth, and dispenses what the apostles committed to her in every time and place. We must take her word, then, without proof, because she is sent to us from God to teach us how to please Him; and that we do so is the test whether we be really Catholics or no.

            Now this was before 1870 that he wrote this. You see, he is saying to his congregation that they must just accept what the Church teaches. And how has the Church taught this? By papal declaration, ex cathedra. So your charge against him is just false, lacking in evidence, and contrary to the evidence. Again. Why then do you think it? Because you do not understand Catholic thought, and so you have drawn a false conclusion from the evidence. It amazes me that you seem to operate on the grounds that if someone is a Catholic you can judge them as harshly as you like with no evidence and in the face of evidence. Truth, justice, a fair hearing, none of these things, need be bothered with. And this is the pattern over and over again in conversations with you. But then I suppose since you think that nuking innocent people is a legitimate war tactic, I suppose anything’s possible on your account. After all, if “Thou shalt do no murder” cuts no ice, then why should “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour”?

            whereas protestants can show potential converts exactly what they would be signing up to

            Presumably you are excluding Anglicans in that. But there’s great curiosity. You seem to be arguing two ways at once. On the one hand, you want to say that the Church should not be dogmatizing. But on the other, you seem to say that it should, and that Protestants do. I must admit you are the first Protestant I have ever come across who is so in favour of dogmatizing.

          • Anton

            “The only category of people that you can legitimately target in war are combatants. Now if you don’t believe that, please explain your moral theory of violence.”

            I regard the bombing of enemy armaments factories as a counter-example sufficient to disprove your general principle. Do you?

            I asked: OK wise guy, what would you have done had you been Truman, and why? Invade Japan at cost of million GI’s lives? Blockade it? You replied: “This is just mad. I don’t have to have an answer to that, to see that the course he took was wrong. Let me make a comparison from the same war: what would you have done if you were Hitler? Wait for the Russians to invade or attack first?”

            They had a non-aggression pact and Stalin showed no sign of wanting to abrogate it. Hitler sent the Wehrmacht into Russia as an act of pure belligerence. Perhaps you are thinking that Stalin might have opportunistically abrogated the pact once Hitler started to lose in the west, but Hitler might not have suffered reverses in the west had he not invaded Russia, so it becomes counterfactual. Truman, in contrast, faced a decision based on realtime information. Proper decision-making does not evaluate each option on a Yes/No basis as if the other options don’t exist; it compares them against each other. That’s why I ask you what you would have done in his place. I have given you my answer. Will you give me yours or will you duck the question?

            “given that some sacraments are of divine command, it is hard to see that all Protestants would recognize Quakers as Christians, let alone Protestants.”

            At this point we have to decide some priorities. Anybody who confesses sincerely that Jesus Christ is divine in the sense of the Creator who covenanted with Israel, that Christ is also human, that he died as a sufficient sacrifice for sin and was resurrected from the dead, will do me as a Christian. Without baptism and communion they are missing out on some very important things indeed but it’s between them and God which is more than can be said for people who held another heresy, that it was OK to torture dissenters for confessions. Also, I do not mean to deliberately offend, but I do not consider nonsacramentalists more heretical than people who address prayers to Mary using words that sound as if they are addressing the Godhead.

            “How on earth have you “verified” this, anyway?”

            Online searching of Newman’s writings when I Iooked into him about 5 years ago. I am glad if he didn’t use “Catholic” as if it were synonymous with “Christian” *every* time, but he kept it up and it is shameful.

            “I’m not surprised you don’t get that. What I am surprised about is that you again have such harsh judgements when you are openly in want of evidence and clearly falsified by the evidence.”

            “Clearly” is in your opinion. I have the evidence and I consider that he could be no more convincing than a man in the dock denying a burglary when caught climbing out of a window with the jewels of the house of a man he doesn’t know.

            “if “Thou shalt do no murder” cuts no ice, then why should “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour”?”

            Am I correct to infer that you consider Truman a mass murderer for ordering atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or Churchill for licensing the bombing of the armaments factories in the Ruhr? Or the sinking of unarmed German oil tankers sailing to refuel battleships? As for false witness, that is deliberate lying, which I am not doing. You are free to try to convince me that I have got Newman wrong – I welcome it – but you have not succeeded.

            I wrote: whereas protestants can show potential converts exactly what they would be signing up to. You replied: “Presumably you are excluding Anglicans in that. But there’s great curiosity. You seem to be arguing two ways at once. On the one hand, you want to say that the Church should not be dogmatizing. But on the other, you seem to say that it should, and that Protestants do. I must admit you are the first Protestant I have ever come across who is so in favour of dogmatizing.”

            Anglicans are required to sign up to the Bible and the 39 articles. Other protestants, the Bible. Catholics, the Bible and many papal statements, past AND FUTURE. But I don’t understand what you mean about Anglicans or about dogmatising here.

          • Albert

            I regard the bombing of enemy armaments factories as a counter-example sufficient to disprove your general principle. Do you?

            As a matter of pure logic no. And BTW the definition of the Geneva Convention doesn’t either!

            They had a non-aggression pact and Stalin showed no sign of wanting to abrogate it.

            That’s beside the point. There were good grounds for thinking Stalin might attack eventually, i.e. when he was strong enough.

            Truman, in contrast, faced a decision based on realtime information.

            The point is quite simple, in Christian morality the end does not justify the means.

            I have given you my answer. Will you give me yours or will you duck the question?

            What’s the question?

            At this point we have to decide some priorities.

            Well even if we agree that you can be a Christian without accepting the Lord’s sacraments of initiation, it makes no difference. That would just mean that some non-conformists did mission, which rather raises the question as to why others did not. Now since the Quakers were trying it, you can’t use your “There was nowhere to evangelise” answer. So why weren’t the other non-confirmists doing it? Quakers do it, Catholics do. Now how about the Puritans?

            but it’s between them and God which is more than can be said for people who held another heresy, that it was OK to torture dissenters for confessions.

            Ah the unforgivable sin, from someone who supports the nuking of a civilian population.

            Online searching of Newman’s writings when I Iooked into him about 5 years ago. I am glad if he didn’t use “Catholic” as if it were synonymous with “Christian” *every* time, but he kept it up and it is shameful.

            So you admit your position has been falsified, but you are going to condemn him for it anyway!

            “Clearly” is in your opinion.

            At this rate we are going to end up sounding like Newman’s answer to Kingsley: he isn’t guilty as charged (and we’ve had no evidence at all, for the prosecution).

            I have the evidence

            Well go on then.

            Am I correct to infer that you consider Truman a mass murderer for ordering atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or Churchill for licensing the bombing of the armaments factories in the Ruhr?

            Yes, I think these things were murder, morally speaking, if they deliberately target innocent civilians. I completely understand how it happened. It’s a bit like my feelings on abortion. It’s murder morally, but often in desperation from unlooked for circumstances, not malice.

            As for false witness, that is deliberate lying, which I am not doing. You are free to try to convince me that I have got Newman wrong – I welcome it – but you have not succeeded.

            I’m not so sure. I think someone is guilty of false witness, when they are not informed enough to make the claims they make. Now since you admit that you haven’t even read the Apologia (Newman’s defence against the charge of dishonesty) and since it is evident that you do not know much about his life, then I think morally, you should keep your peace. But you don’t. You spread condemnation without evidence. I think that’s false witness. Imagine what would happen if you did that in court. The fact that you are not deliberately telling lies is irrelevant.

            Anglicans are required to sign up to the Bible and the 39 articles.

            The Bible may be (whatever that means) but not the Articles. Where do you get these things from? I was once at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament presided over by Rowan Williams. But the article says: The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about.

            Other protestants, the Bible.

            And the meaning of the Bible? I mean could I be a Protestant and say “I subscribe to the Bible and therefore I reject your solas?”

            Catholics, the Bible and many papal statements, past AND FUTURE.

            And your claim was that Newman did not teach that. But that is exactly what he taught. You judged him unjustly, on insufficient evidence and understanding.

            But I don’t understand what you mean about Anglicans or about dogmatising here.

            Your complaint was this: A doctrine which is capable of binding Catholics to things yet unwritten should not be formalised as soon as it is realised? Isn’t your view that once something is capable of being formalised, it should be? Now as for the Anglicans, they don’t give a clear and agreed list of things to believe, because they don’t really have one. Go to the Anglo-catholic Church and they will give you Creed, the sacraments, Mary, and possibly the Pope as well. Go down to the local Reform Evangelical Church and they will say the opposite. Go to the next parish in the deanery and find it is liberal, and they will tell you that you don’t need to believe doctrines, you just need to be inclusive. Find a Sea of Faith anti-realist clergyman and he will tell you you don’t even need to believe in God in a realist sense. And in each congregation you are likely to find some of these views. How can someone trying to become an Anglican be told what to believe, when Anglicanism, doesn’t really have set beliefs.

          • Anton

            I asked: I regard the bombing of enemy armaments factories as a counter-example sufficient to disprove your general principle. Do you? You replied: “As a matter of pure logic no. And BTW the definition of the Geneva Convention doesn’t either!”

            The general principle you stated earlier was that non-combatants should not be targeted. If you are going to blur matters between soldiers and civilians who are working to supply them with arms then your line is too blurred to be meaningful – because soldiers are also supplied with food, clothing, radios etc by civilians.

            I asked also: I have given you my answer. Will you give me yours or will you duck the question? You then asked: “What’s the question?”

            Herewith: What action would you have taken in Truman’s shoes to further the war against Japan in August 1945? Some possibilities are blockade, nuke, invade, but I do not wish to restrict your answer to those.

            “since the Quakers were trying it [mission], you can’t use your “There was nowhere to evangelise” answer. So why weren’t the other non-confirmists doing it? Quakers do it, Catholics do. Now how about the Puritans?”

            Contrary to an earlier comment of yours they offered Christ to the Indians of America, which was an English colony at the time:

            http://www.hopeingod.org/news-events/bethlehem-blogs/global-outreach-blog/missionary-puritans-mayhews

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Eliot_(missionary)

            I expect that there were more, but nonconformist missionaries didn’t start communities. Instead, and more scripturally, they offered Christ to people where those people were. Unlike the founding of communities this activity would be beneath the radar of historians. Keep also in mind that the Puritans of England existed as a coherent movement for only about 100 years.

            I wrote: but it’s between them and God which is more than can be said for people who held another heresy, that it was OK to torture dissenters for confessions. You replied: “Ah the unforgivable sin, from someone who supports the nuking of a civilian population.”

            God will decide which of the Inquisition’s torturers are unforgiven, but I wouldn’t wish to swap shoes with any of them. You have already ducked telling me what you would have done in Truman’s place. Here is a further related question. Western Europe was indefensible from Soviet invasion without nukes. If the Soviets had invaded then our plan was to try to stop them by conventional means and if that failed use tactical nukes, then if that failed consider strategic nukes. If the Soviets knew that our nuclear threat was empty then they would have invaded; we know that now from archives. Would you have disavowed nukes in advance? Would you have used tactical nukes in the situation stated?

            I wrote: Online searching of Newman’s writings when I Iooked into him about 5 years ago. I am glad if he didn’t use “Catholic” as if it were synonymous with “Christian” *every* time, but he kept it up and it is shameful. You replied: “So you admit your position has been falsified, but you are going to condemn him for it anyway!”

            I’m not in your courtroom, however much you try to project that illusion in your rhetoric. Newman didn’t use “Catholic” for “Christian” each time he wrote without exception after becoming Catholic, but he did regularly do so – and not exclusively to Catholic audiences. That is what I took pains to verify 5 years ago, and it is sufficient for me to call the practice deplorable in a man who knew many committed Anglican Christians. We are not talking about an Italian peasant.

            “And the meaning of the Bible? I mean could I be a Protestant and say “I subscribe to the Bible and therefore I reject your solas?” ”

            Protestants go by the Bible and accept that different people may take different views of some things in it, under its umbrella. Catholics provide their own interpretation of parts of it, which must be accepted by anyone who calls himself a Catholic. But that is not necessarily the end of the line. If Newman is going to “reinterpret” the 39 Articles of the CoE then the meaning of the Catholic catechism must also be up for sophist grabs, mustn’t it?

          • Albert

            The general principle you stated earlier was that non-combatants should not be targeted. If you are going to blur matters between soldiers and civilians who are working to supply them with arms then your line is too blurred to be meaningful – because soldiers are also supplied with food, clothing, radios etc by civilians.

            Actually, in the Geneva Convention’s definition, the presence of soldiers within a civilian population does not alter the classification of the population as civilian. However, if the target is military (or military industrial) then that can be legitimate, provided every effort is made to protect civilians and the damage done to them is not disproportionate. This being so, I suspect the bombing of the Ruhr was possibly defensible in theory, but perhaps not in fact. The nukes dropped on Japan were morally unacceptable.

            What action would you have taken in Truman’s shoes to further the war against Japan in August 1945? Some possibilities are blockade, nuke, invade, but I do not wish to restrict your answer to those.

            I don’t know. I don’t have his information. However, it is clear that one cannot adopt an immoral solution to the problem, and that I think is what you and he support. I find it extraordinary that you think the burning of the odd heretic is contrary to the biblical worldview, but the burning of children through nuclear weapons is not.

            Contrary to an earlier comment of yours they offered Christ to the Indians of America, which was an English colony at the time

            Not so. These missionary efforts took place within the period when I said they were taking place. They are pretty small beer by comparison with the Catholic missions.

            Would you have disavowed nukes in advance? Would you have used tactical nukes in the situation stated?

            The second is easier. No I would not have used nukes in that way. To do so would probably have resulted in all out nuclear holocaust. There is little point in defending our way of life if to do results in us no longer having life. I do not think it is necessarily wrong to have a nuclear arsenal. The question is prudential: is the risk greater from having nuclear weapons and therefore running the risk that they may be used? or is the risk of war reduced in the first place, because of them? I think this is a hard call. I think the more faith based position is to think that having the nuclear weapons is somewhat faithless. After all, Communism is a corrupt human system – God’s providence can deal with that (as we saw), but if we choose to forestall him by nuclear holocaust, there is little even God will do, except to raise the dead. There is certainly a lack of faith and hope in nuclear option. It’s as if this part of our lives doesn’t fall under God’s sovereignty.

            I’m not in your courtroom, however much you try to project that illusion in your rhetoric.

            How ironic! It’s you that is sitting in judgement (again), this time on Newman. You are judge, jury and executioner, and your trial is only for show since your conclusion is reach despite the fact that the defence has not been heard!

            Newman didn’t use “Catholic” for “Christian” each time he wrote without exception after becoming Catholic, but he did regularly do so – and not exclusively to Catholic audiences.

            Oh come on! If I ask your average Evangelical what the Christian doctrine of justification is, he will tell me sola fide. If I ask what the Christian doctrine of scripture is, he will say sola scriptura. As a revealed religion, we are bound to believe what we believe Christianity is. Therefore, of course I think Christianity requires belief in (say) the real presence in the Mass. That is Christian doctrine. I regret that not all Christians see it that way. I acknowledge them to be Christians, but I think they are deficient, for I think Christianity does include that faith. This is how Newman is using the word “Christian”. He is doing nothing different from what everyone does. And yet he alone stands judged.

            That is what I took pains to verify 5 years ago, and it is sufficient for me to call the practice deplorable in a man who knew many committed Anglican Christians.

            Well you obviously looked without seeing and without understanding. I found a counter example immediately, in Newman’s most famous text. And you show no understanding of how the language works, as I explained a moment ago.

            Protestants go by the Bible and accept that different people may take different views of some things in it, under its umbrella. Catholics provide their own interpretation of parts of it, which must be accepted by anyone who calls himself a Catholic.

            You’re not surely saying that you think every Protestant interpretation is legitimate are you?

            If Newman is going to “reinterpret” the 39 Articles of the CoE then the meaning of the Catholic catechism must also be up for sophist grabs, mustn’t it?

            No, that didn’t follow. For the reason he appeals to latitude in interpretation of the Articles is that such latitude already existed and was granted for other positions. He was exposing the inconsistency of those who wished to exclude a Catholic interpretation. Now this was particularly ironic, for much of the time, Newman simply brought in the Catholic interpretation by appealing to the teaching of the Homilies which were commended in the Articles. Thus Newman’s argument is “If you allow such latitude to the latitudinarians, whose beliefs have no source in any Anglican formulary, on what grounds do you prevent similar latitude to catholic minded Anglicans, who appeal, for their belief, to the very Anglican formularies commended by the same Articles?” I think that’s a fair argument. But it could hardly be said to apply to the Catholic Catechism, since we do not have such latitude in the first place. However, if someone could show that something in the Catechism was contrary to something taught by the Magisterium then yes, the Catechism would be relativesed. But that’s obvious, for the Catechism is in the service of the Magisterium.

          • Anton

            I asked: What action would you have taken in Truman’s shoes to further the war against Japan in August 1945? Some possibilities are blockade, nuke, invade, but I do not wish to restrict your answer to those. You replied: “I don’t know. I don’t have his information. However, it is clear that one cannot adopt an immoral solution to the problem”

            It is convenient for you that you were not in the White House in August 1945. This is not about whether ends justify means but about the alternatives that existed at the time. One was a US invasion of the Japanese mainland at an estimated cost of 1m GI’s lives and as many Japanese. At it turned out many fewer Japanese died than that, let alone Americans, and this was reasonably predictable.

            “These [Puritan] missionary efforts… are pretty small beer by comparison with the Catholic missions.”

            Catholics established missions that were communities with records and therefore visible to historians today – missions, moreover, which the Catholic encyclopaedia I cited stated had their gates closed on the inside. Puritans, in contrast, evangelised people where those people were, as shown in the examples I cited; this activity would not be visible to later generations of historians. Rome has the advantage that its less scriptural model of conversion makes its efforts more visible, meaning that your claim Rome did more mission could be merely an artifact of the way historians write, a selection effect; could it not?

            “There is little point in defending our way of life if to do results in us no longer having life. I do not think it is necessarily wrong to have a nuclear arsenal. The question is prudential: is the risk greater from having nuclear weapons and therefore running the risk that they may be used? or is the risk of war reduced in the first place, because of them? I think this is a hard call. I think the more faith based position is to think that having the nuclear weapons is somewhat faithless. After all, Communism is a corrupt human system – God’s providence can deal with that (as we saw), but if we choose to forestall him by nuclear holocaust, there is little even God will do, except to raise the dead. There is certainly a lack of faith and hope in nuclear option. It’s as if this part of our lives doesn’t fall under God’s sovereignty.”

            Thank you for your views. Really I should have asked what the Christian in a European democracy should have advocated during the cold War – CND, or hold-nukes-but-don’t-use-them-and-don’t-let-the-Soviets-know-you-won’t-use-them, or hold-nukes-and-be-willing-to-use-them. The second and third positions are confused by the fact that democracies change leaders regularly so nobody knows which leader would or wouldn’t use them.

            “How ironic! It’s you that is sitting in judgement (again), this time on Newman. You are judge, jury and executioner, and your trial is only for show since your conclusion is reach despite the fact that the defence has not been heard!”

            Not only am I not in your courtroom, but Newman is not in mine. To call me his executioner is hyperbole, don’t you think? I am simply claiming that some of his writing is disingenuous. It is absurd to deny that Tract 90 was sophistry, and if he was using rhetorical tricks that Anglicanism had itself used then both should be ashamed. You also seem to think that you have disproved Newman’s sophistry in using “Catholic” for “Christian” after his reception into Catholicism by showing he did not do it ALL of the time. but for a man in his position to do it at all is shameful.

            I wrote: If Newman is going to “reinterpret” the 39 Articles of the CoE then the meaning of the Catholic catechism must also be up for sophist grabs, mustn’t it? You replied: “No, that didn’t follow.”

            I thought you’d say that. I’m sorry but I find your reasons for denying the similarity to be sophistry – and sophistry so obvious that I’m not going to respond to it as I’m happy to let readers weigh up your response without further comment from me.

          • Albert

            It is convenient for you that you were not in the White House in August 1945.

            Certainly. But of course, I am not saying I could not make a decision. I am saying that if I were in Truman’s shoes I would have his information, and his advisers.

            This is not about whether ends justify means but about the alternatives that existed at the time.

            No, it is about ends justifying the means. If you commit an evil act because of a good outcome, that is exactly what ends justifying means means. Thus the only question to ask is whether the nuclear strikes were evil in themselves. I say they were, and that answer is not altered by the consequences, unless I am an consequentialist. But Christians aren’t consequentialists, ergo.

            One was a US invasion of the Japanese mainland at an estimated cost of 1m GI’s lives and as many Japanese. At it turned out many fewer Japanese died than that, let alone Americans, and this was reasonably predictable.

            This kind of utilitarian calculus is a very secular way of thinking about things. Isn’t it obvious that Jesus rejects that model?

            Puritans, in contrast, evangelised people where those people were, as shown in the examples I cited; this activity would not be visible to later generations of historians.

            But this argument has already been falsified. We know that Puritans were not doing much in the way of mission because they weren’t prosecuted for it. We do have records of that – as your point about the Quakers shows.

            Rome has the advantage that its less scriptural model of conversion makes its efforts more visible, meaning that your claim Rome did more mission could be merely an artifact of the way historians write, a selection effect; could it not?

            No, for the reason just given. But this claim that it is a less scriptural model is interesting. What model does scripture commend for the situation in which those outside of artificially constructed communities (missions) can simply be enslaved?

            Really I should have asked what the Christian in a European democracy should have advocated during the cold War – CND, or hold-nukes-but-don’t-use-them-and-don’t-let-the-Soviets-know-you-won’t-use-them, or hold-nukes-and-be-willing-to-use-them. The second and third positions are confused by the fact that democracies change leaders regularly so nobody knows which leader would or wouldn’t use them.

            Quite, so it was probably better not to have them. Imagine if someone like Anthony Eden had even come close to feeling he ought to use them? His record on Suez was not great. On which note, the fact that the Israelis have had nukes has not stopped Arabs attacking them. Therefore, I think the confidence nukes gave the West is probably exaggerated, relative to the dangers posed by having them.

            Not only am I not in your courtroom, but Newman is not in mine.

            You have condemned him as dishonest. The irony of this is that his Apologia is normally seen to be a book that exonerates him of that – even by his Protestant opponents. But you haven’t read it. BTW I don’t blame you for not reading it. You can’t read everything. But if you persist in impugning his integrity as an Anglican then I think you judgement cannot be rationally justified, and is unfair.

            To call me his executioner is hyperbole, don’t you think?

            It’s a fairly standard figure of speech.

            I am simply claiming that some of his writing is disingenuous. It is absurd to deny that Tract 90 was sophistry, and if he was using rhetorical tricks that Anglicanism had itself used then both should be ashamed.

            I really think you are not in a position to make that judgement until you read his defence in the Apologia.

            You also seem to think that you have disproved Newman’s sophistry in using “Catholic” for “Christian” after his reception into Catholicism by showing he did not do it ALL of the time.

            I was simply showing that the claim you made was simply false. I was using evidence. So far, we have not had any evidence to defend your claim.

            but for a man in his position to do it at all is shameful.

            Well, I’ve answered that too, and yet you persist in condemning him, without giving a defence of your position in the light of my argument. What am I to make of this? You condemn someone without evidence, then when the source of the evidence for the defence is pointed out to you you say you have not read it, but maintain your condemnation anyway, then, when a rational defence is given of what you have accused him (without evidence) of doing, then you carry on as if no defence has been made. You have not so learned Christ.

            I thought you’d say that. I’m sorry but I find your reasons for denying the similarity to be sophistry

            At the moment of course, “sophistry” is just an accusation that you have made without evidence. But there’s much more going on here. Newman’s argument is that the Articles are read in a particular hermeneutical framework and that that just is how Anglicans read them. He is asking that that be applied consistently. If you think that is sophistry, then you condemn the whole CofE of the time (but surely the CofE is allowed to determine how its own formularies are to be understood). And you do this without even engaging with Newman’s defence in the Apologia, and not even with the points I have raised here.

            What of justice?

          • Anton

            I wrote: This is not about whether ends justify means but about the alternatives that existed at the time. You replied: “No, it is about ends justifying the means. If you commit an evil act because of a good outcome, that is exactly what ends justifying means means. Thus the only question to ask is whether the nuclear strikes were evil in themselves.”

            But all options involved the ordering of bloodshed, so all options were evil. Therefore your way of reasoning this through is inadequate. One has to weigh the existing alternatives against each other, not weigh up the morality of each in isolation. This is about modes of reasoning, not about ends and means. Nor is it knocked down by disparaging it as “secular reasoning”. It can easily enough be expressed in formal propositional logic, with which I am familiar.

            “But this argument has already been falsified. We know that Puritans were not doing much in the way of mission because they weren’t prosecuted for it. We do have records of that – as your point about the Quakers shows.”

            Just as evangelisation of people where they are is under the radar of historians, so is it often under the radar of the authorities. In any case mission to the natives was not illegal in America, I think; or, if it was, that was London’s doing which would not have been enforced in a Puritan society.

            “What model does scripture commend for the situation in which those outside of artificially constructed communities (missions) can simply be enslaved?”

            Certainly not enslaving them inside missions instead! Read that Catholic link I gave. They should be free to come and go – the latter at their own informed risk – should they not?

            “the fact that the Israelis have had nukes has not stopped Arabs attacking them. Therefore, I think the confidence nukes gave the West is probably exaggerated, relative to the dangers posed by having them.”

            I simply think that if we had not had them then I would have been brought up under rule from Moscow (as Moscow’s archives now reveal) and I am profoundly glad that I was not. Whether or not nukes deter Arabs, they deterred Moscow.

            “You have condemned him as dishonest. The irony of this is that his Apologia is normally seen to be a book that exonerates him of that – even by his Protestant opponents.”

            A vicar-scholar friend whose judgement I trust recently read it with an open mind and intensely disliked it. But you have nagged me enough; if you tell me what chapter discusses Tract 90 then I’ll look at it online.

            I wrote: You also seem to think that you have disproved Newman’s sophistry in using “Catholic” for “Christian” after his reception into Catholicism by showing he did not do it ALL of the time. You replied: “I was simply showing that the claim you made was simply false. I was using evidence. So far, we have not had any evidence to defend your claim.”

            I can’t actually remember if I stated words to the effect that Newman NEVER used the word “Christian” but always “Catholic” after he became a Catholic. If I did, please show me where, and my warmest congratulations to you in proving me wrong. It is, of course, a side issue to the fact that Newman REGULARLY did it, which is disgraceful. You keep asking me for evidence but I am not trying to convince you; I am saying that I checked this out for myself 5 years ago in his writings online, and that was what I found. I wrote down my conclusion and I recall the process clearly. I don’t mind if you don’t believe me.

          • Albert

            But all options involved the ordering of bloodshed, so all options were evil.

            No. Ordering bloodshed is not necessarily evil. If a policeman orders a subordinate to shoot a man who is about to shoot lots of innocent people, that act is not evil. However, if all acts are evil, then one simply cannot act.

            One has to weigh the existing alternatives against each other, not weigh up the morality of each in isolation.

            This is just secular utilitarianism. If an act is wrong (e.g. it violate the 10 Commandments) then that act is impermissible.

            It can easily enough be expressed in formal propositional logic, with which I am familiar.

            Formal logic still requires premises, and premises can be wrong. If they violate the commandments, those premises will be wrong. Similarly an conclusion drawn from those premises – however good the logic. That’s a difference between secular and Christian ethics.

            Just as evangelisation of people where they are is under the radar of historians, so is it often under the radar of the authorities.

            But this just means the mission is getting smaller and smaller – which is my point. BTW, to defend your original point you need to show there was mission in Luther’s century. Now if, to do that, you need to go to the next century, and then claim that there’s not much evidence because it was so small that it was under the radar of historians and authorities of the time, then I think that in itself is sufficient to establish my point.

            In any case mission to the natives was not illegal in America

            We know that the Quakers were prosecuted for evangelising slaves.

            Certainly not enslaving them inside missions instead! Read that Catholic link I gave. They should be free to come and go – the latter at their own informed risk – should they not?

            Easy to say from your vantage point. But notice how the state does exercise power to prevent us acting freely contrary to our own good. In wartime (i.e. an emergancy situation) there are all sorts of restrictions, and even in peacetime, there are restrictions – euthanasia is illegal, and so is drug taking. So it’s a prudential judgement. Now you keep characterising this as enslaving them. But that’s not what you article said, and it seems a very harsh way of describing their situation. But you seem programmed to judge Catholics as harshly as possible, even in want of evidence. I wonder what spirit you are of.

            I simply think that if we had not had them then I would have been brought up under rule from Moscow (as Moscow’s archives now reveal) and I am profoundly glad that I was not. Whether or not nukes deter Arabs, they deterred Moscow.

            As they didn’t deter Arabs, why should they deter Moscow? After WWII perhaps the Russians just had had enough of fighting their Western neighbours. They also knew that they were economically not as strong, and so would have known it was not a safe bet even in conventional warfare.

            A vicar-scholar friend whose judgement I trust recently read it with an open mind and intensely disliked it.

            I’m not surprised. Anglicans don’t come out of it very well. But the issue is not whether you like it or not. The issue is whether he can justly be accused of dishonesty. For what it’s worth, I find it immensely moving, although painful to read precisely because his honesty causes him such painful mental struggles.

            if you tell me what chapter discusses Tract 90 then I’ll look at it online.

            It’s discussed all the way through, I’m afraid. A bit difficult to read that much online. Besides, his defence is bigger than just Tract 90.

            I can’t actually remember if I stated words to the effect that Newman NEVER used the word “Christian” but always “Catholic” after he became a Catholic.

            This is what you said (twice):

            I verified for myself that he consistently used the word ‘Catholic’ to mean ‘Christian’ after his move to Rome, and I believe this is disingenuous in one who must have known many who were personally committed to Christ within the Church of England.

            You go on:

            It is, of course, a side issue to the fact that Newman REGULARLY did it, which is disgraceful.

            But I’ve already given an explanation of that and you have not answered it – although I’m sure that you do the same.

            I don’t mind if you don’t believe me.

            You said he did it consistently. But you have provided not one example. I have given you two counter examples (thereby showing that he did not do it consistently), and if there are examples of him doing it, I have provided an explanation of that, which you have not answered.

          • Anton

            “Ordering bloodshed is not necessarily evil. If a policeman orders a subordinate to shoot a man who is about to shoot lots of innocent people, that act is not evil. However, if all acts are evil, then one simply cannot act.”

            But that too is potentially culpable, if you know the consequences of inaction.

            I wrote: One has to weigh the existing alternatives against each other, not weigh up the morality of each in isolation. You replied: “This is just secular utilitarianism.”

            It has nothing to do with secular, and it is incorrect as my point about the consequences of inaction shows.

            “to defend your original point you need to show there was mission in Luther’s century.”

            In your opinion! The first protestants were simply doing their best to survive, and to offer their views to Catholics which some would call evangelism. You are not taking into account that the Catholics already had their structure in place. But Quaker missionaries, puritan evangelists of native north Americans (as named above), and the founding of SPCK late in the 17th century, show that English-speaking protestants were no slouch at mission – and that’s before I start on German ones.

            “you seem programmed to judge Catholics as harshly as possible, even in want of evidence. I wonder what spirit you are of.”

            Cheap shot, and wrong, too, because I do not judge Catholics harshly when I meet them; it is the Roman Catholic system I take aim at.

            “As they didn’t deter Arabs, why should they deter Moscow?”

            You’d need to ask some ageing commies in Moscow that one. It is enough to know that nukes DID deter them, for we now know what they had planned. Read We Will Bury You by Jan Sejna or The Mitrokhin Archive.

            “You said he did it consistently. But you have provided not one example. I have given you two counter examples (thereby showing that he did not do it consistently), and if there are examples of him doing it”

            He did it regularly after he became Catholic; I checked that 5 years ago online in his writings and that is what I found, and I consider it a disgrace. If you want to quibble about the difference between “regularly” and “consistently” then I’m indifferent, and thank you for reminding me that I never said he ALWAYS did it. If you don’t believe my findings then you can check them for yourself, and please no legalistic nonsense about the burden of proof, because I am not trying to prove it to you; I am simply reporting what I found.

          • Albert

            But that too is potentially culpable, if you know the consequences of inaction.

            But that would only follow if consequentialism is accepted. But consequentialism cannot be accepted precisely because it causes one to do something that is immoral in itself, provided the consequences are good. If there is no moral action available, then there is no moral action that can be done.

            It has nothing to do with secular, and it is incorrect as my point about the consequences of inaction shows.

            But as I have already shown, your point about the consequences just is a species of consequentialism, and since you are here talking about measurable consequences, I think it is a species of utilitarianism. But that’s not Christianity, it’s the voice the devil to Christ in the wilderness.

            In your opinion!

            Stone the crows! It’s what your original claim was that started this whole discussion:

            Did you really type that about Luther’s century with a straight face?

            You say

            You are not taking into account that the Catholics already had their structure in place.

            Well, the Puritans of the time were in the CofE and so had a structure – in fact they were typically part of the CofE until 1662, and so much of your argument is moot. For the rest, you seem to be terribly opposed to structure.

            I do not judge Catholics harshly when I meet them; it is the Roman Catholic system I take aim at.

            It isn’t, because for the most part, you don’t understand it, just as you don’t seem to understand the Catholics that, this protest notwithstanding, you do judge: Newman and those missionaries who were saving people from slavery.

            Read We Will Bury You by Jan Sejna or The Mitrokhin Archive.

            Yes, but then there are books arguing that Japan was going to captitulate anyway, not least (ironically, given the use you have made of it), because of the declaration of war by Stalin.

            If you want to quibble about the difference between “regularly” and “consistently” then I’m indifferent

            Consistently, is absolute. Regularly is not. There’s an infinite difference there. After all, if something is not consistent, it is inconsistent – the opposite of consistent. That’s not a quibble.

            I consider it a disgrace

            But you still haven’t addressed my explanation of it.

            no legalistic nonsense about the burden of proof

            Well, let’s just look at this: you have taken it upon yourself to condemn a dead man. You have provided no evidence for it. You have not read his defence of his whole position. Your position that he consistently used the word in one way, has been shown to be false, and you have not answered the argument that what he was doing when he did use the word in that way (if he did, we have had no examples yet), was perfectly reasonable, and what any Christian does in some circumstances.

          • Anton

            “If there is no moral action available, then there is no moral action that can be done.”

            What is your view of the “lesser of two evils” (one of which might be the result of doing nothing)?

            “the Puritans of the time were in the CofE and so had a structure”

            But they were not the dominant party; indeed Queen Elizabeth made sure that they were marginalised within the CoE; therefore that structure was not available to them.

            You wrote: I do not judge Catholics harshly when I meet them; it is the Roman Catholic system I take aim at. You replied: “It isn’t, because for the most part, you don’t understand it”

            I haven’t experienced it from within. As to whether I understand it from without, I have no respect for your judgement here.

            “Well, let’s just look at this: you have taken it upon yourself to condemn a dead man. You have provided no evidence for it. You have not read his defence of his whole position. Your position that he consistently used the word in one way, has been shown to be false, and you have not answered the argument that what he was doing when he did use the word in that way (if he did, we have had no examples yet), was perfectly reasonable, and what any Christian does in some circumstances.”

            I’ll provide my own summary of my position: Newman argued in Tract 90 for a view of the 39 Articles such that Anglo-Catholic clergymen could assent to them while privately meaning what the CoE would take to be dissent. Even if the wording of the articles was broad enough to permit that, such people would not be acting in good faith – and Newman was advocating that they do that. Poor show. As for using “Catholic” regularly for “Christian” after he became Catholic, which I have verified in his writings to my own satisfaction if not yours, that too is a poor show in a man who would have known many committed Christians in the CoE. I am not going to lose sight of the wood for your thickets of obscuration here (including conflating the formal and informal meanings of “consistently”)

          • Albert

            What is your view of the “lesser of two evils” (one of which might be the result of doing nothing)?

            To do an evil act is to do evil. This is necessarily wrong. Thus if the choice is between doing an evil act and doing nothing, then even if doing nothing may permit evil, that is the right moral choice. We are not morally obligated to act, when there is no moral act to do (as a matter of logic).

            But they were not the dominant party; indeed Queen Elizabeth made sure that they were marginalised within the CoE; therefore that structure was not available to them.

            This is all just sounding a bit whiny to me. First you said they had no where to evangelise, but that was false. Then you said they wouldn’t show up on the radar, but that is false. Then we had some claim that the Quakers were themselves non-conformists, but that just shows up how little the rest were doing. Then we were told they weren’t members of the CofE and so didn’t have the structure, but that is false (and as the Quakers show, irrelevant). Now they were too small and marginalised to benefit from the structure (but the Quakers again show that is irrelevant). It feels a bit as if you have a conclusion in search of evidence.

            I haven’t experienced it from within. As to whether I understand it from without, I have no respect for your judgement here.

            Of course you don’t. I’m a Catholic, the whole point is that I am not entitled to a fair hearing – as we have seen on numerous occasions (Newman simply being the latest). But the facts speak for themselves. You continually misrepresent Catholicism. We’ve seen this with various elements of Mary, Missions, Newman and so forth. Given these facts, perhaps it is time you doubted your own judgement, instead.

            Newman argued in Tract 90 for a view of the 39 Articles such that Anglo-Catholic clergymen could assent to them while privately meaning what the CoE would take to be dissent.

            No. This is why you need to forestall your judgement before you do the reading. Newman’s position is the opposite. He is saying that, according to Anglican principles and the Articles themselves his position is loyal and not dissent. Remember: he does things like argue from the Homilies, which are themselves commended in the Articles. So on those points, for example, he cannot be defeated without his opponents being guilty of contradiction.

            Even if the wording of the articles was broad enough to permit that, such people would not be acting in good faith – and Newman was advocating that they do that. Poor show.

            There you go again – what he understood himself to be doing was the exact opposite, and he demonstrates this in the Apologia, the defence of himself which you haven’t read, even though you persist in judging him. But Jesus says “Judge not, that be not judged.”

            As for using “Catholic” regularly for “Christian” after he became Catholic, which I have verified in his writings to my own satisfaction if not yours, that too is a poor show in a man who would have known many committed Christians in the CoE.

            And I have falsified your claim. Moreover, you seem committed to this argument despite the fact that I have answered it (not just by falsifying it, but by showing the practice is reasonable, and widely used). You have not answered that argument, or even acknowledged it. And yet, as always, you regard yourself as entitled to judge the man, as if no evidence is needed to judge him, and no defence, either rational or evidential is sufficient to acquit him.

            (including conflating the formal and informal meanings of “consistently”)

            If by the word “consistently”, you mean nothing more than “sometimes” why did you use the word “consistently”?

          • Anton

            I asked: What is your view of the “lesser of two evils” (one of which might be the result of doing nothing)? You replied: “To do an evil act is to do evil. This is necessarily wrong. Thus if the choice is between doing an evil act and doing nothing, then even if doing nothing may permit evil, that is the right moral choice.”

            The world is more complex than philosophers would have it. Suppose an evil man has set up a situation whereby you are on one end of a seesaw and on the other is a man tied up above an acid bath, while 100 yards away two people are tied to a grenade timed to go off in 10 minutes time. The evil man who did this has gone off. This is a contrived situation but such things serve to clarify logic. What do you do?

            “This is all just sounding a bit whiny to me.”

            In that case we sound the same to each other.

            I’ve nothing to add about Newman as I don’t think you have added anything.

            As for “consistently”, there is a formal and an informal meaning. When it became clear to me that you were conflating the two inadvertently, I clarified.

          • Albert

            The world is more complex than philosophers would have it.

            Precisely! That being so, a consequentialist morality, such as yours simply fails. For you can never know all the consequences and therefore, cannot do the calculation. I have experienced this in my life. I have been pragmatic, when I knew I should have been principled, and then found that some extra harm occurred from my action which I could not foresee.

            Now your see-saw example is not a good one, because on the morality I am defending you can look at consequences, provided you do not break a moral law (say one of God’s Commandments). You could say that getting off the see-saw to save the two has the unwanted effect that the man dies in the acid bath, but that that is not the direct action you are doing – you are saving the other two. In other words, this is a bit like just war. Google “Trolleyology” if you are interested in this.

            In that case we sound the same to each other.

            In that case, again, you need to remember where we started. You wanted to claim that Luther’s century was one of Protestant mission. It is not whining to ask for evidence. It is whining to come up with endless arguments, of doubtful and sometimes contradictory nature, to explain the lack of evidence.

            I’ve nothing to add about Newman as I don’t think you have added anything.

            No I haven’t because you haven’t answered the argument I have given in his defence. Simply repeating your original argument is not to counter my counter arguments.

            As for “consistently”, there is a formal and an informal meaning. When it became clear to me that you were taking the latter as the former, I clarified.

            Fine. So why don’t you answer the defence I gave of Newman’s use of the word? Your condemnation of him is hardly just while he has a defence outstanding?

          • Anton

            I’ve nothing further to add as I don’t consider a response the same as a reply.

          • Albert

            But you will continue to judge Newman, even though there are various defences I have given here which you have neither replied to, nor responded to.

          • Anton

            I consider that I have.

          • Albert

            Show me where you answered this:

            If I ask your average Evangelical what the Christian doctrine of justification is, he will tell me sola fide. If I ask what the Christian doctrine of scripture is, he will say sola scriptura. As a revealed religion, we are bound to believe what we believe Christianity is. Therefore, of course I think Christianity requires belief in (say) the real presence in the Mass. That is Christian doctrine. I regret that not all Christians see it that way. I acknowledge them to be Christians, but I think they are deficient, for I think Christianity does include that faith. This is how Newman is using the word “Christian”. He is doing nothing different from what everyone does. And yet he alone stands judged.

          • Anton

            “If I ask your average Evangelical what the Christian doctrine of justification is, he will tell me sola fide. If I ask what the Christian doctrine of scripture is, he will say sola scriptura. As a revealed religion, we are bound to believe what we believe Christianity is. Therefore, of course I think Christianity requires belief in (say) the real presence in the Mass. That is Christian doctrine. I regret that not all Christians see it that way. I acknowledge them to be Christians, but I think they are deficient, for I think Christianity does include that faith. This is how Newman is using the word “Christian”. He is doing nothing different from what everyone does. And yet he alone stands judged.”

            I don’t accept the analogy and I’ve nothing to add regarding Newman. I’ve explained sola scriptura and why it is not a knockdown argument that the Bible does not itself assert the doctrine: the NT builds on the OT, and the OT doesn’t need a church tradition to interpret it because it is not about the church; your traditions are really exegesis for a Greek-philosophical culture and no more authoritative than an exegesis by an Amazonian native for Amazonians. Regarding the real presence, it really does depend on what “is” means in “this is my body” – a phrase which is in scripture and therefore undeniable.

          • Albert

            You have just misunderstood my argument. You are confusing the examples for the argument. The point I am making is that every Christian is bound to say that Christianity is what he believes Christianity to be. A Catholic thinks Catholic Christianity is true Christianity, and Protestantism in error. A Protestant will think his Protestantism is real Christianity and Catholicism is in error. Doubtless both will acknowledge most likely that there are other Christians – as Newman does – but when asked what Christianity teaches an Evangelical will give one answer and a Catholic another. In other words, everyone will use the word “Christianity” to name what he believes Christianity to be.

          • Anton

            You are welcome to that as the last word.

          • Albert

            In which case, I take it you will not persist in condemning Newman as you have been.

          • Anton

            That’s up to you.

          • Albert

            No, it’s up to you! I don’t write your posts.

          • Anton

            On further thought, your complaints about consequentialism are improper because you are calculating the consequences of action and inaction in my seesaw scenario, are you not? Truman calculated that nuking Japan would save more lives – Japanese as well as American – than otherwise.

            “This is all just sounding a bit whiny to me. First you said they had no where to evangelise, but that was false. Then you said they wouldn’t show up on the radar, but that is false. Then we had some claim that the Quakers were themselves non-conformists, but that just shows up how little the rest were doing. Then we were told they weren’t members of the CofE and so didn’t have the structure, but that is false (and as the Quakers show, irrelevant). Now they were too small and marginalised to benefit from the structure (but the Quakers again show that is irrelevant).”

            You remind me of John Cleese ranting “What did the Romans ever do for us?!” and getting a long list of replies…

          • Albert

            On further thought, your complaints about consequentialism are improper because you are calculating the consequences of action and inaction in my seesaw scenario, are you not?

            Yes, but only after I have decided that getting off the see-saw is not wrong in itself. That’s the difference. That’s why the standard trolleyology examples are better, because they bring greater clarity to the difference between actions which directly kill innocent people and actions which hough morally neutral or good in themselves, nevertheless have unintended harmful consequences. I think your see-saw example falls into the latter category, but if not then one would have to remain on the see-saw.

            You remind me of John Cleese ranting “What did the Romans ever do for us?!” and getting a long list of replies…

            No, it’s the opposite: Asking “What did the Romans ever do for us?” and getting a list of things which, upon examination, the Romans did not do and do not excuse the Romans for not doing them.

          • Anton

            “if not then one would have to remain on the see-saw.”

            Even if one person dies if you get off (as before) but a thousand die if you don’t? Or the rest of the human race?

            “No, it’s the opposite: Asking “What did the Romans ever do for us?” and getting a list of things which, upon examination, the Romans did not do and do not excuse the Romans for not doing them.”

            Perhaps the Roman Catholics!

          • Albert

            Anton, the Commandment says “Thou shalt do no murder.” You cannot kill innocent people, even if you do it in a good cause, because you cannot do evil that good may come of it. This is what Paul condemns – in fact, he doesn’t even bother to condemn it, he simply shows utter revulsion that anyone could accuse him of doing that. You have fallen for a deeply secular anti-Christian model of moral thinking. Look at the behaviour of Jesus. He could have fallen down and worshipped the Devil and that would have been easier and arguably more effective, but he doesn’t. He could have asked his Father to send multitudes of angels to defend, and that would have spared his pain and convinced the world, but he didn’t. If scripture condemns the moral foundations you rest on, and if Jesus eschews it in favour of following God’s commands, then why are you throwing your lot in those indefatigable opponents of of Christian Bentham and Mill?

            And having done all this, you will still accuse Catholicism of unfaithfulness!

          • Anton

            You are simply ducking hard questions and I assert that no man can avoid consequentialism; essentially you are saying that you are not responsible if the man on the other end of the seesaw dies because you get off it to rescue the others and that the blame is on the fiend who set up the situation. He will suffer after he dies for doing that, but you have to face the situation he has put you in, in which your choices will result in one death or many.

          • Albert

            I am not ducking hard questions, you are. I have said quite plainly and repeatedly that you cannot do evil that good may come of it. I have even quoted scripture in support of that.

            But you are ducking the following issue. I have explained how your consequentialism is contrary to Christian morality. Now you have two options open to you: either you show how your position can be reconciled with Christian morality, or you ditch Christian morality. Now since you are a Christian, I think it odd that you keep arguing for a moral position that you have not defended from a Christian perspective, but which can easily be attacked from the plain meaning of scripture.

            Now, as I have said, your see-saw example isn’t a good one. I have already said that I think I could get off the see-saw, under the principle of double-effect. I would suggest you look at the Trolley examples to find one that better makes the contrast but then you will have to face the fact that you are deliberately and directly killing an innocent human person in order to do good rather than doing good and a foreseen, but unwanted side-effect being that someone innocent dies.

            So let me give you a Trolley example (since you don’t seem bothered to investigate it for yourself).

            10 innocent people have been tied to a track by a madman. 1 person has been tied to a related track. If you do nothing, the 10 will be killed by the oncoming tram, if you change the points, the 1 will be killed but the 10 will be saved. What do you do?

          • Anton

            You say you don’t like my example but is it not the case that you don’t like it because it puts you in a quandary?

            “I have explained how your consequentialism is contrary to Christian morality. Now you have two options open to you: either you show how your position can be reconciled with Christian morality, or you ditch Christian morality.”

            Yet again you present me with a false dichotomy; you have explained that to your satisfaction but not mine.

          • Albert

            You say you don’t like my example but is it not the case that you don’t like it because it puts you in a quandary?

            No, it’s because it doesn’t put me in enough of quandary. Because it is unclear whether one is killing the man, rather than his death being an unwanted side-effect of my action to save others, it doesn’t isolate the moral issue clearly enough to establish anything by it. I note that while you make this accusation, you do not actually address the example I gave.

            Yet again you present me with a false dichotomy; you have explained that to your satisfaction but not mine.

            So explain your position then. How does murdering someone in a good cause not violate the Commandment “Thou shalt do not murder” and the scriptural position that it is not lawful to do evil that good may come of it.

          • Anton

            There is a difference between murder and killing, and that is reflected in the Hebrew of the decalogue too.

          • Albert

            And what is that difference?

          • Anton

            Much as that between manslaughter and murder; check out a Hebrew concordance. “Thou shalt not kill” was the worst mistranslation in the KJV and I’m glad you get it right.

            By the way, if consequentialism is so bad and getting off a seesaw is not an intrinsically evil act then why remain on it even if there aren’t several people to save tied to a grenade 100yds away but there is a man above an acid bath on the other end? Why not get off and say “I did nothing evil” when the man dies?

          • Albert

            As I have said already, in denying consequentialism, I am not at all denying that consequences are unimportant in a act. I am simply saying that consequences cannot morally force someone to do an act which is evil in itself.

            Much as that between manslaughter and murder; check out a Hebrew concordance. “Thou shalt not kill” was the worst mistranslation in the KJV and I’m glad you get it right.

            I deliberately translated it that way precisely to head off the objection. It is clearly lawful to kill people in some circumstances (this doesn’t mean one should necessarily do it). But a circumstance where it is not lawful is when someone is innocent. This is why the Bible endlessly condemns those who take innocent blood. Thus, it is not possible for a Christian to take a consequentialist view of war or violence, any more than he can do so in matters of abortion or euthanasia. All of these things are much the same thing: the shedding of innocent blood for a good cause. That is what the Bible calls “murder” and of murder the Commandment says “Thou shalt do no murder.”

          • Anton

            Do you believe that God will judge people in part on those consequences of their choices which they were able to predict? (I prefer “choices” to “actions” because it may be a choice to do nothing.)

          • Albert

            It depends on whether there was an act to be done which is not morally evil.

            I think the problem with reducing “choices” and “actions” is that they are not the same thing. If there is no moral action to be done, I have to choose to do nothing, even though the consequences may be bad. In a sense, this is what Jesus teaches Peter in the Garden. Peter seeks to protect Jesus – this might not be morally wrong in itself, but it is morally wrong in this example, for a number of reasons , not the least of which is that God has determined that Jesus should go to the cross (we may also add that Peter’s drawing of the sword to defend Jesus was inherently evil because he didn’t have serious chances of success, and thus he was simply going to do harm to others without protecting a good). Therefore, Peter has no moral choice to make, and simply has to watch.

          • Anton

            I thought you might kick up a smokescreen or use a false analogy by which you could reject the recasting of the discussion in terms of choices, since it is fatal to your argument!

          • Albert

            Are you saying that you think I have put up a smokescreen or used a false analogy?

          • Anton

            That is why I said what I did.

          • Albert

            So let’s just get what you’ve done here. You have determined that a choice and an action are the same thing, or at least sufficiently interchangeable that you can just swap one for the other. I replied that you can’t do that, giving reason and example. And you, without explanation, argument or reasoning accuse me of smokescreen and false analogy, and by implication, proceed as if you have made your point. Vintage Anton – this is how it is with you.

            Choice and action are not mutually reducible in this way – although I note that secular utilitarians do sometimes argue precisely your point. So even in making the move you have made, far from making your point stand, you have provided more evidence for my argument: you morality is more secular than Christian.

          • Anton

            Just answer one question, without obfuscation and without your tired rhetorical trick of trying to turn the argument on its head: Do you believe that God will judge us for choosing not to act when we could, and when the consequences of our inaction are predictable? Consider the priest and the Levite in the parable of the good Samaritan before answering. They did no evil act, did they?

          • Albert

            Of course God will judge us in that circumstance, but only because there was a moral course that they could take. But, in order to have any effect on my position, you need an argument for when every action is itself evil.

          • Anton

            I don’t think I do. My comment is enough to show that God does not discount consequentialism.

          • Albert

            No it isn’t. The objection is not to people weighing up consequences of actions (or inactions) where there are a number of otherwise moral options (as in your example). The objection is to the idea that someone can do something which is wrong in itself (e.g. break a commandment) if the consequences of so doing are good. The two cases are entirely different.

          • Anton

            You have said that consequentialism is universally invalid and I have given a biblical counter-example. Now you need to show WHY it supposedly is invalid in some cases but not others.

          • Albert

            [Groan] You are confusing too things which need not to be confused. “Consequentialism” is a philosophical school of thought. As wiki puts it consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct

            That philosophical theory is certainly wrong. But that is quite different from saying that consequences can be morally significant. Obviously they can, but they can never be ultimate – cause you to break a commandment, for example.

            Thus, I have not done what you say I have done. And I have endlessly shown why consequences cannot be the decisive factor in some cases but not others. I even did so, ironically enough, in my previous comment to you.

          • Anton

            That definition is not the one I had in mind and I think you are muddying the waters. A choice is an action, even if only inside our head, and you are introducing an artificial divide between that and physical actions/inactions.

          • Albert

            I am not muddying the waters, I am following exactly a moral position from start to finish. I have not altered my view but maintained it exactly. A choice is not the same thing as an action, that’s partly why we call them different things. But it seems to me that you think God should have said to Moses they the Israelites should only keep his commandments if the consequences are okay. Are you seriously taking that as your position? On those grounds the holocaust was not wrong in itself, just wrong in view of the consequences.

          • Anton

            Nonsense; God’s law DEFINES what is good and evil for man. All this “exactly” stuff is merely rhetoric.

          • Albert

            If God’s law defines what is good and evil, then it follows that it is good or evil regardless of the consequences. That’s the point I have been arguing consistently. You have just defeated, entirely, your own position, in favour of a biblical one.

          • Anton

            Your usual cheap rhetorical trick! Mosaic Law is a national legal code and is simply not going to legislate for situations like those we have been tossing about. It is going to regard the person who put you in the seesaw quandary as responsible for at least one death, but that doesn’t tell you how to behave on the seesaw.

            Jesus avoided questions of the lesser-of-two-evils type; in john 4 he declined to tell the woman at the well whether to marry the man she was (living) with or go back to a particular husband, bearing in mind Deuteronomy 24:1-4. I’d say that in such bespoke situations you have to consult God in prayer and in discussion with committed longstanding Christians.

          • Albert

            Why don’t you give up on the assumption that you understand what I am doing? Yet again, you have attributed to me something I have not done. I didn’t mention the Mosaic Law. You mentioned God’s law, and I simply repeated the formula:

            If God’s law defines what is good and evil, then it follows that it is good or evil regardless of the consequences.

            What do expect me to do, reply to something you haven’t said – like you do to me?!

            I can maintain my position entirely without reference to the Mosaic Law. I can simply agree with you that God’s law DEFINES what is good and evil for man and that therefore, what is good and evil for man is not defined by consequences. That follows of logical necessity from what you’ve said. Now of course, there may be instances where there isn’t a divine law. But I keep saying, I must have said it about 5 times now, that in those circumstances, one can judge the rightness of an action by consequences.

          • Anton

            So you reckon you know what God’s law is in situations he did not legislate in the Bible?

          • Albert

            Yes, it says so in the Bible: For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

            But the issue doesn’t affect the underlying one: if, as you say, God’s law DEFINES what is good and evil for man it follows that good and evil cannot be defined by consequences. I don’t know why you’re arguing with me – my position is entailed in what you said there! You’re arguing with yourself!

          • Anton

            Your one trick again! I’ll take no lessons in what that law actually is from a church that burnt people whom it regarded as heretics.

          • Albert

            What is this trick you keep accusing me of doing? you never even have the courtesy to clearly what you are getting at. It seems to me to be a disingenuous rhetorical move on your part to cover up the fact that you are not engaging with the issue. And your response of course, completely fails to get you out of the pit you have got yourself into.

            I find it odd that you think you have such moral high ground when your own position sanction the direct killing of thousands of innocent children. When heretics were burnt, at least they were first believed to be guilty of something. You favour shedding innocent blood, quite contrary to the plain meaning of scripture.

          • Anton

            Attack as the best form of defence? I do not favour the shedding of blood but the matter of innocence brings in many more considerations.

            I mentioned your trick a little earlier – accusing me of undermining my own position. I am in a pit in your mind; as to whether I really am in one, as I don’t think so I am happy to let readers decide.

          • Albert

            I do not favour the shedding of blood but the matter of innocence brings in many more considerations

            Like what? I find it genuinely astonishing that a follower of Christ can think it right sometimes directly to kill innocent people.

            accusing me of undermining my own position. I am in a pit in your mind; as to whether I really am in one, as I don’t think so I am happy to let readers decide

            You seem to want to hold both these points:

            God’s law DEFINES what is good and evil for man

            and yet at the same time, you subscribe to a philosophical school that holds

            the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct

            Either God’s law define/is normative or something else is. How do you reconcile these two position?

          • Anton

            In response to your first question, I wish to minimise the number of people who die, both if I were in the White House in 1945 and in my seesaw example. It seems that you are willing to see more people die in each case as a consequence of your choices.

          • Albert

            It is unclear to me whether your seesaw example works in this case, because it is unclear whether it is an act of killing someone. I have pointed this out already, and suggested where you will get more precise examples, from which to make your point. Now since you haven’t engaged with those more precise examples, and since I have admitted that in your seesaw case, it may not be killing the man to get off the seesaw, I would think courtesy itself should prohibit you from attributing to me, as you do here, a position, I have rejected and do not hold. But then, your standard tactic is to attribute to people things which they do not believe and have not said. Presumably you think “Thou shalt not bear false witness” does not apply to you where the consequences seem to you to allow you to break God’s law.

            I wish to minimise the number of people who die

            Yes, but unjustly killing innocent people is not a legitimate way of doing that. Let me give you another example. Let us suppose 10 people are sick in hospital and need various transplants, but suitable organs are not available. Suppose an entirely healthy person comes in to visit and it turns out that he could supply all those people’s needs. The trouble is that to do so, he must be killed. Now you wish to minimise the number of people who die and you eschew a position which sees more people die in each case as a consequence of your choices.

            What will you do?

          • Anton

            If you changed your view from your initial one of “I will stay on the seesaw because to get off causes the death of one man regardless of how many I can save” then the fact you had changed was never clear to me; at best I would have had to infer it. As for the question you put to me (which I welcome), it is not an analogous situation and of course he must not be murdered. We both agree that consequentialism is neither wholly invalid nor the only thing to be taken into consideration.

          • Albert

            If you changed your view from your initial one of “I will stay on the seesaw because to get off causes the death of one man regardless of how many I can save” then the fact you had changed was never clear to me

            Where did I say that? Please show me how my position has altered on this.

            As for the question you put to me (which I welcome), it is not an analogous situation and of course he must not be murdered.

            How is it not analogous?

            We both agree that consequentialism is neither wholly invalid nor the only thing to be taken into consideration.

            ?

            Consequentialism just is the philosophical system that say the consequences are the only thing to be taken into consideration.

          • Anton

            If you are expert in philosophy then it should be easy to apply it to defeat me without need of philosophical jargon comprising lengthy latinised words. It is not analogous because in one of the alternatives nobody need die.

            “Where did I say that? Please show me how my position has altered on this.”

            So far as I recall, you didn’t say that you had changed – which is the problem, because you started off with the view that “I will stay on the seesaw because to get off causes the death of one man regardless of how many I can save” but now you say “It is unclear to me whether your seesaw example works in this case, because it is unclear whether it is an act of killing someone. I have pointed this out already, and suggested where you will get more precise examples, from which to make your point.” I think it is up to me what point I wish to make…

          • Albert

            it should be easy to apply it to defeat me

            Well not really because (a) you tend not to understand what I am saying and (b) you tend not to notice what your position entails. You just keep repeating points I have already answered without responding to my answers.

            you started off with the view that “I will stay on the seesaw because to get off causes the death of one man regardless of how many I can save”

            For the second time, where did I say that? Please cite the full paragraph. Here’s the first ting I said about it:

            your see-saw example is not a good one, because on the morality I am defending you can look at consequences, provided you do not break a moral law (say one of God’s Commandments). You could say that getting off the see-saw to save the two has the unwanted effect that the man dies in the acid bath, but that that is not the direct action you are doing – you are saving the other two. In other words, this is a bit like just war.

            That is exactly the position I am taking now. Unless you can provide some evidence to the contrary, isn’t this just another example of you not understanding what I am saying?

            I think it is up to me what point I wish to make…

            Up to you, but at the moment, your example makes two possible points, not one. Secondly, you can be as proprietorial about your comments and examples as you like, but you then go on to attribute to me things I have not said and do not believe. On the one hand you say you get to decide which points you wish to make, on the other hand you are perfectly to maintain despite my refutations that Catholics worship Mary, that I held I should let any number of people die rather than get of the see-saw. Isn’t this the problem of your position: morality which you expect to apply to others doesn’t seem to apply to you – provided the consequences of you violating that morality suit you.

          • Anton

            About the general points you make, we clearly each think that the other argues with selective intelligence, so let us leave it at that. Regarding Mary, I did eventually clarify what I had supposed was always clear, that Catholic worship of her was de facto and merely encouraged by doctrines about her, rather than being part of the Catholic doctrine of the divine. About your specific (counter)example, it is qualitatively different from mine because the people who need helping are already about to die if they do not receive organ transplants.

          • Albert

            About the general points you make, we clearly each think that the other argues with selective intelligence

            You keep attributing to me things I have not said and arguing on the basis of those things. I don’t think you can just brush that off with a tu quoque, unless you are going to bring forth examples against me.

            that Catholic worship of her was de facto and merely encouraged by doctrines about her

            That’s still just wrong. We do not worship Mary.

            it is qualitatively different from mine because the people who need helping are already about to die if they do not receive organ transplants.

            But in your see-saw example, the other people are about to die, unless I get off the see-saw. In Japan, other people will die unless we bomb Hiroshima (allegedly).

          • Albert

            [Anton, this is part 2 in case this part doesn’t show, which it isn’t at the moment]

            I don’t know if the quotation from the False Decretals or
            not, but take out the quotation from the Decretals and the argument still
            stands. Besides, Aquinas was thinking of the pope as acting as head of the
            Council. And this is nothing new – it was set out and followed at councils far
            earlier than the Decretals.

            Papal infallibility is based strongly on the (supposed) writings of
            the early popes of which most proved to be forged.

            It just so isn’t. Look, I became convinced of the doctrine not because I
            believed in the decretals, but even though I didn’t.

            If you think that the 1870 arguments for infallibility are otherwise,
            please be more specific.

            I wondered when you might ask that, for surely it makes more sense to argue
            about what I do believe than what I don’t. Well, it’s fairly standard stuff. As
            you’ve argued about Arianism, let’s start there. Doctrine develops. New
            questions arise. Scripture turns out not to be clear enough on these new
            questions, and so there is a division. But the Church, sometimes after some
            agony, is able to know what Christ gave us, because, as a result of his express
            promise, what he has revealed is with us always. Thus the Church can decide
            such matters, on the basis of the Word living within her by the power of the
            Holy Spirit. Hence, although scripture may not be clear on the answer to a
            question (so with the Arians the issue could not be decided by wooden
            proof-texting, but by knowing the relationship established with God), the
            Church does know what scripture was referring to, because she carries within
            her the reality revealed.

            But if this is the case, how can anyone know which side has the true faith? For
            if it could be read out of the Bible, the division would not arise in the first
            place. Thus, in the nature of the Church, from the very beginning the Church
            has had a marker. The true Church is that which is in communion with Peter, to
            whom Christ said: You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my
            church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you
            the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be
            bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in
            heaven.
            and “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to
            have you [plural, meaning all of you], that he might sift you like wheat, but I
            have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you [singular] have
            turned again, strengthen your brethren.”

            So it is that the Primacy of Peter as found in Rome abounds in ancient
            literature. As time goes on, it becomes clear that when Christians depart from
            Rome they fall into heresy. Again, it becomes clear that sometimes, the only
            way to know which side is correct is to see which side goes with Rome. This is
            particularly clear in the case of Chalcedon.

            So, given the nature of the revelation (transcendent) and the promises of
            Christ, it is antecedently probably that some kind of guide has been given (or
            to be precise, some place where Christ is known to be guiding). As Newman says:

            It is antecedently unreasonable to suppose that a book so
            complex, so systematic, in parts so

            obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be given
            us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could
            possibly, from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its inspiration
            does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are private
            readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is
            historical, what is

            fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is literal, what
            is idiomatic and what is grammatical, what is enunciated formally and what
            occurs obiter, what is only of temporary and what is of lasting
            obligation? Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too exactly
            justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many countries
            where private judgment on the text of Scripture has prevailed. The gift of
            inspiration requires as its complement the gift of

            infallibility.

            Now given the state of NT teaching on Peter and the position
            of the early Church, and the reality of events, it seems clear that the seat of
            that gift is Roman.

          • len

            The heresies of the Roman Church directly contributed for the need to get back to the Truth of Gods Word.Hence the Re formation…
            So it is a double hypocrisy to point the finger to the protestant Church for any ‘divisions’.

          • Ivan M

            You talk as though there were no movements to regenerate the Church from within, Catholics had their own share of puritans, mendicants and functional atheists. If it was not for the limitless greed of the European princes and magnates for the lands of the Church, the so called Reformation would have been a small chapter in the Church’s own history. There is nothing that Protestants can teach Catholics, since every thing they can think of, had its numerous variants in the prior history of the Church itself.

          • Anton

            There is nothing that Protestants can teach Catholics, because Catholics won’t listen. There is a seal on their ears: the lie that their denomination’s teaching is necessarily inerrant. They have to take that off first.

            Movements to regenerate Catholicism from within? Paul III
            responded to the challenge of the Reformation by commissioning a report on the state of his church in the 1530s, the Consilium… de Emendanda Ecclesia, but so embarrassing were leaks of it that Catholics were forbidden to read it! Too bad that Savonarola had been burnt for saying much the same in the previous century. The abuses detailed in this report were too deep to be dealt with by the counter-Reforming Council of Trent, however, which mainly formalised many Catholic practices into doctrines and affirmed those that had sparked Luther’s protest. Some corrupt practices were reduced, but the Catholic church became further centralised and the Inquisition was ramped up wherever Catholic rulers permitted it (notably Spain). In Catholic lands the mediaeval status quo remained until Napoleon challenged the papacy: two prime despots. Even after that Pius IX got away with it until the Risorgimento. Civil rights in the Papal States were shockingly bad.

          • Ivan M

            Please who were St Francis, Pope Gregory, Pope Sylvester and countless others, if not reformers? Every damned movement could be contained and coded in the DNA of the church. But who could resist nationalism, especially after the Roman Catholic Church had done the millenia long work of taming wave after wave of barbarians? The force whose time had come in the form of local barons and magnates? They were the drivers, money being their god.

            I mean how many people really cared at any time about the niceties of their faith. Hence all the appeal to the OT, in particular anything that smacks of a holier than thou attitude, as with the massacre around the Golden Calf, to create sectarianism and strife. Not that it would not have occurred otherwise given the dialectic of history, but the particular fundamentalism of Protestants has never struck me as anything other than special pleading.

          • Anton

            I was, of course, referring to the era after Luther. Francis did his best. I am no fan of Gregory “the Great” whose dualistic and superstitious view of the supernatural permeated mediaeval Catholicism. Sylvester was one of the great villains of church history; instead of educating Constantine on what Christianity really was, he fell for temptation of the riches of this world and closed on a deal that mingled law and grace inside the church (about which I have commented further down this thread). The real church in Western Europe in mediaeval times were small groups like the Waldenses round the Alps and the Lollards in England – held in contempt by the religious authorities of the day, just like Jesus was.

          • Ivan M

            Well you know much more than me about this stuff.

          • Albert

            Not true.

          • prompteetsincere

            Calvin very much did “think mission was necessary”, utilizing Geneva as the global center of a Sola Scriptura Gospel based outreach:
            qualitatively obstructed by the Tridentine Counter Reformation Militants -Roman Catechism in one hand and Roman sword in the other. Hence Geneva today – global center of worldly power.

          • Albert

            I’m not sure that’s quite what mission is – sounds more like a power struggle with Catholicism!

  • BillH

    I came across the words of a John Ruskin lecture today, given some time after he became Slade Professor at Oxford in 1869. It was written about the destruction of Europe over the last few thousand years by other Europeans but may be prescient as to what ISIS are and would continue to do, both here and in the middle

    ” Fancy what Europe would be now , if the delicate statues and temples of the Greeks – if the broad roads and massy walls of the Romans – if the noble and great architecture of the Middle Ages, had not been ground to dust by mere human rage. You talk of the scythe ot time but I tell you time is scythless and toothless, it is we who gnaw like the worm- we who smite like a scythe. It is ourselves who abolish -ourselves who consume : we are the mildew and the flame and the soul of man is to its own work as the moth that frets when it cannot fly and as the hidden flame that blasts where it cannot illuminate.

    All those lost treasures of human intellect have been wholly destroyed by human industry of destruction; the marble would have stood for two thousand years as well in the polished statue as in the Parian cliff; but we men have ground it to powder and mixed it with our own ashes. The walls and the ways would have stood , it is we who have left not one stone upon another and restored its path lessens to the desert. The great cathedrals of old religion would have stood, it is we who have dashed down the carved work with axes and hammers and bid the mountain grass bloom upon the pavement and the sea winds chant in the galleries. “

    • Anton

      And who says that innovation could not have happened peaceably?

  • prompteetsincere

    Our LORD’s Prophetic ‘history text’ is the Prophetic Book of Daniel (+ Matthew 24:15) of which He as The Son of Man is both its historical and Eternal Subject;
    and whose foreordained program also is co-ordinate with that his ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ’ (not of ‘John’). Chs. 1-6 are historical;7-12 Prophetic-historical. Chs. 9-12 (one vision) has been fulfilled in part: 11:1-35, researched by Jean Calvin, demonstrating the historical accuracy of its 135 Biblical Prophecies; the balance yet to be fulfilled. All Gentile history revolves around the People and the Land of Israel “the fig tree” + Matthew 24:32: as also demonstrated by all the Biblical Prophets from Moses, through David to Malachi, consummating in the Prophecies of Jesus Christ.
    Sound doctrine does not “quibble” over which lens to apply to these sacred texts:
    there is only one – the one our LORD Himself employed,
    “When ye shall SEE all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors…….this generation shall not pass, until all these things shall be fulfilled.” + Matthew 24:33.

    The anti-Scriptural void of this teaching in many denominations is both spiritually irresponsible of the Shepherds as it is spiritually dangerous for the sheep entrusted to them by The Son of Man: “And when these things begin to come to pass, lift up your heads,for your Redemption draweth nigh.” + Luke 21:28.

  • IanCad

    Covered a lot of territory here, YG.

    We have The Word. We also have the imaginings of the of the media. Whether ancient or modern, to confuse and beguile the pilgrim on his journey. Buffetings are all around.
    The Word; our Faith; His Grace; sufficiency therein.

    So very true: ” No single apprehension of the End Times is the whole truth.”

  • len

    I see that the subject of’ the church’ has popped up again much as a cork cannot be held for long underwater. ‘The Roman contingent’ which claims to be the one and only church persists in their claim to be ‘it’. Strange really because St Peter was the apostle to’ the circumcision'(never knew that was essential to belong to the Roman Church?).
    Anyway that aside Islam is not the greatest threat to the true Church that Jesus Christ initiated it is undoubtedly that wolf in sheep’s clothing the Roman Catholic institution that calls itself’ the Church’ also much of the Protestant Church seems to be falling under the same cloud of deception in these last days.These two apostate churches will probably join together some time soon?.

    Protestantism is going astray under the false shepherds that seem to have gained control over large swathes of the church but the true Church is alive and well and flourishing under the true head Jesus Christ Himself….

    • Ivan M

      Leninism again eh len? Hehe.

  • One of the conditions for the return of Christ is that non-Christians will be saying, “Peace and safety!” (1 Thes. 5:3). I don’t think too many people are saying that just now.
    On the other hand, “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matt. 24:6).
    It would be much better if people stopped taking their eschatology out of the daily papers.

    • prompteetsincere

      Writ large on the ‘moderate’ palace wall in Tehran is “Peace and Safety”:
      as well as on the appeasement walls of the Oval Office and P4 + 1.