Wednesday, July 11, 2007

News to Some but Why is it News to Some?

This quote taken from the Vatican website.

Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense.

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 29, 2007, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

It is not that we don't have the ability to have faith. We just don't have the magicians who perform the trick.


Matthew N. Petersen said...

I think you are missing the point. It isn't that you aren't saved, but that you don't have the sacraments.

But anyway, the same sort of thing could be said:

Why are Freeland Buddhists (who believe in justification by grace through faith alone, but faith in Amitaba, and grace from Amitaba) not actually members of the church?
Because although they have faith, they do not have Christ. And so according to Christian doctrine, these people, not having Christ, are not Christian, and thus are not members of the church.

Do you still object "It is not that Freeland Buddhists don't have the ability to have faith. They just don't have the magician who perform the trick (of salvation)."?

If so, your position is not at all Christian. If not, perhaps you should consider exactly what the Catholic claims are a little closer. For instance, the same document says "It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church."

Perhaps you should take more time to read the whole of the document, and actually understanding what Catholics believe? The document is only about a page long. Are you incapable of reading all of it? Or do you just enjoy misrepresenting what it says?

The Oracle said...

You bolded the wrong phrase:
"whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church."

And, golly, you are quick.

Matthew N. Petersen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew N. Petersen said...

No, on that point I disagree with them. They think the ecclesial authority flows from Rome. I do not. But I respect them for their opinion, and in no way think they are denying justification by faith.

Similarly I disagree with your brother over numerous issues (say TUL and I). But I do not mock him "look at the ridiculous things he believes!"

Nor do I say "he believes in total depravity!!--thus clearly through his misguided understanding of Christ denying the incarnation." Think discretely.

You're fast too. :-)

Jeff Moss said...

Do you, Evan, or Matt or someone else, happen to know whether Catholics regard other groups with the apostolic succession as "Churches"?

I mean groups like the Orthodox, Anglicans, Scandinavian Lutherans, and others that do have bishops claiming a direct line of succession from the apostles. What do the Catholics think about their Orders, sacraments, etc.?

The Oracle said...

They do consider the Eastern CHurch a "church" but I think the Reformational Denoms, like the Anglicans, they would consider to have specious claims to the sucession. And I quote:


Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term “Church” in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?


The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. “Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds”[13], they merit the title of “particular or local Churches”[14], and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches.[15]

“It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature”.[16] However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches.

On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realised in history.

Jeff Moss said...

Evan, thanks for the info and quote.

The Papists get it wrong about needing to be "governed by the Successor of Peter." The Vicar of Christ on earth is no mere human priest, but the Spirit of Christ Himself.

But at least they're right about this: "It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature." Thus say the Scriptures:

"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread." (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

"Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." (John 6:54-56)

phil said...


Why is it that the more intelligent Christians are, the more they obsess about trivial issues of doctrine?

"TUL and I?" who cares? Does it even matter? Why is it that Christians are always nitpicking for new nonissues to divide them from other Christians?

Surely there are more pressing issues confronting Christendom and the world... two yen

Matthew N. Petersen said...


That's more or less my point. I disagree with Doug on those points, but it doesn't break fellowship (he's practically my pastor).

My objection is that Evan is doing essentially what you seem to think I am doing toward Doug, toward Catholics.

Note my original comment:

But I respect them for their opinion, and in no way think they are denying justification by faith.

Similarly I disagree with your brother over numerous issues (say TUL and I). But I do not mock him "look at the ridiculous things he believes!"

I respect Catholics over our disagreement over the nature of the Church. Similarly I respect Doug over his understanding of the 5 points of calvinism. And I don't mock him for it.

Now look at Evan's original post:

It is not that we don't have the ability to have faith. We just don't have the magicians who perform the trick.

But they aren't accusing him of not having faith, or even of not being saved. He's just pointing and mocking.

The Oracle said...

You strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. The apostasy of the Roman Church is all about the ritual of grace and nothing about the Pope. Are you just using your papal objections so that the inevitable suggestion that you join the RC can be dismissed?
Your quote from John 6 evokes concern in we who eschew ritual cannibalism. The RC takes the heroic pose and says "Yes, it might be icky but is the truth. And by the way, we control the authority which can do the magic so we control salvation." The disciples were grossed out as well and JEsus did not say what Rome says.
[60] Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?"
[61] But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this?
[62] Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?
[63] It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

The flesh is of no avail?
Your turn.

The Oracle said...

Jeff, the same is true with the Corinthians passage. He explicitly says that we can commune with the demons even though the food offered to them is nothing. The Lord's table is up against the table of demons. Not because our meal is magic and theirs really isn't, but because our koininea (communion) is with the family of God. Neither food is magic but our claims of union are serious.

Matthew N. Petersen said...


Have you ever received a Christmas present?

Was it actually a gift? Did you earn it? Was it physical?

Why must Christ's gifts be non-physical to be gifts?

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Also Evan,

I'm not sure what he means when he says the flesh is of no avail. But he isn't saying "all that stuff I just said about eating my flesh...I didn't really mean that."

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Sorry for so many quick posts.

Also Evan, you seem to think that physical is nothing. You have actually stated that explicitely. But your analysis of I Corinthians undermines that.

The flesh offered to idols is nothing, but so likewise by eating it is possible to commune with them. But then likewise, even if the bread is not Christ's body, we can through physically eating the physical bread share in that communion.


Jeff has said nothing Catholic. You score rhetorical points by saying "Catholic" whenever someone says "sacrament." But you know full well that's dishonest. Luther believed in Sacraments. Your brother believes in Sacraments. The earliest fathers believed in Sacraments. Maybe we are wrong, but we aren't Catholic.

Similarly, as you well know, Lewis was not Anglo-Catholic. But he believed firmly in Sacraments, even in the Real Presence. He even said that if there wasn't something magic (his word which you have mockingly assumed) in a religion it isn't a religion, but an ethical system. (It's in Letters to Malcolm.)

So, Lewis said essentailly that you aren't Christian, but just ethical. I disagree with him, but don't you think 1) you should leave off your rhetoric of "Sacrament equals Catholic" you know full well its a lie. 2) You should stop claiming Lewis. He's against you.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Even Mere Christianity says sacraments are a fundamental part of being a Christian. You are no mere Christian.

Jeff Moss said...


I commend Matt's comments to you. They deserve thoughtful answers which take into account the whole scope of the Bible (and if you answer in this way, you'll find out that he's right in what he's saying here :).

The reason I raised an objection to the "Successor of Peter" doctrine was not that I was trying to draw some arbitrary line in the sand, but that this was actually the point at issue in the quote that you posted.

Our Lord Jesus said, "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail." He could not have meant that flesh is incapable of goodness; this would go against many things that His own Spirit spoke throughout the Bible, and the Blessed Triune God does not speak out of both sides of His mouth.

It is true, however, that flesh is of the earth and limited. It is not suited to be the source of spiritual blessings, but it is well suited to be the way in which those blessings actually come to us.

The Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us (John 1:14). Is the flesh "of no avail"? Yes. But the Word of God is the source and center of all good things -- and since His enfleshment He has been all this in and through and as flesh.

arosebyanyother said...

Phil, I agree with you.

Matthew, please stop. You have in essence called Evan a liar and no Christian. You know not of whence you speak.

Jeff, please stop as well. By encouraging Matthew you are only fueling the fire of dissension amongst the Saints.

Evan, please keep posting just as you have done.

Jeff Moss said...


When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth, a group wracked by divisions, he was careful to include "all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours" (1 Cor. 1:2).

However, I see both Evan and Pope Benedict making one grievous mistake: they are drawing lines to separate themselves from others who call on the name of Christ, and they are doing so in ways that are contrary to Scripture.

I hope that by pointing this out, I have advanced the cause of unity in the Body of Christ. The last thing I want to do is be a cause of dissension among the saints. Thank you for your concern.

Matthew N. Petersen said...


Is it acceptable to promote Christian disunity by slandering Catholics, and through rhetorical games lumping most Protestants together with them?

Is it then promoting Christian disunity to call someone on that and tell them to stop?

Also, I think you are missing my point about the five points of Calvinism. I disagree, but don't break fellowship. Please read my posts: the first one where I said I respected Pastor Doug Wilson and didn't break fellowship with him, and the second one where I reiterated that.

Regarding specific charges. Evan knows, or should know, that sacraments aren't exclusively Catholic any more than the doctrine of the resurrection is. Yet he still screams "Catholic" whenever someone says "sacrament."

Second, I did not call him a non-Christian. I said that it is dishonest for him to claim Lewis, for Lewis has said more or less that he isn't Christian. I then said I disagreed with Lewis. That means I think he is a Christian.

On the other hand, Evan has said I am not Christian. I said "I think your position is a Christian position...But nevertheless, I believe your position is a Christian position. You look to Christ. Christ is not restricted to the Sacraments."

He replied that just as he cannot call a Mormon Christian, so he cannot call me Christian.

Unless you include Evan in your attack against me, your attack is hollow.

Thomas Banks said...


A commendable concern, but I don't see how Jeff's comments have violated any line of protocol.

Why is there anything wrong with verbally seperating ourselves from those who "Went out from us, but were not of us?"

arosebyanyother said...

Thomas, I appreciate most of Jeff's comments. They are well thought out and gracious for the most part. But I do think Matthew takes things a bit far. (My opinion and not intended as a personal attack.) When Jeff "commends" him it's akin to fueling a fire.

Matthew and Jeff, No personal attack meant to either of you. I would consider you brothers in Christ no matter how much disagreement there was on what Phil called "trivial issues".

Short responses with links to your own blogs for more thorough dissertation would be welcomed.


Matthew N. Petersen said...


On my interpretation of the situation your comments to Evan do precisely what you think Jeff's comments to me do. I'm not saying "I cannot stand your doctrine Evan." But "I cannot stand your divisiveness."

My blog is

I've tried posting responses to threads there, but my blog seems to be where ideas go to die.

Matthew N. Petersen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
arosebyanyother said...

I think all of us in the Kingdom need to support one another as much as possible. I wonder if we posit questions to the blogger on what we think they are trying to say would help... "by saying this are you meaning such-and-such?" and then just leave it at that. It's their view vs. your own. Sometimes things aren't black and white.

I shall visit your blog anon.


The Oracle said...

For the record, both Matt and Jeff are friends of mine. We have had personal chats where these disagreements moved faster and deeper. We don't see eye to eye. They are trying to be faithful to Christ and Christendom.
Rose, though I don't know you, thank you for your comments.

Jeff Moss said...

Rose, Evan, Matt, and Tom,

I made an attempt to distill the issues about who is a Christian, and how to relate to those who believe differently from ourselves, into a few paragraphs (still really more question than answer). It's here on my blog in case you care to take a look.

arosebyanyother said...


I looked and will repeat here what I said there...

An exceptional post!!!

Thank you!


Matthew N. Petersen said...

And thanks for that comment Evan.


Jeff Moss said...

Why is there anything wrong with verbally seperating ourselves from those who "Went out from us, but were not of us?"

Tom, there's nothing wrong with it--as long as you can prove that this is really the case.

The Apostle John's words that you quoted (1 John 2:19) were about those antichrists who denied that Jesus was the Christ come in the flesh. Similar situations exist today with the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. Mormons deny the Bible's clear teaching that God does not change (Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6). They also alter many other things so deeply at the heart of the faith that they have in effect exchanged God for a different god--just like the Muslims. The JWs' error is not quite as serious, but still deadly: they resurrect the old Arian heresy, denying that "Christ [is] the eternally blessed God" (Romans 9:5).

Catholics are in a very dangerous position, but I don't think we can say that they as a body are "not of us" (i.e. not of the Church). They (still) believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in His Son Jesus Christ who became man for our sake, in the Holy Spirit of God, in salvation by the grace of God through Christ, and in the resurrection of the dead to eternal blessings and punishments.

"And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12). Despite their abuses and idolatrous practices, the Roman Catholic Church has not abandoned the Son of God.

The same could be said for the Orthodox Church, (most) Anglicans, (most) Presbyterians, etc. Rejection of the Father and the Son has a much firmer foothold in the mainline Protestant churches than in Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

The Oracle said...

You are correct in saying that the orthodox faiths are well within the confines of Christianity regarding their theism. Do you think it possible that someone's theism could be correct and preach a gospel that was damnable (St. Paul in Galatians)?
That is where we seem to differ. Who God is, is one question, what we must be to see Him is another.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

If I may interpose, I think the problem in Galatians was that they interposed someting else, making Christ subservient to something else. So they said Law, Christ to get us there. But the Christian message is Christ.

On that point, the Sacraments are not in themselves a denial of Christ. It may be (as you argue) that Christ is not in the sacraments. But to claim, as C. S. Lewis did in his poem No Beauty We Could Desire, that just as we see God through the man who is God, so likewise we see the Man through the Bread which is Him, is not to make Christ subservient to something external, anymore than believing this man is God is idolatry (as it seems to Jews).

And strictly speaking, though Christ may not choose this physical, the flesh in some sense does indeed count for nearly everything. If the flesh (and since in that passage from John flesh is short for flesh and blood, flesh and blood) counts for nothing, we are not reconciled to the Father (Colossians 1:21-2), and we have no access to the Holy of Holies (through the blood of the new covenant, and through the veil of His flesh, See Hebrews 10:20).

And similarly there is no resurrection of the body "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."

Likewise "flesh" does not mean simply physical, for in Galatians we see that Isaac is not Abraham's son according to the flesh (that's Ishmael), yet if Isaac isn't actually Abraham's son, physically through fleshly sexual generation, the promise to Abraham is not fulfilled.

So the question is not whether we should look to flesh (we after all must look to Christ for there is no other name by which we must be saved) but whether this physical thing is indeed connected to God.

Nor is the question whether this physical thing enters into us externally. Do Christians believe we are saved by what comes into the body? Yes. We certianly don't believe we are saved by what comes out of the body. That's works salvation.

So the real question is whether the Bible says This bread which comes into us from outside (that is, it is given graciously) is, or is used by, God.

And it is much more difficult to argue that asserting it is is a denial of the gospel.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Which explains why I found your previous post a denial of salvation by grace. (By the way, how does one fulfill the sacraments without fulfilling the sacrament of confession?)

You said: "The Christian version of worldly religion makes what goes into your mouth a necessary (for salvation and orthodoxy) while what comes out is measured without any necessity and much mercy without repentance and relative allowance."

But the whole point of the Gospel is that what goes into us (that is, is not in us, but comes to us by grace) is necessary.

And "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." What comes out of a mouth is what is in the heart. And we are not saved by what is in our heart. We are saved by what goes into our heart. Grace alone!

Matthew N. Petersen said...

And picking up on the theme from Colossians (I'd post these on my blog, but almost none of this audience reads it), "As you therefore received Christ Jesus so live in Him." But how did they receive Christ Jesus? Through his Flesh which brought reconciliation with the Father.

So how are we to live in him? Rooted and built up in his flesh. All the fullness of Godhead dwells in Him bodily.

And so later in Colossians, let no one lead you astray through empty philosophy and vain conceit which rely on the traditions of man, and not on Christ.

But Christ is the physical man, and it is in his body that all the fullness of Godhead dwells. And so that verse could be read "let no one lead you astray through empty philosophy and vain conceit which rely on the traditions of man, and not on Christ's flesh."

Matthew N. Petersen said...

I deleted one of my posts. I think it was a bit too harsh.