Archive for the ‘Christian Liberty’ Category

Christian Liberty, the Roman Communion, and Inerrancy

January 27, 2012

As Christians, we have a lot of liberty.  We can eat meat or abstain from eating it.  We can drink or abstain from drinking.  Moreover, in things about which Scripture has nothing to say, we have the Christian liberty to have a variety of opinions.

In theory, Rome’s communion has a similar policy.  They have more rigid rules about eating (sorry guys, it’s Friday, can’t have the bacon cheeseburger), but in theory they have a lot of leeway in theology.  If there is no “defined dogma” then those in Rome’s communion are (generally speaking) allowed to believe whatever they like.  Moreover, if there is no “official teaching,” those in Rome’s communion are (again, generally speaking) allowed to express their opinion.

So, it is with some amusement that I have been watching a certain e-pologist for the Roman communion who has been spending his time in an extended blog war with one of Rome’s actual apologists over the latter’s promotion of some video.  The video speculates about whether the NASA footage of the moon landing is genuine.

Let’s be clear about something – Rome has no official teaching or dogmatic definition regarding whether the moon landings happened, or whether the footage of them is real.  So, in theory, members of Rome’s communion should be free to hold various opinions about the subject.

I feel a little sorry for the real apologist who finds himself at the receiving end of the abuse from e-apologist over his views on the moon landing.  The only apparent motivation for the abuse from the e-pologist is to make the real apologist look bad for holding views that a lot of people will think are kooky.  Maybe the views are kooky, but he’s supposedly allowed to hold those views.

What’s amusing is that this same e-pologist claims that it’s “not liberal” for people to hold the documentary hypothesis! (“Is it liberal to adopt the documentary hypothesis? Dogmatically, I don’t think so, from a Catholic perspective.” source)

Whether the documentary hypothesis is correct isn’t something that we Christians have liberty about – it touches on and denies inerrancy.  But what is Rome’s view on inerrancy?

In summary, the following can be said with certainty: … with regards to what might be inspired in the many parts of Sacred Scripture, inerrancy applies only to “that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation” (DV 11)

(Nikola Eterovic, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” in an Instrumentalis Laboris form, 2008)(but note that this portion of the working paper was not ultimately approved, as per this report)

Of course, previously, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had stated without qualification that “the absence of error in the inspired sacred texts” (15 July 1998) was something to be believed De Fide on a par with “the doctrine on the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff.”  Of course, “without qualification” is the way that a traditionalist would view it.  “Without clarification” is how a modernist would view it.

I understand that the CDF has been given the task of further clarifying the Roman position on inerrancy, but whether they adopt the modernist view espoused in the working paper above, or the orthodox view of full inerrancy, it’s truly remarkable that Rome’s e-pologist(s) (I understand Mark Shea has added to the pile of abuse as well) find it appropriate to bash one more noble than themselves for holding views that are perfectly acceptable within their own communion.

It seems like a classic case straining at the gnat (holding to an unusual view of America), whilst swallowing the camel (the documentary hypothesis).

– TurretinFan

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Mortal Sin of Not Observing Obligatory Holy Days Debate

January 3, 2009

It hasn’t been (I’m not sure whether it is over yet) a formal debate, but there are a series of posts back and forth that started with my rejection of the idea that it is mortal sin not to treat Christmas as a holy day, my affirmation of Christian liberty with respect to regarding days as either alike or holy, and my condemnation of the Roman position as legalism – a sort of modern Judaizing that appoints new supposedly mandatory holy days with even less authority than the Judaizers.

Here’s the index (so far – if it progresses, I’ll try to udpate):

TurretinFan 1 “To the Lord, I will not be Celebrating Christ’s Birth” (link)

Bellisario 1 “Why Protestantism is Theologically Dead! Christ is born! Glorify Him!” (link)

TurretinFan 2 “Bellisario and Rome vs. Paul the Apostle on Christian Liberty” (link)

Bellisario 2 “Defending Christmas- Answering the Spiritually Dead! Romans 14:6 What it really means.” (link)

TurretinFan 3 “Bellisario vs. His Own Imagination on Christmas” (link)

Bellisario 3 “Roman’s 14 :Holy Days and Answering the Un-identifiable One. II” (link)

TurretinFan 4 “Bellisario Swings Again” (link)

Bellisario 4 “Refuting TF once again. The Fallacy of the Apostolic Age” (link)

TurretinFan 5 “Bellisario Burying Himself in the Carcases of More Straw Men” (link)

Bellisario 5 “Turetin Fan’s Crippled Minded Theology on the Apostles Part I” (link)

TurretinFan 6 “Bellisario – Authority Discussion” (link)

Bellisario Burying Himself in the Carcases of More Straw Men

December 31, 2008

More response from Bellisario has come in. I’ll try to address it as thoroughly as possible, in the hopes that he’ll carefully read it and stop attacking straw men. Surely, eventually such wanton destruction of scarecrows will cause some sort of rhetorical carbon footprint problem, and we certainly don’t want that:

I had written: a) The apostles (aside from Judas) are in heaven today. They are not among us any more. So, their case is not the same as the case today.

Bellisario:

My response.

I’m not sure what the apostles being in heaven has to do with anything. My response to the later is, prove it. There is no place in Scripture that tells that their case is not the same today as it was then. And once again TF has to fall into a circular argument to prove his case. The apostles didn’t practice Scripture alone, but, they didn’t have to. Well prove that that changed after the apostles. It is quite clear that it never changed and the Church still is guided by the same means today as it was then. Sure we have no new Divine Revelation, but that in no way means that God changed the way the Church operated based on the fact the the New Testament was written. Next…

Having present his paragraph as a whole, let me break it down, line by line:

1) “I’m not sure what the apostles being in heaven has to do with anything.”

Having prophets around is quite handy. When they go to heaven, all you have is the memory of their teachings. To make sure that we remembered their teachings accurately, the apostles left us the New Testament Scriptures. In fact, the only things we can definitively say that the Apostles taught are those things found in Scriptures.

When one stops viewing Sola Scriptura as a prohibitory rule and starts recognizing it as a practical and logical consequence of “you use what you have and you don’t use what you don’t have,” then one sees the relevance of the fact that the apostles (and their prophetic gifts) being in heaven, not among us.

2) “My response to the later is, prove it.”

Only a moron would deny it. For now, that’s my proof of the fact that “their case is not the same as the case today.” Should Bellisario decide to deny that not having the apostles around changes things, I will happily try to explain to him why not having living prophets/apostles is of significance. Now, someone might try to claim that things are not very different … but that would be a different claim, wouldn’t it?

3) “There is no place in Scripture that tells that their case is not the same today as it was then.”

Sure it does:

2 Corinthians 5:1-8
1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

This passage proves that the case of the apostles is different now than it was then. They are now absent from the body and present with the Lord. I suppose that an exceedingly stubborn person could point out that the Bible doesn’t specifically mention the death of all of the apostles – but no reasonable person thinks that the apostles (aside from Judas) are not absent from the body and present with the Lord. More importantly, Bellisario’s own church acknowledges that all of the 12 apostles have passed on. If Bellisario would like to disagree, let it be with his own church.

But that’s not really the issue – the issue isn’t whether “their case is not the same today as it was then,” but whether their case is the same as the case today. The case today is that we do not have apostles in our midst – we do not having living prophets walking amongst us. Instead, we have the Scriptures that they left us, whose purpose it was to instruct us in all things necessary for salvation.

4) “And once again TF has to fall into a circular argument to prove his case.”

Nope. Another of Bellisario’s breezy assertions, but nothing to back it up.

5) “The apostles didn’t practice Scripture alone, but, they didn’t have to.”

They used what they had, just as we do. To say that they didn’t practice “Scripture alone” is a bit like saying that Moses didn’t accept the book of Hebrews as canonical. It’s a trifling evasion of the issue through the employment of anachronism. And even if a Gerry Matatics browbeat me into providing a sound bite that “Moses didn’t accept the canonicity of the Book of Hebrews,” it really wouldn’t change anything.

I think it is important to note the particular rhetorical ploy that Bellisario (and Matatics) have tried to employ. They want to cast the issue in terms of that word “only,” as though Scripture should have to expressly say, “and when there are no prophets, you don’t use them as a rule of faith,” instead of identifying several rules, all of which we accept, when they are available. But we don’t have prophets today – we don’t have God speaking from the sky, we only have Scripture. What Bellisario seems to overlook is that even though the Apostles accepted the living prophets, Jesus himself, and visions from God, they didn’t accept the “Infallible Authoritative Tradition” of alleged ability to generate new doctrines over time. We phrase our doctrine “Sola Scriptura” simply because we don’t have Jesus and the Prophets among us. If we did, it would be “Jesus, Scripture, and the Prophets alone.”

6) “Well prove that that changed after the apostles.”

The claim is not that the “use what you have and don’t use what you don’t have” principle changed, but that it remained the same. The only thing that changed is that the apostles and prophets stopped providing us with prophecy, and consequently all we have today (in terms of revelation from God) is the Scriptures.

7) “It is quite clear that it never changed and the Church still is guided by the same means today as it was then.”

The church today is still guided by the Scriptures, as it was then. The apostles themselves no longer personally guide the church. So, no – it is not “the same means today” as then, at least in respect to the personal guidance of the apostles. Still, since the Apostles left behind the New Testament, and since they did so for our instruction, it is almost as if they were still here.

8) “Sure we have no new Divine Revelation, but that in no way means that God changed the way the Church operated based on the fact the the New Testament was written.”

It sure looks and quacks like a change, not to have new Divine revelation. For some reason, though, Bellisario doesn’t think it is a change. Or perhaps he doesn’t think that the delivery of new revelation was a church operation. Regardless, the essential operations of the church are unchanged, but the church operated subservient to revelation from the start – now the only available reliable source of special revelation is the Scriptures, since we no longer have the Apostles and prophets in our midst.

In the next section, I had written: “b) To say that the ‘apostles were being guided by the Church’ is a bit odd. We never see any examples of the apostles saying that they believed something on the testimony of ‘the Church’.”

Bellisario replied:

Uhmm, they were establishing the Church, they however were members of it guided by the Holy Spirit, in which they passed down the same practices to their followers, which also by the admittance of James White himself (See his debate with Matatics) did not practice Sola Scriptura. And there is not one ounce of proof that anyone after them did either. The Scriptures of the NT themselves don’t attest to it and in fact fall in line with that of the apostles telling us (the Church) to follow both the Oral and written Word of God. Keep grasping at straws…this is fun..

Again, I’ll go line by line.

1) “Uhmm, they were establishing the Church, they however were members of it guided by the Holy Spirit, in which they passed down the same practices to their followers, which also by the admittance of James White himself (See his debate with Matatics) did not practice Sola Scriptura.”

This is rather a run-on. Christ established his church. The apostles were simply servants of Christ. I’m glad Bellisario has abandoned his claim that the Apostles were “guided by the church.” They were guided by the Spirit in two ways (as I mentioned): (i) in the prophetic gifts, and (ii) in the way in which all believers are guided by the Holy Spirit. They passed down their teachings (at least those that the Holy Spirit decided were important enough to commit to writing) to us in Scripture. The apostles had the gift of prophecy and were personally taught by Jesus, and consequently they did not rely solely on Scripture. Dr. White acknowledged that truth, as do we. If we had living prophets and Jesus himself in our midst, we also would rely on those resources. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura, after all, is a practical doctrine: you use what you have, and you cannot use what you don’t have.

2) “And there is not one ounce of proof that anyone after them did either.”

This kind of claim just shows that Bellisario hasn’t read William Webster and David King’s trilogy, “Holy Scripture: the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith,” or William Whitaker’s “Disputations on Holy Scripture,” or William Goode’s work on the same subject. In short, the only person who would claim that there is “not one ounce of proof that anyone after [the Apostles]” held Sola Scriptura, is someone unfamiliar with the mountains of proof provided.

Frankly, even if Bellisario did not read those works, he ought to have read my posts in the recent Sola Scriptura debate we had (he and I). In those posts, he would have found oodles of evidence, amounting (at a minimum) to more than a mere ounce. (Link to Debate)

3) “The Scriptures of the NT themselves don’t attest to it and in fact fall in line with that of the apostles telling us (the Church) to follow both the Oral and written Word of God.”

This assertion was addressed at greater length in the debate I’ve linked to, above. It’s silly to note that the Scriptures don’t attest to what happened after they were written. It’s just a relevant as noting that that December 1, 2008, Jerusalem Post makes no mention of the fighting in Gaza that has taken place over the last week. Writings (aside from prophecy) generally speak about what has already taken place.

Interestingly, Scripture does speak to its own closure, though some try to dispute it:

Prophecy that prophecy will cease when that which is complete has come:

1 Corinthians 13:8-10
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Notification that the book of prophecy is completed:

Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

As for being guided by the written and oral Word of God, no one disputes that the Word of God is any less authoritative when spoken than when written. On the other hand, we don’t have prophets today delivering the Word of God orally, and the only sure testimony that we have to what their oral teachings were are their written teachings (the New Testament) and the Old Testament Scriptures whose authority they confirmed and from which they taught.

4) “Keep grasping at straws…this is fun..”

Just another of Bellisario’s hollow assertions. Moving on …

I had previously written: “c) The apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit in two ways. In one way they were guided just as all believers (myself included) are guided. In a second way, the apostles had prophetic gifts – they were the voicepieces of God, just like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so on. That is not the case today – there are no more such prophets. Even Bellisario’s own church acknowledges that there is no more public revelation.”

Bellisario responded:

One thing is clear, you are not guided by anything holy. I am sorry if this offends anyone, but lets call a spade a spade here. This guy is as bad as his heroes Turretin and Calvin who were both blasphemers of the Church. Let me continue. We still have gifts of the Holy Spirit and that is self evident being that the Saints have many revelations to guide them, not in new revelation, but in hearing God and doing His will, and are given similar gifts that the apostles themselves had. So no, there are still certain prophetic gifts that have never been taken away to keep the Church teaching infallibly. And once again God never changed the way the Church operated later on after the apostles were gone and then started a new form of doctrine called Sola Scriptura. This is a pure delusional and theological fantasy that TF is living in. What kind of fool does he think he is going to convince on such a poor un-apostolic teaching that has no historical basis whatsoever, including the lacking testimony of Scripture?

Again, I’ll respond line by line.

1) “One thing is clear, you are not guided by anything holy.”

This is another of Bellisario’s vacuous assertions, and he cannot back it up. I’m guided by the Holy Spirit and Holy Scriptures. Bellisario would be more prudent to focus on the arguments from Holy Scripture, and to avoid this kind of remark, which starts to look like blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

2) “I am sorry if this offends anyone, but lets call a spade a spade here.”

I do appreciate that Bellisario does not hide his emotions, but lays them right out there. On the other hand, Bellisario’s only got his emotions to back up his claims – so they are just as unfounded as his emotional responses are.

3) “This guy is as bad as his heroes Turretin and Calvin who were both blasphemers of the Church.”

Those who want to be accused of making their church an idol should use exactly that expression “blasphemers of the Church.” If accusing Bellisario’s church of erring is equivalent to “blaspheming his church” then I am guilty as charged – and so are Calvin and Turretin (in whose company I am not worthy to be included). The question, though, is this: am I right? Bellisario doesn’t seem even to be willing to consider the possibility that his church could make a mistake: even the suggestion is apparently “blasphemy,” just as I would consider it blasphemy for someone to say that is possible God made a mistake. For Bellisario, then, “the Church” occupies the place that the Holy Spirit and Scripture occupy in my theology. It is the difference between the anti-Biblical doctrine of Sola Ecclesia and the Scriptural doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

4) “Let me continue.”

Indeed.

5) “We still have gifts of the Holy Spirit and that is self evident being that the Saints have many revelations to guide them, not in new revelation, but in hearing God and doing His will, and are given similar gifts that the apostles themselves had.”

Chrysostom says that the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit had long since ceased in his day. He is considered a “saint.” Does Bellisario want to accuse him of “blasphemy” against “the Church”?

Bellisario makes oblique reference to certain of the “saints” (mostly in the medieval period) allegedly having more or less private revelations from God and allegedly performing various miracles. This kind of comment is a distraction. The “Saints” teachings may be held in high regard in Catholicism, but they are recognized as fallible. Furthermore, the “Saints” who supposedly (in their lifetimes) performed “similar” miracles were generally not the ones who were most active in teaching doctrine.

Bellisario also fails to appreciate that as “self evident” as it may be to him, we don’t simply accept the claims of his church that the various alleged miracles of these “saints” actually happened. Instead, we attribute a lot (if not all) of these alleged medieval miracles to legend and superstition. One should really read B. B. Warfield’s, “Counterfeit Miracles,” to get a more involved discussion on this matter.

More importantly, the church councils of Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II were not composed of wonder-workers. The bishops who (by majority vote) decided doctrinal matters did not have “similar gifts [to those] that the apostles themselves had.” The teachings of Rome are not supported by wonders done by the teachers of Rome.

6) “So no, there are still certain prophetic gifts that have never been taken away to keep the Church teaching infallibly.”

Notice that this is a non sequitur on the tail of Bellisario’s last claim about the saints. The saints aren’t the teachers. But Bellisario seems to be waving his hand and trying to say that “the church” has saints (who allegedly exhibit similar gifts to those of the apostles) and “the church” teaches infallibly.

But the sign gifts that Jesus and the prophets and apostles had were gifts exercised by the prophets themselves. Moses raised his staff and the Red Sea was divided by God. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Paul raised Eutychus from the dead. And so on, and so forth.

What’s more – there is nothing in Scripture about a prophetic gift that is going to make the church teach infallibly. It’s just something that got made up as things went along. It’s one of innumerable innovations that crept in over time. It’s a lovely example of wishful thinking, but wishing the church would be infallible isn’t the same as proving that “the church” is infallible.

7) “And once again God never changed the way the Church operated later on after the apostles were gone and then started a new form of doctrine called Sola Scriptura.”

Scripture has always been authoritative. The only thing different between the apostles time and now is that we no longer have those living prophets. We use what we have. When we have the Scriptures we use them. Before there were Scriptures, people used what they had. When there were Scriptures and prophets, people used what they had.

But though the Scripture is infallible, and though true prophets when uttering divine revelation are infallible, even true prophets were judged by Scripture, once Scripture was given in part! Furthermore, while Scripture tells us that Scripture is God-breathed, and Scripture praises true prophets of God, Scripture does not tell us that teachers in the church never err, or that “the church” as such teaches infallibly.

Like the innovation of Christmas, so also is the innovation of the “infallible teaching of the church.” The latter is much more serious, however, since it undermines the unique authority of Scripture.

8) “What kind of fool does he think he is going to convince on such a poor un-apostolic teaching that has no historical basis whatsoever, including the lacking testimony of Scripture?”

As far as “historical basis,” see above. Bellisario’s refusal to hear the fathers doesn’t mean that they don’t speak to the issue. Bellisario’s refusal to acknowledge the practical nature of Sola Scriptura doesn’t change the nature of the doctrine. Furthermore, the only sense in which Bellisario’s claim makes any sense is in taking the words “Sola Scriptura” and ignoring the qualifications. If Jesus is in front of a person, Jesus’ words are authoritative. If God gives a prophet revelation, that revelation is authoritative. We just don’t happen to have Jesus here among us, though he will return. Also, we don’t have prophets any more giving public revelation from God. And Bellisario’s church admits these two things. In Scripture, the ONLY thing that has infallible authority, aside from Jesus himself and the oral revelation of God through prophets, is Scripture. There’s nothing else. When Bellisario starts looking at it that way, perhaps he’ll understand how it is that Scripture does teach Sola Scriptura, just not the doctrine caricatured (as though the Reformed were teaching that the Apostles should have ignored Jesus, or something like that).

I had written: “Creating new doctrines and rules that were unknown to the apostles is different from asserting the authority of Scripture (which the apostles did) and recognizing the historical fact that we don’t have living prophets as they did during the apostolic times. MB’s complaint here is sophistical rather than sophisticated.”

Bellisario replied:

Uhh no, the apostles did not assert Scripture as the ultimate authority. That is plain, and that teaching is something the apostles did not teach, and that is obviously a new doctrine. I think even your buddy James White disagrees with you there when he readily admits that the apostles did not teach Sola Scriptura, nor live by it.

This is all addressed above. Bellisario’s repetition of his assertions is just that.

Bellisario continued:

This guy isn’t even using rational arguments now. It is his interpretation and he stands there screaming like a child because someone challenges him and his incorrect interpretation. I will continue later if I get a chance and go back to Saint Paul one more time in Romans 14, since TF seems to hellbent on making Saint Paul a condemner of all Holy days, in which we anyone reading the text honestly has to admit that St Paul never even addresses this and is referencing the Jews in these passages. This is a perfect example of what you get if everyone is to interpret the Scriptures to their own liking. They interpret a passage to extend way beyond what the original writer intended it to say. And so we see nothing new under the sun. The same old heresies of old.

I answer:

1) “This guy isn’t even using rational arguments now.”

See above, as to who is using rational arguments. I am quite happy with the record as it stands.

2) “It is his interpretation and he stands there screaming like a child because someone challenges him and his incorrect interpretation.”

Presumably, the children around the Bellisario household scream by writing lengthy essays explaining the errors of their critics’ papers. Either that or Bellisario just makes up stuff, because of a mental or moral deficiency of his own. I’ll let the reader decide.

3) “I will continue later if I get a chance and go back to Saint Paul one more time in Romans 14, since TF seems to hellbent on making Saint Paul a condemner of all Holy days, in which we anyone reading the text honestly has to admit that St Paul never even addresses this and is referencing the Jews in these passages.”

More assertions. There is some irony in his following an obviously dishonest description of the situation with an attempt to impugn the honesty of anyone who reaches a conclusion different from his own.

4) “This is a perfect example of what you get if everyone is to interpret the Scriptures to their own liking.”

On the heels of that last comment, of course, this makes no sense. Either the Scripture is clear (in which case no honest person can reach another conclusion) or it is not (in which case it can be interpreted lots of different ways). There’s a reason for Bellisario’s inconsistency – his position is logically indefensible, so he just piles on the rhetoric. The problem is that the rhetoric itself has meaning. In this case, the rhetoric creates contradictions within Bellisario’s own essay.

5) “They interpret a passage to extend way beyond what the original writer intended it to say.”

This is an assertion. Bellisario is full of them, as we’ve demonstrated. Notice how we demonstrate and Bellisario asserts. That’s the biggest difference between our two positions.

6) “And so we see nothing new under the sun.”

Again, the rhetoric ends up resulting in conflicts. One minute, Sola Scriptura is a novelty, the next minute there is nothing new. Poor Bellisario! If only he could set aside the rhetoric and try to deal with matter rationally!

7) “The same old heresies of old.”

This assertion is very interesting. I wonder if Bellisario wouldn’t mind pointing to the council or pope that first condemned the supposed heresy of arguing that Christians are free not to celebrate holy days? I wonder if Bellisario wouldn’t mind pointing to the council or pope that first condemned the supposed heresy of Sola Scriptura? Anyone want to take a bet as to when that happened?

Bellisario continued:

I will add one other fact in before I conclude. Isn’t it amazing that all of these ancient churches, all over the world for over 1300 years or so celebrated these Holy days, and they obviously were not reading Saint Paul in the same way that TF is doing were they? If TF is right, then why does every Church in existence celebrate Christmas until the “Reformation” and then even only a handful of those rebels were crazy and delusional enough to try and abolish these Holy days? I think that speaks for itself doesn’t it? TF is certainly in the minority of even his Protestant Scripture Alone brethren, let alone the churches in existence before his.

I answer:

1) “I will add one other fact in before I conclude.”

Notice that Bellisario just blithely assumes that his assertions are facts. He hasn’t actually established facts, just made a pile of assertions, but now he wants to “add one other fact.” Let’s see what it is:

2) “Isn’t it amazing that all of these ancient churches, all over the world for over 1300 years or so celebrated these Holy days, and they obviously were not reading Saint Paul in the same way that TF is doing were they?”

Bellisario seems to think that I’m arguing that this passage forbids Christians to celebrate Christmas. Well, either he mistakenly thinks that, or he’s just brought up an irrelevant assertion! How so? Even supposing churches all over the globe celebrated Christmas, that’s not problematic.

If Bellisario wanted to make an argument from the consensus of church history, what he’d really need to try to do is find some evidence that “all these ancient churches” held that failing to go to a Christmas “mass” was a “mortal sin” that caused a person to fall from grace – i.e. that celebration of Christmas by attending a “mass” is necessary for salvation.

Does anyone have any expectation that such evidence will be forthcoming? Not I. I wouldn’t be surprised to see lots of fresh assertions though.

I would add this: the 1300 year number is apparently based on assuming that because the earliest references to celebrations of Christ’s birth occur in the 200’s (A.D., of course), that consequently the celebrations were immediately globally practiced and then continuously maintained until a few mavericks shook things up in the 1500’s. Can Bellisario really document the 3rd-8th century practices of Christianity in the Eastern portions of India? Has Bellisario examined when Ethiopic churches began their celebration? It may well have caught on quickly (initially it would have provided a valuable teaching aid for reminding people of the life of Christ), but the reader should catch on to the fact that what Bellisario says is often not well supported by evidence, though boldly asserted.

-TurretinFan

Response to Hoffer’s Inquiries on Christian Liberty

December 30, 2008

PH wrote:

I would like to get your thoughts on the role of the Church in deciding whether to [celebrate] certain holidays or not.

PH went on to provide the following:

Chapter 21 of The Westminster Confession titled “Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day,” states in part:

“The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God with understanding, faith, and reverence; singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as, also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: besides religious oaths, and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasion; which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.”

The Second Helvetic Confession (1566) Chapter 24 captioned, “The Festivals of Christ and the Saints.” states:

“Moreover, if in Christian Liberty the churches religiously celebrate the memory of the Lord’s nativity, circumcision, passion, resurrection, and of his ascension into heaven, and the sending of the Holy Spirit upon his disciples, we approve of it highly.”

Article 67 of Church Order of the Synod of Dordt (I hope that I got that right) states:

“The congregations shall observe, in addition to Sunday, also Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, with the following day; and since in most cities and provinces of the Netherlands, besides these there are also observed the day of Circumcision and Ascension of Christ, the ministers everywhere, where this is still not the custom, shall put forth effort with the authorities that they may conform with the others.”

Turretin seemed to approve of the celebration of Christmas in his commentary on the Fourth Commandment set forth in his Institutes:

“The question is not whether anniversary days may be selected on which either the nativity, or circumcision, or passion, or ascension of Christ, and similar mysteries of redemption, may be commemorated, or even on which the memory of some remarkable blessing may be celebrated. For this the orthodox think should be left to the liberty of the church. Hence some devote certain days to such festivity, not from necessity of faith, but from the counsel of prudence to excite more to piety and devotion.”

Then, Mr. Hoffer asked:

You talked of Christian liberty, yet all the authorities above provide (at least in these texts)that such liberty resides in the churches, not in the individual.

I answer:
These documents speak of the liberty of churches. They do not deny the liberty of Christians. For example, in the Westminster Confession, the section on liberty of conscience is found in Chapter XX. Likewise, the Second Helvetic Confession addresses “things indifferent” in Chapter XXVII. Similar the Belgic Confession (which is one of the “three forms of unity” in churches that use Dordt as a Normed Norm) contains Article 32, which identifies limits on the authority of the church. I’ll leave Turretin out of it, for now.

PH continued:

If your particular faith community had decided to exercise its Christian liberty and decide to celebrate Christmas would you be obligated to adhere to such a decision?

Faith community? What sort of talk is that? Reformed Christians have churches. If my church decided to celebrate Christmas, there are various ways it could do so. One way would be through holding a Christmas-day service, and exhorting (or encouraging) the faithful to attend. That’s the usual way I’ve seen it done.

What if they tried to require everyone to come? It’s an interesting dilemma. In general, the commands of the church should be obeyed if they do not cause one to sin. On the other hand, the churches ought not to insist on unnecessary things. Unless (as in Romanism) the command were phrased as a condition for salvation, it would be obligatory for Christians who could conscientiously comply.

PH wrote:

And if you are free to disregard the decision of your church on something like celebrating Christmas, does your liberty as a Christian extend to other doctrines as well?

Christian liberty extends to indifferent things.

PH wrote:

For example, purely as a hypothetical, what if you became convinced through your studies of Scripture that 2nd Maccabees should be included in the canon because Jesus celebrated Hanukkah (Jn 10:22), a holiday that is found only in that deuterocanonical/apocryphal text and nowhere else in the OT, would you be allowed to disregard the authority of your church that says that such book does not belong in the canon and hold to the contrary?

There are a number of issues tangled together in that question:

1) John 10:22 doesn’t say that Jesus celebrated the feast identified, but rather that it was that time of year, and that Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s porch.

2) The feast identified is the feast of the dedication (today, in Judaism, Hanukkah corresponds).

3) The feast identified was appointed during the inter-testamental time, as recorded in the apocryphal works of 1st and 2nd Maccabees (1 Mac 4:52-59, 2 Mac 10:5-8).

4) The Reformed churches do not accept 1st and 2nd Maccabees as canonical.

5) The proper identification of the canon, however, is not a thing necessary to salvation – and one is not required to deny that the books of the Maccabees are canonical in order to receive the sacraments. Accordingly, the Reformed churches would not ordinarily excommunicate someone for mistakenly thinking that 1&2 Mac were canonical. Nevertheless, in an ideal world, the elders would make time to counsel them and show them that those books are not canonical.

PH continued:

To posit a different hypothetical, let’s say that your particular Church now authorizes homosexual unions and permits the ordination of homosexual men to become ministers and you disagree with that decision, are you allowed according to the traditions or rules of your Church to dissent?

It depends what you mean by “dissent.” The issue of who can marry and who can be ordained to the ministry is not a matter necessary to salvation. So, if the church taught those things, it would normally be permitted in the church for members to disagree.
However, in these particular examples, the teachings of the church are so clearly contrary to Scripture, that it might be the duty of Christians not simply to disagree, but after attempted reformation (if unsuccessful) to leave.

PH concluded:

I am asking these questions so I can get a handle on your understanding of the limits of Church authority. I thank you in advance for your reply to this query.

I nearly didn’t respond, but at least now I can have the pleasure of saying “you’re welcome.” I hope it is helpful.

-TurretinFan

Bellisario Swings Again

December 29, 2008

Bellisario is at it again. Let’s go through his latest post (link to the post):

MB: “Recently the un-identifiable one released an all out attack at the Catholic Church for mandating Christmas as an obligatory Holy day.”

TF: A couple of blog posts equals an “all out attack”? Does that seem melodramatic to anyone? His “un-identifiable” nonsense has already been addressed previously, no sense in beating that dead horse further.

MB: “He says over and over in his diatribe against me that the apostles didn’t teach it.”

TF: I think it is pretty clear which of the two of us uses the “diatribe” method of writing. But yes, again and again, I have pointed out that the doctrines of his church are not apostolic. This is an important point, for a variety of reasons. It is hoped that with enough repetition, the fact will eventually sink in.

MB: “The apostles didn’t need it.”

TF: Because of the style in which Bellisario’s post is written, it is a little unclear whether he is trying to repeat what he thinks I was saying, or whether he is trying to argue that his church is really free to make up all sorts of things that the apostles never taught.

MB: “The apostles didn’t teach any of these things that Rome is teaching, then he comically appeals to Sacred Scripture of the New Testament and twists it to his own liking to refute the Catholic Church’s position on the subject.”

TF: If you delete the opinionated portions of that sentence, you’re left with: “The apostles didn’t teach any of these things that Rome is teaching, then he appeals to Sacred Scripture of the New Testament and uses it to refute Rome’s position on the subject.” Now, what on earth would be wrong with that? Nothing. That’s a clue that Bellisario is just blowing smoke, to put it nicely.

MB: “He rattles off like a parrot that the apostles didn’t do it, yet what he is doing is also unknown to the apostles; that is appealing to Scripture alone for his doctrines.”

TF: Again, we have to apply a rhetoric filter to Bellisario’s banter. After we do so, we’re left with, “He says that the apostles didn’t do it, yet what he is doing is also unknown to the apostles; that is appealing to Scripture alone for his doctrines.”

a) I’m glad he acknowledges that I am, in fact, appealing to Scripture alone for my doctrines.

b) I guess his implicit argument is that if it is wrong to do things that the apostles didn’t do, then I myself am doing something wrong. This argument has superficial appeal, but it’s wrong, because he’s selectively characterized my position.

c) My position is better expressed as, “You use what you have.” Today, the only revelation we have from God is Scripture. In the days of the apostles, they had those with the prophetic gift in addition to the Scriptures. For a time, they had Jesus himself in their midst. We don’t have that today. Jesus is in heaven, and his apostles have joined him there (except, as noted above, the son of perdition). We do have, however, what the apostles left for us – their “memoirs” as Justin Martyr put it.

MB: “The apostles were being guided by the Church and the Holy Spirit, which is still the case now.”

TF:

a) The apostles (aside from Judas) are in heaven today. They are not among us any more. So, their case is not the same as the case today.

b) To say that the “apostles were being guided by the Church” is a bit odd. We never see any examples of the apostles saying that they believed something on the testimony of “the Church.”

c) The apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit in two ways. In one way they were guided just as all believers (myself included) are guided. In a second way, the apostles had prophetic gifts – they were the voicepieces of God, just like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so on. That is not the case today – there are no more such prophets. Even Bellisario’s own church acknowledges that there is no more public revelation.

MB: “It happens to be the same Catholic Church then as now, and Scripture would at a later time, when it was written down, attest to that very fact.”

TF: This is why things like “holy days of obligation” are so significant. Bellisario claims that his church is the same church as the church of which the apostles were a part, but his church teachings things (such as “holy days of obligation”) that are not only things the apostles didn’t teach, but things contrary to what the apostles taught. It is one thing to claim to be the same Catholic Church, but it is another thing to prove it . The early church didn’t have a pope. The early church at Rome didn’t elect new bishops of Rome by a college of cardinals. There was (naturally) no teaching of papal infallibility in the early church, and so on and so forth. There are a myriad of differences between the doctrines and practices of modern Catholicism and the doctrines and practices of the early church. And yet we are told that it is the same church … I suppose we could just accept his claim on faith, but the Scriptures warn us that there will be false teachers. Furthermore, the Scriptures command us to discern the spirits, whether they are of God. If we refuse (as Mr. Bellisario does) to scrutinize our church in view of Scripture, we are refusing to obey Scripture.

MB: “Yet the un-identifiable one uses a means and professes a doctrine that the apostles never did (Scripture Alone), and then he condemns the Catholic Church for doing the same.”

TF: Creating new doctrines and rules that were unknown to the apostles is different from asserting the authority of Scripture (which the apostles did) and recognizing the historical fact that we don’t have living prophets as they did during the apostolic times. MB’s complaint here is sophistical rather than sophisticated.

MB: “This is par for the course with this guy who knows not when he falls into a logical fallacy.”

TF: It’s somewhat ironic that Bellisario would make this claim immediately after employing the fallacy of equivocation.

MB: “But lets go back to the real issue at hand. Romans 14.”

TF: ok … lets…

MB: “He continues to misuse Saint Paul in Romans 14.”

TF: Another claim by Bellisario (have you noticed how he makes a lot of claims but backs them up with the weakest of arguments – if at all?), but let’s investigate whether he backs it up.

MB: “It is obvious that none of the Fathers are interpreting this passage of Scripture like he is doing claiming religions [sic] liberty[.]”

TF: His first supposed proof that I am misusing Romans 14 is that (according to him) “none of the Fathers” interpreted it to refer to religious liberty. Of course, he’s already provided the evidence that shows he’s wrong, for Chrysostom used the passage to advocate religious liberty from the Mosaic law, which was attempted to be imposed by the Judaizers. Moreover, in the same homily, commenting on verse 5, Chrysostom wrote:

Here he seems to me to be giving a gentle hint about fasting. For it is not unlikely that some who fasted were always judging those who did not, or among the observances it is likely that there were some that on fixed days abstained, and on fixed days did not.(5) Whence also he says, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” And in this way he released those who kept the observances from fear, by saying that the thing was indifferent, and he removed also the quarrelsomeness of those who attacked them, by showing that it was no very desirable (or urgent, perispoudaston) task to be always making a trouble about these things.

(source)

As you can see, Chrysostom makes cross-reference to the verse that speaks of each person being fully persuaded “in his own mind,” and calls the regarding of days a thing indifferent. Short of using the words “religious liberty,” Chrysostom could hardly have been more clearly supporting the explanation I provided.

MB: “He ignorantly insists that this passage is referring to the Church as well as the Jews.”

TF: Who is ignorant, I will leave the reader to judge, but “Judaizers” were those within the Church that insisted that to be saved one had to follow the ceremonial law (generally referenced by the metonymy of “circumcision”). They weren’t Jews who rejected Jesus, but Jews (or their followers) who tried to insist on continued relevance of the ceremonial law despite its fulfilment in Christ. So, when Chrysostom mentions the Judaizers, he is talking about people in the Church, not outside it. Furthermore, as already pointed out to Bellisario (and ignored – even while being quoted! – by him) the book of Romans is to the Romans – you know, those in the Church at Rome.

MB: “He also makes his ignorance well known in that he doesn’t even know why Saint Paul is writing the letter to the Romans, nor to whom he is primarily aiming the letter at, nor who he explicitly targets in the letter at different times.”

TF: Another of Bellisario’s bilious claims, and again, nothing to back it up. Paul is writing, as already explained numerous times, to the Romans. And by Romans, he means Romans, not Jews. Thus, for example, he states in Romans 1:

Romans 1:13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

So, we can see from Paul’s own words that he was, in fact, writing to the Romans and he really meant it.

MB: “I pointed out how Paul was talking about the Jews in Roman’s 14:4-6, and their works of the law at the time.”

TF: Actually, what MB said was not limited to that. He said, “He is clearly telling the Jews that it must not be a work of the law.” Presumably, MB has realized that such a position is indefensible, and is attempting to hedge. My own previous words hit the nail on the head, and MB quotes the below, so just read on.

MB: “Yet he insists on stretching the text beyond its original intent.”

TF: Actually, that’s not true. Romans 14:4-6 does not mention the Judaizers specifically, even though they were (we believe) the primary (or perhaps only) group advocating legalism. Romans 14:4-6 is worded generically. It does not, for example, say that whoever regards Yom Kippur does so to the Lord, and whoever does not regard Yom Kippur to the Lord he does not regard it. No, to make a general point, Paul uses general language. Rather than accepting the full breadth of the original intent, MB seeks to limit its application to the Judaizers, who are not explicitly mentioned in the chapter.

MB: “He writes,

TF: The legalism of the Judaizers was the primary error being addressed, doubtlessly. Nevertheless, it is not only Judaizing legalism that is condemned by Paul’s words – he does not limit his comments on diet and days to the Jews, but words his liberating doctrines generically.

TF: Plainly aimed at them, perhaps, and yet not limited to them. In fact, as noted above, the Jews aren’t specifically mentioned in the chapter. What is truly absurd is to suppose that the Old Testament laws given by Moses with respect to days and meats are not binding but that brand new laws are binding! How bizarre! The former had the authority of God, the latter have only the authority of man. If observance of the former is not mandatory, much less so is the observance of the latter

TF: It wasn’t written primarily for the Jews of the time, it was written primarily for the Romans, see the Title of the Book, or verse 7 of the first chapter of Romans, from which the title of the book was perhaps obtained. Furthermore, although it was primarily addressed to the immediate problem of Judaizers trying to impose those holidays, the explanation provided provides a shield against the modern legalism of Rome, which tries to imposes fasts and holidays on its members, in violation of this passage.

TF: I assume Bellisario just cut and pasted these, so I haven’t gone through to check to see if he changed anything. Nevertheless, it looks like what I wrote.

MB: “So we can see that he admits that Saint Paul is really primarily talking about the Jews of the time, yet he doesn’t cease in his intention to make the text say something that is never does.”

TF: That’s not an answer to the issues raised in my comments, just opinion commentary on them. It’s, of course, not my intention to make the text say anything particular. Unlike Bellisario, I am not bound to find some particular answer in this text. I am free to read the text for what it says, and if it condemns my church for legalism, so be it. Bellisario cannot make the same claim, and unfortunately is unable to see that I’m not approaching the text with the same disregard for its authority as he must to be faithful to Romanism.

MB: “Mainly he insists that we all have religions liberty and that there are no mandatory Holy days.”

TF: Yep. That’s what Paul insists, though MB means me by “he” not Paul.

MB: “This is what this guy is trying to get from these passages.”

TF: Nope, that’s what the passage says. Consequently, that’s what I get from the passage. If it didn’t say it, I wouldn’t believe it. But, unfortunately, because of Bellisario’s commitment to Romanism – though the text says it, he cannot accept it, but must try to find some way to ignore the broad scope of Paul’s comment on religious liberty with respect to days and meats.

MB: “It is truly amazing to see this guy trying to get something from the text that is simply not there.”

TF: Another of Bellisario’s bellicose claims, and again he cannot back it up. The text says what it says, which is what I said it says. Bellisario hasn’t been able to show otherwise, and consequently his claims (while exhibiting exasperation) don’t didactically dispute the matter of meaning.

MB: “Saint Paul is talking not primarily, but directly to the Jews of the time.”

TF: No, he is not talking to the Jews, he’s talking to the Romans. In this passage, he doesn’t “directly” mention the Jews. Furthermore, while the Judaizers are the most likely primary reference (since they were the legalists of the day), Paul’s words are not limited to Jewish dietary restrictions or Jewish holy days. He speaks generally and should be understood as he wrote: generally.

MB: “This is what Saint Chrysostom says, and lets just look at another source. Undoubtedly though this guy will dodge it in favor of his own hackneyed interpretation of Saint Paul.”

TF: That’s misleading at best. Chrysostom does certainly apply the teachings to the Jewish converts of Paul’s day. In the portion of his homily on the first verses of the chapter, Chrysostom says:

I Am aware that to most what is here said is a difficulty. And therefore I must first give the subject of the whole of this passage, and what he wishes to correct in writing this. What does he wish to correct then? There were many of the Jews which believed, who adhered of conscience to the Law, and after their believing, still kept to the observance of meats, as not having courage yet to quit the service of the Law entirely. Then that they might not be observed if they kept from swine’s flesh only, they abstained in consequence from all flesh, and ate herbs only, that what they were doing might have more the appearance of a fast than of observance of the Law. Others again were farther advanced, and kept up no one thing of the kind, who became to those, who did keep them, distressing and offensive, by reproaching them, accusing them, driving them to despondency.

But does Chrysostom say that this liberty of conscience understood by the most advanced of the Jewish converts is the limit of Christian liberty as to meats and days? Of course, he does not. In fact, on the contrary, toward the end of the homily, discussing verse 13, Chrysostom begins to make application of the passage to his own congregation:

This does not apply to one less than the other: wherefore it may well fit with both, both the advanced man that was offended at the observance of meats, and the unadvanced that stumbled at the vehement rebuke given him. But consider, I pray you, the great punishment we shall suffer, if we give offence at all. For if in a case where the thing was against law, yet, as they rebuked unseasonably, he forbade their doing it, in order that a brother might not be made to offend and stumble; when we give an offence without having anything to set right even, what treatment shall we deserve? For if not saving others be a crime (and that it is so, he who buried the talent proves), what will be the effect of giving him offence also?

Granted, he does not apply the passage to the legalism of making profanation of holy days of obligation a “mortal” sin, but it’s anachronistic to ask Chrysostom to foresee that abuse.

MB: “Here we see the great biblical Scholar Haydock state the following in reference to this particular passage of Roman’s.”

TF: Before we provide the comments from Haydock’s commentary, it’s worth noting that Haydock was more of the compiler/editor, than the author of the comments. Also, it’s worth noting that this commentary was compiled and published by the papists after the Reformation. So, when reading it, we should be cognizant that this commentary is not of the Early Church Fathers, or anything of the sort.

Here is the block quotation he provides:

“Between day, &c. Still observing the sabbaths and festivals of the law. (Challoner.) — And another judgeth every day. That is, thinks every day to be taken away, that was to be kept, merely because ordered under the Jewish law. And now since both they who keep days, or do not keep them; and they who eat, or who abstain, do these things which a regard to God, and according to their conscience, let no one judge, or condemn the one party, nor the other; in these things, let every man abound in his own sense. It is without grounds that some would pretend from hence, that Christians cannot be bound to fast, or abstain from flesh on certain days. The apostle speaks only of the distinction of meats, called clean and unclean, and of fasts or feasts peculiar to the law of Moses. It does not follow from hence, that the Catholic Church hath not power to command days of fasting, and abstaining, for self-denial or humiliation. (Witham) — The apostle here treats only of the subject in hand, viz. the Mosaic distinctions of clean and unclean meats: and in this he allows, for that present time, each one to follow his own private judgment. St. Chrysostom observes that St. Paul did not wish the weak to be left to their own judgment in this, as in a point of no consequence; but that they should wait for a time. [The converts were not immediately prohibited their accustomed practices, but they were tolerated in them for a while, till fully instructed. This we see in many of the converts at Jerusalem, who were still observers of the Mosaic ordinances; this was tolerated, that the synagogue might be buried with honour. (Estius)]”

(I’ve supplied the omitted portion of the commentary myself, using brackets.)

Surely, everyone who has read those comments reaches the same conclusion: the authors of the comments want to reach the same conclusion that Bellisario wants to reach, but all they have to offer (at least in the forum provided by Haydock) is a bare assertion that nevertheless the Roman church has the power to force its members to observe feasts and fasts. They don’t tell you why, they just insist that the text is limited (though the text itself doesn’t say it’s limited).

MB: “It is complete fabrication for the un-identifiable one to use this passage as he is using it, that is very clear at this point despite the mangled rhetoric he continues to put forth.”

TF: More of Bellisario’s badgering assertions, but nothing to back it up. Rather than show that it is a “complete fabrication,” Bellisario has given the impression to the reader that all he can do is make conclusory assertions like those of Witham and Estius, even while ignorantly thinking that they come from Haydock, and all the while riddling his post with insults.

MB: “The fact is Saint Paul is speaking only to the Jews in this particular reference to feasts.”

TF: Yes, Bellisario, Whitham and Estius think so, but they cannot produce reasons why – and the text itself is not so limited. For someone so insistent on the word “only” appearing in Scripture regarding “Sola Scriptura,” Bellisario is remarkably eager to claim “only” when the text doesn’t say it. There is a rather obvious reason why: if the text is to be understood broadly (the way Paul wrote it), then Bellisario’s church is wrong, is legalistic, and is preaching another gospel than that which Paul preached.

MB: “This is a fact, say what you will.”

TF: One can almost imagine Bellisario sticking his fingers in his ears at this point, in order to have to avoid answering the objections to his method of “claim it early and often.”

MB: “It never says anything about the Church, the liturgical calendar, nor the authority of the Church.”

TF: Chrysostom recognized that the text was directed to the church, and interpreted verse 1 as showing that the passage was explaining how to deal with new converts. Even Estius reusing Chrysostom realized that the text was directed to the church, though he thought it was only to give a decent burial to the synagogues. Of course, it does not mention the liturgical calendar – such a concept hadn’t been innovated yet. And it does place a limit on the authority of the church: “let us not therefore judge one another any more,” includes not only Paul’s Roman readers but Paul too! But even if the church’s authority were not addressed explicitly, it is certainly addressed implicitly, in that if Christians are free to eat or fast, to regard one day or another, then that prevents the church from requiring (as a condition of salvation) fasting or holy day observation by its members.

MB: “He is speaking to the Jews here and the Jews only.”

TF: No. Not even Estius and Witham go that far. He was obviously talking to the Romans. Furthermore, he does not limit what he says to Jewish fasts and feats, but uses general language. Bellisario has no answer for this, and if Witham and Estius have an answer, Haydock didn’t see fit to provide it.

MB: “It is not a “shield” against Rome’s, or the Church’s authority to proclaim Holy days as this guy claims.”

TF: It’s really more of a sword that cuts through the bonds of legalism proclaimed by Rome against the Gospel of Paul and Christ. Bellisario’s remark reminded me of another passage of Paul’s:

Ephesians 6:13-20
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

-TurretinFan

P.S. Upon further reflection, let me summarize the issues:

1) The primary group that Paul probably had in mind with respect to Romans 14 were the Judaizers.

2) Many commentators, from Calvin to Chrysostom, note this probable reference.

3) Nevertheless, Paul intentionally expresses himself in general language rather than in language that would only be applicable to Judaizing legalism.

4) Consequently, it is improper to say that the verse only prevents the church from enforcing the Jewish laws and customs on the consciences of its members.

5) Indeed, it is absurd to think that it was wrong to impose God-given dietary laws and calendars, but it would be right to impose man-made dietary laws and calendars.

Response to Nick on Christmas Observance

December 25, 2008

In response to my previous post (link), Nick has provided some comments:

There are many “home based” non-denominational churches that apply your logic and in effect take away any common day of worship for Christians. The “Lord’s Day” on Sunday is no more binding than say Saturday or Tuesday worship. On top of that, any form of weekly worship is technically not binding, so someone could argue for one day a month.

This logic played a big role in the secular world for stripping Sunday of an religious significance as well as Major Holidays.

Places like Acts 15:28-29 show the Church has the power to dictate practices Christians are bound to (even if those acts are not intrinsically sinful). So based on Scripture, the Church can bind the Christian conscience.

I answer:
a) It’s not “my logic,” it’s a question of what Paul says. If Paul (in inspired Scripture) says that we don’t have to observe holy days, then we do not.

b) Even if people start from that Scriptural principle, and try to undermine the Lord’s Day, that doesn’t make the Scriptural principle invalid. People have been misusing Scripture for thousands of years, but Scripture remains true.

c) Part of the problem for those who try to apply this text (not this logic) to try to avoid keeping the Lord’s Day holy, is that in doing so they must place Scripture against Scripture. Not so, of course, for arguing that we have Christian liberty not to celebrate the birth of Christ.

d) It is rather absurd to argue that it is an exegesis of Paul’s epistle to the Romans that has “played a big role in the secular world for stripping Sunday of an religious significance as well as Major Holidays.” Actually, the stripping of Sunday of religious significance in the “secular world” has been mostly accomplished through arguments for the total separation of church and state. It has also been accomplished through an abandonment of Scripture in favor of hedonism. If there has been abuse of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, it is a contributing factor only at the lowest level. Mostly, the Lord’s Day has been appropriated by men because they are unwilling to acknowledge the creation ordinance of one day of rest in seven, wishing to have all seven days for themselves.

e) Towards the end of the comment, we have something close to an argument (much closer than we saw in Bellisario’s post (critiqued here)):

Places like Acts 15:28-29 show the Church has the power to dictate practices Christians are bound to (even if those acts are not intrinsically sinful). So based on Scripture, the Church can bind the Christian conscience.

Let’s examine what those verses actually say:

Acts 15:28-29
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

i) These verses certainly don’t say that the church has the power to dictate practices Christians are bound to. I think Nick has recognized that they do not, which is why he said they “show” rather than “say.”

ii) These verses do not provide an example of Christ’s being bound to engage in any practice. In fact, these verses provide a prohibition. What is interesting, though, is that these verses say that this is the outer limit of the burden to be placed on Christians: “it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.”

iii) The things with which Christians are burdened in Acts 15:28-29 are “necessary things.” Although Nick thinks that these things are not intrinsically sinful, that’s not quite what the verse says. Paul elsewhere provides other instructions that help to inform these commands:

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

1 Corinthians 10:23-31
23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. 25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26 For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. 27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: 29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? 30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

In view of those passages, we can understand the prohibition provided. While eating certain foods is not sinful, appearing to participate in paganism is sinful because it leads the pagans astray.

iv) Those giving the command in Acts 15 are not simply the church, but the apostles. To assume that because the apostles did something, therefore the church can do something is to make an unwarranted assumption. The unique authority of the apostles was testified by sign gifts, such as the ability to raise the dead. The church (if we are to equate the apostles and the church) no longer raises people from the dead, no longer cures people by having a shadow pass over them, and so forth. Those extraordinary gifts have ceased, and the apostles have gone to be with the Lord.

v) Furthermore, the command in Acts 15 has the authority not only of the church, but more importantly, of the Holy Spirit. It is explicitly stated that it “seemed good to the Holy Ghost.” This command was provided during the time of inscripturation, while all the things necessary to salvation were still in the process of being written down. These apostles had the prophetic gift. In this case, they were appealing not to their own authority as church leaders, but to the Holy Ghost’s authority. Even the so-called Roman Catholic Church has acknowledged that public revelation has ceased. When Trent spoke, it did not claim to have new revelation from the Holy Ghost.

vi) Perhaps, most importantly, the command in Acts 15 is properly viewed as a release! As hard as it may seem to modern observers, Christians did not immediately recognize that the ceremonial law of the Old Testament had been fulfilled in Christ. Recall that even after Acts 15 and even after Simon Peter had received a vision from God and seen the conversion of Cornelius, he didn’t fully appreciate that the dietary laws of the Old Testament had generally been done away in Christ.

Acts 15:28-29, which merely prevents us from appearing to join in with pagan worship, is actually a release: it is actually a proclamation of liberty, with only a small reservation of “necessary” restrictions.

vii) Furthermore, even if all of the above were wrong, the restrictions identified in Acts 15 do not relate to the observation of holy days. Even supposing the church can bind the conscience, the church cannot contradict Holy Scripture, and Holy Scripture gives Christians freedom with respect to the observation of holy days, either to observe them to God, or to omit observation of them to God.

So, in view of these things, we can reasonably reject Nick’s conclusion that Acts 15 provides warrant for “the Church” to bind the consciences of people in respect to holy days.

-TurretinFan

Bellisario and Rome vs. Paul the Apostle on Christian Liberty

December 25, 2008

In a previous post (link), I quoted the words of Holy Scripture penned by Paul the Apostle:

Romans 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

and I noted that I will be exercising my Christian liberty and not specially regarding December 25, 2008, even while Rome imposes on the consciences of its members, contrary to Scripture.

One of my readers brought to my attention a response that Mr. Matthew Bellisario provided against Paul’s grant of Christian liberty (link to Bellisario’s post).

Bellisario titles his post: “Why Protestantism is Theologically Dead! Christ is born! Glorify Him!” It’s a strange title for a very strange post. Not only does his post not go on to establish any sort of theological deadness, his post makes lots of assertions without any supporting arguments.

As for “Christ is born! Glorify Him!” — the declaration is true, and it is not only proper to glorify him, but mandatory. Nevertheless, Jesus nowhere asks us to glorify him by commemorating his birth. Jesus was more focused on us expressing our love for him, not through invented holy days, but through obedience to his commandments:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Bellisario begins and ends his post with the same refrain. The reason is apparent to anyone familiar with “Byzantine Catholicism” (as in “Eastern Rite,” not an insult). The refrain is the eastern equivalent to the “Joy to the world! The Lord is come!” found in the Roman liturgy. There’s nothing particularly wrong with either refrain, and there is nothing particularly relevant either. The main reason to cite such a refrain in a post such as Bellisario’s is as a rallying point to the liturgy of his church: an appeal to the emotions against reason and Scripture.

Bellisario continues his post: “I ran across a sad writing by A “reformed” Protestant today and once again I had to shake my head in disbelief.” Sadly, Bellisario does not recognize the irony of his own profession of disbelief. It is, after all, the words of Scripture that Bellisario does not believe. Bellisario does not believe that to the Lord I will not be regarding the day, but that is what Scripture says.

Bellisario continues: “This un-identifiable person chose to use Sacred Scripture to skip out on worshiping our Lord and His incarnation.” I don’t give out my name or address, but it’s not hard to identify me by my pen name, which is how most people identify me on the Internet. More importantly, however, note Bellisario’s characterization of the matter: “use Sacred Scripture to skip out on worshiping our Lord and His incarnation.” The idea of “skip[ping] out” implies a duty that doesn’t exist. One wonders whether Bellisario would think it right to say that he “uses Sacred Scripture to skip out on going on pilgrimage to Mecca.” Hopefully, he’d see how foolish a statement like that is. God does not command us to go on pilgrimage to Mecca or Rome, or to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord does not ask us to remember his birth with a commemorative holiday or a special liturgy.

Bellisario again: “Without the wonderful incarnation of our Lord all of us would have no Easter, and therefore none of us would have an advocate with the Father to enter into eternal life.” The incarnation is wonderful, and without it we would not have the cross, the resurrection, or the resurrection. We (Reformed Christians) commemorate the Resurrection every week, by meeting on the first day of the week, rather than the last day of the week, following the apostolic example.

Bellisario again: “This is another example of why Protestantism is Theologically Dead!” It’s a triumphant assertion (I didn’t add the exclamation point), but it hasn’t been supported by any rationale.

Bellisario again: “This person chooses to act as a pagan, and yet uses Sacred Scripture to act as one.” This is about as close as Bellisario comes to trying to back up his assertion. The argument is totally implicit: apparently in Bellisario’s mind, not regarding the supposed day of Christ’s birth is “act[ing] as a pagan.” Yet Paul (in Scripture) unequivocally grants us the liberty to do just what I’m doing. Apparently if I don’t take a sharpie and black out part of what Paul wrote, I’m “theologically dead” in Bellisario’s eyes, and acting like a pagan.

Ironically, celebrating at the winter solstice is what looks a lot more like what the pagans did. Not celebrating is not acting like a pagan … but Bellisario is blind to this sort of irony, as he muddles on:

Bellisario: “Here is what this person says on his blog. The hair stands up on my arms when I read it, because something like this can only be from the Devil.” I’ve seen some remarkable appeals to authority from papists, but this appeal to arm-hair as a diviner of demonic origination is a new one. Bellisario’s hairy arms may well have tingled, but my post was strictly a legitimate, apostolically approved, expression of the liberty that I have in Christ.

I had written:

As an exercise of my Christian liberty, I will not be celebrating Christ’s birthday on December 25, 2008. I will not be attending a “mass” or any substitute thereof. I do not plan to set aside any business concerns that would interfere with such religious exercises.

Instead, by engaging in worldly employments and recreations, I will not treat that day as holy. This is my Christian liberty, as Paul explained:

Romans 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

Having quoted my words (and those of Scripture that I myself quoted), Bellisario continues: “He then goes on to accuse the Catholic Church as being legalistic in telling people that Christmas is a Holy day of obligation!” Except for the fact that he erroneously refers to his church as “the Catholic Church” (a popular, but inaccurate title for it), his claim is correct. I do so accuse Rome of violating Romans 14:6 by trying to make Christmas an obligatory holy day. But does Bellisario have any answer beyond bodily functions?

Bellisario states: “This is comical since this is anything but legalism if one really understands what is happening at Mass and what our Lord has done, and continues to do for us.” This, of course, doesn’t answer the issue of legalism. It wouldn’t answer it if the issue were what transpires during the Mass, or what Christ has done or continues to do, because it doesn’t explain, it just asserts. The issue, however, in this instance is not the idolatry of the Mass, the perfection of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, or the unique mediatorial role of Christ. Those are all important issues, but they are not the issues presented here. What is presented here is the alleged creation of an instance of a judgment of “mortal sin” for failing to observe a holiday that Scripture specifically grants Christians the liberty not to observe.

Let’s get more specific. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” explains:

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

(source)

Notice that the alleged result of the commission of a “mortal sin” is, to paraphrase, a loss of salvation. It is remediable, but if it is not remedied, it can land a previously “ok” person in hell. Thus, we may loosely say that the holy days of obligation are imposed on the conscience of members of Catholicism as a condition of salvation. That’s legalism: the creation of conditions for salvation.

Bellisario, perhaps because his arms were still bothering him, or because he is so busying wagging his head in disbelief, does not seem to be aware of the issues of legalism associated with holy days of obligation, and does not have an answer beyond assertion.

Bellisario continued: “There are many who twist the Sacred Scriptures to their destruction and he is another one.” In this particular instance, Bellisario’s condemnation is ironic. The accusation of twisting Scripture to one’s destruction comes from Scripture, but in this instance Scripture condemns Bellisario.

Maybe it was a bit unfair, but I quoted only the most relevant portion of what Paul said. Perhaps I should have given Bellisario warning to avoid doing exactly what he did. Paul wrote, in context:

Romans 14:3-13
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

(emphases added)

Notice how Paul specifically orders Christians not to judge their brethren in regard to these things. Yet, Mr. Bellisario seeks to judge and throws out accusations of Christian liberty being of demonic origin and my own statements being twisting of Scripture. Furthermore, he judges me and those who would join me in exercising our God-given liberty as “skip[ping] out” on worship. Mr. Bellisario truly seems to be one step short of explicitly saying, “Paul was wrong – Christians must celebrate Christmas.” I have assumed here that Bellisario considers what he calls “Protestants” to be “separated brethren” as they are identified in post-Vatican-II Catholicism. Given his hostile tone, one could draw a different conclusion, but I’ll pass on such speculation at this time.

Bellisario continued: “I have actually witnessed “Protestants” using Sacred Scripture to excuse abortion! Yes folks thats [sic] right. This person who will not identify himself then closes by trying to persuade others from not going to honor our Lord on Christmas as well!” The first sentence (and possibly the second, though it is not clear whether it supposed to provide emphasis to the first or third sentence) is not relevant to this post at all. Intentional abortion of unborn children is murder – and there is no escaping that conclusion. It may be that “Protestants” have misused Scripture to try to justify it … but the abuse of Scripture is nothing unique to “Protestants,” as we have seen from Bellisario’s own abuse of 2 Peter 3:16. Moving on to the third sentence, Bellisario’s reference to the fact that I don’t say what my name is doesn’t really have anything to do with the post. I don’t rely on my name or credentials, but on Scripture. It is Scripture (not me) who gives liberty, while Rome and Bellisario attempt to impose bondage.

The final part of Bellisario’s sentence, and the only really salient part of the section, demonstrates that Bellisario has missed Paul’s point. It is not necessary to observe holy days to honor the Lord on December 25. We can, and should, honor the Lord both when we choose to observe such days, and when we choose not to observe such days. Neither is inherently dishonoring to God, which is why Paul says what he says.

Bellisario continues: “Who else but Satan would want to draw people away from the infant of Christ?” Christ was an infant, but he is not an infant any longer. One might suppose that Satan would take delight in the worship of Rome, in which Jesus is treated like a perpetual infant, while his mother is exalted to the practical level of a goddess. If I could have nickel for every blog that has used the expression “Mary Christmas” in the last week or so … and while some of those may have been honest misspellings, quite a few were not. Satan may delight in the idolatry of the Mass, and in the false hope that Rome gives those who attend to the observance of man-made holy days. But that is not the point.

The point is that Bellisario’s argument is not with me at all, but with Paul. If Bellisario is right, what could Paul’s comment about people acceptably not regarding days mean? One can just see a Judaizer now, spouting this same nonsense (slightly modified), saying “Who else but Satan would want to draw people away from God’s redemption of Israel by not dwelling in a booth one week a year (Lev. 22:42-43)?” And at least the Judaizer would be pointing to a feast of indisputable divine origin! Bellisario is lauding an ancient human tradition, whose practice in the 1st and 2nd centuries is unrecorded (that I know of – and poorly recorded if it is recorded at all). But both Bellisario and the Judaizer are wrong, because it is not Satanic to fail to observe the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus – just as it is not Satanic to fail to dwell in a booth one week out of the year in the New Testament era.

Bellisario continued: “Who hated the incarnation of Our Lord and Savior enough to insult Him by not going to honor His incarnation?” A better question is: who hates the Lord Jesus so much that he refuses to listen to the Words of Scripture and the commands of Jesus’ apostle? Bellisario’s challenge to the doctrines of Paul is problematic, not my exercise of Christian liberty. Christ has not asked us to honor his incarnation with a holy day, and Christ is not insulted when we work on December 25 (assuming, for the moment, that it does not fall on the Lord’s Day, which is the case this year).

Bellisario’s entire argument (if we may even call it an argument) rests on his unstated premise that there is something more holy about regarding the day than about not regarding the day. In this, his argument is not with me, but with the Apostle Paul.

Bellisario continued: “It is unbelievable, and once again proves what you get with Scripture Alone and every Tom Dick and Harry constructing their own man-made religion from it.” On the contrary, Bellisario’s argument against Scripture is exactly the sort of thing one would expect from a person who refuses to let Scripture judge their church. His position is one of Sola Ecclesia. He is blind to the fact that it is “Christmas,” which is innovated, and he is unable to engage the text of Scripture that gives Christians liberty not to observe such holy days. Hopefully this post will help him see that both the dogmas and discipline of his church need to be evaluated by Scripture, to see whether they are the true gospel or another gospel.

Bellisario wrote: “I think I will go twice this Christmas to Mass and the Divine Liturgy to honor my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on this Holy Day of His birth.” If the Mass were not full of idolatry (which is a separate subject), this would not necessarily be objectionable. There is nothing problematic about spending the entire day going to service of worship after service of worship. There is nothing inherently wrong with celebrating Christ’s nativity on December 25.

Bellisario wrote: “As for the pagans who wish to reject Our Lord’s birth because of their hatred for the real Gospel, let them be anathema, since they have already committed spiritual suicide.” The real Gospel is that taught in Scripture. The real Gospel is the gospel preached by Paul. The real Gospel does not call us to celebrate Christ’s birth with an annual feast day, or with mandatory services of worship. The real Gospel does not teach the category of mortal sin (as distinct from venial sins) and does not teach that man’s salvation depends on obedience to the law (or to man-made regulations). Paul, a preacher of the true gospel, wrote:

Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

To the message Paul gave (in two epistles, no less), we (the Reformed) are obedient.

On the other hand, we also reject Bellisario’s misrepresentation of our position. We do not reject the Lord’s birth. We affirm the reality of the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. We affirm the marvel of the incarnation. Bellisario seems to be confusing the obligation to celebrate the birth with the birth itself. Or perhaps he is just ranting, who knows.

All that remains of the post by Bellisario is a link and a repetition of the refrain from the eastern liturgy. Bellisario never backs up his harsh claims against Reformed Christianity, fails to interact with Paul’s explanation of why we Christians have this liberty that Rome (and Bellisario) seeks to deny, and manages to misrepresent the Reformed position, while dragging in irrelevant material.

Hopefully, this response will serve to illuminate both the weakness of the Roman position and the weakness of the tactics used to defend the indefensible.

Let us Glorify the Born, Humbled, Executed, Risen, and Exalted Savior!

-TurretinFan

The real Turretin: On Christmas

January 23, 2008

I stumbled recently across this post, in which the author (about 80% of the way through the article) transcribes the real Turretin’s view on Christmas. (link) Obviously, I don’t share the views of the articles’ author, even if I do share the views of Turretin, Calvin, etc., whom he cites.

Also, by the way, I enjoyed the title of his blog: “Autonomy is Madness.” How true that is!

The Real Turretin – on Christian Liberty

January 14, 2008

Andrew Compton has provided a transcription (with commentary) of what the Real Francis Turretin had to say about Christian Liberty (first part) (second part). These thoughts are especially timely in a day when the Baptists are drawing new battle lines over the issue of forbidding folks from drinking.

Thanks, Andrew, for publishing his remarks!

-Turretinfan

Part V of my Response of my Response to Centuri0n on Christmas

January 3, 2008

This is the fifth, and final, post in my series of posts to Centuri0n. As I’ve pointed out in each of the last three posts, one should really start with the first post and read sequentially.

(part 1)
(part 2)
(part 3)
(part 4)

In this part, I’ll be tackling Centuri0n’s conclusion:
*** Centuri0n’s Conclusion, including embedded quotations ***
It is your answer to that question, and the ones above it, which leads me to accuse you of mopery. So when you say this:

Your assertion, sir, that: “You are, in fact, wanting mopery in order to avoid popery. You want no sign that we smile, and no opportunity by which we can show people something they can taste and see as goodness — especially if it’s a time when they would have been enjoying themselves.”

is false. I repudiate that sentiment, and if you continue to repeat your assertion that such is my position, you are illustrating that you are not hearing what I’m saying.

That’s very daunting language, I am sure – the problem is that you do advance mopery – you advance the elimination of all kinds of cultural and social means of interaction in order to do what Jesus told us to do.

I’d encourage you to reconsider putting words in my mouth, let alone avatars in my avatar window.

There’s no need to put words in your mouth: you say everything that needs to be said in order to discredit your view. The clowning merely points out that you are unwilling to see how bad your logic works out in real time and space.

Happy New Year – unless the Catholics are having mandatory mass tomorrow, in which case forget I said anything. We don’t want to be confused with them, right?

*** End of Conclusion ***

I’ll break it down line-by-line, this time:

1. “It is your answer to that question, and the ones above it, which leads me to accuse you of mopery.”

There’s simply no connection between any of the foregoing discussion and mopery. There’s no support to the charge. Christian liberty is not mopery. Avoiding confusing the gospel of Christ and the gospel of Rome is not mopery. Griping that someone is not joining you in your artificial holiday is the closest we come in the discussion to mopery, but that’s not from my side of the aisle, Centuri0n!

2. “the problem is that you do advance mopery – you advance the elimination of all kinds of cultural and social means of interaction in order to do what Jesus told us to do.”

That simply is not true. It might be true if I suggested that we should all become hermits and live in caves far from other people, but of course I do not. Simply holding that it is permissible not to celebrate Christmas is in now way equivalent to or convertable to “eliminat[ing] all kinds of cultural and social means of interaction.” Furthemore, suggesting that there may be some value in exercising that freedom is likewise not equivalent or convertable to such nonsense.

This can be seen from the facts that:
a) religiously celebrating Christmas requires no or little cultural/social means of interaction with our unconverted neighbors (“I’m headed to church for Christmas,” provokes no reaction from the crowd); but
b) contrariwise “I’m going to go into the office/out to my field/to open my shop on Christmas” does tend provoke a crowd reaction and provide a starting place for conversation.

Thus, in fact, going with the flow does not provide much opportunity for meaningful social interaction, whereas bucking the flow does.

And of course, Jesus did not tell us to celebrate his birth, or to celebrate the holidays of our society. So the “Jesus told us to do” line is just rhetorical puffery.

3. “There’s no need to put words in your mouth: you say everything that needs to be said in order to discredit your view.”

If that were true, one would expect you to simply post what I said without further commentary. But, of course, my actual position is not self-discrediting. In fact, my position is simply Paul’s position in the Epistle to the Romans.

4. “The clowning merely points out that you are unwilling to see how bad your logic works out in real time and space.”

The clowning is a substitute for reasoned argumentation, and useful in situations (unlike this one) when reasoned argumentation is unnecessary. The idea of “logic work[ing] out in real time and space” is a confusion of doctrine with practice. Regardless, however, the way the doctrine is practiced is simple, we celebrate if we want to, and we don’t if we don’t want to. We’re not obliged either to celebrate (even if there are salutory reasons for doing so) and we’re not obliged to abtain (even if there are salutory reasons for abstaining, such as those I presented).

5. “Happy New Year – unless the Catholics are having mandatory mass tomorrow, in which case forget I said anything. We don’t want to be confused with them, right?”

I do often celebrate a feast on the New Year, and I give God thanks, but I don’t suggest that it is obligatory for anyone else. Doing so in my cultural environment (which is well post-pagan and post-Jewish) doesn’t seem to be likely to confuse my celebration with religious observances of a false religion.

But you weren’t really worried, you were mocking.

As demonstrated above, however, your mockery is crockery.

But Happy New Year to you too, Centuri0n, may God bless you and all who pass by,

-Turretinfan


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