Archive for the ‘David Waltz’ Category

Waltz, Nicaea and Shea

August 16, 2011

David Waltz (no great fan of mine, if memory serves correctly) has nevertheless provided a helpful two-part post in response to my rebuttal to Shea’s post on Nicaea. Mr. Waltz has, I suspect, read more about the Nicene and early post-Nicene period than most people ever will. So, I appreciate that he took the time to read and comment on my post.

Waltz concedes the central theses of my post, namely that Augustine was referring to the council of Nicaea, and that Nicaea was not properly a “local council.” Once those points are conceded, Shea’s argument is shot. The central, and oft-repeated, premise of Shea’s post was that Augustine was referring to a local council.

One might expect that Waltz would realize that the point of the post was right on the money, and stop there. He did not. I won’t speculate on his motives. After all, a man of his reading may simply have wanted to correct what he perceived to be some errors in my post. For such correction, where appropriate, I am always appreciative.

Let’s consider Waltz’s points:

Waltz corrects some citation and quotation problems in a post by the reader to whom Shea’s post was addressed. While I appreciate Waltz’s attention to details in this regard, I haven’t bothered to confirm these matters, since they don’t seem to have any direct connection to my own post.

Waltz corrects a typo in the name of the editor (“JohnE” should have been “John E”) and pointed out that the quotation actually begins on page 281 (the citation had indicated p. 282). These errors have been corrected in the post. Thanks very much to Waltz for pointing them out.

Waltz next discusses the “little background” I provided with respect to the quotation from Augustine. Waltz writes:

Strictly speaking, TF’s “little background” is deficient, for it fails to accurately portray the historical context of Augustine’s statement. The period between the council of Nicaea in 325 and Augustine’s Contra Maximinum Arianum (427/428) was one of the most contested in the history of the Christian Church; more than 130 councils were convened! (Consult Ramsay MacMullen’s, Voting About God, pp. 3, 4 for the names and dates of the councils—see this thread for information about the book).

Without discussing his precise claims, I willingly concede that my background (which was completely accurate) was nevertheless not as complete a picture as could be drawn. In other words, Waltz has here mistaken the idea of precision (detail) with accuracy. Nevertheless, his error is of little significance, so let us proceed to his next comment regarding the background.

Concerning this turbulent period, Shea is certainly correct when he states that, “the Church Universal has not yet arrived at a consensus“. Directly related to this historical fact is [the] nature and role of the various councils that were held during this period; the understanding that some councils were “ecumenical”, that the “ecumenical” councils were infallible when teaching on faith and morals, and needed to be accepted de fide, was a much later doctrinal development. As such, to write that, “Augustine didn’t share the epistemology of modern Rome“, concerning nature and role of councils convened in 4th and early 5th centuries, is to state the obvious. IMO, TF is pretty much wasting our time here, for even Shea is in agreement with him on this point!

Shea certainly did not express an opinion that Augustine doesn’t share the epistemology of modern Rome. In that regard, Waltz is wrong. Which is why Waltz’s view about time being wasted should be revised. On the contrary, Shea claims that Augustine “is, instead, assuming a thoroughly Catholic backdrop to the whole discussion.” (emphasis added) Perhaps Mr. Waltz thinks Shea doesn’t mean “Catholic” to refer to the modern Roman conception of what it means to be “Catholic,” but such a hypothesis is untenable. In short, my comments were a needed corrective to Shea, and I am glad that in substance Waltz agrees and even thinks my point is “obvious.” It’s obvious to Waltz, but it wasn’t obvious to Shea.

The idea of the universal church arriving at a consensus by the time of Augustine on the topic of Arianism is, of course, to some extent an anachronism. In that sense, Shea is – we might say – accidentally correct (you will notice I didn’t dispute his claim in my original post, I merely highlighted it and pointed out its inconsistency with the modern Roman view). He didn’t mean to imply what he implied about Nicaea, but in this case we might almost say that two wrongs make a right. Viewed through the lens of modern Roman dogma regarding conciliar authority, Nicaea did represent a consensus view. However, there are serious problems with that kind of claim.

Waltz continued:

Moving on, TF’s statement that, “Maximinus was an Arian“, is, at best, breathtakingly simplistic. An Arian is one who adheres to the basic theology of Arius—did Maximinus endorse Arius’ basic theology? No, he did not. In fact, he emphatically denied THE defining doctrine of Arius, the doctrine that the Son of God was created ex nihilo; note the following:

The part of Arius’ doctrine which most shocked and disturbed his contemporaries was his statement that the Father made the Son ‘ out of non-existence’ (ἐκ οὐκ ὄντων). (R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 24.)

This particular view of Arius [i.e. creation of the Son of God ex nihilo] has never been supplied with a convincing antecedent. It has always been an erratic boulder in his doctrine, preventing that doctrine being easily fitted into any known system…(Ibid., p. 88)

Waltz’s criticism here is bizarre. The title usually given for Augustine’s work from which the quotation in question comes, as Waltz knows, is “Contra Maximinum Haereticum Episcopum Arianorum libri duo.” That “Arianorum” is the Latin word that we translate “Arian.” It’s normal and customary to refer to Maximinus as an Arian, without implying that his views are identical to those of Arius.

Moreover, R.P.C. Hanson identifies Maximinus as an example of a source for Arian writing (p. 100), as an example of Homoian Arianism (p. 126) of the work that Waltz cited, even though Hanson also acknowledges that Maximinus “explicitly denies” the tenet that Waltz highlighted above (p. 564).

At most, Waltz has correctly identified that there is more than one species of Arians, and that the normal practice of referring to Maximinus as an “Arian” is to paint Arianism with a broad brush.

Waltz continued:

Before getting to Maximinus’ theology, I think it would be prudent to supply a little background. Shortly after the council of Nicaea (325), the ordained bishops of the Christian Church at large split into 4 distinct factions; modern patristic scholars have termed those 4 factions as: 1.) the homoousians, those who accepted the Nicene Creed; 2.) the homoiousians, those who replaced homoousios (same being/essence/substance) with homoiousios (like being/essence/substance); 3.) the homoians, those who rejected the terms homoousios and homoiousios as being un-Biblical, and embraced the view that the Son of God was homoiōs (like, similar, in the same way) with respect to God the Father; and 4.) the ‘Neo-Arians’, sometimes termed the anhomoians (see Hanson, Search, p. 598 for the reason why many modern patristic scholars prefer the name ‘Neo-Arian’ over others).

Of the 4 factions, only the ‘Neo-Arians’ accepted Arius’ most basic tenant that the Son of God was created ex nihilo, with the other 3 emphatically rejecting this doctrine.

Now, Maximinus was a staunch homoian, his theology being essentially that of the creed universally adopted by Christian Church at a council convened in 360 AD at Constantinople, which creed was a slight revision of so-called “Dated Creed” that was adopted in 359 AD via the convocation of a general council by emperor Constantius II, which convened at two separate locations: Ariminium (now Rimini) and Seleucia.

Of course, none of this contradicts anything I said. In fact, most of what Waltz said is relatively non-controversial (in terms of the various divisions that existed, and so forth). One surprising point is Waltz’s claim that regarding the creed of Ariminium, namely that it was “the creed universally adopted by Christian Church at a council convened in 360 AD at Constantinople… .

Whether or not we should dispute this claim, I think Waltz must admit that Shea cannot accept this claim. Shea cannot admit that the “Christian Church” universally accepted an Arianizing creed, such as that of Ariminium.

Waltz wraps up the first part of his post this way:

Commenting on this creed of 360 AD, the esteemed patristic scholar, J.N.D. Kelly wrote:

Arianism, it will be appreciated, is really a misnomer, for the creed asserts none of the articles of the old heresy [i.e. Arius/Arianism] and explicitly condemns Anomoeanism [i.e. ‘Neo-Arianism’]. (Early Christian Creeds, 2nd edition, 1960, p. 294.)

So, is it accurate to call Maximinus an Arian? With all due respect to the scholars that do attribute the label “Arian” to Maximinus, to do so is, IMO, a “mis[n]omer“, for Maximinus emphatically denied (as did all homoians) the most basic tenant of Arian theology: the creation of the Son of God ex nihilo. To call Maximinus an Arian would be analogous to calling someone who emphatically rejects TULIP a Calvinist!

Kelley himself, while conceding that the term is something of a misnomer, calls the very chapter from which Waltz is citing “The Triumph of Arianism,” of which the very creed to which Waltz has been referring is the crown jewel. So, while it is a misnomer in the sense that the creed isn’t fully consistent with Arius and/or Neo-Arianism, it is a description that is given to it not only by Hanson but also by Kelley.

Regarding TULIP, the comparison is somewhat inapt. TULIP was the production of the Synod of Dordt, held after Calvin’s death. And even to this day, Amyraldians insist that Dordt departed from Calvin on the “L” (they’re wrong, but that debate clearly is for another topic and day).

Moving from part 1 to part 2, Waltz begins:

In part 1, I demonstrated that Maximinus was not an Arian, but rather a homoian, and that homoian Christian bishops condemned Arianism.

This insistence on not referring to Homoian Arianism as “Arianism,” is not something that Waltz actually demonstrated is necessary. Indeed, his own sources refer to Homoian Arianism as a species of Arianism, even if not fully consistent with Arius’ own beliefs.

Waltz continues:

TF then states that, “Augustine was the orthodox (“catholic” but not “Catholic”) bishop of Hippo, as everyone knows”. Once again, TF is anachronistically portraying this historical period, for ‘orthodoxy’ was anything but a settled issue. (As for Augustine being “catholic” but not “Catholic“, I will deal with this silliness in a subsequent post.)

Waltz is here arguing against a straw man. I didn’t insist that orthodoxy was a “settled issue,” at the time when Augustine was debating with Maximinus. Shea would need to insist that, given the modern Roman view of councils. I, however, am under no such obligation. I’m not sure why, given his penchant for decrying anachronism (even without it being offered), Waltz finds the distinction between “catholic” and “Catholic,” silly. However, since he has left it for another post, and since it was a relatively minor point in my own post, it can safely be tabled for now.

Waltz once more:

He then gives one a misleading impression with his statement that, “both Augustine and Maximinus were in the same locale and region“—fact is, Maximinus had just arrived in Hippo with, “Count Sigiswulf (Segisvultus), a Goth,” who in 427, “led a Roman army to Africa in order to suppress the rebellion of Bonifacius” [see John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., Debate With Maximinus, Introduction (New York: New City Press, 1995), p. 175.]—his ordination, and conciliar loyalty, had NOTHING to do with the Hippo locale/region. Yet once again, though neither Shea, nor TF have a good grasp of the historical landscape of this period, Shea is the more accurate.

Waltz’s points about where Maximinus came from doesn’t really have a bearing on the fact (undisputed by Waltz) that Maximinus was the Arian bishop of Hippo (Waltz doesn’t like that “Arian” label for the homoians, as noted above). In fact one scholar expressed it this way:

Nearly ten years after his Answer to the ‘Arian Sermon’ (between A.D. 427 and A.D. 428), Augustine entered into a public debate at Hippo with a major representative and vigorous defender of Homoian Arianism. Bishop Maximinus had only recently arrived in North Africa in the company of Count Sigiswulf (or Segisvultus), a Goth who led a Roman force against a local uprising, and who had encouraged this encounter with Augustine in order to secure peace between Arians and Catholics in the region.

Studia Patristica vol. 38, St. Augustine and His Opponents: Other Latin Writers, Wiles and Yarnold eds., “The Significance of the communication idiomatum in St. Augustine’s Christology, with special reference to his rebuttal of later Arianism,” by Joseph Torchia, O.P., pp. 314-15.

Waltz is dead wrong about Shea being more accurate. Shea had claimed, “[Augustine] regards himself as bound by the teaching and discipline of the synod whose jurisdiction is over his local geographic region, and the person he is writing to likewise feels bound by his local synod,” (and Shea compared the situation to that of local fasting rules in Rome vs. Milan) but in fact the issue wasn’t geographic and at the time of the dispute, the two bishops were in the same locale, directly contrary to Shea’s analogy to Milanese vs. Roman fasting rules.

Waltz continued:

The only point that TF has “debunked” is that neither of the two councils being discussed were “local“, the rest of his musings are [sic] do not fit the facts. FACT #1: no council and/or creed up to this period was recognized as universally binding; FACT #2: if any council up to the date of the debate between Augustine and Maxinimus (427/428) had any semblance of a claim to universal authority it was the dual councils of Ariminum and Seleucia, which were convoked by emperor Constantius II in 359. These two parallel councils were really essentially one council held in two different geographical locations for the sake of logistics. The estimates of the number of bishops that attended range between 550+ and 750+, which means that this dual council was significantly larger than council of Nicaea held in 325. Not only the size, but also the geographical and theological representation was considerably more significant—Augustine was engaging in a bit of ‘damage control’ when he demanded that competing councils be left out of the equation.

Waltz here concedes the main point of my post, and yet insists that the rest of my “musings” “do not fit the facts.” But actually, Waltz cannot point to any of my musings that don’t fit with his two purported facts. Moreover, of course, Shea is not free to admit with Waltz that Nicaea was not universal binding. I am free to agree with Waltz on that point, but Shea is not – because Shea’s church insists on a particular view of conciliar authority – one that wasn’t shared by Augustine.

Waltz is right about the fact that the size of the councils of Ariminum and Seleucia were (in combination – and perhaps even Ariminum individally) considerably bigger and more geographically diverse than Nicaea. That’s one of those inconvenient conciliar truths I try to warn people about, when they place their confidence in large councils.

Waltz’s final point is to argue that Augustine’s quotation makes it sound as though Maximinus had tried to suggest that Ariminum was binding, whereas Maximinus had likewise agreed to settle the matter by the Scriptures. Of course, the purpose of my post was not to suggest that Maximinus believed what Shea believes about councils, or even to discuss at all what Maximinus thought of conciliar authority. So, while I might quibble over whether Augustine’s comments give a misleading impression regarding Maximinus’ position, it seems Waltz’s comments in Maximinus’ defense are at best tangential to the thrust of my post.

Waltz concludes:

To sum up, apart from incorrectly terming the councils of Armininum (359) and Nicaea (325) as “local“, Shea’s assessment that, “What Augustine is doing is appealing to a common authority in a dispute where the Church Universal has not yet arrived at a consensus“, is quite accurate, whilst TF’s overall critique is significantly flawed.

As noted above, if Shea is correct in that sentence, it is only because, although he has a wrong view of conciliar authority, he mistakenly thought that Nicaea was a local council. Thus, while Shea may be accidentally correct in that statement (as mentioned above – and as was not denied in my original post), Shea’s underlying rationale is at odds with his Roman views of Nicaea.

So, thanks again to Waltz for his additional comments and – frankly – reinforcement of the points I was making. I don’t find Waltz’s objection to referring to Homoian Arians as “Arians,” to be particularly compelling, and that seems to be the major beef he has with my post. I also reiterate my thanks to him for his identification of the editorial problems in my original post to which I’ve now attended.



Ratzinger, Material Sufficiency? (by David King)

June 2, 2010

(The following is a guest post by my friend, Pastor David King)

Cardinal, now Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, while commenting on the documents of Vatican II (article nine of Dei verbum), stated that “no one is seriously able to maintain that there is a proof in Scripture for every catholic doctrine.” See Joseph Ratzinger’s “The Transmission of Divine Revelation” in Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969), Vol. 3, p. 195.

When I quoted this some time ago (here), Mr. Waltz commented: “As for David’s isolated quote, he [Ratzinger] was dealing with interpretation (formal sufficiency) and not simply material sufficiency. David King clearly misspoke; but you know, everyone makes mistakes, and the bulk of his work/s should be judged on their OVERALL merit and content.” (link – that page seems to have been removed – here’s a cached page containing the quotation)

What I suspected then, concerning Ratzinger’s inconsistency on the question of material sufficiency, is now cleared up (I think) in the work, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, God’s Word, Scripture—Tradition—Office, Peter Hünermann and Thomas Söding, eds., Henry Taylor, trans. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005). Some of this material has been reworked from an earlier publication, namely, Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger, Revelation and Tradition (New York: Herder and Herder, 1966).

Now, to be sure, I have always thought that our Roman disputants are themselves inconsistent on their affirmation of the material sufficiency of Scripture. But I think this later work by the man who is now Pope makes it clear that he does not affirm material sufficiency in any positive sense, and I did not (as Mr. Waltz charged) misspeak on this issue. I would encourage any Roman disputants to remain calm, at least until they’ve read the extended quote below.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI:

Geiselmann starts from a new interpretation of the Council of Trent’s decrees about the nature of tradition. Trent had established that the truth of the gospel was contained in libris scriptis et sine scripto traditionibus. That was (and is to this day) interpreted as meaning that Scripture does not contain the whole veritas evangelii [truth of the gospel] and that no sola scriptura principle is therefore possible, since part of the truth of revelation reaches us only through tradition. Geiselmann took up the point, already made by others, that the first draft of the text provided the formulation that truth is contained “partim in libris scriptis partim in sine scripto traditionibus”. Here, then, the doctrine of a division of truth into two sources (Scripture and tradition) was clearly articulated. The Council renounced the use of partim—partim, however, and contented itself with the simple conjunction et. Geiselman concludes from this that they had turned away from the idea of a division of truth into two separate sources, or had at least not explicitly defined it. And he further concludes that consequently even a Catholic theologian can argue the material sufficiency of Scripture and can also, as a Catholic, hold the opinion that Holy Scripture transmits a material sola scriptura thoroughly acceptable even for a Catholic—indeed, he believes he can show that this has much the stronger tradition in its favor and that the Council of Trent, likewise, intended to point us in this direction.

It is easy to understand how such a thesis could count on widespread agreement in view of the quite new opportunities for contact between Catholic and Evangelical Christians that it seemed to open up. [Here Ratzinger offers a footnote concerning how he and H. Fries, in another work, gave a survey of everyone who agreed in principle with Geiselmann] I hold it to be quite indisputable that it does indeed represent appreciable progress in objective terms. Nonetheless, as soon as one analyzes it somewhat more closely with respect to both its historical and its factual basis, a whole series of questionable points emerge that make it impossible to stop at that. In the second section, we will attempt a few remarks on the historical side of the problem; meanwhile, we turn directly to the problems of the subject itself, and any investigation of this will probably first of all produce the question: What does “the sufficiency of Scripture” actually mean? Even Geiselmann, as a Catholic theologian, cannot get beyond having to hold fast to Catholic dogmas, and none of them can be obtained by means of sola scriptura—not the early Christian dogmas of the former quinquesaecularis consensus, and still less the new ones of 1854 and 1950. What kind of meaning does talk about “the sufficiency of Scripture” still have, then? Does it not threaten to become a dangerous self-deception, with which we deceive ourselves, first of all, and then others (or perhaps do not in fact deceive them!)? In order to go on maintaining that Scripture contains all revealed truth, on one hand, and, on the other, to maintain that the 1950 dogma [which I pressed on Mr. Waltz repeatedly] is a revealed truth, we would have at least to take refuge in a notion of “sufficiency” so broadly conceived that the word “sufficiency” would lose any serious meaning.

This, however, opens up the second and really decisive question: In concerning ourselves with the idea of the “sufficiency” of Scripture, have we grasped the real problem involved in the concept of tradition at all, or are we lingering over a relatively superficial symptom of an issue that in itself lies much deeper? The introductory reflections from which we started should have made it clear that the answer to this question must clearly be Yes. The question of the sufficiency of Scripture is only a secondary problem within the framework of the far more fundamental decision that we glimpsed a little while ago in the concepts of abusus and auctoritas, and that thus concerns the relationship between the authority of the Church and the authority of Holy Scripture; everything else depends on how we understand that.

To make further progress, it will therefore be necessary to deepen our approach, not being preoccupied with such superficial implications as the sufficiency or insufficiency of Scripture, but presenting as a whole the overall problem of the mode of presence of the revealed word among the faithful. Then we can see that we have to reach beyond the positive sources of Scripture and tradition, to their inner source: the revelation, the living word of God, from which Scripture and tradition both spring and without which neither can be grasped in the importance they have for faith. The question of “Scripture and tradition” remains insoluble so long as it is not expanded to a question of “revelation and tradition” and thereby inserted into the larger context in which it belongs. In what follows, therefore, I should like to unfold the concept of tradition in a positive sense, on the basis of its inner impulse, in thesis form, without going into the details of possible arguments. I do this in the hope that some part of an answer to the Reformers’ question may be found in it and that the whole may thus prove to be a part of a conversation, the necessity of which is being recognized with increasing clarity on both sides.

See Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, God’s Word, Scripture—Tradition—Office, Peter Hünermann and Thomas Söding, eds., Henry Taylor, trans. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), pp. 48-51.

As he indicated, Ratzinger proceeds to offer another “thesis” than that of Geiselmann and others. Two things are clear, he does not affirm the material sufficiency of Scripture in any positive sense; and if his language is to be understood at all, he thinks that such a formulation misses the bigger point of what he calls “revelation and tradition.”

Charles Hodge on Rome

December 30, 2009

David Waltz is trying to make something of Prof. Hodge’s comments on Roman Catholicism (link to Waltz’s post). It is worth noting that Waltz has chosen to selectively present one side of Hodge’s coin. The other side is that Hodge viewed Rome as both apostate and antichristian (link to example of such teaching) and also as antichrist and a synagogue of Satan (link to example of such teaching) to which we may add the mystery of iniquity and the man of sin (link to example of such teaching).

Waltz does not explain his motivations for choosing to highlight only part of what Hodge taught, and for doing so in a way that grossly exaggerates the differences between Hodge and some of my friends at Triablogue. Yes, my friends and I may well agree with Thornwell and others that Hodge (no doubt due to the softness of his heart) conceded too much to Rome in places such as those Waltz highlights, but the difference between Hodge and us is a lot smaller than Waltz’s article would suggest to the unwary reader.


Footnote to the Perspicuity Discussion – Liberius’ Lapse and Athanasius the non-Papist

November 3, 2009

Roman Catholic David Waltz has chimed in with his two cents on the exceedingly minor issue of whether or not Athanasius might have been mocking Liberius when he (Athanasius) mentioned “the eunuchs of Constantius” (link to Waltz’s piece). I had even stated in my original post, “But that’s an aside.” (link to my original post). I take the time to respond because Waltz’s post raises some further tangential issues that are worthy of note.

Waltz’s main point is probably correct, while his approach thoroughly disreputable. He titles his piece “TurretinFan thinks that Athanasius was mocking Liberius” despite the fact that my actual comment in the aside was merely “it is not unreasonable to think that Athanasius is actually using this passage to mock pope Liberius.” The fact that Waltz feels compelled to change my position to a stronger claim regarding Athanasius and Liberius, however, is only the tip of the iceberg.

Rather than beginning his article by addressing Athanasius and Liberius, Waltz immediately attempts to change the argument again to being about whether Athanasius accepted Sola Scriptura, something we’ve already demonstrated from Athanasius’ own writings even on those rare occasions when Waltz has attempted to venture out of the secondary sources (scholars who agree with the conclusion Waltz favors become for the moment “patristic scholars of the highest caliber”) into the primary sources (here’s an example of interaction over the primary material). You can read more from Athanasius himself here (first example)(second example).

Eventually, Waltz actually gets around to discussing the matter. On the whole, I think Waltz is correct in believing that the editor wished to suggest that the “confession of Peter” might be an allusion to Liberius, rather than suggesting that Liberius was one of Constantine’s eunuchs. The reason for thinking this is actually not the reasons that Waltz gives, but from the fact that at this point in the history of Liberius, Liberius had not yet Arianized. That came a few sections later (see Arian History, Part V, Section 41).

In view of this, I’ve updated my post.

However, Waltz’s argument itself is quite unconvincing. He refers the reader to section 36 of the history, which praises Liberius prior to Liberius’ lapse. The fact that Athanasius praises Liberius at one point doesn’t preclude him from mocking Liberius latter. What might change Athanasius’ attitude? the less-than-praiseworthy actions of Liberius.

In fact, Waltz doesn’t make reference to the important fact of Liberius’ lapse, something that would have seemed helpful to his case, had he been aware of it. The quotation we are addressing is in section 38, after the praise of Liberius in his first state, but before the actual lapse of Liberius in section 41: “But Liberius after he had been in banishment two years gave way, and from fear of threatened death subscribed.” (Athanasius, Arian History, Part 5, Section 41)

Why doesn’t Waltz mention Liberius’ lapse? It’s hard to believe that Waltz is unaware of it, after studiously researching the context of the quotation provided. A more likely explanation is that Waltz is invested in a theory that Athanasius never opposed Liberius (see his prior comments here), and consequently Waltz does not want to acknowledge Athanasius’ opposition to Liberius. After all, in the present post Waltz states: “This appears to be yet another ill-conceived attempt to portray St. Athanasius as an opponent of Liberius … .”

What makes Waltz’s argument worse is that Waltz actually provides a quotation from Athanasius that proves that Athanasius was not a papist: that Athanasius was not someone who viewed the pope as the universal head of the church:

Now it had been better if from the first Constantius had never become connected with this heresy at all; or being connected with it, if he had not yielded so much to those impious men; or having yielded to them, if he had stood by them only thus far, so that judgment might come upon them all for these atrocities alone. But as it would seem, like madmen, having fixed themselves in the bonds of impiety, they are drawing down upon their own heads a more severe judgment. Thus from the first [FN: In contrast to date of his fall.] they spared not even Liberius, Bishop of Rome, but extended [FN: τὴν μανίαν ἐξέτειναν; vid. ἐκτεῖναι τὴν μανίαν, §42. And so in the letter of the Council of Chalcedon to Pope Leo; which says that Dioscorus, κατ᾽ αὐτοῦ τῆς ἀμπέλου τὴν φυλακὴν παρὰ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἐπιτετραμμένου τὴν μανίαν ἐξέτεινε, λέγομεν δὴ τῆς σῆς ὁσιότητος. Hard. Conc. t. 2. p. 656. [Cf. Prolegg. ch. iv. §4.]] their fury even to those parts; they respected not his bishopric, because it was an Apostolical throne; they felt no reverence for Rome, because she is the Metropolis of Romania [FN: By Romania is meant the Roman Empire, according to Montfaucon after Nannius. vid. Præfat. xxxiv. xxxv. And so Epiph. Hær, lxvi, 1 fin, p. 618, and lxviii. 2 init. p. 728, Nil. Ep. i. 75. vid. Du Cange Gloss. Græc. in voc.]; they remembered not that formerly in their letters they had spoken of her Bishops as Apostolical men.

– Athanasius, History of the Arians, Part 5, Section 35

What is the jurisdiction of the Roman bishop according to Athanasius? Is it the whole church? No, it is “Romania,” that is to say the Roman empire (not the country we call “Romania” today).

We see this same point again in Section 41 when discussing the lapse of Liberius: “Thus they endeavoured at the first to corrupt the Church of the Romans, wishing to introduce impiety into it as well as others.” (Athanasius, Arian History, Part 5, Section 41) Notice that forcing Liberius to sign the Arianizing creed was part of a corruption not of the universal church (according to Athanasius) but of the Roman church – one church to which there were others.

Incidentally, we see the same thing from Theodoret, who describes Leo as “the very sacred and holy bishop of the Church of the Romans, the lord Leo … .” (Theodoret, Letter 144)

So, while we thank Waltz for bringing some additional light to the matter of Liberius’ lapse and Athanasius’ opposition to that lapse, we have seen that the more deeply we dig into history the less papist we discover the fathers (in this case, Athanasius and Theodoret) to have been.

– TurretinFan

UPDATE (updated to correct attribution): While we are at it, we might as well point out Hilary of Poitiers’ reaction, described here by Henry Edward Manning the anonymous reviewer of Manning’s work:

The next weighty piece of evidence which the fourth century has to show is the fall of Pope Liberius in 357, when he not only signed (under severe pressure indeed, and as S. Jerome tells us, Chron. A.D. 357, through weariness of exile) the Arian creed of the third Council of Sirmium, but also anathematized S. Athanasius; an additional incident which destroys the plea sometimes adduced by Ultramontanes in mitigation, that the creed was patient of an orthodox interpretation, and was signed by Liberius in that sense only. It is curious to read the gentle, forgiving, and compassionate language in which S. Athanasius himself speaks of this fall, dwelling in preference on the Pope’s earlier confessorship (Ad Solitar.}, and then contrast it with the burning indignation of S. Hilary of Poitiers. After setting down the text of the letter addressed by Liberius to the Eastern prelates and clergy, wherein that Pope says that ‘it pleased God to let him know that Athanasius had been justly condemned, and that he had consequently expelled him from communion, and refused to receive his letters,’ S. Hilary, on reaching the place where Liberius speaks of the Sirmian creed as Catholic, interjects a note thus—[‘This is the Arian perfidy. This is my note, not the apostate’s. What follows is by Liberius.’] What does follow is the sentence: ‘This I have willingly received;’ whereon S. Hilary again interjects—[‘I say Anathema to thee, Liberius, and to thy accomplices.’] And after setting down a few words more of the letter, the Saint breaks out a third time—[‘Anathema to thee again, and yet a third time, renegade [praevaricator] Liberius’], using similar language yet a fourth time at the close of another letter of Liberius, which he has preserved for us—(S. Hilar. Oper. Hist. Frag, vi.)

(as provided in the Church Quarterly Review, Volume 9, pp. 510-11 (1880)

SECOND UPDATE: I see that Waltz has responded again, in similar style to the previous post (link to his response). There’s plenty of heat in post, but not much additional light. I think my comments above already adequately address the substance of his complaint. Waltz clarifies his own claims, and the readers are welcome to read his clarifications for themselves.

What About King Saul?

September 11, 2009

In response to my post regarding the one true shepherd (Christ) as contrasted with the Roman bishop who seeks essentially to usurp that role (link to my post) I have received a rather typical response. Rather than beginning by characterizing the response, let me provide it to you:

In my reading of Catholic literature, I have never came across any author/theologian/bishop who has denied the fact that our Lord, Jesus Christ is the “single chief Shepard” of His Church. Yet with that said, I also do not of know any Catholic author/theologian/bishop who would deny that there is one true King of God’s Kingdom; and yet, Scripture speaks of many who were anointed as kings of God’s earthly Kingdom. If the one, true, single King can (and did) appoint earthly representatives to the position of king, why is the notion that He has appointed an earthly chief shepherds such a difficult concept for you?

(Comment by Roman Catholic David Waltz – spelling, grammar, and any other errors are his)

Now that you’ve already read the comment, I’ll provide my commentary on it. As I will show below, the comment contains misdirection/misinformation, scriptural confusion, ecclesiastical confusion, and confusion of reasoning. What’s sad is that this response (while it comes from someone who has not, to my knowledge, promoted himself as an apologist for his church) is not far from the typical response we see on this matter, and consequently worthy of a thorough response.

I. Misdirection / Misinformation

The first stage of the comment is misdirection and/or misinformation. No one, we are told, denies that Jesus is the single chief Shepherd. Here’s the problem, while there may be folks who claim that Jesus is the chief Shepherd, an official position (“official” in the sense that it is to be found in a papal encyclical, which – of course – is different from it being a de fide dogma) is that, on earth, the pope replaces Jesus:

Whoever, by Divine Commission, takes the place on earth of Jesus Christ, becomes thereby the Chief Shepherd who, far from being able to rest content with simply guiding and protecting the Lord’s Flock which has beer; [sic for “been”] confided to him to rule, fails in his special duty and obligations if he does not strive by might and main to win over and to join to Christ all who are still without the Fold.

– Pius XI, Rerum Ecclesiae, Section 1, 28 February 1926

That was not a one-time slip-up. We see the same title applied again to the Roman bishop (by himself):

Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls? Alas their children left the home of their fathers, but it did not fall to the ground and perish for ever, for it was supported by God. Let them therefore return to their common Father, who, forgetting the insults previously heaped on the Apostolic See, will receive them in the most loving fashion.

– Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, Section 11, 1 June 1928

This is not something that has disappeared with Vatican 2:

It is in friendship and brotherhood that I come to you today, desiring to strengthen the respect and love that unites us. But I come especially as chief Shepherd of the Catholic Church, to make a pastoral visit in this land.

– John Paul II, Address of John Paul II at the Arrival in Papua New Guinea, Section 2, 7 May 1984 (emphasis in original)

Perhaps even more clearly than in any of the above quotations, we see the matter expressed in an approved quotation from Bernard of Clairvaux (lived about A.D. 1090 – 1153), sometimes called “the last of the fathers”:

Then he addresses to him these powerful words: “Who art thou.? [sic] Thou art the High Priest and the Sovereign Pontiff. Thou art the prince of pastors and the heir of the apostles . . . by thy jurisdiction, a Peter; and by thy unction, a Christ. Thou art he to whom the keys have been delivered and the sheep entrusted. There are indeed other gate-keepers of heaven, and there are other shepherds of the flock; but thou art in both respects more glorious than they in proportion as thou hast inherited a more excellent name. They have assigned to them particular portions of the flock, his own to each; whereas thou art given charge of all the sheep, as the one Chief Shepherd of the whole flock. Yea, not only of the sheep, but of the other pastors also art thou the sole supreme Shepherd.”[34] And again: “He who wishes to discover something which does not belong to thy charge, will have to go outside the world.”[35]
[34] Ibid. [De Consid.], II, c. 8; Migne, P. L., CLXXXII, 751-c, d.
[35] Ibid., III, c. L; Migne, P. L., CLXXXII, 757-b.

– Pius XII, Doctor Mellifluus (aka Bernard of Clairvaux), Section 25, 24 May 1953 (quotations taken from Bernard – elipsis in original)

Without a doubt, while Roman bishops (and others in that church) may often refer to Jesus as the “chief shepherd” they also claim that title for themselves, even to the point of acknowledging that they view themselves as being in the place of Christ. As with so many issues, they may attempt to deny that it is a contradiction that both they and Jesus be the “sole supreme Shepherd” but eventually folks see through that charade.

II. Scriptural Confusion

Next, we are presented with Scriptural confusion. We are given an argument from analogy, namely that Saul, David, and Solomon were kings over Israel, and consequently that a single earthly sovereign over the church is acceptable to God. The thickets of error are thick here. Let’s try to cull through them:

(1) Analogy to Israel’s Kings is Correct

1 Samuel 8:4-9
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, “Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.”

Israel’s human kings were a symbol of their rejection of God. We agree with the analogy to the appointment of a human pontiff over the church. It too is a sign of a rejection of God. Because they will not truly have Jesus to be the head of their church, they seek an earthly head when they should be content with rule by elders and God.

(2) Why not High (or “chief”) Priest Analogy?

What is odd about the analogy to the kings is not so much the ignorance of the Scriptural condemnation of Israel’s human regime, but overlooking the more obvious parallel of chief priest. There was a chief priest in the Old Covenant, why couldn’t there be one in the New?

After all, the title of “chief priest” is also not something that Roman pontiff has failed to appropriate for himself:

But since the successor of Peter is one, and those of the Apostles are many, it is necessary to examine into the relations which exist between him and them according to the divine constitution of the Church. Above all things the need of union between the bishops and the successors of Peter is clear and undeniable. This bond once broken, Christians would be separated and scattered, and would in no wise form one body and one flock. “The safety of the Church depends on the dignity of the chief priest, to whom if an extraordinary and supreme power is not given, there are as many schisms to be expected in the Church as there are priests” (S. Hieronymus, Dialog, contra Luciferianos, n. 9).

Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, Section 14, 29 June 1896

(As an aside, Jerome’s reference to “chief priest” there is not to the Roman Bishop but to every bishop: “The well-being of a Church depends upon the dignity of its chief-priest, and unless some extraordinary and unique functions be assigned to him, we shall have as many schisms in the Churches as there are priests. Hence it is that without ordination and the bishop’s license neither presbyter nor deacon has the power to baptize.” (Jerome, Dialog Against the Luciferians, Section 9) Thus, it is a misleading use of the quotation. In the text of the dialog itself, moreover, Jerome refers to orthodoxy (not a man) as the chief priest: “For the Holy Ghost must have a clean abode: nor will He become a dweller in that temple which has not for its chief priest the true faith.” (Jerome, Dialog Against the Luciferians, Section 9))

Nevertheless, notice that Leo XIII plainly applies the title his own office. So, it would not be totally surprising if the commenter had made this analogy likewise. Why, then, did he not use it?

Perhaps the reason is that Hebrews makes clear that Christ fulfills the role of the Old Testament high priest. We see this several times:

Hebrew 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 3:1-2
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

Hebrews 4:14-15
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

Hebrews 5:10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

Hebrews 6:20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Hebrews 7:26-27
For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

Hebrews 8:1-2
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

Hebrews 9:11-12
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Hebrews 10:19-22
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

These passages make it abundantly clear that Christ himself is the high priest of the New Covenant, and that consequently there is no room for another high priest, and especially not a merely human high priest. This presumably explains why our Roman Catholic commentator was reluctant to make such a claim and analogical comparison.

(3) Christ our King

What the commenter has overlooked, however, is that Christ is likewise the fulfillment of the kings of Israel. He is not only the high priest but he is also the King. Jesus has not only the Melchizedek priesthood but the Davidic throne.

Luke 1:32-33
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

This was a fulfillment of God’s promise to David:

Psalm 132:11 The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.

As also prophesied by the great prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

And Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 33:14-21:

“Behold, the days come,” saith the LORD, “that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.'” For thus saith the LORD; “David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.”
And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying, “Thus saith the LORD; ‘If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.'”

Jesus is that “Branch” that fulfills the promise to David and the priests. Jesus is both our King and High Priest, the fulfillment of both those types and shadows.

We see the same thing prophesied in Zechariah.

Zechariah 6:9-13:

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, “Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; and speak unto him, saying, ‘Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.‘”

This prophesy had its first fulfilment in a man named Joshua the son of Josedech, but its primary fulfillment was in Jesus Christ, who rebuilt the temple of his own body in three days and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.

As Peter preached, Acts 2:30-32:

Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

We also find confirmation in other passages:

Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Hebrews 8:1-2
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

Hebrews 10:12-13
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Indeed, Jesus is our eternal King:

Hebrews 1:8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

III. Ecclesiastical Confusion

(1) Limits on the Pride of the Popes

Now while the popes have exalted themselves, thinking to place themselves as governors over the Church of God, I have yet to find a place where one referred to himself as “King” of the church. Perhaps it is there in some place that I have yet to find, but none has been so bold in recent memory. Was David a divinely ordained king? Yes. Is the pope? Certainly not, nor (apparently) does he even blasphemously take such a title on himself, whatever analogies his servants may use.

(2) Chief Steward Analogy?

More frequently, Rome’s apologists will attempt to make the analogy that although perhaps the pope cannot be the king of the church, he can be a sort of vice-roy or prime minister. They attempt to assert that the “power of the keys” has something to do with this notion, attempting to make a connection to a reference in Isaiah regarding someone who had the “key of David.” I’ve discussed this more fully in a previous post (link), but suffice to say that this old testament prophecy:

Isaiah 22:22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

had a preliminary fulfillment at the time, and a primary fulfillment in Christ, as it is written:

Revelation 3:7-8
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

IV. Confusion of Reasoning

I was going to call this section “rational confusion,” for the sake of parallelism, but the connotation in English would be wrong. The confusion of reasoning in this comment lies in trying to change the question from “did” to “could.” Since, by now, the comment may no longer be fresh in your mind, I’ll remind you what he said: “If the one, true, single King can (and did) appoint earthly representatives to the position of king, why is the notion that He has appointed an earthly chief shepherds [sic] such a difficult concept for you?”

Notice how the comment seems to argue (implicitly, of course) from the idea that God could appoint a king while still being the one true King, to the idea that God did (just assumed, not demonstrated) appoint an earthly chief shepherd. From a logical standpoint, that misses the main argument by simply assuming what needs to be demonstrated. It needs to be demonstrated that God did appoint such a chief shepherd.

What’s worse about this argument is that it opens a really unnecessary can of worms, but doesn’t close it. Is it really possible for there to be one earthly head of the church? The argument from analogy has failed, as we saw above. Furthermore, while God is omnipotent, if appointing such an earthly monarch over the church would tread on Christ’s unique prerogatives, then it would certainly be impossible for God to do what our commenter suggests, because it would violate God’s character.

The final confusion of reasoning is the commenter’s attempt to suggest that non-acceptance of Rome’s claims is the result not of Rome having a weak argument, but of a flaw in the critic. While a comment such as, “such a difficult concept for you?” may sometimes be justified (particularly after a thorough and logical explanation has been provided) it is easy to abuse it, substituting this kind of remark for an argument in support of the thesis being considered.


The comments have been addressed, and it has been shown that they were misleading, confused (both Scripturally and ecclesiastically), and illogical. There is no reasonable defense for the Roman bishop’s attempted usurpation either of Christ’s unique role as Shepherd, nor of his unique role of King and Priest, which are connected to that Shepherdly role. Likewise, as well, though we have not discussed it above, we might add that the Roman magisterium (by adding to the Word of God) treads also on Christ’s prophetic role. Hopefully the demonstration above will help to shed some light on the errors in the typical response to the idea that the pope is somehow analogous to the kings of Israel, and perhaps it will open some eyes as to the usurpation in which the papacy is involved.


Luther: Justification is a Stand-or-Fall Article of the Christian Faith

March 31, 2009

David Waltz has sparked my interest afresh in the quotation allegedly from Luther that Justification is a doctrine upon which the church stands or falls (link to Waltz’s article). I agree that the expression may not be Luther but is easily derivable from Luther’s teachings.

Waltz has traced it back to Valentin E. Löscher in 1718, but — with some help from Eberhard Jüngel (link) — I have traced it back a bit further to my own favorite Theologian, Francis Turretin, who stated, in his Institutes of Elenctic Theology at Tomus II, Locus 16, Question 1, Section 1:

“Luthero dicitur Articulas stantis et cadentis Ecclesiœ

You can see for yourself:

Text not available

The image above is from the 1819 printing of Turretin’s work, but (of course) Turretin’s first edition is much older. The second volume of Turretin’s work was published in 1682, which would beat out Löscher. Turretin (at least in the editions I can find) doesn’t provide any citation, and it is not clear to me whether Turretin had intended to quote or paraphrase Luther.

I don’t have access, at the moment, to a first edition of Turretin’s Institutes to verify that the quotation appeared in the original edition. Both Waltz and Jüngel (linked above) provide some interesting bases for the pseudo-quotation or paraphrase. Jüngel notes that previous attempts to definitively track down the quotations origin have proved fruitless.

On the other hand, the Smalcald Articles do suggest that Luther viewed the issue as being a stand-or-fall principle, and so do many other of Luther’s writings. The Smalcald Articles provide a good basis for the quotation as a paraphrase when they state:

5] Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink to ruin. For there is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4:12. And with His stripes we are healed, Is. 53:5. And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practice in opposition to the Pope, the devil, and the [whole] world. Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us.



P.S. Luthero dicitur means “It was said by Luther.”
P.P.S. See p. 633 of Volume 2 of Turretin’s Institutes in the Giger-Dennison edition, if you wish to see how Giger-Dennison handled this.

Response to Paul Hoffer’s Comments

March 5, 2009

Someone [Mr. James Swan] directed me to the comment box of an entry of David Waltz’s blog where Mr. Hoffer has been providing some information and some misinformation (source). I’ll respond to Mr. Hoffer’s comments more or less line by line:

Hoffer: “One of the problems with Mr. Fan’s (would he be considered a Pseudo-Turrettini since he posts anonymously?) attack is that he hasn’t reviewed the actual text in question.”

I answer: Mr. Hoffer has a problem with assuming things and passing them off as facts. This is an example. I had reviewed the actual text in question between the time I first raised this issue in 2008 and the time I posted the more definitive post in 2009. It is Mr. Hoffer who has not reviewed the actual text in question, nor did he even bother to ask me whether I had reviewed the actual text, before he posted his misinformation.

Hoffer: “He is merely googling what he thinks are references to it without verifying it.”

I answer: This is also not true, for essentially the reasons indicated above. The fact that Mr. Hoffer starts by posting his assumptions as though they were fact seriously undermines his criticism.

Hoffer: “For example in one of the posts that Rev. Temple mentions, Mr. Fan cited to works by both Virginia Burrus and David Frankfurter as claiming that a pseudo-St. Athanasius wrote the quote. If he had gotten Burrus’ work, he would have found that she is merely an editor of a book that contains a portion of previously mentioned work by Frankfurter. So there are not two citations, but merely one and Mr. Frankfurter does not state why he believes that it was written by a pseudo-Athanasius.”

It is reasonable to point out that Burrus is the editor of the work, not an independent author. I have provided an update to the original 2009 post to clarify this, as well as to identify several other editors besides Burrus who have edited Frankfurter’s works with the citation as pseudo-Athanasius.

[I omit a list of authentic writings that Mr. Hoffer provides.]

Mr. Hoffer: “Now without comparing each and every one of these citations (some of which have not been translated in English that I have found yet) against the particular work, how does he know that the particular text in question is actually spurious?”

This is where it is handy to resort to scholars who deal with the works of Athanasius. Having to compare each spurious or dubious work against all the other known works can be a momentual task, particularly with some of the more prolific authors like Origen or Augustine. In this case, that has been done.

Mr. Hoffer: “Now there is one thing that Mr. Fan is correct about-the work in question is not correctly labeled. Lefort’s “L’homelie de St. Athanase des papyrus de Turin” does not translate from the French into English as Saint Athanasius’ “The Homily of the Papyrus of Turin.” It actually translates as “The Discourse of Saint Athanasius” from (or found in) the Turin papyri (plural), the Turin reference is a reference to the great museum in Turin that has substantial holdings of Eygptian papyri spanning over 3000 years. The problem with the translation is that French does not have a plural for papyrus. One has to look at the word “des” (de + les) to see that the reference is to a plural of the word.”

Leaving aside the fact that “homily” would be a favored translation over “discourse” simply because of its cognate relationship, Mr. Hoffer is right that the “des” does imply a plurality of papyrus documents. Thus, Mr. Gambero’s translation of the phrase (or his English editor/translator’s translation) could have more accurately used the more awkward “papyri” in place of “papyrus.”

Mr. Hoffer wrote: “I hope to have my hands on LeFort’s work from Le Museon amd translations of the authentic works this weekend to do the due diligence that Mr. Fan should have done before writing his piece.”

As noted above, Mr. Hoffer’s criticism is misplaced because he himself didn’t bother to investigate his own claims before making them. As noted above, I had brought this spurious (or, at best, dubious) quotation to Mr. Hoffer’s attention in 2008 when he himself tried to use it. He indicated at that time that he was going to investigate the matter. Now, over half a year later, he is finally getting around to it, only after a more definitive post has been provided.

Mr. Hoffer wrote: “I will let you know what I come up with here and on my own blog.”

This was Mr. Hoffer’s comment on March 3, 2009, if the blogging software’s date stamp is accurate. Scrolling down through that comment box, we find, later that day another post (source):

Hoffer: “BTW, I have already gotten ahold of one of the Pseudo-Athanasius’ citations and determined that it does not refer to the same work as the so-called “The Homily of the Papyrus of Turin.” I anticipate being able to clear some of this up or if nothing else shed some light on the matter somewhat soon.”

This is probably because a Latin name for the work is the name that scholars typically use in such lists. That name is “Homilia adversus Arium, de s. genetrice dei Maria” (“Homily against Arius, of the holy mother of god Mary”).

There was also an additional comment speculating on how the document came to be in Coptic and arguing that the obscurity of the text doesn’t invalidate its truthfulness or authenticity. These are essentially tangents. As Mr. Hoffer went on to admit in yet another comment, “Language that a manuscript is written in is a factor that scholars weigh in determining the work’s authenticity, but it is not sine qua non of the process.”

Throughout the day of March 3, Mr. Hoffer posted a couple more posts, indicating (for example) that he had found out that one of the pseudo-Athanasian works is not the same as this homily, and that Lefort translated at least one work of Athanasius from the Coptic that is thought to be authentic (of course, it is not this particular work, so that’s not a real issue).

When, late in the day judging by the time stamps, Mr. Hoffer discovered that I had actually read the article, he wrote: “To all, I see that Mr. Fan has posted another article on his website and it appears that he has obtained a copy of the 1958 edition of the Le Museon where the quote is taken from. Good for him! I am very glad that he has taken the time to review the magazine. It’s unfortunate that he did not take the time to do that prior to writing his earlier piece. From what he is saying, it appears that the article does not claim that the text is either authentic or spurious. I hope to see for myself and will report my findings.” (source)

Again, one wonders why Mr. Hoffer just assumes things and treats them as fact. Contrary to his negative assumption, I did do that “prior to writing [my] earlier piece” (though not, of course, prior to my very first comments on the subject in 2008, where I first raise the issue).

After that, I have seen nothing either in that comment box or Mr. Hoffer’s blog. Of course, perhaps Mr. Hoffer is still tracking down the article from Le Muséon, or trying to verify that the work “Homilia adversus Arium, de s. genetrice dei Maria” is the same dubious/spurious work as the Homily of the Papyrus of Turin.

I would think that Mr. Hoffer would reach no significantly different conclusion than I did once he has researched the evidence more fully. I hope, as he proceeds, that he will consider beginning from the more reasonable assumption that I check things first, before making claims about them.


Athanasius thinks the Foundation is What?

May 27, 2008

Recently, David Waltz provided the following alleged quotation from Athanasius, which immediately caught my attention:

“Moreover, aside from these scriptural utterances, let us also consider the tradition and teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, that which the Lord has given, the apostles preached, and the fathers [596A] guarded. This is the foundation on which the Church is established, and the one who strays form it is not a Christian and should no longer be called so…”( Athanasius, Epistola I Ad Serapion – English trans. by Khaled Anatolis, Athanasius, Routledge: London, 2004, p. 227.)] (link to Waltz’s article)

Upon digging in to this quotation, I discovered an interesting fact: the phrase “aside from these scriptural utterances” is not literally present in the standard Greek and Latin texts of Athanasius’ letter to Serapion (ad Serapionem).

(click on the image for a larger size)

In case anyone is wondering, I am using the source text from which Anatolis translated (Migne). I’m not saying that Anatolis’ translation is bad – just not strictly literal. Taken within the broader context of what is being said, the translation is not necessarily bad. Taken out of context, though the translation is misleading. For the word “Scripture” – which is emphasized in Waltz’s argument – is not a word emphasized by Athanasius. Instead, it has been supplied to help the flow of the text by the translator. It’s really aimed at distinguishing the previous Scriptural statements about the Holy Spirit himself from the following about the Trinity. For within the same section (28) Athanasius immediately turns to Ephesians 4:6, Exodus 3:14, and Romans 9:5 – and concludes by establishing what the faith of the Church is by quoting the Lord’s words from Matthew 28:19. It is the baptismal formula and Ephesians 4:6 (over all, through all, in [you] all) that Athanasius calls the foundation of the Church’s faith (see the first part of section 29).

Thus, I think we have to conclude that Waltz’s tag line for the above quotation from Athanasius (“BTW, in the many citations that James provided in his essay from the corpus of Athanasius, he conviently [sic] left out this one”) was a bit misleading at best – for Athanasius not only was saying nothing contrary to Scripture – he was simply turning from one set of Scriptural doctrines to another.

Surely Athanasius does mention the universal church and its traditions – but he does so with respect to their continuing to observe the doctrine of Scripture – the doctrine of Matthew 28:19 and Ephesians 4:6. Thus, to suggest that such a quotation to which one must add not only an explanatory “Scriptures” but an emphasis on that interpolated word was “conv[en]iently left out” is rather absurd.

As an interesting aside, it was brought to my attention that William Webster has commented on this very quotation in his work Holy Scripture – The Ground and Pillar of our Faith, Vol. 2. p. 59. In that place Webster explains: “The tradition Athanasius refers to is the teaching of Christ in Matthew 28, which forms the foundation for the various creeds of the church and therefore the faith of the Church.”


Waltz on Luther – "articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae"

April 16, 2008

David Waltz, a Catholic (I think), poster with whom I’ve crossed swords a few times, has posted a recent blog article in which he identifies a quotation that he believes has been misattributed to Martin Luther. (link to post)

First of all, thanks to David for his post. It is always good to clear the historical record, and it seems that David has put some real time and effort into this.

Leaving aside a rhetorical matter for another time, a couple of notes on the substance of the research:

1) The Latin phrase should be, I think, “articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae” not “articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae” ;

2) It it is interesting to note that in addition to the non-Catholics that David identified, Cardinal Newman also seemingly attributes the expression to Luther (see here);

3) Wesley claims that he held Justification by faith to be articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae as early as 1738, (see here), and as well attributes the quotation to Luther but perhaps his memory is faulty (of course the 1738 date would not be inconsistent with the 1718 coining that David asserts) (After Wesley, we often see the quotation attributed to Luther in Methodist circles, which tends to suggest that Wesley would be responsible for the propagation of that particular myth, if indeed it is a myth.);

4) David may want to check up on the loose end frayed by these footnotes
– (a) (here), which seems to hint that the phrase may be Lutheran in its origin;
– (b) (here), which cites to Luther’s commentary on the Psalms of Degrees;
– (c) (here), wherein a counter-article in Bellarmine’s writings is described in the same words, though I could not find such a description in my edition of Bellarmine’s works.

5) Like David, I am unable to find any actual instance where Luther used the phrase.

The doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone is certainly a litmus test for evangelical orthodoxy. Given Luther’s heavy emphasis on justification by faith alone, Luther probably would have agreed with such a statement, whether or not he himself originated the catchy Latin phrasing of the matter. For it is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, that men are saved from the guilt of their sins and made partakers of eternal life.


Premature Exultation – Semi-Augustinianism

March 18, 2008

David Waltz seems excited by a quotation from R.C. Sproul regarding labeling Roman Catholic doctrine.

Waltz writes: “The fact that the Catholic Church maintains that it is impossible to accept the gospel without grace (gratia praeveniens), this separates Her teaching from “all forms of semi-Pelagianism”; instead, embracing “moderate-Augustinianism, or of what might be called Semi-Augustinianism, in distinction from Semi-Pelagianism.”” (first quotation is from Sproul, second quotation is from Schaff, and the emphasis was provided by Waltz) (source)

Waltz’s exultation at being distinguished from “all forms of semi-Pelagianism,” is a bit premature. You see, Sproul – like the others we’ve examined (link) (link) – is careful to distinguish between Augustine’s correct position and Rome’s incorrect position – although I do not think that Sproul was necessarily thinking of Rome in the discussion he was conducting.

What one wishes to call the position is the wrapper: Semi-Augustinian with Sproul or Schaff (in his narrowest sense, see here, for example); Semi-Semi-Pelagian with Warfield; or Semi-Pelagian with Schaff (in the broadest sense in which he uses the term). The content inside the wrapper is the problem: the erroneous position of Rome. It’s not wrong because it disagrees with Augustine, of course. It’s not wrong because it leans toward Peliagius, either. It’s wrong because it disagrees with Scripture, as noted here (link).


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