Archive for the ‘Deep in History’ Category

Separation of Religion and Politics

October 28, 2008

Zenit news reports (and Global Catholic News repeats) that Benedict XVI has asserted, “the distinction between religion and politics is a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions.”

In context, Benedict stated:

The [Roman] Catholic Church is eager to share the richness of the Gospel’s social message, for it enlivens hearts with a hope for the fulfillment of justice and a love that makes all men and women truly brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. She carries out this mission fully aware of the respective autonomy and competence of Church and State. Indeed, we may say that the distinction between religion and politics is a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions.

(insertion of “Roman” and emphasis are my own) This is an interesting claim coming from a man who is both the head of a church and the head of state of small nation. In fact, as the Vatican’s own web site announces:

Even though Vatican City has no direct access to the sea, by virtue of the Barcelona Declaration of 1921, it is allowed to sail its own vessels flying the papal flag. However, the Vatican does not avail itself of this right at this time.

(sourcecache of source)

That was not always the case, as many ships – even warships – have flown under the papal flag. As described by the Rosary Magazine:

The Flag of the Vatican
The papal flag is comparatively unfamiliar outside of the Eternal City. The war flag of the defunct temporal power of the Pope was white and in its center stood figures of St. Peter and St. Paul, with the cross keys and tiara above them. The flag of the merchant ships owned by the subjects of the States of the Church is a curious combination, half yellow and half white. In the banner used by the Crusader King of Jerusalem, Godfrey, the only tinctures introduced were the two metals, gold and silver, five golden crosses being placed upon a silver field. This was done with the intention of making the device unique, as in all other cases it is deemed false heraldry to place metal on metal.


For more information on how the Church of Rome began to accept as an inescapable fact the general separation of Church and State, see this interesting book on the “The Last Days of Papal Rome” (link).

Benedict’s comments are generally in accord with the spirit of Vatican II, but they are as out of touch with history as can be. The movement for separation of church and state is not properly attributed to Catholicism but to “Protestantism” (broadly used) and more especially to the Separatists and Baptists. To be deep in history is to cease to be a Post-Vatican-II Romanist.


H.T. to SDA pastor Bill Cork at Oak Leaves (link), for bringing the Pope’s comments to my attention and to the philosophical blog Siris (link) for bringing the Papal admiralty fact to my attention.

He Descended Into Hell

June 27, 2008

Recently, an article by Pastor Hyde, published as: “In Defense of the Descendit: A Confessional Response to Contemporary Critics of Christ’s Descent into Hell” (The Confessional Presbyterian 3 (2007) 104–117) has come to my attention. (link to article)

I enjoyed the article, which provides a Reformed rebuttal both to criticisms (from well-meaning but ill-informed Reformed and other Evangelical folks) and abuses (from Romanists and others). It’s a great example of taking back the so-called Apostle’s Creed from historical revisionism.

Although, of course, we do not consider the Apostle’s Creed to be itself apostolic, nor to be authoritative, it is still encouraging to see that it is not something that must be rejected as heterodox.


Athanasius – "Homily of the Papyrus of Turin" – Pseudographic?

May 8, 2008

I’ve noticed that several Roman Catholic apologists have relied on a writing identified by them as “Homily of the Papyrus of Turin” and attributed to Athanasius. I wonder whether this is spuria or genuine. The name of the document is not itself frightfully reassuring. It suggests attribution to Athanasius based on a single copy (probably in Coptic-Sahaddic not Greek) from the 6th century or so. As far as I can tell, it was unknown to the Western church as part of the Athanasian corpus and has become known via the journal Le Muséon in 1958:

Le Muséon année 1958 LXXI 3-4 Revue d’études orientales (A Louvain Chez l’Association Le Muséon, fondé en 1881 par Charles De Harlez 1958, brochée grand in 8 de 190.)

Sommaire: L’homélie de S. Athanase des papyrus de Turin. Un nouveau manuscrit de la Narratio de rebus Armeniae. La vision de S. Sabak en grec. Les questions-réponses du ms. Vat. arabe. Das studium der altgeorgischen sprache in georgien. Les catéchèses de S. Theodore studite. Pseudo-Shenoute ou Christian-Behaviour. Nécrologie de Mgr Joseph Lebon et de Michel tarchnisvili. Bibliographie.

and subsequent citation by popular Roman Catholic apologists (particularly English-speaking apologists), especially because of its discussion of Mary. I’m not sure whether there is any reason to consider it be anything more than the writings of yet another Pseudo-Athanasius.

In fact, David Frankfurter appears to identify it as Pseudo-Athanasius in footnote 82 at page 35 of Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Anitique Egypt. (link)

I wonder whether any of the Catholic apologists who have been citing this work (e.g. Steve Ray, Dave Armstrong, Jimmy Akin, and [most recently] Paul Hoffer) have any defense of its authenticity. I’m guessing that each of them got the citation from some secondary source or other (perhaps even tertiary, as Lefort appears to have provided his translation in French), and did not perform any research as to the authenticity of the quotation.

Nevertheless, my guess could be wrong, and I’d be delighted to be mistaken. I don’t mean this article to suggest that I’ve definitively proved the spurious nature of the quotation, but simply given the reader good reason to question its authenticity. If there is another side to the argument, I’d love to hear it.


This is Catholic Internet Apologetics and a Reasonable Response thereto

March 6, 2008

GNRHead posted a two-part diatribe broadsiding Dr. White with a significant number of accusations, even taking time to wave his finger at the camera and insist that Dr. White should be ashamed of himself.

Dr. White posted the video that I have embedded below that makes short work of the bulk of GNRHead’s argument. There is certainly more that could be said, and there are unaswered (though not unanswerable) allegations.

The main point, though, is a good one. It is important for apologists to have a reasonably broad knowledge of church history, because there are all sorts of absurd claims that float about on the Internet.

Here is the video:

I hope you enjoy.

Sola Deo Gloria,


Augustine vs. Modern Catholicism

February 11, 2008

Augustine, as demonstrated in the video below had a view of the Real presence that was more similar to the Reformed (or Orthodox) view, than to the Lutheran or Roman Catholic view. Skip to 5 minutes, 30 seconds, for the relevant material. The first five and half minutes are interesting, but mostly relevant to the attacks on Dr. White posted on Youtube by GNRHead (William Albrecht).

You see, Augustine explained that it was foolishness to suppose that Christ was to be carnally consumed.

Thanks be to our Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus!


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