Archive for the ‘John Bugay’ Category

Ratzinger the Scotian Pantheist?

August 20, 2012

In the comment box of the Greenbaggins blog, John Bugay has provided some material from Ratzinger/Benedict XVI that seems rather pantheistic. Naturally, some of the CtC crowd have taken offense at this, and have responded. While there is something amusing about watching the defense of Ratzinger by those who serve him, the matter is not quite as cut and dried as they may like to believe.

On the one hand, Ratzinger has (on a variety of occasions) identified pantheism as an error. He used the word “pantheism” to do so (an example is present in my comments below). So far so good. But what does he consider to be heretical pantheism? One can engage in the word-concept fallacy on either side of the orthodox-heretical divide.

So, it would be helpful to see whether he has embraced any teachings that have already been condemned as pantheistic. Thankfully, we don’t have to a detailed comparison of his teachings to see if they line up with someone like John Scotus,

After all, Ratzinger/Benedict XVI characterized John Scotus thus: “In fact, John Scotus represents a radical Platonism that sometimes seems to approach a pantheistic vision, even though his personal subjective intentions were always orthodox.”

He goes on to state: “John Scotus, here too using terminology dear to the Christian tradition of the Greek language, called this experience for which we strive “theosis”, or divinization, with such daring affirmations that he might be suspected of heterodox pantheism.”

And not only was Scotus (whom Ratzinger defends) suspected of heterodox pantheism, after his death his work was condemned for this heresy by a regional council and Honorius III in 1225 ordered all copies of the offending book (the very one that Ratzinger goes on to quote with approval from) to be burnt. He even described it as “swarming with worms of heretical perversity” (see here).

So, perhaps papal defenders can explain to us why we should accept the teaching of Benedict XVI as orthodox, given that it seems to endorse the teaching of John Scotus, condemned by Honorius III. (The quotations above are from Benedict XVI’s general audience June 10, 2009.)

And then, and perhaps this is key, the advocate of the papacy can explain why we are able to judge the orthodoxy of Scotus based on his writings (praised by one pope, condemned by another), but we lack the authority to judge what doctrines the Bible teaches.

– TurretinFan

P.S. If Honorius III can be forgiven for seeing pantheism in Scotus (assuming he was wrong to do so), perhaps Bugay can be forgiven (same assumption) for seeing pantheism in Benedict XVI (since at least he would seem at least to have Honorius III on his side).

UPDATE: Bryan Cross responded to the comment above. His response and my reply are inter-mixed:

The aspects of Scotus which Pope Benedicts commends are not the errors for which his work was later condemned. So in no way does his general audience on Scotus call his [i.e. Pope Benedict’s] orthodoxy into question.

a) Yes, they were (“… daring affirmations that he might be suspected of heterodox pantheism … “).
b) If my above demonstration was insufficient, note that he goes on to state, in so many words: “In fact, the entire theological thought of John Scotus is the most evident demonstration of the attempt to express the expressible of the inexpressible God, based solely upon the mystery of the Word made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth.”
c) Praising a work that was condemned by his predecessor would be enough to call his orthodoxy into question, even in the absence of specific praise of his apparently pantheistic teachings and of his “entire theological thought.”

I don’t assume that you are able to judge rightly concerning the orthodoxy of Scotus. I don’t assume that apart from the Church I could rightly judge such a thing.

Your church provides contradictory guidance. Honorius III condemns and insults the book, Benedict XVI praises and quotes the book. Which pope will you pick?



Comparing My Brother to Abraham and Elisha

November 24, 2011

One of my brethren recently has been criticized by a number of people because he did not accept one or more gifts.  There is a lot more that could be said about people whose pride is offended when their gifts are refused, but my brother’s own attitude was the thing that caught my eye.  It reminded me of this:

Genesis 14:22-24

And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

I suppose I could have thought instead of another gift refusal:

2 Kings 5:15-16  & 26-27

And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.

And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

Is my brother Abraham or Elisha?  Obviously not.  His circumstances differ, as do the circumstances of his refusal.  That said, I think that only a Biblically illiterate person could think that there cannot be good reasons for refusing gifts.


Defining "Church"

October 17, 2011

John Bugay’s recent post, “Whatever else the “definition of the word church” contains, it must be purged of Roman conceptions of Rome ” led me to consider this question: Suppose you were to ask one of the apostles to define the term “the church.”  Would that definition have any reference to Rome or her bishop?

If not, isn’t Rome’s concept of “the church” at odds with that of the apostles?

Read the New Testament for yourself.  Learn what the apostles believed and taught about “the church.”  You won’t find any reference to the papacy, and certainly not to Roman papacy amongst those pages.


Some Interesting Papacy-Related Quotations

June 7, 2011

John Bugay has lifted two interesting quotations from a recent book entitled, “The Petrine Ministry in the Early Patristic Tradition” (Eerdmans, Nov. 2010).

The first quotation includes “the monepiscopacy replaced presbyterial governance in Rome only in the mid-or late second century” from a Lutheran scholar.

The second quotation includes “The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter,” from a Roman communion Archbishop.

Hopefully that whets your appetite for more! The context for the quotations can be found via the preview of the book, for those interested.


Roman Catholics and History

March 18, 2010

One of the problems facing Roman Catholic apologetics generally is history. History demonstrates that many of Rome’s dogmas are not apostolic, coming into being long after the apostolic era. There have been a variety of ways that Roman Catholic apologists have attempted to deal with this problem (from simple denials of the historical fact, to more nuanced responses such as Newman’s development hypothesis). However, many who have read presentations on history from a Roman Catholic perspective are unaware of what some of Rome’s servants have viewed as their role with respect to history. In the article I’ve linked below, John Bugay has provided some evidence of what we might conveniently refer to as “historical eisegeis.” (link)

Literature on the Early Roman Church

February 3, 2010

The early Roman church was a remarkable church. It was not, however, much like the Roman Catholic church. In an interesting post, John Bugay at Reformation 500 has explored some of the scholarly literature relating to the issue of the development of the papacy (link to post).

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