Archive for the ‘Scott Windsor’ Category

The Roman Catholic Problem of Hell

January 20, 2014

Scott Windsor has a post, “The Matter of Hell,” in which he sides with unordained Michael Voris against ordained priest Robert Barron. By contrast, Mark Shea has a post, “Michael Voris Again Smears an Innocent Catholic,” in which he sides with Barron against Voris.

Shea argues that Barron is saying almost exactly what Pope Benedict XVI said on the topic, whereas Windsor argues that Barron’s position comes close to falling under the condemnation of the Second Council of Constantinople. Per Windsor, Barron’s view is “scandalous at best and perhaps even heretical” whereas Shea thinks “Barron is guilty of no heresy, has said nothing “wrong” and is perfectly within the pale of orthodox speculation.”

At issue is Barron’s apparent view (which he says agrees with Balthazar’s view) we should believe that Hell is at least possible (as a metaphor for loneliness from divine love, not actually a place) but that we can reasonably hope that Hell is empty based on God’s universal salvific desire. Barron concedes to the big tent nature of Roman Catholicism, pointing out that folks like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas would disagree with him.

Shea likewise balances his comment by pointing out:

Now those, such as Ralph Martin who speculate that few will be saved are also (obviously) also within the pale of orthodoxy and share their opinion with not a few Fathers and theologians. But at the end of the day, that’s all you have: two schools of opinion–both of which are allowed by the Church.

But it’s not just Windsor and Voris vs. Shea and Barron. We could add that we have previously pointed out contemporary cardinals holding that hell may be empty (Cardinal George Pell and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor).

So, what’s the big deal? Well, on the one hand – the Scriptures are clear that there will be men in hell. For example:

Matthew 7:23
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Revelation 20:14
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Matthew 22:14
For many are called, but few are chosen.

1 Corinthians 1:26
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

Matthew 26:28
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mark 14:24
And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Romans 9:22
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

Matthew 8:12
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

And we could on and on.  Although the great Origen erred in hoping for the eventual restoration of all creation, such a view is not consistent with Scripture’s teachings both that hell is real and that the punishment of hell is eternal punishment.

So, on the one hand, Windsor is right that people like Barron and a couple of Windsor’s cardinals are wrong.  On the other hand, such a problem is not resolvable on Roman Catholic grounds for basically the reasons that Shea and Barron enunciate: there has been no “official teaching” that anathematizes one or the other position, and consequently both contradictory positions are acceptable, even though both cannot be right.

Worse yet for Windsor and Voris, the evidence is that the current hierarchy supports and teaches the erroneous view.  I have not confirmed whether Shea is accurate in characterizing the teachings of Benedict XVI, but it clearly extends at least up to the cardinals.

The most remarkably thing is that Windsor and Voris continue to trust in this church (which teaches and promotes errors that they themselves are able to identify) rather than trusting in God alone and His Word. They may be able to convince themselves that these same hierarchs would never commit their erroneous doctrines to an allegedly infallible document, but such thinking seems wishful indeed in view of the highly compromised documents of Vatican II, not to mention the victory of the ultramontanists in Vatican I.



Binding and Loosing – a "Matter of Interpretation"?

April 23, 2013

Roman Catholics have the burden of establishing that there is some rule of faith outside Scripture.  One typical appeal (and one I recently heard) is an appeal to the binding and loosing mentioned in Matthew 16 and 18.  The problem with such an appeal is that “binding” and “loosing,” do not refer to defining dogma.

There are at least two main ways of looking at them.  One way is looking at them in terms of church discipline.  Another way of looking at them is in terms of the proclamation of the gospel.  But the Roman Catholic apologist’s way of looking at the text as supposedly conferring a power of infallibly defining dogma is different from either of those.

At this point, the RC apologist said, “… now we’re down to a matter of interpretation.”  Yes, it’s a matter of interpretation as opposed to say a matter of one person just blatantly saying, “because my church says so.”  Yet matters of interpretation are often still resolvable based on the text, context, and so forth.  So, just labeling something a “matter of interpretation” is not really an out for our friend.

The problem for this particular RC apologist (and others like him) is that his own church, in her official teachings, interprets “binding and loosing” as related to discipline (all quotations from the official Catechism of the Catholic Church):

881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.” This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

1444 In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.”

1445 The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.

1478 An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.

553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.” The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

979 In this battle against our inclination towards evil, who could be brave and watchful enough to escape every wound of sin? “If the Church has the power to forgive sins, then Baptism cannot be her only means of using the keys of the Kingdom of heaven received from Jesus Christ. The Church must be able to forgive all penitents their offenses, even if they should sin until the last moment of their lives.”

980 It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church:

Penance has rightly been called by the holy Fathers “a laborious kind of baptism.” This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn.

981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles “so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.” The apostles and their successors carry out this “ministry of reconciliation,” not only by announcing to men God’s forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:

[The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit’s action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.

982 There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. “There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.

Now, my Roman Catholic friends know very well that disciplinary decisions are not accorded the charism of infallibility in Roman Catholic theology. Yet they argue as though the verse teaches that the power to bind and loose implies infallibility. There’s a third way between between their church’s view and their view, as mentioned above.

As William Webster has explained, the keys of the kingdom of heaven were entrusted to the apostles in the form of entrusting them with the gospel message to proclaim.  Thus, the binding and loosing there refers to the proclamation of the true gospel.

Isaiah 61:1The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 

Luke 4:18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

After all, the gospels are the keys that unlock the gates of hell, allowing the church (all believers – all those who confess that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God) to be resurrected unto eternal life. Those who do not follow the true gospel will not enter into heaven – those who do, will.

The apostles have handed down (traditioned) that gospel to us in the writings of the New Testament.  It was once delivered and remains the same today as it was when the apostles delivered it.

– TurretinFan

The "Bind and Loose" Argument Rebutted

April 2, 2013

Over at GreenBaggins, Scott tried to make an argument for an infallible rule of faith other than the Bible.  He wrote: “The fact is that Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18 teach that man and/or those men can bind or loose, not just sin, but whatsoever they choose.”  Let’s consider this argument piece by piece:

“that man and/or those men”
Peter and the other apostles are gone.  Francis, like his predecessor Benedict XVI, is not an apostle of Jesus Christ, he did not personally receive revelation from Jesus as they did, It is a leap to say that the apostles could do X, therefore someone who is not an apostle can do X.

“bind and loose”
Of course, “bind and loose” doesn’t sound anything like “define dogma.”  It sounds more like freeing people from their sins or leaving people in condemnation for their sins.

“not just sin”
That sounds like Scott is saying, “sin and more.”  But Rome’s teaching of infallibility is that Rome is infallible only in her doctrinal and moral definitions, not in her exercise of discipline.  So, if it is “sin and more” and implies infallibility, then Scott has proved a point that is stronger than what Rome can adopt.  After all, a Roman bishop exonerated Pelagius (and then later condemned), a Roman bishop condemned Athanasius (and then later exonerated), and let’s not even get into the trial of Galileo.

“whatsoever they choose”
In Roman Catholic theology, the definition of dogma is (officially) not arbitrary.  For example, CCC 86 states:

“Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”

Of course, I acknowledge that in practice the power is arbitrarily exercised (contrary to CCC 86), but this is just an internal inconsistency.

Likewise, to be precise the text does not mention choice, it just states that what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.

– TurretinFan

Follow-Up With Scott Windsor

December 23, 2010

Mr. Windsor has a brand new post (link to post) in which he attempts to respond to my post of yesterday (link to my post). There’s not much new.

In my response to my point that he is committing a fallacy of emphasis, he insisted that his position is not novel and quoted (he claimed) from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Here’s what he said:

I’ll begin with #6 – My explanation is not new. The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia says: “But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam (aka Original Sin) — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death.” The article actually dates back to 1910 – before even my parents were born.

I trust this will silence the false allegation that this was somehow my “novel interpretation.” I have also posted this part of my response to TF’s blog.

Except that’s not actually what the entry says. The “(aka Original Sin)” is Mr. Windsor’s insertion. What it actually says is this:

The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin, the state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death.

(bold is mine, italics are original)

After that, he claims he doesn’t need to give a supporting argument for his assertion (“It is not up to me to point out what the supporting argument should be”). In the world of reason, of course, people can’t just make assertions.

He goes on to address two arguments I did not make, to wit:

1) He points out that Luther didn’t write in Greek. Who said he did? I certainly didn’t say so.

2) He alleges that, in context, Luther can’t be referring to Jesus’ brethren. I’m quite sure Luther isn’t talking about the conception of any of Jesus’ brethren, and I certainly wasn’t suggesting otherwise.

He then claims I’ve abandoned my Greek argument. What argument exactly? Presumably it is one of those two arguments I didn’t make.

He clarifies that his use of “ACCURATE” to describe a translation here “refers to the misplaced insertion of Greek into this discussion as if to confuse the reader.” While I grant that Mr. Windsor was one of my readers, and that he was quite confused, I think he has only himself to blame for that. I didn’t suggest in the least that the Greek word was a translation of anything that Luther wrote.

Mr. Windsor then basically admits that he had no basis for his claim regarding “every translator” but argues that if there were at least two translators, then he was correct. Of course, the only thing he would appear to be correct about is in his defeat of the straw man position that the Greek word is supposed to appear in the English text.

Mr. Windsor identifies the perpetual virginity as a side topic, as it indeed it is. That was, of course, why the point was raised inside parenthesis in my original comment. It was an aside – a point of interest for the reader.

He then makes the untrue assertion: “TF is alleging Luther used Greek in his writings.” Now, don’t get me wrong. Luther probably did use Greek words in his writings at certain points, but that has not been my argument here. Mr. Windsor simply hasn’t followed what I have said.

After quoting my demonstration of my position and over twenty quotations from Ineffabilis Deus, Mr. Windsor boldly alleges: “First off, TF has misrepresented Catholic teaching here.” That is a bold allegation because I’ve just presented numerous quotations from an official papal document, and indeed from the very document that defines the dogma of the immaculate conception.

Mr. Windsor continues: “The whole document, Ineffabilis Deus, does not define the Immaculate Conception – only one paragraph in it does and here it is for the reader”. One supposes that Mr. Windsor thinks this contradicts my characterization of Ineffabilis Deus as “the document that defined the dogma.” If he does think that, it’s simply because of some weakness of his own. The document defines the dogma, whether it does so in one of its many paragraphs or all of its many paragraphs – the same way that Pope Pius IX defined the dogma, although that does not mean that every word that ever came out of Pope Pius IX’s mouth (or pen) was the definition of the dogma. This is really just elementary English, in my opinion, but pointing this kind of thing out brings complaints of ad hominem from Mr. Windsor. In point of fact, my characterization is pretty much exactly the same characterization that one will find at EWTN, which describes Ineffabilis Deus as “Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX solemnly defining the dogma of the Immaulate Conception, 8 December 1854.”

Mr. Windsor then quoted the formal definition of the dogma. Ironically, this formal definition is actually not a whole paragraph, or even a whole sentence. It is part of one sentence of one paragraph of one section of the document. Nevertheless, I think in fairness to Mr. Windsor we should point out that the portion he quoted is the formal definition, could stand alone as a sentence, and is long enough to be a paragraph.

Mr. Windsor then stated: “That’s it – the rest of the document is Pope Pius IX’s explanations – but the only part which can be called ‘infallible’ is the definition itself.” Again, who said otherwise? I certainly didn’t.

Mr. Windsor then states:

Secondly, the definition makes no mention of the temporal punishments due to Original Sin, and we believe she did suffer and die – which are part of these temporal punishments. Some may maintain that she didn’t die – and was taken up just prior to her death – THAT definition only specifies “having completed the course of earthly life…”

Yes, those who follow Rome cannot decide amongst themselves whether or not Mary died. And yes, Roman theology, even though it teaches that Mary was preserved from original sin, irrationally permits her to suffer the punishments due to sin. We will gladly grant Mr. Windsor those points – particularly since we have never said otherwise.

Of course, none of that supports Mr. Windsor’s claim that Mary had original sin, just not its stain (as though the two were separable). And furthermore, if Mr. Windsor believes that the meaning of the words of the paragraph defining the dogma can be considered in a vacuum, without considering the usage of the words throughout the document, he is mistaken. Even though the rest of the document is not considered “infallible,” it still provides the context in which the defining paragraph is to be understood.

Mr. Windsor’s attempt to isolate the part of the sentence from its context is noted but futile. We all know that it has to be understood within context in order to be properly understood. Even Mr. Windsor knows that, whether he wants to admit it or not.

Moreover, while the rest of document may not be “infallible,” it is still official. It is still papal. Mr. Windsor cannot simply ignore it because it contradicts his position. As between what Pope Pius IX thinks Roman theology is and what layman Windsor thinks Roman theology is, I think it is not “ludicrous” to think that it is Mr. Windsor who has a deficient understanding of Roman teaching.


Quick Response to Windsor on Luther and Mary

December 22, 2010

One of my comments has been addressed by Scott Windsor (of the Roman communion) in a post that is mostly addressed to my friend, James Swan (link to SW’s post). I’m just responding to the portion of Mr. Windsor’s post that relates to what I said.

Mr. Windsor’s comments are as follows (his block quotations are, I believe, from Mr. Swan):

Notice the ambiguity as to which conception is being referred to is no longer… an ambiguity! TurretinFan has rightly commented on this:

“As you can see, context is key. “Mary’s conception,” or “the conception of Mary” (or replace “Mary” with “Virgin”) can refer to two very different things: it can refer to the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, and it can refer to the conception of Jesus (or any of his ἀδελφοὶ – look up its etymology). In the latter case, Mary is doing the conceiving, in the former case she is receiving the conceiving. The difference in meaning is significant and – in English – the difference can only be determined by looking at the context.” [source]

So now Mr. Swan, via the pseudonymic “TurretinFan” (TF) delves into the etymological fallacy. IF the word in question were intended to mean what they say, then an ACCURATE translation would have been, “in the moment of the Virgin’s conception of the Son…” – so if Swan and TF are correct here, then every translator of this passage to English has it wrong. Now, before continuing, let us also consider the fact that this word TF throws at us is a GREEK word… I am unaware of Luther’s Works being in Greek as he primarily wrote in German or Latin, not Greek. Why the Greek here?

Now, the word he cites here is transliterated “adelphos” which is literally “a” (from) “delphus” (the womb) – and further means “a brother.” [source] It is simply illogical that we’re talking about a “brother” here in “the Virgin’s conception.” TF even states it COULD mean the conception of the Virgin – so we’ll take that argument and leave the irrational one behind.

Now add to the fact that the later Luther states, “Every man is corrupted by original sin, with the exception of Christ” (1540). “Christ alone is a son of the flesh without the sin of the flesh” (1544).

Again, this statement demonstrates a lack of understanding of the definition of the Immaculate Conception. The definition does not say that the Blessed Virgin did not inherit the “sin of the flesh,” only that she was preserved from the STAIN of that sin in the moment of her conception. Will Mr. Swan admit to this fact?

I answer:

1) Mr. Windsor’s allegation of fallacy of etymology is unsupported. In fact, the argument that Mr. Windsor offers doesn’t begin to address what a supporting argument for such an assertion would need to address. Mr. Windsor doesn’t, for example, identify a word that has had its meaning determined etymologically and then explain what the correct meaning should be.

2) Mr. Windsor’s allegation about what an “ACCURATE” (his caps) translation would be just reflect his apparently weak knowledge of the English language. The expression, in English, “the virgin’s conception” can (standing by itself) refer to one of two things: (1) the action of the virgin (a virgin shall conceive) or (2) the action on the virgin (Mary’s mother’s conception of Mary). It’s perfectly accurate to say “the virgin’s conception” with respect to either of those two meanings.

3) Mr. Windsor’s claim “if Swan and TF are correct here, then every translator of this passage to English has it wrong” is based on his apparently inadequate grasp of English, as explained above. It is also somewhat strange, because it is not like there are hundreds or even dozens of English translators of this particular passage of Luther’s works. Mr. Windsor doesn’t even identify two such translators (at least not anywhere near this discussion), though perhaps there are two.

4) The comment about Jesus ἀδελφοὶ also whizzes over Mr. Windsor’s head. There was a primary point and a secondary point to the comment. The primary point was that an expression like “Mary’s conception” (standing alone) could refer to her conception of any of the children she brought forth. Of course, in this instance it refers to Jesus’ conception, not James’ or any of the Lord’s other ἀδελφοὶ. The second point was that Jesus, according to Scripture, had ἀδελφοὶ – those who were from the same womb as him – that includes brothers and what Scripture refers to as “αδελφαι” which refers to sisters. That secondary point is not really relevant to the issue of what Luther’s talking about, at all. It’s just a point that needs to be made against those who mistakenly hold to the idea that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus’ birth.

5) Mr. Windsor’s attempt to separate the “STAIN” (his bold and caps) from the sin is not something he can support from the official teachings of his church. Read the document that defined the dogma, and you’ll see that the “stain” and the “sin” are used essentially interchangeably.

Notice, in the following series how “taint,” “stain,” and “sin” are used interchangeably and how it is repeatedly affirmed that Mary was free from original sin (in order of appearance, numbers just for ease of reference, in case you should wish to check/correct me)

  1. “absolutely free of all stain of sin”
  2. “free from all taint of original sin”
  3. “conceived without the stain of original sin”
  4. “preserved free from all stain of original sin”
  5. “preserved from original sin”
  6. “preserved from original sin”
  7. “was never subject to original sin, but was completely preserved from the original taint,”
  8. “all men are born infected by original sin; nevertheless, it solemnly declared that it had no intention of including the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, in this decree and in the general extension of its definition.”
  9. “free from the original stain”
  10. “the Virgin’s supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin”
  11. “her most excellent innocence, purity, holiness and freedom from every stain of sin”
  12. “free from all contagion of sin”
  13. “the worm of sin had never corrupted”
  14. “when one treats of sin, the holy Virgin Mary is not even to be mentioned”
  15. “to her more grace was given than was necessary to conquer sin completely”
  16. “entirely free from every stain of sin”
  17. “she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin”
  18. “holy and removed from every stain of sin”
  19. “conceived without original stain”
  20. “preserved free from all stain of original sin”
  21. “conceived without original sin”

So, unless Mr. Windsor has more than simply his own say-so, we must respectfully insist that it is he, not us, who is unfamiliar with Roman dogma on the subject. He is committing the fallacy of emphasis by assuming that “stain of original sin” is supposed to be different in its sense than “original sin.”

6) I was aware of Mr. Windsor’s novel interpretation of Ineffabilis Deus, and I had asked him previously to tell me where he got his ideas from – whether from some official source or from his own creativity. He didn’t respond then (that I’m aware of), and I don’t suppose he’ll respond now, although he has the opportunity to respond in the comment box.


Scott Windsor Index

January 27, 2010

This is an index post. Accordingly, the date stamp should not be taken as being really representative of the actual time/date that the post was either created or last edited. Scott Windsor is a Roman Catholic apologist who runs, as far as I know, the “American Catholic Truth Society” and CathApol.

Sola Scriptura Discussion (Starring Steve Hays and Featuring Francis Beckwith)

1. (Francis Beckwith) Sola Scriptura and the canon of Scripture: a philosophical reflection

2. (TurretinFan) Beckwith’s Bait and Switch

3. (Steve Hays) Is sola Scriptura self-refuting?

4. (Scott Windsor) Is Sola Scriptura self-refuting?

5. (Steve Hays) (a) The supreme judge of all religious controversies & (b) Principles of Sola Scriptura

6. (Scott Windsor) Sola Scriptura Answering Steve Hays

7. (TurretinFan) Response to Scott Windsor (regarding Steve Hays and Sola Scriptura)

8. (Scott Windsor) Response to TurretinFan on Sola Scriptura

9. (TurretinFan) Second Response to Scott Windsor

10. (Steve Hays) Rube Goldberg prooftexting

11. (Scott Windsor) Non-Rube Goldberg Response

12. (Scott Windsor) QA with TurretinFan

(As far as I know, no further response is planned by TurretinFan or Steve Hays.)

Second Response to Scott Windsor

January 26, 2010

Scott has posted a response (link to response) to my prior post (link to post).

1) Definition of Sola Scriptura

Scott Windsor denies that there is any standard definition of Sola Scriptura. Then, he claims: “The problem we have is that TF didn’t provide us with the ‘standard definition,’ and left us to assume.” How that could possibly be “the problem,” is beyond me, but I’ll be happy to help Scott identify a standard definition. Chapter 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith is one standard definition of Sola Scriptura. The first paragraph of that chapter reads:

Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation; therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.


2) Historical Aspect vs. Doctrinal Aspect of Sola Scriptura

Although Scott doesn’t specifically state whether he understands and/or accepts the distinction, he nevertheless responds:

TF seems to be unaware of my argument that Scripture itself points us to another infallible source! The bishops! Matthew 18:18 shows us Jesus giving infallible authority to the bishops as a group – that whatsoever the bind or loose on Earth is bound or loosed in Heaven. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus gives this same authority to Peter alone (and noting this was two chapters earlier, Peter received this authority not only alone, but in primacy).

This is an interesting argument for two reasons: (1) the power of binding and loosing is understood in Roman Catholicism in reference to the supposed power of the confessional – not to the interpretation of Scripture and (2) there is no mention of infallibility in those passages, nor does Rome claim infallibility in matters of discipline (with respect to which the Confessional relates).

As evidence of the Roman Catholic view of Matthew 18:18, I provide the following catechism items.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) item 1444:

In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.”


CCC 553:

Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.” The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.


3) The “You are no better than us” Issue

I had tried to explain to Scott that the “you are no better than us” argument is one that undermines the validity of a criticism (in this case his criticism of us is not a significant criticism because he doesn’t offer us an alternative to which the criticism wouldn’t apply). He doesn’t seem to get it. I’m not sure how I can explain it more clearly. Perhaps a second example would help: If an Anglican were to criticize the Roman Catholics for having an hierarchical episcopate, it would be legitimate for a Roman Catholic to point out that Anglicans themselves have that approach. In this example, the criticism is right (the Roman system is hierarchical) – it’s just not significant as a criticism in an Anglican-Roman dialog, because the Anglicans also have a hierarchical system.

4) Canon in Flux?

After complaining that he hadn’t suggested that there were many debates over the canon, Scott seems to express confusion about my comment that the canon itself is not in flux. The reason for Scott’s seeming confusion appears to be his continual conflation of the canon and the recognition of the canon. The canon itself is simply an objective reality: such and such a number of books were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The recognition of the canon is what varies: sometimes a person or group fails to recognize one or more books that are part of the canon or thinks they have recognized a canonical book when (in fact) it is not a book that the Holy Spirit inspired.

5) Infallible Knowledge of the Canon

Scott also appears not to have understood the fifth section. In the fifth section we had tried to help Scott understand the difference between the Scripture (which is an infallible rule of faith) and us the readers of Scripture (we are fallible men). Scott seems to have trouble following this distinction.

Scott actually goes so far as to write:

So TF is conceding, apparently for both White and himself, that Scripture does not contain infallible knowledge of the canon of Scripture. That satisfies my point! The canon itself cannot be infallibly known to Protestants for their “sole infallible source” does not, by TF’s admission here contain “infallible knowledge of the canon of Scripture.”

(emphasis his)

This comment from Scott is misleading. What we indicated is that we don’t claim an infallible knowledge. However, Scripture itself is infallible. Infallibility is a property of divine revelation, not of the human listener. Whatever Scripture reveals it reveals infallibly – however, whatever we know, we necessarily know fallibly. That is because the Scriptures are infallible, but we are fallible.

6) Canon Closure vs. Canon Recognition

I had indicated that Scott is confused regarding the distinction between canon closure and canon recognition. Indeed he writes:

Here TF again accuses me of confusion, where I have none. He also misstates the closure of the canon as being when the last writer wrote the last book when that is not true!

Scott’s wrong. That is exactly when the canon closed. When the Spirit stopped inspiring, the canon closed. The distinction between canon closure and canon recognition has been pointed out repeatedly to Scott (both by me and Steve) and yet Scott argues, as support for a later canon closure date:

The canon process took centuries to “close.” Books by St. Clement, the Shepherd of Hermes, etc. were included in several “canons” in the Early Church, yet were excluded when the canon process finally ended in the late 4th century. Then this closed canon was made de fide by the Council of Trent in the 16th century to end the discussion once and for all since protestors against the Faith had brought it up again.

This discussion from Scott, however, relates to canon recognition, not canon closure. Trent arguably closed the door on recognition of additional books or non-recognition of books in its list, but the canon itself (the objective fact of inspiration) has been exactly the same from the time of inspiration.

7) KJV 1611 and the Apocrypha

Scott seems to think that the fact that the 1611 KJV contained marginal notes including cross-references to the Apocrypha and cross-references from the Apocrypha to the canonical Scriptures is somehow significant. Why he thinks this is completely mystifying. After all, the KJV was published in light of the 1572 Thirty-Nine Articles, which stated:

And the other bookes, (as Hierome sayth) the Churche doth reade for example of lyfe and instruction of maners: but yet doth it not applie them to establishe any doctnne.Such are these followyng.

The third booke of Esdras. The fourth booke of Esdras. The booke of Tobias. The booke of ludith. The rest of the booke of Hester. The booke of Wisdome. lesus the sonne of Sirach. Baruch, the prophet. Song of the .3. Children. The stone of Susanna. Of Bel and the Dragon. The prayer of Manasses. The .1. booke of Machab. The .2. booke of Macha.


Likewise, the Scottish Confession of 1560 stated in Chapter 18:

And such kirks we, the inhabitants of the realm of Scotland, professors of Christ Jesus, confess ourselves to have in our cities, towns, and places reformed; for the doctrine taught in our kirks is contained in the written word of God: to wit, in the books of the New and Old Testaments: in those books, we mean, which of the ancient have been reputed canonical, in the which we affirm that all things necessary to be believed for the salvation of mankind are sufficiently expressed.


The Irish Articles of 1615 (while obviously post-dating the 1611 KJV) still express the contemporary sentiment among the churches that were behind the KJV and its translation/publication (from the section, Of the Holy Scripture and the three Creeds.):

3. The other Books commonly called Apocryphal did not proceed from such inspiration and therefore are not of sufficient authority to establish any point of doctrine; but the Church doth read them as Books containing many worthy things for example of life and instruction of manners.

Such are these following:

· The third book of Esdras.

· The fourth book of Esdras.

· The book of Tobias.

· The book of Judith.

· Additions to the book of Esther.

· The book of Wisdom.

· The book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, called Ecclesiasticus.

· Baruch, with the Epistle of Jeremiah.

· The song of the three Children.

· Susanna.

· Bel and the Dragon.

· The prayer of Manasses.

· The First book of Maccabees.

· The Second book of Maccabees.


It’s puzzling that Scott would think that any reader would be unaware of this context, and yet if they were aware of that context, the cross-references would seem totally irrelevant to the discussion.


Scott posed the following questions:

Now, how about the significant points from my response to Mr. Hays? Agree or disagree?

1) The teaching of satis scriptura is NOT sola scriptura.

2) Sola scriptura is not taught in Scripture. Some Protestants will admit to this fact, will Mr. Hays or TurretinFan do so?

3) Nowhere in Scripture will we find the listing (canon) of what should comprise the Canon of Sacred Scripture.

4) Interpretation of an implicit teaching in Scripture is still extra scriptura.

5) Steve resorted to the invalid argumentum ad hominem several times (and I appreciate the fact that TurrentinFan did not).

6) Steve seemed to confuse the Pentateuch with the Canon of the Old Testament, and I quote: “So from the time Moses wrote the Pentateuch until the Council of Trent in the 16C, the Jews were without a canon of Scripture.” The Pentateuch refers ONLY to the first 5 books of Moses, also known as the Torah.

7) Scripture remains a PART OF Catholic Tradition. No matter how much Steve or TF would like to remove that from OUR Sacred Tradition, they cannot.

There were other points, but these should suffice for now and I would like to know how both Steve and TurretinFan responds to them with a simple (Agree) or (Disagree) before going into an explanation of why they agree or disagree.

I tend to avoid answering loaded questions with a simple answer. It creates confusion for the reader.

As to item (1): “The teaching of satis scriptura is NOT sola scriptura”

I don’t agree. Sola Scriptura reduces to Satis Scriptura.

As to item (2): “Sola scriptura is not taught in Scripture.”

I don’t agree. Sola Scriptura is taught in Scripture.

As to item (3): “Nowhere in Scripture will we find the listing (canon) of what should comprise the Canon of Sacred Scripture.”

The listing as such is derivable, given that we have the books in hand. However, the listing as such is not. I guess that is a “disagree” as well, since I wouldn’t use Scott’s wording.

As to item (4): “Interpretation of an implicit teaching in Scripture is still extra scriptura.”

I don’t agree – at least, I don’t agree if “implicit” includes things that are properly derived from Scripture but simply aren’t explicit in Scripture. It’s not completely clear what Scott views as “implicit.”

As to item (5): “Steve resorted to the invalid argumentum ad hominem several times (and I appreciate the fact that TurrentinFan did not).”

I’ll leave that one for Steve to answer.

As to item (6): “Steve seemed to confuse the Pentateuch with the Canon of the Old Testament … .”

I disagree. The Canon of the Old Testament began with (the first book of) the Pentateuch and continued to expand as the Spirit inspired more and more books. It closed with the penning of the last book of the Old Testament. (Note that I am referring to the closing of the canon not the recognition of the canon.)

As to item (7): “Scripture remains a PART OF Catholic Tradition.”

I disagree. It is (for Rome) made void through human tradition, just as it was for the Jews.

I hope those answers help Scott.


Response to Scott Windsor (regarding Steve Hays and Sola Scriptura)

January 25, 2010

I see that Scott Windsor (Roman Catholic) has responded to Steve Hays (Reformed) on the topic of Sola Scriptura (link to response). Steve is more than capable of carrying on the discussion himself. I’d like to simply address a few of the issues in Scott’s post:

1) The definition of Sola Scriptura

I realize there may be a few folks out there who use the definition “If it’s not in the Bible, don’t believe it!” but Scott knows full well that’s not the standard meaning of the phrase Sola Scriptura: it’s neither what the Reformers meant nor what the Reformed churches today mean by it.

2) Distinguishing between the Doctrinal and Historical Aspects of Sola Scriptura

Scott complains that Drs. Godfrey and White define Sola Scriptura in terms of the sufficiency of Scripture, which Scott feels leaves the “sola” out of Sola Scriptura. However, Scott seems to be unaware of the fact that the “sola” aspect of Sola Scriptura is not so much a doctrinal claim as an historical claim.

It’s unclear whether Scott is unaware of this, or not. I hope that he’s simply unaware of this, and that (now that it is pointed out to him) he’ll stop looking for a definition of Sola Scriptura in which the “sola” is a doctrinal claim.

There is, of course, a sense in which Sola Scriptura‘s definition includes sola. When we explain the formal sufficiency of Scripture, we are explaining that the Scriptures are themselves (i.e. alone) able to make one wise unto salvation.

That said, the full sense of Sola Scriptura is the application of the formal sufficiency of Scripture to a time in which there are no other sources of direct propositional revelation: for example, a time when the prophets are dead and Jesus is ascended.

3) Scott wrote: “This discussion is about sola scriptura, a statement like ‘you’re no better’ than we are is not a defense of sola scriptura (even if the statement were true).”

What Scott seems to miss with that comment is the fact that the argument “you’re no better” (if true) undermines the significance of the criticism. It’s kind of like if a “Protestant” were to argue: “clearly your (the Roman Catholic) rule of faith is wrong, since the pope isn’t God.” The Roman Catholic response might be to say, “OK but the Bible isn’t God, either.” That response doesn’t actually dispute the fact that the pope isn’t God, it just demonstrates that the criticism is misplaced as a criticism.

4) Scott wrote: “For nearly the first 400 years of Christendom the Canon of the New Testament was in flux. If it were so clear, why all the debates on the canon?”

a) There weren’t lots and lots of debates on the canon in the first 400 years. Or, at least, if there were we don’t have records of them. Even when there were some discussions about the canon, there was widespread agreement as to the bulk of the books.

b) The Canon itself wasn’t in flux. The Canon is an objective historical reality grounded in inspiration. The knowledge of that canon was more or less certain (generally progressively more certain as time progressed).

5) Steve had written: “Why does knowledge [of the canon of Scripture] have to be infallible? What’s wrong with plain old knowledge?” Scott replied: “I was going with James White’s definition which includes the term “infallible.””

This is another mistake on Scott’s part. Dr. White’s definition says that the Scripture itself is infallible. Dr. White didn’t say that we obtain an infallible knowledge from Scripture (and certainly not an infallible knowledge of the canon of Scripture). Quite to the contrary, on one occasion Dr. White wrote:

Know for sure, or infallibly? I don’t know the exhaustive teachings of the Bible. I don’t have infallible knowledge of what the Bible teaches on *any* subject. But I do have *sufficient* knowledge of what the Bible teaches on the *central* subjects. The difference between infallibility and sufficiency is vitally important to recognize.


And on another occasion:

The Protestant openly admits his fallibility in approaching the infallible Scriptures.

You see, once Rome puts an interpretation of the Bible into writing (and there are precious few of these infallible interpretations around, I might add), that writing now becomes subject to interpretation. Shall we begin to look for an infallible interpreter of the infallible interpretation of the infallible Scriptures? The series would never end, of course, for one simply can’t get beyond one fact: we as human beings are fallible. And you, as an individual human being, will always be fallible in your knowledge of any infallible source, whether that be the Scriptures, or some other source you hold in esteem.


5) Canon Closure vs. Canon Recognition

Another area of confusion in Scott’s comments is on the difference between canon closure (when the last writer wrote the last book) and canon recognition (this was more gradual as to the worldwide church, for obvious reasons). Here’s the exchange:

[Scott now]: Except of course if it were true what Mr. Hays said earlier, that “the canon was closed by writer of the last book of the Bible,” at that point in time all the “raw materials” would have been available to generate this list – but he (that would be St. John) never put together such a list for us.

[Scott earlier]: “The truth of the matter is that for the first four hundred years of the Church the canon was not set…”

[Steve’s response]: i) Trobisch has argued on text-critical grounds that the NT canon was standardized in the mid-2C AD. For a useful summary and evaluation of his argument, see the discussion by Kellum, Quarles, and Kostenberger in their recent intro. to the NT.

[Scott now]: So now Mr. Hays posits the canon was not closed when the writer wrote the last book, and does not even put forth evidence it was “closed” but that it was “standardized” in the second century A.D. I suppose we can accept that as concession of the earlier point.

Notice that Steve is arguing that the recognized canon of the NT was possibly widely standardized as early as the 2nd century A.D. That recognition does not change the fact that objectively the canon was closed at the end of the writing of the last book.

Interestingly, it seems that Steve had already pointed this same thing out to Scott:

Steve continues: iii) Scott is also confusing internal evidence for the canon with various forms of ecclesiastical recognition.

Scott replies: Mr. Hays does not seem to understand what a “canon” is. A “canon” is an ecclesiastical form of recognition of a standardized list.

Scott is confused. The word “canon” can have that sense – but that is not the sense that it has in this discussion.

As Bruce Metzger explains:

By way of summary, ecclesiastical writers during the first three centuries used the word κανών [canon] to refer to what was for Christianity an inner law and binding norm of belief (`rule of faith’ and/or `rule of truth’). From the fourth century onward the word also came to be used in connection with the sacred writings of the Old and New Testaments. Scholars today dispute whether the meaning ‘rule’ (that is, ‘standard’ or ‘norm’) or the meaning ‘list’ was uppermost in the minds of those who first applied the word to the Scriptures. According to Westcott and Beyer, it was the material content of the books that prompted believers to regard them as the ‘rule’ of faith and life. On the other hand, according to Zahn and Souter, the formal meaning of κανών [canon] as `a list’ was primary, for otherwise it would be difficult to explain the use of the verb κανονίζειν [kanonizein] (`to include in a canon’) when it is applied to particular books and to the books collectively. Both the material and the formal senses eventually were seen to be appropriate, for the recognized custom of the Church in looking to a certain group of books as providing the standard for faith and life would naturally cause the books that conformed to it to be written in a list. And thus the canon of Scripture became equivalent to the contents of the writings included in such a list.

– Bruce Manning Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p. 293.

6) 1611 KJV and the Apocrypha

Scott wrote:

Even the initial King James Version includes the deuterocanonicals – without putting them in a separate appendix, that would come later – and then later still they would be left out entirely.

This is highly misleading. Although the 1611 KJV did including the apocrypha, and though it didn’t use the mechanism of an appendix, it did place them in a separate section under the heading “The Bookes called Apocrypha” between the testaments (evidence), and the heading of every page in that section read: “Apocrypha. [Name of Book] Apocrypha.” or “Apocrypha. Chap.[chapter number] Apocrypha.” (evidence)

– TurretinFan

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