Archive for the ‘Taylor Marshall’ Category

Magisterium of Rome vs. Magisterium of One

May 31, 2012

Taylor Marshall, of the Roman communion, has a post up in which he tells us that the “the proper name of the Holy Ghost is “Gift.” He is the personified donation of the Father and the Son.”

Someone in the comment box, using the nick “Kepha,” pointed out that the Catechism of the Catholic Church actually has a section on this. I reproduce the section below:


The proper name of the Holy Spirit

691 “Holy Spirit” is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son. The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new children.16

The term “Spirit” translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind. Jesus indeed uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the transcendent newness of him who is personally God’s breath, the divine Spirit.17 On the other hand, “Spirit” and “Holy” are divine attributes common to the three divine persons. By joining the two terms, Scripture, liturgy, and theological language designate the inexpressible person of the Holy Spirit, without any possible equivocation with other uses of the terms “spirit” and “holy.”

Titles of the Holy Spirit

692 When he proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls him the “Paraclete,” literally, “he who is called to one’s side,” ad-vocatus.18 “Paraclete” is commonly translated by “consoler,” and Jesus is the first consoler.19 The Lord also called the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth.”20

693 Besides the proper name of “Holy Spirit,” which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise,21 the Spirit of adoption,22 the Spirit of Christ,23 the Spirit of the Lord,24 and the Spirit of God25 – and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory.26

Cute, eh? “Gift” doesn’t even make the list of titles. Moreover, as another of the commenters noted, “personified donation” does sound rather modalistic.

Taylor quotes Aquinas and Augustine. Whether he understands them is a point I won’t explore. Nevertheless, whether or not they agree with the point he’s trying to make, shouldn’t the CCC trump anything that the fathers or schoolmen have to save about the subject?


H.T. to Steve Hays


Correcting Taylor Marshall

April 12, 2012

Mr. Marshall has a post up at the Roman communion blog, “Called to Communion,” which he titled, “John Piper on “Correcting” the Apostles Creed“. Both Piper and Grudem think that the phrase, “he descended into hell” is either confusing or wrong and that it would make sense to omit it from recitations of the Apostles’ Creed.

After expressing sorrow and suggesting that they get their ideas from an anabaptistic, anti-credal tradition (nothing like poisoning the old well!), Marshall states:

There are potentially a number of errors here. One is that Christ Himself did not have a human soul. Many Protestants, without knowing it, do not believe that Christ has a human soul. They instead believe that Christ has a human body but that His deity serves as the animating principle of His body. Hence, when Christ died, His deity was naturally in Heaven. The conclusion is that He would have skipped Hell entirely.

Does Marshall really think that either Piper or Grudem falls into this category of people who deny Christ’s true humanity? It’s hard to see this comment as anything other than a straw man.

Marshall continues:

On the other end of the spectrum is the heretical doctrine of Calvin that states that Christ literally descended into the Gehenna of the damned in order to receive the full punishment of sin. This is contrary to Scripture, contrary to the Fathers, and contrary to orthodox Christology. {Read: Calvin’s Worst Heresy: That Christ Suffered in Hell}.

The link is to a most ill-informed post (by the same inimitable – and who would want to – Taylor Marshall). The linked article is an exercise in demonstrating Mr. Marshall’s inability to understand what he reads.

In any event, Calvin expounds at length on the article “he descended into hell,” in his Institutes (link). In that section, Calvin evaluates a number of options, and ultimately concludes that Christ suffered the pains of hell on the cross, and consequently “descended into hell” in that way. In fact, Calvin makes it quite clear to someone with better reading skills than Mr. Marshall:

Hence there is nothing strange in its being said that he descended to hell, seeing he endured the death which is inflicted on the wicked by an angry God. It is frivolous and ridiculous to object that in this way the order is perverted, it being absurd that an event which preceded burial should be placed after it.

If the rest of the section was unclear, this one at least should have popped out to Mr. Marshall before he started writing his post back in 2009, much less before he repeated his false accusation now. It was not after death, but before it that Christ (per Calvin) endured hell. Thus, Calvin did not teach that Christ’s soul went to the Gahenna of the damned, as Marshall alleges.

Indeed, Professor R.F. White gently corrected Marshall back in 2009 (link), but perhaps a sterner rebuke is in order, since he has not only failed to correct his original post, but has continued the false accusation.

Skipping to the end of Marshall’s post, it was amusing to find his comment:

PS: It is Catholic tradition that the 12 Apostles wrote the Apostles Creed. There are 12 lines in the Apostles Creed and each Apostle contributed a line. It was Saint Philip, according to pious tradition who added “He descended into Hell.”

Whether such tradition is “pious” or not, the line “he descended into Hell” is a later addition. Calvin mentions this fact in his Institutes, and Grudem spends a significant, some might say exorbitant, amount of space in his Systematic Theology demonstrating the same thing. It’s one of a myriad of “pious” fables that are Rome’s stock in trade.


>Rome’s Translation Record

September 30, 2010

>Over at Greenbaggins, Roman Catholic Taylor Marshall threw out one of the standard lines about Luther changing Scripture. I noted that this Roman propaganda has been debunked already (debunked oncedebunked twice). In response, Mr. Marshall tried to come up with some new angles to the old slur.

He stated: “One might even say that these mistakes in translations only prove that the Catholic Church must authorize translations so as to avoid errors.”

This is actually an old contention of Rome. Translators were persecuted, and their translations were burned, for allegedly badly translating the Bible without Roman approval. Moreover, the Council of Trent saw it fit to declare a particular version authentic:

But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.

(Trent, Session IV)

And in case that was not clear enough:

Moreover, the same sacred and holy Synod,–considering that no small utility may accrue to the Church of God, if it be made known which out of all the Latin editions, now in circulation, of the sacred books, is to be held as authentic,–ordains and declares, that the said old and vulgate edition, which, by the lengthened usage of so many years, has been approved of in the Church, be, in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions, held as authentic; and that no one is to dare, or presume to reject it under any pretext whatever.

(Trent, Session IV)

You might think that the “Old Latin Vulgate” was a version currently in existence. It wasn’t. It was a version about to be published:

(this Synod) ordains and decrees, that, henceforth, the sacred Scripture, and especially the said old and vulgate edition, be printed in the most correct manner possible

(Trent, Session IV)

The real Francis Turretin asked the obvious question:

The decree of the Council of Trent canonized an edition which at the time had no existence and appeared forty-six years afterwards. The decree was made in 1546. In 1590, the work was finished and published by Sixtus V; two years after that it was published by Clement VIII. Now how could a council approve and declare authentic an edition which it had not examined and in fact had yet been made?

– Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 Vols., trans. George Musgrave Giger and ed. James T. Dennison (Phillipsburg: reprinted by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1992), Vol. 1, XV.ix, p. 134.

Moreover, as David King explains in Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume 1, pp. 162-65, when Pope Sixtus V finally published the edition, it was full of errors. It was so full of errors that Pope Gregory XIV, acting on the suggestion of Bellarmine, suppressed the Sixtus V 1590 edition, destroyed the copies of it, and ordered a revision. The revision was eventually published under the authority of Clement VIII, although initially the edition only identified Pope Sixtus V by name.

But even the Clementine Vulgate was riddled with errors, though they are not all as severe as those in the Sixtus V edition, or in the prior Vulgate editions. Nevertheless, we now have the Nova Vulgata which corrected at least one famous mistranslation (Genesis 3:15 – a feminine pronoun was used, and this mistranslation was later used as a basis for the definition of a Marian dogma) and actually introduced at least one new mistranslation (Leviticus 16:26 – transliteration of “Azazel” instead of translation to “scapegoat”). As to parts of the text, the Comma Johanneum (in 1 John 5:7-8) has been removed by the New Vulgate, but the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) remains in the text.

So, yes – this claim that “the Church” is needed to give someone an authentic translation is an old claim – but if it is a correct claim, then Rome is not “the Church,” because the editions that Rome has produced have always had errors – not just printing errors.

– TurretinFan

Augustine: Scripture Can Thoroughly Equip the Man of God – Response to Taylor Marshall

February 5, 2010
Psalm 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Augustine believed that Scripture itself is able to thoroughly equip a man to the point where Scripture itself would no longer be necessary for that man, except to teach less mature Christians. Taylor Marshall (a Roman Catholic contributor to the Called to Communion blog) has posted and commented upon the following passage from Augustine (link to Taylor’s post):

And thus a man who is resting upon faith, hope and love, and who keeps a firm hold upon these, does not need the Scriptures except for the purpose of instructing others. Accordingly, many live without copies of the Scriptures, even in solitude, on the strength of these three graces. So that in their case, I think, the saying is already fulfilled: “Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” [1 Cor. xiii. 8.] Yet by means of these instruments (as they may be called), so great an edifice of faith and love has been built up in them, that, holding to what is perfect, they do not seek for what is only in part perfect—of course, I mean, so far as is possible in this life; for, in comparison with the future life, the life of no just and holy man is perfect here. Therefore the apostle says: “Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity:” [1 Cor. xiii. 13.] because, when a man shall have reached the eternal world, while the other two graces will fail, love will remain greater and more assured.

– Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Chapter 39 (section 43)

Taylor comments: “In the very least, it shows that Augustine was not a “religion of the book” sort of a Christian.”

Taylor is dead wrong: the passage shows just the opposite – it shows that Augustine is very much a “religion of the book” sort of a Christian. For the purposes of instructing others, Augustine views Scripture as absolutely essential. Even the highly spiritual man cannot instruct others without Scripture in Augustine’s view.

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Taylor continues: “Scripture instructs in the faith, but it is not the object of our faith.”

Augustine doesn’t address this topic in the passage above. But Augustine did teach that men are to believe the Bible:

There was, however, undoubtedly marriage, even when sin had no prior existence; and for no other reason was it that woman, and not a second man, was created as a help for the man. Moreover, those words of God, “Be fruitful and multiply,” [Gen. i. 28.] are not prophetic of sins to be condemned, but a benediction upon the fertility of marriage. For by these ineffable words of His, I mean by the divine methods which are inherent in the truth of His wisdom by which all things were made, God endowed the primeval pair with their seminal power. Suppose, however, that nature had not been dishonoured by sin, God forbid that we should think that marriages in Paradise must have been such, that in them the procreative members would be excited by the mere ardour of lust, and not by the command of the will for producing offspring,—as the foot is for walking, the hand for labour, and the tongue for speech. Nor, as now happens, would the chastity of virginity be corrupted to the conception of offspring by the force of a turbid heat, but it would rather be submissive to the power of the gentlest love; and thus there 251would be no pain, no blood-effusion of the concumbent virgin, as there would also be no groan of the parturient mother. This, however, men refuse to believe, because it has not been verified in the actual condition of our mortal state. Nature, having been vitiated by sin, has never experienced an instance of that primeval purity. But we speak to faithful men, who have learnt to believe the inspired Scriptures, even though no examples are adduced of actual reality. For how could I now possibly prove that a man was made of the dust, without any parents, and a wife formed for him out of his own side? [Gen. ii. 7, 22.] And yet faith takes on trust what the eye no longer discovers.

– Augustine, Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin, Chapter 40 (Section 35)

I provided the whole chapter for context, though of course I was not primarily interested in Augustine’s special Creationism (as opposed to the heresy of evolutionism) or Augustine’s attitude towards sexual intercourse, but specifically his comment: “But we speak to faithful men, who have learnt to believe the inspired Scriptures” which shows that he did view the inspired Scriptures as an object of faith.

Psalm 119:42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.

And lest that one passage be thought anomalous:

If, however, I am asked the second question which I have suggested,—whether there be a sinless man,—I believe there is not. For I rather believe the Scripture, which says: “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.” [Ps. cxliii. 2.] There is therefore need of the mercy of God, which “exceedingly rejoiceth against judgment,” [Jas. ii. 13.] and which that man shall not obtain who does not show mercy. [Jas. ii. 13.] And whereas the prophet says, “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my heart,” [Ps. xxxii. 5.] he yet immediately adds, “For this shall every saint pray unto Thee in an acceptable time.” [Ps. xxxii. 6.] Not indeed every sinner, but “every saint;” for it is the voice of saints which says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” [1 John i. 8.] Accordingly we read, in the Apocalypse of the same Apostle, of “the hundred and forty and four thousand” saints, “which were not defiled with women; for they continued virgins: and in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault.” [Rev. xiv. 3–5.] “Without fault,” indeed, they no doubt are for this reason,—because they truly found fault with themselves; and for this reason, “in their mouth was discovered no guile,”—“because if they said they had no sin, they deceived themselves, and the truth was not in them.” [1 John i. 8.] Of course, where the truth was not, there would be guile; and when a righteous man begins a statement by accusing himself, he verily utters no falsehood.

– Augustine, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, Book II, Chapter 8 (Section 7)

Again, I’ve included the entire chapter for context, not simply to make the tangential point that Augustine denied the sinlessness of the saints including (though he does not specify here) that of Mary, the blessed mother of my Lord. Rather the point is to note that Augustine refers specifically to his belief in the Scriptures.

Psalm 119:148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Of course, we believe in them because they are the very word of God, not somehow independently of that fact.

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

Taylor further commented:

Now when I was at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, we were taught that 1 Cor 13 taught “cessationism” – the doctrine that prophecy and tongues ceased with the arrival of “the perfect” which was assumed to be the canonized text of Scripture.

Not the canonized text of Scripture, but the complete canon of Scripture (the difference being, of course, the difference between the objective reality that the canon was complete and the recognition of that objective reality). When public revelation was finished there was no longer the same need for prophets.

Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Taylor continued:

Saint Augustine turns this on its head. Augustine lumps “Scripture” under “prophecies” and thus concludes that when the perfect comes (that is, faith, hope and charity), then Scripture is no longer needed.

That’s not “on its head” of the Reformed explanation – rather it is another application of the same principle. When an edifice is built, the tools for building the edifice are normally laid aside. We see a very similar description of the church:

Ephesians 4:11-13
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ …

Taylor remarks further: “Wow. The assumption is that you believe and act perfectly, you don’t need a Bible…”

It’s more of a conclusion than an assumption – and even then you still need a Bible to teach others. But what is interesting is this: Scripture (for Augustine) is especially for those who are not spiritually mature! What more inverted view of perspicuity than the modern Roman view could Augustine have!

Psalm 19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Before requesting comments (which this post provides) Taylor concludes:

Just for the record, I’m far from giving away my Bible, since I’m a rather poor exemplar of faith, hope, and charity. But still, I’m rather blown away by these words of Augustine.

If that blew Taylor away, this may similarly shock him:

If believers are to throw away all the books which have led them to believe, I see no reason why they should continue reading the Gospel itself. The Gospel, too, must be worthless to this inquirer, who, according to Faustus’ pitiful supposition, rejects with ridicule the authority of Christ. And to the believer it must be superfluous, if true notices of Christ are superfluous to believers. And if the Gospel should be read by the believer, that he may not forget what he has believed, so should the prophets, that he may not forget why he believed. For if he forgets this his faith cannot be firm.

– Augustine, Against Faustus, Book 13, Section 18

Notice how Augustine views the books of Scripture as though books “which have led [Christians] to believe” and how the Gospels remind the believer what he believes, while the prophets remind him why he believes. Of course, for Taylor, reading the Scripture will only remind him of some of what believes, for he will not find papal infallibility, or the Marian dogmas, or Indulgences, in the text of Holy Scripture. Those articles of his faith are not among the articles of Augustine’s faith, for the faith that Augustine held was one that Augustine believed was derived from Scripture.

Which is why Augustine’s words above (which Taylor had quoted) are followed immediately by these in Augustine’s work:

And, therefore, if a man fully understands that “the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned,” and is bent upon making all his understanding of Scripture to bear upon these three graces, he may come to the interpretation of these books with an easy mind. For while the apostle says “love,” he adds “out of a pure heart,” to provide against anything being loved but that which is worthy of love. And he joins with this “a good conscience,” in reference to hope; for, if a man has the burden of a bad conscience, he despairs of ever reaching that which he believes in and loves. And in the third place he says: “and of faith unfeigned.” For if our faith is free from all hypocrisy, then we both abstain from loving what is unworthy of our love, and by living uprightly we are able to indulge the hope that our hope shall not be in vain. For these reasons I have been anxious to speak about the objects of faith, as far as I thought it necessary for my present purpose; for much has already been said on this subject in other volumes, either by others or by myself. And so let this be the end of the present book. In the next I shall discuss, as far as God shall give me light, the subject of signs.

– Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Chapter 40 (section 44)

Note especially Augustine’s comment: “if a man fully understands that “the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned,” and is bent upon making all his understanding of Scripture to bear upon these three graces, he may come to the interpretation of these books with an easy mind.”

But if the words above blew away Taylor (and his apparent hope to one discard his Bible), consider what reaction the following will produce:

As for the books of the apostles and prophets, we read them as a record of our faith, to encourage our hope and animate our love. These books are in perfect harmony with one another; and their harmony, like the music of a heavenly trumpet, wakens us from the torpor of worldliness, and urges us on to the prize of our high calling. The apostle, after quoting from the prophets the words, “The reproaches of them that reproached You fell on me,” goes on to speak of the benefit of reading the prophets: “For whatsoever things were written beforetime were written for our learning; that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.” [Romans 15:4 If Faustus denies this, we can only say with Paul, “If any one shall preach to you another doctrine than that you have received, let him be accursed.” [Galatians 1:9]

– Augustine, Against Faustus, Book 13, Section 18

Notice that Augustine places the importance of Scripture in such a central place that he is ready to place Faustus under an anathema (that’s what “accursed” there means) for suggesting that the Scriptures are not written for our learning. And with the same stroke of his pen he also deflates the Roman denial of the perspicuity of the Scriptures: they are written for our learning! They are, therefore, written for the unlearned so that he might become learned – for the simple, that he may become wise, as it is written:

Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

For more on the Reformers and the Necessity of Reading the Scriptures click here.


This is part two a two-part series in response to Mr. Marshall. The first part can be found here (link).

The Recent Squirm of Mr. Marshall (by Pastor King)

February 4, 2010

(Post by Pastor David T. King)

Mr. Marshall’s having suddenly “bumped into a zinger” from the language of Augustine in De doctrina Christiana (Book I, 39, 34) indicates to us his own unfamiliarity with this ancient African theologian, especially in terms of the development of Augustine’s mature convictions regarding the necessity of Holy Scripture. A. D. R. Polman, who has written at length on Augustine’s view of Scripture, and how it developed, commented…

St. Augustine has discussed the necessity of Scripture on many occasions, and his discussions are an excellent illustration of what we have called his first and second stages. In the first stage he held that Scripture is needed constantly by the uneducated masses, but temporarily by the spiritual elite. In the second stage, however, he emphasized the need for Scripture of all believers on their pilgrimage. God’s Word has become a kind of bond with God, in which He has deliberately set down His promises to all generations, so that all mortals can read them and keep them (See Enarr. In Ps. 144, 17). This necessity is, however, restricted to mortal life. In the new heaven and on the new earth, God’s people will no longer need any writings, for here faith will have become the direct contemplation of the Divine Countenance. [FN1]

The passage from Augustine referenced by Polman is as follows…

Augustine (A.D. 354-430) commenting on Psalm 145:13: The Lord is faithful in all his words, and holy in all his deeds. We might well have believed him if he had chosen only to speak to us, but he wanted us to have his scriptures to hold onto; it is like promising something to a friend and saying to him, “Don’t rely on word of mouth; I’ll put it in writing for you.” It was necessary for God’s written guarantee to endure as each generation comes and goes, as the centuries roll by and mortals give way to their successors. God’s own handwriting would be there for all the passers-by to read, so that they would keep the way of his promise. [FN2]

Other Romanists have likewise sought to exploit this passage from Augustine for apologetic “zingers,” such as G. Van Noort in his Dogmatic Theology: Vol. III, The Sources of Revelation, trans. & rev. John J. Castelot, S.S., S.T.D. S.S.L. and William R. Murphy, S.S., S.T.D. (Westminster: The Newman Press, 1961), p. 115. While ignoring a plethora of passages from many ECFs, who emphasized repeatedly the need for Christians to read Holy Scripture (minimizing, for example, this emphasis found in Chrysostom), Van Noort “cherry-picked” the same passage from Augustine (which Mr. Marshall himself has “bumped into” in recent days) and attempted to represent Augustine’s view in a manner as to suggest that this ancient witness agrees with the modern day Romanist’s emphasis against the necessity of reading Holy Scripture. Roman Catholic Theologians such as Van Noort held Bible Societies in contempt, noting that, historically speaking, this has been the standard posture of the Roman Catholic Church: “It is hardly necessary to point out that Protestant Bible Societies have been condemned over and over again by the [Roman] Church in no uncertain terms.” [FN3] Examples can be found in the encyclicals of various popes, who refer to the translation and publishing work of Bible Societies (Whose efforts it has been to disseminate the Scriptures in the vernacular of the people) as “a pernicious plan,” “wickedness,” and thus “condemned.” [FN4] Having reflected on the history of the Roman Church’s interaction with the Latin Vulgate, the late patristic scholar, Jaroslav Pelikan noted,

That twentieth-century affirmation of the prime authority of “the original texts of the sacred books” by Pope Pius XII [Divino afflante Spiritu] and then by the Second Vatican Council [Dei Verbum 6.22] may be seen as an ultimate vindication, more than four centuries later, of the sacred philology of the Renaissance and the Reformation. For although the humanists did urge that the corruptions of the Vulgate text, which had occurred through its transmission from one medieval copyist to another, made the production of a critical edition of the Latin text mandatory, their chief criticism was directed against the inadequacies, indeed the inaccuracies, of the Vulgate as such, which no collation of Latin manuscripts, however thorough, could be expected to set straight. [FN5]

But if this isolated reference of Augustine proves anything, as suggested by Van Noort (and now in recent days by Mr. Marshall), it proves too much. For if this indeed reflects the mature thought of Augustine, namely that these three virtues are all one needs, it would likewise, strictly speaking, effectively rule out the necessity of ‘unwritten traditions,’ any creed but ‘faith, hope, and love’ (which themselves have been normed by none other than Holy Scripture, 1 Cor. 13:13), as well as the Roman magisterium and the pope himself. Indeed, these three virtues would suffice for people out in the desert to the exclusion of the Church, her ministry of the sacraments, and the King of the Church himself, the Lord Jesus Christ! Augustine never intended his words to be construed with such a meaning, and especially with respect to his mature view of Holy Scripture. Thus the meaning which Mr. Marshall suggests to have gleaned from Augustine can by the same logic be pressed into service to misrepresent him in other ways, as demonstrated above. So, we cannot help but wonder if this consideration likewise registers “a zinger that [causes] even his own [Romanist] soul to squirm.”

FN1 A. D. R. Polman, The Word of God according to St. Augustine (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1961), p. 74.

FN2 John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 20, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms, Psalms 121-150, Exposition of Psalm 144.17 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2004), pp. 393-394.

FN3 G. Van Noort, S.T.D., Dogmatic Theology: Vol. III, The Sources of Revelation, trans. & rev. John J. Castelot, S.S., S.T.D. S.S.L. and William R. Murphy, S.S., S.T.D. (Westminster: The Newman Press, 1961), p. 119. See also Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 2nd ed., trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), pp. 25-26, which indicates that Bible Societies were still under official Catholic proscription as late as 1977.

FN4 See the following papal encyclicals: Pius VII’s epistle Magno et acerbo, Leo XII’s Ubi primum, and Gregory XVI’s Inter praecipuas in Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, pp. 398-401, 409-410. Interestingly enough, Leo II repeats the prohibition of Trent against the distribution of Bibles in the common vernacular of the people in his encyclical Ubi primum. In his book Catholicism and Fundamentalism (p. 45), Keating is very misleading with respect to history when he suggests that “The Church had no complaint about mere translations of the Bible . . .” Certainly the Council of Trent was of another mind, as was Pius VII.

FN5 Jaroslav Pelikan, The Reformation of the Bible/The Bible of the Reformation, p. 15. The pertinent section in Dei Verbum 6.22 reads: “But since the Word of God must be readily available at all times, the Church, with motherly concern, sees to it that suitable and correct translations are made into various languages, especially from the original texts of the sacred books. If it should happen that, when the opportunity presents itself and the authorities of the Church agree, these translations are made in a joint effort with the separated brethren, they may be used by all Christians.” See Austin Flannery, O.P., general editor, Vatican Council II: The Conciliar And Post Conciliar Documents (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1980), Vol. 1, p. 763.

As noted above, this post is by Pastor David T. King. This is part one of a two-part series in response to Mr. Marshall. The other part (by TurretinFan) will be posted, Lord Willing, tomorrow.

Pastor King Responds to Taylor Marshall Again

January 11, 2010

Pastor David King had previously posted a response to Taylor Marshall (link to response). The response covered a variety of issues, including centrally the papacy. Taylor Marshall has set forth his counter-arguments here (link to Taylor Marshall’s response).

The following is Pastor David King’s reply.

There is further proof that militates against the claims of Taylor Marshall regarding the clergy of the Roman church, of which Clement was a member. Here is the evidence of: (1) the work of Peter Lampe and (2) the witness of a member of the Roman church around the mid-second century, whom the early church document designates as Hermas.

Peter Lampe:

It was useful to assign to someone in Rome the work connected with eternal communication. Hermas knows such a person by the name of Clement. In The Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 2.4.3, Hermas prepares two copies of his small book and sends (πέμπω, within the city) one of them to Clement, who forwards it “to the cities outside, for he is entrusted with that task” (πέμψει Κλήμης εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις, ἐκείνῳ γὰρ ἐπιτέτραπται).

It is important to note that Hermas’s “minister of external affairs” is not a monarchical bishop. In the second next sentence, Hermas describes how he circulates his little book within the city. He makes it known “to this city together with the presbyters who preside over the church” (εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων τῶν προϊσταμένων τῆς ἐκκλησίας). A plurality of presbyters leads Roman Christianity. This Christianity, conscious of spiritual fellowship with the city, is summed up under the concept “ecclesia,” but that changes nothing in regard to the plurality of those presiding over it. In Vis. 3.9.7, Hermas also calls them προηγούμενοι or πρωτοκαθεδρίται.

See Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries, trans. Michael Steinhauser (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003) p. 398.

In their introduction, the editor (or editors) of The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations of Their Writings, state with respect to The Shepherd of Hermas that

when read on its own terms, it stands as an important witness to the state of Christianity in Rome in the mid-second century. Expressing a Jewish-Christian theological perspective by means of imagery, analogies, and parallels drawn from Roman society and culture, the Shepherd reflects the efforts of its author(s) to deal with questions and issues—for example, postbaptismal sin and repentance, and the behavior of the rich and their relationship to the poor within the church—of great significance and concern to him and that part of the Christian community in Rome to which he belonged.

See J. B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer, eds. And trans., The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations of Their Writings, 2nd Edition, The Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 2.4.3 (Grand Rapids: Babke Book House, 1992), p. 329.


Therefore you will write two little books, and you will send one to Clement and one to Grapte. Then Clement will send it to the cities abroad, because that is his job. But Grapte will instruct the widows and orphans. But you yourself will read it to this city, along with the elders (i.e., presbyters, πρεσβυτέρων) who preside over the church.

See J. B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer, eds. And trans., The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations of Their Writings, 2nd Edition, The Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 2.4.3 (Grand Rapids: Babke Book House, 1992), pp. 345-347.

Greek text:

Γράψεις οὖν δύο βιβλαρίδια καὶ πέμψεις ἓν Κλήμεντι καὶ ἓν Γραπτῇ. πέμψει οὖν Κλήμης εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις, ἐκείνῳ γὰρ ἐπιτέτραπται. Γραπτὴ δὲ νουθετήσει τὰς χήρας καὶ τοὺς ὀρφανούς. σὺ δὲ ἀναγνώσῃ εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων τῶν προϊσταμένων τῆς ἐκκλησίας.

Sancti Hermae Pastor, Liber I, Visio II, Caput IV, §3, PG 2:900.

Mr. Marshall’s contention for the term “high priest” being a synonymous designation for a monarchical bishop over the Roman Church in the time of Clement is asserted over and against the repeated reference, throughout this epistle, to the plurality of presbyters/bishops who together ruled over this congregation. And if the later witness of Hermas (in the mid-second century) tells us anything, it tells us in explicit terms that the Roman church was governed by the elders/presbyters (πρεσβυτέρων) whom he said “preside over the church.” Given his assertion that “Presbyterian polity is unbiblical,” he would have to confess that the Roman church, as Hermas described it, was “unbiblical.”

Pastor David King Responds to Taylor Marshall

January 9, 2010

The following is a response from David King to Taylor Marshall’s comments on the earlier Erasmus thread (link to Mr. Marshall’s comments). I’ve made only minor edits to what Pastor King and Mr. Marshall wrote. I’ve also added some editorial footnotes both to Mr. Marshall’s comments and to Pastor King’s comments.

Jesuits and Roman Unity

Mr. Marshall wrote: Mr. King, Contemporary Jesuits tend to be the most subversive religious order within the Catholic Church – known from their dissent. Many are rather “Protestant” [FN1] – so don’t take this random Jesuit quote as indicative of Catholic tradition.

David King Responds: Then I guess that the Roman magisterium doesn’t really live up to all you folks make it out to be. Where is the ecclesiastical discipline for these, the “most subversive religious order” within the Roman communion? The fact that Schatz’s observation of early church history disagrees with yours doesn’t make him wrong. As a Jesuit he does hold orders in your communion, while you hold no official position among the clergy. What makes your censure of Mr. Schatz any more than that of a private judgment? It is interesting how members of the Roman communion cry out against the exercise of all private judgment if they think a Protestant has engaged in such, while they reserve it for themselves against their own clergy.

Clement of Rome and Early Christian Views of Rome

Mr. Marshall wrote: Then you provide a quote reads: “If one had asked a Christian in the year 100, 200, or even 300 whether the bishop of Rome was the head of all Christians, or whether there was a supreme bishop over all the other bishops and having the last word in questions affecting the whole Church, he or she would certainly have said no.” (Schatz quote)
This can’t be right. Let’s look at what actually Christians from this period said and wrote about the Church of Rome.

Pope [FN2] Clement of Rome (ca. 89-96) wrote: “The church of God which sojourns at Rome to the church of God which sojourns at Corinth … But if any disobey the words spoken by him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger.” Clement of Rome 1,59:1

David King Responds: Yes, let’s do look at it, in context. In the first place, this is a rather anachronistic designation which you have assigned to Clement. There is absolutely no historical evidence to support your designation of him as “pope.” This tradition is without support because the office of the monarchical bishop, as it later came to exist, is no where present in Rome at this time. Leadership in Rome as this time had, according to 1 Clement 44:1-6 had been entrusted not to one, but a plurality of bishops, also known as presbyters. The very assertion of this claim that Clement was a “pope” is clearly based upon nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of Romanists.[FN3] This letter was composed by the Church of God at Rome to correct the behavior of the Corinthians, the majority of whom were responsible for removing their ecclesiastical leaders for no just cause.

This piecemeal quotation you’ve put together, which connects the beginning of the letter to the 59th chapter of this epistle is clearly not the result of your own study, but something you’ve lifted from a Roman apologetic web site. This is a prime example of the kind of misrepresentation of which you’ve accused me. The Church at Rome is simply pointing out to the Corinthians that they have trampled on the rights of their duly appointed elders. This is far from claiming some papal or Roman primacy over the Church at Corinth, whose members were in rebellion, not against Rome, but their own clergy.

As I indicated, you have cherry-picked this piece-meal quote which can be found in this form at a number of Roman apologetic web sites. The presupposition behind this proffered piece-meal citation is ludicrous, and fraught with anachronistic wishful thinking. In Chapter 57, 1 Clement instructs the Corinthians to “submit to [their] presbyters and accept discipline leading to repentance.” The admonition of 1 Clement refers this letter as “our advice [notice the plurality] and you will have nothing to regret.” (1 Clement 58)

This letter is giving biblical instruction to the congregants at Corinth to correct them. You haven’t demonstrated to me that you are even familiar with the intent of the letter. Clement appears to be acting as the secretary of the presbyters at Rome in the sending of this pastoral letter. This is nothing here that offers any proof for a papal or Roman primacy of jurisdiction. They urge the Corinthians saying:

But if certain people should disobey what has been said by him [i.e., Jesus Christ, whose commands they have been citing to the Corinthians] through us [notice again the plurality, not papacy], let them understand that they will, entangle themselves in no small sin and danger. We, however, will be innocent of this sin, and will ask, with earnest prayer and supplication, that the Creator of the universe may keep intact the specified number of his elect throughout the whole world, through his beloved servant Jesus Christ, through whom he called us from darkness to light, from ignorance to the knowledge of the glory of his name.

(1 Clement 59)

The misrepresentation here belongs to you, Mr. Marshall. You would be well served to invest some time in meaningful research, instead of offering some piecemeal quotation like this one from some Roman web site, or Denzinger’s Sources of Catholic Dogma.

We learn from the early church father Jerome who confesses the obvious from Scripture in his commentary on Titus, that in the beginning the churches were governed by a common council of presbyters, and that bishops were appointed to be above presbyters by custom rather than divine appointment!

Jerome (347-420):

A presbyter, therefore, is the same as a bishop, and before dissensions were introduced into religion by the instigation of the devil, and it was said among the peoples, ‘I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, and I of Cephas,’ Churches were governed by a common council of presbyters; afterwards, when everyone thought that those whom he had baptised were his own, and not Christ’s, it was decreed in the whole world that one chosen out of the presbyters should be placed over the rest, and to whom all care of the Church should belong, that the seeds of schisms might be plucked up. Whosoever thinks that there is no proof from Scripture, but that this is my opinion, that a presbyter and bishop are the same, and that one is a title of age, the other of office, let him read the words of the apostle to the Philippians, saying, ‘Paul and Timotheus, servants of Christ to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi with the bishops and deacons.’

Latin text:

Idem est ergo presbyter qui et episcopus, et antequam diaboli instinctu, studia in religione fierent, et diceretur in populis: Ego sum Pauli, ego Apollo, ego autem Cephae, communi presbyterorum consilio, Ecclesiae gubernabantur. Postquam vero unusquisque eos quos baptizaverat suos putabat esse, non Christi, in toto orbe decretum est, ut unus de presbyteris electus superponeretur caeteris, ad quem omnis Ecclesiae cura pertineret, et schismatum semina tollerentur. Putet aliquis non Scripturarum, sed nostram esse sententiam, episcopum et presbyterum unum esse, et aliud aetatis, aliud esse nomen officii: relegat Apostoli ad Philippenses verba dicentis: Paulus et Timothaeus servi Jesu Christi, omnibus sanctis in Christo Jesu, qui sunt Philippis, cum episcopis et diaconis, gratia vobis et pax, et reliqua.

Citation: Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, PL 26:562-563. English translation from John Harrison, Whose Are the Fathers? (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1867), p.488. See also Karl Von Hase, Handbook to the Controversy with Rome, trans. A. W. Streane, Vol. 1, 2nd ed. rev. (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1909), p. 164.

Jerome (347-420):

Therefore, as we have shown, among the ancients presbyters were the same as bishops; but by degrees, that the plants of dissension might be rooted up, all responsibility was transferred to one person. Therefore, as the presbyters know that it is by the custom of the Church that they are to be subject to him who is placed over them so let the bishops know that they are above presbyters rather by custom than by Divine appointment, and ought to rule the Church in common, following the example of Moses, who, when he alone had power to preside over the people Israel, chose seventy, with the assistance of whom he might judge the people. We see therefore what kind of presbyter or bishop should be ordained.

Latin text:

Haec propterea, ut ostenderemus apud veteres eosdem fuisse presbyteros quos et episcopos: paulatim vero ut dissensionum plantaria evellerentur, ad unum omnem sollicitudinem esse delatam. Sicut ergo presbyteri sciunt se ex Ecclesiae consuetudine ei qui sibi praepositus fuerit, esse subjectos: ita episcopi noverint se magis consuetudine, quam dispositionis Dominicae veritate, presbyteris esse majores, et in commune debere Ecclesiam regere, imitantes Moysen, qui cum haberet in potestate solum praeesse populo Israel, septuaginta elegit, cum quibus populum judicaret. Videamus igitur qualis presbyter, sive episcopus ordinandus sit.

Citation: Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, PL 26:563. Translation from John Harrison, Whose Are the Fathers? (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1867), p.488. See also Karl Von Hase, Handbook to the Controversy with Rome, trans. A. W. Streane, Vol. 1, 2nd ed. rev. (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1909), p. 164.

Thus, this whole business of the Roman primacy and/or the papacy is something unknown to Holy Scripture, but has been obtruded upon the Church of Jesus Christ by the communion of Rome.


Mr. Marshall continues:

Irenaeus (ca 180) also wrote: “For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church (i.e. the Church of Rome), on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:3:2

David King Responds: How are we to understand the words of Irenaeus here? I’m content to defer to the explanation offered by J. N. D. Kelly. He states, while commenting on this passage from Irenaeus that

This interpretation [i.e., the one implied by Mr. Marshall], or some variant of it, has been accepted by many, but it is awkward to refer in qua to hanc … ecclesiam, and anachronistic to attribute such thinking to Irenaeus. Hence it seems more plausible to take in qua with omnem … ecclesiam, and to understand Irenaeus as suggesting that the Roman church supplies an ideal illustration because, ‘in view of its preeminent authority’ based on its foundation by both Peter and Paul, its antiquity and so on, every church—or perhaps the whole church—in which the apostolic tradition has been preserved must as a matter of course agree with it. There is therefore no allusion to the later Petrine claims of the Roman see.

See J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (San Francisco: Harper, 1960), p. 193.

But, even if we did permit the meaning you suggest implicitly, Irenaeus does not speak for the church universal with respect to the primacy of Rome or its pope. And to be sure, the eastern churches never recognized, let alone acknowledged, Roman and/or papal primacy.

Victor I

Mr. Marshall insists: Also, Pope Victor 1 (pope from AD 189–199) presumed to excommunicate all the churches of Asia Minor and most people of that day (including those in Asia Minor) were worried about it. This confirms that most Christians did believe that the bishop of Rome DID in fact have such juridical power.

David King Responds: Confirms it? It’s very difficult to believe that you would actually offer Pope Victor 1, the bishop of Rome, and this particular instance, as representative of the views of the church universal at this time. First of all, the vaunted prejudice of any bishop of Rome ought not to be accepted as an example for proof of the contemporary belief of the universal church. The fact that he decided to jump into a dogfight with the Christians of Asia Minor over the date of Easter proves nothing. And yes, the fact that he presumed to tell the churches in Asia Minor what to do didn’t mean squat to them. In fact, their refusal to acquiesce to his pompous demands is proof in the pudding that they didn’t recognize any such notion of Roman primacy. Eusebius informs us that

Victor, who presided over the church at Rome [notice the church at Rome, not the world], immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate. But this did not please all the bishops. And they besought him to consider the things of peace, and of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are extant, sharply rebuking Victor.

See The Church History of Eusebius, 5.24.9-10.

You mean to tell me that Victor’s attempt to censure all of Christendom in Asia Minor under the threat of excommunication, when all of them opposed his jurisdiction, that this proves that the universal church of that day understood and embraced Roman and/or papal primacy? Please tell me that you’re really joking here, and that you really aren’t serious? Even Irenaeus, whom you referenced above, was busy in this particular controversy exhorting Victor to make peace with the churches of Asia Minor. Eusebius informs us that

Among them was Irenaeus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord’s day. He fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom … .

See The Church History of Eusebius, 5.24.11.

If Irenaeus really supported the Roman bishop’s juridical primacy and authority over the universal church, then pray tell me why he was instructing Victor to back off! The whole notion that Victor’s attempt to pontificate to the churches of Asia Minor proves papal primacy, is about the most ludicrous example one could possibly imagine, and which blows up in one’s face historically.

Mr. Marshall wrote: All written sources indicate that the Church of Rome was held as first and supreme.

David King Responds: No, not all. There’s a book in the Bible which we Protestants know as the Acts of the Apostles, and it informs us that the first church in which all the apostles gathered was in Jerusalem, that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Act 11:26), and that this church, under the leadership of James, the Apostles, and Presbyters, were the first to send out “decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem” (Acts 16:4). Now, I understand that you dear Romanists don’t sweat that Bible stuff, but we Protestants do. :)

[FN1] One is reminded of the recent accusations against Fr. Raymond Brown, S.S. (link).

[FN2] Mr. Marshall designates him as “pope,” although this is incorrect, as Pastor King notes later in the post.

[FN3] As Pastor King has explained elsewhere (link) his use of the term Romanist is not intended to be derogatory, but merely descriptive – although we are aware that some Roman Catholics object to this designation.

%d bloggers like this: