Thursday, December 29, 2005

2005... Year in Review
...COT's 6th month aniversary post

Today marks the sixth month anniversary of CampOnThis. During that time, I have written and posted 148 articles (some of which were very long). I've tried to mix humor, with biting sarcasm, along with provocative thoughts to stir up the status quo--hopefully all based on the sure foundation of biblical truth and sound doctrine.

The response from all of you to the articles posted here at COT has been very encouraging. We have had several articles receive over 50 comments each; a handful of articles over 100 comments each; and one article that had well over 300 comments from you in the blogosphere. We haven't always agreed on the issues at hand; but that is part of the benefit of this kind of communication. I know that I for one am richer for your interaction and contributions made here; and trust the Lord the next six months will be just as rich and rewarding. I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of this biblical discussion with you all. I would also appreciate your prayers for this blog-ministry that we continue to guard the trust, speak biblically on the issues of the day; not be driven by playing politics with others for sake of name, notoriety, or platform; and cause others to be faithful Bereans in examining all things, by anyone, according to the truth of God's Word alone. And as always, the evangelical spin stops here.

Now, on to today's post...

Romanism is Big Winner Among Evangelicals in 2005!

This past year has been quite a year: the Chicago White Sox won the world series (sorry Phil); the war in Iraq is still politically charged and controversial; the tragedies caused by hurricanes in the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. will be felt for years to come; Live-8, Rick Warren, and world leaders didn't cure world hunger; the movie industry is stuck on fantasy; podcasting is Webster's Dictionary newest buzz word; Southern Baptist leaders still think that Finneyesque invitationalism, raising a hand, signing a decision card, singing forty choruses of "Just As I Am", letting Jesus "love on ya", and Arminianism represents biblical evangelism and the gospel; the iPod is revolutionizing how we listen to music, read books and engage the arts; the Emerging Church is submerging; political remedies for moral maladies-courtesy of Dobson and company-are proving impotent in battling the sinful moorings of the heart; CCM is still searching for significance and approval from mainstream pop music rags; and sadly, evangelicalism is still looking for an identity.

BUT, 2005 will go down in evangelical history as being the year that Romanism captured the hearts of evangelicalism. Consider the following key events of this past year:

“The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson. (Though released in 2004, its effects are still fresh today and will be profound in years to come). The movie was compelling and riveting through Gibson’s amazing directors talents, but, was Marian in its assertions and focus and thoroughly Roman in its representation of departure of the biblical record. By Gibson’s own words, the main inspiration for the film was not the gospel accounts, but the dreams, visions and meditations of “The Dolorous Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ” by an 18th century nun, the Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerick.

The death of Pope John Paul II and the over the top gracious praise afforded to him that followed, not just by other Romanists, but sadly by several leading evangelical leaders who showered illustrious raptures of commendation to him for his “moral courage, standing for truth in a postmodern age, and for his contribution to uphold a culture of life in a culture of death.”

Justice Sunday I and Justice Sunday II where key evangelical figures co-partnered with unbelievers, Romanists, to address political/social concerns from the pulpits of two large SBC churches. This was profound. Planned Sunday evening worship services were turned into a political rally to address the themes of a democratic filibuster (JSI) and supreme court nominees (JSII). Think of it, the worship of God, the preaching of His Word, the proclamation of the gospel, praise to our Lord through song, etc. were all placed on the back burner to accommodate the church being treated as a political action committee. (Justice Sunday III is scheduled on January the 8th).

The appointment of Benedict the XVIth as the next Pope—once again heralded by evangelical leaders for his moral and family conservatism. He is a very conservative Romanist in matters of their doctrine, because of which the title of antichrist can be without hesitation given to the Pope once again. Eggs Benedict, as I refer to him, is a false religious leader, occupying a false religious office, representing a false church, based upon a false gospel. The saddening reality that evangelical leaders speak highly of him, even if limited to political/social/cultural themes, is evidence that the Downgrade has begun again in our day.

The revival of E.C.T. (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) offering ecumenical remedies for moral maladies through political alliances and conservative legislation upholding family values absent of the proclamation of the gospel and the preaching of God’s Word is disgusting. The leading proponent of this social philosophy is Dr. Dr. James Dobson of focus on the family; he and his band of merry men I have rightly named “Evangelical Co-Belligerents.” This will prove to be the most devastating suasion from sound doctrine, the authority of God’s Word, and the gospel of Jesus Christ to a political pragmaticism in our generation.

The hosting of Joseph Pearce, a devote Romanist (Writer-in-Residence at Ave Maria University and Associate Professor of Literature. He previously taught at Ave Maria College in Michigan. Mr. Pearce has published numerous books on the great Christian intellectuals including J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, and Oscar Wilde, to name but a few. Several of his books have won literary awards. He lectures widely around the United States and Europe on many topics and has published several articles. He is the Co-Editor of the St. Austin Review and the Editor-in-Chief of Sapientia Press.), as the key lecturer on Tolkienian literature, in specific “The Lord of the Rings” sponsored by The Henry Institute for the Gheens Lectures at Southern Seminary. The fact that a Romanist was the key contributor at these lectures to seminarians training for the ministry at an orthodox, Southern Baptist Seminary was inexcusable and earthshaking.

On a lesser note but important one, the inclusion of devout Romanist, Father Richard John Neuhaus (co-founder of ECT with Charles Colson) as part of an online Christian Ethics Symposium addressing the issue of “The Truth about Torture” being considered as one of several Christian voices to listen to on this issue. This is preposterous that a Romanist like Neuhaus is given a seat at the table for this discussion--and mind you, under the title of it being a Christian Ethics Symposium. What makes Neuhaus Christian? Has he rejected the Fifth Marian dogma; repudiated works righteousness; denied purgatorial cleansing; abandoned The Treasury of Merit? Of course not. Including Nuehaus in this symposium maybe PC and ecumenical--but certainly not honoring to the Word of God. (BTW: Dr. Al Mohler's article on this symposium is excellent--you don't need Neuhaus when the body of Christ has been blessed with Mohler). This symposium was sponsored by Joe Carter (of the “evangelicaloutpost” blog) and Justin Taylor (of the “betweentwoworlds” blog. Justin is also the Director of Theology and Executive Editor at Desiring God Ministries for John Piper). May I suggest that Joe and Justin reread Tridentine doctrine and then give a biblical reason for Neuhaus being included on a Christian Ethics Symposium.

Rome Sweet Home
As you can see from the above (and not all the events of 2005 were listed) Romanists are in demand by evangelicals. Didn’t the Reformation actually take place? When did the gospel become a politically correct document to be reduced to cultural/social pabulum absent of its truth claims? Who are these men that they are willing to give a seat at the evangelical table to any Romanist on any issue being discussed from a Christian world-view for the sake of academic engagement?

This without question has been a banner year for those of the Romanistic faith being welcomed wholeheartedly into mainline Christian evangelical circles. Due to their actions, Romanism—amongst most evangelicals, is now considered as being a legitimate part of orthodox, historical, biblical Christianity. This is unthinkable!

Should Romanists be given a seat at the biblical table of Christianity to discuss from a distinct Christian worldview issues about culture, art or faith with other evangelical leaders? The orthodox answer is no; the pragmatic one by leading evangelicals today is an undeniable yes.

In response to this seismic evangelical shift facing us today, I offer you the tried and tested words of John Owen to give clarity and sobriety to this disturbing issue. May such courage permeate the cowardly leadership within evangelicalism this year to repent of these unholy alliances and stand for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ once again—even if it means being denied the cultural, pragmatic insights of the likes of Romanist Father Richard John Neuhaus.

If we are really going to be “Together for the Gospel”, then we can have no affiliation or partnership with antichrists of Rome. May 2006 breed a new dedication to the gospel of sola fide, sola gratia and solus Christus away from the works righteousness of Romanism. Here is John Owen on “The Apostasy From the Gospel” in regards to Romanism.

Apostasy of the Church of Rome:
By John Owen

1. Romanists are the supreme example of those who have turned away from the holy ways of gospel obedience into paths which they have made for themselves
None boast more of holiness than does the Roman Catholic Church. They claim their church is the true church because of its sanctity. But because of the unholy lives of the majority of Roman Catholics, and also of many of their chief rulers and guides, they point to those who have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and who have dedicated themselves to a monastic life and to stricter rules and duties than others reach up to, or are obliged to submit to. These alone have obtained the name of religious among them. But many have already discovered the vanity, superstition and hypocrisy of their daily routines in which they generally spend their time. But this holy obedience is not that required and commanded in the gospel.

2. Romish vows of holiness do not show the spiritual freedom of gospel holiness
The first thing that truth does in our minds is to free them from all error and prejudices (John 8:32). Truth is the principle of all holiness, enlarging the mind and spirit. So it is called “true holiness” or “ the holiness of truth” (Eph. 4:24). So “where the Spirit of the Lord (or the Spirit of truth) is, there is liberty“ (2 Cor. 3:17).

Men are, since the fall, “servants of sin”. Willingly giving themselves up to its service, satisfying its lusts and obeying its commands. In such a state, they are ”free from righteousness.” They refuse to serve and obey the demands of the righteousness. But where the Holy Spirit works with the Word of truth, men are feed from sin and become servants to God, producing holy fruit in their lives (Rom. 6:20, 22). So it is said of all believers that they “have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but have received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry Abba, Father (Rom. 8:15). They have not received the “spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).

The teaching of the whole of Scripture is that the hearts of believers, by God’s grace, are freed from fear of judgment, to a free, willing, cheerful spirit that loves to do all the duties that holiness requires, moved by gratitude for mercies received. They are not driven by fear to a scrupulous bondage to outward duties, but with delight and true freedom of will they gladly obey. Because they have received the “Spirit of adoption” they live as children of God, honoring their Father by doing His will gladly and out of gratitude for the great salvation which He has wrought for us in and through Christ.

But there are strong proofs that those who place themselves under Romish vows and strict monastic rules of life and who spend their days in many outward religious duties, which the Church of Rome calls holiness, are not free, but are ruled by a servile, slavish spirit. They are forced to bind themselves and to be bound by their vows if they wish to live in that community, which is contrary to al true Christian fellowship. In obeying these vows, they are not their own masters, free to discipliner and rule themselves, but are under the strict discipline of others who administer outward punishments incases of failure. Those are the servants of men in religious duties are not God’s freemen, nor do they have Christ for their Lord who subject themselves religiously to men.

What drives these men to a monastic life, and in strict religious rules of life invented by men, are vows and rules of life nowhere requited by God or our Lord Christ in the gospel. And the chief reason why they continue in this life is the obedience, which they have vowed and so owe to their superiors.

It is easy to see how opposite this way is to true spiritual freedom of mind, which is the root of all true gospel holiness. Romish vows and rules of religious life are also motivated by thoughts of achieving merit, which stimulates them to further religious disciplines. The desire to achieve merit also makes for a servile, slavish spirit in all that they do, for they cannot but know that everything done in order to achieve merit must not only be tried by the strict, relentless standard of perfect sincerity, but also weighted in the balance of absolute perfection. This thought utterly destroys that free, willing, cheerful, glad obedience given out of gratitude for the free gift of justification and eternal life. Thos under Romish vows are also driven to obedience by the tormenting thought that they have no assurance either that they are accepted by God in this life, or ever shall be accepted by Him in the next. so in all their duties, they ae of necessity driven by “a spirit of fear” and not “of power and a sound mind.”

3. Romish vows and rules of religious life bind men to observe that which is not commanded by the gospel, but is a system of laws and rules invented by men.
So some obey the rule of Benedict, some of Francis, some of Dominic, some of Ignatius and the like. This proves that all that they do has nothing to do with gospel holiness, for that holiness is conformity to the rule of the gospel, which is the will of God. Thus, like the Pharisees of old whom Christ rebuked, they add duties not commanded by God. So, “in vain they worship God, teaching for doctrines the commands of men” (Matt. 15:6-9). Let the number of false, invented duties of religion be ever so great, let the manner of their performance be ever so exact or sever, they only divert the minds of men from the obedience which gospel requires. “As plants which the heavenly Father never planted, they shall, in due time, be rooted up” and cast into the fire (Matt. 15:13).

There is nothing in all that is prescribed by the masters of these rules and vows, or practiced by their disciples, but may all be done without either faith in Christ or a sense of His love to souls.
On the other hand, the obedience the gospel requires is the “obedience of faith”. On that and on no other root will gospel holiness grown. And the chief nature of gospel holiness is “the love of Christ” which alone “constrains” to it (2 Cor. 5:14).

But what is there in all these monastic vows and rules of life that makes it necessary for them to be carried out for the love Christ? May not men rise at midnight to repent a number of prayers, or go barefoot, or wear sackcloth, or abstain from meat on occasions or always, or submit to discipline from themselves or others and, if strong enough, undergo all the horrid and indeed ridiculous hardships without the least dram of saving faith or love? All false religions have always had some among them who have loved to amuse others with their self inflicted punishments and penances.

All the good that these Romish vows and rules of life do is utterly corrupted by the proud thought of gaining merit and doing works of supererogation, works above all that was required by them, which can then be used to help others to achieve the required standard of merit. The whole idea of merit and works of supererogation utterly weakens the covenant grace, treats with contempt the blood and mediation of Christ, and is totally inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the gospel.

And when we add to these vows all the gross superstition and idolatry to which they give themselves up in their devotions, then we can see that, notwithstanding al Rome’s claims to holiness and a more strict obedience to duties than other men, yet it is clear that the best of their works falls far below the standard of the holiness required by the gospel and without which no-one shall see the Lord.


Jeremy Weaver said...

You're exactly right. Evangelicalism is headed down a road that leads to Rome. I think Jesus would call this raod the 'broad way'.
Thankfully there are some who will not be enticed by Romanism. Paul would call these the 'remnant'.

Antonio said...

Lordship Salvation's definition of faith I'm certain would find favor in Rome!

Puritan Belief said...

Enjoyed your Spin on 2005. John Owen likes to make things crystal clear.

In regards to the Pope and His funeral I would even go as far to say this size funeral has never been seen before considering the worlds population and television.

This was a given that the queen would come dressed in black and Billy Graham and all the churches would come and mourn over His death. Charles wedding was even postponed.

Rev 18:9 "And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning."

Gordan said...


One of the rules of this blog is that you stay on topic. The blog was about the RC antichrist; not Zane Hodges's misunderstanding of the gospel.

Bhedr said...

Owen makes the distinction very clear. Enjoyed the past six months as it has been helpful in learning to make this distinction. I look forward to another six is seeking out the whole counsel of God. Psalm 2:1-5,

Hi Antonio,

Love you man and am very greatful that His grace is indeed absolutely free as both Owen and MacArthur teach this.

Shawn L said...

Steve Camp,

Truthful trend... when looking at a year in review. I'm going to be checking out Edwards Resolutions again this year as they are helpful to me as I read them each year (at least for the last 3 years anyway).

pilgrim said...

The trend is disturbing for someone like myself who came out of Roman Catholicism.

There are so many things Evangelicals don't seem to get.
Sometimes I bring certain points up I get responses such as, "So what? Don't they love Jesus?"
or just "So what?"
Sometimes there is shock of disbelief--fortunately that sometimes opens eyes.

As for Gibson's Passion movie--well let me say --don't get me started.

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Yikes! I was sent this link from a blogging friend of mine who wanted to know what I thought. Yikes!

I know I probably shouldn't be surprised that such misguided belligerence exists among the Evangelical community, but I still can't help it. You have a number of links and references to prominent Reformed individuals on your site (e.g., John MacArthur, James White, John Piper, R.C. Sproul). Might I suggest that you try to mirror your anti-Catholicism more after the latter two individuals above? It's one thing to be anti-Catholic. (And btw, it's "Catholic" not "Romanist." How audacious to not once in your whole tirade to use the word by which all such individuals would actually call themselves: i.e., Catholic.) It's quite another to be a mud-slinging anti-Catholic. Perhaps you might try a more, shall we say, intellectual approach to your anti-Catholicism; say, along the lines of R.C. Sproul.

But, I cordially invite you over to my own blogspot should you wish to dialogue with some of the issues raised there, which, it seems to me, give Protestant Christians frequent trouble. You may find it at

Good day.

Dave Norris said...

R C Sproul believes that the church is spiritual Israel despite clear Scriptures in Genesis and Isaiah, among other,s that it is not and this comes out of theologies based by man. I am glad, however, that you make mention of the White Sox as that was good logic and timing.

pregador27 said...

Romanists are welcomed and praised by so-called evangelicals. That is why I do not consider myself "evangelical" any longer. I am a missionary to Brazil and I see the evils of the Romanist influence there. Including the assimilation of heathen practices and Afro-Brazilian witchcraft.

I was calling JP2 "Papa Frita" when I was there (the call the "Pope" -isn't it funny how that rhymes with "dope?"- "Papa" and frita means "fried"). More "evangelicals" in Brazil do not trust or like Romanism- they take it seriously as a perversion of the Gospel of Christ.

ColinM said...

Steve: You continue to post eye-opening material. thanks

Antonio: You misunderstand. This might help a bit if you can spare 20 minutes-
Go here, then go to very last message:

11/25/2005 - Friday

Breuss Wane said...

For the record, R. C. Sproul has emphatically stated time again in his lectures (esp. in his opposition to the ECT documents) that Rome is a fallen church whose gospel is anathema.

Speaking of anathema, I second the comment about irritation at the Zane Hodges intrusion.

Joel said...

"And btw, it's "Catholic" not "Romanist." How audacious to not once in your whole tirade to use the word by which all such individuals would actually call themselves: i.e., Catholic."

Standard fare, Jennifer. Most Protestants aren't aware that there ARE any Catholics who aren't Roman; Byzantine, Maronite and other rites aren't part of the American Protestant conncept of whhat the catholiic Church is. More importantly, many of them don't want to acknnowledge that we have any part at all in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, let alone that it was us to begin with. They took our Bible (text and canon), they took our first few councils, and they took some of our terminology, and they're just positive God bypassed us and gave it directly to them.

On a less snide note... :)

Steve, a couple of pickies with your list. First, you're a year off with the Passion; it was big in 2004. It was more or less a dud this year, when some churches tried to revive it. As far as Pearce goes, it makes sense to bring in a Romanist to speak about a Romanist. Why is it a bad idea to have Pearce there to speak, but it's not a bad idea to have a talk about Tolkien, a devout Papist? Is he a fit subject for good Baptists to study?

SJ Camp said...


Thank you for pointing out the date on The Passion... I did have a qualifier I thought I had put in my article and you are right, it was not there. (turning 50 has had its effect on me :-).)

On the Romanist distinction: All Roman Catholics derive their beliefs from Rome; and really are beholding to Trent in its foundational beliefs. VI and VII and the 1994 New Catechism of the Church changed nothing in its Tridentine assertions and convictions. Romanism is still heresy, skewed doctrine, and a false gospel no matter what religious label you put on it.

Q - If a Romanist has really come to salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, by reading their Bibles personally or hearing the gospel from a friend, family member or from a real church - and they continue to remain in Rome's false church, practice the Mass, offer prayers to the dead, believe in righteousness through works or The Treasury of Merit, believe Mary to be co-redemptrix and co-mediatrix with Christ, etc.... then could you consider their "salvation" genuine if they sustain such practice without repentance? Certainly not. Wouldn't it have been wonderful to see John Paul II repent of his sin and embrace the genuine gospel before waking up in perdition for all eternity? Even God doesn't delight in the death of the wicked and neither should we.

The issue is for you my friend to biblically prove how Romanism in any manner is compatible with Scripture at all!

Grace and peace,
SJ Camp
Col. 1:9-14

PS - One last comment: Zane Hodges wouldn't know sound doctrine if it bit him in the "ecclesiasticals." The gospel he promotes is not free, but it is cheap!

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

The actual teaching of the Catholic Church is that its beliefs and practices are derived from one divine "wellspring," as it were, which is comprised of both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. This is the clear and simple teaching of the Vatican II document Dei Verbum. The Magisterium of the Church is the "authoritative intepreter" of that one sacred and apostolic deposit of faith once for all committed to the Church-a truth, again, simply put forward in the same document.

To claim that it all simply springs from Trent is to greatly oversimplify the history of the Church. Here is a simple example: the phrase regarding the Eucharist "transsubstantionis pane in corpus, et vino in sanguinem" (lit. the bread is transubstantiated into the body and the wine into blood) is take from the Fourth Lateran Council of the Church (early 13th century, long before Luther et al.). Therefore, prior to the Reformation (and, of course, before Trent) what it was to be a Christian was to believe that in the Eucharist one partakes of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is just one of a multitude of examples to demonstrate just how "Trentian" the Church had long been prior to Halloween of 1517. That's the great thing about history--there's no arguing against it. It's there to be seen, or not.

And as regards this comment:
"The issue is for you my friend to biblically prove how Romanism in any manner is compatible with Scripture at all!"
you overlook the fact that the burden of proof for the presupposition underlying this comment is actually upon you. Where did you get the idea that everything a Christian is to believe must be able to be "proven biblically" before it is to be believed? Unless and until you can justify why it is that you or any Protestant holds to this idea, your challenge rests safely on the ground from which it cannot even get off.

Good day to you.

Jeremy Weaver said...

You're killing me with the Zane Hodges garbage, Antonio. I agree with Campi.

Bhedr said...


Understand that Sledghammer has a Rush Limbaugh type way about him and that he means you no harm.
He uses tough rehtoric sometimes, but his heart is for truth. Many men even in the camps that you and I came out of used some pretty tough speech. I'm not saying I agree with it, but Elijah used it on Mt. Carmel when contending for the faith and the Lordship of Christ vs the Lordship of Baal.

I just want you to know that I love you brother. I understand how you feel right now as I was in your shoes a few months ago.

Don't get discouraged but I do encourage you to seek out the truth as I needed to as well.

All of us need to continue to seek balance in all the things of God.

Joel said...

My word! You're 50? I think I feel my own hairline receding just thinking about YOU aging! :)

"The issue is for you my friend to biblically prove how Romanism in any manner is compatible with Scripture at all!"

Steve, that would take a heap of time and probably wouldn't fit in the comment boxes. (I'm willing to give it a shot by e-mail if you want, although I'm not a theologian by any stretch.) But I can give an answer in short form: Not only do I find that Catholic teaching isn't incompatible with the Bible, but it seems to me that the Protestant rejection of some of those teachings (the True Presence in the Eucharist, the Communion of Saints) is itself contrary to scripture. My experience when I became Catholic was that I no longer had to skip over Bible passages that didn't fit my (admittedly incomplete) Evangelical understanding; I could read it more or less at face value and it made sense.

I realize you're not going to agree with my interpretations, and I'm not trying to convince you to. But the fact is, we DO read and believe the Bible, we DO love Jesus – just as much as you do – and we DO have good, solid reasons for interpreting the Word as we do. This is something that Evangelicals are beginning to understand, which to you looks like selling out to Rome. To be honest, I sort of have to admire your stand on that; even if it's 180 degrees wrong, at least you TAKE a stand rather than follow the trend.

Grace and peace to you too, Steve!


Joel said...

Oh, BTW... you need to make an adjustment to the comment feature, where it says "Your comment has been saved." For Papist commenters, shouldn't it say "Your comment has been damned?"

Andrew said...


2005 was the year we found you in the blogosphere. Your blog is in the technorati top ten for "church"


i saw you in concert in 1990 in portland and used your "Fire and Ice" album as a backdrop for my messages and dramas at a youth camp

now its great to have you more accessible online

peace for 2006

SJ Camp said...


Thanks for your encouraging words. Question for you, how do I pull up the "church" listing you referred to see our ranking on technorati?


Breuss Wane said...

There's nothing "sacred" about "tradition".

Shawn L said...


I saw you there as well

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Further evidence for the record of R.C. Sproul should be submitted. He is absolutely the most genial anti-Catholic I have ever heard in my life (with the possible exception of Norman Geisler). I don't mind anti-Catholicism. Why would I? What in the world does a Church with the intellectual and liturgical tradition of Catholicism have to fear from any opponent?! What I mind is incivility. Or, if that's too strong, then let's call it a lack of geniality in one's opposition to the other side. That was the gist of my original anti-anti-Catholic posting regarding the "Year in Review" here...since we're concerned with keeping the record straight.

Joel said...

"There's nothing "sacred" about "tradition"."

Without Sacred Tradition, you don't have a reliable Bible.

Andy's Treasures said...

Hey steve,

Just found your blog recently. I'm loving it. It's good to hear an unfiltered opinion every now and then. Keep up the good work!


Breuss Wane said...

Sacred Tradition did *not* give us the canon. The church does not and can not create canon... it merely recognizes it as such.

Joel said...

"Sacred Tradition did *not* give us the canon. The church does not and can not create canon... it merely recognizes it as such."

Breuss, I'll acept that if you can show me a table of contents in the Bible. Otherwise, you can't get away from the fact that you have to rely on Sacred Tradition to know what the actual canon should be.

Breuss Wane said...

There's no table of contents, but the process is the same. The church cannot create canon, but merely recognize it. Therefore, tradition had zilch to do with giving us a canon.

pilgrim said...

And thus a significant difference between RCism & Protestantism on authority...

Some take it too far one way or the other--but I have to agree with Breuss...

Joel said...

"There's no table of contents, but the process is the same. The church cannot create canon, but merely recognize it. Therefore, tradition had zilch to do with giving us a canon."

That process is precisely what Sacred Tradition is: recognizing what is and isn't the teaching of the Christian faith.

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

One can hardly resist jumping in on the canon issue, especially a Catholic, as it is such a weak spot for Protestants.

Breuss, the problem for the Protestant Christian with regard to the canon is an epistemic one (ie, a knowledge issue). The Catholic is not asking how it is that the canon came to be. Of course, all Christians are united in that respect. It came to be through God inspiring various authors in their writings--making the writings "God-breathed." But, this is a metaphysical question, on which all are united. The canon question, however, is epistemic as well as metaphysical.

After we're all agreed as to who determines the canon (ie, God), we have the further question of how it is we Christians come to *know* which books belong in the Bible. And I'm afraid that question simply cannot be answered in a Bible-Alone Christianity. Because I must first have a Bible and know which books belong there in order to even be a Bible-Alone Christian. And I'm afraid it's not overwhelmingly obvious to me that, say, Jude, 2 & 3 John, 2 Peter, the Apocalypse, etc. actually belong there. Or at least, this was how many Church Fathers argued (eg., Tertullian). In fact, if I'm not mistaken, it was not until St. Athanasius that we see the first full mention of our current 27 (and only these 27) books of the NT actually belonging there. And then the councils of Hippo and Carthage (ie, a magistra) settled it.

If you'd like to dispute Tertullian and side with St. Athanasius' list of the 27 books of the NT, on the basis of what would you do this? There is no reasonable answer for the Protestant on this issue, I'm afraid. The only way to answer the epistemic question is by giving a Catholic/Orthodox answer.

Joel said...

Thanks, Jeremiah. That was a more thorough explanation than I had ready.

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Joel: no no no, your posts were excellent. It's not as though I thought you weren't making your case. You were. It's just that I couldn't resist making it a bit of nail-in-the-coffin, type argument. But, I don't do so out of maliciousness. It's out of my concern that Protestants actually come to terms with just how overwhelmingly difficult this issue is for them. It is insurmountable, really. And I just like to make sure that when it's raised, those on the other side see the full force of it. One can only hope and pray that something good might come as a result, eh?

Breuss Wane said...

There's nothing epistemic about the self-attesting canon. The canon would be the canon were there no councils to recognize it as such.

Joel said...

"There's nothing epistemic about the self-attesting canon. The canon would be the canon were there no councils to recognize it as such."

But how would you know it was the right one? You have no way of deciding between Athanasius' or Tertullian's canon, and even less of prescribing your choice to others. There was no concensus prior to the Councils of Hippo and Carthage.

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Mr. Wane,

Your second point was already settled and agreed-upon in my last post. But to repeat, nobody is asking the metaphysical question of how the canon comes to be. Obviously, the only answer to that question, on which everyone agrees, is that God determines it.

But as Joel reiterates, the question is how do *you* (or anyone else for that matter) know which books belong there? To say the 27 are merely self-attesting is disingenuous, for as you must readily admit, you cannot point to the place in each and every one of them where they self-proclaim their own canonicity. And even if they did, plenty of other books self-proclaim their authenticity as being revelations from God (e.g., the Qur'an). Moreover, many of the NT books do not even declare their authorship (e.g., the Gospels). And even if they did, a self-proclamation of authorship is not enough to make a book's own case for itself as belonging in the canon.

You cannot get around this epistemic problem. You must address it head on in order to justifiably maintain that you have *knowledge* that the 27 books in the NT actually belong there. Otherwise, it's your wishful thinking along with that of every other Christian who denies either Sacred Tradition or the apostolic succession of the Magisterium.

Breuss Wane said...

Again, to beat the dead horse, there's nothing epistemic about the canon.

*How* it came to be* and self-attestation are one and the same. You falsely dichotomize the two and create a problem that isn't there.

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Just a brief reply, since I'm astonished that the points I'm raising are being so well missed (and therefore making this exchange a bit pointless).

Merely saying something is so, doesn't make it so. You can deny the conclusion all you want, but unless you simultaneously undermine the argument, you're doing little better than beating a dead anything.

First, self-attestation doesn't exist in the NT books (per my comments above). Second, even if it did, it wouldn't settle anything as regards your knowledge, unless you want to make the outrageous claim that any religious writing that self-attests its own authenticity is thereby divinely inspired (as was also argued above).

A dichotomy between the order of being and that of knowing could not be denied by anyone. Is Jesus the Son of God? Yes. Does everybody know that? No. Voila! A ready-made distinction between what is real and whether or not I know it's real.

Ultimately, the only answer to the question "How do you know which books belong in the Bible?" has only one answer, a Catholic/Orthodox one--they belong their because the God-ordained authority falling in the line of the apostles told us that they belong there. Without such an authority, there is no possible way to definitively argue against Tertullian's list of the canonical books. ...unless of course you'd like to show the way. You'd be the first to succeed, but undoubtedly not the first or last to try. Hey, someone has to win the lottery, right? Might as well be you, eh?

Joel said...

All right, Breuss, let's try it. Using nothing but the text of the Bible, how do you discern the correct canon?

Breuss Wane said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Breuss Wane said...


It's not up to me to determine or figure out the canon. The canon has already done it for me.

Breuss Wane said...

I believe you are the one who has missed, ignored, or rejected my point. The metaphysical *is* the answer to your epistemic notion.

The self-attestation of scripture begins and ends with Christ's resurrection, which is itself its own authoritative revelation. Revelation (and its correlating canonical issues) is first and foremost a historical event which certainty is bound to Christ himself. The certainty of the canon rests in Christ Himself, not the church and certainly not tradition.

Because self-attestation is grounded in Christ himself, apostolicity (and its inherent self-attestation) becomes the dominant criterion for canonicity.

God ordained both the ends and the means (1st century church acceptance and use of apostolic writings) in recognition of the canon, but the authenticity never is grounded in the means. Thus, metaphysical inspiration can not be severed from the canon.. the issue is one and the same.

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Quite the contrary from saying that metaphysical inspiration can be severed from the canon, I have explicitly said there is no difference between any Christian communion (Catholic, Protestant, etc.) on the metaphysical issue. In this respect, you are arguing for something that no one is arguing against.

It is a category mistake to give metaphysical answers to epistemic questions (or vice-versa). But, I understand why you do it--because you haven't got an epistemic answer to give. No one does. Every Evangelical I've read on this issue (including White, Geisler, etc.) addresses the metaphysical issue (which no one raised) and thinks he's thereby finished the debate.

You mention Christ, and your comments are very good. I have just one question for you though. Where did you go primarily in order to find out about Christ? From the Scriptures? How do you know which ones those are? You're still not answering the question. The answer is that you inherit them from the judgment made by the Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397). I understand that you don't want to answer that way. But, it's the reality nonetheless. Because contra your comments about 1st century usage (you have no historical evidence that all 27 books were used in the 1st century), as I've said, many Fathers of the Church (e.g., Tertullian) who were quite a bit after the 1st century denied the canonicity of several of the books of the current NT. And, as I said, it's not until St. Athanasius that we get a Father giving the full canon of all and only the 27.

The rest of your comments are remarkably Catholic, though you likely did not see this and didn't intend it. I can only think this is so because you feel the inexorable tug toward the only place that gives you an answer the the epistemic problem presented to you. Yes, it is absolutely true that "Because self-attestation is grounded in Christ himself, apostolicity...becomes the dominant criterion for canonicity." Which is exactly what the Catholic claims. The apostles (or those closely associated with them) under divine inspiration wrote the books of the canon. And it was those who are there successors through the apostolic authority (ie, the bishops) who authoritatively settled the dispute in the 4th century over which books actually belong in the NT. So, yes, apostolicity is the dominant criterion.

And yes, absolutely "God ordained both the ends and the recognition of the canon" Both the end of the creation of the canonical books and the means of *recognition* of those books are God-ordained. This is the perfect way to view the situation. Either way (ends or means), it's God-ordained in its creation and its recognition, which keeps the metaphysical closely linked with the epistemic. The recognition itself is God-ordained. This is just what Catholics mean by knowledge of the canon coming to you by virtue of the God-ordained authority of those who thereby recognize the canon. You have reasoned quite well here for the Catholic presentation of the canon issue.

Breuss Wane said...

"It is a category mistake to give metaphysical answers to epistemic questions (or vice-versa)."

On this we must agree to disagree. It's not that there is no epistemic answer to give... the answer is being sought in the wrong place... the epistemic *has* no answer to give because it is answering the wrong question.

To address the metaphysical *is* to finish the debate. To insist otherwise is to engage in a debate that the canon itself is not interested in engaging.

Joel said...

Where, Breuss? Chapter and verse, please.

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Just one final comment, since you've closed off discussion.

You write, "To insist otherwise is to engage in a debate that the canon itself is not interested in engaging."

This is perfectly true, since a "canon" cannot engage in debate specifically because it has no mind and no volition. It is *people* who engage these questions. To personify the canon is only to seem as if one is avoiding the inevitable issues that have been raised. Canons ask questions like walls complain about their color.

The canon came through men and was authoritatively settled by men, both instances of which were God-ordained. This is the only coherent position available to any Christian. Unfortunately for you, it happens to only be available to Catholic and Orthodox by virtue of their shared ecclesiology of "apostolic succession."

Till next we meet...

Call Me Ishmael said...

When I visit this blog I feel the way Wayne and Garth did in the presence of Alice Cooper. "I am not worthy! I am not worthy!" Great blog! Keep up the good work!

John Kettner said...

The papal councils are the image of the papal beast, who is the Antichrist, from the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

The reformers understood this truth and today's remnant does also.

To know Christ is to know Antichrist.