Monday, October 5, 2009

Bible Myth #75: Anyone can interpret Scripture correctly by praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance

Many non-Catholic Christians believe that praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance will lead them into the correct interpretation of the Bible.  While this is a nice thought; reality shows pretty quickly that it doesn't work.  The Holy Spirit may be guiding me; but I also am influenced by my education level, my preconceived notions, my biases, and, most importantly, my desire to be right.

The historical and cultural heritage of the Bible makes it quite difficult for a reader in the third millennium to understand the metaphors, the connotations, and subtle word play that would have been obvious to those alive when it was written.  What is "so clear" to us is our own, modern understanding of the English translation.  It can be hard for us to get a proper context.

For example, the word "works" is used by St. Paul in his letter to the Romans and by St. James.  They are speaking, however, about two completely different things.  St. Paul speaks about "works of the law" which are those actions required by Jews while St. James speaks of works like loving and charity.  This is why St. Paul can say we are saved by faith and not works (of the law) and St. James can say we are saved by works and not faith alone yet there is not contradiction.  This context isn't obvious from the text.

If that weren't enough, the Bible itself condemns personal interpretation.  Let's take a look:

"And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures. (2 Pt 3:15-16)

"Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" He replied, "How can I, unless someone instructs me?" So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him. This was the scripture passage he was reading: "Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth. In (his) humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth." (Acts 8:30-33

"Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation" (2 Pt 1:20)

Well, if the Bible says we shouldn't interpret it on our own; where should we find the truth?

"the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim 3:15)

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dan..have yet to read your comment but based by your headline, you make it sound like button pushing". Just pray to the Holy Spirit and your interpetation will be correct. Button pushing ? Like indulgences and lighting candles and repetitious prayers and masses and novenas and scapulars and a saint for every problem, and a sacrament for every ocassion and absolutions etc.,etc.But I suppose the box you are in is the box you see ohters thru.I hope to read your comments but I think getting the right interpetation to scripture is not a formula or pushing a button of prayer to the Spirit, or maybe it is that simple,heaven forbid ,a child might be able to that,and that can not be right.

Anonymous said...

Dan. You have catchy titles,one to spur discussion.Thank -you .There is a precept-the Holy spirit guides to correct thinking and scriptural interpretation. You make it interesting by saying "anyone" can be "guided". Of course you do not mean a buddhist or atheist but you might as well have to come up with the same conclusion, that it doesn't work-the Holy Spirit is limited by Me, my condition etc.. Therefore ,you say something else is needed (Rome?). The fallacy here is that the method IS right (Holy Spirit,prayer and the individual)but you put eliminate the need for a right "heart" with the need for the right "church"..Will not a right heart put aside bias,education,"desire to be right", as you say ? So there is your enticement to your argument- "anyone". That is not part of the equation. The right heart takes a miracle. It must be a new heart in Jesus. Just as Paul was influenced by his education and bias,and desire to be right,his prayers were in vain for any Light,or scriptural insight.....until he was born again,and behold all things became new, including the right heart to receive scriptural insight.He could SEE that scripture backed what Stephen was saying before Saul saw him stoned. He could read and understand what Ananias was preaching....So when you say in "reality it doesn't work",it is not the method that is wrong but the heart, and not even the most right on church can overcome that..So indeed it is a myth that "anyone" can interpret scripture correctly. Do you believe that the new man in Christ can overcome his flesh ? Can Jesus be victorious in the believer to give him the assurance of what is sound teaching and interpretation of scripture ? Did not Jesus speak to thousands as if they could understand ? Can He not lead us to the right church ?.... I have only read your first paragraph ,but I imagine you will elevate "Church" as a needed intercessor to Christ. Again, to reach Christ in fullness one must go thru the Roman Catholic church ?......Tell me, do you not have a personal views on scripture? Why can you have personal views and protestants can not? Of course I believe you will say ,"wait, my views are the churches ,not my own" .Does not the protestant say the same except he believes they are the Lord's ? Do you not think Paul said "these are my personal views" or did he say "these are the Lord's views" (such audacity -Oh but he was an apostle ,you and I can not say that ,but Paul says we are and we can.) So personal does not mean "just mine or from me.It means it is resulting from a one on one with Jesus, as in supping with Him as a friend, as a sheep with his shepherd, a child with his father. When Peter said Jesus is the Messiah, it was not his personal view, something he came up with, but something he personally received from the Father. That is the true meaning of 2nd Peter 1:20- it is all God generated ,both the word ,the prophecy ,the gospel and it's ability to move into ones heart-"moved by the Holy Ghost".....Philip and the eunuch ...If you notice the eunuch had been drawn by the father and had a hungry heart. When is the last time someone asked what does it mean ,then after listening to all, says baptize me now ? The guys heart was READY. No one is denying the need for teachers or a church. He needed preaching and by the word of God. The eunuch was not just "anyone", he was ready. But it is along way to say the preacher or church is the ultimate authority, for indeed ,scripture and the gospel is the light,the former the reflectors.

Dan said...

I agree with you; the formula certainly can work; but does it in practice? How do you account for the contradictory views of those who follow this formula? Let’s take a concrete example: baptism. Some Protestants see it as symbolic only and others see it as sacramental (grace-giving).

Is this because:

1. One group is right in the heart while the other is not?

2. Baptism is symbolic for those who believe it’s symbolic and sacramental for those who believe it’s sacramental?

3. The difference between symbolic and sacramental baptism is minor and doesn’t really matter?

If #1 then how do we know which group had the right heart and which led themselves astray? If #2 then isn’t that a denial of objective Truth of matters of Faith? #3 can’t be it because there are a lot of “unsaved’ people on both sides of the issue depending on which is true.

How do you know the things you believe are true? You back your theology up with scripture and so does Catholicism. You may say we have a false interpretation but we can just as easily say the same to you. The result is an endless debate in blog comment boxes because neither of us has the authority to overrule the other and neither of us respects the same earthly authority to settle the issue.

Does that sound consistent with scripture or the early Christians?

“Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters. (1 Pt 5:5)

“For a bishop as God's steward must be blameless, not arrogant, not irritable, not a drunkard, not aggressive, not greedy for sordid gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled, holding fast to the true message as taught so that he will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents. For there are also many rebels, idle talkers and deceivers, especially the Jewish Christians. It is imperative to silence them, as they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what they should not.”(Tit 1:7-11) (Here bishops are exhorted to live well so they may refute other CHRISTIANS)

“For what is the bishop but one who beyond all others possesses all power and authority, so far as it is possible for a man to possess it, who according to his ability has been made an imitator of the Christ of God? And what is the presbytery but a sacred assembly, the counselors and assessors of the bishop? And what are the deacons but imitators of the angelic powers, fulfilling a pure and blameless ministry unto him, as…Anencletus and Clement to Peter?" Ignatius, To the Trallians, 7

“Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters…It behooves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5:20

"Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry." Clement of Rome, Pope, 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, 44:1-2

"And before you had received the grace of the episcopate, no one knew you; but after you became one, the laity expected you to bring them food, namely instruction from the Scriptures...For if all were of the same mind as your present advisers, how would you have become a Christian, since there would be no bishops? Or if our successors are to inherit the state of mind, how will the Churches be able to hold together?" Athanasius, To Dracontius, Epistle 49:2,4

dave ruiz said...

Dan why do you apply the formula to absolutely everything crawling that is not Catholic ? Can I not say it does work because all Assembly of God's believe the same thing .All southern baptists believe the same thing. Millions around the world believe many of the basic Christian principles, all coming from different cultures,backgrounds,religions. How does this happen ? Is this what you mean when you say "the formula can work" ? ........ Yes Catholics are unified in major doctrine ,with varying practices, but so are many other denominations. Again any formula can fail, but it ain't the formulas fault. Part of the formula is having the right heart, as explained earlier. A protestant can say that is what happened to Rome. It was a heart matter that led Rome to stray, as it is with any other denomination that strays.......As I read your comment further, I thought I explained the "formula". I told you how one "knows". The same way Peter knew Jesus was the messiah, while others thought He was a prophet or something else........ I do not see us not being able to agree as a problem with the "formula". In fact it is working perfectly between you and I. Does not Revelations ,the end of time have big differences in faith ,not endless, because Jesus coming back does end it. This is quite consistent with the church since the beginning, indeed since Adam and Eve. God knows how to deal with us. Yes, He did thru a nation(Israel) and now a church (do you see only Roman here ?), but that still settles nothing ,for within that nation and within that church, you have differences. So it is not enough to be "circumcised or now "baptized". You must be circumcised and baptized in the heart. The formula is consistent. Yes, we have testimonies and a great cloud of witnesses, but we must individually go thru that narrow gate also, and we will see where true authority is and How He has chosen to operate the "formula"........."Bishops married to one wife" (Titus 1:6) - I believe that. Do you ? If you read my previous two blogs I thought I was careful to point out apostles or teachers and preachers,and churches and magisteriums, and their role in this "formula". Do you think that just because I do not believe in yours ( bishops, magisteriums and church ) that I do not believe in them ?.......The arguments of scripture showing the departing from the faith, not heeding bishops, falling for other doctrines certainly could and should be applied to all true protestants, from the Catholic perspective. For indeed I have departed from your faith, and your bishops and many of your doctrines. But we run full circle again, for I see that Rome departed from the faith, did not heed some bishops, and left many doctrines. I shall not list the bishops who fought for doctrinal purity against Rome, over succession, supreme bishop(pope),when to celebrate Easter, Mary"s Immaculateness or Assumption,etc,etc........Again,full circle in the debate-Alleluia

Dan said...

Yes, round and round we go until the second coming of Christ. Is that a cause for praising God? Are we called to be one body, one church today or are we called to bicker until the end of time? Jesus wants all to be one; but you and I can’t even agree on how a person is reborn and we have no realistic hope of coming to agreement because we have no common authority to turn to (yes we have the bible but we’re both convinced our interpretations are correct).

And to this you say Alleluia?

You said “I shall not list the bishops who fought for doctrinal purity against Rome, over succession, supreme bishop(pope),when to celebrate Easter, Mary"s Immaculateness or Assumption,etc,etc....”

Certainly we can find bishops who disagreed with Rome (I see you still cling to the Pope Gregory the Great Denied the Papacy fallacy. I thought we put that to bed). Look at the Greek Orthodox or Eastern Orthodox churches. They disagreed with Rome over a millennia before Luther did but did they hold to what you call “doctrinal purity”?

Both believe Christ is present in the Eucharist.

Both have formal structure and hierarchies of bishops

Both believe in the real grace of sacraments (regenerative baptism, etc).

Where were these “doctrinally pure” bishops you speak of? Where are the bishops who hold to the truths YOU believe in? If you find a bishop who doesn’t think Mary was immaculate are you prepared to accept that bishop’s other teachings? Are you prepared to FOLLOW that bishop or are you just going to use him as a convenient stick to whack the Roman Catholic Church?

We can both find plenty of bishops who disagreed with Rome on this or that point. Show me even one bishop who AGREES with you on every point. What bishop held your beliefs in the year 800, 1,000, or 1,100? Show me someone, anyone, who held that baptism was symbolic only, Christ wasn’t present in the Eucharist, and who rejected other foundational aspects of Roman Catholicism in favor of your beliefs. Did anyone then believe what Dave believes today?

If you can’t find anyone then please explain how Christ’s ONE Church could start at Pentecost, disappear for a few hundred years and somehow restart at the Reformation. How can a perpetual Church (“All days” Mt 28:28) stop and restart?

If you can’t find evidence of a bishop (or even a peasant) who held all of your beliefs and you can’t explain how a perpetual Church can stop and restart (good luck with that) then why, oh why do you think your beliefs are apostolic?

david ruiz said...

Dan ,We are to praise God at all times, in all things, "He works ALL things together for good to those that love Him and are called according to his purposes". I do not praise Him FOR disunity but I praise IN it, for He promised this would happen and is working it out......Indeed we have differing authorities and traditions. One tradition relies heavily if not only on scripture ,the other on a churches teaching on scripture and tradition. There is hope where scripture,s authority overlaps our views......Glad to see you agree bishops have not always agreed with Rome. "Let God be true but every man a liar". I get things wrong. You get things wrong. Augustine got things wrong, as did Jerome or Aquinas to Luther to Billy Graham to popes etc.,etc,etc,. BUT, this be true - God's Word as spoken by His prophets and apostles, and even you and I when the Spirit so graces us with words of truth...... I am no different than you. You and I accept Jeromes' work of the Vulgate ,but do you accept him saying the Assumption did not happen. You may have trouble with Augustines' view on biblical authority, that His Word(Bible) was understandable and available to ALL men, but I disagree with him saying "all have sinned" except Mary. I see it as natural progression of certain falsehoods that crept into the church. One by one falsehoods creep in, some taking centuries to gain full acceptance. That is why you can get a pope in the 6th century condemning something, then a pope in the 19th century lifting it up. . You want purity but that is difficult to judge when many of the early fathers did not speak on everything that we could today. Papacy, succession marianism, transubstantiation was not an issue 100 A.D. or even 200 A,D. So it is not fair to say I have no "roots" because Fathers are silent on a matter. When I do claim "roots" in a church father, you say I am "whacking" at your Church. Perhaps, but I just may be saying the obvious, like "Hey ,I am not alone in this belief, the Holy Spirit has gotten thru the same message to two human beings generations apart on this or that issue. There was a pope ,can't remember his name ,who did not believe baptism to be regenerative and made several policies on baptism accordingly..I believe I have read that Origen did not believe in eternal hell, St. Cyprian denied the papacy, Augustine said nobody was obliged to believe in purgatory, St John Chrysostom publicly denied the need of confession and some say denied transubstantiation, St. Bernard and Thomas Aquinas strongly denied the immaculate conception....Why do you say I am alone on these issues? There are many church fathers who do not believe All your belief's either. Is that the standard, whoever finds more saints who believe 100% just like us wins ? I have not studied them, but tell me does Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius(100AD), Barnabas, Justin Martyr contradict some or any of "my" views ? Do they support the papacy or succession or transubstantiation or purgatory or the assumption of Mary ? Again ,"Let God be true and all men liars (fallible)"....... We are to have direct access to the father and can know all things thru Christ. He writes His laws in our hearts. In Him shall we trust and find sustanenance and guidance. Let a brother push me to Him.......The church is perpetual, and He has kept His promises and never left her. It is just that you see His church as the institution, denomination of the Roman Catholic Church. Others see it as the body of believers in Jesus Christ, worldwide, catholic, united in spiritual baptism (Holy Ghost baptism )into one body. Is not this apostolic ? Are we not sons of Abraham ? Are we not the seeds of Eve, righteous and at enmity with the children of the evil one ? These are the "roots" God graciously invites us to. Alleluia

Dan said...

Of course the early Christians were fallible and were more than capable of making mistakes. However, they are a faithful witness of the teaching of the apostles and they give a clue as to what the early Church actually believed.

I provided five or six citations (and could have done more) from Christians in the first four centuries who explicitly say baptism is sacramental (gives grace) while you claim an unnamed pope said otherwise. If so many believe it was sacramental and one does not, what are we to think the prevailing teaching of the apostles was? It’s logical to conclude the apostles taught baptism was sacramental; otherwise, how did so many prominent Christians get it wrong?

I can quote many early Christians who say plainly that Jesus is present in the Eucharist; including St. John Chrysostom, whom you say denied the Real Presence. I have provided a citation from him showing his support; where is your evidence he denied it? The Greek Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox both hold this teaching. Where did they get it if it was an error that crept into the “Roman Catholic” Church later on? St. John Chrysostom was in the Eastern Church; if they denied while the Western (Roman) Church believed in the Real Presence then why does the Eastern Church believe it today?

You say St. Chrysostom denied confession. Did he say: “what priests do here below God ratifies above, and the Master confirms the sentence of his servants. For indeed what is it but all manner of heavenly authority which He has given them when He says, 'Whose sins ye remit they are remitted, and whose sins ye retain they are retained?' What authority could be greater than this?” (The Priesthood, 3:5) That sounds like support of the power of a priest to forgive sins to me.

You make many claims of early Christians who support you but upon investigation they turn out to support the Catholic position.

The point is these folks are witnesses to the teaching of the apostles and the weight of their witness rests firmly in line with today’s Roman Catholic Church. You believe things that maybe one or two early Christians allegedly agree with and it’s easy for a Catholic to show many who agree with Catholicism’s teaching.

Doesn’t that bother you? Doesn’t that make you wonder if you’re following the tradition of men from the sixteenth century? My Traditions are confirmed by the vast majority of the earliest Christians, many of whom were taught directly by apostles and yet you expect me to accept your traditions instead? Why would I do that? "Some pope said this or that" and "my interpretation of scriptures says this or that" aren't onvincing when compared to the list of early Christians who witness to Catholic teaching.

Above I listed several citations showing the early Church respected the bishop’s authority to teach correctly and their succession of the apostles. We agree that the Holy Spirit guided these shepherds to correctly identify those writings which are scriptural. What makes you think the Holy Spirit stopped guiding them? What reason do we have to believe that the Holy Spirit doesn’t still infallibly guide the bishops into truth? I believe it does still guide them and I obediently follow.

dave said...

Dan, It is an assumption you make, not logic, that leads you to say what one says in the 3rd and 4th century MUST have been said in the first century. You must use them (church fathers ) because of reliance on tradition. Reliance on scripture diminishes the need for them. Indeed ,many fathers say you do not need man ,you have scripture(Augustine ,Cyril, Chrysostom). Pope Stephen (250 ?) did not believe baptism regenerative. There are many websites that say how error could happen, from influences of greek pholosophy to Egyptian paganism (did infant baptism) etc.etc. This baptism is however the first dogma to go generally wrong compared to others. Most of the first centuries dealt with whom Jesus was and the trinity, and not justification. Again many fathers will agree with you on baptism than lets say Marianism or papacy......Chrysostom-"declare sin to no man"(Rich man and Lazarus 4th sermon)...""..need no witness of confession, secretly acknowledge your sins" (homily De Paententia vol4)..."Ido not go and tell you to confess to a man" homily PsI vol5)-found at www.puritanboard.com/f35/apparently.chrysostom-didn'tsupport........ most church fathers were NOT witnesses or contemporaries of the apostles. Again,do we win by who has more people that agree with us ?historically ?......Please ,the apostles did not support Mary's immaculateness or her assumption,or purgatory or mention infant baptism or papacy or succession. No where does the bible state who Peter laid hands on to be his successor etc. etc. .. and you talk of the possibilty of following man made dogma from ...Again, the Holy Spirit still guides bishops, but whose bishops ? If He guides Rome, it is only when she speaks the truth ?

Dan said...

So the theory is the apostles taught the truth, the truth was lost within a few hundred years, the Holy Spirit guided the Church that had lost the truth to select the true writings of the apostles, and now two thousand years later we figured out the truth again by reading the writings of the apostles and dismissing the actions of the early Church that seem untrue to us?

That strikes me as a tad vain.

dave ruiz said...

Dan scripture is not vain however."Let God be true and every man a liar" The apostles and any subsequent teaher speak truth when inspired by the Holy Ghost. We have the opportunity to speak for ourselves,outside of inspiration,as the apostles sometimes did and said so("Thus sayeth I and not the Lord"-Paul).we acn be right or e can be wrong .We can also hold righteousness in unrighteousness.Speak some truths and not be saved.We can also be saved and speak some untruths. So while early fathers may have ratified already established canon,rightfully, they could have been imperfect ,and had SOME dogma wrong. You think this does not happen today ? So why is it vain ? Vain is to say I am perfect (or my church) and yours is not. Who preches infallibility or a pure holy, one ,apostolic church-perfect in dogma ? Is not that vain. May we rest not in our perfection but His in relationship.......Also, there has always been a remnant who have believed more correctly than others -protestantism is nothing new ,only in scope or size since the reformation

Dan said...

Come on, Dave, you know the doctrine of infallibility better than that. If Pope Benedict speaks for himself then he’s just as fallible as the next guy. If he speaks as successor to Peter on matters of faith and morals then the Holy Spirit protects him from error just as the early Christians were protected from error as they deduced the correct writings and St. Paul was protected from error when he taught and wrote for the Lord. Infallibility works exactly the same way you describe the early Christians; why was it ok for the Holy Spirit to infallibly guide them but not the pope today?

This isn’t vanity; unless you’re saying St. Paul was vain to claim to write the truth.

However, saying we can interpret scripture more accurately today than Christians could in the 3rd and 4th century? If someone wrote a book 2,000 years ago would I presume to understand the author’s intentions better than those who read and loved it 200 years after it was written, what would that say about me?

Dan said...

I took the time to check into Pope Stephen’s alleged denial of regenerative baptism and guess what I found? Absolutely nothing.

I did a Google search of “pope Stephen baptism” and first four hits all talked about the same situation; re-baptism. They had nothing at all to do with regenerative baptism.

The only reason Pope Stephen and baptism appear on the same piece of paper is because of a spat he got into with St. Cyprian of Carthiage. Cyprian thought those pagans baptized outside the Church should be re-baptized because their baptism wasn’t valid. Pope Stephen disagreed and said the baptism were valid. Pope Stephen insisted they could only be baptized once which proves he viewed it as regnerative and sacramental. If baptism is just a symbol; why not re-baptize?

Please show me an article that says Pope Stephen denied the regeneration of baptism. This is a great idea for another post, similar to Pope Gregory I rejecting the papacy.

dave ruiz said...

Dan, again you assume my views are "today's" or something relatively new, and yours are very "old" therefore apt to be more accurate being closer to the source, the apostles. Again, the apostles said nothing on Marianism or infant baptism or confession sacrament or 'Roman Sea" or purgatory etc.. Many of your views are old, some are right ,some are wrong. Where you are old and wrong, there are old voices stating the right.......I was not speaking of infallibility of the pope but of the infallibility your church makes of ALL it's dogmas, from A to Z, and from 33 A.D. to 2010 A.D.........We agree the Holy Spirit can infallibly guide, as he did the apostles. Part of the proof of that is scripture itself. It is cohesive and perfect. The discernment for us is to determine who is correctly following in the apostles foundation. Again, it must be true to scripture. The vanity can come from presumption of righteousness( as many old testament leaders and prophets did). Show me where Peter had such boldness to proclaim this : " I judge all men and am judged by no man. I declare, assert, define and pronounce that every human is subject to me for salvation, I must subdue all things under my feet as said by Christ, I have His authority, I am all in all, above all so that God and I,are one, I His His vicar and can do all He can, therefore, can you make of me but God ?" Would you say this is infallible, Spirit led Petrine doctrine ? By tradition yes , but by Holy Scripture ? It is a paraphrase of "the Bull Unum Sanctum by Pope Boniface 8th.

dave ruiz said...

Dan, As far as Pope Stephen, you correctly read it had to do with re-baptism, but why is it that you presumed it had nothing to do with doctrine of baptismal regeneration ? Again you read correctly that Stephen did not require re-baptism of "non-catholic etc.. How does this prove his view on just what baptism meant ? . Are you saying there is salvation outside the catholic church, for you are saying non-catholic baptism regenerates, makes one a child of God, born again. Yet how can this be if they are not subject to the pontiff. Pope Boniface said you must be subject to him in order to be saved. Why would God allow regeneration outside of your church only for that spirit to die again because it can not continue in "life" cause it is in the wrong church ? Do you know how many things you have to do to continue in grace and hope for salvation according to your church ?.....But back to your incorrect presumptions. Here is what I can share:" Stephen insisted that baptism is always valid, even outside the true church, and should never be repeated. He admitted that the Holy Spirit can not be received outside the church, but argued, quaintly, that the rite of baptism forgives sins but does not communicate the Spirit" If people wished to be re-baptized (changing churches or church-hopping) to wash sins away, to avoid confession and penance, it still shows it was more washing than regenerative .Again ,Pope Stephen "argued that baptism does not communicate the spirit". "The Lives of the Popes" by Michael J. Walsh a distinguished Roman Catholic historian and former Jesuit

Dan said...

You ask where in Scripture Peter declared you paraphrase of Unum Sanctum and I will respond that Unum Sanctum sufficiently shows the biblical passages that support its claims. You may not agree with the use of these citations but that’s irrelevant. Catholics see these claims clearly spelled out in the Bible and if you don’t then we’re down to a difference in interpretation. We agree a teaching must be true to Scripture but who are you to tell me what “true to Scripture” is?

You ask “Are you saying there is salvation outside the catholic church, for you are saying non-catholic baptism regenerates”? No, there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church (as outlined in Unum Sanctum) but there IS salvation outside the VISIBLE CONFINES of the Catholic Church. According to the Catechism:

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements. Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity.”

838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter. Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.

As long as a person is validly baptized then they are part of the Catholic Church; even if they don’t claim to be part of the Catholic Church for themselves. I expect you’ll see this as quite arrogant but I see it as exceptionally generous.

Regardless, this explains Cyprian and Stephen's argument. Cyprian said only baptisms done within the Catholic Church count while Stephen said all baptisms done correctly count. Interestingly, the Catholic Church through history has sided with Stephen and not Cyprian

Did you get the “Lives of the Popes” quotes from a website I can reference or did you use a copy of the book? If you used the book, please provide page numbers so I can look it up. I’m very curious what Pope Stephen meant if he said sins are forgiven but the Holy Spirit is “not communicated”.

dave ruiz said...

Dan, got it from the book (quite nice)- hardcover-1998 .The book says his ruling is still followed today, that other baptisms are valid, even though his premise, or reasoning (not communicating the spirit ) has been abandoned. "Bad theology is sometimes providentially useful". He goes on to say some have theororized that perhaps this was a "gentleman's agreement" in Rome where rival Christian communities accepted each other's baptism to discourage sinners from switching churches to seek a re-baptism to wash away previous sins and avoid the rigors of penance. I use it to show dogma or "reasonings" can change, or what one pope says may be different than another (2000 years is a long time). I have read in other books that baptismal practices and maybe beliefs have "evolved , from emersion to sprinkling, from a consenting person to infants. Church structures have shown this. People use to wait before being baptized, being catechumen, fully coming to believe, not partaking in full mass and having a separate part of the building in which to sit. People even use to wait til almost death to be baptized,to receive the cleansing. When infant baptism came into vogue, church buildings reflected it by not separating any of the mass attendees......I view it as anything else, the truth can be abused . I also believe error can lead to abuse, and this may be why you have some of these strange, "cold", ritualistic approaches to baptism. Certainly a long way away from the book of Acts.

dave ruiz said...

Sorry, page 30. Book is done sequentially ,from Peter to John Paul.I suppose you would like the book, but I found it was somewhat honest in portraying all the good, bad and the ugly. A lot of the stuff was very earthly ,and political, even with armies led by the pope, and a bit of "cosa nostra", Italian shrewdness. Even as a catholic -protestant, I have a hard time seeing how people elevate the whole pope thing, myself included. Hard to shake off old vestiges, but this history is NOT pretty, for the most part. Again, most early bishops of Rome were martyred.Many, however were not Peter like at all.

Dan said...

I am not at all surprised that you “use it to show dogma or "reasonings" can change, or what one pope says may be different than another” though you probably shouldn’t use it to show changing dogma and no one says all popes agree on everything. Isn’t it telling that the author of the book (I’m looking for a copy I can read; it sounds excellent) is a faithful Catholic and isn’t bothered at all by the difference between Pope Stephen I’s understanding and today’s? Interesting that you think it undermines Catholicism yet it doesn't bother the author's Catholic faith.

Was Stephen’s statement that “the Spirit isn’t communicated” dogmatic? I’d be very surprised if it were. Have popes been wrong in the past? Absolutely. Catholics believe all truth is contained in Tradition and the Scriptures but that does not mean all truth was known fully in the early Church or even today. How could we or they know all things? As St. Paul says “At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known” (1 Cor 13:12). We are constantly learning under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

As far as changing who receives baptism the main change is when it is received and not who. At first the custom (small “t” tradition) was to only allow baptism on Holy Saturday. This had the obvious problem of being difficult to wait for if a person, especially a child, was sick; especially with the mortality rates of the time. After a few hundred years this tradition was relaxed to allow baptism any time of the year.

Certainly there was a period where catechumens were kept away from the baptized Christians to ensure only the baptized received the Eucharist. This tradition has also changed. Since people could enter the church only once a year it made sense to have a separate place for them. You link this to infant baptism; are you suggesting the early churchs were designed with daycare areas for parents drop off their kids when they went to Mass?

These are tradition; not Tradition. Why do you treat all Catholic traditions the same when we are very clear that they are not? Sacred Tradition cannot change while traditions can.

dave ruiz said...

Dan-Stephen's different doctrinal belief in baptism is nothing compared to what many of the popes were and did . If you are going to be honest and wrte about all the popes you better have thick skin, or just be so set in believing in the Catholic Church that NOTHING shakes you. Indeed, nothing should seperate us from the love of Christ, but I would not carry that over to ANY love of denomination.

dave ruiz said...

dan, the jews also had tradions ,but they went beyond scripture. We are exorted also not to go beyond scriptures.....You partially misapply Paul. Of course we will know more "then", when we die or transformed into His likeness.I do not know if he meant we will know more with time, that is in a hundred yerars . I do not think Paul was speaking doctrinally, but as a spirit filled human , who wanted to "apprehend" the Lord, to "see" Him......As far as baptism, I think the question was and is whom should receive ,not when. Saturday or once a year are man made traditions with no bublical foundaton. My point was that when infant baptism became "vogue",
you obviously would soon have less "catechumens" and therefore no need for a seperate part of the building. The other odd thing is that catechumen are often referrred to as believers, yet how can you believe without "the Spirit" and how can you believe and not then have the Spirit ? The point I get from church structure histoty is that infant baptism was not "traditional". (I would have to do more digging but I believe that could have ben up to the 4-5 th century ?)