Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Carl Trueman & A Need For A Contemporary Polemic Against Romanism

Carl Trueman (CT) in “Another thing needful” misses wide the mark. My issue with CT is three-fold. (a) I don't think there is any need whatsoever to engage Romanism (i.e. the official Roman Catholic teaching) further (at least not in any fresh way), or has something changed within their system of doctrine that I haven't heard about? (If she has changed, then she's not infallible. If she contradicts herself, then she's not infallible.) There is already a preponderance of fine polemics out there against Romanism - the true teaching of Roman Catholicism (as opposed to movements within  Rome.) When I speak of Rome I mean the communion that defines herself in her official statements. To miss that is to miss my complaint. We even find it in the Fathers as David T. King has nicely cataloged for the church. What about the plethora of Reformed dogmatics? Is CT complaining that Calvin, the Hodges, Hoeksema, Berkhof et al., weren't respectful enough? To borrow from Rhett toward Scarlet when she said he was no gentleman, I say a minor point at such a time. That CT says that Boettner is pre-V-2 would seem to suggest that Romanism has changed, which undermines her battle cry of Semper Eadem. At the very least, if Vatican ii contradicted the exhaustive dogmas of Vatican i and Trent, then Rome is no longer Rome and the discussion is over; they're false prophets. (This doesn't, of course, mean that we need not declare the gospel to those in the Roman communion or that we ought not to come along side Romanists and explain to them in love the teachings of their communion for what they are, sometimes heretical. Notwithstanding, there is simply no need to find new innovative ways to repudiate official-Rome because she is, well, always the same.) (b) Who does CT wish to engage? Certainly not the magisterium because they don't engage. CT could be confusing Rome with e-pologists who don't speak for Rome. Kung doesn't even speak for Rome; just ask Ratzinger! (c) CT thinks that Protestants are "converting to Rome" all the time, which simply is not true - not even close. Maybe CT has fallen into the spun web of the Called to Communion crowd that write across the sky each time they make a confused sinner possibly twice the child of hell as themselves. (Protestants do still censure those who embrace thoughtfully and without remainder  Roman dogma don't they? Accordingly, are there really a lot of Christians converting to Rome, or just apostates who have been purged from Christian roles?) The converts to Rome are few and far between and what CT is not seeing is that it is the Protestant pulpits, sessions and pews that are filled with ex-Romanists. It is the church that is growing. But more to the point, although Rome could, at least by her own statistical standards, be beating population growth by a nose - when one considers her laws regarding contraception, which all Romanists being obedient to the pope of course obey (ha!) or else they wouldn't be numbered among true "Catholics", one would think that Rome would be growing at an even higher rate than reported. If they were to be honest though and purge their roles from delinquent members, they'd have much less than that which they show as true "members", and they wouldn't be growing but even shrinking. (I'm still a member- just a separated one in their eyes.) Even if Romanism grows though, so what? Islam is growing too. When one is added to the roles of apostate or infidel communions all that is occurring is the relabeling of an unbeliever. There are only 2 kingdoms, light and darkness, is there not? It is the church that is growing in percentage, not the kingdom of darkness. In the final analyses, Rome has not changed. Rome does not engage. And Rome is not growing by converting Protestants.

Finally, and maybe I should have said this first, I do not take CT's observations as some have - that he is complaining about what he perceives to be a need or about how bad things are, but rather, as he said, I simply see him voicing a perceived need so that someone out there might be stirred to take up the challenge. I'm fine with that sort of thing in principle and can even applaud the intention. That one's plate is full would not seem to preclude him from letting legitimate needs be known. No, my concerns run in another direction altogether. That CT is not able to recognize the already timeless polemics against the same old Roman heresies demonstrates to me that he doesn't quite understand the debate, but I'm hopeful that one day he will.

Free Website Counter

31 comments:

John Bugay said...

Hi Ron -- I'm genuinely glad to see these things being discussed. You said,

That CT is not able to recognize the already timeless polemics against the same old Roman heresies demonstrates to me that he doesn't quite understand the debate, but I'm hopeful that one day he will.

One of the problems I see with this is that Rome has changed since Vatican II, and it has changed some things even more (with the emphases of JPII).

Boettner was wonderful, and he helped me to understand a lot of things. And there is a component of Roman Catholicism that still adheres to that pre Vatican II mindset.

But those folks are few and far between; meanwhile, as you mentioned, there is the whole Humani Generis (birth control) fiasco -- so by its own rules, some 90% of American Roman Catholics are "fallen from a state of grace." Of course, that's where this new understanding comes in -- that sort of, in an unstated sort of way, allows for that sort of thing.

Believe me, I'm all for an all-out look at the Roman Church today, in all of its facets -- that includes the "development" of it, early on, as I've recently focused on; the post-Constantinian (and related, Augustinian period), the "unified" church (500-900), the middle ages, the Reformation/Trent era Roman church, and post Vatican II. There is a common thread running through here, but there are many differences in both doctrine and emphasis from era to era.

I think that might be one of the things that Trueman is getting at.

Ron DiGiacomo said...

John,

Please tell me which doctrines have "changed" and would the Roman magisterium agree that these doctrines have "changed". I'm not interested in impressions but actual, official doctrine.

Thanks,

Ron

Anonymous said...

John - as long as you think in terms of "mindset" and "component" and "emphasis" and not the facts of the case I cannot believe you will get very far in convincing anyone that Rome has changed in essentials. You said: "I think that might be one of the things that Trueman is getting at." That could be true but then what Trueman is "getting at" has nothing to do with what Rome actually teaches.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Greetings Ron,

In his original article which got this whole ball rolling, I think Dr. Trueman intended to convey to us some reasons that Catholic converts give for moving Romeward. It wasn't his intention in the article to go beyond what those folks had stated to him, though TurretinFan missed that in his post and added a number of other "reasons" of his own--none with which a Catholic would agree. The whole "I love idolatry" is a bit over the top as a generalisation, in my view. Catholics insist, for example, that they don't worship Mary and that the (dead) Saints intercede for them. Whatever the practices of individual Catholics, official RCC doctrine does not recognise prayer to the Saints (or Mary) as worship. All I am suggesting is that we speak out to them that it looks like worship to us, but understand that they don't see it that way. If they said, "Yes, we worship the Saints," then I'd say we have real problems with that and solid Scriptural evidence to back us up.

Regarding a need for a contemporary polemic against Romanism, as much as my Catholic friends would protest, things do and have changed within that communion. If certain practices have changed, for example, not eating meat on Fridays, there would have to be a constituent doctrinal basis for the change, wouldn't that be true?

Christ's Church has always had to face the same old tired errors and heresies afresh for each generation. I am convinced that nothing in this life will be fully resolved in this regard, and Trueman's call for new works and fresh approaches, in my view, only echoes the reality that Christ's Church finds herself in from generation to generation. I don't believe it is a lack of comprehension or ignorance on Trueman's part that moves him; no, it's the recognition that when it comes to sin, error and heresy, everything old is new again for Christ's Church until He comes in glory.

Blessings in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour

Ron DiGiacomo said...

Pilgrimsarbour,

1. I'm familiar with Marian dogmas.

2. I don't know what TF's post has to do with this one of mine.

3. Please tell me which doctrines of Rome have changed, keeping in mind that it is quite irrelevant what you think has changed. All that matters is whether Rome thinks her doctrines have changed, which she doesn't. What escapes you is that Rome's doctrines cannot be reformed - nor need they be, because they are claimed to be infallible. Consequently, any discussion you have that is predicated upon "changed" doctrine is not a discussion that Rome can accept as proceeding from valid premises. Given no change in doctrine, I find no reason for new polemics. Their old doctrines, which remain until today, have already been refuted.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Ron,

You might already have considered all of the potential issues I'm about to raise. But in the off chance you haven't, and to continue the discussion:

An obvious contender for a "doctrinal" change is the move from an exclusivist to inclusivist perspective on salvation.

One problem here, of course, is just what Rome defines as its "doctrine" is not always clear or obvious.

Catholicism is, as well, a system far more concerned with membership than adherence to doctrine. I don't think it's sufficient to characterize the appropriate terms of engagement as existing only along doctrinal lines. Systems concerned with membership are much more prone to movements, directions, etc., which are often intuitive judgments. A critical evaluation of a religious tradition cannot always be reduced to a set of propositions we must evaluate systematically, even if that's often going to play a central role.

For example, the enormous liberalizing effect of Kantian metaphysics on theological inquiry cannot be ignored or dismissed. Yet such influences and their effects are not always easy to articulate, save for those few who have the requisite talents of philosophers and systematic theologians. An impression is not always sufficient in these cases, but coming from those who have been intimately familiar with Catholicism--such as John Bugay--should provide legitimate grounds for inquiry by more thoroughly intellectually equipped members of the Church.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Ron DiGiacomo said:

I don't think there is any need whatsoever to engage Romanism further

I think the majority of the Protestant apologetics written and available today engages the Catholic apologetics movement of the English speaking, Western world. There's nothing inherently wrong with this approach, and I think these resources are often valuable and effective. Yet there is a clear and obvious distinction between the quality and kind of arguments made by the conservative Catholic apologetics community and the writings of the more moderate and liberal Catholic theologians who constitute or are intimately joined to the official Magisterium. That there might not be a need to continue to engage the otherwise puerile apologetics of the former, from group such as Catholic Answers or Called to Communion, does not negate the fact that there are good reasons to engage the latter. The Magisterium is an international organization which contains or is in a tight relationship with highly trained, influential scholars. As Evangelicalism becomes an increasingly international movement in highly Catholicized areas, the influence of the Magisterium is likely going to be increasingly felt distinctly, or even solely, above whatever some group of American upstarts with Internet connections and keyboards have to offer as an apologetic for Rome. What an Evangelical layman in metropolitan South America might encounter by way of Catholic lay apologetics will differ from what he might experience in a suburban area of the United States. And if the influence of the Magisterium is strong in metropolitan South America, the kinds of arguments in defense of Catholicism will be necessarily different from what someone in the United States experiences.

I think Pilgrimsarbour is correct here in his general sentiments as well. That essential issues remain the same or persist over time does not change the need for different nuance, emphasis or rearticulation of these essentials (or their implications) over the ever mutable generations of believers.

Who does CT wish to engage? Certainly not the magisterium because they don't engage.

I think this confuses the direction of the request. Engagement does not have to be mutual. Perhaps I have misread him, but it seems the purpose of Trueman's call for a polemic is to defend against conversions to Rome, rather than elicit some sort of mutual dialogue.

And Catholic theologians, which function as something like an explanatory arm of the Magisterium, are often in dialogue with Lutheran scholars, for example. One of the reasons this doesn't seem to happen with Evangelicals, and perhaps this is just my ignorance speaking, is because Evangelicals don't seem to be interested in the kind of academic environments in which these kinds of discussions would take place.

Kung doesn't even speak for Rome; just ask Ratzinger!

Trueman thinks Kung represents a potential direction Roman Catholicism might proceed. As far as I understand it, Kung is highly influential. Individuals and their ideas can be condemned or censured or thought unorthodox by their contemporary religious leaders, yet still be incredibly influential down the line (e.g., Molina). Even the condemnation of an individual does not necessarily lead to the loss of his ideas.

CT thinks that Protestants are "converting to Rome" all the time, which simply is not true - not even close.

Yes, the statistics do indicate that the overwhelming direction of converts is out of Catholicism and into unaffiliated or Protestant categories. But Trueman did qualify his statement, so it's not as strong as simply "all the time." And the appearance can be false yet the need still be real.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Well, as I said, what is the doctrine that dictates that one should not eat meat on Friday? My point is, since that practice has changed, doesn't it follow that the doctrine which gives birth to that practice has changed? I realize that a Catholic would not call it a change in doctrine, but it must be so nonetheless. Or perhaps, they would say that it was not infallible dogma.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Given no change in doctrine, I find no reason for new polemics.

I don't think a change in doctrine is the driving force behind the need for new polemics, that is, new works (books). As I said, each generation needs to re-address the old arguments with a contemporary approach, especially given the need to address the evolution of language in general, and the English language in particular, in our case.

My take on what you're saying is that the old books are "good enough." I'm not certain of that at all. As much as I appreciate the hard work and diligence of the brethren in days gone by, the same questions resurface over and over again and should be dealt with afresh by contemporaries, in my view.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Their old doctrines, which remain until today, have already been refuted.

We can't rest on our laurels. The old doctrines need a new refutation with every new generation.

Sorry about splitting up my responses--a little tired. If need be, I'll respond to your additional comments tomorrow.

Have a blessed night and a great Lord's Day tomorrow.

John Bugay said...

Ron said: Please tell me which doctrines have "changed" and would the Roman magisterium agree that these doctrines have "changed". I'm not interested in impressions but actual, official doctrine.

Ron, one of the things that makes dealing with Roman Catholicism so hard is precisely the thing that no one concedes what is actually “actual, official doctrine.” I once cited Denzinger for Bryan Cross, and he said, “Denzinger is not official dogma; it’s only the ‘sources’ of Dogma.”

Cross is not an “official interpreter” by any stretch, but he’s out there influencing a lot of Reformed (and supposedly Reformed) individuals.

One “official doctrine” that is being “re-thought” right now is Limbo. “No salvation outside of the church” has changed radically. They will say that it’s the same thing, “reformulated positively,” but the “reformulation” has gutted the meaning of “the official doctrine.” The “official doctrine” is still there, but what, really does it mean in the light of its more recent evisceration?

I’ve described this many times as Roman “recalibration” of its doctrines. The papacy is characterized differently. I’ve written about the difficulties this has caused. As a part of that post, I cited Edward Kilmartin noting that Vatican II’s “Lumen Gentium” restates Trent’s “Decree on Holy Orders” because Trent “does not harmonize with the historical facts.” Kilmartin says “in no way does Vatican II affirm that the priesthood was instituted at the Last Supper in the sense understood by Trent.”

So there you have a theologian of Rome telling us where two different “official dogmas” disagree with each other.

more...

John Bugay said...

Raymond Brown described this type of process in his 1981 “Critical Meaning of the Bible”:

One should start with the ... assumption … that no twentieth-century Church is the same as the Church of Churches of NT times … A critical study of the NT can point out unexpected differences, thus reminding us how much things have changed and what has been lost (or gained). … Churches and Christians, confronted by a critical picture of NT times, can be led to needed reform, either by chopping away distracting accretions or by compensating for deficiencies.

What I have just described is not pure theory; that it is possible is verified by what has happened in Roman Catholicism in this century. … Scholars can be purged once or twice, but a new generation keeps coming along; and eventually the [Roman Catholic] Church has to enter into dialogue with them. Thus [the second of three periods into which Brown divides Catholic Biblical Scholarship in the 20th century] saw the introduction of biblical criticism and the gradual but reluctant acceptance of its initial results an and through Vatican Council II. More than by any other single factor, the self-reform of Roman Catholicism in that Council was influenced by the modern approach to the Bible. Catholic mastery of biblical criticism has progressed since Vatican II, and the implications have proved more wide-ranging than even the most perceptive leaders of the Council foresaw. The third period of the century (1970-2000) in which we now live, therefore, has involved the painful assimilation of those implications for Catholic doctrine, theology, and practice (from the Preface).


Cataloging that “painful assimilation of those implications for Catholic doctrine” in the last 50 years would in itself take a major scholarly effort – review all of the doctrinal statements issued during that time, and compare them (as Kilmartin had done) with previous doctrinal statements.

If what Trueman is proposing leads to an effort like that one, that in itself would be a major help to us today.

Over at Beggars All, we have a category, “blueprint for anarchy”. It deals precisely with this sort of thing.

I’m not saying by any stretch that Rome has made any genuine improvements at all. As far as I’m concerned, it has moved around the deck chairs on a sinking ship. But I do think we need a contemporary look at what Official Rome today is saying that is “Official Doctrine”.

Ken said...

Vatican 2 was a radical change from the previous "no salvation outside of the church", but Rome and the RC apologists deny that it is a change.

Now, Protestants are separated brothers, atheists and Muslims might be saved, "through no fault of their own" and Muslims "adore the one true God with us", etc.

Also, the Latin mass as an option was a real change.

These changes are so big in the minds of some, that they have splinter groups - the society of Pius IX and XII ( ? both or what, I can't remember) and Sedavancantists. (the chair is empty).

But they say these are not doctrinal changes.

But they are infallible, so they can just say "whatever we say is whatever we say" ; "even if it appears to your eyes to be a change, we say it is not a change."

Ron DiGiacomo said...

Pilgrimsarbour,

Eating meat on Friday is a matter of church discipline, not dogma. No doctrinal tenet has changed in order to allow for the change in practice.

You wrote: “I don't think a change in doctrine is the driving force behind the need for new polemics, that is, new works (books). As I said, each generation needs to re-address the old arguments with a contemporary approach, especially given the need to address the evolution of language in general, and the English language in particular, in our case.

Is that Carl’s point? No, there needs to be a new polemic not because words have taken on new meaning but because the Romanist polemics have become more sophisticated and the dogmatics of old are not equipped to meet the new challenges. Moreover, these polemics are outdated because so much has changed at Vii.

I’m still waiting to hear which doctrines have changed and how are past polemics is inadequate?

We can't rest on our laurels. The old doctrines need a new refutation with every new generation.

Ah, but if we’re merely refuting the “old doctrines” then while you’re busy constructing new critiques, please let me know what was wrong with the old ones. Yet if we’re to be dealing with new doctrines, then tell me how those doctrines undermine the same older heresies that have been refuted?

Ron DiGiacomo said...

Ron, one of the things that makes dealing with Roman Catholicism so hard is precisely the thing that no one concedes what is actually “actual, official doctrine.”

John,

If there is no perspicuity of doctrine, then you’re wasting your time. Moreover, it’s irrelevant what Anthony DiBrugio from Immaculate Heart of Mary thinks, now isn’t it? I thought we were to be refuting Roman dogma?

Cross is not an “official interpreter” by any stretch, but he’s out there influencing a lot of Reformed (and supposedly Reformed) individuals.

There’s certainly a place for reducing heretics like Cross to absurdity. It’s been done on Green Baggins many of time and then he cuts and runs and plays the “you’re not nice card.” Reducing Cross to absurdity is not something we need to waste too much time on, and we were discussing refuting Rome, not individual Romanists. Rome has not placed her imprimatur upon Cross’ musings and Cross, given his epistemology, has no epistemic basis to know that his paraphrase of Roman dogma is true.

One “official doctrine” that is being “re-thought” right now is Limbo. “No salvation outside of the church” has changed radically.

Will Rome say it has changed? No, they won’t. Need we address every contradiction, or is it sufficient to address the clear teachings of Vi that can be taken at face value?

So there you have a theologian of Rome telling us where two different “official dogmas” disagree with each other.

Then she’s fallible and the debate is over.

Ron DiGiacomo said...

Hi Ken,

I don't want to leave you out. I think you're observations are addressed in my responses to others.

John Bugay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Bugay said...

Then she’s fallible and the debate is over.

Ron, I agree with you that the debate portion of this is over (though Rome itself is continuing to run on its own intertia and it, itself, does not acknowledge that the debate is over, and in fact, it repeatedly and condescendingly asserts that the "children of the Reformation" are seriously lacking in what Rome, in "fullness" provides).

I grant to you that Rome refuses to engage, and it refuses to simply admit that the debate is over.

Then what is your recommendation for interacting with (a) official Rome (if that's even possible moving forward) and (b) the billion or so (I use the term loosely) Roman Catholics who are not familiar either with our efforts here, or the efforts of Dr. Boettner?

Do we merely look for them to pop up at Green Baggins and other places, and tamp them down there, but just simply let the ongoing Roman Masses go on, day after day, Sunday after Sunday, without a serious and sustained effort to engage them?

Should we just simply engage individual Roman Catholics with Boettner when these types of questions come up in our lives?

What do we say when the next papal conclave gets wall-to-wall coverage on the news stations. Do we simply say, "Oh, we've refuted that, no need to watch."

I apologize if you've outlined it here in the past and I've missed it.

I hate to think that you think I might be wasting my time at Beggars All.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Ron,

I think some responses here have been eaten by the spam filter. You are obviously under no obligation to release them, but I thought I'd let you know in case you don't check that function of blogger on a regular basis.

Ron DiGiacomo said...

Ron, I agree with you that the debate portion of this is over (though Rome itself is continuing to run on its own intertia and it, itself, does not acknowledge that the debate is over).

John,

Rome is not debating. She never has. Rome simply pontificates. I think you’re conflating Rome with Romanists, just like Rome conflates justification with sanctification, something Vii has not overturned.

I grant to you that Rome refuses to engage, and it refuses then what is your recommendation for interacting with (a) official Rome (if that's even possible and (b) the billion or so (I use the term loosely) Roman Catholics who are not familiar either with our efforts here, or the efforts of Dr. Boettner?

Trent and Vi have been dealt with adequately. As for Vii and all its contradictions, it would take no more than a pamphlet to address those anomalies and certainly not the ivory tower, MM that produces nothing though is heavy on footnotes. We don’t always need what certain “professors” think is lacking.

Do we merely look for them to pop up at Green Baggins and other places, but just simply let the ongoing Roman Masses go on, day after day, Sunday after Sunday, without a serious and sustained effort to engage them?

God must give the increase to the refutations that exist, but we don’t need to address every papist’s claim, especially those claims that would take our eye of the heresies that we find so repugnant, which have already been refuted. The claims that have already been refuted – even what are considered the passé Tridentine claims, tumble today’s face of Romanism whether Romanists believe that or not. We can’t even get Dr. Trueman to appreciate the Rome has been handily defeated, so why should we expect a Romanist to believe his communion has been defeated? Dr. Trueman behaves as an evidentialist wanting to prove God to the child who says, “What about this?” The mindset it that if we would just address the latest craze then our job will be done, until of course some self-appointed Romanist scholar puts forth another idea that has little to do with the Marian dogmas, merit or the solas. Many confuse proof with persuasion and maybe that is why they seem so willing to beat the dead horse of Rome as they do.

Yes, there’s a place to destroy arguments and every lofty opinion that is raised up against the knowledge of God. Notwithstanding, I object to Dr. Trueman’s insistence that there are no serious polemics out there for today’s state of affairs. He’s confused on what is the state of affairs.

Should we just simply engage individual Roman Catholics with Boettner when these types of questions come up in our lives?

Actually, I never had much use for Boettner’s polemic. Too sloppy for my tastes, but in any case, all I’m saying is that the new issues are not substantial but even if they were, they do not undermine the heresies that must first be dealt with by Romanists and, again, those polemics are sufficient.

Ron DiGiacomo said...

Matthew,

I was able to release your posts from the spam filter. I'll take a look at them later. Somehow, thankfully, your notice of the potential filter problem got through.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Ron,

We're just talking past each other now. I do not agree with your interpretation of Trueman's article nor with your approach to dialogue with the RCC. To deny that, for example, the RCC practice of not eating meat on Friday had no doctrinal basis (notice I didn't say dogmatic basis, a term you substituted for my word doctrinal) is, to me, unfathomable. All church discipline and practice, no matter what it is and from whom, has a doctrinal basis. Having said that, I still think "changing doctrines" is not the point as much as perhaps changing emphases.

To suggest that a fresh approach to dialogue with today's RCC means that previous efforts were somehow deficient is also something which makes no sense to me. The Church's greatest advances in understanding and solidifying Scriptural doctrine have always come as a result of grappling with the issues sects, cults and even other denominations have challenged the Church with over the centuries. How could the Church advance, how can we be faithful to the Great Commission if we sit back on our backside and say, "There, we've done enough talking with these folks. Nothing further is needed?"

Be well.

Pilgrimsarbour

Ron DiGiacomo said...

Pilgrimsarbour,

If we're merely talking past each other, then you wouldn't have so many disagreements with me, such as you just voiced. You must appreciate that our differences are on core issues in the context of this discussion.

Which Roman doctrine changed with the change of meat practice? How are the older Protestant polemics insufficient? How does a Romanist's emphasis influence Roman dogma? What is new, that ought to be dealt with yet hasn't been?

You need to put some flesh on the bones and when you do, I think you might see that everything that should be dealt with has been dealt with, but when one sits in a tower he does tend to lose touch with the real issues.

Ron DiGiacomo said...

“An obvious contender for a "doctrinal" change is the move from an exclusivist to inclusivist perspective on salvation.”

Matthew,

If Rome has changed, then she is not infallible. If she’s not infallible, then she’s not the church she claims to be. If she’s not the church she claims to be, then our debate is against a church she doesn’t perceive to be. If we debate a church that is not what she thinks she is, then we’re wasting our time where she is concerned. Her contradictions need to be exposed for would-be Papists, but that should take only a matter of minutes. Her contradictions pertaining to her moving from salvation-exclusivists to salvation-inclusivists can be dealt with by showing that both prongs of her contradiction are unbiblical. The exclusivist dogmas have been refuted already, so if you want to demonstrate that devout Muslims with the alleged desire for baptism cannot be saved, by all means make the case against inclusivism. But let’s not pretend that we need a scholarly work on the matter to do so, or that we even need to make such a case because previous Protestant refutations aren’t sufficient. How long should we continue with Federal Vision for that matter?

“One problem here, of course, is just what Rome defines as its "doctrine" is not always clear or obvious.”

The exclusive claims are clear, which is why you object to them. The inclusivist claims are clear, which is why you object to them. The two claims are contradictory, which is why you observe that there has been a doctrinal change. Consequently, you are free to refute Vi, Vii and their collision course on cardinal doctrines, but again, this is basic and not something that the church must marshal itself against.

“Catholicism is, as well, a system far more concerned with membership than adherence to doctrine. I don't think it's sufficient to characterize the appropriate terms of engagement as existing only along doctrinal lines.”

What’s the purpose of engagement? I thought it was to keep Rome from proselytizing and posing themselves as being a true church. How much time did Paul spend with the Judaizers? The only way to address their claims and protect the otherwise bewitched is to refute their truth claims, which are doctrine in nature. Then we must move on to appreciate that proof is not persuasion. By laboring the point you make Rome out to be a threat that she is not. She’s a dead communion, like the Wicked Witch of the West who had no power in Oz. Put on your red shoes and move on.

“Systems concerned with membership are much more prone to movements, directions, etc., which are often intuitive judgments. A critical evaluation of a religious tradition cannot always be reduced to a set of propositions we must evaluate systematically, even if that's often going to play a central role.”

I’m sure you have something concrete in mind but as I see it, these remarks are somewhat flabby. Recast them and I’ll try to address them.

You then went on to offer lots of opinions but without argumentation so I’m going to pass on those musings.

“Trueman thinks Kung represents a potential direction Roman Catholicism might proceed.”

Well, when the potential becomes actual, then ring me up. From my vantage point, Kung is not gaining ground with the Vatican though he might be gaining ground with mavericks that fancy themselves as Romanists, but I’m not interested in debating individual opinions that have no ecclesiastical backing.

“Individuals and their ideas can be condemned or censured or thought unorthodox by their contemporary religious leaders, yet still be incredibly influential down the line (e.g., Molina).”

Molinism is not endorsed by the Roman communion and Reformed Protestants reject it in their standards. If you wish to refute Molinism among Protestant communions that endorse it, I’ll join you.

Bob Suden said...

OK, so I am kind of late in the day on this, but what bugged me about CT's post was that he didn't define or further elaborate on evangelical/protestant which was my concern when I posting him c/o the Alliance.

Like maybe Hahn or Cross qualify as thoughtful evangelicals or generic protestants who converted, but P&R? Give me a break, Jake.

Yet as per Dabney on the office of elders in his Discussions,("Theories of the Eldership," 2:128), every generation has to fight the same old battles in their time and day. I think it is being done to some degree and CT is simply unaware of it. Dunno. Or maybe Westminster East is wearing off on him.

That said, and with all due respect to John, I was unimpressed with Boettner.

Rather I always thought the real issue was free will and the doctrines of grace, i.e the gospel ala Packer's Historical Intro to Luther's Bondage of the Will. Arminians (aka most modern evangelicals) think saving faith is the choice or work of their free, albeit sinful, will in believing on Christ unto salvation. Whether they are Billy Graham or Jimmy Carter, they put regeneration after faith. And as a consequence, the Holy Spirit stands in the marketplace till the eleventh hour. Enter stage right, pentecostalism.

IOW we are talking about a more sophisticated and insidious form of a works righteousness as compared to the outward conformity to Roman ritual and dogma.

Yet the Roman liturgical paraphernalia is all window dressing anyway, because Rome has always believed in free will contra historic protestantism.

Anyway.
Just my 2 cents.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

This response is also posted over at Dave's site (with corrected emphases here).

I understand what you're saying, but perhaps I should say that penitential abstinence is the doctrinal basis for (previously) not eating meat on Friday, whereas not eating meat on Friday is the manifestation or outworking of the doctrine. In that case, the doctrine did not change, only the way in which it is manifested in the life and practice of the Church.

I'm happy to be challenged to state the matter more accurately, and I hope I have done so here.

scotju said...

Ron, I'm Catholic, so I'm not here to commend yor anti-Catholicism. Rather, I'm here to praise you for your clear perception of reality. You are correct, "Rome hasn't changed". Some of our prelates, priests and laity may exspouse heretical (to us) doctrines and dogmas, or are lax in teaching them, but as you have pointed out, the Church has never disowned the traditional doctrines and dogmas. Why Bugay and the others can't understand this is beyond me. I think his reliance on liberal Protestant and Catholic scholars has confused his understanding of the Church he grew up in. If you want to understand what any religious body teaches, you read the writings of the ones who believe in the dogmas and doctrines of that body, not the junk put out by those who deny them.
You are also correct in discerning the differance between doctrine and discipline. If they are willing to listen (anymore) explain that to the BA boys.
I think it's a shame that Swan removed that thread. It shows a lack of intellectual honesty on his part. It was more important to cover his rear, than to admit Bugay (and the others) were mistaken about what the RCC actually believes. If I were yo, I woldn't go there anymore. Intellectal honesty is not welcomed!

Matthew D. Schultz said...

scotju,

You're grossly misinformed. James didn't delete the post. John took it down of his own accord, as he publicly said he would.

But that's what you get for blindly trusting certain untrustworthy, uncharitable sites.

John Bugay said...

Scotju, here is the text of my comment, stating that I would remove the post:

James, you are right in a very important sense; Ratzinger has a well-known history as a liberal and picking quotes out of context like this is a "cheap and easy" way out.

I've touched base with Turretinfan -- I freely admit I am not Turretinfan -- and he suggested taking down this whole thread and reworking it.

Contrary to what Ron has suggested, I have, on many occasions, asked Turretinfan (and others) to let me know when I'm saying something stupid. (And frequently I'm pressed for time, just to get a post up before running out for work or something, and unbecoming things do get posted.)

At any rate, while I stand by some of my other comments about Ratzinger, this was a "quick and easy" shot, which is unbecoming.

I'll leave this up for now, in case anyone has any comments or questions, but I'll take this down in the morning.


If you don't believe me, if you want me to put it back up so that you can see the time stamp on that, please let me know.

Ken said...

Scottju,
I confirm what Matthew and John have written here.

James Swan did NOT take down the post; John Bugay did and in fact apologized for his mistakes and over-zealousness.

John's humility and admission of a mistake is commendable.

You and the other pop, unreliable sites should retract your false statements.

Joshua Butcher said...

On a note related to the original post, it appears that the exodus from Protestantism to Catholicism is but a trickle compared to the exodus of Catholics to Protestantism (or to nothing):

http://ncronline.org/news/hidden-exodus-catholics-becoming-protestants