Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Federal Vision and Catholicism

This is a discussion with David Hodges
on the connection between Federal Vision and Catholicism. David is the son in law of Steve Schlissel who along with Douglas Wilson, John Barach, Steve Wilkins "founded" the movement. About three years after the movement started, Dave Hodges and his wife Sarah Faith Hodges joined the Roman Catholic Church.

107 comments:

Dave Hodges said...

CD-Host, if you would like to see a Catholic's perspective of Federal Vision, I wrote an article on that here.

You expressed interest in the subject on Mrs. Epstein's site. I have no interest in discussing the Catholic faith over there, so I figured we would come here and post a comment. Good day.

CD-Host said...

First off do you want me to rename this topic and/or move it up on the blog. I can change this one to "discussion of Federal vision" and create a new "open comment" so others over time will find it?

Anyway. I read your blog on this and I see little I disagree with. FV is closer to what the original reformers preached and is closer to a catholic understanding on most issues.

I can provide a reason for the movement. I personally believe that baptist theology is in fact "winning" to a degree that most people don't fully comprehend. The protestant population of the US is b and large baptist in their outlook regardless of their actual affiliation. The "non denominational evangelical" movement are baptist chrches in all but name. Protestant in the US have adopted baptist positions on most issues. Moreover I would even argue that if you look at Judaism American Judaism (reformed and conservative) is nothing like its German counterpart but essentially a syncretic religious movement combining "priesthood of the believer", and baptist worship styles with orthodox Judaism. The same thing is happening to American Islam.

Dave Hodges said...

Well, if you really think that there is genuine interest in the FV/Catholicism discussion, then by all means we can move it. I didn't think that too many people would be interested in the topic, so when I saw that you expressed a desire to know more, I was pleasantly surprised.

"I personally believe that baptist theology is in fact "winning" to a degree that most people don't fully comprehend."

Your analysis is astounding - and correct in my estimation. You see, the "Baptist" mentality is a fundamentally different way of thinking. It is Protestantism to its highest extreme: individual interpretation to the nth power. So, it can be said that Americanism is the political form of Protestantism. Democracy rules, and the individual is free to do whatever he likes.

So all religions in America are going to have this sort of post-modern influence. Even Catholics in America are mostly of the cafeteria brand, not the type of their Medieval European counterparts at all. This is why the European bishops denounced the heresy of Americanism so strongly a century ago - it was a real problem. Catholics in America became "baptised" into American Protestant individualism.

I would recommend a book by Charles Moore, a Canadian Anglican who discussed the American phenomenon. Overall, the Baptists are winning because the very infrastructure of this country is based on all the principles that underlie the Baptist religion. I could go on and on, but I won't bore you with what you apparently already know.

Finally, on an unrelated topic, anything that was in Sarah's paper from when we were Protestants that is not echoed in the Roman Catholic Catechism we firmly reject, deny, renounce, disavow, and do thoroughly separate ourselves from. We should have stated that up front, but the discussion took a different turn too early, and went off on some tangent. But some folks were more concerned with getting us to "recant" than they were ready to listen.

Great topic, and I'll see you around.

Dave

CD-Host said...

OK so after your next response I'm going to move this near the top of the blog with a title of Federal Vision and Catholicism.

There is a bit of a problem. We keep agreeing on everything :-) If we are agreeing on the baptist stuff lets get to the meat of the issue.

Baptismal regeneration: This one I'm not sure if I see how it is inconsistent with Catholicism. My reading of the church is that they hold if you are given a trinitarian baptism and you fail to deny consent you are a member of the church. FV seems to take the same position on membership i.e. being Christian is induced from baptism. The only distinction I can see is that the FV advocates deny the ability to renounce baptism.


Also what I fail to understand is how to tie this rather "conventional" view of membership can tie in with "federal membership" view of that is advocated by people like Albershire. So let me start with this, what do you mean by "federal membership"? Looking especially for areas of distinction.

Dave Hodges said...

"There is a bit of a problem. We keep agreeing on everything :-)"

Fine by me!

"My reading of the church is that they hold if you are given a trinitarian baptism and you fail to deny consent you are a member of the church."

According to the Catholic Church, things get more complicated. Any statement by anybody to the effect of "I reject the teachings/teaching authority of the Catholic Church," make one's membership in the Church suspect if not completely null. Furthermore, there are a number of actions when, if done with consent, render a person excommunicated automatically from the Church, i.e. having, procuring, or performing an abortion; joining the Masons; consecrating a bishop without papal approval; &c.

"FV seems to take the same position on membership i.e. being Christian is induced from baptism. The only distinction I can see is that the FV advocates deny the ability to renounce baptism."

I don't think this is quite right. I believe that they fully expect that apostates can and often will renounce their baptisms. The difficulty is that they try to blend Chauvin's predestinarian doctrines with the ancient Christian doctrine of free will. They want to believe in the "Five Points" but also want to believe in the reality of apostasy.

"So let me start with this, what do you mean by 'federal membership'? Looking especially for areas of distinction."

I'm not familiar with the phrase. Maybe elaborate on that a little bit.

CD-Host said...

First off let me know if you want to change or add anything to the description.

Also I hadn't commented on this before but I love your section on the blog the confession issue. I think you are absolutely correct. Moreover with the emerging church phenomena the evangelical churches may be facing something they haven't had to deal with in centuries. People who assert their creeds but interpret them so radically differently that the mainstream don't agree that the assertion of agreement is meaningfully true.
To some extent I think that's what's happening with the FV people.

Next in terms of baptism and membership. Its my understand that it requires substantially more than excommunication to terminate membership in the catholic church. That is a catholic can be restored while a non member needs to go through RCIA. That is the church differentiates between
1) a non member,
2) a catholic that has apostatized or
3) a catholic that has joined a schismatic church
4) a catholic that is excommunicated

Do we agree on this?

I'm not sure if I understand the point you are making regarding 5 points and apostasy. Either eternal security is conditional or unconditional? Do they have a 3rd option or some way of splitting the difference or?

Now I'm glad you don't know what I mean by Federal Membership. Because that likely means that it is the patriarchy movement picking up an FV term and using it for their own theology. Essentially the idea of Federal Membership is that a church is a family of families. So that individuals are members of a family and families are members in the church. It was my belief that this was part of FV teaching but I'd love to be wrong on this one.

Cindy said...

Could either of you fellas amuse me and create a mini-taxonomy of religions in America? I'm especially curious about exactly where Anglicanism would fall.

Sarah said...

CD, just wanted to say you are one of the most consistently reasonable and fair minded people I have ever seen on the internet. For someone who obviously spends a bit of time here, that is quite a feat.

Dave Hodges said...

CD, I would say the following at the end of what you currently have written: About three years after the movement started, Dave and his wife Sarah joined the Roman Catholic Church.

"Also I hadn't commented on this before but I love your section on the blog the confession issue."

The issue of the confessions is rather interesting. Four hundred years ago, there was little question as to the role of the confessions. But I don't think that the writers could have ever foreseen what was to happen with the growth of liberalism, Modernism, &c. The fact that the modern liberal presbyterian denominations actually claim heritage in the Westminster Confession seems absurd. That is, until one recognises that the confession itself contained its own self-administering poisons. Protestantism is, by its very nature, "auto-toxic" to borrow a phrase from Hilaire Belloc.

"To some extent I think that's what's happening with the FV people."

To some extent, maybe. We still have many of the writers of the confessions, and the FV guys seem to be a lot closer to the early reformers than the newer Bapto-Presbyterians.

"Its my understand that it requires substantially more than excommunication to terminate membership in the catholic church."

It depends what you mean by "membership". Obviously, according to the parish records, a person who has excommunicated himself latæ sententiæ will not be removed from the directory. Now, he will need to be reconciled with the Church formally before he can again partake of the Sacraments licitly, but as long as nobody knows about it, he will remain a member. There is a difference between parish membership and actually being a Catholic. One is merely a matter of record and the other has to do earnestly with one's religious beliefs. This gets even more difficult when one considers the fact that we are talking about two very different things here at once: the presence of the state of grace in an individual soul, and the canons of the Church.

"That is the church differentiates between . . . Do we agree on this?"

Absolutely.

"I'm not sure if I understand the point you are making regarding 5 points and apostasy."

The teachings of Jean Chauvin taught that those who are elect are regenerated and that the regeneration is irresistible, and that it ultimately results in salvation unconditionally. A teaching that involves warning the congregation of the pitfalls of apostasy seems to contradict this very notion. The FV folks want to hang onto Chauvin's five points, but make a distinction between those things which are eternally true in the mind of God and those things which are available to human knowledge. I think the FV advocates are, if nothing else, concerned about the right things. I think that Chauvin's doctrines are wrong, but I do not fault the FV folks for trying to find a way to make them practically useful.

"Now I'm glad you don't know what I mean by Federal Membership."

Well, historically speaking, the size of a parish church has always been measured in families. This is likely because it is easier to manage records and the like with a set of families as opposed to a group of individuals. But this is done almost purely for administrative purposes in the Catholic Church. Protestant patriarchy no doubt wants to maintain these familial lines in places where the Catholic Church would do away with them. For instance, in the confessional, a twelve-year-old boy may confess anything and the priest may not tell his parents. In Protestant patriarchy, I cannot imagine the pastor refraining to tell not only the boy's parents, but all his pastor friends as well (not to mention his close circle of cronies). When it comes time for Confirmation, the priest determines whether or not the child has passed, not the parents. Children slowly take upon their new roles of independence. It is rarely a single act of marriage that suddenly makes them "grown-ups" in the Catholic Church. It takes many years as the child slowly becomes more and more aware of his duties as a Christian and how to avail himself of the Sacraments. Federal Membership sounds like a way to control people and families by making sure that everyone individually toes the line - or else.

Dave Hodges said...

"Could either of you fellas amuse me and create a mini-taxonomy of religions in America?"

After the many schisms of the 16th and 17th centuries, there were really three major groups that left the Holy Catholic Church: the Lutherans (Martin Luther), the Reformed (Jean Chauvin), and the Anglicans (Henry VIII/Thomas Cranmer).

Beyond that, the Lutherans have further subdivided at an alarming rate, leaving a large number of quasi-evangelical groups and the Missouri Synod.

The Reformed ecclesial communities have done just about the same, though there are two major Reformed traditions now: the Dutch and the Scottish (Presbyterian). Both of those groups for the most part have degenerated into liberalism as well, leaving a few tiny factions that still refuse to ordain women, &c.

Finally, there is the Anglican sect, which did quite well in maintaining basic orthodoxy for some time. In fact, it is the only ecclesial community that is still in existence from the time of the Reformation. In 1978, they began to "ordain" women as well starting the continuing Anglican movement, which is mostly a group of Oxford Movement Anglo-Catholics. If this is the type of Anglicanism of which you spoke in your comment, they are basically half-way between Protestantism and the Catholic faith. Their orders are invalid, however, and their ecclesiology remains decidedly Protestant: the are branch theorists and therefore reject the classical interpretation of unam santcam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam. Whilst claiming seven Sacraments and many other decidedly "Roman" teachings and practises, they are mostly Catholics waiting to happen.

Cindy said...

Dave,

I appreciate your thoughtful response.

I'm confused however, for the Book of Common Prayer states that there are only two sacraments, and I don't consider Anglicans as those on the cusp of Catholicism. Not that I doubt that there is a continuum of more Protestant and more Roman on which all Anglicans might fall.

Perspective is such an interesting thing... As a strong protestant, your perspective from the other side of the continuum strikes me as uncomfortable. But then, if we both thought the same thing, one of us would not be necessary. I've bounced around so much within and among these Protestant groups, I'm nearly entirely disoriented anyway. I find the idea that I'm currently camping out halfway down on the road to Rome disturbs my Protestant sensibility. Hmmm.

Dave Hodges said...

"for the Book of Common Prayer states that there are only two sacraments"

The BCP says that there are only two Sacraments as "generally necessary for salvation". The rites for the other five Sacraments are included in most versions of the prayer book.

"I don't consider Anglicans as those on the cusp of Catholicism"

I was referring mainly to the modern Continuing Anglican movement, and groups such as the Traditional Anglican Communion and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Martin.

"As a strong protestant, your perspective from the other side of the continuum strikes me as uncomfortable."

As well it ought. As a Protestant, you are committed to a set of beliefs such that when challenged, should make you cringe in horror. Your commitments to sola Scriptura and sola fide demand that you reject any other religion which may call those doctrines into question. So you should be hardly surprised that you are made uncomfortable by the Catholic faith. You would feel the same level of discomfort in a European Catholic cathedral where the Mass was being said. You would probably feel the same level of discomfort reading the Œcumenical Councils of the early Church.

"I find the idea that I'm currently camping out halfway down on the road to Rome disturbs my Protestant sensibility."

Keep in mind that if you are Baptist and become a Calvinist, you are on the road to Rome. If you are a Calvinist and become an Anglican, you are on the road to Rome. All of Christianity is just a measure of how many Catholic dogmas you decide to accept. Either you accept them all (Catholic) all but one or two (Orthodox) all but three or four (Anglican) or only a few of them (most Protestants) or none of them (Jehovah's Witnesses). Whatever the case may be, all Protestant religions are defined based on how much of the Catholic Church's teachings they reject or accept. And this is the way it has been since the dawn of time. Studying any of the Christological controversies will show the way this has worked. The Arians rejected the eternality of the Son. The Nestorians said that the Arians were wrong, but they misunderstood Christ's natures. The Monothelites agreed about Christ's natures, but were mixed up about his wills. The iconoclasts had their Trinitarian theology right, but rejected the proper implications thereof and were cut off in 787. The list goes on. The Protestant sects are just another group of those who accepted some of the Catholic Church's teachings but not all.

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

Thank you! That's sweet of you to say.

CD-Host said...

Dave --

For those people following the discussion I believe this is the Belloc article being referred to. Protestant culture decayed from within from a number of causes, all probably connected, although it is difficult to trace the connection; all probably proceeding from what physicists call the "auto-toxic" condition of the Protestant culture. We say that an organism has become "auto-toxic" when it is beginning to poison itself, when it loses vigour in its vital processes and accumulates secretions which continually lessen its energies. Something of this kind was happening to the Protestant culture towards the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth.

Very interesting article. But Belloc didn't see that the process could keep going to baptist phase and rather saw modernism as the next phase. I think both are true. Anyway thanks for the reference!

____

I think on the catholic membership issue I'm glad we agree on the differentiation. Just so we agree on terminology can you define what you consider the status of these 4 cases to be:

1) a non member,
2) a catholic that has apostatized or
3) a catholic that has joined a schismatic church
4) a catholic that is excommunicated

Also on the baptism issue. Back in the 4th century there was a substantial problem of people delaying baptism to use their "get out of jail free card" for as much stuff as possible. It seems with the FV regenerative baptism and covenant theology it would encourage that. Do you agree?

Corrie said...

David,

"Protestant patriarchy no doubt wants to maintain these familial lines in places where the Catholic Church would do away with them. "

This was my experience in the Catholic church.

"n Protestant patriarchy, I cannot imagine the pastor refraining to tell not only the boy's parents, but all his pastor friends as well (not to mention his close circle of cronies). When it comes time for Confirmation, the priest determines whether or not the child has passed, not the parents. Children slowly take upon their new roles of independence. It is rarely a single act of marriage that suddenly makes them "grown-ups" in the Catholic Church. It takes many years as the child slowly becomes more and more aware of his duties as a Christian and how to avail himself of the Sacraments. Federal Membership sounds like a way to control people and families by making sure that everyone individually toes the line - or else."

Exactly.

Dave Hodges said...

Cindy, you had said this here: "I really would like to understand the specifics of the whole Catholic argument so that I can appreciate it without prejudice."

You can visit my blog if you want some of the specifics of the Catholic arguments against Protestantism. You can also read St Francis de Sales' book The Catholic Controversy. I highly recommend it. James Cardinal Gibbons' book Faith of our Fathers is also of unmatched quality.

"This is much needed, because I was informed yesterday that we Protestants are all really Catholic to greater and lesser degrees."

That is not quite what I said. What I said was that Protestants are just another set of sects that decided that they had the right to leave the Church over some such issue. The Arians did it over the Divinity of Christ. The Nestorians did over Christ's natures, the Monothelites over Christ's wills, the Iconoclasts over Christ's image, the Protestants over soteriology, &c. I did not mean to claim that everybody is Catholic. I meant to say that everything that all Protestants believe unanimously is what they borrowed from the Catholic Church. Protestants have no unique dogma of their own. A better way of saying what I intended is that Protestants are just like every other sect that ever left the Catholic Church, Arians, Eutychians, Sabellians, Eunomians, &c. Now they're called Calvinists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Wesleyans, but the principle is still the same. All groups decided at some point that the Church had been wrong all along and that they were right.

Dave Hodges said...

"Just so we agree on terminology can you define what you consider the status of these four cases to be:"

Well, I'm no canon lawyer, but all four cases are considered extra ecclesiam. There are different degrees of being extra ecclesiam though and there isn't always a clear-cut "in-out" kind of deal. There is plenty of wiggle room for nuance and shades of grey in this area. And I am not really qualified to tell you the truth.

"Also on the baptism issue. Back in the 4th century there was a substantial problem of people delaying baptism to use their 'get out of jail free card' for as much stuff as possible."

That was Constantine who started that trend. I think it died out not too long after he passed off the scene.

"It seems with the FV regenerative baptism and covenant theology it would encourage that. Do you agree?"

Perhaps, though I can't imagine any of them actually carrying that out seriously. In Catholic circles, it is obvious why you wouldn't do that - it would be presumption of the highest order and if you were ever caught with your pants down (died in a car accident, &c.) there is no way that you could expect salvation. Theoretically, it might make sense when you combine Chauvin's soteriology with Eck's sacramentology, but I find it highly unlikely that anybody would take that route.

Sarah said...

And I am not really qualified to tell you the truth.

With the missing comma, that sentence is rather humorous.
But, I am sure everyone knows what you meant.

Dave Hodges said...

"But, I am sure everyone knows what you meant."

No, Sarah - you are wrong. All we have is what is written. And based on what I said there, I denied my own duty to refrain from telling lies, which is clearly against the teaching of the Church (CCC 2464). If I were you, I would notify Fr. Denis immediately. Furthermore, I would demand a complete retraction of my heresy and that I make my retraction public on every single internet board possible. I am in deep trouble here, it seems.

Cindy said...

Dave,

I can appreciate your perspective, but I don't share it. You operate from the assumption that you are aligned with the most pure faith through Catholicism. I look at Biblical Christianity as a separate entity and not Catholic (as in RC). I get the distinct impresssion that you hold Roman Catholicism as inseparable from pure, unadulterated Christianity. I could be wrong, but I would hope that you would since you profess Catholicism. I'd be disappointed if that were not the case.

Would you agree that baptismal regeneration represents a litmus test for what is Romanist and what is Protestant? My paradigm is so different from that of yours, I have to shift my perspective somewhat to understand your use of "Catholic" (RC implied) as synonymous with Christianity.

How complicated this all becomes.

Corrie said...

"I meant to say that everything that all Protestants believe unanimously is what they borrowed from the Catholic Church. Protestants have no unique dogma of their own. A better way of saying what I intended is that Protestants are just like every other sect that ever left the Catholic Church, Arians, Eutychians, Sabellians, Eunomians, &c. Now they're called Calvinists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Wesleyans, but the principle is still the same. All groups decided at some point that the Church had been wrong all along and that they were right."

Dave,

The way I see it, the Scriptures, God's Holy Word, the Bible did not originate with the Catholic church. The Scripture is inspired by God.

What were the Christians called BEFORE there ever was a Roman Catholic church? Would it not be more accurate to say that the Catholic church borrows its teachings from Scripture just like the Protestants? Protestants have no unique dogma of their own? I beg to differ. From what I see, it is scripture that Luther and Calvin went to in order to flesh out the true teachings of God's word. Did they have it all right? Absolutely not. But, neither does the Catholic church. The Catholic church gets their dogma from somewhere and I believe that place to be the Scripture.

I don't know how you can lump clear-cut heretics in with Calvinists, Anglicans, Lutherans and Weslyans?

You say "the Church" and when you say that you are referring to the "Catholic Church" not the catholic church.

Where does Eastern Orthodoxy fit in all of this? They broke off from the Roman Catholic church over the issue of popes.

I admit that I have a LOT to learn and I am not going to be done learning until I die but I would never be able to proclaim that there is one organized church that has it all correct and that every other church is just one heretical sect after another.

Dave Hodges said...

Cindy: "I look at Biblical Christianity as a separate entity and not Catholic (as in RC)."

The phrase "biblical Christianity" assumes something that the Catholic Church never believed in: the sole authoritativeness of the Scriptures. This belief came after the invention of the printing press and was not believed by the Church prior to that.

Cindy: "I get the distinct impression that you hold Roman Catholicism as inseparable from pure, unadulterated Christianity."

Indeed I do. If nothing else, it certainly is the oldest form of Christianity. That much is certainly true.

Cindy: "Would you agree that baptismal regeneration represents a litmus test for what is Romanist and what is Protestant?"

Not really. Many Protestants believe in the true doctrine of baptism: Anglicans, Lutherans, Wesleyans to name but a few. Though it is true that the only people ever to deny baptismal regeneration were those in the Protestant sects, that does not mean that it is the litmus test. There are many litmus tests, and it would be hard to place the Catholic faith into just one "test".

"My paradigm is so different from that of yours, I have to shift my perspective somewhat to understand your use of 'Catholic' (RC implied) as synonymous with Christianity."

That's great that you can understand this from the beginning. It will keep us from talking past each other when trying to explain something. I too have to adjust my perspective to understand what Protestants mean when they say "biblical Christianity" but since I used to be a Protestant, it is helpful. The main difference between us is not that you believe the Bible and I don't. The main difference is rather that we disagree on how the Scriptures are to be interpreted and what role they fill in the Church.

Dave Hodges said...

Corrie: "The way I see it, the Scriptures, God's Holy Word, the Bible did not originate with the Catholic church. The Scripture is inspired by God."

Which came first? The letter to the Church in Corinth or the Church in Corinth?

Corrie: "What were the Christians called BEFORE there ever was a Roman Catholic church?"

They were called Christians always, but the name Catholic was applied at least as early as 110 A.D. to differentiate the Church that Christ started with many heretical sects that had started apart from the Apostolick authority of the Church. In short, the Catholic Church was started by Jesus. There was no Church before her.

"Would it not be more accurate to say that the Catholic church borrows its teachings from Scripture just like the Protestants?"

Not really, since the Catholic Church predates the writing of the Scriptures, the compiling of the Scriptures, and certainly the invention of the printing press. Catholic teaching comes from three sources of revelation, not just the Bible alone. The Bible never claims that it is to be used alone, nor does the Bible tell you which books belong therein. The concept of using the Scriptures apart from the Church was entirely an invention of sixteenth century Protestants, and was never believed by anybody except notorious hereticks who knew that they needed to establish their own authority apart from the Church. Sola Scriptura was in fact a great defence of Arius before the first Council at Nice.

"I don't know how you can lump clear-cut heretics in with Calvinists, Anglicans, Lutherans and Weslyans?"

What makes a "clear-cut heretick" but the decision of an ecclesiastical court? The teachings of Arius, Nestorius, and Sabellius were all condemned by the Church at Œcumenical Councils. The same goes for the Protestants. The medieval Councils alone condemned the Protestants before their religions were even invented. In fact, a careful reading of the first seven Councils will condemn all but a handful of traditionalist Anglicans. The historical doctrines of the Church were summarily rejected by every single Protestant Reformer. This is not even debatable here. If Arius, Nestorius, &c. are all "clear-cut hereticks" you can only call them this by citing the Councils that condemned them. In the same way, the Catholic Church condemned Protestantism for the same reasons, even though the individual doctrines may differ.

"You say 'the Church' and when you say that you are referring to the 'Catholic Church' not the catholic church."

Correct in that I actually believe in One Holy Catholick and Apostolick Church. I truly believe that there is one Church, not thousands of them. As a Catholic, I believe that the Catholic Church is the catholic church - that's part of Catholicism, just like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

"Where does Eastern Orthodoxy fit in all of this? They broke off from the Roman Catholic church over the issue of popes."

They broke off not over the issue of Popes, but over the inclusion of the Filioque clause in the Niceo-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381. The Orthodox are considered schismatic as opposed to heretical, meaning that their beliefs are more or less correct but they have rejected the Church's unity by dividing Her.

"I would never be able to proclaim that there is one organized church that has it all correct and that every other church is just one heretical sect after another."

Well, this is what the Church has solemnly declared as dogma since about the first century. As a Protestant you must reject this claim in order to maintain your commitments; Protestantism by its very nature is anti-dogmatic and demands the plurality of churches all without any real authority of which to speak. Catholics, however (as well as Orthodox) have always affirmed the belief in one Church, whose authority is infallible on matters of faith and morals.

CD-Host said...

Dave --

Augustine had to write a whole 3 volume work on this, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants. I can do more research but I suspect that it was more than a minor problem.

If you think about it, if you believe in regenerative baptism and intend to do a lot of sinning it makes sense. In some ways you can argue the universal acceptance of infant baptism came out of a desire to avoid people playing this game.

_______________

I guess the new area to explore would be the area of theory of the state. The catholic church has a well defined theory of the state relative to the church. Calvin had one, which was somewhat different (but not much). Modern protestants generally have the baptist view. FV has repudiated theonomy. How would you classify FV with regards to the state?

Cindy said...

CD Host wrote: FV has repudiated theonomy.


This threw me a bit. I didn't interpret their views as a repudiation of theonomy in those terms. They seem "disenchanted" with Christian Reconstruction and perceiving the Bible as a list of mandates. I can see how it all would seem like a repudiation, but they all seem connected to theonomy. Thoughts?

Did I just miss that chapter or read it with too much naivete?

Dave Hodges said...

"FV has repudiated theonomy."

James Jordan has not, to my knowledge, done so. As I explain in my assessment of the FV, the advocates rarely agree amongst themselves on issues apart from the Sacraments and even then they have disagreements. Theonomy, so far, has played no such role in the FV debates.

As for the FV view of the state, I don't know how it would differ from mainstream Reformed Protestantism.

With regard to delaying baptism, this form of presumption is mortal sin. Anyone refusing to avail himself of the Sacraments is basically asking God to do a number on him. Yes, Constantine and others wanted to delay it for selfish reasons, but it goes against the sum of Catholic teaching to avoid the Sacraments for any reason.

The Christening of children was already being practised for some time before Constantine, at least by an hundred years, yet probably more. Even the fathers of the third century claimed that the Christening of children was an Apostolick practise, which means, even if they were wrong, they can't be too far removed from the truth. The latest it could have started would have been a generation before the reign of Pope St. Victor.

Cindy said...

Dave,

Any reason why you do not comment about Aquinas?

Dave Hodges said...

"Any reason why you do not comment about Aquinas?"

What would you like me to say about him?

Cindy said...

Dave,

Say whatever you would like to say. I just never discussed Catholic doctrine at any length without Aquinas popping up. Just curious.

Dave Hodges said...

"Say whatever you would like to say. I just never discussed Catholic doctrine at any length without Aquinas popping up. Just curious."

When I am discussing Catholic doctrine with other Catholics, he comes up all the time. When having discussions with non-Catholics, I rarely if ever bring him up since Protestants only believe portions of the Bible. To discuss religion with a Protestant mostly limits texts to the Bible unless one is making an appeal to the Tradition of the Church, which most Protestants usually ignore.

But if we do start talking systematic theology, I will be certain to bring him up. :-)

Corrie said...

"Not really, since the Catholic Church predates the writing of the Scriptures, the compiling of the Scriptures, and certainly the invention of the printing press."

Hi Dave,

The Catholic church wasn't started by Constantine in 310 A.D.?

I hardly think that the "oldest" is necessarily proof that it is the "only".

"Well, this is what the Church has solemnly declared as dogma since about the first century. As a Protestant you must reject this claim in order to maintain your commitments; Protestantism by its very nature is anti-dogmatic and demands the plurality of churches all without any real authority of which to speak. Catholics, however (as well as Orthodox) have always affirmed the belief in one Church, whose authority is infallible on matters of faith and morals."

Well, I wasn't always a Protestant. I was baptized a Catholic, made my first Holy Communion and I was confirmed by an arch-bishop. I know what Catholics claim (I don't believe that because someone declares something that it is true).

And, just because someone affirms the belief that someone's authority is "infallible" does not make it so, either. I find that to be incredible especially since the Scriptures tell us that anyone, ANYONE, who preaches something different is not to be followed. The Bereans were also considered to be noble because of the fact that they challenged what they were taught and took everything to scripture to see if what they were being taught was so.

I don't see anything in Scripture that tells me that one entity has infallibility except for Christ and God and the Holy Spirit.

I am not at all unfamiliar with Catholic doctrine/dogma since I was raised in the Catholic church and I even studied with the nuns because I had thought that it was something I might want to do. I went through the Catholic catechism all throughout my gradeschool, middle school and high school years. I spent more years being a Catholic than I have being a Protestant.

With that said, I find there are many things I appreciate about the Catholic church and am I certainly not anti-Catholic. My family is Catholic and I still go to Catholic services on various occasions. I greatly respect many of my Catholic friends and I consider them to be my sisters/brothers in the Lord as they also consider me to be their sister in the Lord. There are many ways in which I feel closer to my Catholic homeschooling friends than I do my other friends.

I just want you to know that I have no desire to change your mind nor do I want to be at odds with you. I have found that this kind of thing can go downhill quickly and I don't want to partake in any vitriolic pronouncements against the Catholic church.

There have been many times that I want to go back to the Catholic church precisely because of what I have experienced in Protestantism and because everyone has an opinion and everyone thinks that their opinion is God's very word. I am sick and tired of the schisms amongst God's people.

At the very least, I am sympathetic to you and Sarah in regards to your Catholic faith and it is not my desire to challenge it.

I have already rehashed all of these arguments at other times in my life when I was a zealot without wisdom but I truly would like to understand and learn why you have chosen this.

One of my biggest pet peaves is going to churches where Catholics are bashed from the pulpit on a repeated basis. I would DIE if I had brought my grandmother to one of these services. We have left churches because of this.

Dave Hodges said...

"The Catholic church wasn't started by Constantine in 310 A.D.?"

Uhm, no. Ignatius, Irenæus, Polycarp, and Justin Martyr all speak of the unity of the Catholic faith, and all of them died before A.D. 200.

"I hardly think that the 'oldest' is necessarily proof that it is the 'only'."

The fact is that even if you think that Catholicism started with Constantine (which is about as absurd a notion as one can entertain) it is still older than your religion by more than a thousand years.

"Well, I wasn't always a Protestant. I was baptized a Catholic, made my first Holy Communion and I was confirmed by an arch-bishop. I know what Catholics claim (I don't believe that because someone declares something that it is true)."

The point is that Christians have always believed in certain things, from time immemorial. Protestants who claim their Bible-only religion forget that the early Church had the Bible too. And they never came up with the beliefs of Protestantism.

"And, just because someone affirms the belief that someone's authority is 'infallible' does not make it so, either."

Correct. I am trying to make a very specific point here: your understanding of a religion based on an infallible Bible alone as the sole authority did not exist prior to the invention of your religion. That is to say that if the Bible alone is the source of all truth and this is a major tenet in your religion, your religion is not the religion of the early Church. It is an innovation.

"I find that to be incredible especially since the Scriptures tell us that anyone, ANYONE, who preaches something different is not to be followed. The Bereans were also considered to be noble because of the fact that they challenged what they were taught and took everything to scripture to see if what they were being taught was so."

The Bereans were looking in the Old Testament Scriptures to see if they could find the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. You're leaving out an important part here as well: they first listened to the teaching of the Apostles and then read the Scriptures. But even then, they were not measuring the doctrinal accuracy of his statements; they were seeing if the Jesus matched the Messianic prophecies - that's not quite the same thing.

"I don't see anything in Scripture that tells me that one entity has infallibility except for Christ and God and the Holy Spirit."

I don't see anything in the Bible that tells me:

1) which books belong in the Bible.
2) that the Bible alone is infallible

But I do know that Jesus said that the Paraclete would lead the Church into all truth. If Protestantism is the true religion, then the Holy Ghost did not do His job for the first one thousand five hundred years. And now that He has come through Martin Luther, He has not kept the Church "One" as Christ promised would happen either. This is a huge deal. Either Protestants are correct and the true religion was unknown for all of the Church's history, or the Protestants are just another of the innumerable sects that have revolted against Christ's Church over the last two thousand years.

"I am not at all unfamiliar with Catholic doctrine/dogma since I was raised in the Catholic church and I even studied with the nuns because I had thought that it was something I might want to do. I went through the Catholic catechism all throughout my gradeschool, middle school and high school years. I spent more years being a Catholic than I have being a Protestant."

All right. I know you said that you had a Catholic background but statements like Constantine starting the Catholic Church betray any sense of history you might have gained in your schooling.

"With that said, I find there are many things I appreciate about the Catholic church and am I certainly not anti-Catholic. My family is Catholic and I still go to Catholic services on various occasions. I greatly respect many of my Catholic friends and I consider them to be my sisters/brothers in the Lord as they also consider me to be their sister in the Lord. There are many ways in which I feel closer to my Catholic homeschooling friends than I do my other friends."

So why did you leave the Church?

"I just want you to know that I have no desire to change your mind nor do I want to be at odds with you. I have found that this kind of thing can go downhill quickly and I don't want to partake in any vitriolic pronouncements against the Catholic church."

No, no - I agree with you. I'm not looking for a blog-bash-fest either. But if people do have questions about the Catholic faith, I am always open to answering them.

"There have been many times that I want to go back to the Catholic church precisely because of what I have experienced in Protestantism and because everyone has an opinion and everyone thinks that their opinion is God's very word. I am sick and tired of the schisms amongst God's people."

Come on back over again. I'm quite sure Jesus would be very happy if you returned to the Church that He started.

"At the very least, I am sympathetic to you and Sarah in regards to your Catholic faith and it is not my desire to challenge it. I have already rehashed all of these arguments at other times in my life when I was a zealot without wisdom but I truly would like to understand and learn why you have chosen this."

It is because I believe in the same thing that the ancient Christians believed in, the same thing that the Apostles taught their pupils, the same faith of middle ages and high medieval Church, the same faith of the Counter-Reformers: the same faith of all Christians everywhere from the beginning of all. I believe in One, Holy, Catholick, and Apostolick Church, not innumerable, invisible, independent and provincial churches. I believe in one baptism for the remission of sins, not empty sacraments that accomplish nothing. I believe in Jesus Christ, His One Church, and His perfectly fulfilled promises to keep, guide, and protect the Church - to lead her into "all truth". To believe in those things is to be a Catholic. To reject all those things and instead rely on my own private interpretation of an expurgated Bible is to be a Protestant. And I was no longer interested in being my own Pope, my own bishop, and my own priest, confessing my sins to a ceiling that could do nothing for me. So I joined the Church. That, in a nutshell, is why I joined the Church.

"One of my biggest pet peaves is going to churches where Catholics are bashed from the pulpit on a repeated basis. I would DIE if I had brought my grandmother to one of these services. We have left churches because of this."

Yeah, I don't blame you. Even as a Protestant, I never saw the need to bash Catholicism on a regular basis. Some of those folks still think that they are in 1650. But the truth is that they could learn a thing or two from the Catholics. And I think we could learn a thing or two from the Protestants as well.

If you want to know more about my travels to the Church, you can read my conversion story.

God bless,

Dave

CD-Host said...

This is a huge deal. Either Protestants are correct and the true religion was unknown for all of the Church's history, or the Protestants are just another of the innumerable sects that have revolted against Christ's Church over the last two thousand years.

I don't like to discuss whats really true but there most certainly are other possibilities like:

-- There was no "Christ church" by that point and both sides were in error (other sects believe)

-- The level of diversity between the denominations is well within the parameters that god is fine with (ecumenical Christian viewpoint)

-- God uses a dialectical processes to move the church and the purpose of the protestantism was to act as an anti thesis for the 16th century catholicism and produce reactions like the counter reformation (emerging church).

There are many other options than those 2.


--

Dave Hodges said...

No, you're right CD-Host, there are other options. What I wish to convey is that one cannot posit that the Reformation was a positive aspect of Christian history without also believing that everything prior to it was a step in the wrong direction. The Reformation decidedly went against every single ecclesiastical decision made for the 1,200 previous to it. Not only that, it resulted in an unending stream of schisms that has not slowed in recent years but only accelerated more.

CD-Host said...

What I wish to convey is that one cannot posit that the Reformation was a positive aspect of Christian history without also believing that everything prior to it was a step in the wrong direction. The Reformation decidedly went against every single ecclesiastical decision made for the 1,200 previous to it. Not only that, it resulted in an unending stream of schisms that has not slowed in recent years but only accelerated more.

Not to belabor the point but I'm not sure that's really a defendable view. The protestantism of the 16th century was nothing like the catholicism of the 4th century. The protestantism of the 16th century was an entirely new Christianity. Augustine couldn't have comprehended the ethnic nationalism "A German Pope for a German People" being taken seriously by educated people. The idea that the world would return to the notion that ethnic or linguistic ties should outweigh idealogical, religious or political ties, would have been beyond anything that Augustine could have imagined.

Luther could not have comprehended a world where everyone believed that ideas were much more "real" than material objects. Where neo and middle Platonism was part of the air. He could not have imaged a world turning inward away from secular knowledge when he lived at a time when precisely the opposite was happening.

Take for a moment the dialectical view of the church. 16th century protestantism could only exist in 16th century societies, and in opposition to the 16th century catholic church. 16th century protestantism fundamentally changed the nature of politics (nationalism became the norm, the idea of Christiandom as a meaningful political entity died) and the catholic church (the counter reformation). It obsoleted itself by correcting the very issues which had given it birth. But in the 17th and 18th century there were new issues and thus a new "protestantism".

You can never stand in the same lake twice. So it possible to not believe that 1200 years were wasted and at the same time be protestant. I don't know that it needs to be quite so much an either/or choice.

And I could construct a dozen other arguments.

Interestingly enough your theory is more commonly held among baptists. You might enjoy Christianson's A History of the Baptist. This is a famous book arguing the case that the last 1850 years were wasted and the real church and that the baptist faith came from the montanism. While most baptists now consider themselves historical protestants, these ideas were popular a century ago.

As a personal aside, I happen to think that Christianson's history is bunk as well as the now popular view. My opinion is that the baptists emerged from the Franciscan lay movement of the 12th and 13th century.

simplegifts3 said...

"What I wish to convey is that one cannot posit that the Reformation was a positive aspect of Christian history without also believing that everything prior to it was a step in the wrong direction."

This is just untrue. I have never read anything that said everything in Church history was a step in the wrong direction, and the Reformation solved it all. There are many councils and creeds that Protestants uphold, such as the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and more. Read Don Veinot's blog on "Honor Thy Father" here,

One of Martin Luther's biggest beefs was the sale of indulgences to build that cathedral, sponsored by Pope Leo the whateverth. You can't purchase remission of sins with money, but that is what the church taught back then. The sale of indulgences to build that cathedral was definitely a step in the wrong direction, and if you don't believe it, there's nothing I wish to say to answer you. I understand that subseqent to Luther, it was proclaimed that you can't buy people out of Purgatory, but the fact was this is what a pope commissioned to be done prior to Luther.

"The Reformation decidedly went against every single ecclesiastical decision made for the 1,200 previous to it."

What's with the all or nothing? The Reformers, and many of the Reformed churches today, admire the Council of Orange and its repudiation of what became known as Semi-Pelagian teaching. Just one example.

"Not only that, it resulted in an unending stream of schisms that has not slowed in recent years but only accelerated more."

Dave, I don't know if God would call this disunity, or if He would call it a bad thing. In fact, when I think about this, and about the severe corruptions of the Church before the Reformation (and the Reformers weren't perfect, either), I immediately think of the tower of Babel. God didn't want a monolithic people with one language -- He wanted them scattered, and so the nations separated. There are wars and divisions between nations, and you might call this divisive, and a bad thing, but God doesn't see things the way we call them, and He wants the nations to be separate. He gave His reasons at Babel. I'm just musing as to a connection here, not making one, but I think it is something to consider.

Therefore, I don't know about this "schism" charge. I first read about the complaint from Sheldon VanAuken, and have done some thinking about it.

simplegifts3 said...

There is a lot of interest in this subject, Dave and CD-host. Here is this article from Ministry Watchman:

Check this out.

CD-Host said...

Looking at the CREC constitution of membership, it does appear that that they have a concept of federal membership. Its very unclear for example if a wife can be a member of a CREC church without her husband. Nor is the status of children living at home who belong to non CREC churches clarified.

CD-Host said...

Simplegifts --

I'm starting to think that Ministry Watchmen deserves its own article. The site has some solid content but a very strong editorial bias.

In terms of the article the:
E.P. Sanders -> N.T. Wright -> Doug Wilson is an interesting take. Sanders is an interesting scholar and while I consider him to be mistaken in just about all his conclusions he does advance the Bultmann project of a Christianity not inconsistent with our knowledge of history. I can see how N.T. Wright could be creating a liberal evangelical version of Sanders and Wilson openly discusses the tie with Wright, to some extent creating a conservative version of Wright. So on that point I agree but I'm not sure that the 3 steps from Sanders to Federal Vision don't get rid of most of Sanders' distinctives.

I'm not sure if I consider the Federal Vision to be some sort of secret movement. The proponents openly write books on the topics and hold conferences, so here I disagree. And finally I think everyone agrees that FV is somewhat closer to catholic.

Sarah said...

Lynn,

One of Martin Luther's biggest beefs was the sale of indulgences to build that cathedral, sponsored by Pope Leo the whateverth. You can't purchase remission of sins with money, but that is what the church taught back then.

You are right about what one of Luther’s original biggest beefs was. You are 100% dead wrong that that is what the Church TAUGHT, though. If you read Luther’s theses you can see that he based his critique of the corrupt practices of the Church on the actual teaching of the Church which in fact, condemned the practices you and he hate. So to say that the Church taught this is misleading, and incorrect. But it was certainly deplorably tolerated by the officials and in dire need of a reformation (not the same thing as a defection). This reformation occurred at the Council of Trent, which clearly condemned, again, such practices of taking financial advantage of the faithful.

If you as an individual have a certain standard of morals, and fail to live up to it – let’s say you fall into the sin of gossip for example, could it be said you are preaching that gossip is right? Or is it more likely that you have fallen short of your standard? The Church is comprised of sinful humans, who often go against the moral and doctrinal standards of the Church. This does not change what the Church teaches. It only shows that people do not always follow it, even the higher ups and leaders at times.

The sale of indulgences to build that cathedral was definitely a step in the wrong direction, and if you don't believe it, there's nothing I wish to say to answer you. I understand that subseqent to Luther, it was proclaimed that you can't buy people out of Purgatory, but the fact was this is what a pope commissioned to be done prior to Luther.

OK, it isn’t being done in the Catholic church anymore. So why aren’t you Catholic? If the problem was fixed within the Church, why do you still feel the need to be outside it? Obviously, that isn’t one of your “biggest beefs,” or the 500 year old solution would have been good enough for you.

What Dave is saying about the church being wrong for 1500 years before Luther et al rescued it, is that Protestantism and Catholicism are SO MARKEDLY DIFFERENT from each other, that it cannot simply be seen as a correction of some peripheral errors like indulgences. It is a wholesale rejection of 1500 years of dogma and doctrine. For example. All Christians prior to 1500 believed in apostolic succession, a priesthood, the Mass as a sacrifice, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the sacrament of penance, the use of icons in worship, the Sacred Tradition etc. etc. etc. These were thrown out by the Protestants. So, either they were part of the true Christian faith all that time and the Protestants threw them out to create a brand new religion (which is what we believe), or else they were NOT part of the true Christian religion and the Protestants were the first ones in history to START the true Christian religion. If you don’t think it was either of these, please explain how all Christians for 1500 years could be so wrong on so many issues.

when I think about this, and about the severe corruptions of the Church before the Reformation (and the Reformers weren't perfect, either), I immediately think of the tower of Babel. God didn't want a monolithic people with one language -- He wanted them scattered, and so the nations separated. There are wars and divisions between nations, and you might call this divisive, and a bad thing, but God doesn't see things the way we call them, and He wants the nations to be separate. He gave His reasons at Babel. I'm just musing as to a connection here, not making one, but I think it is something to consider.

Therefore, I don't know about this "schism" charge.


It sounds very nice and romantic the way you put it. But how do you compare this love of schism, and Babel, with Jesus’ prayer that His Church be One, AS HE AND THE FATHER ARE ONE? How does scattering like the Tower of Babel show forth this oneness? Is it some kind of Zen koan? Are the Father and the Son such that they disagree about everything, including what is “essential to salvation,” and argue and strive and divide over the smallest matters? That is not a very Biblical picture of God that you must have. And you have to admit that the Church WAS actually One Church for at least 1000 years. Then the Great Schism, and 500 years later the impetus for thousands more denominations. So… the question is, was God’s first plan for a Church like Babel a dud? Then He had to jumpstart it with Martin Luther? Why not believe, with much less of a stretch, that schism is the Devil’s favorite way to divide and conquer?

simplegifts3 said...

"OK, it isn’t being done in the Catholic church anymore. So why aren’t you Catholic?"

Hi, Sarah,
I'm a Christian, and I believe in the 5 "onlys" of the Reformation, which is not Catholic teaching.

"It sounds very nice and romantic the way you put it. But how do you compare this love of schism, and Babel, with Jesus’ prayer that His Church be One, AS HE AND THE FATHER ARE ONE?"

The Bible speaks of individual churches in many places, and it also refers to the one Church (especially in Ephesians), which is the company of all the elect, some would add since Pentecost. So the Bible itself speaks of the word in different ways, but w/respect to what may be called the Universal Church, and what I perceive you are talking about, we are united to any truly redeemed and saved person from any church, in spite of any denominational boundaries and disagreements which caused those distinctives. If that person is truly in Christ, they ARE my brother or sister by divine fiat, and what type of local assembly they are joined to doesn't change that. The only true dividing line is unbelief. As far as I can call it, I've seen belief and unbelief in Catholics, and I've seen belief and unbelief in Protestants. I have had wonderful fellowship with Catholic friends who love the Lord. And I mean, wonderful. And there are many Protestants who have abandoned belief in the Scriptures, or in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, etc., with whom I can't have fellowship.

There is something about the One True Church, therefore, that breaks out of visible demarcations, and it is that aspect of the unity in Christ which is more important, I believe.

A book I would recommend that drives this point home, written by a man with whom I have theological disagreements with (although they don't come out in the book) is The End of the Spear, by Steve Saint. The Aucas, before they heard the gospel, and afterward, are vividly described, and the true fellowship they had and continue to have with the boy whose Daddy they speared to death, who is the author of that book.

Some background information -- my paternal grandparents were from Lithuania, and my father was a Catholic, but he and my mother raised us in the Episcopal church. So I was kind of outside of Catholic circles and Protestant ones growing up.

I appreciate CD-Host's interest in these subjects, even though he does not profess belief, and am glad for his allowance of the conversation here.

Sarah said...


I'm a Christian, and I believe in the 5 "onlys" of the Reformation, which is not Catholic teaching.


Lynn, that is the point I was getting to. At first you seemed to be saying that the Protestant Reformation was simply a protest of the abuses rampant in the Church. But when I point out that those abuses no longer are tolerated, you still choose to remain outside the Catholic Church. Because as you say, there is another issue: You believe the "five solas."

The point that Dave and I were trying to bring out was that at least two of the five solas were completely new teaching. If those "solas" are true, how come they were never before believed by Christians? And if they are the truth, and even essential beliefs, then how could you still maintain that the Church had not fallen into error for her entire previous history? That is the point you seemed to want to deny, but I don't think that is a tenable position.

Let me know if that makes any sense.

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

Now that you two are passed the indulgences issue I feel comfortable jumping in with an aside. I think there is serious question whether the church even tolerated those abuses when they knew of them. There is a fairly large question as to whether the indulgences issue wasn't really German religious leaders who felt German tithes should be going for German causes and not for Italian causes and thus exaggerated the unethical things going on.

As a second aside, when you first posted I had assumed before you were the Sarah who is a regular on Jen's board. But the last response leads me to think you are most likely someone else. Since you aren't using your last name (and I'll assume that's intentional) let's ask the question this way. Are you the Sarah whose father's and husband's birthday falls on the two month starting with an M? If so welcome, and I'm very glad you are here!

Frankly I feel extremely comfortable discussing this topic with you and David here to insure that FV receives a fair treatment. I'd love you to jump in on the membership issue since that is an FV distinctive with Catholicism.

Of course you are welcome to keep up with the Catholic apologetic. And that's my third comment is more general to this entire presentation. I think it mixes up two very different groups of 15th and 16th century reformers. You had anti-superstition reformers who hated icons, symbols, high church liturgy, Marion worship... and then you also had the theological reformers who attacked the church as having become semi-Pelagian and being overly focused on works.

You can see this best in England where the Anglican church ended up "high church" and "low church" and the low church ended up in a symbiosis with the puritans and basically ended up reformed; meanwhile the high church could virtually be Catholic (as I gather from David's bio you are aware).

The puritans were willing to break with Rome much more strongly on theological grounds and thus provided the justification for those who wanted a break mostly on aesthetic grounds.

In America both groups ended up coming in contact with congregationalist and baptist theologies which took low church even further. So for you had mentioned "apostolic succession". In my reading of the reformers they considered this important to, it was the anabaptists who rejected it and thus today when Lutherans or Presbyterians reject this notion they aren't following Luther or Calvin.

CD-Host said...

I realized after I wrote my question it might sound a bit weird. Mainly I was looking for a publicly available fact that can't be googled.

Sarah said...

CD,

Not using my last name wasn't intentional, I'm Sarah Hodges. I guess I figured people would realize that from my pro-Catholic stance and the fact that I was jumping in to defend Dave. People have described our apologetical approach as the "dynamic duo." :-)

I think there is serious question whether the church even tolerated those abuses when they knew of them. There is a fairly large question as to whether the indulgences issue wasn't really German religious leaders who felt German tithes should be going for German causes and not for Italian causes and thus exaggerated the unethical things going on.

That's very fair of you to bring up. However I don't mind stipulating that it was tolerated. I believe there have been significant Catholic historians who have admitted as much, and I also don't feel that it reflects against anything I might feel is true about the Church. Abuses were never dogmatized.

The fact is, whether or not that was the original impetus, the playing field soon changed, and the Reformers by the end of their own lives had gone much farther than a simple protest against the abuses of the Church. They had changed many things which at first, they had no problem with. So I am happy to admit to Tetzel being bad, and let the red herring indulgences issue be dismissed.

And yes, I agree that the Reformers were not monolithic in their views. In fact, Martin Luther himself was MUCH more Catholic theologically than say, Zwingli. Luther did not even change the form of the mass. He believed in prayer to saints, and the perpetual virginity of Mary. Am I to understand that you therefore believe it is disingenuous to refer to "the reformers" generally and refer to the ways "they" as a group changed the Church doctrines?

I tend to both refer to them together and separately, for different purposes. When someone seems to be under misconceptions that belie a general lack of historical knowledge, I don't want to confuse issues by differentiating among the Reformers. When someone is a lot more historically astute, I can use the differences among the very Reformers to show forth other issues. But as the Reformed Christians themselves tend to talk about "the Reformation" and "the Magesterial Reformers" broadly, I don't feel it is unscholarly to do so in debate. Let me know if you disagree.

simplegifts3 said...

"At first you seemed to be saying that the Protestant Reformation was simply a protest of the abuses rampant in the Church."

No, that wasn't it.

I have issues with the Council of Trent being unbiblical w/respect to assurace of salvation and predestination, at some points looking as though Trent goes toward Semi-Pelagian teaching and against the former Council that taught against Semi-Pelagianism. I mentioned this on Jen's blog. Also, the teaching on the assumption of Mary, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and Catholic teaching on confession and absolution, the requirement that priests be celibate.

To change the subject, I found a blog post today by a Catholic man who was Evangelical -- you might be interested in this link, and he has more:

ontheotherfoot

But my contributions here have little to with FV and Catholicism, and as I've done no reading on FV that amounts to anything, I think I'd better stop on this note.

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

Glad you identified yourself. First off I have the readership from Jen's who probably know who you are and then my general readership who could be coming from entirely different discipline communities (like Jehovah's witnesses) and thus have no clue. Anyway, my main issue is exploring the FV stuff. I figure you are an expert there (at least via. the Mrs. Doctor syndrome).

I'll be happy to discuss reformation history but since Lynn has dropped out I'm not sure how much we will end up disagreeing. You want a place I disagree with Catholicism its Valentinus vs. Irenaeus; on Paul III vs. Luther I'm more apt to side with Paul III. :-) But that takes us way way off topic :-)

So in general I'm disagreeing with aspects of your argument not the underlying truth of the claims. In fact what I was trying to do was (and I probably did this badly) was explain IMHO what the mechanism was whereby Reformers by the end of their own lives had gone much farther than a simple protest against the abuses of the Church. They had changed many things which at first, they had no problem with.

That is there really wasn't one group of reformers there were several with conflicting aims.

1) The frustrated theologians (mainly Dominicans and Franciscans) who were people that were angry about financial impropriety in practice. I'd put the young Luther (even though he is Benedictine) in this group.

2) The anabaptists / baptists who wanted revolution not reform. They clearly aimed to create a new type of Christianity.

3) The nationalists whose main problem with the Catholic Church was that it served Italian and Spanish interests. Thomas Cromwell and his influence on Henry VIII comes to mind as a perfect example of this group of people.


What the reformers did though was agree on slogans and just let them mean different things to different subsets in their movement. So to pick your example of apostolic succession, one area this was undermined strongly was relics. The best relics were mainly Italian so the nationalists attacked relics. The ana-baptists considered the veneration of relics to be papists superstition and a violation of the 2nd commandment. Luther was appalled by the corruption inherent in the whole relics process and moreover the casually theology of salvation by seeing / praying near relics. And in the end this alliance ended up banning relics though Luther himself wouldn't have gone nearly as far. So I think its fair to say the alliance had stronger opinions on this issue than Luther.

Or to pick another example, I think we agree that early on when Luther preached "by scripture alone" he didn't mean the destruction of the church hierarchy but I do disagree with you that the ana-baptists and the nationalists didn't mean that.


Am I to understand that you therefore believe it is disingenuous to refer to "the reformers" generally and refer to the ways "they" as a group changed the Church doctrines?

I hope the above clarifies it. I think it oversimplifies things to speak of a "they" when you really mean only one of the 3 groups.

To go back to Cromwell, I think its fair to say he wanted to undo the Gregarian reform and declare England "not under the authority of any foreign potentates", he could care less about indulgences. Henry VIII (head of the church) was certainly no model of financial propriety.

I hope I did a better job this time around in explaining myself. Does that make sense?

As an alternate example I see it, the Methodists were able to end up with a much more moderate, traditional and sustainable position than the Lutherans (the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Had this position emerged from the reformation, the Western church could have adopted it and the scisms are talking about could have been avoided. Frankly I think Wesley IMHO it is not fundamentally much different than the dual authority of the church. But Wesley emerged in a context where there wasn't violence, and there weren't great deals of money at stake (which meant the nationalists didn't care) and where the baptists died out (which means the radical anti-catholics weren't part of the coalition).

Cindy said...

I find it very interesting that the comments here have surrounded a debate of Catholicism versus Protestantism and less about Federal Vision doctrine.

From my perspective as was my preconceived notions prior to reading all these things, it seems that Federal Vision represents a paradigm shift from Protestant thought to a Roman Catholic perspective. The authors of the Federal Vision doctrine contest that their perspectives are Romanist, however, it appears that it has more in common with the RC doctrines concerning baptismal regeneration and convenant than it does with those of Protestantism.

Would most reading this here agree, or are my Protestant roots just showing?

Sarah said...

CD, it is so nice to discuss things with someone so well versed. I don't have any issue with your clarification. And, perhaps it is a topic for another day to discuss Reformation history and Protestant vs Catholic issues, except as they relate to Federal Vision. :-)

Cindy, here's the thing. As CD has pointed out in terms of the Reformation itself, Protestantism has many roots, and many forms today. The Protestants who are up in arms against the FV are of the more congregationalist/presbyterian mentality, but these are only a portion of Protestants. It is more catholic to talk about baptismal regeneration in those words, but it is not only Roman Catholics who believe that. You will find similar beliefs in Methodism, Lutheranism, and Anglican/Episcopalianism (not to mention Eastern Orthodox, which also comprises a significant non-Catholic portion of Christianity). Therefore, it is still well within the bounds of Protestant history to claim these things. It merely differs with Presbyterian/Baptistic/Continental Reformed formulations on the sacrament.

If you are merely saying that these beliefs are more similar to Catholic ones than to Baptist ones, of course you are right. However, this does not follow that they are headed out of Protestantism, as they would have all the above mentioned stops along the way.

Cindy said...

Sarah wrote: You will find similar beliefs in Methodism, Lutheranism, and Anglican/Episcopalianism (not to mention Eastern Orthodox, which also comprises a significant non-Catholic portion of Christianity). Therefore, it is still well within the bounds of Protestant history to claim these things...However, this does not follow that they are headed out of Protestantism, as they would have all the above mentioned stops along the way.


Sarah,
Assuming that you share your husband's beliefs, I don't share your persective of all Protestantism as a schism of Catholicism (again, big C)following the Reformation. Raised as a Dispensational Protestant with a great deal of Lutheran flavor of doctrine while on the way to a Reformed view (and much maligned by Baptists, BTW), I do not share your perspective about the Reformation as an effect of the printing press. I suspect that we also differ in our respective use of the term "baptismal regeneration." The Catholic interpretation differs greatly from the Protestant view.

From a Protestant perspective (specifically viewing baptism as the outward, symbolic act of obedience and type of sealing of the confession following belief) and given the emphasis of the covenant community within FV's body of literature, the manipulation of the terminology within FV certainly departs from Protestant thought and assumes a Romanist postition.

Granted, the Protestant view of water baptism conveys saving grace, but the FV position reaches far beyond the Lutheran, Methodist and Anglican concepts to imply something more like a Presby-Reformed and Catholic hybrid, given the weight placed on identification with and the significance of the covenant community through baptism. The aforementioned groups speak of the conveyed, "internal" personal benefits and regeneration within the individual in regards to "baptismal regeneration," and as an outward sign of public confession in relation to community. It identifies one with community but the community itself imparts no special grace. So I have concerns that your statements imply that the mentioned Protestant groups (again, excluding Anglo-Catholics and Eastern Orthodox groups)are just a Roman Catholic schism rather than true Christianity that has attempted to reorient and correct back to the intent and example of the New Testament Church (with our objective focus on the written Scriptures as paramount) given to us in the latter half of the First Century, catholic with the lower case "c". From your perspective as a Roman Catholic, I respect your position of Protestant thought as a varied degree of departing from the Roman Catholic faith, but I do not share this perspective and it's interpretation of church history perspective.


So, ALL YOU PROTESTANTS out there, how would you respond to the summary statement that Federal Vision is essentially Romanist based on the sarcedotalism demanded of the FV reinterpretation of baptismal regeneration? Does it seem like a Presby-Reformed view shift to Roman Catholicism?

Sarah said...

the FV position reaches far beyond the Lutheran, Methodist and Anglican concepts to imply something more like a Presby-Reformed and Catholic hybrid,

OK Cindy. May I ask which specific proponents of FV you are referring to here? Conveniently for me, Doug Wilson, one of the leading proponents, has clearly delineated his view of baptism in just the last few days. Hereis the link.

Now, how do you reconcile what he says here (in which he distances as far as possible with RC) to what you just said above? Or, perhaps you were talking about someone completely different... in which case, could you provide a name and a quote so I can take that into consideration of your claim?

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

First off same here, this conversation with both of you has been a delight. I agree lets get back to the meat of the discussion.

In my comment on CREC membership constitution I mentioned that the notion of membership seemed to be rather collective. I'm trying to figure out how much of this is just the use of a very conservative language and how much of this is actually doctrine.

So for example I've been trying to figure out if it is possible for a woman to join a FV (CREC) church without her husband joining? What about an adult child still living at home without his father. What about an adult child living on their parents estate? What if they are also married, what is the status of their wife and children? You get the idea.

This idea of household membership (federal membership) that CREC has is a major distinctive where the FV people appear to have gone further than catholicism but this may just be a language issue.

If you don't feel comfortable talking about CREC what was/is the situation at Messiah?

Also what is your feeling on the fact that CREC explicitly doesn't appear to allow for renunciation of baptism. I assume you agree with Innocent III that renunciation of baptism severs church (authority). Do you know the justification for asserting authority this broadly (or again is this mainly language and if so what is really meant)?

Cindy said...

In "Federal Vision" (Wilkins & Garner), from Steve Wilkins essay which he states in the notes section borrows heavily from Ralph Smith):

The Romanist concept of the "infusion of grace and merit" (decription of my own, BTW vs Protestant imputation of Christ's merit) is inferred on Pgs 52 & 53 as some of the most representative (and inflammatory) pages in the book which strongly infer in obscure language and sometimes direct language that justification is found in community.
"Image bearing requires that man (like God) live in community...Therefore, covenant is a essential to image bearing...Sin is a negation of the image of God [in man]... The covenant structured [Adam's] life around three structures: …worship… wedlock… and work..."

So much of the rest of the theology in the initial writings were such a strong reaction to individualism and dispensationalism, the doctrine did swing to the opposite end of the spectrum to find justification in community and in strange assumptions about sharing the supposed covenant that is speculated to be shared among the Persons of the Godhead. (Dave defended a similar statement on Jen’s Gems last week, BTW.) Were I to quote every “covenant comment,” I would be here for days.

In Wilson's blog post, it seems that he prevaricates from these stronger statements earlier in the movement of FV, long after having the advantage of the many doctrinal criticisms of three Reformed denominations. The statement that concludes the blog entry is very orthodox, but it is contradicted by the Federal Vision doctrinal statement quoted above it. (But all is well because Wilson states that he holds these statements as non-contradictory?) Federal Vision’s shifting tenor of language (and redefinition of traditional terms creating confusion) requires miles and miles of rhetoric to communicate exactly what it believes and denies, always including some statement of what each author "says he is saying" or “not saying.” "We are not Romanist." "We do not deny faith alone." But the rhetoric does in fact align itself with Romanist concepts and sarcedotalism not unlike that of Roman Catholicism.

Concerning the extension of FV doctrine beyond traditional Protestantism:

In a book that just arrived in my mailbox today (By Faith Alone, ed Johnson and Waters), in the essay concerning Auburn Avenue by T David Gordon, he states “I do not believe the sacraments themselves are the appropriate source of assurance, or of any particular doctrine of the sacraments. The appropriate source of Christian assurance is the person, character and work of Christ, which is explained by the Word of God and sealed by the sacraments."

The Prostestant view holds the sacraments as a "sealing" which confer grace but are not the source of grace themselves (as with Catholic baptism which holds that sacrament as a meritorious work). I believe that the concept of "sealing" comes directly from Luther wherein the visible element is joined with God's promise, what many describe as "forensic."

Corrie said...

Hi David,

I have been busy and haven't been able to get back to this blog.

"All right. I know you said that you had a Catholic background but statements like Constantine starting the Catholic Church betray any sense of history you might have gained in your schooling."

Well, it was more of a question to you. :-) I am fully aware of what the Catholic church teaches about history and Her claims on the early church fathers as being Catholic (big "C"). I just want to make sure you realize I was not claiming that Constantine started the church (I know you called that "absurd"), I was asking a question since that is very popular teaching.

"Uhm, no. Ignatius, Irenæus, Polycarp, and Justin Martyr all speak of the unity of the Catholic faith, and all of them died before A.D. 200."

Yes, I know what the RC church teaches about these men.

I would love to pick your brains (Sarah, too) about your conversion to Catholicism and how you got over such "hurdles" (in my mind, at least) of Marion devotion and prayers to the Saints.

Many years back I studied all of this in depth because I was very interested in escaping the craziness I found in all the schisms between the protestant churches. I never experienced this in all my 24 years in the Catholic church. I just could not get past some specific teachings.

I will try and answer the rest of your response to me later.

Thank you for taking the time to dialogue with me.

Corrie said...

"Uhm, no. Ignatius, Irenæus, Polycarp, and Justin Martyr all speak of the unity of the Catholic faith, and all of them died before A.D. 200."

Just a thought on these men.....when Ignatius first coined the word that we now call "catholic" (little "c" which means "universal") he was not speaking of the Roman Catholic church. There really wasn't a Roman Catholic church at this time, was there? That all developed in time. In essence, these men are *our* fathers in the faith. Even if one is not Roman Catholic, one can claim them as their father in the faith, can't they?

Also, all of these men had different beliefs and doctrines and you can see them develop in their various writings.

For example, Iraeneus believed that Adam and Eve were born as children, created as immature. The Fall was not a rebellion but more of a want to grow up before their time.

I am not sure that the Roman Catholic church teaches this?

I do agree with many of the things Iraeneus and the other early church fathers taught and I think their writings are quite insightful.

CD-Host said...

Just to jump in here....

Even if we assume the minimum about the mid 2nd century church we have:

1) Christian churches where are under the leadership of bishops (that is most Christian churches in a city are under the leadership of a bishop) in may cities by the mid 2nd century. By the early 3rd this was almost universal.

2) Bishops exist at a city level. There can be more than one per city (for example Marcionic Church also had bishops) but only one is the catholic Bishop.

3) The Catholic Bishops all recognize one another and to some extent recognize the Bishop of Rome having authority over them individually. A "first among equals"...

I'm going to say that's a Catholic Church. What I would disagree with Dave on is that this is the only form of Christianity but it does appear that it was always a substantial percentage (say 30-80%) of the Christian community within any city

Dave Hodges said...

Cindy: "as with Catholic baptism which holds that sacrament as a meritorious work"

Cindy, for someone who knows so little of the Catholic faith so as to make absurd statements like the one above, perhaps you should cease from trying to make comparisons regarding it. If you don't even know the Catholic position, what makes you competent to compare it to some Protestant group?

And if you don't even believe in the Covenant of Redemption, why even align yourself with the Protestant Reformation? Whatever religion you are, it isn't what the early Church believed, and it isn't what the Reformed Christians believed. It is a religion of your own making. And that's fine, of course, I don't care what religion you are, but it would behoove you to refrain from making such statements in ignorance.

Dave Hodges said...

Corrie: "Yes, I know what the RC church teaches about these men."

You can also read what these men had to say for themselves. And they weren't Protestant by any stretch of the imagination.

"I would love to pick your brains (Sarah, too) about your conversion to Catholicism..."

Why not come over to my website and ask questions? Or you can just email me and ask any questions you like as I would love to answer them.

"...and how you got over such 'hurdles' (in my mind, at least) of Marion devotion and prayers to the Saints."

Those hurdles were only hurdles to me because I was raised by Protestants believing that Protestantism was the true version of Christianity. I knew nothing about the Catholic faith, or what Christians had believed for centuries. So when I found out that my beliefs were completely innovative and were never believed by anybody anywhere, it caused me a bit of concern. Why should it bother me to believe in the communion of the saints if every Christian believed in it before the Reformation and the Apostles included it in their primitive creed? When I saw that it was my beliefs that were out of accord with the Church's teaching, I saw that I needed to change, not the Church.

"I never experienced this in all my 24 years in the Catholic church. I just could not get past some specific teachings."

Well, it's ultimately a matter of authority. Jesus didn't give me the authority to determine orthodoxy and heresy. He gave it to the Church.

"Just a thought on these men.....when Ignatius first coined the word that we now call 'catholic' (little 'c' which means 'universal') he was not speaking of the Roman Catholic church."

So which church was he talking about then? I can bet a large amount of money that he wasn't talking about Protestantism, Lutheranism, Anglicanism, Calvinism, Nestorianism, Wesleyanism, or Manicheanism.

"There really wasn't a Roman Catholic church at this time, was there?"

You keep using the term "Roman Catholic Church". This is actually a misnomer. The correct term is the Catholic Church. I am a Roman Catholic, and all Roman Catholics are Catholic but not all Catholics are Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholic Church, as distinct from the Catholic Church, was a term coined by Protestant polemicists who wished to detract from the Church by appending the derogatory word "Roman" in front. In reality, this term is only properly used when distinguishing the Latin Catholics from the Eastern Catholics. So, was there a Roman Catholic Church in the year 200? Not really, no. It was the Catholic Church, complete with Popes, bishops, priests, deacons, sacraments, and all.

"That all developed in time. In essence, these men are *our* fathers in the faith."

The burden of proof would be upon you to demonstrate that Ignatius et al were Protestants. But their ecclesiology and sacramentology is decidedly in opposition to everything the Protestants taught. It is fine if you want to think of them as your fathers, but your doctrinal stances would have been condemned by them as heresy and your ecclesiology would have been condemned as schismatic.

"Even if one is not Roman Catholic, one can claim them as their father in the faith, can't they?"

Sure, absolutely. I just don't know why you would want to claim them as your fathers in the faith when what they taught is directly at odds with what you believe.

"Also, all of these men had different beliefs and doctrines and you can see them develop in their various writings."

You'd have to be more specific. All of these men were unabashed apologists for the Catholic faith and the primacy of the Roman See. They were hardly the sacramentalist Protestants that Chauvin was.

"For example, Irenæus believed that Adam and Eve were born as children, created as immature. The Fall was not a rebellion but more of a want to grow up before their time."

Well, in terms of this one thing, there was obviously some difference. Not all of the Fathers were in agreement on every single issue, but on matters defining the faith, their unanimous consent is what became the standard for orthodoxy. And this is where Protestantism becomes heterodox: they reject the unanimous beliefs of the fathers on ecclesiology and sacramentology (amongst other things, but those are the big two).

"I am not sure that the Roman Catholic church teaches this?"

The Catholic Church does not teach this. It was the private opinion of one bishop, which does not a dogma make.

"I do agree with many of the things Irenæus and the other early church fathers taught and I think their writings are quite insightful."

Well, that's a step ahead of most Protestants!

"Thank you for taking the time to dialogue with me."

Absolutely. Thank you as well. Do email me and pick my brain all you like.

Dave Hodges said...

The email link in the post above didn't come out. My guess is that blogspot doesn't like those kinds of links. The email address is raoulduke25@yahoo.com.

Sarah said...


So for example I've been trying to figure out if it is possible for a woman to join a FV (CREC) church without her husband joining? What about an adult child still living at home without his father. What about an adult child living on their parents estate? What if they are also married, what is the status of their wife and children? You get the idea.

This idea of household membership (federal membership) that CREC has is a major distinctive where the FV people appear to have gone further than catholicism but this may just be a language issue.

If you don't feel comfortable talking about CREC what was/is the situation at Messiah?


I've been at my sister's wedding so just getting back to the internet.

I don't think, if the CREC uses the term "federal membership," it has anything to do with only the married men being members of a church. But, I'm not up to snuff with all the rules and bylaws of the CREC. I do seem to remember that young people living in their parent's home have been under church discipline in the CREC and therefore I think that kind of negates the kind of "federal membership" you seem to be talking about, but maybe I am misunderstanding you.

As for Messiah's, one is considered a voting member at the age of 20, whether male, female, living at home, or not. 20 is probably just as arbitrary as 18, but, they had to pick a number I guess. There are quite a number of single women (and even have been married/divorced women where their husband was not a member) in membership there and they are considered just as much "members" as anyone else. Some even have leadership roles in the church (not elders or deacons, but women have been day to day overseers of the ministries, etc., even supervising men).

As for whether a child is considered a member through his parents, I guess one could say that. It would go on a case by case basis - for instance if a child was notoriously unruly and was making scandals, if they were still living at home, I guess the imaginary scenario would go something like this: the parents would be contacted, asked to do something, if they were unable to do something, the child would have to be shown some "tough love," and if this did not occur, the parents might end up under stricture. If the child was kicked out he would then be treated as his own entity for purposes of church discipline, etc. and would be called upon to stay faithful to his vows of membership (which he presumably took at their profession of faith). At this point the parents would no longer have responsibility for the child's actions, as long as the parents were clearly not sanctioning or enabling the behavior.

I am still kind of vague on what you are getting at with the federal membership thing but I think this hypothetical scenario should clear some of it up. Let me know.

Cindy said...

Dave wrote: And if you don't even believe in the Covenant of Redemption, why even align yourself with the Protestant Reformation? Whatever religion you are, it isn't what the early Church believed, and it isn't what the Reformed Christians believed. It is a religion of your own making.

Since this discussuion progressed here, I turned up "Not Reformed at All" by John Robbins, written to counter "Reformed is Not Enough" by Wilson. In addition to this work and another work that I cited earlier in the thread, the reportings of the RPCUS, the OPC and the PCA address Federal Vision concerning the matter of baptismal regeneration can be easily obtained online. Anyone interested in this topic can read more about this debate for themselves.

And Dave, I'm amazed at your powers of discernment displayed through your summation of my own faith. I would suggest that in similar exchanges with others in the future that you would show great integrity and stop short of miserable, personal insults in an effort to posture yourself in a debate. If you find someone as intellectually, morally and theologically unsophisticated as you find me, take my advice and ignore that someone. You've little to worry about with a servile, Protestant, crusty scab like me, but unnecessarily unkind words are not a healthy social and politcal habit. You do yourself a greater disservice.

Dave Hodges said...

Cindy, I meant no personal insult, and if what I said came across that way, I ask your forgiveness.

In only wish that you wouldn't make such erroneous statements about the Catholic faith. If you don't know, fine - you are free to ask. Catholics do not believe that baptism is a meritorious work. Quite the contrary, it is pure grace!

You make fun of the idea of the Covenant of Redemption, but no Protestant ever denied that, certainly not the Reformers like Berkhof, Hodge, Owen, and Turretin. If you don't believe it, that's fine with me, but then why claim to be a Protestant if you think that Protestantism teaches stupid doctrines that are worthy of such scorn? It doesn't seem to make much sense.

"Since this discussuion progressed here, I turned up 'Not Reformed at All' by John Robbins, written to counter 'Reformed is Not Enough' by Wilson."

John Robbins is the pastor of none, and believes that nobody is a true Christian but himself. When it comes to useful things to say about anything theologically, he has zero to contribute.

"In addition to this work and another work that I cited earlier in the thread, the reportings of the RPCUS, the OPC and the PCA address Federal Vision concerning the matter of baptismal regeneration can be easily obtained online. Anyone interested in this topic can read more about this debate for themselves."

That's certainly the case, but reading all those reports about the Federal Vision does not make you an expert in the Federal Vision. Reading the writings of the proponents is indeed a much better route. True, the Federal Vision is closer to the Catholic teaching, but it still falls short - way short. I will restate my original point, though: if you don't even know what the Catholic Church teaches on baptism, why are you qualified to compare the Federal Vision to Catholicism? Shouldn't you have a good handle on both before you are in a position to make an accurate comparison?

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

Hmmm so everyone could vote, it wasn't by household at Messiah? Well I guess Messiah is substantially different. What I was getting at were statements like:



B. Household Membership
1. Membership in this local church will be normally reckoned by household. A household will be eligible for
membership when the head of that household (husband or single head) meets the following criteria.
(a) He professes faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9-10) and repents of his sin
(Jer. 25:5, Ezek 18:30, Mk 1:5);
(b) He does not contradict his profession through his manner of life
(Matt. 7:22-23; 1 Cor. 5:13);
(c) He has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
(Matt. 28:19);
(d) He considers his permanent residence to be within reasonable distance of our location
which will allow faithful attendance without undue or unsustainable burden (Eph. 1:1);
(e) He willingly submits himself by vows to the government and discipline of this church
(Heb. 13:7,17);
(f) He willingly commits himself and his family (physically, financially and spiritually) to
supporting the worship and work of CREC.
....
3. The elders will maintain a membership list, with a household listed in the manner indicated below. This
membership list will be maintained by the elders, and kept separate from the church directory of addresses
and phone numbers.When a head of household is accepted into the membership of this church, his
household will be listed with him. Communicant members of the church in each household will be
documented.
x. Fred Abbott and his household (His wife Miriam, and children, John and Susan)
A woman without a husband may serve as a head of a household, thus:
y. Lydia Benson and her household (Children, Sandra and Jessica)
If an individual satisfies the criteria listed above, but has no family, or member/s of his family refuse to
believe, then he will be accepted as an individual member of this church. The elders will list his
membership in the following manner:
z. John Carston

CD-Host said...

Dave --

In reading your apologetic in post I see a small problem. You are actually trying to have your cake and eat it too. You can argue in the early 2nd century that there is a widespread union of churches a "catholic church" (though I have serious questions about it quiet that early, there is a lot of counter evidence in the first half on the 2nd century that doesn't appear to exist for the 2nd half). You can argue that there is a unified doctrine which emerges after the 2nd and 3rd century battles. What you can't argue is that the unified doctrine is being taught by the union of churches. The churches are simply too diverse internally and externally at that point.

For example you are arguing that by 200 there are sacraments. I agree. On the other hand I think the evidence is clear that the church's don't agree on which acts are sacramental. In fact there are a large number of esoteric rites (sacraments) that don't stop being practiced until the mid 3rd century. I think getting the churches to agree amongst themselves on the list of sacraments doesn't really occur until the late 4th century and don't agree with the modern list until the early 12th.

CD-Host said...

In rereading my comment I thought of a shorter way to put it:

1) Mid 2nd century (as opposed to 4th century)
2) Existence of a unified political structure (as opposed to subgroups within and outside a unified structure)
3) Existence of a unified doctrinal structure relatively in line with today's Christianity

(Pick any 2 for your definition):

Dave Hodges said...

"For example you are arguing that by 200 there are sacraments. I agree. On the other hand I think the evidence is clear that the church's don't agree on which acts are sacramental."

Correct - the debate over the number of Sacraments was not ended until the fourth Lateran Council in 1215.

"In fact there are a large number of esoteric rites (sacraments) that don't stop being practiced until the mid 3rd century."

Correct. Most of these fell out of use because they were merely provincial as opposed to instituted by the Apostles. What we have now we believe to be of Apostolick origin, in addition to a few other things that are required by canon law but not considered essential since they were not part of the deposit of faith (i.e. how many crossings are required in a High Mass).

"I think getting the churches to agree amongst themselves on the list of sacraments doesn't really occur until the late 4th century and don't agree with the modern list until the early 12th."

Correct. That debate went on for some time. The Eastern Orthodox church still does not claim to know the number of the Sacraments though most agree on the minimum seven. The same is true of the Oriental church. Obviously, by the fifth century the bare minimum was recognised, but the debate did not end until a thousand years later.

CD-Host said...

Dave --

OK good always a pleasure to be able to discuss these things with someone who knows their stuff. If we are agreeing on facts (i.e. the diversity of sacraments) then where are you disagreeing with my pick 2 of 3 argument? And if you are agreeing with the pick 2 of 3 argument why doesn't this contradict the case you are making regarding unanimous opinion?

I.E.
The persons who were later chosen to be church fathers were in large part the ones whose ideas eventually won out (i.e. late 4th century). Rather than the opinion of the mid 2nd century church was the same as that of the late 4th century. So I'm disagreeing with Not all of the Fathers were in agreement on every single issue, but on matters defining the faith, their unanimous consent is what became the standard for orthodoxy Rather what I would say is:

Those people who were not in disagreement with what became the standard for orthodoxy were the persons chosen to be recognized as church fathers.

Note:
1) I'm making a slightly weaker claim about the degree of agreement (since I believe many of the 2nd century fathers would have disagreed with the 4th century church but they didn't do so directly)

2) I'm reversing the order.

Now I will admit in terms of your debate with Corrie that I'm sort of nit picking here. Your main point that all of the church fathers which are recognized today as orthodox would have agreed with the modern Catholic faith over the modern Protestant faith on just about every issue that divides them is unquestionably true.... assuming they could cut through a huge paradigm shifts needed to even understand the debate.

Moreover I'll go even further and agree that the 2nd century fathers that were rejected in the 3rd and 4th centuries preached versions of Christianity which evangelical and fundamentalists would most likely not recognize as Christian at all. So I'm not belaboring the point to be an ass, but rather because I believe that something similar is what occurred with respect to the reformation protestants and later protestantism.

Sarah said...

Looking at your excerpt on the federal membership, it seems to be all formal and specific but I am not really sure how those rules would make any practical difference, since obviously women are permitted to membership without husbands, and people who are lone christians in their families would be allowed to join separately.

I can see that what they might be trying to get at would be an official way to ensure that households are not divided by virtue of their church membership - such that a woman could not join a different church than her husband and children "just because." I can see the wisdom in that, I guess, from their perspective. We always thought it was kind of dumb and wacky when the mom and a kid or two would go to one church and the dad and a kid or two to another. Families should stay together when possible... I'm just not sure what the problem would be with those rules as stated.

I didn't notice anything in that statement about who would vote, but even if it were only "head of household" (which would not necessarily exclude adult children from voting that i could see) it would seem that the typical things one would be voting on in a church scenario would be adequately accounted for by a single household vote. Is it the disenfranchisement aspect that is getting everyone's goat?

I'm just not sure what the big deal is, yet...

Sarah

Dave Hodges said...

"What you can't argue is that the unified doctrine is being taught by the union of churches."

Well, I don't mean to claim this, per se. What I mean to claim is that what was virtually unanimously adopted by the Father of the Church has been maintained in the Catholic faith and rejected in Protestantism. A couple examples:

Some Fathers were chiliasts, but not all. In the early Church, chiliasm was a somewhat popular belief, especially in the east but as time went on, it fell out of favour and was later condemned as heresy, to be revived by the Montanists later on. There was some diversity on the issue, but when ecclesiastical courts began to become more aware of the issue, unanimity eventually arrived in the universal condemnation of chiliasm by a great majority of bishops. Chiliasm would not be infallibly condemned for many generations, but its error was considered theologically certain.

The dating of Easter was the first major controversy within the Church itself, i.e. not an issue of heresy like Docetism or Marcionism. The quartodecimans continued for some time celebrating Easter on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan, whilst the remainder of the Church celebrated it on Sunday. Although Pope St. Clement decreed that it should be celebrated on Sunday in AD 90, a formal condemnation of the quartodecimans did not come until Pope St. Victor in the latter half of the second century. There was indeed variety in the early Church on these things, but the ending of controversies takes generations to accomplish and sort through all the rubble.

The common thread throughout these things is that when the Church spoke, the sect that rejected the Church's authority either corrected its ways and was re-instated into the Church, or split from the Church to form its own sect. We don't have too many Marcionites, Arians, Montanists, or Nestorians these days (though those beliefs have come up in other Protestant and sects and the pseudo-Christian cults) largely because leaving the Catholic Church was, for centuries, a guaranteed death warrant (I mean that in the figurative sense: if your sect formally broke from the Catholic Church, one could expect its popularity to decline into oblivion rather quickly).

This all changed at the Reformation when the very authority of the Church itself was called into question completely. Now, less than five hundred years later, though the Catholic Church has maintained her doctrines, thousands upon thousands of Protestant sects continue to multiply, each one with its own tradition, authority, and hierarchy. The modern notion of egalitarian Christian pluralism apart from the appeal to a unified Magisterium is what differentiates Protestantism from the early Church. There are still controversies in the Catholic Church - unsettled questions, &c. But we maintain our unity around the college of bishops until the theologians can sort through them. On matters where the debate has been settled, we are required to assent. Of the Protestant nothing is required. He may chose his entire set of beliefs as he likes.

Even the early Church, with all its variety, still recognised the unity of the Church required submission to the bishops, who were all in communion with one another and placed there as the successors of the Apostles.

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

since obviously women are permitted to membership without husbands, and people who are lone christians in their families would be allowed to join separately.

It wasn't obvious to me at all. In fact it is still unclear to me if woman and children are even members at all or rather if they are merely be attenders whose HoH is a member. That's the distinction I'm trying to get at. Is the issue just conservative language or are they really preaching some sort of collective salvation.


I can see that what they might be trying to get at would be an official way to ensure that households are not divided by virtue of their church membership


Everyone thinks its desirable to have families church together. But desirable and mandatory are a world apart.


In terms of your comment about adult children its ambiguous. HoH generally refers to everyone related living in the household (that is I think it would include live in servants) but its unclear what is meant.

would seem that the typical things one would be voting on in a church scenario would be adequately accounted for by a single household vote.

I'm really not so sure. Take an excommunication vote. Younger people may have very different attitudes about excommunications than older people for specific offenses. Woman can have different attitudes than men. I don't see any reason why middle aged men would necessarily represent the congregation nearly as well as the full congregation.

Is it the disenfranchisement aspect that is getting everyone's goat?

Yes but a bigger issue is what the disenfranchisement thing represents spiritually. The why is what is getting everyone's goat much more. But disenfranchisement is pretty bad. Lets not forget this is the country that threw the Boston Tea Party.

CD-Host said...

Dave --

OK I think we basically agree modulo a few details. Everything you have written becomes absolutely true if you would just say early 3rd rather than mid 2nd century. At least from my perspective the whole debate is over 70 years.

And let me use your example since I agree your example is a good one of a dispute within the church rather than one of heresy. Lets pick Docetism since they didn't schism immediately like the Marcionites.

I'd argue that there is no question there were Docetists attending "Catholic Churches". To pick an example the philosopher who converts Justin Martyr in Dialogue with Trypho appears to be a Docetist himself. Now Martyr considers the Philosopher a Christian even after his 140s writings (where he asserts a bodily incarnation). That is we have a church father who knows of a docetic Christian and considers him a Christian.

And of course there is my favorite Valentinus who at this time period just finished running for Pope and barely lost. We know he has a wide following within the church.

So I'm gonna disagree that doceitism with was seen as a heresy at the time. Moreover I think around 130-150 there was a much greater tolerance for diversity of opinion on theological issues than there was after 200. That is one of the issues that had to get settled was the whole question of "one god one bishop" i.e. what was the scope of the church's authority and that I believe doesn't have unanimity until after Irenaeus. So the reason that there is tolerance for docetism is that there appears to be a very tolerance for diverse theology.

Now for a moment imagine if Valentinus had won the election for Pope instead of coming in 2nd. I believe you would see a diversity of belief and practice much more in line with what you see today in say the PCUSA. Irenaeus's position that there needs to be a single unified interpretation and a single unified doctrine was not accepted that early (he's either a child or just born at this point).

And not to belabor Valentinus but the Valentinians are still in the church until the early-mid 3rd century and they are Docetists. Or to address your pick of Nestorianism in the mid 2nd century you still have large numbers of Christian who hold that Logos, Christos, and Jesus are 3 persons.

So in other words from the perspective of a Christian living in the mid 2nd century there is no way they could differentiate between the debate on the incarnation and the debate on the proper date for Easter. 70 years after that it is obvious there is a huge difference. And here is where you have universal agreement on the unified Magisterium having the authority you are attributing to it.

I.E. I can agree on any 2 of (for the mid 2nd century)

1) unified Magisterium
2) authority of leadership
3) acceptance by the membership

But you have to wait 70 years for all 3. So from my perspective it all comes down to dates. Every claim you are making will be true, in the casual unified way you want them to be true 2 generations after the period you are talking about.

I feel like I'm not doing a great job explaining this. So if anyone wants to jump in and describe what I'm saying better feel free.

CD-Host said...

This all changed at the Reformation when the very authority of the Church itself was called into question completely. Now, less than five hundred years later, though the Catholic Church has maintained her doctrines, thousands upon thousands of Protestant sects continue to multiply, each one with its own tradition, authority, and hierarchy. The modern notion of egalitarian Christian pluralism apart from the appeal to a unified Magisterium is what differentiates Protestantism from the early Church. There are still controversies in the Catholic Church - unsettled questions, &c. But we maintain our unity around the college of bishops until the theologians can sort through them. On matters where the debate has been settled, we are required to assent. Of the Protestant nothing is required. He may chose his entire set of beliefs as he likes.


So the big question becomes, do beliefs actually matter? For example is God indifferent to what date Easter is calibrated on? Or to push further, is he indifferent to whether you believe Jesus consists of 1,2,3 or persons? As we have talked about Catholic memberships are essentially baptist in their theology at this point (i.e. cafeteria catholics).

Which gets us back to something I've liked quite a bit of about Doug Wilson's analysis. That he's argued that assuming that a narrow set of beliefs (the correct gospel) is required for salvation makes God quite stingy, "darn one managed to get through". From the individual's perspective they are on an obstacle course of thousands of possible forks in theology. If they have to get each choice right to be saved ...

Sarah said...

Take an excommunication vote.

I can almost guarantee that excommunication is not a community vote. It certainly never was at Messiah's and I really highly doubt it is practiced in the CREC. It is a very seriously, privately and carefully decided action of the eldership alone. I guess there might be some weird commune-type churches where the membership would vote on such a thing, and also fold each other's underwear, but I have never heard of it happening in my circles which would include CREC. That is completely bizarre and seems to me, inappropriate.

Voting is usually regarding budget or other issues relating to the congregation itself - where they will meet, how money is spent, or received, etc.

And yes, I can also pretty much guarantee that women are members, and so are professing children. The headship thing is probably more for a clean line of hierarchy in case of a problem (who to go to first, what would be considered going over someone's head, etc) than to assume some kind of one family=one soul kind of heresy.

If you would like me to ask Pastor Wilson I will. But I'm fairly sure it is a practical reason and not a collective salvation, as you fear. At least not in the sense of salvation of souls. (Of course there is a sense of covenantal salvation that is very real; such as a nation being saved by a good leader (whether or not the individuals involved agreed with/participated in the decision) or a Noah's Ark type scenario where his children, scoundrels and saints alike, were saved by virtue of being on the ark. But I don't think that is what you are referring to!)


But disenfranchisement is pretty bad. Lets not forget this is the country that threw the Boston Tea Party.

Let's not be anachronistic. They were not partying for women's suffrage. Only the men were voting at that time. There are more arguments for a household vote than simply the irrelevance of women. I think you need to acknowledge that.

Sarah

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

Well this can tell you from knowledge. The idea of a vote is central to lots of protestant bodies. Its how they intepret, 2Cor 2:6 "The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him".

Some separate minor excommunication (no sacraments) as a penalty that is administered by the leadership and major excommunication (put out of the church) as requiring a majority vote. What this avoids is when the leadership excommunicates somebody and there are substantial numbers of people that disagree or even a small but substantial group that disagree strongly and can gain support over time. Lets not forget the presbyterian right was formed by questionable excommunications that lacked strong support of the membership :-)

I can site lots of baptist guides which describe this step (and in fact reject excommunications which don't have a majority). I'm also later this year going to cover a mini denomination which is willing to discuss their process in detail.

So no not a bizarre cult thing at all. I can start citing sources if you want to contest this or you can just take my word for it.

But if CREC doesn't do this. Then this bring up an interesting question. What happens in the case where the elders excommunicate and members disagree? These people all owe a great deal to Machen so I assume they recognize the possibility of the session not agreeing with the elders?

But regardless if the membership have no contrl

The headship thing is probably more for a clean line of hierarchy in case of a problem (who to go to first, what would be considered going over someone's head, etc) than to assume some kind of one family=one soul kind of heresy.

Can you expand on this? Is there a formal hierarchy involving family members?
Lets take a father A and his 18 year old living at home son B.
Does A's moral status effect B's salvation / election?
Does A's moral status effect B's effectiveness of prayer?

I'm assuming the answer to both of these no. If so:

Does A's moral status effect B's membership?
Assuming A is a member can A cause B to be disciplined?
Assume A Can A prevent B from being disciplined?

If again no then

Finally assume that A isn't a member.
It seems that B can independently be a member of the CREC church? What is A objects?

What if A is a member and B wants independent membership?

If in both cases B's wishes are respected in what sense is their a hierarchy?

Now this may be my ignorance. I've asked similar questions to people from churches where the father passes out communion and I have yet to get a defense of this practice that isn't heretical.

Let's not be anachronistic. They were not partying for women's suffrage. Only the men were voting at that time. There are more arguments for a household vote than simply the irrelevance of women. I think you need to acknowledge that.

Not to nitpick but that is actually false, in 6 states they could vote. It was well after the Articles of Confederation were nullified that woman were not allowed to vote in federal elections, and state and local soon followed. This was a reaction to voter fraud and wanting to tie the vote to property (i.e. disenfranchise the poor).

But for the purposes of argument it doesn't matter, so I'll agree there was no woman's suffrage. I can understand having property not persons vote in a republic with a desire to maintain slavery a right wing economic system and male inheritance laws. What is the purpose in the CREC church's case? I seriously don't know why they are there. I can think of bad ones but I can't think of any good ones.

If you would like me to ask Pastor Wilson I will.

I would be honored if Pastor Wilson would be willing to join in this discussion. I can't think of anyone who could advance this more quickly or lead to better resolution of many of the issues discussed.

If he's afraid of unfair or time wasting attacks (and he certainly to plenty of those), I can set up a separate thread. I can force comments in a different thread. I'll moderate (I'll let someone from his church moderate). He can email and we'll set it up. And that offer is open on other topics as well.

Have a wonderful sabbath,
CD-Host

Sarah said...


I can understand having property not persons vote in a republic with a desire to maintain slavery a right wing economic system and male inheritance laws. What is the purpose in the CREC church's case? I seriously don't know why they are there. I can think of bad ones but I can't think of any good ones.


I can think of one good reason. It doesn't really matter if you agree with it. If a group is trying to promote unity within households, having separate voting for each of the members of the household could certainly be seen as conducive to division. If one household has one vote, some discussion needs to take place so the family is on the same page. If not, people just cancel each other out and cause rifts. In a church that believes in the headship of the husband I can readily understand why a male head is chosen to represent the family. He is supposed to be representing his family, though, not just himself. (Kind of like the theoretical way our government is supposed to work.) It is logical and on paper very fair.

I don't, like you, see the need to forbid membership to a person whose spouse worships at a different community, but I can understand it. If a person doesn't see a problem splitting up his own family over where to go to church, I can see that might be the kind of person who doesn't see division within the church as a big deal either. If a group is trying to work toward unity and harmony, it could make sense to exclude those who aren't.

And I am pretty darn sure that it is a case by case basis. I bet you a sum of money that if a woman came to CREC wanting to join alone, and her husband was a member of the local Catholic church, she would not be told to go worship with her husband... she'd be welcomed with wide open arms.

I think you might disagree with some of the rules, but I don't really see anything in the membership document that is problematic or necessarily implies any sort of patriarchalism. They just think that is the more biblical way of doing things. I think they're all wrong and need to be Catholic, so what do I know. :-)

I was thinking about emailing Pastor Wilson and thought it might be better coming from you because I don't really understand your concerns well enough to summarize into one email, and also in case there is any need for followup. I would not want to ask him to participate in this internet discussion but I am sure he'd be more than happy to answer questions or delegate someone to answer them by email. Let me know where to send it, and I can email you an address where you can reach him.

CD-Host said...

My email address for this blog is cd.host@gmail.com

Dave Hodges said...

"So the big question becomes, do beliefs actually matter?"

For Catholics, yes. For Protestants? Hard to say.

"For example is God indifferent to what date Easter is calibrated on?"

It's not about what God's preference is (we have no idea). It is that He delegated the authority to bind and loose to the Church such that Heaven would echo any decision made.

"Or to push further, is he indifferent to whether you believe Jesus consists of 1,2,3 or persons? As we have talked about Catholic memberships are essentially baptist in their theology at this point (i.e. cafeteria catholics)."

I don't think He is indifferent at all, no.

"From the individual's perspective they are on an obstacle course of thousands of possible forks in theology. If they have to get each choice right to be saved ..."

They CAN be an obstacle course, sure. But the thousands of dogmatic decisions made over the course of the last two millennia came about precisely because people began teaching against the traditions of the Church and the Church had to clarify her teachings. It's not as simple as "Believe this and you'll be OK" as many like to make it seem. Good doctrine is part of being a good Catholic. Honest mistakes doctrinally speaking are just that: mistakes. They are not meant to be attacks on the authority of the Church - they are made in ignorance. If somebody dies in ignorance of the teaching of the Church on such-and-such an issue, he will not be condemned.

Dave Hodges said...

"I.E. I can agree on any 2 of (for the mid 2nd century)

1) unified Magisterium
2) authority of leadership
3) acceptance by the membership"


I would say that mid-2nd century, there was a unified Magisterium (on an admittedly much smaller amount of dogmatic issues), an authority of leadership, and only mixed acceptance by the membership. Docetists were still around in the mid-2nd century - I don't know whether they were going to Catholic Churches or whether they had their own chapels or what, but they were definitely around. Many of the early Christian errors persisted until the third century, uncondemned. This cannot be contested based on any extant history. But when they were condemned at local and œcumenical synods, the discussion was over. Likewise, theologians still debate over issues like the infusion of the soul, the nature of Limbo, and many other things. If/when the Church does settle these debates, it will no longer be "up for discussion" but as of now many issues remain unsettled.

CD-Host said...

Dave --

I would say that mid-2nd century, there was a unified Magisterium (on an admittedly much smaller amount of dogmatic issues), an authority of leadership, and only mixed acceptance by the membership

Well that was easy :-) Good we agree.

. Docetists were still around in the mid-2nd century - I don't know whether they were going to Catholic Churches or whether they had their own chapels or what

As a point of information, both. There were docetic Christians that identified themselves as other religions (particularly Stoics) and many that were part of the churches that just reinterpreted the creeds and the bible in ways very different from those the church would later endorse.

But when they were condemned at local and œcumenical synods, the discussion was over.

Absolutely. By the mid 3rd century there were out of the church, essentially forever. Those that didn't change their views became parts of other religions (like the Sethians).

_________

OK onto the next issue. What is the FV position on state and church?

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

I can think of one good reason. It doesn't really matter if you agree with it. If a group is trying to promote unity within households, having separate voting for each of the members of the household could certainly be seen as conducive to division. If one household has one vote, some discussion needs to take place so the family is on the same page. If not, people just cancel each other out and cause rifts.

How does canceling each other out cause rifts in a way where a single representative (who cannot be removed from office) having to pick between the positions of various family members not cause rifts?

In a church that believes in the headship of the husband I can readily understand why a male head is chosen to represent the family. He is supposed to be representing his family, though, not just himself. (Kind of like the theoretical way our government is supposed to work.) It is logical and on paper very fair.

The questions above are about how far the headship of the husband extends. The thing is that in general when you have representatives the representatives are supposed to have advantages: more knowledge, more time to dedicate, more experience.... What is the husband bring here to church matters? Moreover how does picking middle age men as the primary voting population not create severe bias.

I don't, like you, see the need to forbid membership to a person whose spouse worships at a different community, but I can understand it. If a person doesn't see a problem splitting up his own family over where to go to church, I can see that might be the kind of person who doesn't see division within the church as a big deal either. If a group is trying to work toward unity and harmony, it could make sense to exclude those who aren't.

Is CREC working towards unity and harmony? They seem to be schismatic sect of protestantism working towards creating a broad reformation of the entire protestant community. I.E. my read is that Wilson aims to be a Luther not a Menno Simons. Do you agree?

And I am pretty darn sure that it is a case by case basis. I bet you a sum of money that if a woman came to CREC wanting to join alone, and her husband was a member of the local Catholic church, she would not be told to go worship with her husband... she'd be welcomed with wide open arms.

OK lets works some scenarios then:
a) The local Mormon church
b) The local Lutheran Church (liberal)
c) The local Lutheran Church (conservative)
d) Local PCUSA church
e) Local OPC church
f) Local CREC church which the woman absolutely refuses to attend and the husband does not have the session's permission to abandon (recently married)

I think you might disagree with some of the rules, but I don't really see anything in the membership document that is problematic or necessarily implies any sort of patriarchalism.

If you saying me personally, well yes I do disagree, I'm a feminist. But what I think is irrelevant. The question is whether this is simply conservative language or when you peel back the covers you actually have a genuine theological difference.


I don't see anything that necessarily implies it.

They just think that is the more biblical way of doing things.

Why? Where do they see in the bible does talk about the church as a collection of families rather than a collection of believers? At least the argument you are giving sounds like a belief in Federal Representation, in the Abshire sense.

Sarah said...

Dude, I'm Catholic. I've been trying to have a discussion I really have no business having. I'm totally out of here. I'll come back if you want to talk about something interesting to me. I cannot defend nor do I wish to, sectarian Protestantism. Other than my dad's particular church if I think they are being unfairly charged with something. Fair enough? I think you should contact Doug Wilson yourself. I am officially ending my participation in this particular conversation.

Sarah said...

I'm not annoyed at you BTW... just took a step back and realized the complete ridiculousness of beating my brain trying to come up with hypothetical scenarios to defend something I don't uphold, nor did I even know about it before. :-) Yeah. Sometimes it takes me a little while, but eventually I get it...

Dave Hodges said...

"What is the FV position on state and church?"

I don't think there is one. As far as I know, these guys are traditionalist Protestants, which means that they aren't Erastian for starters. Beyond that, it's hard to say. Some claim to be theonomists, but would have a much looser definition (one perhaps that even I could agree with) than the standard one defined by Bahnsen, Rushdoony, &c.

Many of them have no problem with pastors holding office, which would be contrary to Catholic canon law. Many of them would claim that Christians ought to be involved in politics, but to what level the Church should be involved is likely up for debate. But really, all the same debates that might hypothetically occur within the FV are also occurring outside of the FV. What I mean to say is that the FV movement was not started due to differences in opinion over the Church/state issue, but rather over sacramentalism.

It's like asking for the Methodist position on the Lapsarian controversies. First of all, there isn't one, and even if there were one, it had nothing to do with their original formation by a zealous Anglican priest.

CD-Host said...

I think you should contact Doug Wilson yourself.

Well you still have to send me his email. I have no way to get in touch with him.

Dude, I'm Catholic. I've been trying to have a discussion I really have no business having. I'm totally out of here. I'll come back if you want to talk about something interesting to me....[cross post] I'm not annoyed at you BTW... just took a step back and realized the complete ridiculousness of beating my brain trying to come up with hypothetical scenarios to defend something I don't uphold, nor did I even know about it before. :-)

OK. Well this topic just sort of migrated over from Jen's. I don't understand FV well enough to know what stuff Steve founded and what stuff is Doug.

So what were Steve's major contributions (and here Catholic or not you have the Mrs. Doctor syndrome). On the other hand, the DeFide thread is catholic if you want a catholic thread.

CD-Host said...

Dave --

What I mean to say is that the FV movement was not started due to differences in opinion over the Church/state issue, but rather over sacramentalism.

That one I find curious. No question FV has strong positions on the sacraments, they correctly point out that the sacramental theology of most protestants isn't protestant but baptist at this point.

However I see differences in many other areas:
1) Notions of membership
2) Notions proper roles and responsibilities of the sexes
3) Interdenominationalism
4) Focus on contents of a Christian education

Also theologically there seems to be a draw (and some would argue this is a core doctrine) to the New Perspective on Paul. At least it seems to me that FV understanding of works as covential is consistent with N.T. Wright / Sanders (and AFAICT closer to the catholic position on grace).

I'll pull back on the church state issue, since as I read more it appears you are correct that there just isn't a unified FV church state position (rather various FV pastors have one). What is your opinion on the rest of these issues?

Dave Hodges said...

"However I see differences in many other areas..."

You're going to see people on both sides of the fence arguing for and against various positions on those issues. Joe Morecraft, a lead opponent of the Federal Vision, is in agreement with all the Federal Vision folks on those very issues. I know a lot of these guys. Whatever wacky theological/civil views the FV guys have, some of their opponents will have the same views. Go look at any of the debates on the Federal Vision - Church/State is not one of them. If it gets brought up, it is a matter of common ground or a mere incidental reference, not a point of debate. I have read thousands of pages of debate on the Federal Vision. Church/State is simply not a dividing issue when it comes to the Federal Vision.

"Also theologically there seems to be a draw (and some would argue this is a core doctrine) to the New Perspective on Paul. At least it seems to me that FV understanding of works as covential is consistent with N.T. Wright / Sanders (and AFAICT closer to the catholic position on grace)."

Don't confuse the archbishop of Durham with the NPP. They are not the same, and even if they were, most the of FV folks who like the right reverend, like him because of his refreshing approach to the Scriptures, not because of his doctrinal novelties. For instance, doctrinally speaking, most FV guys would heavily distance themselves from NT Wright; he supports women "ordination" and his doctrine of justification, if you can understand it, is likely contrary to the classical Protestant formulations thereof.

"What is your opinion on the rest of these issues?"

Which ones, specifically? Even in the four you mentioned above, Morecraft's community/denomination is going to share all the same viewpoints as those of Doug Wilson. Shoot, he still sells Wilson's books on those very issues at his bookstore.

Sarah said...


Well you still have to send me his email. I have no way to get in touch with him.


It's dougwils@moscow.com. Or try office@christkirk.com and that should get through to him.

Sarah said...

So what were Steve's major contributions (and here Catholic or not you have the Mrs. Doctor syndrome).

Yes, absolutely.

I am not sure what to say. I think of all the so called "FV" people my dad fits the least. The only thing that groups him in there is the common enemy factor, IMHO. He thinks the other guys' sacramentalism and leanings toward high church are over the top and unnecessary. He doesn't believe baptismal regeneration (other than that it makes a person "actually Christian," but certainly not eternally saved).

The commonality these men shared was that at the "formative" conference they all had an emphasis on pastoral concerns proceeding from the outworkings of the doctrine "sola fide", such as a twisting of the doctrine of election to make it man-centered rather than God-centered, etc. They all agreed on the reality of apostasy, and the necessity of works, and the unhelpfulness of the "are you saved?" question vs. "are you faithful?"


After that, I think the similarity starts to break down quite a bit. My dad has little use for confessional boxes if he feels that the systematic theology is "forcing" the Biblical text into a system, whereas the other guys seem very very interested in harmonizing their views with a confessional reading. My dad comes out and says justification is not by faith "alone" whereas the other guys try to sorta say that, while also holding that it somehow is by faith "alone." Etc.

So, you'd have to pick a specific issue b/c I think my dad is just a different animal in many ways.

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

The commonality these men shared was that at the "formative" conference they all had an emphasis on pastoral concerns proceeding from the outworkings of the doctrine "sola fide", such as a twisting of the doctrine of election to make it man-centered rather than God-centered, etc.

Not sure if I follow can you give me an example?


They all agreed on the reality of apostasy, and the necessity of works, and the unhelpfulness of the "are you saved?" question vs. "are you faithful?" ... After that, I think the similarity starts to break down quite a bit. My dad has little use for confessional boxes if he feels that the systematic theology is "forcing" the Biblical text into a system, whereas the other guys seem very very interested in harmonizing their views with a confessional reading. My dad comes out and says justification is not by faith "alone" whereas the other guys try to sorta say that, while also holding that it somehow is by faith "alone." Etc.

What you are describing sounds very Wesleyan to me. What am I missing?


So, you'd have to pick a specific issue b/c I think my dad is just a different animal in many ways.


Well if we are going to talk specific issue then discipline (since after all that's the blog's main theme).
(all of the below in Steve's view):

1) What is the criteria for someone to be subject to discipline of a particular church? (FV version of covenantial membership I'd assume plays a large role)

2) Can a person terminate their relationship at any time with the specific church? What does that do regarding their disciplinary status? (Again the idea that the covenant is unbreakable...)

3) What is Messiah's obligations regarding other church's discipline? (Here the FV notions of a large visible church).


4) What is the appeals process?

etc...

Dave Hodges said...

"What you are describing sounds very Wesleyan to me. What am I missing?"

Nothing - that's why the whole controversy is so retarded. There's really not too much "new" going on here except that its the first time Reformed Presbyterians ever cared about moral theology.

As for the rest of your questions, Sarah will have to field those. But even in the paper that I wrote that started this whole thread, I was quick to point out the similarities between Wesleyanism and other Christian sects to the Federal Vision.

CD-Host said...

So let me repeat this back to you to make sure I understand what you are saying.

1) FV is sacramental positions standard in the Anglican and Lutheran church being applied with reformed language

2) FV proponents have weird positions on non sacramental issues but that is a result of where they originated from (far right). If FV makes it to the CRCNA these would all disappear.

3) FV does not subscribe to the new perspective theology.

Is that an accurate summary?

Dave Hodges said...

"FV is sacramental positions standard in the Anglican and Lutheran church being applied with reformed language"

Correct.

"2) FV proponents have weird positions on non sacramental issues but that is a result of where they originated from (far right). If FV makes it to the CRCNA these would all disappear."

Correct, though I would probably insert the word may before the phrase "have weird positions".

"3) FV does not subscribe to the new perspective theology."

Correct, though I only know this because so many FV people have publicly stated this. I don't really know what the "New Perspective" is to be quite honest. It is largely the work of folks like E. P. Sanders, but I don't know what the details are exactly.

"Is that an accurate summary?"

As far as I can tell. :-)

CD-Host said...

Mike Lawyer responded to the questions. I've posted the responses in another article. Very interesting. He does seem to be asserting that while Jesus's relationship is individual the church's relationship should be with the family. Would you agree (i.e. agree that's what he is asserting)?

Dave Hodges said...

I'm now officially spent in my usefulness in this conversation, but I will proceed as I think it is a valuable discussion.

I think Mike Lawyer's responses were honest and forthright, though I was surprised to hear what he is saying. Obviously, it is best if the Church can relate to the family as a family unit, but (sadly) this is not always the case. There is a difference between the ideal and the real. Ideally, there would be no hunger in the world and if there were, it would always be dealt with fast and efficiently. In the real world, hunger abounds our best efforts notwithstanding. In the ideal world, the Church could always deal with families because families would never part ways or have conflicts. In the real world, this doesn't happen all the time.

I did find his comments about the woman who wanted to join but had a Catholic husband surprising. Very surprising. Especially since in Steve Schlissel's ecclesial community, there was a woman who was a member who had an Orthodox husband. Everybody knew the situation and it was not a big deal. I have seen this kind of thing happen in many circumstances.

CD-Host said...

Dave --

You have done a great job defending their position. And if your hypothesis (that Federal Vision refers to a change in sacraments only) is correct I think you have certainly proven what you set out to.

But you can see from Mike's responses where I think Federal Vision entailing Federal Membership and Federal Membership being an elevated view of the family is coming from. I also agree with you Mike's responses were honest and forthright. I was wonderful to have someone be that clear.

One of my follow up questions may be to ask how much of this view he sees as tied to federal vision and how much he sees as a CREC distinctive that is not so tied. As for being surprised I'm floored.

He seems to be coming very close to rejecting Pope Callixtus Ist's ruling that slaves can join the church without their master's consent, or he idea that woman can flee their husbands and fathers to join a convent (which goes back to the cult of Thelca). That's 1850 years of church history (see patriarchy part 4 for a discussion on this issue). That's one of the few areas that the Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Baptists, Gnostics, Mormons, Arians... all agreed.

I keep thinking he can't mean what he is actually saying. I'm going to start putting together follow up questions myself once I let others ask questions.

CD-Host said...

We agreed to move something to the blog. Dave in email wrote (material in italics), to which I responded (material in plain text)

______

In one sense, Mike's answer is not so bad in that he believes that the greater Christian community is better served by families going to worship at the same place and he doesn't see the CREC as the only real choice, just one of many options. That is consistent if nothing else. However, it is strange, because plenty of Protestants would view the Catholic Church as the "harlot of Babylon" and would insist that going to a Catholic Church is tantamount to idolatry. So for the CREC not to honour the wish of a Protestant spouse to attend the CREC apart from the Catholic spouse reveals two things:

1) The CREC views the Catholic Church as a viable Christian communion.
2) The CREC would rather that families stay together as opposed to split them up just for higher numbers in membership.


Remember he applied it to Mormon's as well. So I think your conclusion doesn't follow.


So all that said, as surprising as the CREC position may be, there is a charitable way to read Mike's answers.


I think its a very strong pro family position. No questions asked. I just happen to think it violates essentially all of Christian tradition. I also think it runs counter to the bible (especially gospel of John). I'm going to raise these in our 2nd round of questions.

Dave Hodges said...

"Remember he applied it to Mormons as well. So I think your conclusion doesn't follow."

He didn't equally apply it to the Mormon sect at all. In fact, he made a very clear statement that they were not even to be considered a Christian communion. He did say that perhaps she might go with himi for some time, perhaps not, but he made one statement that set the Mormons apart from all others:

But there might be situations where we would let her join immediately.

He didn't make that condition for any of the other mainstream Protestant options.

"I think its a very strong pro family position. No questions asked. I just happen to think it violates essentially all of Christian tradition."

It only violates Christian tradition if the CREC views itself as the only true Church, outside of which there is no salvation, like the Catholic Church or the Orthodox church. But the CREC doesn't do that and so it doesn't make a big deal about whether a spouse goes to the Lutheran parish or the CREC parish. It doesn't see the denominations as competing religions. Obviously, for a Catholic, things are much different. Of course we would say that members can join regardless of their family situation, but that is because of Jesus' famous words, "He loves me more than father or mother, &c." The Church can and often does divide along family lines. But the CREC only views this same situation from the perspective of a more malleable and invisible ecclesiology.

Sarah said...

Well if we are going to talk specific issue then discipline (since after all that's the blog's main theme).
(all of the below in Steve's view):

1) What is the criteria for someone to be subject to discipline of a particular church? (FV version of covenantial membership I'd assume plays a large role)


I'll answer, but if you are assuming that FV anything has a large role in my dad's church you'll really be scrambling, most of the time. He's big on covenant, but not the same way the other dudes are. He likes things to be organic and alive, not just tidy on paper, and he realizes that sometimes that makes things messy.

Basically the only thing to be excommunicated for is unrepentance after repeated warnings. (And I mean, repeated.) The original problem could be any number of public sins (such as adultery, refusal to attend church anywhere, drug abuse, etc). But most of the time that these issues have come up, they have been dealt with privately, in an attempt to not only cover the sinner in love as long as possible, but also to really attempt reconciliation before resorting to something more extreme. Counseling sometimes took place over a very long period of time (months or years). I can recall only 3 excommunications. Two of the three have returned and are currently in membership. The point (per matthew 18) was for them to come back, and that was accomplished.

2) Can a person terminate their relationship at any time with the specific church? What does that do regarding their disciplinary status? (Again the idea that the covenant is unbreakable...)

People have tried to "resign" their membership but it's generally considered invalid. However, if they start going to a different church, they are generally just left alone, transferred, or removed from the books.


3) What is Messiah's obligations regarding other church's discipline? (Here the FV notions of a large visible church).


They are very aware/interested in finding out any discipline history and they usually contact the transferring church in order to make sure everything is copasetic. In certain situations I believe they might reassess a decision and decide to accept a member anyway, but I think in any case they would seriously attempt to effect a reconciliation with the disciplining church, first.


4) What is the appeals process?


Nobody has ever appealed an excommunication. Usually if people don't want to be excommunicated, they won't be. Because they aren't excommunicated for frivolous reasons or disagreement with the leadership or anything like that. If they show any kind of effort the discipline process usually stops right there, though counseling may proceed.
However, in the event such a thing were to need appeal, there is a procedure. The church, though independent, is part of a federation covenant, where certain pastors/elders from various denominations or independent churches have signed on, and they form an ad hoc arbitration panel. Each side selects one "judge" and the two select a third; majority rules and decision is binding.

I don't think you'll find anything similar in other "FV" communities, so I doubt this is even helpful.

CD-Host said...

Dave --

It only violates Christian tradition if the CREC views itself as the only true Church, outside of which there is no salvation, like the Catholic Church or the Orthodox church. But the CREC doesn't do that and so it doesn't make a big deal about whether a spouse goes to the Lutheran parish or the CREC parish. It doesn't see the denominations as competing religions. Obviously, for a Catholic, things are much different. Of course we would say that members can join regardless of their family situation, but that is because of Jesus' famous words, "He loves me more than father or mother, &c." The Church can and often does divide along family lines. But the CREC only views this same situation from the perspective of a more malleable and invisible ecclesiology.

I'm sorry I don't agree that is it is that clar. I assume you won't object if I use the Catholic church as an example. Catholics under canon law:

1) First point is that a woman retains her current church up until the point she agrees to transfer regardless of marital status. Moreover in cases of dispute as to status the woman's birth parish has final authority (which might have nothing to do with the husband).


2) All woman are permitted to leave husband or father (consent not required) to join a convent. The right to take vows is not overridden by agreeing to marry.

2b) There are church officials that have extended this to lay churches. Which I think would be the status for most protestants. Though in general the church has been much more encouraging to convents than lay woman's organizations.

3) Woman have the right to join lay catholic organizations without their husband's consent.

4) There is no rule that requires a man and a woman to attend the same church. This was particularly common when the husband or wife wanted to retail their own Franciscan or Jesuit priest.

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

Thanks for the details. One follow up:


2) Can a person terminate their relationship at any time with the specific church? What does that do regarding their disciplinary status? (Again the idea that the covenant is unbreakable...)

People have tried to "resign" their membership but it's generally considered invalid. However, if they start going to a different church, they are generally just left alone, transferred, or removed from the books.


Could you give me some examples or would you know enough to work hypotheticals through?

For example what would happen if someone created a formal letter of disassociation (see below) would discipline continue?

One act that meets all of the criteria is for you to issue a letter of disassociation. A letter of disassociation has a few key parts.

1. Formal statement of disassociation, terminating membership.

2. A brief history of their introduction to the church and onging previous involvement.

3. A discussion of "major issues" that forced them to disassociate. This part can be grouped by related topics, such as "Doctrinal", "Personal", "Social", "Organizational" and so on.

4. An explicit list of requests (e.g. "Don't do follow-up calls", "Don't try to shepherd my children"). That is an explicit withdrawal of consent.

5. Conclusion. (e.g. wish old church well on their quest to find meaning, assure the old church that the person is pleased to have made his decision to broaden his search for truth....

Sarah said...

For example what would happen if someone created a formal letter of disassociation (see below) would discipline continue?

If they were joining another church, I guess the leadership might merely inform the new church leadership of any issues and let the person go quietly. Or else, just let the other person go quietly. They have never had a problem with anyone preferring another church. They believe some churches are a fit for certain people and some are not. My dad has often recommended that people join a more suitable church.

If the person were renouncing the faith entirely, excommunication would probably proceed just to formalize the non-covenant status.

But honestly they are independent, fairly informal, and while they seek to do things above board, this kind of stuff doesn't really happen over there. They're not all legal about every eventuality. They believe in having trustworthy leadership and dealing with things as they arise (though I believe they do use a modified version of the CRC BCO when needed). My dad likes to say, if you have upright men, you don't need a lot of rules, and if you don't have upright men, a lot of rules won't help. I think that sums up their stance pretty well.

I realize you are rather focused on church discipline, but I think it's a bit warped to look at a church through those eyes exclusively. Most churches I have ever known were not all about discipline. At Messiah's, discipline wasn't at the forefront, nor part of their mission statement, nor used as a threat to keep people in line. It was 90% done behind closed doors, kept quiet, resolved when possible, and always used as a reconciliation method. Therefore it didn't grow into its own animal with teeth, nails, and a list of exceptions and scenarios 10 miles long. I'm sorry if that's too fuzzy for your liking but it's just the way they do things in Bklyn. :-)

CD-Host said...

Sarah --

I agree completely that no one should think this blog is not looking at the Christian world through a somewhat off center perspective and giving an off center view. We don't discuss:

liturgy, theology, there is no fellow ship, 90%+ churches (which don't have active discipline communities) don't get discussed.

The Christian world on this blog looks like:
fundamentalist reformed, jehovah's witness and Mormon, fundamentalist baptist, fundamentalist pentecostal; with a few scattered articles about everybody else. Not exactly representative of anything.

Thanks for breaking this issue down.

___________

OK next big issue.... (and you can skip this one, just let me know and I'll pick the next issue).

And this one may be touchy. Why is Steve close with Phillips? What's the draw (is it mainly personal?). They don't seem to see eye to eye on theology. They don't seem to agree on ecclesiology. Culturally they don't seem to agree (I mean with Messiah sponsoring jazz concerts and being NY and Phillips being country and attacking everything evangelical Christian as being too worldly....

Sarah said...

Phillips has strongly, publicly disagreed with my dad numerous times, on many issues even besides the ones you mention, but they're still friends b/c my dad is used to people not agreeing with him. He tries to keep his head down during controversies unless he is absolutely embroiled with no way out but to take a stand. Not that he shies from telling the truth as he sees it, but he doesn't feel he has to explain his actions/positions to anyone. His main thing is to be understood. After that if you disagree with him, fine. My dad tries to find similarities and ways to work together. He actively reaches out to/tries to work with other leaders in his area - charismatic pentacostals, eastern orthodox, etc. for the purpose of accomplishing common goals. He bases his relationships on commonalities and expects they will disagree on many things. It doesn't bother him; he always sides with himself on issues. :-)

The friendship came about through my dad's friendship with and influence on Howard Phillips. It's personal, therefore, and not a birds of a feather friendship. Hope that answers your question.

Dave Hodges said...

I'm sorry, CD-Host, but I don't recall ever reading anywhere that a woman can abandon her husband and join a convent. Can you please show me this in either the 1917 or 1983 Codex Iuris Canonici?


1) First point is that a woman retains her current church up until the point she agrees to transfer regardless of marital status. Moreover in cases of dispute as to status the woman's birth parish has final authority (which might have nothing to do with the husband).

Even if this were the case, the parallel isn't the same at all here. The Protestant ecclesiology is an invisible one and Protestants are devoid of canon laws. The comparison is weak.

I will agree that they are different from the entire history of Christian tradition. They are, after all, Protestants. My point was that it is hard to nail them down as truly departing in this case because their concept of family and church are so different. They don't believe in the reality of a visible Church, so the only thing they have that is visible is the family. So they naturally will want to preserve the family at a higher cost. Catholics have a real visible Church that we teach outside thereof, there is no salvation. Family is very important to us, but Church is obviously more important, hence the allowances for women and men to choose their vocations apart from parents, &c. But this cannot be compared to a CREC pastor who says that the man and woman should go to the same parish to preserve the family life. They simply do not have the same conceptions of the institutions and therefore will not come to the same conclusions.

My "defence" of the CREC was really a way of understanding Mike Lawyer's explanations in a charitable way, understanding that his views are going to be shaped by his theology. I don't think that there is anything inherently destructive about many of the things he was describing - it just showed the perspective from which he was coming.

CD-Host said...

I'm sorry, CD-Host, but I don't recall ever reading anywhere that a woman can abandon her husband and join a convent. Can you please show me this in either the 1917 or 1983 Codex Iuris Canonici?

I'd first cite to you St. Matrona of Perge. I assume you agree with her being a Saint yet that is precisely what she did.

I'm not catholic and I'm certainly not a nun.
Here is my understanding of the situation. By definition a woman can only receive the call to be religious or to be married. She will never receive both at the same time. So if an abbess makes the determination that she believes the woman received the call that often constitutes grounds for an annulment. Often sexual consent is highly questionable in this case. As far as care of children the society has to say the children are the father's (that is that the father has the obligation for care).

There are several different orders and most are open to persons that have taken a vow of chastity. Moreover it is my understanding that while the church has generally considered taking a vow of chastity (and dedicating oneself to God) without their partner's consent to be a sin it does not invalidate the vow and thus the person should not break the vow themselves. (Lyndwood ruling in 1446). Gratian during the crusades was the first ruling on this and he held that the vow of chastity was the highest vow a non virginal woman could take. And while the husband had retained his right to intercourse by virtue of the previous marital vow her status remained chaste until he did successfully force her.

That is why the church frowns on a woman who has taken a chastity vow remaining in her home. This style of vow because it is not protected by ecclesiastic authority but remains valid before God, by remaining at home she often will have actively contributed to the vow being broken. I don't see anything in the simple code regarding this whole situation I think we need to discuss case law. I'm pulling this all from Spiritual Marriage by Elliot as my source.

Anyway... generally in the 21st century though married woman who are leaving their husbands do not take religious vows. Convents accepts people who have taken religious vows there is a whole series of types of lay membership open to them.
What is key though is that, if a woman's vows are accepted by the order she is in.

1983 code lists marriage as being an obstructor of taking the vows since it is the case that one that is still married should not take the vow of chastity (which I think was the point you were making).

Finally a woman does have ongoing responsibility and obligation for the care of her children. Most convents will refuse to admit woman who have minor children that they still have access to.

This is a tough area and you were right to call me on grossly oversimplifying it. I've been focused on middle ages literature and attitudes yet spoke on the present tense. The assumption that marriage is universally consensual pervades the modern literature and thus my previous statement was misleading.

From the little research I did, interestingly enough today most convents that will accept religiously married woman want a secular divorce to make sure the woman is serious about the separation (that is they don't recognize the divorce as a divorce but they do not recognize it as a sign of intent) and the woman to have relinquished or lost custody.

Hope that answers the question.

CD-Host said...

Even if this were the case, the parallel isn't the same at all here. The Protestant ecclesiology is an invisible one and Protestants are devoid of canon laws. The comparison is weak.

Is it true of the CREC that the church is invisible? I thought that was one of the key arguments the FV made that the church were the visible churches. Could you expand on this?

Dave Hodges said...

"Is it true of the CREC that the church is invisible?"

Yes and no. The CREC, like most others in the FV movement, would say that the Church is visible. However, they do not believe that the CREC is the Church, so the ecclesiology - even though it is stated the opposite - is still an invisible one.