Thursday, July 30, 2009

reply to Ecclesial Deism

There is a discussion thread on Called to Communion entitled Ecclesial Deism where some blatantly false assertions about history are being made. Normally I'd reply there but that community is simply too rude to allow for conversation, if there is any desire for conversation I can enforce rules of discourse here.

Let me first quote the comment directed at a woman Joy which is repeated several times:


Thanks for your comments. If you think that the Church immediately fell into the ‘error’ of apostolic succession, then how does your position avoid ecclesial deism? Do you posit the continual existence of an unknown remnant, preserved for 1500 years, that didn’t believe in apostolic succession, but simply preserved the apostles’ doctrine, and then finally handed it on to Luther? Why wasn’t there some great controversy or debate, as the ‘heretical’ practice of apostolic succession universally swept over the Church in the first and second centuries, and swallowed up the original notion that ecclesial leadership was based entirely on agreement with the Apostles’ doctrine? Or do you posit that there was such a great controversy, and that the winners later blotted out all records of it from Church history? Or did the Apostles so poorly transmit to the churches their instructions regarding the basis for Church authority, that nobody made a peep as the ‘heresy’ of apostolic succession swept over the entire Church, because no one even realized that it was wrong?
Of course a great controversy is precisely what we do see in Church history. From the earliest writing we see attacks on the notion that the apostles are the source of doctrine and that authority should come from priests. A good example is the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, where Mary presents pages of the actual teachings of Jesus while Andrew and Peter (representing the Catholic church) reject the real teachings because they only accept the things the savior said to them. This theme gets developed even further in Pistis Sophia again apostolic succession rather than revelation is attacked as being contrary to the instruction of Jesus.

I'm going to make a short list of 10 documents that demonstrate this very war that is being claimed never occurred did in fact occur. There was a widespread attack in the early church on apostolic authority. I think I could likely do 50-100 and that is just from what survives.
  1. Gospel of Mary Magdalene -- discussed above
  2. Pistis Sophia -- Peter's rejectionism is expanded to the whole doctrine of hyclic, psychic and pneumatic Christians.
  3. Dialogue of the Savior -- likely authored about 120 where the Jesus himself attacks the notion of spiritual authorities of any sort.
  4. Mark where the apostles are constantly denigrated as being essentially idiots. They reject the savior as he dies. There is no appointment of the apostles.
  5. Gospel of the Ebonites somewhere between 140-200 rejects the supposed apostolic church (pre-Catholic Church) as being the church founded by the apostles is falsifying their bible.
  6. The Gospel of Thomas rejects that there are a distinguished group of people called "apostles" everyone is a disciple.
  7. In the Book of John the Baptizer is essentially a counter to Luke/Acts which builds the case for the construction of the church as John -> Jesus -> Peter -> Paul -> Church.
  8. The Great Declaration of Simon Magus argues that just as thought and soul are invisible the true church equally invisible, the visible church, apostolic church, is corrupted like the body.
  9. The Apocryphon of John argues against those who claim you need to follow their rites to be saved.
  10. The Sayings of Jesus (Sufi) attacks the apostolic church as a financial scam designed to rip people off by selling them a false message of Jesus.

The list should stand as the 10 that popped into my head immediately. But with the exception of the Gospel of Mary I missed the most important one:

Marcion, arguably the most influential early 2nd century Christian leader. He argued that none of the other apostles besides Paul had understood Jesus at all. He collected Paul's letters along with a Gospel into a single book (a primitive form of the New Testament) and this not the church was the ultimate authority.


CD-Host said...

Well I foolishly let myself get dragged back into responding there. Took up a ton of time. And in the end what I was writing was being deliberately manipulated by moderation.

But of course the biggest problem is the general policy of CtC that if you actually prove them wrong about something you are violating posting guidelines. Which of course just talk about decorum not content. This time was amazing there are imaginary confession of faith guidelines for posting. Which essentially amount to, you can't post on CtC unless you agree that Catholic church is right about everything.

Why do I bother? Catholocism with the closed minded stupidity of reformed fundamentalism.

Anonymous said...


You blog over here months ago about CtC being a bunch of "a holes." This is known. However, it is overlooked but that doesn't mean you can disregard the posting guidelines.

You then try to make a thread about something altogether different a forum for you to try convince people that Gnosticism is the true faith.

CtC is about Catholicism and Reformation theology. Not 1st century heresies that were sorted the 1st century.

You argued against a straw man the entire time. Nobody believes that Gnosticism did not exist in the 1st century but you acted as if we are in denial about that. That is not fair dialog.

If we allowed every Tom, Dick and Harry to drive conversations in amazingly bizarre tangents than genuine dialog would be impossible.

Anonymous said...

Edit: Would NOT be possible.

You are welcome to post but stay within the topic.

CD-Host said...

Anonymous --

Who are you? Are you one of the CtC people if so which one. And hell yeah there were hard feelings after what happened with the Time Magazine thread.

I had no real interest in responding I was responding here because I don't think CtC is capable of civilized conversation. There are about 300 posts on this blog do you see that any are about Gnosticism being the true faith?

What there is quite a lot of is an insistence that people not fabricate.
For patriarchs that means not getting to project a world of 1900 years of pairs of virgins marrying into a world of male headship with women complementing them.
For ESV supporters that means not fabricating fake grammar of Greek.
For fundamentalist Christians that means they don't get fabricate a world where Protestants founded the church.
And for reformed fundamentalist catholics it means not getting to read the 5th century back into the 1st.

I would suggest 6 principles of Christian debate.

You argued against a straw man the entire time. Nobody believes that Gnosticism did not exist in the 1st century but you acted as if we are in denial about that. That is not fair dialog.

1) It was 6 against 1.
2) I was refuting the points your people were raising. If you disagree with what was being argued talk to your own people.

3) I'm not the one who had to resort to manipulating other people's posts and threatening deletions. I've never done that on my blog, I have never ever ever censored argument. Just today I had a guy whose theology I think is idiotic thank me for how fairly I've treated him in allowing him to accurately and fully develop his views.

4) You (collectively) were in denial about that fact.

Here is what would have happened with normal people.

Joy: I don't think the church founders believed in apostolic succession

Brian: Well if they didn't believe in apostolic succession why wouldn't you have seen a large debate when the idea was introduced

CD-Host: Actually you did see a large debate about it during the late first through mid 3rd century

CtC crowd: Yeah good point. There was a large debate. But one side of the debate claimed that they had always held this doctrine and it wasn't new.

CD-Host: Agreed.

Joy: Then I don't see how that refutes my contention.

CtC Crowd: Well Joy I was wrong about there being no debate, but if you want an ecclesiology based in history if you reject the catholic one then you would end up having to agree with the ecclesiology of the gnostics. There was no one historically with a Presbyterian ecclesiology back then.

and we move on from there.

But instead you start making BS arguments about how this debate didn't really happen, wasn't really part of the church, even though it was part of the church since Jesus was on the other side it doesn't matter.... Like arguing that because Jesus is on the side of public option in the healthcare debate that there was no debate in congress.

A fair dialog is not one where people have to assume traditionalist Catholicism is true before dialoguing. Here is one amazing thing. There is nothing I asserted that the Anchor team Fr. Raymond Brown or John Meier would have disagreed with. Virtually everything I said came from the church fathers themselves or was in agreement with them.

So yeah I stand by this thread and my previous one.

kika said...

i posted there too
fucking wimps deleted me
here is what I wrote

i came over here from the link on CD's site

i don't know what ecclesial or deism means and even the dictionary makes no sense on deism
but i know censorship when i see it
i know peter was a sinner saved by grace
peter was saved by christ pretending peter is christ is idol worship
i can be wrong you can be wrong peter can be wrong
and if valentinus said that about peter he was right
paul said peter was wrong in galatians and jesus told peter he was wrong lots of times
when i was in church they told me revelations 17:5 was about catholics so you really want to believe whatever the church teaches is always correct

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm a bit baffled that you think that the contributors to CtC are rude or that fruitful discussion can't be had. How would you classify your accusations of "closed minded stupidity" and the guy who in your comments calls us "fucking wimps"? If moderating that kind of post makes us authoritarian, then I'll gladly accept the charge.

It looks like you just can't stand it when people disagree with you and sustain their disagreement in spite of your attempted refutation. We get a lot of people on our site who disagree with us, hence your statements about having to agree with us in order to post are just lies. The discussion going on there constantly is proof of this. And we don't stamp off from discussion in a tantrum when someone simply doesn't see it our way. If your post didn't get through, it was because it was in some way inappropriate.

CD-Host said...

Hello David welcome to the blog. I don't know who "we" is since your profile isn't public. That being said you don't see any charges regarding sustained disagreement. I expected sustained disagreement. I was essentially arguing in favor of "ecclesial deism", to use your term. What I objected to was my comments being manipulated via. moderation to change what I wrote. That's a nasty kind of misquoting as it implies I said something I didn't. Its frankly dishonest and deserves to be called that.

You can read the thread yourself. I was not being inappropriate at all given the rather sharp tone.