Was the Reformation a mistake? A Catholic and a Protestant debate

(RNS) — Two theology professors — the first Catholic, the second Protestant — trade perspectives on the heart of the divide between them.

Matthew Levering, a Catholic perspective

In my book "Was the Reformation a Mistake?: Why Catholic Doctrine Is Not Unbiblical," I aim to show that even if one disagrees with judgments made in the course of Catholic doctrinal development, the Catholic positions on nine disputed doctrines (Scripture, Mary, the Eucharist, the Seven Sacraments, monasticism, justification and merit, purgatory, saints and papacy) should not be rejected as unbiblical or as lacking in biblical grounding — at least given the Catholic view of biblically warranted modes of biblical reasoning.

Before proceeding, let me make some additional observations about whether the Reformation was a “mistake,” as my book’s title asks in light of the Reformation's 500th anniversary.

I hold that the Reformers made mistakes, but that they chose to be reformers was not a mistake. There had to be a Reformation, and it is good that the Reformation shook up a status quo in Rome and elsewhere that was unacceptable and untenable. In this sense, the Protestant Reformation cannot be dismissed as a mere “mistake,” even if in my view it mistakenly deemed some Catholic doctrines to be unbiblical and church-dividing.

Protestants and Catholics agree that Scripture is God’s authoritative Word. The disputed question then is how God’s scriptural Word is handed on and interpreted. Having discovered to their dismay that (in their view) several of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal teachings were not in fact scripturally grounded, Luther and the other Reformers sought to renew the church on better doctrinal foundations.

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I propose that Scripture teaches that the church is the faithful interpreter of Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If this is so, then it follows that if the church failed to be able to faithfully determine matters of doctrinal truth for the whole people of God in each generation and across generations, Scripture itself would fail in its truth.

God does not intend for Scripture to function without the ability of the church’s leaders to determine authoritatively what Scripture means on a disputed point. Although some of the leaders of the church may fall into error, the Holy Spirit ensures that the church’s leadership serves all members of the church by enabling us to know true doctrine and to obey the Word of God.

Paul’s second letter to Timothy describes just such a role for the church’s leaders, who are to “preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Indeed, 2 Timothy warns of a coming time when each member of the church will want to determine for himself or herself what Scripture means: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

When people simply follow “their own likings,” the necessary stance of self-effacing obedience to God’s Word goes missing. Such a situation does not measure up to the scriptural depiction of authoritative leaders such as Peter, Paul and Timothy (as well as Moses, Joshua and Josiah), who are commissioned by God to serve God’s people.

The church has authoritative leaders appointed by Christ, and their interpretations are binding for the whole people of God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that the church’s authoritative leaders make no errors, since they obviously do so. It means solely that they are preserved, in their solemn determinations of binding doctrine, from an error that would negate the church’s mediation of the true gospel to each generation and that would negate the church’s standing as “the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

Under the Spirit’s guidance, the church as led by the apostles and by those whom they appointed as successors (down to the present day) feeds the flock of Jesus Christ with the true doctrine of the Word of God rather than with “godless and silly myths” or the “doctrines of demons.” Certainly, the successors of the apostles do not have the unique status of the apostles, since the latter received the Word of God directly from Christ. As Paul says, it is quite evident that there will be bad leaders, poorly disposed to Christ, even among the successors of the apostles.

Everyone can agree that the church needs leaders and that these leaders will exercise teaching authority. The question is whether and when the teaching of these leaders is normative, that is to say, is sustained in truth by the Holy Spirit in order to enable believers over the centuries to receive “sound teaching” about the Word of God.

The Catholic Church holds that due to the working of the Holy Spirit rather than to human power, the successors of the apostles are able truthfully to do what the apostles and elders meeting at Jerusalem did, with the result that the church over the centuries does not fail in the truthfulness of its mediation of the gospel.

(Matthew Levering is the Perry Family Foundation professor of theology at Mundelein Seminary, University of St. Mary of the Lake, in Mundelein, Ill.)

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Kevin J. Vanhoozer, a Protestant perspective

Probably more has happened in the last 50 years to reshape the Roman Catholic/Protestant division than in the entire 450 years that preceded it. For example, since Vatican II there has been a new openness in Rome to non-Catholics and a new concern for biblical interpretation.

If the Reformation was primarily about being biblical (i.e., sola scriptura), does Levering’s claim that Catholic doctrine is not unbiblical finally put to rest the issue that prompted Luther’s protest? Is the Reformation over, or are we simply over the Reformation and its divisive concern for establishing doctrines biblically?

In any case, the pertinent question is not simply historical (“Was the Reformation a mistake?”) but contemporary (Is reformation ongoing and still necessary?).

I will concentrate on Levering’s underlying assumptions and overall approach, namely, his theological method — the way he appeals to Scripture, church and church tradition to develop and defend doctrinal arguments. The real issue is not whether Roman Catholics use the Bible to do theology (they do) or accord it authority (they do), but rather whether they accord Scripture supreme authority in its own interpretation (they don’t).

The real dispute pertains to the status and interpretation of the Bible in the church. I agree with Levering’s claim that “Scripture teaches that the church is the faithful interpreter of Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” although we disagree about the referent of “church,” the manner of the Spirit’s guidance (i.e., does the Spirit primarily guide the bishops or, more narrowly, the magisterium or, more broadly, the whole company of the faithful?), and about the consistency of the church’s faithfulness.

Levering suggests that Protestants “think about” Scripture apart from a liturgically inflected and communal process, as if the paradigm Protestant interpreter was an individual at home in his or her study. The Bible cannot be isolated from the community in which it lives and moves and has its being, the church.

However, it is one thing to say that the Bible makes sense in the context of the believing community, quite another to say that the community gives the Bible its sense, and something else again to insist that the Bible makes sense only in communities that are in communion with the Church of Rome. I affirm the first option, not the second or third.

Levering is entirely correct to call attention to the importance of reading Scripture in the context of the believing and worshipping community of believers. Here too, however, everything depends on how we describe the church’s interpretive activity. For example, is it more appropriate to describe the church as a people of the book (i.e., Luther’s “creature of the Word”) or Scripture as the book of the people (i.e., creature of the church)? Will the real authorizing agency please stand up?

For Levering, "tradition" is itself the mode of biblical reasoning. For Protestants, the crucial question is whether Scripture can trump the "tradition" of its ecclesial interpretation (spoiler alert: Yes, it can!).

The real issue when Protestants and Catholics come to differing biblical interpretations is the locus of authority. For Catholics, the true meaning of Scripture is a joint product of the biblical text and the church’s developing tradition of reading it. For Protestants, the church’s say-so does not make it so. Beneath the surface skirmishes over scriptural interpretation lies the deeper disagreement over the lordship of Christ and the place of the church in the pattern of interpretive authority.

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I want to suggest that the real conflict between Protestants and Roman Catholics is not between Scripture and tradition but between catholicism and one particular tradition (Romanism). What disagreements I may have with Levering have less to do with his drawing on catholic tradition, much less biblical theology, than they do with the way his underlying Romanism — by which I mean the pattern of theological authority that gives pride of interpretive place to the Roman magisterium — exaggerates the nature and function of the institutional church.

I argue that Catholic doctrine falls short of being biblical in the way that most mattered to the Reformers, namely, by according supreme authority to the Spirit speaking in the Scriptures even in matters of interpretation. Here I stand, reluctantly obliged to judge the Roman mode of biblical reasoning an example of not sola but sorta scriptura.

(Kevin J. Vanhoozer is research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.)

(Adapted from "Was the Reformation a Mistake?" by Matthew Levering with a Response by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Copyright © 2017 by Matthew Levering and Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Used by permission of Zondervan. The views expressed in these opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

RNS graphic by Chris Mathews

Comments

  1. The Catholic position presupposes that The Roman Catholic Church is “The Church,” unique, authoritative, not subject to question; But the RCC is not in fact, the whole Church, nor should it be viewed as superior to the reformed sects of the faith, nor to the ancient Orthodox Churches whose antecedents are equal to that of Rome. This sets on its ear Mr. Levering’s argument that without it (The RCC), “Scripture itself would fail in its truth.” This was the whole point of the Reformation. It was not meant to be a mere tweaking of minor doctrinal disputes, which the RCC would not have lightly countenanced in any case. The rest of his argument is quite sound, if he would simply detach it from an overweening linkage to the church at Rome.

  2. I have read his essay 3 times and I don’t see him saying that at all.

  3. Perhaps a bias on my part skewed my reading, raised as a Catholic (a Church I largely have a positive regard for), I retain clear memories of its institutional insistence on its primacy of doctrine, practice, and authority.

  4. Church is the people of the book, Luther’s creature of the Word. This is a function of time and time has not been taught by the previous authorizing agency of the church. It is a waste of time to argue over the causal reasons because the time we are in may be short.

    In the time we are in, the teacher is the Word and individuals are the church. This is the last time for mankind on earth. Jesus said you must be taught by God and now is the time of the believers to work it out. The allegory of Galatians 4:24 is attainable by individual believers who are the church.

  5. “God does not intend for Scripture to function without the ability of the church’s leaders to determine authoritatively what Scripture means on a disputed point.”

    This is what leapt out of the article for me.

    1 – How does the writer justify this knowledge of God’s intent? Is it based on what church leaders have decided that their god must have intended or is there some less circular basis for the idea?
    2 – If God had foreknowledge why didn’t he express himself clearly the first time and remove the need for (often childish) squabbling? Forewarned is supposed to be forearmed isn’t it so does this god actually want the disputation and violence that varying interpretations have been used to justify?

  6. “Protestants and Catholics agree that Scripture is God’s authoritative Word.”

    Now that’s a real mistake. Or maybe it should be considered a fraud . . . because the so-called “authoritative Word” is the primary thing they have to hold up as if it were evidence for god’s existence.

  7. Theology is total nonsense. The end product of theology is whatever a sect or denomination needs to assert control over the lives of others, or to obtain secular (gov’t) power for itself.

    How could it be otherwise? The texts themselves are highly suspicious to begin with; the council of Nicea (325 AD) selected certain texts and decided to ignore (? or destroy?) others.

    The same texts have been repeatedly “interpreted” in radically different ways over the centuries. This alone tells you that they are so ambiguous that readers (lay readers, theologians, anyone else) are able to see in them whatever they want to see, or need to see. Views on sex are a wonderful example.

    As well, theology is total nonsense because there is no way to prove what a theologian says, or–even more significantly–to disprove it.

  8. Then you must reject 99% of science also. Most of its theories are unproveable.

  9. Most of its theories are unprovable?

    Quite the opposite. That’s why they are theories. They have been proven.

    Or, are you really saying that anything that relies on unprovable assumptions and beliefs— like say, religion— that requires faith— like, say, religion— and doesn’t have replicable and predictable results— like, say, religion— should not be trusted?

    Gawdamighty, the Eternal Sonshine of the Spotless Christian Mind.

  10. “Protestants and Catholics agree that SCRIPTURE IS GOD’S AUTHORITATIVE WORD.”

    What an idiotic statement, which the speaker then goes on to make even more
    Idiotic by claiming the problem is really one of interpretation and then, goes on to reach quintessential idiocy by slightly admitting, in a vague, surreptitious way, that the issue is who controls it.

    YA THINK????????

    If they agreed, there wouldn’t be protestants and Catholics, Mormons and SDA’s. JW’s and everyone else. Next, you’ll be telling ME that it’s all about power, money, and dominion!!!

    There is nothing like two authoritative idiots learnedly arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin without bothering to prove that there are angels, that they dance, that they would do so on the head of a pin, and that it possible for an observer to count them.

  11. If theories were proven then they would not be theories but facts. Most theories in science are constantly changing and can never be proven in the real world.

  12. You are compounding your error. The scientific definition of a theory is not a guess, but a description of reality which accounts for the available evidence. If new evidence comes to light, then the explanation changes.

  13. On balance the Reformation turned out to be a good thing because it eventually led to the breakup of religious monopolies and to the gradual development of religious liberty and other freedoms. — Edd Doerr

  14. Sorry, but this shows you have no understanding of the word “theory”. “Theory” is a “special” word in science–it does not mean “guess”.

    And in fact, what scientists come up with is verifiable–unlike BS theology. (Is that redundant?)

  15. The ravings of the Catholic church are an excellent illustration of how theology is evil BS.

    Until some time in the early 20th century, the RCC was unalterably opposed to democracy–it’s right there in the ravings of the popes, excuse me, their papal documents.

    And that’s not to mention their idiotic, EVIL views on sex. A great example: The RCC at one time said the purpose of sex is procreation. Yet the RCC had no objection to marrying people who could NOT procreate. Of course, that’s in addition to its ideas that sex was somehow evil.

  16. JP, before you post any more nonsense about “theories”, you really should do some reading about what a theory is and how it works and so on. Several philosophers of science have written some good stuff on this subject.

    The work of Karl Popper would be a good starting place.

  17. If you know how to use the lug wrench and jack that came with your new car you change your own spares. If you’re not to sure how to use the lug wrench and jack you call AAA. If you want to see the instructions glued to the underside of the cover over your spare argued about, go to flat tire seminary.

  18. I don’t think I have ever seen such a concentrated mass of drivel as the above. If you’re gonna post comments here, how about posting them in English, using words we all understand, and not nonsense like “the word” and “individuals are the church”.

  19. Diametrical Dogmas: The Holy Bible vs. The Catholic Catechism

    Part 1 The Profession of Faith: I. Mary’s Motherhood with Regard to the Church

    969 “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”

    • The Catechism suggests that Mary was a perpetual virgin

    However…

    Mark 6:1-3
    …(1)And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. (2)And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing were astonished, saying, From whence hath this these things? and what wisdom this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

    (3)Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him…

    [contra. Psalm 69:8, Matthew 1:18, Matthew 1:25, Matthew 12:47, Matthew 13:55-56, Matthew 27:56, Mark 3:32, Luke 2:7, Luke 8:19-20, Acts 1:14, Galatians 1:19, & II John v.1]

    • The Catechism also asserts that Mary is a mediator (“Mediatrix”)

    However…

    I Timothy 2:5-6
    …(5)For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (6)Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time…

    BIBLE: God —> Jesus Christ —> man (1).
    CCC: God —> Jesus Christ —> Mary —> man (2).

  20. The counter-Reformation was definitely a mistake … the Reformation was necessary if the church were ever to have a chance to throw off the ill effects of being co-opted by the emperor Constantine in the 4th century – it’s been all downhill since.

  21. In my entire life, I don’t think I have ever read a bigger pile of BS than this article.

    It would take hundreds of hours of work to show all the errors and nonsense in this article, so I will take a few minutes to show how one para is nonsense; I hope author Levering will reply to this.

    Levering writes, “The church has authoritative leaders appointed by Christ, . . .This does not mean that the church’s authoritative leaders make no errors, since they obviously do so. “.

    But if in fact Christ (who probably didn’t exist in the first place) appointed those leaders, would he allow them to make errors? Why wouldn’t he guide or inspire them so they would make no errors? Wouldn’t errors they made reflect very badly on Christ’s judgement and ability to see into the future?

    In the future, Mr. Levering would probably be best advised to stick to writing stuff everyone can understand…shopping lists, perhaps?

  22. That scripture is authoritative in the Church was never an issue for Luther. How scripture is authoritative has been a point of continued dialogue. How to speak the gospel was the issue for Luther and is the issue the Church faces. Do not read the fundamentalist, literalist and biblicist agendas into the Reformation. Those terms and references were not in Luther’s vocabulary, nor in the Roman Church.

  23. That is the clear implication of your comment.

    If you did not mean to equate theory with guess, then what did you mean?

  24. Correcting all the mistakes of Christianity in less than 30 seconds:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2017: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

  25. You wrote “If theories were proven then they would not be theories but facts.. ”

    It sure looks like you think of a “theory” as something that is either proven, or unproven, i.e. somewhere between fact and guess, more towards “guess”.

    So I will ask again: what DID you mean? What is your understanding of “theory”?

  26. Sadly, I find many articles from RNS overly simplistic. Juxtaposing the “Catholic” understanding of Scripture against the “Protestant” understanding, and then using an evangelical theologian to represent all Protestants is ridiculous. Neither author seems to give much weight to the large amount of consensus that is being achieved today by Catholic biblical scholars and biblical scholars from various Protestant strains, who are working together to understand and interpret the Scriptures. I think I have finally realized that RNS is the “USA Today” of religion reporting.

  27. The Council of Nicea “selected” nothing. The Da Vinci Code was fiction, in case you haven’t heard.

  28. If YOU are going to post on a religion website one would expect you to have some basic understanding of religious concepts. If you don’t understand what he means by “the Word” and “individuals are the church,” biblical concepts both, then that’s on you.

  29. I am well-aware that “Word” and “individuals are the church” are religions terms/concepts…just as I am well-aware that those who use those terms often have minimal or no understanding of what they mean. Perhaps you could provide a simple, concise explanation?

  30. I know nothing about that book. My understanding of the work of the Nicean Council is that it settled some issues of Xian creed, what books would be contained in the bible, and related matters.

    Bottom line:

    (1) any time you have a meeting of that sort there is negotiation over what to include.
    (2) it is still true that theology is total BS.

  31. It settled some issues of creed but the canon of scripture was not even discussed. Even if you haven’t read the Da Vinci Code, that is where this popular myth mostly comes from.

  32. No, I don’t think you’re well-aware at all, or you would not have responded the way you did.

  33. I have zero interest in or knowledge of popular myths.

    I do know a bit about human behavior, however, and I certainly know that numerous copies of every book (“chapter”) of the bible were floating about, including many that never made it in to the canon–and that that process inevitably included lots of negotiation: “OK, I’ll give you First and Second Corinthians if you’ve give me my version of Mark.”

  34. The problem is the very idea that the authoritative word of god, the creator of the infinite universe, needs to be interpreted, and that they have the tools to do it.

  35. You can’t be a Roman Catholic priest without a vacation, a literal calling from god. This calling is a gift from god. So is god calling child molesting priests to the priesthood? does his omniscience end as soon as he looks at what those child molesting priests are doing?

  36. Common sense: it’s all mythology. No one knows.

  37. By and large most of Christianity is in agreement about the essentials. Where division comes in is in determining who has the power of say so in directing the spiritual lives of the communicants. Justo Gonzales in writing about the history of the church pointed out that the only real division and proscription that Luther experienced from the Roman Catholic church was due to his criticism and the subsequent threat to the Pope’s authority to sell indulgences. This was a power-money issue.

    If one looks at the divisions in the church and the way they developed one can see the issue of authority as consistently the divisive force. In essence, people within the church are not all that concerned about doctrinal correctness. Hardly a church exists in which even a majority of members agree doctrinally in all points, but wait till you see who gets to start leading–then the fireworks begin.

  38. Excellent point. RCC is so full of crap. Look up, for example, history of infallibility (arises only with the Jew hater Pius IX–to increase his power)…or the reason for alleged priestly celibiacy (has to do with maintaining hold on church property). Also…..I think it also helps to have *vOcation* from god…(vbg)

  39. If you listen to the hyper conservatives throw around their charges of other people not being true Christians, yuo’d probably think the only essential is being antigay. Not the resurrection. Not redemption.

    How many denominations split over slavery? How many over homosexuality?

    as you listen to every hyper Christian claim that Jesus has forgiven their sins, over and overs do very, right before they [email protected] and repent, or that trump is a godly man, Or that god is a republican, the only essentials are power, money and dominion.

    Or maybe that’s the only god.

  40. OK, JP, so I’ve now asked you TWICE to please explain statements you made, and you have not responded to either.

    Why do I suspect your silence is because you either cannot say specifically what you meant, or perhaps you realize how damning such a response would be?

  41. I have said this for years over and over in the assembly: “Those that come to church are the ones who need it most.”

  42. Actually, I have been mulling over in the last few days whether there is anything Christ-like in conservative dogma. Dogma is what I call their use of scripture and politics as opposed to what scripture actually says.

  43. I’m trying not to approach it from a judgmental attitude, but a genuine inquiry into the stated philosophy of those who openly espouse “conservatism.”

  44. In my own spiritual journey I have discovered two things:
    1. I can read and understand a religious text myself on its own grounds.
    2. I don’t need a Pope to tell me what I’m supposed to know about God and reality.

  45. Nonsense. We know from the earliest listing of NT books, which dates from the middle of the 2nd century, which books were considered authoritative and therefore read in church assemblies, and all of the NT books are there minus Hebrews, James, and the Petrines. We even know from the same source why other popular works (Shepherd of Hermas is an example) were not included — because they came after the Apostles’ time.

    This was all settled more than a hundred years before anyone present at Nicea was ever born.

  46. “We know … which books were considered authoritative…”

    OK, I might have my dates mixed up. But the more important question is, who compiled the list you cite above, of books considered authoritative? Was it magic? Or did god inspire someone to list them? By what process did the compiler decide what books to include, and which versions of those books?

    It is very well-known that numerous copies of all the books of the bible existed, and that even books presumably written by a specific author–say, Mark, or Matthew–existed in multiple forms, because the folks doing the copying often changed the text they were copying to suit their own whims.

    This probably helps explain the numerous contradictions in the books of the bible–e.g. on the genealogy of Jesus, or the strange things in the bible (e.g. Jesus saying “curse your parents”).

  47. I don’t know what to tell you. I *am* well-aware of the use of the term “Word” in Xianity, tho I certainly do not claim to be an expert in any sense–I do not equate “awareness” with “expertise in the subject matter”. I am similarly aware that (for expl) the RCC holds that “the church *is* the people”. (Or did, at one time.)

  48. The likeliest answer is the simplest one — that the earliest Christians accepted as authoritative the writings universally known to have been associated with one or more of the Apostles. And they were in a much better position to know, only being separated from the Apostles by a generation or so. Certainly there is no evidence that their authorship or authenticity was ever challenged, even by those who repudiated the gospels (Marcion being the most obvious example).

    In order to substantially change any of the NT writings one would have had to travel about all over the ancient world over which the writings were disseminated and change each and every one. But all of the earliest NT manuscripts are nevertheless amazingly similar — differences mostly amount to minor typos and spelling variations.

    People used to speculate in the same manner about the accuracy of the OT in its current form, until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    Jesus never said to curse one’s parents, btw. He said to “hate” them (and hate one’s self as well), but “hate” in the sense of a loving them far less than God. The OT used similar language to speak of Leah being “hated” by Jacob — not that he actually detested her, of course, but that he loved her far less than Rachel.

  49. A few thoughts on your reply:

    1. Everything I’ve read on this matter–Ehrman and other scholars, including religious ones–says that copyists routinely inserted their own ideas into documents they were copying.

    2. Surely you’re aware that there are significant differences and contradictions in books of the bible–numerous differences in the Synoptic gospels, for example, that go way beyond typos and spelling errors. As I previously mentioned, the differences in the genealogy of Jesus are one of the best known of those.

    3. I’m glad you accept the idea that few (? none?) of the books in the bible are contemporaneous.

    4. You stated “… the earliest Christians accepted as authoritative the writings universally known to have been associated with one or more of the Apostles.”

    But “the earliest Christians” did not specify the Canon; when the canon was specified, multiple copies of all or most books now in the bible were circulating–and as you know, others too that didn’t make it into the canon.

  50. All reading of any text by definition involves interpretation. One must be clear about one’s hermeneutical principles and be willing to state them in order to engage in any meaningul dialogue with a text or another reader of the text. There is no such thing as a pure non-interpretive understanding of a text, an oral conversation, or pretty much anything else in life.

  51. Of course. That’s why a woman can be a pastor despite the clear word of god.

    This was pretty much my point. God’s word only gets clear when he has a little help from his friends. Normal every day conversation only requires asking a question for conversation to be clarified. God’s word needs books, debates, Scholars, archaeology, linguistic efforts, reams of papers hinging on the meaning and referent of the words “for this reason”— plus wars, plots, and conclaves.

    You can throw in all of the proper hermeneutical principles you wish, follow them precisely, and still come up with a disagreement.

  52. 1. Such as? I read “Misquoting Jesus” myself (and still have it on my bookshelf) and was thoroughly underwhelmed by it. For all the catchy title, Ehrman actually did not demonstrate any evidence of Jesus being “misquoted” at all.

    2. The gospels are different because they were written by different people of different backgrounds to different audiences. As such, they would be less credible, not more, if they were all exactly the same. The two different genealogies of Jesus, btw, are not contradictory. It is the Jerusalem Talmud, of all things, which explains the apparent incongruity; it mentions (in a very derogatory passage) “Mary, the daughter of Heli.” Thus we can surmise that Matthew’s genealogy is Jesus’ legal paternal lineage through Joseph, while Luke’s is His natural one through His mother, Mary.

    3. What does that even mean? Contemporaneous with what?

    4. The earliest listing of canon (the Muratorian Fragment), as I already stated, dates from about A.D. 160-170. It specifies that these were the books read in the church assemblies and accepted as authoritative because of their association with Apostles. The other books were not regarded as authoritative (even if popular) because they came too late for apostolic association.

  53. Ehrman says a lot of things to sell his books, but also noted that there is not enough variance to change one’s faith.

    With respect to copyists “often”, changing the script, there was generally a master scribe proofing the result.

    This was noted on a page of Codex Vaticanus (~ 310), where the master scribe corrects the part & calls the scribe a “fool & knave”.

  54. On your first point, who, until fairly recently, were big fans of democracy? Monarchy, feudal societies are the norm, democracies a rather late development for everyone everywhere.

  55. I have the same problem with the understanding of Catholicism as giving final authority to the traditions of the church. I’d like to hear a group of Catholics discuss this, because you can’t on one hand say, “Luther was right,” and other insist that the church will always get it right. Final authority lies with the conscience in Catholicism, just as in Protestantism. If you have a better interpretation of scripture, says the Catholic church, you must follow it.

  56. Could you give me, say, 3 examples of some of the things that Ehrman has said to sell his books? I can’t imagine that there ‘s a big audience for his books.

    The rest of your comments are not in accord with what I’ve read and learned. And my best guess is that religions, in particular RCC, will say almost anything to protect themselves and their views.

  57. There is not a large audience for Biblical analysis books compared to the general public, but among those who like to research the Bible, ha is one of the more prolific.

    In “Orthodox Corruption of the Scriptures”, he implies the NT is not to be trusted, yet he notes:

    “the vast majority of these mistakes are completely insignificant, showing us the scribes in antiquity could spell no better then most people today”

    “these textual facts can be interesting, but there is nothing in them to challange their faith”
    ‘Jesus, Interrupted’.

    Perhaps instead of alleging others of saying anything to promote their views, why not instead present a rational counter argument.

  58. 1. How do you know the gospels were were aimed at different audiences? I am u7naware of any statement in any of the gospels. TTBOMK this is an interpretation–by the RCC. Do any independent scholars agree?

    2. Do you agree that Matt/Mk/Luke differ in several ways?–genealogy, last words of Jesus, other details?

    3. By contemporaneous I mean, written close to the time of Jesus’ life.

    4. I will have to do some research on the other points you raise.

  59. The Reformation was inevitable because of the corruption, economic exploitation, sexual misconduct, ignorance of scripture and twisted theology as practiced by the RCC in Germany and northern Europe in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. John Hus and others had already challenged the practices of the RCC by the time of Luther. The Counter Reformation addressed some issues that contributed to the growth of support for the Reformation. Vatican II and addressing the current sex scandals are further outcomes of the movements started during the Reformation.

  60. Did you actually read the second sentence of that post???

  61. I am not 100% sure what you are asking, but perhaps this will address your question:

    1. the notion that “god inspired the [writers of] the bible” is preposterous on its face.
    2. there is too much that is unknown about how these books came to be. After all, we are talking of matters that are 1800, 1900 years old, with no provenance, no chain of custody of the manuscripts, etc etc etc.

    Also, of course, we know that the Catholic bible and the Prot bible are not identical. Iirc the Catholic bible leaves out some books that are in the Protestant bible, and some wordings are different; not to mention the whole issue of “sola scriptura”.

  62. You blamed the Catholic church for not embracing a system of government which for most of its existence hadn’t been invented. Pius VI reacted negatively to the French Revolution, but his immediate successor, Pius VII, was quite different. While a cardinal, then Barnaba/Gregorio (he went by both names) Chiaramonti published the following words in a homily:

    “The form of democratic government adopted among you [the french occupiers of his region], dearly beloved, in no way contradicts the maxims I have previously stated, nor is it repugnant to the Gospel; it demands all the sublime virtues that are learned only at the school of Jesus Christ and that, practiced religiously among you, will make for your happiness and contribute to the glory and renown of our Republic…Yes! My dear sisters and brothers, be good Christians, and you will be excellent democrats.

    (A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present. John W. O’Malley, S.J. pg. 233, translation his)

  63. Because something is old, does not mean it mean it never existed. Using your logic, in 100 years people could say you never existed, or for that matter, neither did Plato, Julius Caesar, etc.

    P.S. You get a F in history, there a LESS books in the Protestant Bible, then the Catholic.

  64. 1. I grant you that I am not an expert in differences betw the P bible and the C bible.

    2. The history of ALL “old stuff” is far from certain, since clear records regarding history, provenance, etc clearly are lacking; not to mention that the standards of evidence, provenance, etc in those days were very different from what they are today.

    Everything I know about the bible says that it is highly unreliable as a record of what actually happened; my views come from reading all manner of experts on the bible. Similarly, it is simply undeniable that the history of the canon, and of the individual books in it, are highly unreliable.

    Finally, believers claim that god inspired the writers of the bible. What nonsense, from the first word–“god”–to the last.

  65. 1. Your source is a book clearly written by a member of the Catholic clergy. We know very well what happens to Catholic clergy who dare to challenge official Catholic views; thus, although information in the book might be accurate, I have no way of knowing. I’d much prefer a reference to a source not aligned with the RCC.

    2. “Blame” is not the word I would have used; I would have said “stated”.

    3. IAC I was talking about events of the 19th and 20th centuries; it is misleading to cite Pius VI et al.

    By the time of Leo XIII’s encyclical, democracy was WIDESPREAD in the world. Yet it took the church–the same church that claims to be guided by god!!!–how many more years to embrace democracy?

    The reason for that delay is not even debatable: the church loves power, loves to tell people what to think and how to act, and clearly HATES notions like liberty and democracy. That is simply not debatable–one has only to look at the actions of the church all over ther world, INCLUDING the USA.

  66. You wrote “Until some time in the early 20th century, the RCC was unalterably opposed to democracy–it’s right there in the ravings of the popes, excuse me, their papal documents.” I show you a quote from the papal documents, cited in a book, and you accuse me of using a tainted Catholic source. You go buddy! That conspiracy goes deep! So hang onto your certitude, or if you’re willing to consider you may be wrong, look it up yourself. And be sure you learn Latin first, you wouldn’t want to get it wrong.

  67. You are correct that I rejected your source.

    From now on, when dealing with folks I believe may be defending the RCC, I will try to be more specific/careful when I ask for information.

    So I will re-state my question: can you refer me to a neutral source–that is, not allied with any religion, and for example, a respected scholar at a major (non-church-related) university–that refutes my claim about the RCC’s views on democracy?

    Nor did I claim in any way that there is any kind of conspiracy at work–although I am aware that Catholic dissenters (e.g., most famously, Hans Kung, among many others) are silenced when they write something the church finds offensive in any way (e.g. because it’s true).

  68. Two observations re the RCC:

    1. Why do you suppose the RCC does not allow speakers at Catholic colleges to talk about things like abortion or gay marriage?

    If in fact the audience for those talks were faithful, critically-thinking Catholics, then they’d have a chance to see how foolish and shallow the arguments for those ideas were. So then why ban them? To me, the most obvious answer is that it’s because RCC officials believe those audiences are stupid, non-thinking, impulsive individuals who will buy whatever they hear.

    And this is true of many venues and situations other than college campuses.

    2. In a religion course at a respectable college, I was taught that the RCC believes “the church *is* the people.” But if that is so, why are they not given any say in the selection of their pastors? And why does the church automatically assume (in many, tho not all, cases) that those making accusations of sexual abuse are liars who must be defamed?

    Something to think about?

  69. Good gracious. I am not Catholic. I just know that one can’t write off every Catholic source by accusing it of naked self interest.

  70. I am not saying that *every* “Catholic source” is self-interested. We’ve seen some that clearly are NOT “self-interested”.

    However, given the RCC’s history, I think it’s always a good idea to be suspicious. To cite but one example: one has only to look at the way the RCC as a whole, and *some* individual priests, have behaved with regard to the sex scandals, to see that suspicion is always in order.

  71. A good reason not to trust any men. We know what they do.

  72. At last, we agree on something!

    In the words of the Acting President, “Trust but Verify”.

  73. 1. Even the earliest Church fathers (Eusebius, Clement, Papias, Irenaeus) agreed that Matthew was written for Jews, both in the holy land and in Diaspora, to demonstrate that the Messiah had come. Mark was the teachings of Peter written down by his traveling companion for the benefit of Christians in Rome. Luke was addressed to a specific person. And John was written at the request of the church in Ephesus to supplement the other three.

    2. We’ve already discussed the two genealogies of Jesus. Of course the gospels record different sayings of Jesus from the cross — they record what witnesses heard from the cross, and some witnesses undoubtedly heard some statements and others heard others. John, who was present at the foot of the cross, heard several that no one else heard and added them to what was already recorded. Why is this a problem for you? If all four gospels were identical they would be LESS credible, not more.

    3. Depends on what you mean by close. A couple of decades after a person’s death, by ancient standards, is VERY soon for a biography to appear, let alone four of them. The earliest biography we have of Alexander the Great did not appear until 400 years after his death but historians don’t seem to have a problem with that. In addition, we don’t even know if the gospels WERE the earliest writings about Jesus. It’s entirely possible that a literate disciple such as Matthew would have taken notes on his rabbi’s teachings, which notes would have formed the basis of a later biography — we know that such note-taking was common since there were Pharisaical laws during NT times about private memoranda of rabbinical teaching being acceptable for publication while oral laws as such were not.

  74. I don’t have time to discuss every aspect of your comments, so I will address only 1–the genealogies.

    Do you believe god somehow inspired, or was responsible for, the gospels? If so, then doesn’t that clash with your idea that the gospels record what witnesses heard? Why wouldn’t god tell us, through the writing of Matt et al, exactly what Jesus said, and not what witnesses thought they heard?

    I accept what you say in point 1.

  75. BTW, where in any of the Syn. gospels does the writer state directly or imply “this is what I saw”?

    It’s been a while since I read the gospels, but my recollection is that each of them is a kind of report of events, and none claim to be a first hand report.

    (Now that I recall…..one reason for this is that each of the synoptic gospels is the author’s re-writing of a (now lost) gospel referred to as Q.)

  76. The OT was obviously inspired as Jesus clearly regarded it as such. I simply don’t see the NT in the same manner. I think of them more as depositions in two cases, and collections of witness statements in the other two. And of course, that is the essence of the Great Commission to the apostles,, to be Jesus’ witnesses to all the world. He called them that repeatedly.

    This is why I find the gospels’ credibility enhanced by the differences between them. Too much similarity would constitute a clear case of collusion.

  77. Mark is of course written in third person because it recounts the recollections of someone else. Matthew is also in the third person, but that is not unusual in scripture. Most of the prophets also wrote in this manner, simply saying that the word of Lord came to (name) son of (name). The introduction to Luke is in first person, specifying the addressee and attesting to the thoroughness of the writer’s research, before it takes up the narrative itself in third person. And of course John writes in third person —up until he identifies himself in the last lines of the last chapter.

    Few biographies, even today, are written in 1st person, with the exception of autobiographies. And gospels are not autobiographies.

    Q is the name given to a hypothetical document containing material common to Matthew and Luke but not Mark. And although no trace of Q has ever been found, it may very well have been Matthew’s notes of Jesus’ teachings that I spoke of earlier.

  78. 1. I don’t see how a document (especially one of that age and provenance) is reliable, if it recounts the recollections of someone else–it’s what scholars call at best a secondary or tertiary (or worse) source or document.

    2. TTBOMK John is regarded as worse than unreliable as a recounting of events–if I’m recalling correctly, don’t mainstream scholars regard it also as somtaining some anti-Semitic remarks or ideas?

    3. Your mention of biographies is crucial, because good biographies cite their sources, and a biography that does not cite sources is not worth reading–the key question always is, of course, “how do you know?”

    I will try to make time to respond to your other comments later in the day.

  79. When did the loving, omniscient, all-wise god tell his creations that slavery was wrong? In the bible, he obviously thinks its OK; and we know that as late as the 19th century, clergy at Georgetown University were trading in slaves.

    As well, somehow, without the guidance of god, the US figured out by the late 18th century that democracy was a good idea.

  80. 1. So you mean to say, if the gospels all reported the same things, you’d find that less credible????

    2. If in fact the OT was “inspired”–presumably by god–then you have to wonder about things like all that violence, the advocacy of slavery, etc. (Can you show me where god changed his mind about slavery?)

  81. So is your point that the Catholic church has supported monstrous evil? Of course it has. Slavery but one case. But even then, there were the anti-slavery popes ie, Eugene IV, Pope Paul III, Gregory VI, Leo VIII. So it is fair to say there were different streams of thought. At the same time as Columbus was raping, murdering and enslaving, des Casas was also operating, at first in support of slavery, then vehemently opposed to its existence in the Americas, then opposing it in the Africas.

    But your original point was about democracy. I don’t have time to do a research project, but one question I’d have is if, in the middle ages, did anyone — Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or free-thinking, or in other parts of the world–ie Asia, Africa, S. America (pre-French revolution) try to imagine a democratic form of government? I think the best they might have come up with was a hope for a better monarch, or a more just feudal lord. I think democracy would have been too far out of the box, and perhaps impractical. Common people relied on the protection of princes, and alliances they made. If there were flickers of hope for democracy, stamped out by the church during the middle ages, let us know.

    I repeat, I am not Catholic. I have no purpose in defending what has been a horrible history of religion enmeshed with politics and driven by greed and violence. I simply appreciate full stories, and the history of the church like pretty much anything else has more variety than you seem even vaguely interested to see. In fact, I’d say that the counter examples are what make the actual evil much more despicable. Clearly, they knew better, when there were voices who argued for better ideas in their midst.

  82. My main point is this: the RCC and other “strict” denominations, e.g. SBC, claim that god wrote the bible, that there is a god who guides them, etc etc.

    Fine. If that is so, I want to know (1) how come he approved of slavery 2,000 years ago, (2) how come he has not made it known that he has changed his mind; and (3) if he has changed his mind, how would we know? Where or how has me made it known?

    And if he has NOT made it known, then doesn’t that mean that believers (should) still support slavery? Alternatively, maybe I’m wrong, and maybe god never really approved of slavery. .If that is the case, what does that say about the ability of theologians (hmm…)and others to correctly understand the bible and the will of god?

  83. There is a spectrum of approaches to understanding the Bible among Catholics, few match the fundamentalism of the SBC.

  84. 1. Age has nothing to do with the reliability of a document — in fact, the law regards “ancient documents” as MORE reliable and counts them among the many exceptions to the hearsay rule. And most of the biographies and histories you’ve read are the recorded recollections of someone else – most of them far more removed from their subject than the traveling companion and secretary of one of the apostles, for instance.

    2. There is no reason to deem John unreliable. It was the last written gospel but as I already mentioned there was a reason for that. The author was obviously very familiar with Jerusalem and its environs even though he writes after the Roman destruction and from a different place and to a mostly Gentile audience. And that nonsense about it being an “anti-semitic” gospel is mainly due to the mistranslation of “Judeans” as “Jews.” For example, Jesus and His disciples are mentioned at a certain point as traveling through Galilee instead of Judea to avoid the “Jews” who are trying to kill Him — although Galilee itself was also populated by Jews. It was a particular group of elites in Judea that were out to discredit and/or kill Jesus.

    3. Matthew and John, as first hand accounts, needed no sources. As for the other two…there was no MLA system then. Ancient historians did not always cite sources for information that they considered especially reliable and uncontested; they were more likely to cite specific sources when their accounts diverged irreconcilably, or when they were written down and the audience addressed might be expected to have access to them. Pliny the Elder himself wrote about this very issue: “For you must know that when collating authorities I have found that the most professedly reliable and modern writers have copied the old authors word for word, without acknowledgement.” I don’t know of anyone who considers Pliny “not worth reading.”

    And in any case, what if Luke cited his sources in the modern fashion? Who would they be? Persons living in 1st century Judea who witnessed parts of Jesus’ ministry whose names are lost to us, or their notes and memoranda which were lost along with everything else when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its environs. Would modern “mainstream scholars” be any less likely to attack their authenticity or even existence? Even the accounts of the earliest church fathers, who cited many sources (then extant but not now) have not been immune from such.

    This is all because most attacks upon the authenticity of the gospels are not really rooted in good faith doubts about their historicity but in a desire to discredit Christian belief — and a goodly measure of fear, as well, as for many it is far more comfortable to convince themselves that the gospels are phony, that Jesus never existed, or whatnot, than to actually make a call as to whether one believes the claims of Christ or not.

    As an aside, I would caution you about being too trusting of “mainstream scholars” when it comes to such soft subject matter as this which can not be concretely tested, whether liberal OR conservative in nature. Much of what passes for “higher criticism” in Biblical studies was born of the academics’ desire to impress their peers (and sell books) with “new and innovative” ways of looking at old material, not of anything particularly compelling in the way of evidence. As I often say, give it enough time and probably returning to the traditional attributions will appear “new and innovative” again.

  85. 1. You said ” Matthew and John, as first hand accounts, needed no sources. . .”.

    FIRST of all, Matthew begins with an account of the genealogy of Jesus. How does “Matthew” know this?

    Second, doing a quick skim of Matt 1 and 2, I don’t see anyplace where he says “and this is what I, Matthew, reporter, saw and heard”.

    Third, in any case, since Matt has been dated to long after Jesus lived, it cannot be regarded as “first hand reporting”.

    2. You said “…most attacks upon the authenticity of the gospels are not really rooted in good faith doubts about their historicity but in a desire to
    discredit Christian belief –” and

    “… I would caution you about being too trusting of “mainstream scholars”

    This reveals an enormous amount about you and your desire to know the truth. Who better than mainstream scholars??? Mainstream scholars put their reputations on the line with every word they write, which is more than can be said for non-scholars writing about religion. Mainstream scholars do not agree on everything, but I know of no more reliable source, as a body, then mainstream scholars.

    It’s hard tor me to imagine (for example) any such thing as (honest and competent) Southern Baptist Convention scholars–the SBC has shown us numerous times what low regard it has for honesty. certainly Catholic scholars are not going to dare to differ from official RCC propaganda, lest they llose their posts or be otherwise declared PNG–as happened, for example, to that fellow at Notre Dame a few years ago.

    Since you seem to have such little regard for accuracy and truth, I will not be responding to any further posts from you.

  86. 1. John Bugliosi, who wrote “The Art of Prosecution: Trial Advocacy Fundamentals from Case Preparation Through Summation” puts it this way:

    It is only natural that there should be some inconsistencies, either in prior statements or between witnesses…What is unnatural and evidence of fabrication or collusion, is a single witness who is able to give exactly the same account down to the most minute detail in every prior statement, or two or more witnesses whose stories are too good and match too perfectly.

    2. Well, He changed His mind about divorce — not because of a change in Him but because of a change in us. Jesus said that some things (divorce being the example He was discussing at the moment) were not part of God’s creation plan but were tolerated by the Law for a time because fallen man’s hearts were (and are) hard and the influence of the Holy Spirit was not present in human interactions. If divorce was one such, then slavery would have been another such. It is debatable whether any ancient society could have survived without slavery (particularly since ALL of them had it), there being no modern prison system, bankruptcy courts, employment contracts or system for enforcing them, labor unions, welfare, or any of the other features which make voluntary labor feasible today (if indeed you can call it that even now). Yet part of Jesus’ mission was to restore the creation design which had been lost, and indeed it is no accident that the idea of the slave being fully human, equal to his master before God, and endowed with a fundamental right to liberty first arose in a very specific time and place — the early Christian west. One clearly can not love one’s neighbor (or one’s enemy!) as one’s self and deliberately withhold liberty from them (without criminal cause, of course).

  87. “FIRST of all, Matthew begins with an account of the genealogy of Jesus. How does “Matthew” know this?”

    We know from Josephus that careful records of priestly genealogy was kept, it being indispensable to the Temple system. Royal genealogy would have been equally important. Probably these records were kept in the Temple and were lost in its destruction. But Jewish families kept their own genealogical records as well (and many Levite families still do, some extending back to biblical times). Matthew could easily have obtained this information from either the Temple or from James, the brother of Jesus.

    “I don’t see anyplace where he says “and this is what I, Matthew, reporter, saw and heard” If you were writing a biography of a person of importance, I doubt that you would open it in such a manner either — even if you WERE a witness. You would write it as a biography.

    “Mainstream scholars do not agree on everything, but I know of no more reliable source, as a body, then mainstream scholars.” Perhaps if you were more familiar with the actual works and ideas of these mainstream scholars (you don’t appear to be) you would be less easily impressed. I have read many of them, and I have yet to see one scrap of evidence that any of them have presented in rebuttal of the traditional attributions of the gospels — all of which were entirely plausible, unanimous, and uncontested as early as the 2nd century AD. They work almost entirely off of assumption — the main assumption being that the gospels could not be authentic if they spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem before it happened (this is the same reason why “mainstream scholars” have tried in vain to late-date the book of Daniel to 165 BC — never mind that by that time the Qumran community had at least eight manuscripts of this supposedly “brand new” prophetic work in their libraries and had even written some original compositions based upon it.)

    Nineteenth century “mainstream scholars” Bruno Bauer, D.F. Strauss, and Rudolph Bultmann once agreed that the gospels were composed late in the 2nd century A.D. — until fragments of Matthew were found in Egypt and a fragment of Mark was found in Qumran, both of which date to the mid-1st century AD.

    I know of no more reliable source on the origins of the gospels than those who were in the best position to know about them — the earliest church fathers of the 2nd century AD.

    I’ll leave you with an excerpt of a letter written by one “mainstream scholar,” C.H. Dodd of Oxford and Cambridge, to another, Cambridge’s liberal NT scholar John A.T. Robinson:

    I should agree with you that much of the late dating is quite arbitrary, even wanton, the offspring not of any argument that can be presented, but rather of the critic’s prejudice that, if he appears to assent to the traditional position of the early church, he will be thought no better than a stick-in-the-mud.

    It’s been fun. Blessings.

  88. I learned long ago in my seminary Scriptural studies, that we must distinguish between INSPIRATION and REVELATION when seeking to interpret the BIBLE! We learned that all scripture was INSPIRED by God, but not everything is part of God’s REVELATION , ie not everything found in the BIBLE is what God is revealing to us! The slavery and other moral failings (extermination of whole tribes etc.) are not God’s revealed commands ,but the failure of our weak HUMANITY to see beyond the prevailing cultural mores of that time in history ! Interestingly, one can see God’s Revelation in the OT through the analogy of Focusing one’s lens until the clear picture of what God is truly revealing appears ! The picture is clearly revealed in the image of a man , JESUS! All that went before points to Jesus, God’s Son and all that He taught, as God’s true REVELATION ! The challenge for us Christians is now to PROJECT HIS IMAGE across the face of the Earth!
    The Church Universal, has been given the Mission, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to share His teachings ! To do this , not only Scripture, but also Tradition, needs to be accurately interpreted throughout the ages of history ! The Church has been given leaders each with different roles, to proclaim Jesus ‘teachings ! Some are in the Apostolic office (Pope & bishops) , others have the role of prophets , catechists, lay men & women etc. All have been given the Spirit’s gifts to help discern the direction the Spirit is leading us to ! Throughout history the Spirit’s voice has been blocked from time to time because CHURCH LEADERS have not listened diligently enough to discern what the Spirit was saying ! To adequately discern the Spirit’s guidance today, I believe we need to develop more collegial structures throughout all levels of Church governance (e.g.. Synods, national councils, diocesan councils, parish councils) to help channel and discern the Spirit’s voice !
    So who has the responsibility to correctly interpret Scripture and the Church’s valid Tradition ? We do! THE PEOPLE OF GOD!

  89. There are multiple divisions of the catholic faith. Roman Catholicism is but 1, as there is the Assyrian or Church of the East, Coptic, multiple Orthodox. They split many times before the end of the first 1000 years. Luther and Lutheranism is still catholic. All others are a manufacture of some of the most sick, vapid, amoral groups of people, from John (Cohen) Calvin to Cyrus Scofield (professional paid liar that left his family for fortune). There IS NOT JUDEO-CHRISTIAN faith. They are OPPOSITES. The Roman Catholic faith loves money, power, wealth and access more than life itself and it’s fruit has proven so. This is but one reason of the christian schisms of the first millenium after Nicea. The books of the new testament ARE NOT THE WORD OF GOD/CREATOR. There is no written word of god. The word of the creator is manifest in creation. Separation of creator and creation is nonsense and a way to sucker (as Romans, Greeks and Judeans regularly did) out of their money (NOTE: The Idol of the heathen are gold and silver). The only people that had it close was the natives of north america from the Peacemaker. Christianity has manifested itself as an abomination to creator and creation and their fruit is proof of their rotten faith as in little more than 400 years, the most pristine of lands has become plundered, poisoned and owned (since when did man make the earth, yet they claim they can own it).

    It was very stupid for the Christian faith to chain itself by the hip to Judaism as the Halacha of oral and written history and law is the sickest abomination that has ever been put together and is made up of lies by murderers (you had better take a look at the fruit of a people that would and did, butcher other human beings as they believe goyim/akum/golem are soulless animals and are to be used as any other animal. The Catholic churches used to understand this while Protestantism is so utterly Judah-ized, that it is no better than heathen scribbling and belief. If you have no understanding of the Torah, Talmud and Kabbalah (Talmud is necessary to understand the Torah no matter what Jews, Samaritans (see schism and split of 931 BC of Israel into Samaria and Judah and look for the Danites where their Mark is…Dan-Mark)) then one has absolutely NO BUSINESS preaching the written word as they have absolutely NO clue of what they are talking about in the Torah or Septuagint.

    US today is a Masonic state with all of the symbolism to go with it. John 8:44 is correct and it is not the Pharisees as some would thing but the people as their history as found by Macalister and others of the Palestine Excavations found them to be cannibals (Acts 7:43). The KJV is in a long line of re-written dogma that means little without good/healthy faith as it is intertwined with good fruit as these cannot be separated and if you care to look at the beginnings of the Christian faith and the writings from the multitude of groups, you would know this. The US has been the whore of Rothschild since Alexander Hamilton sold the Bank of North America Corp and the First Bank of the United States Corp (see congressional record of 1791 yes it is a corporation) to 70% foreign interests, 20% domestic and the remainder to the bank (Isaac Roosevelt, first president of the Bank of New York is what is known as a Marrano – Van Rosenvelt and previously Geldersman). Rothschild is a mason, as was Sir Francis Bacon who modified the New Testament a bit more (such as swapping out Halel/Helel for Lucifer, and now you know what hallelujah means as Halel (the Devil) is Jah or YH i.e. god which it is not.

    People such as Bart Ehrman and those of any reputable seminary knows that the new testament has barely an original word and the catholic church used to understand this but is now part of the Rothschild empire which became it’s banker in 1832.

    In short, after Luther, the reformation is an imposter, an entirely Judah-ized collection of garbage. Other groups lost their grip of their faith and fruit long ago. Perhaps the only people that have a clue of what the prince of peace told them are the indigenous of the western hemisphere specifically those who recall the sayings of the Peacemaker. Unfortuantely, the “christians” almost exterminated them all as well as they are on their way to exterminating most life on the entire planet. If you want proof, go look at the sky as those white lines that stay are metallic EM smart dust spray for geospatial intel by the most deprave people to ever walk the earth which started with the Jews spreading their acts of abomination throughout the west and created the whore, America, for it’s own bidding. That metallic dust will destroy nervous systems of all creatures large and small, meanwhile the UV-C is reaching the ground and eliminating the microbes all life depends on (thank you US and USSR for blowing up nuclear warheads near the exosphere, above the ionosphere).

    Christianity is all but dead, Judah has won the war and is cruising to end this planet, using a method over several centuries of lies, deceit and murder which is a hallmark of masonry which the catholics know but the protestants participate in.

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