Sola Scriptura & Purgatory


Q. What scriptures support the Doctrine of Purgatory?

A. You ask for this because you are convinced that the final authority for your beliefs is scripture. And I know you are sincere in this because I was also, when I was a Protestant. But this practice would never have caught on if it had not been invented 1500 years after Christ, after the canonization of the Bible, and also, after the invention of the printing press. Because most people could not even read let alone afford a Bible. See my post on Sola Scriptura.

I want to be very clear about a very fundamental difference between the Protestant Churches and the Catholic Church. Starting in the years after 1517 Protestants began to sit down with Sacred Scripture and REJECT ALL HISTORICAL CHRISTIAN BELIEFS they did not like or that they could not find explicitly in Scripture. They mistakenly believed that they were deriving their new religion OUT OF SCRIPTURE. But this is simply not the case. As can be seen by the following evidence.

“Luther removed seven OT books and five NT books. Not because he found a table of contents in scripture alone but because these books contradicted his new religion.

The Protestants kept the historic Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation because they agreed with them and they were hinted at in scripture but not because they were stated clearly and unambiguously in scripture, the way Protestants demand scripture for Purgatory or the Immaculate Conception. As proof of this take the Jehovah’s Witnesses who reject the Trinity and Incarnation on the basis of scripture alone.

Luther and Henry VIII kept the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist based on their Interpretation of scripture alone but later reformers rejected this Historic Christian Doctrine based on their INTERPRETATION of scripture alone. And so the division of Christ’s Church began in earnest despite:

John 17:20-23“My prayer is …. 21 that all of them may be ONE, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. … I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be ONE as we are ONE: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete UNITY to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

…which Protestants ignore or interpret away despite their proclamation of Sola Scriptura. Once Sacred Scripture was unhinged from Historic Christianity anyone’s interpretation was just as good as anyone else’s. No final authority existed anywhere in Protestantism. So division was unavoidable.

So, regarding Purgatory I cannot give any scripture that categorically teaches the Doctrine of Purgatory that would satisfy a sola scriptura Protestant. I can show you verses that imply the doctrine HERE. I can show you writings of the early Church fathers from before the time when the Bible was canonized HERE or HERE at Catholic Answers. I can show you that the concept, of the need for purification before attaining Heaven, has roots in the Jewish Faith HERE.

If you are able to believe it is possible to sit down 2000 years after the birth of Jesus and read scripture and interpret it infallibly all by yourself, disregarding what Christians believed in the years immediately following the death of the apostles, you have more faith than I do. But, by what authority do you claim infallibility? Or does Luther claim infallibility? Or Calvin? Or any of the Protestant sects?

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27 Responses to Sola Scriptura & Purgatory

  1. ultraguy says:

    Is it not possible that purgatory could be thought of (perhaps; we cannot know for sure) as a state perceived as relatively short in duration? I’m thinking specifically of the commonly held, popular (though not strictly church-grounded) notion, backed up by near-death experience reports, that one’s life ‘flashes before one’s eyes’ in what seems like an instant at or around the time of death.

    If true, that begs the question: for what purpose does that occur? (if it does) And, I imagine, one answer could be: God, in his graciousness, wants to give each of us one last opportunity to want him… to say, through tears of sudden insight, “oh dear, now I see all my sin and it is truly awful; I was wrong; I want Jesus; I need grace; I need his body and blood; I want to repent.”. Or, fully informed, to say ‘no thanks’ and plunge into the pit.

    In such a possibility for what purgatory might look and feel like, I sense, there is great potential for reconciliation of what can seem like a ‘tough nut’ between us brothers in Christ. I think where many of us Protestants get hung up is on the idea that purgatory is some a kind of prolonged hell unto itself, (not unlike standing in an interminable queue at customs after a long flight and being confronted by faceless bureaucrats in a gray, sterile holding pen… or maybe re-doing junior high school).

    In other words, if purgatory is akin to a power-washing by Christ in light of total knowledge of one’s true state of sin (life review), it makes tons of sense to me. In fact, that version of purgatory seems more in keeping with a gracious (and, I must add, scripturally clear aspect of God’s character. He must maintain our free will, , but even after death he wants us to make the most fully informed choice we possibly can: to love him or love ourselves.

    If purgatory is a place where Christ asks, over the 3D/HD total-recall track of our life, “is that your final answer?’ then I can only say: what’s all the fuss about?

  2. bfhu says:

    Dear Ultraguy,
    I admire your thoughtful exploration of different ideas about Purgatory and the mercy of God and His desire to get everyone to Heaven. Your thoughts reminded me of C.S.Lewis’ The Great Divorce.
    But I don’t remember if he thought of that grey place as Purgatory or not.

    Anyway, for clarity, I need to say that the Catholic Church does NOT teach that Purgatory is a second chance to choose God instead of self. Near death experiences, however, if the reports are true, would certainly be an expression of God’s mercy for those individuals. But, these would fall into the realm of private revelation, and are not something we would base doctrine upon, precisely because people could draw incorrect conclusions from them.

    Purgatory is a place of purification. Since it resides in eternity the length of time spent there is not measurable or comparable to our time on Earth I think. We have to trust ourselves to the Mercy of God knowing this too will be for our GOOD.

    One time near sunset I found a stray dog wandering on the street near my home. He was a very cute white dog. A good little, friendly dog. He had a collar and was loved by someone. So, I took him home and put an ad in the newspaper the next day. Despite all the wonderful qualities of this cute little dog, he was very dirty. So, the very first thing I did was give him a bath. That was his Purgatory.

  3. hapyy says:

    I often wonder about the point ultra guy made.
    I remember seeing a video of a man who was in a plane crash and by his account, died.
    He talked of a place “in between” he wasn’t in heaven and not in hell, but he was aware of a path of “lightness or good” and one that was evil. Now, this was a video I saw a while back, so he explained much better and those are not his exact words. It seems he was in some place though. I do think he was a Christian, but, he did cry out to God as he knew he would never want to go to that evil place! He spoke of hell of a place you would never wish on anyone, not the worst person in this world. I don’t really know that he was explaining it as a second chance,though.
    Certainly, no one would want to miss out on the relationship with God here, now, daily,though.

    My father in law was raised in the Catholic church. Didn’t continue to go to church as an adult(or maybe even much as a child, I don’t know). He didn’t seem to have any relationship with God on any level, just from observation. He had an extended illness and many came to pray with him and try to get him to ask Jesus into his life. He seemed content in knowing and often said, it didn’t matter how bad he was, he was going to Purgatory and it would be our job to pray him to Heaven…. wow??!!!

    Is the believe on purgatory that everyone goes there to “get cleaned up” or do some go directly to heaven?

  4. bfhu says:

    He seemed content in knowing and often said, it didn’t matter how bad he was, he was going to Purgatory and it would be our job to pray him to Heaven…. wow??!!!

    Is the belief in purgatory that everyone goes there to “get cleaned up” or do some go directly to heaven?

    No. I hope he is still alive and able to talk to a priest about this. IF a person is in friendship with God at his death and NO UNCONFESSED MORTAL SIN on his soul, then he can be at peace and count on Purgatory in case more is needed.

    But anyone who dies in a state of Mortal Sin is in serious danger of going straight to Hell. Those who have made atonement for the temporal consequences of their sin in this life and are free of attachment to sin may be judged by God to proceed directly to Heaven with no stop in Purgatory.

  5. happy says:

    So, some will go directly to Heaven.

    So ,so sadly no, he is not alive. I don’t know what his last days involved, so I really can’t be sure one way or the other what his actions were.

    Is there teaching that we can pray for them in Purgatory as he believed or was he just way off? He was not a very nice man but, again, it pains me greatly to think of ANYONE in hell!

  6. ultraguy says:

    bfhu – thanks. very helpful. I particularly like the dog-washing analogy. (We picked up a mutt a few years back… it took some time to get all the ticks off him… same idea.)

    Now I know analogies are dangerous, and I’m not suggesting that any of this falls into the category of doctrine, (Catholic or otherwise), nor do I wish to drag anyone (including myself) off into fanciful realms of speculation based on off-the-head reasoning or imagination, but…

    The dog could still have run away from you (as our real one almost did). You exerted some force. He chose to exert less than it would have taken to escape.

    Having read up on some of what’s now known about the process of physical death as well as some of the non-biblical accounts of near-death experiences AND having observed it up close and personal with a loved one, it seems clear that it is seldom all done in one moment. And, as you say, time as a linear construct goes out the window when we enter the heavenly dimension. In which case happy’s tunnel-of-choice makes some sense.

    Since we can’t know for sure if we get one last chance though, it obviously behooves us to act as if we *didn’t*! And on that much, at least, I’m sure we can agree. Any fan of C.S. Lewis is automatically a friend of mine! :)

  7. bfhu says:

    Happy,
    You can certainly pray for your father-in-law’s soul and hopefully he is in Purgatory. Just trust our merciful God and be at peace.

    Ultraguy-high fives…I love C.S. Lewis. Did you know he went to confession every week?

  8. Nan says:

    Wow! I worry about boring the priest when I go every month or so!

  9. Wycliffe 36 says:

    This is an area I really struggle with….last night my little boy asked me whether I beleived this prompted by the watching of ‘Scrooge’ believe it or not following a conversation on hell!

    I said some people believe purgatory to be a kind of frozeness from God – until life after ‘life after death’. I pinched Dr Tom Wrights (Bishop of Durham) view here.

    Personally; I can’t go along with a Dante version of heaven or hell etc. Purgatory for me is just unbelievable…. as isa hell. Sorry guys, BUT I’m learning much so thank you kindly for the excellent and interesting thoughts above.

  10. Nan says:

    So we all die and go to heaven? Or we all just die? I thought Protestants at least believed in hell.

  11. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Hiya Nan, I hope I don’t start annoying you, I enjoy debate and as stated find this site most interesting. I’m a Protestant true – my wife is Catholic.

    We all die and then – well I’m not too sure to be honest, but for me my Christian faith is about how I live in the here and now not about my living in the hope of an after-life.

    C.S.Lewis wrote most beautifully ‘I beleive in God as I beleive that the sun rises – not because I see it – but by it I see everything else’

    I witness by the way I live my life, and what happens after death I know not, maybe I do internalise God, as I simply can not beleive in a hell, pugatory, limbo, heaven, (in a literal sense)

    Hans Kung expresses Heaven as dying into God – I like this….

    I wonder whether Heaven could be a personal and internal change made when one becomes Christian, this would make sense when reading the Gospels. When we die we thus die (into God) and more than that no one can possibly say.
    Wycliffe.

  12. Nan says:

    You don’t believe in eternal life?

    There is an after-life, our faith and works help determine to which part of it we go.

    Heaven as a personal internal change makes no sense in light of all these centuries of people growing up Christian and not being converted. It’s almost like you belong to one of those Christian sects that baptizes adults only.

    Heaven is definitely there. I know it.

  13. Robert says:

    Wyclife,

    I do think your positions are very problematic for Christianity, even of an unorthodox kind. If one determines to take various Christians doctrines on the basis of revelation, and at the same time questions the body of doctrine, how does one ultimately decide what to keep and what to leave, except arbitrarily? And then will not one’s body of belief merely confirm one’s own prejudices rather than truly– as the gospel must– radically change one’s mind? True “repentance,” metanoia, going beyond one’s mind.

    I think that’s a principle problem in rejecting hell, which is well attested in Scripture, the Fathers and Church doctrine. It is, however, difficult to believe. I understand and sympathize with you there.

    As to the question of eternal life, I think your insight can be adequately saved while reconciling it to dogma on eternal life.

    You say,

    “well I’m not too sure to be honest, but for me my Christian faith is about how I live in the here and now not about my living in the hope of an after-life.”

    And this is many ways is true. I would single out this fact: The Christian lives the beatific life *now*, for blessed are those who follow the commandments of Jesus and the law of love. The beatitudes are the recipe for human happiness and flourishing.

    That being said, it is far too fundamental a Christian virtue to eschew hope. After all, we are saved in hope, and we joyfully await our eternal homeland, that heavenly city. As Paul says, I would rather be away from the world and at home with the Lord.

    But that doesn’t relegate this life to a despicable status, rather, the joy of the saints show how that life is supposed to be lived.

    “I wonder whether Heaven could be a personal and internal change made when one becomes Christian, this would make sense when reading the Gospels. When we die we thus die (into God) and more than that no one can possibly say.”

    Well, there is the real personal change, but that’s not all. We do become blessed, but only in part due to the constraints of this life. When our bodies are gloriously remade, that is when our full blessedness will come. Hope and resurrection are too intimately tied to the Christian faith to sever them and still pretend there is any substantial happiness in Christianity.

    What exactly this is like… the saints have a glimpse, but we truly cannot imagine.

  14. happy says:

    I do believe most Protestant groups certainly believe in Heaven. I don’t know alot about all of them, but from what I have studied that is the belief.
    I think that (at least in Methodist) the works part is a bit different. They believe you are “saved by grace”. But, of course, with faith comes works. The works is the fruit of the faith. I do know the ones I know believe in hell.

    I like to think I would go strait to heaven, but I kinda like the thought of being “cleaned up” before I get there! I know He already sees me inside and out, good and bad. When I get the chance to drop to my knees and bow before HIM I would like to be in good shape! :)

    I don’t know what denomination Wycliffe is, perhaps, that is where the belief comes from?!
    Some people like to believe that all that they go through here on earth is their “hell”.
    I personally think they are way way off and hell is worse than any of us could probably imagine.

  15. Wycliffe 36 says:

    HI Happy, Nan and all concerned.

    You are indeed correct I have a Methodist background, and I do firmly believe one is ‘saved’ through grace alone. additionally i do not believe in a literal hell I find the thought of hell simply unbelievable in an age of scientific reason.

    What concerns me is that people, who otherwise are rational and bright carry this baggage of ‘hell’ around with them terrified by its thought

    ‘Hell’ as Dawkins rightly discusses in the ‘God delusion’ is inflated to compensate for its implausibility. If ‘hell’ really existed (highly unlikely – and most people in their hearts know this) then just the thought of being frozen from God would be enough – but it feels the need to over compensates by being advertised as a place of unimaginable horror.

    What are we teaching our children????!!!!!! in any other area of life this would be child abuse!!. I make no excuse whatsoever for the heavy use of language.

    I have read many accounts of adults who are having to undergo therapy due to being brought up believing this utter nonsense.

    Now again being very honest and giving something of myself away;
    I am actually an ordained Priest (non-Catholic) and I do have faith in ‘God’ and get a great deal of pleasure from reading the scriptures and the teachings of Jesus.

    Jesus made enduring challenges to human selfishness and cruelty – and to religion because He teaches compassion trumped everything.

    Christianity is all about myth, I can read the works of Homer and enjoy it more than say the physics of Aristotle because Aristotle’s time is over but the stories of Homer endure.
    The trouble with the church (all churches) is that historicise myth and teach us literal and preach an understandings of a literal heaven and hell. This is actually a shame as it turns people away from religion as it is understandably unbelievable!

    Why are we simply obsessed with surviving death? – death is a natural part of life – we somehow can not accept death and it seems to be the religious that are most scared of dying.

    I’m not looking forward to dying, don’t get me wrong, but religion is obsessed with dying and the spiritual worlds when really religion should be more concerned with the living.

    Happy – I do like the idea of ‘works’ all Christians should, but I feel in the Catholic church it’s been twisted to another name for observing certain ‘rites’…this is what is looks like although I’m happy to be corrected, as always.

    I indeed wish to further state this response is in no way a personal attack on anyones faith but an objective comment in an atmosphere of polite debate.

    This response is a little rushed and too garrulous by far….

    Yours in the compassion of Christ Jesus
    W.

  16. Robert says:

    Wycliffe,

    Since you expressed your desire for open debate, I am glad to comply. All comments I make are in sincerity and love. May God bless us as we discuss these things.

    “additionally i do not believe in a literal hell I find the thought of hell simply unbelievable in an age of scientific reason. ”

    In what way does “scientific reason” conflict with belief in hell? I invite you to seriously consider this, because this seems to be a prejudice which many people carry with them in general i.e. that “science” makes religion implausible, when in fact it does nothing of the sort.

    “‘Hell’ as Dawkins rightly discusses in the ‘God delusion’ is inflated to compensate for its implausibility.”

    This is a psychological explanation of the idea. The new atheists, and indeed atheists in general, love having easy and ready made explanations with which they can explain away religious doctrine. It is typical for these atheists to suggest that any sort of explanation on the natural level thereby renders a religious doctrine untenable. For instance, the some sort of nonsense lies behind the seeking for a ‘God gene.’ But as anyone with a wit of philosophical acumen will gather, these things are not strictly connected. A plausible psychological explanation for a belief does not mean that it isn’t true. Rather, we must examine philosophical arguments, and in the case of revealed religion, the sources of revelation, in order to ascertain the truth of a doctrine. The *genesis* of the idea does not have direct bearing on its truth.

    “If ‘hell’ really existed (highly unlikely – and most people in their hearts know this)”

    Quite frankly, I’ve never felt this “in my heart”– even in the depths of my previous denials of God. Rather, a reverse explanation is true. I think people who would like nothing less than to avoid reforming their own morals and bringing them in line with God’s law try to doubt God and hell so as to self-justify themselves. Edward Feser discusses this rather plausibly in his recent polemic against the new atheists, “the Last Superstition: Refuting the New Atheism,” and I know from personal experience that I was more ready to deny God than myself, and so it seems true to me as well.

    “then just the thought of being frozen from God would be enough – but it feels the need to over compensates by being advertised as a place of unimaginable horror.”

    Many have offered different “images” of what hell will be like subjectively. The Scriptures offer smoke and fire, Dante offers ice. But regardless, each is trying to emphasize what the reality of separation from God is like, and what it constitutes ontologically. And, quite frankly, it is quite unimaginable. The pain of being eternally separated from God is not something I think I can quite know– the pain of having lost, eternally, the perfect and complete Good. I see no overcompensation, and even if this is the case, it is hardly an adequate objection to the doctrine that eternal separation with God is possible.

    “What are we teaching our children????!!!!!! in any other area of life this would be child abuse!!. I make no excuse whatsoever for the heavy use of language.”

    The child abuse trope is worn and tired out. It is no more child abuse to warn your children that if they jump off a cliff they will die, than if they sin they will spiritually die. It’s simply the truth. Trying to strike servile fear, terror, into your children is of course not the way you should teach them. But arguing from an abuse of parental teaching that the very doctrine is unsound is simply absurdly irrational.

    “I have read many accounts of adults who are having to undergo therapy due to being brought up believing this utter nonsense.”

    Well, the most obvious response is that people shouldn’t try to strike terror into other people with the doctrine of hell. But that’s hardly a legitimate reason for rejecting the doctrine of hell.

    Other people, though, bear their own responsibility for being terrified at hell– I know this first hand. God requires us to change and to become like Him. Religion isn’t merely vapid self-help, it is an encounter with the living God who will utterly transform us if we would but let Him. But that means breaking down the doors of our pride and shame, which we erect when we willfully break His law. This causes much consternation in many people, but when we reconcile with Him we understand and find peace.

    “The trouble with the church (all churches) is that historicise myth and teach us literal and preach an understandings of a literal heaven and hell. This is actually a shame as it turns people away from religion as it is understandably unbelievable!”

    I’m sorry that you are at the point where the only way you can hold onto the truth of Christianity is by making its central teachings into myths. But Christianity is far more unbelievable if we say that the Resurrection and eternal salvation are false, than if they are true. And there’s nothing unbelievable about such things; perhaps they seem “too good to be true” but they are certainly not contradictory or absurd. Rather, they answer to the highest aspirations of the human heart– we seek happiness, joy and peace, and we know that we can only find this in Him.

    Of course, I’m not sure what a “literal understanding of heaven” is. I assume that we are operating from the position that heaven and hell consist essentially in union with or disunion with God in eternity. If someone thinks heaven is being on fluffy clouds and endless sensual pleasure, then of course he is sadly mistaken about heaven– such things are radically insufficient for making us happy.

    “Why are we simply obsessed with surviving death? – death is a natural part of life – we somehow can not accept death and it seems to be the religious that are most scared of dying.”

    The truly devout are the least scared of dying. You must be familiar with the saints. They not only accepted, but often longed for death so that they could be parted with the world and joined with Christ. Only the truly religious man can be fearless in the face of death. We fear when we are anxious about the loss of something good; but the religious man has true poverty of spirit and humility, and knows that he loses practically nothing in dying, and gains everything, for in dying He gains eternally the one true God.

    What is pointless is the age old atheist trope which you resurrect– the type of thing that the Epicureans say. Death is nothing, it is merely natural, you say– to the contrary. Death is contrary to our impulse to live, and we fear death because we want nothing more than happiness, and happiness forever. The atheist, and the man without hope in God, loses something good when he dies and knows that he will be frustrated eternally in obtaining anything good. Such doctrines make life hopeless and futile.

    “I’m not looking forward to dying, don’t get me wrong, but religion is obsessed with dying and the spiritual worlds when really religion should be more concerned with the living.”

    Being afraid of dying is simply where most people are in their spiritual walk. But it doesn’t thereby become true that religion is obsession with death. Rather, the most excellent religious people, the saints, were and always have been fearless in death. If people followed the gospels closely they would not be afraid of death, for they would have the peace of the Spirit.

    That being said, it’s a typical way to discredit things, by making a false dichotomy and choosing between them. There is no such dichotomy between choosing to focus on dying or on living. Rather, we focus on both simultaneously. And those who meditate on how short their lives are (“Lord, make us know the shortness of our lives!”) will start to focus on what really matter– on being loving and compassionate. And these people will spend more time in prayer, and will be strengthened to be more loving towards their brothers.

    God bless,

    Rob

  17. happy says:

    Rob, well said. Not much to add to that.

    Wycliffe, I do know Methodist belief well enough to know that those are not typical Methodist beliefs.
    I think one needs to look deep to the root of why you would be fearful to speak the truth! To teach my children the truth is to want what is best for them. Like teaching them not to drink and drive. That is where I am having some problem in the Protestant world in which I live, the sugar coated Jesus. (Again, not an attack on anyone’s faith, just what I am seeing right now.)
    The whole” Jesus loves you just like you are, just kneel right down and as long as you don’t kneel on a rattlesnake and your having you some church” baloney!
    I heard a quote once, “God DOES love you just like you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there!”It is a journey of growth!
    You speak of turing people away from the Church with the reality of heaven and hell…..You MUST have them participate in the Truth! That is like saying ” the 10 commandments …to hard to keep. You just keep the ones you like and don’t worry about the rest of them!”
    Maybe I don’t understand the Catholic Faith correctly, but what I see that I like is my husband is instructed as his Granparents were, his parents, and our children. The Church has not changed to “keep up with the times”.

  18. Wycliffe 36 says:

    HI Rob and Happy,

    I really enjoyed reading both your responses (excellent) and of course will comment fully shortly. As you would expect.

    Moreover from tomorrow, I’m away Christmas for a few days visiting the folks so please don’t think I’m not responding to you my friends.

    However, in the meanwhile until I respond may I wish you both and your family’s a very happy and blessed Christmas. Indeed any one reading this…

    Look forward to engaging with you all sometime over Christmas.

    God bless
    Wycliffe 36

  19. Robert says:

    Wycliffe,

    Take your time. Have a merry Christmas, and God bless you.

    Not to tack more on…. but I was reading Thomas a Kempis earlier. From “The Imitation of Christ,” Bk. I Ch. 23, Meditation on Death.

    “If your conscience were clear, you would not be afraid of death. Better to give up sin than to fear death.”

    “If it is frightening to die, it may be more dangerous to live long.”

    “If you will have a life with Christ, you must learn how to die to the world, and if you are to go freely to Christ, then you must learn now to despise all things. Chastise your body now by penance, so that you can face death with sure confidence that God will forgive you.”

    The last one is especially good. I am thinking about your comments concerning living *now.* But there is no ecstatic and loving care of the poor in Francisco Bernadone without his rigorous asceticism and poverty. Only in despising the world did he come to love his brothers enough to give himself to the full to them. You know the famous prayer of St. Francis, right? Consider the last part of it. ”

    “O Divine Master,
    grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
    to be understood, as to understand;
    to be loved, as to love;
    for it is in giving that we receive,
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. ”

    This is pure asceticism, death to self. This is nothing other than the summing up of the way of the cross, “unless a man deny himself, take up his cross and follow me,” eh? But all of this stuff is far too bound up to separate it out.

    And it’s no different in St. John of the Cross.

    Consider this excerpt from the Ascent to Mount Carmel:

    “Endeavor to be inclined always;
    not to the easiest, but to the most difficult;
    not to the most delightful, but to the most distasteful;
    not to the most gratifying, but to the less pleasant;
    not to what means rest for you, but to hard work;
    not to the consoling, but to the unconsoling;
    not to the most, but to the least;
    not to the highest and most precious, but to the lowest and most despised;
    not to wanting something, but to wanting nothing.
    Do not go about looking for the best of temporal things, but for the worst, and, for Christ, desire to enter into complete nakedness, emptiness, and poverty in everything in the world.” Bk I, ch. 13.

    I’m not too familiar with Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s doctrine, but I imagine that I’d find a similar foundation beneath her charitable works. Death to self is necessary for such heroic virtue. But all of this presupposes that type of spiritual meditation on one’s own sin, one’s weakness, God’s mercy, and all that large “spiritual world” where one communes with God in silence and solitude. Fr. Benedict Groeschel even suggests that there is a direct proportion between the strength of the Church’s apostolate in charitable works to how many people are going through advanced stages of union with God in prayer.

    It’s just all too connected for me.

    -Rob

  20. happy says:

    Wycliffeand all,
    Merry Christmas to you!
    Prayers for safe travel and a blessed holiday!

    :)Happy

  21. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Dear Rob,

    Some of what is scribed below is deeply controversial and I hope only to stimulate debate not cause offence.

    Re: Science does not conflict with religion.

    It depends deeply on what sort of religion one adheres.

    Only a ‘non-realist’ form of Christianity would sit comfortably with your statement that science and religion do not conflict.

    1. Non-realist in the sense of a Christianity that depends not on an external power or authority. Re: ‘Sea of faith’ http://www.sofn.org.uk. Religion does not require supernaturalism or metaphysics any more than music requires a key signature to be called music. Only non-realist religion has a future – I’m serious on this point — non-realism allows Jesus teachings to still play a prominent role in society.

    Any other form of metaphysical religion does not sit at all comfortably with science.

    There are billions, I believe, of galaxies, and we live on the edge of one of them and inhabit a cooling rock. Evolution ( not a theory) and Geology shows us that chance is not the answer, certainly not intelligent design ( a favorite retort) not chance! but natural selection. Unfortunately Science and religion do conflict with each other as fundamentally they attempt to answer the same questions, namely why we are here and for what?…… A universe with a creator would be very different from a scientific universe which is based on evidence.

    We now live in a scientific age of reason and we are all atheists when it comes to certain gods as we no longer believe in Baal, Sin (the sun god) any of the Greek gods, Allah, Ra or Shiva. If it was not for the political mind of Constantine it is highly likely we would have Yahweh dismissed also.

    Re: Hell

    A misunderstanding of religious language: This takes me back to my Greek lecture days, my understanding is that in the Christian Scriptures we find the word ‘GEHENNA’ from the Hebrew meaning ‘ravine’ which was situated (archeological evidence ) just below Jerusalem where garbage was burnt and one would find worms – and indeed where crucifixions took place sometimes hundreds per day. GEHENNA is what was meant as ‘hell’ it was never intended to be anything other than of this world, and whilst for another time neither was ‘heaven’

    GEHENNA is not eternal and there is and never was any ‘torture’ but rather ‘extermination’ (crucifixion) from the Greek ‘O’lethros’ meaning ‘whole ruin’.

    Fact: Jesus never uses the word hell in the scriptures. Hell as some would imagine or identify is a middle age translation and superstition of ‘GEHENNA’ designed to make people fearful, attend church and thus ensure the church hold power over the people. It happening today.

    My genuine question would be why believe in a not of this world ‘heaven’ ‘hell’ at all? What is wrong with following Christian values without the supernatural or metaphysical parts?

    In short; a supernatural hell (anything supernatural / metaphysical) conflicts with scientific knowledge and is a misuse / misunderstanding of the Greek and Hebrew language.

    Re Yahweh’s law:

    Where to begin? Sex is a good one ( but I’d tackle any ) as it’s the most prevalent and the one most people worry. Take the Pope’s message this week for example.
    Why would any designer/ creator / lit the touch paper etc of our planet, any planet, create so many taboos around sexual reproduction? Have an odd obsession for virginity, menstrual blood, genital mutilation, prohibition of masturbation. pre-marital sex all leading to guilt or sin. Why? Yet only for the creatures that profess to adore Him.

    Yahweh seems ignorant of all the other animals and their sexuality and body, this is an apposite point as we humans are evolved primates.

    Billions of galaxies, trillions of planets, stars imploding being ‘created’, an expanding universe slowing down in which the sun will burn up our rock in around 5 billion years and yet today we are to suppose Yahweh (thanks Constantine) is concerned with how primates reproduce with other primates.

    Re Child abuse:

    Not dismissed or painted over as ‘tired’ or ‘worn out’.
    ‘jumping off a cliff’ ‘Spiritually die’ ‘if they sin’I understand you context but definitely not your point. If your child was taken by or should stray into a ‘religious cult’ would you claim they are being taken advantage of at such a vulnerable age?
    What is so scary about allowing them to make a decisions about religion in their adolescence or adulthood? You would their political decisions.
    Don’t label children with their parents beliefs, no Marxist, Conservative, Stalinist, Liberal,Republican children. So why pin any religious views upon any child? Not a Catholic, Protestant, Methodist Child simply ‘a child of ………… parents.
    The ‘true religion’ is subjective not absolute by definition.

    Where do I stand ?

    Ordained Priest but NOW a religious non-realist, I am for Jesus, I like His stories parables, I like the good samaritan for example as it teaches me that I do not put organised religion in the way of my fellow man, Jesus was a heretic . Non-Realist belief is a journey, a verb which challenges our understanding just as Jesus or Nietzsche or Bonhoeffer. I do not lay flower on Yahweh’s grave every sunday, rather I preach occasionally a christian ‘humanism’ which is often very well received with plenty of questions afterwards and many in surprised agreement. In short; Jesus is ‘risen’ when he is ‘risen’ in your own heart. Jesus teaches us how to live our life pointing towards an unconditional love for our fellow man. The truth for me is that no one could possibly say or know beyond the epistemic distance ( our human knowledge) as coined by John Hick.

    For me it is very simple ‘God’ is love’!

    In the compassion of Jesus.
    Wycliffe 36

  22. Robert says:

    Wycliffe,

    Thanks for your response.

    “Only a ‘non-realist’ form of Christianity would sit comfortably with your statement that science and religion do not conflict..”

    Most any intelligent Catholic is comfortable with this statement, including myself.

    “1. Non-realist in the sense of a Christianity that depends not on an external power or authority. Re: ‘Sea of faith’ http://www.sofn.org.uk. Religion does not require supernaturalism or metaphysics any more than music requires a key signature to be called music. Only non-realist religion has a future – I’m serious on this point — non-realism allows Jesus teachings to still play a prominent role in society.”

    I understand that you are serious, but so are most people who predict the death of religion. It just isn’t happening.

    “Any other form of metaphysical religion does not sit at all comfortably with science. ”

    O rly?

    “There are billions, I believe, of galaxies, and we live on the edge of one of them and inhabit a cooling rock. ”

    Is this evidence against 1. God’s existence, 2. the Christian religion? If so, how? Thanks. For instance, I could retort, “there are trillions and trillions of atoms in the universe.” But a purely indicative statement like this hardly seems to have a bearing on the issue of a religion’s correctness. Now suppose there is a religion, the anti-atomites. It still wouldn’t be *quite* enough to say that, you’d have to say, “the anti-atomites say there’s no atoms… but there’s trillions of atoms in the universe… so you can see they are obviously wrong!”

    “Evolution ( not a theory) and Geology shows us that chance is not the answer, certainly not intelligent design ( a favorite retort) not chance! but natural selection”

    Well to nitpick evolution is indeed a theory, but not simply “just a theory.” That mistakes the current terminological usage in the scientific community which demands that a theory be long-standing, extensive and very well proven. I really have no objection to the theory of evolution inasmuch as it is a scientific theory. I’m not a direct creationist, nor a young earther. I also agree with you that so-called “Intelligent Design” theory doesn’t work.

    “Unfortunately Science and religion do conflict with each other as fundamentally they attempt to answer the same questions, namely why we are here and for what?…… A universe with a creator would be very different from a scientific universe which is based on evidence.”

    I’ve never seen science qua science ask such a question as, “why are we here?” if you mean that in a philosophical or theological sense. It does ask it in the sense of, “how, i.e. what series of physical causes are in the history of our coming to be, did we get here?” But this is still different than philosophical investigation.

    And again, it’s a typical but misplaced objection that “a universe with a creator would be very different from a scientific universe which is based on evidence.” Faith doesn’t mean “believing without evidence” (despite the caricature the new atheists blithely draw), and even then Catholics don’t say you need “faith” to know God’s existence. On neither count is this accurate.

    Rather, God can be known from the world, but not in the way that scientific method works. That is, no respectable philosopher says that we have evidence verifiable in the scientific method which could prove God’s existence (what would that even mean?), but many philosophers do think that certain characteristics of the human person or the physical world necessitate a God (according to certain characteristics).

    Now, it is a common fashion and has been so for a good while now to pretend that the only valid way of coming to knowledge is through the scientific method. This, of course, is a crock. Such infantile verificationism (e.g., A.J. Ayer) has been amply refuted as being self-contradictory. Unfortunately, these ways of thinking, although killed intellectually have been limping around ever since. But if philosophical knowledge is possible, then perhaps we need to investigate it closely…

    “We now live in a scientific age of reason and we are all atheists when it comes to certain gods as we no longer believe in Baal, Sin (the sun god) any of the Greek gods, Allah, Ra or Shiva. If it was not for the political mind of Constantine it is highly likely we would have Yahweh dismissed also.”

    This is as inane as Russel’s teapot analogy. The God which philosophy shows and which is the same God as the monotheists believe in, we know from certain characteristics of the world which show that it exists. No such parallel arguments exist for these natural, limited gods of the pagans. The philosopher’s God is precisely a God which explains the universe, and so can’t be a part of it. But these pagan gods are part of the natural world and so such arguments obviously can’t be used for them.

    “GEHENNA is what was meant as ‘hell’ it was never intended to be anything other than of this world, and whilst for another time neither was ‘heaven’”

    You can’t just go to town on etymology. Surely the historical and cultural context is that gehenna was local ravine. But it’s inane to suppose that he means *literally* this ravine, when He is clearly using it as a symbol of the place or state which He is referring to. What we need to do is to find how He describes this place as well. And this is how… as eternal and unquenchable fire/ punishment.

    No other explanation can take into account why there is an “eternal fire” (Matt 25:41) is this place why He says there is “eternal punishment” (Matt 25:46), and again, the place where ‘the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’ (Mark 9:47-48).

    “Fact: Jesus never uses the word hell in the scriptures. Hell as some would imagine or identify is a middle age translation and superstition of ‘GEHENNA’ designed to make people fearful, attend church and thus ensure the church hold power over the people. It happening today.”

    Saying “fact” does not make it a fact. Read the Church Fathers. They are earlier than medieval times and they do believe in eternal punishment .

    “My genuine question would be why believe in a not of this world ‘heaven’ ‘hell’ at all? What is wrong with following Christian values without the supernatural or metaphysical parts?”

    It simply is in error. To pretend that we can take out the divine in Christianity and that there’s anything left is just silly. The whole religion is animated by the eternal divine love and just as easily collapses when we get rid of the divine.

    “In short; a supernatural hell (anything supernatural / metaphysical) conflicts with scientific knowledge and is a misuse / misunderstanding of the Greek and Hebrew language.”

    Where in the world is your demonstration that supernatural things conflict with “scientific knowledge?” I must have missed it. Please be explicit. I fear that unless we make the particular intellectual prejudices which you have explicit that we’ll never be able to make progress here.

    As to misuse, misunderstanding, there is certainly sufficient warrant to believe that Jesus preached of a place where punishment is meted out eternally to those who disobey the Father’s will, whether or not we treat of the etymology of ‘Gehenna.’

    “Where to begin? Sex is a good one ( but I’d tackle any ) as it’s the most prevalent and the one most people worry. Take the Pope’s message this week for example.
    Why would any designer/ creator / lit the touch paper etc of our planet, any planet, create so many taboos around sexual reproduction? Have an odd obsession for virginity, menstrual blood, genital mutilation, prohibition of masturbation. pre-marital sex all leading to guilt or sin. Why? Yet only for the creatures that profess to adore Him.”

    The reason that virginity is so highly prized is because sex is such a *good* thing. It’s not an honor to pledge not to do something terrible. Who would we think is meritorious for pledging to refrain from killing puppies? Rather, precisely because marriage is a good thing, virginity is good, because the way the spiritual life develops is by giving oneself over wholly to God. And while this is done in many ways, it is especially through denial of self and self-mortification. That’s why virginity for the sake of the kingdom is such a good thing because it is such a mortification to pledge not to marry.

    Now, if you want to become a great mystic, a great pray-er, then you’ll have to mortify yourself and be ascetic. And asceticism is precisely giving up good things for the sake of better things. Read up on teaching on asceticism, attachment to and detachment from creatures (see Thomas a Kempis, St. John of the Cross…), and other various assorted teachings related to the mystical evolution in the soul.

    The reason, of course, that sexual intercourse is so important for human beings is because our rationality allows us to use it well or badly… and so we need to use it well. And likewise, as rational beings trying to unite ourselves to God as our last end, every action we do can be conducive towards or detrimental towards union with God, and so it’s only natural that human sexuality is part of that.

    The real question is, can anyone who truly understands the doctrine of the Church on growth in holiness and love really reject the basis on which our teaching on expression of human sexuality? I don’t think so, and quite frankly, the Church’s mystical doctrine is a treasure I’m not going to forsake.

    “Yahweh seems ignorant of all the other animals and their sexuality and body, this is an apposite point as we humans are evolved primates.”

    Why would God talk about animals in such a way in a book which has as its aim man’s salvation?

    “Billions of galaxies, trillions of planets, stars imploding being ‘created’, an expanding universe slowing down in which the sun will burn up our rock in around 5 billion years and yet today we are to suppose Yahweh (thanks Constantine) is concerned with how primates reproduce with other primates.”

    Size of the universe arguments are more emotional than rational. While you might feel like God couldn’t possibly care about us as a small physical part of the universe, it simply doesn’t follow by acceptable reasoning that God cares more about physical things with large magnitudes and less about physical things with small magnitudes. (And why would anyone think such a thing anyway?) This reminds me of Augustine’s ridicule of the Manichees for thinking that God was present in the material universe as in parts… hence meaning an elephant is more divine than a human being.

    “I understand you context but definitely not your point.”

    Surely you understand my point, but simply disagree. The consequence of jumping off of a cliff is plummeting to your death, via gravitational law, and the consequence of serious sin is banishing God from your soul, spiritual death.

    “What is so scary about allowing them to make a decisions about religion in their adolescence or adulthood?”

    Human beings, since we are also animals, need to be raised in good habits as well as in good beliefs. Habituation is the proper place of education from youth.

    “The ‘true religion’ is subjective not absolute by definition.”

    Why should your private belief on religion being utterly subjective rule my action? The essence of your argument is that private and subjective beliefs ought not to determine the actions of others, and yet this is exactly the pitfall of your argument.

    “non-Realist belief is a journey, a verb which challenges our understanding just as Jesus or Nietzsche or Bonhoeffer.”

    A journey which can never end is a hell, not a challenge. It is pointless and empty of meaning.

    “n short; Jesus is ‘risen’ when he is ‘risen’ in your own heart.”

    In short: if Christ is not raised, we are to be most pitied of all men. Having Christ “risen in my heart” means He is a false messiah and a failure. The attempt to salvage religion ever since this liberal Protestant theology began (that lat 1700 and 1800s German stuff) is just misplaced… this type of religion is and has always been a doorway to flat out atheism and irreligion. People don’t and won’t take it seriously, except for a very small cultured minority.

    “The truth for me is that no one could possibly say or know beyond the epistemic distance ( our human knowledge) as coined by John Hick.”

    If I’m not impressed by Kant and Hume, why would I be afraid of a punk like Hick?

    “For me it is very simple ‘God’ is love’!”

    But what can that possibly mean for you? I know Incarnate Love Himself and what Love looks like in the Flesh, but what does it mean for you?

    Or rather, since you don’t believe in God, “love is God?” But that’s inane and hopeless…

    “In the compassion of Jesus.”

    Indeed, may He bless you abundantly.

    -Rob

  23. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Dear Rob,

    Another very enjoyable read. Thank you. Not quite sure I’d agree with your comment about John Hick being a ‘punk’ rather he is a very respected professor at my university. but I understand your context in reference to Hume and Kant but disagree with your point! lol

    Interpretation of what is written is difficult but I feel I hit a raw nerve – my response was only intended to simulate good debate not cause offense. maybe I need to re-examine my use of language, (I’m sorry!) which brings me nicely on to the following….

    Whilst we will disagree on many points the one of which interests me most is your comment ff

    “It simply is in error. To pretend that we can take out the divine in Christianity and that there’s anything left is just silly. The whole religion is animated by the eternal divine love and just as easily collapses when we get rid of the divine”.

    I am very interested in the future of religion: Metaphysics is in decline in europe, and I would thus disagree with the comment about it being ‘silly’. I and indeed many are titanically serious about non-realism and christianity without the ‘divine’. For many the God they believe in is a personification of ones most cherished values and does not ‘literally’ exist.

    Words such as ‘my God is not a God of judgement’ or ‘my God is a forgiving God’ or ‘my God is a God of love’ or ‘God is love’ indeed.

    A question one must ask themselves is what is God’s objective reality? A finite God – the father figure is difficult for many to now grasp as a real possibility.

    Likewise a Platonic metaphysical God is difficult to believe as is the nature of the infinite, timeless, impassible.

    A spiritual ideal, an embodiment of religious values could continue to play a role in the religious life. The Buddhist live a religious life without the divine.

    I feel I / we have strayed into another area. Such is the nature of debate (not argument)

    Not sure where we can go as I’m conscious not to offend persons on this blog. Genuine concern.

    Maybe my personal email?
    mapp51@btinternet.com

    Until next time, with pleasure.
    W.

  24. Robert says:

    Wycliffe,

    Just to reassure you… you haven’t offended me. I’m actually having an immense amount of fun posting with you. I can see why some ancient writers got carried away with polemic…

    As for John Hick… yes, I did mean to be more facetious. If he is the man I am thinking about, then I read a piece of his concerning the “Jesus Myth.”

    God bless you!

    -Rob

  25. Micki says:

    This particular post is filled with wisdom from both you and your commenters.
    How can anyone believe that their lives should be reward with a straight path to God… especially knowing that God sent his his son to be crucified to make up for the sins of man. Won’t we be accountable?

  26. Wycliffe 36 says:

    Dear Rob, and all concerned / interested.

    Thanks for the message – good to hear.

    In reference to John Hick he edited ‘The myth of God Incarnate’ with Don Cupitt, Francis Young, Maurice Wiles to name a few contributors.

    If Jesus was God incarnate in a metaphorical sense only; fully human but extraordinarily open to God could we conclude that hell / heaven should be viewed in a metaphorical sense also?

    Moreover, negating purgatory altogether?

    Although a non-realist personally, I’d like to also ask a purely protestant question:

    What is so difficult with the doctrine ‘Justification by Faith Alone’? (central Methodist teaching)

    Happy to hear ones thoughts.
    W.36

  27. 501 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura: Is the Bible the Only Infallible Authority?

    * * * * *

    1. The canon is obviously a crucial path to even get to sola Scriptura. One can’t have a sola who knows what it is? position.

    2. If the Church could settle the issue of the canon, why should we not also look to it to figure out the true doctrine of something like baptism or the Eucharist?

    3. The essence of the biblical books is that they are all inspired. But determining exactly which and how many books possess this characteristic, and why, is another matter entirely.

    4. If no one till St. Athanasius (in 367) listed the 27 New Testament books, who was it that knew what he knew before a council finally settled the issue? We have no record of any such person who got it all “correct.”

    5. The Church is necessary for Christians to have a definite understanding or framework of which books are biblical and which are not. To argue this is not in the slightest some sort of blast “against” the Bible.

    6. Sola Scriptura could not be applied in the sense it is today, until almost 400 A.D., when Church authority and Tradition set the limits of the canon. Does this not strike one as an exceptionally odd and weird point of view?

    7. Protestants implicitly accept Rome’s authority because they accept the canon (save seven books) that it gave them, as well as many other orthodox doctrinal formulations (e.g., Two Natures of Christ, Virgin Birth, etc.). [BCO, 20; modified]

    8. Can Protestant apologists make an argument that the concept of biblical books is biblical? Yes, they can. But can they make a rational biblical argument for numbering the New Testament books at twenty-seven? No, they can’t.

    9. Protestants, with the benefit of hindsight, may think it is quite easy to know what books are biblical, inspired books, and which are not, but the actual history of the development of the canon suggests otherwise (to put it very mildly).

    10. I don’t deny all “self-attestation” of biblical books; I only deny that this alone was sufficient to establish a known canon with definite boundaries, or that it is as sweeping a characteristic of “all” the biblical books as some Protestants make out.

    11. Deciding a canon is different from making Scripture what it is, because Scripture is inherently inspired. In other words, the canon is not identical with Scripture, anymore than a table of contents is identical with the book it describes by chapter.

    12. Paul does not necessarily always know he is writing Scripture. He knows for sure, though, that it has authority as the message of an apostle, whether or not it is literally inspired, or inspired Scripture. He knows that simply from the knowledge that he is an apostle.

    13. Some liberal Protestants today are calling for a re-opening of the canon issue. No evangelical Protestant can give a solid reason why they should not do so. And that is certainly a consideration serious enough to cause them to re-examine their first principles, including sola Scriptura.

    14. It is not simply an easy matter of reading all the biblical books and “knowing” that they are inspired and canonical from internal evidence alone. Church authority was required, and it is foolish to maintain that Church authority was not necessary in the establishment of the canon.

    15. The author of 1 John is also anonymous. I believe that all three epistles were written by the Apostle John, author also of the Gospel bearing that name, but this would not necessarily be immediately or easily apparent to a casual reader. “Elder” or “presbyter” is hardly a conclusive identification.

    16. If a key criterion for canonicity was apostolicity (being written by an apostle: see, e.g., John 16:13-15; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 2 Peter 3:2), then how come no one in the early period seemed to know that the book of Acts was apostolic: written, as it was, by Luke, whose Gospel was accepted early on?

    17. There are indeed several internal biblical evidences of inspiration and canonicity, yet (despite this fact), there were many significant disputes in the early Church regarding the books of the Bible. Many now-accepted books were questioned, and many non-biblical books were thought by some to be canonical. [OMA, 10; modified]

    18. The Catholic Church’s proclamation of the canon was a recognition of a broad consensus; nevertheless the consensus was sufficiently uncertain to have required an authoritative pronouncement. Books, for example, such as James and Revelation were not accepted by many until the mid-4th century. [BCO, 18; modified]

    19. Any Pauline reference to “inspiration” need not necessarily and always refer to Scripture. And even if he explicitly claimed inspiration for some piece of his writing, that still wouldn’t prove that he thought it was Scripture, as opposed to a sure word from an apostle or a prophecy (though it is obviously consistent with such a notion).

    20. Luther, Calvin, and Protestant apologists today are engaging in pipe dreams, pure fantasy, when they speculate and pontificate on this “self-authenticating” and “perspicuity” mythology. In point of fact that wasn’t enough, because we have the historical record of the pre-canon opinions of Christians on the extent and parameters of Scripture. [PRO, 10-11]

    21. It has been argued that the widespread belief of the early Church that Hebrews was written by St. Paul was the reason it could be accepted. But such a theory is not evident in the book itself. It can only be arrived at by complicated comparisons and internal analysis, which is, of course, beyond the average individual’s capacity to determine.

    22. Catholics tend to overemphasize the Church in the canonization process and Protestants tend to minimize same and stress the self-authenticating nature of biblical books. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, and that we can achieve significant common ground on this, if we could only more accurately understand each other, and the differing ecclesiologies, rules of faith, and epistemologies.

    23. The biblical definition of apostle is somewhat fluid and flexible (as is the case with most biblical offices at their early stage of development), but if apostolicity and known authorship are two ways to easily identify a book as canonical, then Hebrews fails on both counts. The Church at length acknowledged its intrinsic status as Holy Scripture, but it would not have been so easy for an individual to determine this.

    24. Even then, this Church authority with regard to the canon wasn’t good enough for Luther, Calvin, and their cohorts, since they decided to pick and choose from the previously “universally recognized” tradition of the canon, and discard seven books from the Old Testament. So once again we see the nonsensical tradition of “accepting tradition until one arbitrarily rejects particulars of that tradition.”

    25. Though there was broad agreement in the early Church as to which books belonged in the Bible, it was not absolute. Some important Church Fathers regarded books currently in the canon of the Bible as unscriptural. Others (equally eminent) thought that books not now in the canon were part of the inspired revelation. The first Father to list the currently accepted 27 New Testament books was St. Athanasius, in 367. [CAB, 162]

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