Saint Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Helping James Swan Defend His Man-Made Doctrines

Mr. Swan, I had a hard time believing your lame retort to my last post regarding your thoughts on Protestant creeds. You offered no substantial argument to refute anything that I wrote. Not one of your responses was longer than a few words. Let us examine at how you attempted to defend your proposition, and then I will give you some pointers on how to respond when someone challenges you in the future. Perhaps that will save you more embarrassment in the future. After all, just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean that I like to see you make a fool out of yourself. I really expected a bit more from you.

1. My first premise was: "It is a fact that no place in Sacred Scripture does it tell the Church to go forth and assemble a creed." Here is your lame response, "Strike one. Private interpretation." Are you serious? Don't get me wrong Mr. Swan. You have never been one to assemble any type of lengthy substantive rebuttal to any of my arguments over the past several years, but this is just lame. Can we be more specific here? Maybe narrow it down a bit, explain yourself a bit? Or do we have to wait for you to run to your pal who calls himself Turretin Fan to receive a coherent response? Let me give you a pointer here. James, you may want to actually explain how this is only my private interpretation. This would be done by actually finding a passage of Scripture, then figure out a way to tear it out of context, and then claim that it is my private interpretation. That would at least be something I could respond to. I can't even call this a strike out, because you are not even on the ball field son. You have to actually step up to the plate to swing at the ball to strike out.

2. Next I said, "a creed worthy of belief would only be capable of being so had it been assembled by the direct authority of Christ through His Church. In other words, it is worthy of belief because it is part of the Church's ability to say it is worthy of belief."
Again, your ingenious response,  "Strike two. Unproven presupposition held personally by the Catholic Champion." Now, James, this would only be an unproven presupposition if all of Christendom had not held this belief. I mean every apostolic Church in Christendom has held to the proclamations of the early Ecumenical Councils which claimed such an authority, but to you it is my personal unproven presupposition. Let me give you another pointer. Go and find where an apostolic Church that existed for before the pretended "Reformers" came along, that proposed a creed that was proposed to be worthy of belief, without asserting its authority to make it worthy of belief. That would of course involve actually reading through the Councils, the Canons, etc, and then finding a clever way to take something of context to try and support your claim. Then at least I would have something to work with.

3. I followed up further: "Christ had given Christians an apostolic Church with His authority stamp on it to form a believable and authentic Creed. Likewise the Church would formulate it further with that same authority at her Ecumenical Councils. No group of men merely claiming to be believers of Christ or followers of the Scriptures have any authority to assemble their own Creed."
Your lengthy response, "Strike three. Private interpretation of church history." Again, lame! We have only to look at the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils of the Church and the writings of the Church Fathers, one of which I quoted, to see that it is not my private interpretation of history. I mean at least I proposed some text to back up my claim. Let me give you a final pointer James. It would help if you actually proposed some explanation and documentation as to how this is only my private interpretation of church history. Just writing four words and claiming it so doesn't cut it. Truly, if this is the best you have to offer, you should really refrain from responding. At least give me something to work with! I know you can do better than this. I want to see what passages of Scripture, and which of the Church Father's you have to butcher to defend your faulty conclusions.

Perhaps James, you can explain why any creed would be worthy of belief without the direct authority of God behind it. When the early Church proposed the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed for example, it did so by claiming that it had the God-given right to proclaim it worthy of belief. For example the Canons of the Third Council tell us concerning the Creed put together at the prior two Councils, "When these things had been read, the Holy Synod decreed that it is unlawful for any man to bring forward, or to write, or to compose a different Faith as a rival to that established by the holy Fathers assembled with the Holy Spirit in Nicaea. But those who shall dare to compose a different faith, or to introduce or offer it to persons desiring to turn to the acknowledgment of the truth, whether from Heathenism or from Judaism, or from any heresy whatsoever, shall be deposed, if they be bishops or clergymen; bishops from the episcopate and clergymen from the clergy; and if they be laymen, they shall be anathematized...And if any one shall bring forward a rule contrary to what is hero determined, this holy and ecumenical Synod unanimously decrees that it shall be of no effect." (Canons VII, VIII)

Here the Church claimed clearly that it had the authority of the Holy Spirit behind its assembly. That means the Council believed it had divine authority to make proclamations. Reading back further to the first two Councils, it is also clear that is was only with the authority of the Church and her bishops, again guided by the Holy Spirit, that made it possible to assemble a creed worthy of belief. If we look to the letter of the bishops gathered at the second Ecumenical Council we read in the very opening line who it is that is in charge. The sacred synod was built upon the bishops, which is apostolic in origin. "To the most honoured lords and most reverend brethren and fellow-ministers, Damasus, Ambrose, Britton, Valerian, Acholius, Anemius, Basil, and the rest of the holy bishops who met in the great city of Rome: the sacred synod of orthodox bishops who met in the great city of Constantinople sends greetings in the Lord." The Council proclaimed such things as, "The profession of faith of the holy fathers who gathered in Nicaea in Bithynia is not to be abrogated, but it is to remain in force." So I think that it takes a bit more than a few words to discount what I wrote concerning the apostolic authority claimed by the Church to assemble the Creed.

Finally, this clearly demonstrates that the Church never held to Sola Scriptura. It also indicates that if you are to take any creed seriously as being worthy of belief, it must have an authoritative backing to it given by God, otherwise it is useless. It is pure fiction and fantasy to think that your man-made protester creeds are subservient to Scripture. It puts itself at least along side Scripture in its practice and adherence to it. Unfortunately you cannot reason or philosophize your way around this. Sola Scriptura is only a figment of your imagination.

I hope that this helps you in your future response. As always, it is such a pleasure to converse with you over the blogosphere!

2 comments:

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Matt, it's always nice to witness the ruffling of Der Schwann's feathers! I also think you goosed him pretty bad, because he really honked!

Matthew Bellisario said...

Well, I expected just a bit more from the great student of Luther.