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The papacy in the fathers

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#21 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 12:11 PM

Fr. Alvin,

Thank you for the articles you've linked me too, however, your post "bad reason #1," has frankly hurt my respect for John Henry Cardinal Newman. Please allow me to explain. It seems to me that Cardinal Newman is a skeptic. According to him, we can deduce nothing certain from history about any doctrines or dogmas of our faith. Instead, we interpret history to support them, even when it might even support their opposite, because an infallible Church tells us to do so. And we trust that this Church is infallible, because it says so, and is infallible. This circling reasoning is hardly convincing, and definitely disconcerting.


Geoffrey, the reasoning may be circular, but the circularity is inevitable for any Church that dares to impose irreformable dogma on the consciences of the faithful. The alternative to infallibility is Protestantism.

What are the evidentiary grounds upon which you believe Christianity to be true? Do you believe, for example, that "neutral" critical scholarship can prove the resurrection of Jesus to be absolutely certain? Do you believe that it can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt? Do you believe that it can show it to be at least probable? But what if these scholars, or at least many of them, were to tell you that the evidence, considered from a purely "neutral" perspective, does not support a judgment of "probable," much less a judgment of "certain"? How much evidence do you need before you give yourself unreservedly to Christ Jesus and the mission of his Church? How much contrary evidence will it take to persuade you to stop believing? Does your faith wax and wane, depending on the tides of critical scholarship?

I am not arguing for a pure fideism (and neither, of course, is Newman). The relationship between faith and reason is subtle and controverted. But the simple fact remains that the believing Christian ultimately commits himself to Christ in a way that goes beyond the evidence, if you will. He commits himself on the basis of testimony--the testimony of the Church, the testimony of the Apostles. And he commits himself without reservation or qualification. Unlike Thomas, we have not seen, yet we have believed and have staked our lives and fortunes on the truth of the gospel. The personal surrender of faith goes "beyond" the evidence. And Christ commends our faith: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Implicit in this faith is the conviction of the infallibility of the Apostles and of the Church that mediates to us their testimony. That we believe this testimony, despite the lack of overwelming and coercive evidence, perhaps even contrary to evidence, is a work of the Holy Spirit. We even dare to speak of this faith as a way of knowing.

Whenever the Orthodox Church claims that Scripture is to be read in accordance with the faith and teaching of the Church it is, in principle, invoking its infallibility. Whenever the Orthodox Church insists that the baptized are to embrace, and must embrace, the dogmatic teachings of the ecumenical councils, it is, in principle, invoking its infallibility. Whenever the Orthodox Church declares that the lives and teachings of the Fathers are part of the living revelation of God, it is, in principle, invoking its infallibility. For an Orthodox analysis of infallibility, I refer you to Archbishop Stylianos's book The Infallibility of the Church in Orthodox Theology. One Orthodox internet apologist who has vigorously advanced the infallibility of the Orthodox Church is philosophy graduate student, Perry Robinson. Perry is adamantly anti-Roman, but he sees that the binding nature of formal doctrine requires a belief in the infallibility of the Church. He grounds this infallibility in the deifying union between Christ and his ecclesial body.

Is Newman a skeptic? It's ironic that you should advance this accusation. Newman thought deeply about the nature of faith and doubt, particularly in light of modernity. I refer you especially to his discourses on "Faith and Private Judgment" and "Faith and Doubt." It was precisely Newman's gravamen against the private judgment and rationalism of Protestantism that it ultimately leads to skepticism. "There really is no medium," Newman concludes, "between scepticism and Catholicism." Substitute "Orthodoxy" for "Catholicism," if you like.

Edited by Aidan Kimel, 23 June 2008 - 01:08 PM.


#22 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 12:41 PM

Geoffrey, the reasoning may be circular, but the circularity is inevitable for any Church that dares to impose irreformable dogma on the consciences of the faithful. The alternative to infallibility is Protestantism.


May I suggest another alternative to the reasoning of infallibility? How about Orthodoxy? We do not require "infallibility" and yet we have managed to preserve the Apostolic Witness just fine without it, if the testimony of the most recent Popes is to be believed. Conciliarity, as reflected in the Catholic institution of the Magisterium, is how the Holy Spirit guides the Church. No single "infallible" person is required. In fact, it seems (at least to this bear of little brain) that the idea of infallibility destroys the idea of "free will" and would demean the ability of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church. Infallibility is superfluous. The Apostle Peter claimed no such authority for himself. Why would his "successor" have something he obviously did not have?

#23 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 01:36 PM

May I suggest another alternative to the reasoning of infallibility? How about Orthodoxy? We do not require "infallibility" and yet we have managed to preserve the Apostolic Witness just fine without it, if the testimony of the most recent Popes is to be believed. Conciliarity, as reflected in the Catholic institution of the Magisterium, is how the Holy Spirit guides the Church. No single "infallible" person is required. In fact, it seems (at least to this bear of little brain) that the idea of infallibility destroys the idea of "free will" and would demean the ability of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church. Infallibility is superfluous. The Apostle Peter claimed no such authority for himself. Why would his "successor" have something he obviously did not have?


Herman, you are confusing ecclesial infallibility with the specific Roman claim about the papacy. In Catholic eyes, the latter is grounded upon the former, not vice versa. If you re-read what I wrote, you will see that I did not make any claims about the papacy. I did, however, make claims about the Church and her deifying union with Christ in the Spirit.

You write, "We do not require 'infallibility' and yet we managed to preserve the Apostolic Witness just fine without it." Are you suggesting that the Orthodox Church is fallible in the way that Protestants believe the Church to be fallible? Are you suggesting that the conciliar dogmas may be false? Are you suggesting that critical biblical scholarship trumps the Orthodox reading of Holy Scripture? I doubt it. Orthodox may not speak much about infallibility, and may even eschew the word, but they presuppose it at every turn. Archbishop Stylianos comments that when he was examined for his doctoral dissertation at the University of Athens, the dean of the school of theology commented that he was totally unaware that "infallibility was an article of faith in our Church." The Orthodox may not speak much about infallibility, but they certainly practice it, indeed must practice it. Not to do so would reduce Orthodoxy to the status of a denomination.

#24 Paul Cowan

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 02:39 PM

Father Alvin,

Forgive me for jumping in here as I know from the outset I am jumping in the deep end without a life vest.

I think the infallibility of the church is different from the infallibility of the papacy. The infallibility of the church over the past 2000 years from what I have read and heard is more of a collective consciousness of the church fathers over time. Some have ideas and thoughts that are agreed upon and supported by other Holy fathers and some are not. At times the same elder may have supported and unsupported ideas presented to the judgement of time.

"It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us." Is much different than "it seemed good to me and I claim the only right to interrpret the Holy Spirit."

I hope I do not sound demeaning in anyway. I think RC has its place in God as does the OC as does the PC. God will judge. But in my heart of hearts I do not "feel" it right to put all the direction of the Church on one man. God did not set it up this way since he had 12 apostles. They were equal in importance. Just because one was more outspoken or spoken of more than the rest does not make him more than the first among equals.

Forgive me, I admit I did not read the references you posted earlier. I will when I get off work today.

In Christ
Paul

#25 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 03:42 PM

Are you suggesting that the Orthodox Church is fallible in the way that Protestants believe the Church to be fallible?


Um, actually, no, I am suggesting no such thing.

Are you suggesting that the conciliar dogmas may be false?


Again no. But I am suggesting that we do not NEED infallibility to make them true. Truth is truth, regardless if the source is fallible or infallible. The question is, do you trust the source? Does it have to be "infallible" to be trustworthy? I say no it does not. That is why we have checks and balances. That is why the Holy Spirit is in charge, to lead us to all truth.

Are you suggesting that critical biblical scholarship trumps the Orthodox reading of Holy Scripture? I doubt it.


So do I. But the Church, as a body, has every right, nay, the responsibility to be critical. "Test all things" says the Apostle (who is NOT Peter), "keep what is good". To be "good" it does NOT have to be infallible.

Orthodox may not speak much about infallibility, and may even eschew the word, but they presuppose it at every turn.


So you say. There is a significant body of Orthodox theologians who say otherwise. I say eschew obfuscation. We do NOT need the concept of infallibility. It is superfluous, it is unnecessary. As the retired Bishop Tikhon (OCA) is fond of saying, we are all "infallible" when we proclaim the Truth, and fallible when we don't, Pope, Patriarch or layperson, sinner or saint.

Archbishop Stylianos comments that when he was examined for his doctoral dissertation at the University of Athens, the dean of the school of theology commented that he was totally unaware that "infallibility was an article of faith in our Church."


Ayep!

The Orthodox may not speak much about infallibility, but they certainly practice it, indeed must practice it.


So you say, and I will readily admit that some Orthodox would agree with you. I am not one of them, I throw my hat in with the Dean in Athens. The whole idea is simply superfluous. We do fine without it. That is why it took a council to endorse previous councils. That is why we have the test of time and the test of conciliarity. With these tools, the Holy Spirit does not need an infallible Vicar or Church. In this, the Protestants are right, except that they threw away the tools along the way as well.

Not to do so would reduce Orthodoxy to the status of a denomination.


So you keep saying, but that logic, I fear, is flawed. Dropping "infallibility" from the lexicon reduces nothing, we lose NOTHING. Getting rid of the idea of infallibility still leaves the Truth intact. Truth can still manifest through fallible people, fallibly trying to follow the Risen Lord, testing all things and keeping what is good ("...and it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to US..."). So no, I continue to contend that "infallibility" is a fallacy, and that is what I eschew.

Herman the infallibly fallible Pooh

#26 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 04:37 PM

The brethren may find of interest this recent talk on East/West reconciliation given by Fr Richard John Neuhaus.

#27 Geoffrey Miller

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 04:04 AM

[QUOTE]What are the evidentiary grounds upon which you believe Christianity to be true? [/QUOTE]
The testimony of history, the existence of a loving God (which can most certainly be known by just pure reason), and the personal experience of Christ in my life.

[QUOTE]Do you believe, for example, that "neutral" critical scholarship can prove the resurrection of Jesus to be absolutely certain?[/QUOTE]
Most definitely. I came to Christianity after an objective assessment of the evidence.

[QUOTE]Do you believe that it can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt?[/QUOTE]
If I didn't, would I be here talking to you father?

[QUOTE]Do you believe that it can show it to be at least probable?[/QUOTE]
Yes, and much more (see above).

[QUOTE]But what if these scholars, or at least many of them, were to tell you that the evidence, considered from a purely "neutral" perspective, does not support a judgment of "probable," much less a judgment of "certain"?[/QUOTE]
They did, and so I investigated their claims, found them wanting, and concluded the exact opposite. Some modern exegetes start out by excluding the proposition that miracles are even possible. After investigating their philosophies, and through reasoned argument, and logical proofs, I know for a fact that their philosophies are wrong. No doubt about it. Most are self-refuting.

You see, I believe that man can attain knowledge of the truth. I believe objective truth can be found and grasped by the human mind. This is a central premise of Christianity, father. Though now I'm not sure if Rome believes it anymore.

The moderns say that truth is relative and unobtainable. You seem to being saying that for me, truth will be relative and unobtainable unless I submit to an objective truth that you offer me, trusting that it is objective, even though knowing such a thing is beyond me. What do you take me for?

Where is the solid reasoning of St. Thomas the Angelic Doctor? Or do you prefer the mushy mind of Pascal, Doubters, &co?

I suppose next you will be telling me that even my own self-existence is uncertain? Or that the chair beneath me might be illusionary?

Have you lost all faith that a creature made in God's image can obtain knowledge of objective reality, of the truth? It seems you have.

[QUOTE]How much evidence do you need before you give yourself unreservedly to Christ Jesus and the mission of his Church?[/QUOTE]
Evidence enough to prove it beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt, which I found.

[QUOTE]How much contrary evidence will it take to persuade you to stop believing?[/QUOTE]
Evidence enough to prove the contrary beyong the shadow of a reasonable doubt, and also enough to explain why there is an overwhelmingly conclusive amount of evidence supporting Christianity so that only the ignorant, mad, or wicked could possibly reject it. I think the Church fathers also spoke to that effect.

[QUOTE]Does your faith wax and wane, depending on the tides of critical scholarship?[/QUOTE]
No, because I find all modern philosophy and scholarship to be highly amusing. Care to check out one of my essays attacking deconstructionism, elements of which I see in your own philosophy? http://meusquestus.b...ally-meant.html

Try checking out my other essays, and please read some scholastic theology and Church fathers.

Cardinal Newman was a sincere man, but he was sincerely wrong about many things.

[QUOTE]Geoffrey, the reasoning may be circular, but the circularity is inevitable for any Church that dares to impose irreformable dogma on the consciences of the faithful.[/QUOTE]
Wrong. Again, basic logic would dictate that first the said infallibility must be proven, beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt, and then we can accept its judgments as true. All you need do is come up with an argument showing that infallibility is true, then the Church's dogmas can be accepted. No circular reasoning involved.

Right now, what you're essentially saying is this: "I am infallible concerning matters of faith and morals. By virtue of my supreme office, I say fairies exist, and so must all Christians everywhere, and they must definitively hold that said fairies exist. You must also believe they exist, because I am infallible concerning this matter."

First, establish your infallibility, at least with a compelling argument. Then, I will believe you.

[QUOTE]I am not arguing for a pure fideism (and neither, of course, is Newman).[/QUOTE]
98.9% fideism is pretty pure father. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck...

[QUOTE]The relationship between faith and reason is subtle and controverted.[/QUOTE]
Only for those who desire it to be so. Faith is actually quite simple.

As my friend John C. Wright says:
[QUOTE]Faith is the moral imperative to trust those things and those people your intellect tells you that you have reason to trust, when your inclination tempts you to doubt. If a stranger told me my wife was cheating on me, and my wife said she was not, it is a moral imperative that I trust my wife in that situation. If my captain in time of war told me to charge forward into combat, and a stranger told me that my captain was not carrying out the orders the general gave him, it would be wrong for me to distrust the captain, debate the matter, and wrong not to charge.

If my father tells me pornography is bad for me, and will stunt my sexual maturity by addicting me to a degraded and unrealistic image of womanhood, and if I am a teen who simply has no experience to judge whether my father's claim is true or exaggerated, my moral imperative is to trust and to obey my father.

Do I need to give more examples? Everyone acts as if faith is an epistemological and empirical phenomenon, a scientific means of determining the composition of stars or the mating habits of beetles. It is not. Faith is honesty. Once you have seen the evidence and are convinced Christ rose from the dead, it is dishonest to dismiss His claims to the Godhead.[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]But the simple fact remains that the believing Christian ultimately commits himself to Christ in a way that goes beyond the evidence, if you will. He commits himself on the basis of testimony--the testimony of the Church, the testimony of the Apostles.[/QUOTE]
Which is...ummm, evidence? Yeah, testimony is considered evidence, or else our court systems, historians, police...heck, everybody...is way out of line.

[QUOTE]And he commits himself without reservation or qualification.[/QUOTE]
Wouldn't the evidence be considered qualification? The point is to commit once your reservations are all satisfied.

[QUOTE]Unlike Thomas, we have not seen, yet we have believed and have staked our lives and fortunes on the truth of the gospel.[/QUOTE]
Well, my friend Mr. Wright got to see, as did my mom. I heard and believed them, because their experiences corroborated the physical and historical evidence of Christ. I could sooner believe that the entire world is an illusion projected into my mind by a giant computer, than that Christ is not risen from the dead.

[QUOTE]And Christ commends our faith: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." [/QUOTE]
Please don't join in with the chorus that takes this quote out of context.

[QUOTE]That we believe this testimony, despite the lack of overwelming and coercive evidence, perhaps even contrary to evidence, is a work of the Holy Spirit. We even dare to speak of this faith as a way of knowing. [/QUOTE]
Your words drip with honey, and sting with venom. You acknowledge that overwhelming evidence disproves Christianity, and yet remain within the fold, sinning gravely against truth and honesty. You commit intellectual suicide, and say it is a way of knowing?

Thank God Christianity is not as you say it is father. Thank God the evidence proves it true. For if the statement you have made is true, then Richard Dawkins is right in denouncing us as the most wicked charlatans ever conceived on this earth.

If Christ not be raised, we are more depraved than Lucifer!

[QUOTE]Whenever the Orthodox Church claims that Scripture is to be read in accordance with the faith and teaching of the Church it is, in principle, invoking its infallibility. Whenever the Orthodox Church insists that the baptized are to embrace, and must embrace, the dogmatic teachings of the ecumenical councils, it is, in principle, invoking its infallibility. Whenever the Orthodox Church declares that the lives and teachings of the Fathers are part of the living revelation of God, it is, in principle, invoking its infallibility.[/QUOTE]
But if said infallibility can be established by the facts, then the Orthodox Church is not using circular reasoning here. The facts I wish to use to establish it are the written testimonies of the early Christians. Contrary to what you and your self-refuting "philosophers" say, we can actually know what really happened, by studying history.

Or rather, are you trying to convince me that evidence doesn't matter, afraid of what I might find if I look?

[QUOTE]Is Newman a skeptic? It's ironic that you should advance this accusation.[/QUOTE]
Skeptic, modernist, feebleminded, "axiomophobe"...whatever you want to call it, that's what Newman is. What's more ironic, is that he denies it. Though moderns are not known for consistency of thought and rigor of reason, are they?

I refer you to this essay as an added bonus.
http://johncwright.l...773.html#cutid1

Sorry father. I do not agree with your comments, and I do not agree with priests who think, as you think, "that we believe this testimony, despite the lack of overwelming and coercive evidence, perhaps even contrary to evidence" continuing to administer the faithful.

If you truly believe that Christianity lacks conclusive evidence behind it, my first question is: are you blind? I mean that.

My second question is: why are you still here, and do you think your flock might be scandalized if they knew the truth about the nature of your belief?

God bless you father, and may He give you eyes to see, and faith to trust in the obvious.

#28 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 09:36 AM

Dear friends,

Can I just note that some of the most recent content in this thread has become somewhat personalised, which is not constructive for open discussion. Let us all take an extra effort to speak off matters without attempt to paint characterisations of others, so that the real points of issue can be discussed openly and helpfully.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#29 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 12:02 PM

Mr. Miller, I think our conversation is at an end. Perhaps some of the Orthodox members of Monachos will engage you in your understanding of faith and reason. I think you will find that they have a very different understanding of things.

#30 James M.

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 08:02 PM

If it is considered a contribution to the discussion, I would offer Fr. Thomas Hopko's suggestion that IF the Roman Catholic Church has kept the faith of the Apostles as the Orthodox see it, then the See of Peter is likely the seat of honor among the Patriarchates. I think there is something to Fr. Thomas's remarks and leave it at that.

As unlearned as I am, I find the discussion of infallibility relative to primacy to seem somewhat puzzling if the two are considered intricately related. I find it neither necessary nor helpful, though that may have more to do with my own problems. Further, I tend to find that the matter of obedience does not require infallibility and is a matter primarily of heart rather than reason. But like I said, I am unschooled in these things.

I have tremendous respect for Rome and the Catholic Church, and remember fondly Fr. Al's "Fly ye Fools Fly" and am thankful for the guidance his Pontifications site offered. I am happy to see him here.. and take the opportunity to thank him for his guidance, as I have said, you convinced me of much... maybe not of the Roman Catholic Church... but much all the same. As consolation I would offer that Pope John Paul made me aware of sin, Fr. Al enlightened my understanding, and my wife made me understand the need to love the Church as a spouse. We should all tread lightly in this... understanding that we speak of each other's mother's - the Church. I could have readily become an RC but for my own limitations, nmy own prejudices, and the opportunity at hand of a good Orthodox parish, priest, and family. I do not necessarily think we are "one and only" option or the other... but fairly, I am no slobberingly sentimental ecumenist either - though others may feel otherwise!

Good arguments require a certain logic, but good logic that holds together does not necessarily make them true. There is indeed a difference between a good lawyer and a philosopher. Equally, Fr. Al makes the point that we cannot prove things by cold reason alone, and do take much on faith (aka Resurrection). I would add that good debate requires charity to an argument, and dealing with it on its strengths not its weaknesses. For my part Fr. Thomas's point is enough for me. And I would suggest that problem lies in the critical IF as most Orthodox see it. The saddest part of this, however, is Lossky's comment that there was a time when BOTH East and West could approach their faith either from Top-Down or Bottom-Up and still see that they held the same faith. Seems neither can or will say that today. And there's the rub.

And I mean that. I think that at the end of the day, objections to Primacy, Infallibility and the rest fall on the view that both East and West no longer see that there can be more than one way, and that these differences are fundamental rather than differing solely in the accident of detail. My guess is that addressing this end of the problem head on might be more constructive. There is danger that involves more skill than I have in delving into these things, but I would wonder that IF the schism say no new innovation in Orthodox thought, then IF there was nothing new in Roman Catholic thought... then how did we get here? If on the other hand, innovation was involved in the separation, then where has the innovation come, and if so, is this not where the Faith varied? If it did not vary, then how again are we separate? Are we reliving old battles, and arguing something old - or is it simply a lingering personal matter that has become institutionalized, and if so, how do we reconvert it to a set of personal matters among the deceased and dispense with it? And can we in truth dispense with the disagreement and move on to find agreement in Faith, or see the same God within each other? If so, then what? Re-union will involve "give" on both sides. As someone who has negotiated small legal matters in business, a good lawyer will tell you that if you want to get something, you have to give, you have to admit and you have to do this in spite of your conviction that you are right and the other guy is wrong. Anything less means that you don't really want to resolve but feed the matter.

So where do folks think these matters really lie? My guess is that neither side really wants to resolve them. And if I may reflect, I would contribute in honor of the recently reposed Very Reverend (Anglican) Henry Chadwick, that “Nothing is sadder than someone who has lost his memory, and the church which has lots its memory is in the same state of senility.”

Finally, I would add that it is indeed sad that we are here between these two proud and worthy churches unable to give each other what they need to see their way to resolving the argument. Again.... a process reason sees a way to stand in-between rather than resolve. And no, I am not arguing against reason or rationalism or in favor of emotion... but that we need a NEW dialogue rather than the same old same old. The thought is not meant to conform to sloppy ecumenism but rather to refocus as Fr. Al has done initially and better, as Pope Benedict has done by laying out clearly the position. We need to layout ours... and our difficulty lies in our ecclesiology in terms of who speaks for Orthodoxy. Many would offer themselves perhaps, but if the Pope is truly the Pope, he won't play for this as much as many opportunists might press for it, but will push back for a council where ALL Orthodox Churches would come together to address the issues in conciliar fashion. It's my two cents that a process of that nature would be a real start.

Do we have something to do in the meantime? Yes. Maybe have the Council of Orthodox Churches called for sometime back to address Philetism and the Diaspora into the West. Lotta work to do there.

Forgive me for taking your discussion off track. Hope this helps.

#31 Geoffrey Miller

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 01:24 AM

My apologies for previous attacks, Fr. Alvin. I took some of your comments about Christianity very personally. To me, it seems like you are saying that Christianity is a farce, but we should believe anyway, despite the fact that we can't ever know if it's really true until the other side of the grave.

But I really want to know if you believe that this statement is true, namely that there isn't any overwhelming evidence for Christianity, and furthermore that there is significant evidence contrary to it.

Implicit in this faith is the conviction of the infallibility of the Apostles and of the Church that mediates to us their testimony. That we believe this testimony, despite the lack of overwelming and coercive evidence, perhaps even contrary to evidence, is a work of the Holy Spirit. We even dare to speak of this faith as a way of knowing.



#32 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 02:49 PM

My apologies for previous attacks, Fr. Alvin. I took some of your comments about Christianity very personally. To me, it seems like you are saying that Christianity is a farce, but we should believe anyway, despite the fact that we can't ever know if it's really true until the other side of the grave.

But I really want to know if you believe that this statement is true, namely that there isn't any overwhelming evidence for Christianity, and furthermore that there is significant evidence contrary to it.


Mr. Miller, the questions you ask are probably best addressed in person or at least through private correspondence.

I am reminded of the debate between Elizabeth Anscombe and C. S. Lewis at the Oxford Socratic Club in 1948. Anscombe presented a paper criticizing Lewis's argument for the self-refuting nature of naturalism in his book *Miracles*. This argument was important to Lewis's own belief in God--or at least it was until this debate. Lewis's friend and biographer George Sayers relates Lewis's response to the debate:

"He told me that he had been proved wrong, and that his argument for the existence of God had been demolished. ...The debate had been a humiliating experience, but perhaps it was ultimately good for him. In the past, he had been too proud of his logical ability. Now he was humbled ....'I can never write another book of that sort' he said to me of Miracles. And he never did. He also never wrote another theological book. Reflections on the Psalms is really devotional and literary; Letters to Malcolm is also a devotional book, a series of reflections on prayer, without contentious arguments."

Lewis was shaken but he did not lose his faith. I suspect that his "defeat" forced him to rediscover for himself the deeper roots of his faith. "The heart," Pascal wrote, "has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."

There is great mystery here. If faith is to survive the challenges, sufferings, and disappointments of life, it must be built on something stronger than reasoned arguments and historical scholarship. These are not unimportant--Christianity does claim to be a reasonable and intellectually defensible faith; it does vigorously assert truth-claims--but they are a vulnerable foundation upon which to build one's life and prepare for one's death. Faith is not apologetics. Faith is not ideology. It is precisely because faith is rooted in something deeper than rational argument that we are free to honestly acknowledge the counter-evidence to the Christian claims (or Catholic claims or Orthodox claims) and not be overwhelmed or threatened by them. Each of us must discover that "something deeper."

When Sheldon Vanauken was struggling with the truth of the gospel, he wrote to C. S. Lewis and asked, "But what if I believe and my faith turns out to be wrong?" Lewis replied: "Why, then you would have paid the universe a compliment it doesn't deserve. Your error would even so be more interesting and important than the reality. And yet how could that be? How could an idiotic universe have produced creatures whose mere dreams are so much stronger, better, subtler than itself?"

#33 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 04:01 PM

There has been much mention of logic, reason, proofs, evidence, etc, etc, for the Christian faith. I thought it was all about love. When I met my wife, I didn't seek logical proofs and overwhelming evidence for my love of her or reason whether I did or not. I don't say to her, 'darling I love you with all my powers of logic and reason and because of the weight of evidence not only on a balance of probabilities but beyond all reasonable doubt'. Don't we believe in God because He grants us faith by making us aware that He loves us? It's His love that gives us faith in Him. Or so it seems to me.

#34 James M.

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 07:44 PM

When I met my wife, I didn't seek logical proofs and overwhelming evidence for my love of her or reason whether I did or not. I don't say to her, 'darling I love you with all my powers of logic and reason and because of the weight of evidence not only on a balance of probabilities but beyond all reasonable doubt'.


Agreed. For me, the whole of separation when I think of it in the spousal matter as both of us have addressed it... well, it's like a 1930's movie of the "Guy -Gets-Girl, Guy-Loses-Girl, Guy-and-Gets-Back-Together-With-Girl" variety. More to the point, we're in a record long extension of the plot - the part where the Guy has lost the Girl... and they're still bickering with each other. In this flick, seems like folks have gotten so comfortable with the separation, it's getting hard to see whether there's a real desire for re-union. This is the stage where folks rationalize and justify their positions 'cause they both want to be 100% right. Fact is, some of us are waiting for the character to show up who slaps someone up side the head and says, "Gwon... you two love each other. Would you stop bickering a make up so we can get on with the wedding and the party?" I mean as a woman in my office used to say, "Back in the sandbox, one kid pushing the other down meant I love you".

For those who prefer Westerns, maybe it's like John Wayne and Montgomery Cliff arguing pointlessly in Red River... until the girlfriend unloads the revolver in their direction to make them stop...and The Duke says, "You better marry that girl." "I think you're right... hey... you ordering me around again?" "Just a suggestion." It's the same. Whatever it is... it's much the same.. and reason supplies the bullets. I'd note that none of the bullets seem to be hitting anything and doing any damage... and maybe that's worth noting as more significant than we think. Sure, we both act like they're hitting because it's all we know how to do anymore... but neither of us is getting hurt. Note how much we both care about it though.

The trick is that someone will wake up and get on the stick... else we show ourselves as mere human denominations rather than comprehensive apostolic churches. We could go on about that... but that ought to be some of the incentive.

#35 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 09:50 PM

For those who prefer Westerns, maybe it's like John Wayne and Montgomery Cliff arguing pointlessly in Red River... until the girlfriend unloads the revolver in their direction to make them stop...and The Duke says, "You better marry that girl." "I think you're right... hey... you ordering me around again?"


Haha! I love the movie but have always hated that ending. :-)

#36 Reader Nektarios

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 08:17 AM

Geoffrey, you may wish to read Thomas Allies's book The See of Peter. Allies was converted to Catholicism because of the patristic witness in support of the Roman claims. Also see T. G. Jalland's Bampton lectures, *The Church and the Papacy* (1949). Jalland was an Anglican but believed that strong support for the papal claims was to be found in the Church Fathers. His book is out of print but can be found in the used book market. Westall's article "The Fathers Gave Rome the Primacy" has recently been made available on the internet. A study of Pope Leo's teaching on the papacy is crucial: see Walter Ullman, “Leo I and the Theme of Papal Primacy,” The Journal of Theological Studies, II 11 (1): 25–51 (1960), as well as Jalland's *The Life and Times of Leo the Great* (1940).

The Catholic Church did not invent the papacy out of thin air. John Henry Newman certainly believed that the seeds of papal supremacy were to be found in the Fathers. I do not argue that the evidence is probative, but it is more than suggestive: see my "bad reason #1."

I hope this helps.


They didn't get it out of thin air but they might as well have. 2 cents from a former byzantine catholic.

#37 Ronnie Shakespeare

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 11:48 PM

Kosta, what do you mean "intentionally" mistranslated? You make it sound as if there is'nt a single Catholic scholar on the face of planet Earth, let alone any with "intellectual" honesty and moral integrity! I am saddened that no Orthodox members here called you out on that. Why don't you produce these "forgeries," and especially the forgery of St. Maximus, if you can. And I would like you also to give a fair account of the "authorities" who have established them as forgeries.


A Roman catholic made a comment defending the SUPREMACY for the POPE by using a letter from St Maximus to Pope Honorius to support this claim.
In this letter St Maximus states SUPREME DOMINION as Regarding Pope Honorius. Does anybody here know if this letter of St Maximus to Pope Honorius was indeed a forgery?

#38 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 11:59 PM

It seems rather problematic since Honorius was eventually anathematized and St. Maximus the Confessor was one of his most vocal opponents. Perhaps these are a different Honorius and Maximus? Or perhaps something was taken seriously out of context?

How can a heretical Pope be supreme? Irony overdose.

Herman the no longer irony-deficient Pooh

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 11 July 2011 - 12:48 AM.
added a thought


#39 Kosta

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 06:36 AM

A Roman catholic made a comment defending the SUPREMACY for the POPE by using a letter from St Maximus to Pope Honorius to support this claim.
In this letter St Maximus states SUPREME DOMINION as Regarding Pope Honorius. Does anybody here know if this letter of St Maximus to Pope Honorius was indeed a forgery?


This letter was actually written to Peter and a reference within the letter was made about the pope of Rome as having universal and supreme dominion and authority and the power to bind and loose over all the other churches. And yes we reject this letter as a forgery. It is only found in a latin text.


In his letter to Marinos he refers to the pope Honorius with titles such as divine and holy, but these were titles he gave to others as well. There common hyperbole for bishops. Maximus believed just like in the case of the fillioque that there was a misunderstanding in the translations from latin into greek. (footnote 13)http://www.orthodoxy...esStPhotios.php

#40 Ronnie Shakespeare

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 11:18 PM

This letter was actually written to Peter and a reference within the letter was made about the pope of Rome as having universal and supreme dominion and authority and the power to bind and loose over all the other churches. And yes we reject this letter as a forgery. It is only found in a latin text.


In his letter to Marinos he refers to the pope Honorius with titles such as divine and holy, but these were titles he gave to others as well. There common hyperbole for bishops. Maximus believed just like in the case of the fillioque that there was a misunderstanding in the translations from latin into greek. (footnote 13)http://www.orthodoxy...esStPhotios.php


So the sense you reject maximus letter as a forgery was purely on the Grounds of misunderstanding in the Translation.




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