Why Did Protestants Stop Reading the Apocrypha?

Because they wanted cheaper Bibles.

In 2011 Ashland Seminary hosted a series of events celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Part of that celebration included setting up a museum in which we displayed various manuscripts and Bibles dating back over 2,000 years. Included among the items on display was a page from a 1611 King James Bible. But the page was not from an Old or New Testament book, but was from 1 Maccabees, one of the books contained in the Apocrypha. When people touring the museum saw this they were usually quite surprised. They didn’t realize that the Apocrypha was part of that Bible.  Today, most protestant Bibles do not include the Apocrypha and few have ever read the Apocrypha. But history reveals that the Apocrypha has been a part of what we call the “Bible” longer than it has not. For example, the earliest most complete Bible discovered at the monastery on Mount Sinai (Codex Sinaiticus) contained the Apocrypha as well as a number of other books that were and are, in general, not considered canonical. The evidence of the 1611 King James shows that while the Bible has expanded and shrunk over history, what we commonly call the Apocrypha was usually a part of the Bible.

Yet, the situation today is such that finding an English language Bible with the Apocrypha is the exception to the rule. But why is that? Was it because Protestants finally got their theological house in order and excised the spurious books? Nope! It appears that the decision was influenced more by economics than theology. Over at the Anxious Bench Blog Philip Jenkins has a good post on the history of the Apocrypha and how it was eventually removed from most Protestant English Bibles.

English-speaking Protestants lost the Deuterocanon not through any calculated theological decision, but through publishing accident, and at quite a recent date. Prior to the early nineteenth century, Anglo-American Bibles included the apocryphal section, but this dropped out as printers sought to produce more and cheaper editions. Increasingly too, during the nineteenth century, anti-Catholic sentiment encouraged Protestants to draw a sharp line between the two variant Bibles. If Catholics esteemed books like Maccabees and Wisdom, there must be something terribly wrong with them.

You can read the full post here.

 

40 thoughts on “Why Did Protestants Stop Reading the Apocrypha?

    • Jonathan, Have you studied 2 Maccabees? It is condensed work of history, not theology. See 2 Macc 2:19-32. As the compiler specifically states at v. 23: “all this, which has been set forth by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes, we shall attempt to consdense into a single book.” (ESV)

      Keep that in mind when studying the prayers for those killed in battle, 2 Macc 12:38-45. It is the condenser of a previous work of history who is.talking. It is not a prophet of the Lord or the Holy Ghost. So when looking at prayers for the dead, keep this in mind when looking at Dt 4:2 and Rv 22:18. Where did God or his prophets in OT specifically recommend or command prayers for the dead? Same for Jesus, the Apostles, and Paul in NT? Neither Jason of Cyrene nor the compilier of 2 Macc from that source were prophets!

      • So we should discard every Historic Book from the Bible, and make no allusion to it in worship or theology? Come on, your argument makes no sense ever. All the Bible is the inspired Word of the Lord, and the historic Books shows how He leads the history of the Hebrew people and gradually let Himself known to them.

        + pax et bonum

      • DH, So pray tell, which is the inspired work? Jason of Cyrene’s missing 5 volume history? Or the condensed version?

        We “use” the Word of God as intended by God. So if it is history, then it is history. We have no trouble separating the theology of the 10 Commandments in the OT from the historical narratives that also exist in the same books. Events happen in time involvling real people. But we don’t dogmatize everything that every ancient Jew said or did in the OT. We only dogmatize the OT where God, his Prophets, Christ, the Apostles or Paul specifically set that forth. God creating the universe is history. God creating it from nothing is dogma. The compilier of 2 Macc adding a comment about Judas M. and the prayers for the dead is historical commentary, not dogma. Creating purgatory, indulegences, etc. is erroneous dogma built on no foundation.

        The problem is that Rome manufactured various erroneous “dogma” like purgatory, indulgences, and intercessory prayers for the dead and to the saints. Rome then has to try to justify it when the Reformers point out how all of this is missing in the first 1,000 years of Christendom and absent from the theological teachings of the Jewish people before Christ.

        The incarnation of Jesus Christ, his Apostles and Paul all happen in time after both Jason of Cyrene’s 5 vol. history and the 2 Macc condensed version. So where did Christ, the Apostles or Paul preach, teach, recommend, or command prayers for the dead? Where is their discussion about “purgatory” and indulgences? Christ’s discussion about Lazarus and the Rich Man in Hell points out the impossibility of any efficacy. So Rome creates purgatory. And then controls the value of things related to purgatory.

      • Forgive me for intruding on this debate. I’m rather unwell at the moment, and not likely to get better any time soon, so this is just a brief interjection to satisfy my curiosity.

        Michael, I understand from your earlier posts that you are Orthodox. Yet, I find your latest posts somewhat puzzling. Are you telling me that you, as an Orthodox Christian, do not practice intercession to the Saints or offer the trisagion prayers

      • Drat. Misfire on the ‘post’ button.

        As I was saying…

        Do you not offer the Trisagion Prayers for the dead?

        Or am I now completely unhinged and incapable of reading for comprehension?

      • Stephen, I’m WR Orthodox. Can’t say I remember saying the Trisagion out of our Missal or the WRO BCP.

        Remember, we’re only taking officialy recognized universal dogma. So this isn’t about private devotions, personal piety, or even monastic activity. Some EO believe in post-death “aerial toll houses” but that isn’t dogma. I suspect some may still wrongly believe in some form of universalism but that was rejected.

        Orthodoxy hasn’t dogmatized much in these areas. Of course we accept death, the resurrection and Last Judgment. We accept Heaven and Hell as the only final realities. We accept Hell as a real outcome (no universalism). We don’t accept RCC’s dogma on purgatory and all that which goes along with it (e.g., indulgences and private masses for the dead). We recognize that there is no post-death repentence and that there is nothing we can unilaterally do ourselves to move someone out of Hell or into Heaven. So when we pray “for” the dead it isn’t like a RC prays. Probably more a commemoration? Remembrance? A longing desire to see them again? And done as a sense of love and duty, always taking into account that God is the God of the living and Christ’s words about Lazarus and the Rich Man in Hell as well as to the “good” thief on the Cross. Memory eternal!

        If any EO talk to you about dogma in these areas, always ask them which EC said exactly what when and make sure they cite the patristic fathers.😉

      • What I was taught about prayers for the dead when I was in process of being Orthodoxicated:
        1) we pray because we love, and it would be unthinkable not to pray;
        2) we pray because God is supremely merciful; and
        3) we pray because we leave everything in the hands of God.

        The Gospels remind us that God is God of the living, not the dead. So in one sense, this side of the Last Judgement, can anyone be said to be truly dead?

        I seem to recall reading John of Damascus on the subject of prayer for the dead, but I can’t remember where. I do take your point about the Orthodox being careful to draw distinctions between what is Dogma and what is Tradition (and what is tradition-with-a-small-t).

        On the subject of “aerial toll houses”, I find that Archbishop Lazarus of Ottawa speaks much sense.

        And with that, I’m withdrawing from the conversation. Too much to do, not enough time.

      • Stephen, As regards your three points, I concur. But notice that we don’t pray “for” the dead because…

        – They are in Hell and our prayer can get them out.
        – They are in “purgatory” and our prayer can get them out “immediately”, “quickly”, or “earlier”.
        – They aren’t in Heaven and our prayer can get them into Heaven.

        Once we have our immortal soul, we are never dead nor can we ever be dead. Both the souls in Heaven and those in Hell are fully alive for all eternity.

        And certainly absolutely nothing in 2 Macc supports any of the erroneous ideas immediately above! As if the Maccabean Era had purgatory, indulgences, private masses for the dead, etc.

  1. These books are readily available in at least one or more editions of nearly every major English translation including RSV, NRSV, EB, NEB, ESV, CEB, OSB, all RC editions, and more. There are some exceptions including NIV, RNIV, and a few more.

    Keep in mind that the list of such books shows part of the problem. The respective “canons” differ.

    – EO is longest, including Psalm 151 and 3-4 Maccabees, all three of which weren’t accepted in Western Christendom, but excluding 2 Esdras.
    – Anglican is longest in West, being longer than RC.
    – RCC dropped 1-2 Esdras and Prayer of Manasseh.
    – Lutheran only drops 1-2 Esdras from the Anglican Western “canon”, keeping Prayer of Manasseh.

    Best single work readily available on this, including full texts of ALL of the works discussed above, is the recently published The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes, using the ESV (CPH, 2012). See its reprint of Edwin Cone Bissell’s 1880 essay discussing these books in the then modern bible publications, heavily focused on the various and sundry 19th century issues and concerns. See also the lovely engravings from von Carlsfeld out of an 1860 edition of the Luther Bible.

    The best recently scholarly discussion and full translation of the underlying Greek texts is in the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS, Oxford Univ. Press (2007)). It has multiple versions (e.g., long and short) of many of these books.

    Ultimately, theology, not money, is at the root of the entire issue. Both which books are in the respective “canons” and the “weight” accorded these books. For example, the Lutheran edition has excerpts of commentaries by both Luther and/or Gerhard on each of the books

  2. Mr. Frost, would you have given that laundry list of Protestant talking points against evil Rome if you had not seen this as an attack by partisans of Real Catholic against Reformation United? The Orthodox pray for the dead and have those books in their copies of Holy Writ. Admitting such is not siding with Rome against your Reformed friends. I attend a continuing church, my mother has a Carpatho-Russian Orthodox priest for a cousin, and we have Masons amongst our uniate Catholic relatives. We are Catholic in the ways our ancestors would have understood, how my grandmother understands being Catholic. We are experts at creating our own jurisdictions to take care of our spiritual needs, especially when no one else wants us. Fighting the hyper-dogmatizing of Rome is a good thing. That does not mean attacking practices just because Rome does them and some Reformed Christians don’t like them. Like I said, no one wants us so we form our own jurisdictions. Not everything is either a Protestant or Roman talking point. This is not a match of Real Catholic against Reformation United with everyone having to be on one team or the other. If that is the only game available to watch, I’d change the channel. It does not interest me.

    • edmond, I’d like to think we’re talking about important things like revealed Truth and Dogma. When it comes to praying for the dead, the most important issues are why and how. We don’t do it for the reasons that Rome does. Which is why Constantinople’s objections to errors on purgatory, indulgences, private masses for the dead, etc. is in agreement with Wittenberg, Geneva, and Canterbury. And it was Rome’s insistence on the importance of these errors that made it so necessary for the Reformers to point out so strongly how wrong Rome was (is). You should study the Augsberg Confession (1530) and the RC Confutation. Though, in truth, today the average RC in the pews is all but Lutheran in name only on these issues. My RC friends wouldn’t know an indulgence if it hit them on the head and they pay no attention to purgatory.

      Don’t forget, the RCC did not finalize its canon of the OT until Trent. I forget the specific session and year of their Council. At that time they dropped 1-2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh. Anglicans retained all three of these. Lutherans only the last.

      EO has never finalized its canon of the OT. And the “weight” given these books has never been finalized by us either. Keep in mind we don’t have a Sunday OT reading.

      And, like you, I attend a Continuaing Anglican Church for most of my Sunday liturgies. I’m Western Rite Orthodox.

      • Mr Frost, I have heard it posit in the past that the Faith has mysteries, but no secrets. Isn’t that the problem with Rome, that they refuse to accept that we don’t know everything? Transubstantiation what is that but using the philosophy of a pagan Greek philosopher to explain a truth of the Faith? One could ask how did Aristotle becomes a source of revealed truths? They cannot accept that we do not know the why and how if the bread and wines becoming His Body and Blood, only that when He said this is My Body, He meant it, without Clintonian games in the meaning of is. Could not the same be said of praying for the dead? We know that it is good to pray for the dead, but the various details of the why and how we don’t know and any answers we come up with are pure theological speculation that can in no way be deemed revealed truths that must be believed any more than conclusions of Aristotlian philosophy concerning the Real Presence can be? Should we not get away from that Roman habit on having a definitive answer that everyone must believe on every point? Can we not admit that many points we cannot understand and never shall? By the way, I never realized I made Satan obsolete, or how much of family took his place

      • edmond, I’m WRO so we’re all about “sacred mysteries” including that mose awesome mystery, the eucharist. What you say about Rome has been a problem since at least the 9th century, if not earlier. And sometimes Constantinople can be too close with ancient Greek philosophy, too. Which is one reason I have great respect for the magisterial Reformers.

      • Edmond: you say “Faith has mysteries, but no secrets”. Secrets are contained and hidden in the Most Holy Trinity – if you can unveil the Trinity, you can penetrate those Secrets. However, Mysteries are revealed/disclosed to us because of and through Jesus Christ–“ALL that the Father has given ME, I make known to you”. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has this same Co-Mission, so She speaks “Excathedra”! ALL is given Her–the RCC, to preserve these revealed Mysteries in Their most protective shroud and pristine condition; made transferrable – undiluted or tainted – to All the Faithful, for All times, in All places!
        Knowledge is only ‘made perfect in Love’ – “Transubstantiation”–THE ‘Secret of Love’, or ‘Love’s Secret’ veiled, yet hidden–within The Most Holy Trinity!!

    • edmond, As a Continuing Anglican I do hope you appreciate the wisdom shown by your Anglican divines in crafting the 39/42 Articles. See Art. VI’s discussion on the canon of the OT and “the other books” (i.e., the Apocrypha). Art. XXII “Of Purgatory” is most interesting, as are portions of Arts. XXV and XXVIII on the eucharist as they relate to the living vs the dead, as made explicit in Art. XXXI. As they put it, anyone relying on prayers for them when they are dead to somehow be efficacious and get them out of Hell, or out of Purgatory, or into Heaven are foolishly relying on “fables” and “deceits”.

      • I assure you I do appreciate that particular point you note where purgatory and the prayers for the dead are concerned. Again, I have Orthodox note the mixing of Greek mythology into Roman thinking on this matter. This corresponds to the fable note in the articles. Also, there is something of presumption involved with relying on prayers after you’re dead to save your hide after your life is over and you cannot change or amend what have done in this life. It does not condemn prayer for the dead but that Roman reliance on said prayer to make up for the mess of our life after the fact when our life’s history is set in stone and unchanging, that attitude that one need not worry because people praying for you after your dead with fix all the mistakes you made in life, rather you yourself doing so in the time allotted in this life. They were wise on that point.

      • edmond, Have you ever read Graham Greene’s magnificent nove, Brighton Rock? The first in his “series” of highly RC masterpieces, along with The Power & the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, and The End of the Affair. The evil young protagonist Pinky remembers his time in church and some catechesis. He has some potentially implicit hope that he might be able to repent between falling off the saddle and hitting the ground. That was often an old-school RC thought, which I believe was tied to purgatory. Only those truly, truly evil and with no sense of Christ could be damned, and true repentence was somewhat optional since all could be recovered in purgatory. Dangerous thinking indeed.

  3. Michael and Edmond: it is clear to me that you truly do not understand the RC Church’s position or doctrine on Purgatory. As a RC I understand fully that Purgatory is a ‘place of MERCY’–of expiation for the temporal punishment due to sins that were not satisfied during one’s life on earth. It is NOT based on the ‘sin of Presumption’–that one can live Life willy-nilly or satisfy the flesh here on Earth any which way one pleases and then make up or repent in the next Life. It is NOT a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ ticket or a ‘quick-fix’- either, by others Prayers, Indulgences etc. And “true repentance” is NOT “somewhat optional since all could be recovered in Purgatory” – it is quite the contrary! Rather it is–“a CONTRITE Heart O Lord YOU will not spurn”! The Soul stands before The Lord and sees Herself (the Soul as Anima) as God sees her. If she is filled with remorse/contrite sorrow for her many sins, faults and failings in this Life, She herself feels unworthy to enter Heaven – if her Purgation is not complete. There are many levels in Purgatory (as there are in Hell) and it is there where she finds her place until…she is escorted into Paradise. It is a beautiful, beautiful doctrine because it is ALL about God–HIS Infinite Love, HIS Unbridled Mercy, Christ’s admonition of Will–“BE Perfect as your Heavenly Father IS Perfect”! It is NOT at all about the ‘Ego’s power struggle’ and how the Soul or others can manipulate God….
    Prayers and Indulgences for the dead “assist” the Souls in Purgatory in their Sufferings, like a cup of refreshing water to a ‘thirsty Soul’, or opening wide a curtain in a dark room to let-in the warm rays of the sun/SON; it is an aide to ‘relieve their Sufferings’ (which can be great indeed). The ‘Sacrifice of the Mass’ however is preeminent in an efficacious manner because of Christ’s Merits through HIS Passion, Death & Resurrection; so when The Mass is Offered for these Souls, the time allotted in Purgatory can be mitigated, remembering God’s Gratuitous Generosity! The Souls in Purgatory cannot Pray for themselves, but they can Pray for us; when we Pray for them or offer Masses for them, they are most Grateful and will in turn Intercede before the Throne of God for us. Such is this beautiful reciprocal circle-of-Love!
    Alas, the ‘damned in Hell’ canNOT benefit from any Masses, Prayers etc. Those Souls chose to go there and nothing and no One can get them out – they are in Hell for all Eternity!

    Because the Physical & Spiritual are intertwined, how “well” we Suffer here on earth and “accept” God’s Will in ALL that HE ordains & permits in our Life, much or all of our expiation can be completed in the here & now – HIS Merits & Grace make this all possible.

    • Margaret, I’m sure that the vast majority of RCs around the world don’t fully understand the RCC’s ideas about purgatory. But then the majority of RC bishops, priests, and theologians don’t seem to say much, if anything, about purgatory any more either. A critical problems is that purgatory comes with so much extra baggage. What is purgatory without the indulgences and private & other masses for the dead?

      But you are completely wrong about purgatory and love. It is all about control. Of course, purgatory isn’t the money-making scheme it used to be!

      Read the RCC CCC. See paras. 1474-1479. What this makes clear is that: (1) the super-treasury of merit has “inifinite value, which can never be exhausted” and (2) that indulgences, which draw upon this super-treasury can only be “obtained through the Church who…intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury…to obtain…the remission of the temporal punishments.” The horrible secret key is in para. 1478:

      “Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.”

      Thus, the dirty little dogmatic secret that the CCC makes clear is that the Church COULD use the infinite super-treasury to immediately release all in purgatory but the Church chooses NOT to in order to control the lives of Christians. Great scam if you can pull the wool over peoples’ eyes?

      Can you explain why a loving God and a loving pope would choose to keep saved Christians in purgatory when their immediate release could be granted at any time? (The real explanation is that there is no such purgatory nor indulgences controlled by your Church.).

      • Michael: you say I am “completely wrong…”?; I cast my lot in with countless Saints & Mystics throughout the RC Church’s history who have given Witness & Testimony to the reality of Purgatory–a place of ‘Merciful Love & Hope’ – of whom are “the Church Suffering”. Souls from Purgatory have appeared to many asking for Prayers & Masses to alleviate their sufferings; it is well documented. A more recent Saint from the past century, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, a Franciscan priest who lived in Italy, had many, many Souls appear to him asking for Prayers & Masses for them to bring them relief and to assist them in their deliverance from Purgatory. He “drew upon the super-treasury of the Church” and as he offered Mass for their Souls, he would often see them being assisted by the Angels into Heaven. St. Pio often couldn’t sleep because he was bothered so much by them, begging for help, and he never refused them. Perhaps we need more St. Pio’s in every generation? – that would answer your question in the last paragraph…. Also, why the Church would “spur Christians to works of devotion, penance and charity”, as you cited from the RCC’s CCC.
        The ‘Souls in Purgatory’ LIVE “poverty of Spirit” and are more keenly aware than any of us on earth–that theirs “will be the Kingdom of Heaven”!
        So the “dirty little dogmatic secret” (as you call it), that the RC Church just wants “power & control”…, is just what the devil wants people to believe about ‘Christ’s Church’…so he “attempts” to meddle in Her affairs…by convincing people that which She is not.

        The three seers of Fatima (young children) were taken by the Blessed Mother on a tour of Heaven, Hell ‘& Purgatory’. Our Lady often visits the Souls in Purgatory to encourage them in their sufferings and affirm them in Hope. Should we do any less by our Prayers etc.?!

      • I cannot seem to be able to reply to Margaret, only to you, Mr Frost. However, as to what is Purgatory without Indulgences? It is a place for those who are not wicked enough for Hell, but not sufficiently good enough for heaven so they are in an intermediate state in which they are purified by various degrees of suffering. This was the answer Dr Samuel Johnson gave Boswell as to the nature of the teaching, and he saw such a belief as harmless, and stated if such were true, one would pray for them as one would pray for the living. Even that great money maker, indulgences, had an innocent start. All those bizarre 500 days or 1000 days remittances and other oddities originally referred to the extremely heavy penances of the early church and these were a replacement for such. How they turned into getting time off in the next life like a get of jail free card, I don’t know, but someone saw a buck to be made there, obviously. Then again, yo can find a get out of jail free card in any system if you are looking for one, like WC Fields reading the Bible, looking for loopholes. There are plenty of suburban megachurch evangelicals who turn the whole accepting Jesus as one’s personal saviour into a joke, as if such a declaration alone punches your ticket for heaven and nothing one does can ever cancel that ticket. However, I am surprised that responded by bringing up an apparition. Revelation ended with the death of the last apostle. Neither private apparitions nor any theological speculation on revealed truths by ecclesiastical authority can be a source of new revelation. Even if Rome was the made the guardian of doctrine, this would mean preserving what was handed down, not the ability to use human reason to divine from revealed teachings details that were not handed down, as if our Lord gave us only partial revelation, leaving the Church with an inerrant ability to reason the rest out. He obviously did not do this. As I said before, I can’t reply to Margaret so I am lumping all together.

      • edmond, Very well said. Very well said indeed. (I do believe that both a doctrine about purgatory and an official acceptance of purported additional mysterious apparitions as a form of “revelation” are pernicious to Christianity.)

    • Stated simply, all apparitions that are “approved” by the RCC ( theologically scrutinized in their inherent spirituality), contain nothing that is ‘contrary to Revelation’ and therefore are Doctrinally & Dogmatically sound. They are neither a “new revelation” nor a “theological speculation of revealed truths…” but rather–a ‘living Epiphany’ in total conformity to The Gospels as handed down in ‘revealed Truth’ by the Apostles. Believing in/accepting ‘approved private revelations’ is not a requirement of Salvation nor is it necessary to accept them as a tenet of the RC Faith; in other words, one can BE a Faithful and ardent RC without following/accepting any said ‘approved apparitions’. However, the RC Church permits and even encourages this Spirituality – for the building-up & support of the Faithful in their ‘walk-in-Faith’! That is also to say, that the Church recognizes that The Holy Spirit is ALWAYS at work in HIS Church – affirming & building-up ‘the body-of-Christ’!
      Private revelations CONFIRM that which is already Believed and are NOT a “human divination” departing from ‘revealed Truth’ ( so it should not be a “surprise I brought it up”).

      Btw, what is not “harmless” but can be “pernicious”, is to tear down, reduce or make lite-of that which you do not understand nor agree with – when all along it IS the ‘Work-of-God’ Himself!
      Perhaps this discussion then can only be further taken up/finalized–in Purgatory?!

      • Margaret, I understand the circular logic undergirding your flawed analysis. By definition, whatever the current pope says is true, no matter what he says. And once he says it, it immediately makes it so. That includes approving or rejecting various apparitions and manifestations. And it is why Newman went to so much trouble to try to hide the newness behind the language of “the development of dogma”. Though just because you say something isn’t new, but developed, doesn’t make it old or established in time.

        So one day altar girls are forbidden and the next day they magically are acceptable. One day funerals for cremated RCs are prohibited and the next day they suddenly become OK. One day the Latin Rite worships in Latin and the next day the vernacular is approved. For nearly four centuries they argued with Lutherans over justification and suddenly a Joint Declaration says Oops, Trent didn’t mean or say those things we all thought it said because we’re now interpreting it anew. And so on…

        RCs are always one pope or one pope’s decision away from anything. So when a pope OKs priestesses, because the dogma developed…

      • 1. “So one day altar girls are forbidden and the next day they magically are acceptable. One day funerals for cremated RCs are prohibited and the next day they suddenly become OK. One day the Latin Rite worships in Latin and the next day the vernacular is approved.”
        Funny, that you’ve mentioned exclusively matters of discipline not doctrine.
        2. “Joint Declaration says Oops, Trent didn’t mean or say those things we all thought it said because we’re now interpreting it anew”
        No, it does not say so. Furthermore, from the Catholic standpoint it is clear that the Declaration, although true, insufficiently addresses the issue. And the funny thing is that protestants have much more trouble in affirming this Declaration than Catholics do.
        3. “RCs are always one pope or one pope’s decision away from anything.”
        You really seem not to understand how it works in the Catholic Church. Or perhaps you try to ridicule or caricature the Catholic way. It really is not that the pope can just invent some new dogma overnight and impose it on all Catholics. And recently, the question of WO is an excellent case study for how the Magisterium operates within the Church.
        4. “So when a pope OKs priestesses, because the dogma developed…” The issue of WO has been finally and infallibly closed with John Paul II’s famous statement that the Church simply has no right to ordain women.

        You are beginning to present such a distorted picture of the Catholic Church that any discussion with you really gets tiresome.

      • CC, I have an excellent knowledge and understanding of the RCC, its history, liturgics, dogma, etc.

        You should study what prior statements had been made by Rome over the centuries about minor orders like acolyte and the male priesthood. Which was why there were no altar girls until they were allowed only recently.

        As for dogmatic change…Hmmm let us see. One day there is no dogma on the immaculate conception the next day there is (1854). One day there is no dogma on the assumption the next day there is (1950). And we all remember the two ecumenical councils that created these two dogmas. My bad, no council. Just a pope and his chair? Though oddly the dogma of infallibility (1870) happens after the immaculate conception. So was the pope even infallible in 1854? But oh, that’s right, it isn’t really change at all. Just “development”. So it is possible to develop anything in any direction desired.

        And things get blurry when you look at the development in the theology of marriage annulments since the 1960s. A radical change that makes them easy to get. Essentially changed the nature of what a marriage is or isn’t.

        Or just take sin and violating the “rules”. What was the level of sin for someone who deliberately ate meat without any dispensation on a Friday in say 1913? And they had to confess or suffer the consequences in the afterlife. But now, is abstaining from meat outside of a few Lenten Friday’s mandated?

        A whole lot of changes in the past 100 years!

      • CC, A quick question. How much weight do you give to Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors (1864)? Is it infallible? If not, where is it in error?😉

      • 1. “I have an excellent knowledge and understanding of the RCC, its history, liturgics, dogma, etc.”
        Unfortunately, you present quite the opposite in this whole discussion.
        2. “One day there is no dogma on the immaculate conception the next day there is (1854). One day there is no dogma on the assumption the next day there is (1950).”
        You must know perfectly well that lack of ultimate judgement of the Magisterium (i.e. lack of dogmatisation) does not mean that there was no such belief before. Well, following your distorted logic, “One day there is no dogma on the Trinity the next day there is (325).”
        In 1950, there was not a single Catholic bishop worldwide who did not believe in the assumption; and there were only few bishops who believed that perhaps this should not be dogmatised for ecumenical reasons. So citing this as an example of an overnight arbitrary act of the pope is simply ridiculous (or, worse, intentional distortion).
        3. “Essentially changed the nature of what a marriage is or isn’t.”
        Again, it is blatantly untrue. The Catholic teaching on the nature of marriage has not changed a iota. Unfortunately, in the post-Christian world, the understanding of what a Catholic marriage is has deteriorated even among people who call themselves Catholic. As a result, a growing number of them, attending their own wedding, does not want to or is completely unable to effectively confer the sacrament of marriage onto their spouses, yet often this cannot be determined beforehand.
        4. “But now, is abstaining from meat outside of a few Lenten Friday’s mandated?”
        If you have such an excellent knowledge, don’t you know the answer yourself? Eating meat is not an inherently wrongful act, that is a sin in itself. The sin used to be in not following the rules established by the Church, because we, Catholics, believe that Jesus Christ established visible Church of which He is the head.

        As you bring more and more issues into this discussion, which seems less and less sound, and moreover, contrary to your claims of excellent understanding of the Catholic Church, you present them in a completely opaque way, any further discussion with you seems pointless to me. Feel free to come up with other standard distorted attacks against the Church established by Christ, if it will make you happy. I give up rectifying your untrue or, at best, half-true statements.

      • CC, Personal insult isn’t argument or discussion.

        Sadly, you can’t even see the point. The Council didn’t “create”, “define” or “evolve” the doctrine of the Trinity. Holy Scripture, the font of dogma, is clear about the Trinity. The Council upheld the canonical scripture. Now when I search Scripture for the assumption, immaculate conception, purgatory, indulgences, the terrible sin of breaking changing man-made fasting “rules”, the issue of “maturity” on the day of the marriage, etc…. So in the absence of any foundation, they are just manufactured from thin air. Use all the logic, reason, and philosophy you want, but that isn’t the Word of God. And it isn’t the source of divine revelation.

        I suspect my knowledge of the RCC exceeds your knowledge of EO, OO, Lutherans, the Reformed, Anglicans, Methodists, etc.

      • CC, I’d love to just sit in a room and listen to you and Margaret, a RC who cites purported apparitions like Fatima as sources of dogma and dogmatic interpretation, discuss things like how much dogmatic weight and reference does one give to Fatima & the 20th century Polish nun mystic versus the Syllabus of Errors vs the Joint Declaration on Justification vs. statements from the CDF, etc, A whole lotta sources for your Magesterium to sift thru and the pope to cite as desired?

      • Michael: in saying “…apparitions like Fatima as sources of dogma & dogmatic interpretation” – is totally distorting what I was saying. Clearly, Holy Scripture & Tradition are the sole sources for Dogma & Doctrine, along with the Magisterium for dogmatic interpretation. A given Apparition is “approved” by Holy Mother Church because there is nothing inherently false–opposed/contrary to Holy Scripture or Tradition as taught by the RCC. ‘Approved Apparitions’ CONFIRM the Faithful in that which is already Believed in the ‘deposit-of-Faith’, and are accepted as a means to encourage the Faithful in a ‘life of Devotion’, thereby building-up the ‘Body-of-Christ’! Devotions are very much an integral part of the Catholic Faith, and as such are a means to holiness, and holiness–the path of our earthly journey and the goal toward Heaven.
        Simply put, an ‘approved apparition’ is Heaven intervening at a time & place for…. There is a treasure-trove of Graces and countless conversions etc. as proof of much ‘good fruit’.
        And then a last thought: Our Lady always appeared to either children or the child-like-of-heart (as in Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego), i.e. the seers.
        Did not Jesus say: “unless you become like one of these little ones, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” or,
        “thank you Father, for not revealing these things to the wise and learned, but to the little ones” or,
        “the greatest among you must be the ‘servant of all'” – does not Our Lady come as the ‘servant–of-all’–so that we may all “do whatever HE tells us”.

      • Margaret, When you write that these purported apparitions are “but rather–a ‘living Epiphany’ in total conformity to The Gospels as handed down in ‘revealed Truth’ by the Apostles.”–you are stating they are a source of dogmatic revelation.

        I realize that with Rome sometimes it is hard to decide whether the chicken or the egg came first. So sometimes the apparitions conveniently “happen” after the dogma is proclaimed, such that it appears that the dogma is now being upheld by the apparition. That is the best sort of racket. Say something is true and then have a “mystic” or someone else purport to have Mary or Jesus say it is so. But in other cases the apparitions happen first, stimulate the thought, and then the dogma follows.

        The entire theory and practice of these apparitions is interesting. There is a famous apparition from Germany in the 1870s or so. But it wasn’t “accepted”. That is part of the racket. Accept only those you agree with or that support what you believe or support what you want to believe.

        I think the issue of Mary as (God forbid!) co-mediatrix is ready for this horrible (i.e., heretical) thinking. Rome has been primed to proclaim this heretical dogma for years. Huge petitions have been sent in by the “faithful”. Preachers have been pushing the idea for years. Thinking I heard John Corapi preach a few on the radio. I’m willing to bet some mystics have already proclaimed it. Did the one in Yugoslavia in the 1990s support it?

        What do you think of the 20th century Polish nun and her ideas on divine mercy? Is her name something like Faustina? She had a lot of thoughts on purgatory and other things. Are her ideas “official” yet? If not, why not? And if not now, why suddenly would they become OK years from now? The entire process is subjective and open to manipulation.😉

      • Margaret, You wrote, “And then a last thought: Our Lady always appeared to either children or the child-like-of-heart (as in Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego), i.e. the seers.”, What specific proof do you have that Mary appeared to anyone? Esp. Juan Diego? Was that around 1525 AD or so? I don’t remember reading that it in the New Testament. Which book of the Bible says Mary will appear in the future in Mexico? Though it does sound like you have you read the Book of Morman and accept what it says about Jesus appearing in the New World. I mean, they at least have an entire Book that purports to support the revelation. Is Juan Diego in the Book of Morman? I haven’t read it.🙂

      • Margaret, I do hope anyone reading our discussion takes the time to read about all the Marian apparitions. A good place to start is Wikipedia. I doubt you accept the Coptic Orthodox ones. And I know you don’t accept all the “unapproved” ones. But I get almost physically sick when I read all of this purported mess. This isn’t the Gospel. Thankfully we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior. And we have His primary sources of grace, Scripture, Baptism, and the Eucharist.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_apparition

  4. To get back to a comment previously made: “If you can unveil the Trinity you can penetrate its secrets”. That is not Catholic sounding at all. The Trinity is a mystery that cannot be fully understood, anymore that that boy could empty the sea into a hole he dug, as St Augustine noted. It is not some Gnostic secret to be “penetrated” by its disciples. The Church is not something created by Dan Brown. The surprise I had was the fact that you relied so heavily on apparitions to defend teachings, that, as you put it,are not supposed to be doing anything but reaffirming already taught doctrines. If so, why so rely on them to dispute with those who would not accept such sources when others are available? As you note, RCs are free to not accept them, they are not bound to believe them. The terms harmless and pernicious were used by two different people. Harmless was my reference

    • Edmond: I was responding to your quote–“Faith has Mysteries, but no Secrets”. That there are “Secrets”–hidden within The Most Holy Trinity Alone, yet veiled in Christ–I was referring to “Transubstantiation” ,most particularly. I said “if you can” meaning ‘we can try’–like St. Augustine’s experience, with the Christ child attempting to empty the ocean into a hole in the sand; my point exactly, it is NOT possible for us. Only that which is ‘revealed to us in Christ Jesus’ and ‘Jesus Christ veiled in The Most Holy Eucharist–HIS Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity’–“Transubstantiation”–the ‘Greatest Secret of Love’! GIVEN freely, unmerited and undeserved to us sinners; with what Gratitude, Purity & Love should we approach this ‘Awesome Mystery’, instead of…!

      • Pardon me for saying so, but your answer seems quite different from the quote in question. “If you can unveil the Trinity, you can penetrate its secrets” hardly sounds like a reference to Our Word’s Presence under the appearances of bread and wine. First of the Trinity is a mystery as is Our Lord’s Presence in the Eucharist. The quote sounds like a reference to some bizarre Gnostic ceremony, not a contemplation of the Real Presence. I think this is clearly a case of people using entirely different vocabularies. God did not reveal Aristotle’s notions of substances and accidents to the apostles. My point about that has always been tha, not that when Our Lord said this is My Body, He did not mean that – Luther himself said you could not get around that- only that how that happens was not handed down from the apostles, and any explanation is only mere human speculation, which as long as it does not contradict what was handed can be believed but not required for belief as if it was handed down from the apostles. However you are correct about how we should approach Our Lord in communion. Mr Frost is undoubtedly a good man, and was making a serious point about Rome’s behaviour regarding what must be believed, what distinguishes the unchangeable from the changeable, and why they refuse to say which is which until after they decide to change something, laity be damned. Even then they look for loopholes to get around what they had previously said if they really were so bold as to claim something as unchanging and they changed their mind.

  5. Harmless was my reference to Dr Johnson’s view of the Purgatory, and pernicious was Mr Frost’s reference to some other theological commentary on the same issue. Apparitions got involved due to your use of them to defend your beliefs. However the comments about when revelations ended is applicable when apparitions are not only something one accepts and believes in but becomes one source that one goes to learn the teachings handed down from the apostles. Also, the fact that for some apparitions are the RC equivalent of what Revelations is for Evangelicals does not help: material on the end days for itching ears. Not all either group do this, but some most certainly turn the Mother of God into a crystal ball. They are the ones who never shut up as well and talk the loudest. However, Mr Frost does point out one thing: the fact that the difference between discipline and doctrine – and there are clearly both in existence – was never taught clearly before Vatican II. Changes in matters that can be changed could not be distinguished from unchangeable matters. It confused the laity and many lost the faith. However, that lack of teaching was not an accident. All those things the Lefebvre an his Society claims that V II violated previous teachings of the Church by stating. Well, those matters were taught to Lefebvre in seminary as if they were infallible teachings that must be believed. Stating that a particular decision of a Pope or Council to be not infallible would mean it could be wrong and therefore people would still be free to argue about changing it. The pre Vatican II world did not allow for this. So to many, the unchanging nature of the Church is thrown out either because it is not really so or because the whole difference between Big T tradition and Little T tradition really is the difference between what RC clerics with power like and what they don’t like. It is very convenient that every time they want to get rid of something, it involved little T tradition. Ask the Armenians or Lefebvrists about that one. So every time there is teaching from the Vatican, will it eventually go down as Little T or Big T? Only time will tell. By the way, JP II didn’t say the WO statement was infallible. Ratzinger, the CDF head stated that, and last time I checked, the head of the CDF was not endowed with any infallibility. Expanding the infallibility doctrine beyond what it actually claims in the decrees that set it forth does not help. It only sounds like Shut up. Someone made a decision I like so fall in line. Maybe, given the fact people here many times don’t speak the same vocabulary it was not understood, but Mr Frost was making a clear commentary on how much Rome believes it can change, that anything it can change it believes it can and will, and that Rome does not want to make a clear distinction because they want to be as free as possible to change what they want whilst still binding their subjects to their current policy choices. They are not concernedwith the effects on the laity. I imagine they can find ways to get around that WO decree. They will just come up with more ways that more closely looks like WO without being so. If God stops them from outright ordaining women, they will come up with something that is just as good. Maybe they can use 1662 Anglican ordinal, since they claim it is invalid for installing various lay ministers. As for communion, either lay lead communion services – you could reduce the official priests to just a few in the Cathedral – or have all those in ministry around the altar for the Words Of Institution. There are no doubt many other ways for Rome to get around that without having to officially change their minds. What is illicit now is what is licit tomorrow. It is a game, I might even say of the Christmas variety.

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