On the “Development of Doctrine”

On Glosses From an Old Manse, Pastor Henderson is having a go at Blessed John Henry Newman’s theory of the “development of doctrine”.

He writes:

Has the belief that doctrine develops always been the norm in the church’s history, or is it in fact a novum (a new thing, an innovation…itself a development!)? Your answer to that question probably turns on whether you are a Roman Catholic or not, for modern Roman Catholicism is, as far as I am aware, the only church body to officially work with the notion that doctrine can be developed…

I suspect this is in response to a comment I posted on his blog a little while ago, to the effect that to deny that the doctrines of the Church have developed is to deny plain reality. In this post, he does admit that:

“1) there has been growth in the church’s subjective understanding of the apostolic deposit of faith. This growth in understanding has come about particularly as the church has had to confront various heresies, disputes occasioned by the erroneous public interpretation of aspects of the deposit of faith whose resolution called for more specific definitions of doctrine than had hitherto existed (the Christological definitions are the classic case).”
2) “various heresies” have required “more specific definitions of doctrine than had hitherto existed (the Christological definitions are the classic case)”
3) And (although he makes this affirmation by rejecting the negative) he also accepts that “actual new doctrines…explicitly contained or logically implicit [my emphasis] in the apostolic deposit of faith could develop or grow out of these confrontations” with heresy [Nb. he rejects the possibility that such developments could arise apart from confrontation with heresy, ie., through the “a normal process in the life of the church”]

So, it would be worth asking if in fact Pastor Henderson protests too much, and whether the theory of the “development of doctrine” is not, in at least some sense, also assumed by the Protestant theologians? But let us take him at his word, and agree that this is a peculiarly Roman notion. Why would it be that only Catholics have taken to this idea of “the development of doctrine”? Is it in order that we might have our cake and eat it too (eg. by proclaiming “actual new doctrines” such as the Assumption of Mary) (while claiming that we preserve the apostolic faith in its purity)? Pastor Henderson, like a modern day Charles Kingsley, certainly accuses Blessed John Henry of such duplicity, and even goes to the length of quoting Aidan Nichols in defence of this proposition.

Or is there another reason? I would like to suggest one for your consideration.

A singular difference between the Catholic Church and other Christian Churches and Communions is that we have a real, living, effective Magisterium. I don’t mean just the extraordinary magisterium of the pope, of course; I mean that ordinary magisterium that is exercised by the bishops of the Church in communion with the Successor of Peter. I would hold that apart from a true Magisterial voice, it would be impossible to speak of the “development of doctrine”.

For in order to demonstrate that doctrine has developed in the first place, it is necessary to demonstrate that a given doctrine once authoritatively taught is now – in its contemporary form – authoritatively taught in a different way – that is, in a “more developed” way – from what was taught in former times. This “development” cannot, of course, be an entirely “new thing” (Pastor Mark’s “novum”). Newman himself outlined the requirements of what kinds of “changes” may be regarded as authentic “developments”.

My point is that if your communion doesn’t have an authoritative, living magisterial voice, there is no way in which you could measure whether or not “development” has actually taken place! This is demonstrated by the fact that Pastor Mark is willing to accept the “developments” of Christological doctrine, because, like a good Lutheran, he accepts the magisterial authority of the first four Ecumenical Councils. Otherwise, he would be a Nestorian, or worse, an Arian (both Nestorius and Arius are condemned in the Augsburg Confession, if I remember correctly).

Do you think there is merit in this idea? I mean, if the Church has the authority to declare and define doctrine in reaction, not only to specific heresies, but also in the “normal process in the life of the church”, then some kind of theory of “the development of doctrine” is absolutely necessary. But if it hasn’t, then it would naturally mean that the only admissible form of doctrine would be that originally expressed by the Church in her earliest authoritative documents, aka, the Scriptures, and that every theologian, every pastor, would have the problem of determining exactly what was (and was not) originally contained in that “apostolic deposit of faith”.

And here I would like to make another observation. Pastor Henderson also runs a blog called “Lutheran Catholicity” on which he delights in finding snippets of the Church Fathers which seem to contradict present teachings of the Catholic Church. I wonder if he discovers such “snippets” as a result of his personal reading of the Church Fathers, or if he is not using some list somewhere (possibly from early Lutheran theologians such as Martin Chemnitz) which has amassed such “snippets” for his convenience. It was certainly the practice of early Reformed and Lutheran theologians to compile such “evidence” in support of their own peculiar “new doctrines” (cf for instance, the work of Ester Chung-Kim, Inventing Authority: the Use of the Church Fathers in Reformation Debates over the Eucharist).

My thought here is that his conclusions about the witness of the early Church Fathers might be quite different were he actually to immerse himself in the reading of the Church Fathers themselves, and to see these comments in their original context.

It is just a thought. I could be entirely wrong.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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24 Responses to On the “Development of Doctrine”

  1. Matthias says:

    Development of doctrines only a Catholic issue? I so not think so One only needs to see the manner in which Premillenialism developed from the writings of John Nelson darby,Dispensationalism followed and the latest is the DAY OF WRATH.
    the Church of Christ that i grew up in held to a fundamental belief in Premillenialism, the PretribulationRapture and Christ Returning to s t up His Millenial kingdom,and if you were amillenial,post millenial,preterist or historicist then you were a heretic or close to it. But it odes not end there. There are huge debates going on between pre tribulational rapture devotees ,midtribulational and or posttribulational rapture believers as to who follows the proper doctrine.

  2. Matthias says:

    I should clarify and have said that i do not believe that the catholic church has Developed Doctrine .In fact my dear old dad- a stauch proddy fundamentalist-made the point to me ,when I was working for a catholic hospital,that in the matter of doctrines,catholics believe the same as “us”

  3. William Weedon says:

    Just a couple thoughts. First, I have been accused of what you intimate toward Pr. Henderson – and it simply isn’t true. I generally read straight through the Fathers. Only times I harvest a quote without the context is when I find it in another work, and I can’t gain access to the original. I’ll bet Pr. Henderson’s experience is the same. And it’s not a handful of quotes, my friend. Any honest read of the Fathers notes massive tensions between current positions of the Roman Church on the disputed questions! Just ask an Eastern Orthodox…

    Second, on the whole matter of development, I really appreciate the manner in which Krauth describes this in *Conservative Reformation*: “The faith of the Church now is identical with what it was in the Apostolic time, but the relation of identity does not preclude growth – it only excludes change of identity. That faith must always be its essential self – whether as a babe receiving milk, or as a man enjoying strong meat. In a word, the advances are wrought, not by change in the Church’s faith, but by the perpetual activity of that faith, a faith which because it is incapable of change itself, assimilates more and more to it the consciousness of the Church, her system of doctrine, her language and her life.” (p. 270)

    • Schütz says:

      I could be completely wrong about Pr Mark’s methodology, Pastor William, and I am quite prepared to be put in my place on this matter when Pastor Mark is able to respond for himself. May I ask which of the Fathers you enjoy reading most? Do you curl up with a good sermon by Augustine? Or do you prefer the reflective theology Cappadocians?

      As for Krauth’s quotation: I say, “Yea” and “Amen.” It may not convince other Lutherans reading this blog, but Newman’s “Devolopment of Doctrine” precisely insists that authentic “growth” must “exclude a change in identity”. That is why the ordination of women cannot be considered as an authentic “development of doctrine”. Newman was big on the preservation of the original “idea” (one of his favourite terms, if I remember correctly).

      In this sense, we would see doctrines such as purgatory and the Marian doctrines as completely identical with the original “idea”, or, more precisely, deposit of faith.

      • William Weedon says:

        Oh, that’s not a nice question. It’s the way of the law to pick this over that and not enjoy the bounty of gift! ;) Seriously, I think among my favorites are Cyril of Alexandria, Peter Chrysologus, Irenaeus, Ignatius of Antioch, Athanasius, Basil the Great and Augustine. Jerome, too, when I’m feeling grouchy.

  4. Jim Ryland says:

    David,

    Opinion:
    The development of doctrine appears to be more a process of distillation in the early church rather than out-and-out “innovation”. It was not until the Reformation/Counter-Reformation that we see some weird stuff thrown at the fan from both sides. The Orthodox seem to have avoided that but the west has some dogmatic developments that are a bit of a stretch from the doctrinal foundations.

    It seems only natural from the human side to want to “pull a little more from the doctrinal clay” My question would be; why? We have enough trouble sticking to the basics and those things wrought under a siege mentality might be considered a bit spurious by some.

    • Schütz says:

      the west has some dogmatic developments that are a bit of a stretch from the doctrinal foundations

      Yes, and the topmost branch of a gum tree is a “bit of a stretch” from the roots! Growth includes “stretch”. It doesn’t include “break”, “shrinking”, “axing” or “new planting”.

      It isn’t just “human” to want to “pul a little more from the [primordial] clay” – it is a factor native to “bios”. Everything that lives “pulls” from its origins. There is not only a “development” here, but a real element of “telos” as well. We are “straining towards the finishing line” (to paraphrase St Paul). It is not only our origin, but our destination which determines doctrine.

      This was a special insight of the ARCIC statement “Mary: Grace and Hope in Jesus Christ”. The Marian doctrines are an excellent example of the faith straining from its roots towards heaven.

  5. AMBurgess says:

    Here’s an interesting Protestant take on the development of doctrine. http://www.althusius.net/theology/evolution-dogma

  6. Chris Jones says:

    if your communion doesn’t have an authoritative, living magisterial voice, there is no way in which you could measure whether or not “development” has actually taken place

    This is a key point in Newman’s own argument in his Development of Doctrine: that in order to distinguish between legitimate development and deformation, a living magisterium is necessary.

    The difficulty that I see in your point (and Newman’s) is that discerning legitimate development is dependent on the magisterial authority of the Papacy; but the concept of the Papacy as the ultimate magisterial authority is itself a development! How, then, can we be sure of the legitimacy of that particular development, without recourse to the fruit of that development (viz., the magisterial authority of the Papacy). It is self-referential and thus circular.

    It is true that you (unlike Newman) include the “ordinary magisterium” of the bishops as part of your touchstone for discerning true development, thus apparently escaping the circularity. However, the episcopal ordinary magisterium cannot be put forward as evidence for the legitimacy of the development of the Papacy, because historically the consensus among the bishops in favour of that development does not exist. That is why there was a Great Schism: the Eastern bishops declared, in effect, that the development of the doctrine of the Papacy was not found in the tradition that they had received from the Apostles.

    So neither the extraordinary magisterium (because of the self-referential circularity) nor the ordinary magisterium (because of the lack of consensus) can support the development of the Papacy. And without the Papacy as arbiter of legitimacy there can be no development of doctrine.

    So, no. No development, only the unchanging Apostolic Tradition. We can teach as dogma no doctrine that the Apostles did not teach, not even what we may plausibly claim as “implicit” in their teaching. For drawing out those “implications” is a process of human reason, and we may impose as dogma only what has been revealed, not the results of human reason.

    • Stephen K says:

      I think Chris Jones sums up the problem very neatly and soundly.

    • Schütz says:

      This is a key point in Newman’s own argument in his Development of Doctrine: that in order to distinguish between legitimate development and deformation, a living magisterium is necessary.

      Do you know, Chris, I am going to reveal my ignorance here and say I didn’t know that Newman had already made this point? (Although, it doesn’t surprise me – I just didn’t know it.) I hate to say anything about “great minds”, but I reached this conclusion on my own!

      The difficulty that I see in your point (and Newman’s) is that discerning legitimate development is dependent on the magisterial authority of the Papacy; but the concept of the Papacy as the ultimate magisterial authority is itself a development! …It is self-referential and thus circular.

      As you point out in the next paragraph, I was not really talking about papal magisterium here, but the plain old ordinary magisterium of the Church. Logic can be circular, but history never is (not absolutely, anyway), and the doctrine concerning the authority of the Roman Bishop is one that has developed through the activity of the ordinary magisterium of the Church.

      However, the episcopal ordinary magisterium cannot be put forward as evidence for the legitimacy of the development of the Papacy, because historically the consensus among the bishops in favour of that development does not exist. That is why there was a Great Schism: the Eastern bishops declared, in effect, that the development of the doctrine of the Papacy was not found in the tradition that they had received from the Apostles.

      Well now, here we get down to a question of the analysis of the historical evidence. As we all know, this is a subject of some debate at the present time (as it ever has been), but on purely historical grounds, I would say you have a choice of three narratives:

      1) The standard Eastern/Protestant narrative: The authority of the Roman bishop as successor of Peter was never in the deposit of faith; it was a positive invention of the papacy in the pursuit of power
      2) The standard Latin/Western narrative: The authority of the Roman bishop as successor of Peter was always in the deposit of faith; it was denied by certain elements in the East in the pursuit of power
      3) Or perhaps somewhere in between…and a little more charitable to one another.

      Whatever. As I am constantly learning more about the history of the “primacy” debate, I am finding myself taking “position (3) leaning toward position (2)”, rather than a simplistic acceptance of position (1) which seems to be the assumed narrative of every anti-Romanist. If we are going to move forward on this issue, we have to be able to look at the historical evidence with some independence from our prior assumptions. That is, of course, not always possible, but I did do it once in my life, with rather dramatic results…

      So neither the extraordinary magisterium (because of the self-referential circularity) nor the ordinary magisterium (because of the lack of consensus) can support the development of the Papacy. And without the Papacy as arbiter of legitimacy there can be no development of doctrine.

      I have pointed out that the development of the extraordinary magisterium cannot be “self-referentially circular” on the purely historical scientific grounds that no historical development can be circular. I have denied that the ordinary magisterium is invalid because of “lack of consensus” (if “consensus” is viewed in democratic terms – if full consensus were necessary for the exercise of the ordinary magisterium of the Church, it would hardly ever exercised at all!).

      But I will grant you that, yes, it is my ardent belief that “without the papacy as arbiter of legitimacy there can be no development of doctrine” – or at least, we would not be able to be certain of which “developments” are valid and which are not. Thus I give thanks and praise to the Holy Spirit for giving us such a gift as the living and active apostolic role of Peter, who continues to “feed Christ’s sheep”.

      So, no. No development, only the unchanging Apostolic Tradition. We can teach as dogma no doctrine that the Apostles did not teach, not even what we may plausibly claim as “implicit” in their teaching. For drawing out those “implications” is a process of human reason, and we may impose as dogma only what has been revealed, not the results of human reason.

      And here I really have ask you to sit down, Chris, and explain to me why you accept the dogma of the Church that infants can be baptised? For this is certainly not in the explicit teaching of the Apostles (at least as we have it in Scripture), but is a clear conviction that developed in the Church over time. Granted, it is “implicit” in the Apostolic Teaching, and human reason requires it because of the nature of the Sacrament itself, but you have ruled both these possibilities out!

      And while I am at it, where in the Apostolic deposit of faith do you find an implicit declaration that the collected writings of all the apostles (aka, the “New Testament”) are the Word of God? And where do you find a clear explicit teaching in the Apostolic deposit of faith that only that which is to be explicitly found in these Scriptures may be taught as dogma of the Church?

      You are up against it, I am afraid. At some stage, you have to concede both the ordinary magisterium of the Church and the development of doctrine, if not (eventually) the Papacy itself!

      • William Weedon says:

        I hope Christopher won’t mind me throwing my own $.02 on David’s taxonomy. I’d actually find myself in camp #3 also.

        In the ancient Church Rome came to be recognized as always right because she so consistently clung to the old Scriptural (and non-speculative) confession of the truth – and so a certain aura developed around the (second) See of St. Peter (not forgetting Antioch) that all the churches acknowledged – and some even tended to exaggerate (think of how St. Gregory the Great’s rebukes this!). But when Rome decided she was always right because she was ROME and Rome is always right, then the troubles began and have continued to multiply.

        If I may, there’s a distinction between “Peter has spoken through Leo” and “Leo speaks for Peter.”

        • Chris Jones says:

          Don’t mind at all.

          One thing I meant to put in my longish comment to David is that I too am in camp #3, in the sense that I acknowledge a definite primacy of Peter and his successors, but I disagree strongly with the Catholics about what that primacy means and what is included in it.

          If I may, there’s a distinction between “Peter has spoken through Leo” and “Leo speaks for Peter.”

          Excellent distinction. The council fathers at Chalcedon said “Peter has spoken through Leo” because they recognized in Leo’s Tome the same teaching that they themselves had received by tradition.

      • Chris Jones says:

        David,

        You certainly don’t understand my position. I am not a Sola Scriptura Lutheran. It makes it very difficult to address your points when almost every point of yours is an argument against a position which I do not hold.

        However (against my better judgment), here goes:

        a simplistic acceptance of position (1) … seems to be the assumed narrative of every anti-Romanist.

        That’s more than a little condescending and disrespectful, don’t you think? Does it seem possible to you that “anti-Romanists” may exist who examine the evidence as dispassionately as they can, and come to a thoughtful and honest acceptance — as opposed to a “simplistic” acceptance — of position (1)? When we decide against the Papal claims, it is not an “assumed narrative,” but the result of careful analysis of the historical and dogmatic facts.

        “no historical development can be circular”

        To be honest, I am not at all sure what that means. I am not talking about “historical circularity” (whatever that is), I am talking about logical circularity. If the Papal “extraordinary magisterium” is a development (and I think we both agree that it is), then there was a time when it had not yet been developed, and therefore could not be exercised. Then at some point in time, the extraordinary magisterium doctrine was proposed as a development, at which point it was necessary to discern whether or not that development was true or false. Without the as-yet-undeveloped extraordinary magisterium, there was no mechanism to distinguish true from false development. So the doctrine of the Papal extraordinary magisterium was caught in a no-man’s-land of “proposed but not accepted” because it would have to pull itself up by its own bootstraps.

        It seems to me that there are only two ways out of that conundrum: the Orthodox way, of rejecting the Papal claims as not belonging to the Apostolic Tradition, or the pre-Newman Roman Catholic way, in which Papal supremacy is not a development at all, but a first principle, a principle by which all other doctrines are explained and defended.

        here I really have ask you to sit down, Chris, and explain to me …

        The thing you do not understand about me (or have forgotten) is that I really do believe in the Apostolic Tradition. I disbelieve in the Papacy not because I find it unscriptural (although I do), but because I find it untraditional. So in challenging me on infant baptism and the canon of Scripture, you are fighting a straw man of your own devising. So, I will sit down and explain to you that infant baptism is part of the Apostolic Tradition, and in particular that it is part and parcel of the Church’s rule of prayer and therefore part of her rule of faith. And I will sit down and explain to you that before the Church had all (or any, really) of the New Testament books, she already had her rule of faith, her ????? ????????, handed down from the Apostles; and by the standard of that rule of faith she discerned which books were to be regarded and used as sacred scripture.

        And of course I concede the ordinary magisterium of the Church. But I do not concede that the ordinary magisterium has the authority or the means (or the desire) to “develop” doctrine. And I certainly do not concede that the primacy of the Roman Church includes any “extraordinary” magisterium, or universal ordinary jurisdiction. Because I do not find any such thing in the Apostolic Tradition.

        • Chris Jones says:

          I didn’t realize that this weblog editor won’t take Greek letters. The phrase in the last-but-one paragraph in my command should read “… her rule of faith, her kanon aleithias handed down from the Apostles …”

          • Schütz says:

            On the kanon aleithias, who determines what that is?

            I do apologise for putting you in the “Scripture Only” camp – I was probably mixing up your position with Pastor Henderson’s. Please forgive me. Yet, I the “Scriputre Only” camp has this on their side: they can at least point to a text and say “This is Scripture”. It is much harder to point to something called the kanon aleithias, or the “deposit of faith”, or even “the Tradition”, without a magisterium to say what is and is not tradition. You would say, I hope, that the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church works through the Church Councils and the liturgy and the received rites and the like. But let us go beyond infant baptism and ask about confirmation. Lutherans reject confirmation as a sacrament because it is “unscriptural”, not because it isn’t in the Tradition (which is quite clearly is). In fact, confirmation is an excellent example of a “development” of faith from the original rite of anointing that accompanied baptism (also not mentioned in Scripture, but like the adding of the water to the chalice in the Eucharist, a rite so ancient that it could hardly NOT be apostolic). Now the Western Church, at least, and I think this is a thing that can be historically shown, has always only accepted the Ecumenical Councils (and the particular canons of those councils) which the Bishop of Rome himself has confirmed. This is how we determine that the Robber Synod was not an ecumenical council (and – for a Western example – the last straggling bands of the Conciliarists after the official end of the Council of Basel). At least in the West, the Pope’s confirmation of an ecumenical council has ALWAYS been necessary.

            My point is only this: since the kanon aleithias is not a written text, it is difficult to say exactly what it is or what it isn’t, apart from the exercise of magisterium – ordinary or extraordinary.

            • Chris Jones says:

              On the kanon aleithias, who determines what that is?

              The Apostles determined what it is, and they knew what it was because Jesus told them. They then delivered it to all who believed their word and were baptized, and it has been handed down in the Church ever since. And as long as you don’t change it, you don’t need anyone else to determine what it is. It is what it is, it is what it always has been, and it is what it always will be. Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditum est. That is why it is called “Tradition,” because it is handed down (“traditioned,” paradidomi) from one generation to the next, without adding anything or taking anything away.

              It is much harder to point to something called the kanon aleithias, or the “deposit of faith”, or even “the Tradition”, without a magisterium to say what is and is not tradition.

              But if you are relying on an external authority to tell you what is and is not Tradition, you aren’t really relying on Tradition anymore; you are only relying on the Authority. Something is a part of the Tradition because it has been actually, concretely handed down from the Apostles, not because some Authority says that it is part of the Tradition. There is, in fact, nothing mysterious, secret, or abstract about the Tradition. Either something has always been taught, always been practiced, always been believed, or it has not and it is a novum. It is really not that hard to tell, because the Tradition has its witnesses: the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Canons, the Councils, and the liturgy.

              If, on the other hand, the Tradition is something that grows and develops (rather than something that we have received and must pass on exactly as we have received it), then yes, there must be some objective mechanism to regulate that development, and the Papacy is perhaps a plausible candidate for that role. But the Apostles commanded us to stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle, and guard the good deposit entrusted to you, and contend for the faith once for all delivered (“traditioned”, paradotheise) to the saints. That is not the language of “development”; none of the Apostles tells us to “take care that the faith be developed properly” or “let your teaching grow and change in a healthy way.” The Apostles did not give us a seed from which to grow our doctrine; they gave us a pattern of sound words to which we are to hold fast.

              You would say, I hope, that the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church works through the Church Councils and the liturgy and the received rites and the like.

              Not exactly. I would say that the “ordinary magisterium” is responsible for passing on the deposit of faith, of which the councils, the canons, the liturgy, and the Scriptures are witnesses. So yes, the magisterium uses these witnesses to hand down the Tradition without adding or taking away. But the magisterium must not use these witnesses to “develop” the Tradition to make it say anything which it has not always said.

              But let us go beyond infant baptism and ask about confirmation …

              Don’t get me started about confirmation.

              Lutherans reject confirmation as a sacrament because it is “unscriptural”, not because it isn’t in the Tradition (which is quite clearly is).

              Not precisely true. Lutherans reject confirmation as a sacrament because we don’t see it as being distinct from baptism, which historically it never was. Confirmation is nothing more than the pneumatological aspect of baptism. In baptism, we are united to Christ in His death and resurrection, and we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit (“born again of water and the Spirit”).

              In fact, confirmation is an excellent example of a “development” of faith from the original rite of anointing that accompanied baptism

              I disagree. The “rite of anointing” (chrismation) was not something that “accompanied” baptism, it was an inseparable part of baptism, without which the baptismal rite is incomplete. To defer confirmation and thus separate it from baptism, as if a believer could be united to Christ without being given the gift of the Holy Spirit, is a travesty. So confirmation, as a distinct and separable rite, is an excellent example of a “development” that is a deformation. That is the meaning of the Lutheran protest against confirmation as a sacrament: not that the Holy Spirit is not sacramentally given, but that the Spirit is given in baptism, because the sacramental union with Christ and the sacramental gift of the Holy Spirit cannot and must not be separated. (That is also why Luther’s original baptismal rite includes the laying-on of hands to signify and effect the giving of the Holy Spirit.) Lutherans, after all, are the ones who insist that the Holy Spirit is given through the means of grace, and not otherwise: For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith.

            • Schütz says:

              And as long as you don’t change it [the kanon aleitheias], you don’t need anyone else to determine what it is.

              Again, as I like to say, “there’s the rub”, ain’t it? Ever since the beginning, there have been various teachings on what is and what is not the Apostolic faith, and it was necessary for someone who had authentic authority to confirm for the faithful what the authentic faith was. We see this already in the New Testament itself, and it is immediately there in Irenaeus and Ignatius. Thus, the preservation of tradition absolutely requires an authoritative and living magisterium.

              It is what it is, it is what it always has been, and it is what it always will be. Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditum est.

              But again, we all know the problem with this famous dictum of the famous semi-Pelagian. It is altogether to simple and does not face the real complexities of the problem of determining the Apostolic faith, because never was one thing taught “semper, …ubique, …ab omnibus”. Hilary himself was having difficulty accepting a particular “development of doctrine”, namely Augustine’s doctrine of original sin. This doctrine, accepted by Catholics and Lutherans alike, is rejected by the Orthodox. What to do?

              That is why it is called “Tradition,” because it is handed down (“traditioned,” paradidomi) from one generation to the next, without adding anything or taking anything away.

              And by its very nature, “tradition” implies the authority to “tradere”. Even in 1 Corinthians, where Paul employs the concept, there is implicit in both his “for I received” and “I also handed on” that he received it from an authoritative source and he had the authority to declare its authenticity as he handed it on.

              But if you are relying on an external authority to tell you what is and is not Tradition, you aren’t really relying on Tradition anymore; you are only relying on the Authority. Something is a part of the Tradition because it has been actually, concretely handed down from the Apostles, not because some Authority says that it is part of the Tradition

              As I have said above, I think “tradition” carries the implicit requirement of “authority” to hand on and determine what the authentic “tradition” really is.

              Either something has always been taught, always been practiced, always been believed, or it has not and it is a novum.

              As I have pointed out, that is too simplistic. It simply does not take account of the diversity of teachings that existed and the need to distinguish between what is a “novum” and what is consistent with the original apostolic faith.

              It is really not that hard to tell, because the Tradition has its witnesses: the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Canons, the Councils, and the liturgy.

              The notion of “witnesses” in itself – and especially in these examples you give – proves my point about authority. There are many “witnesses”, but which “witnesses” are authentic? Someone had to determine the “kanon” of Scripture, someone had to declare which Councils were and were not “ecumenical”, someone had to determine the “kanon” of the liturgy (cf. for eg. the “Roman Canon”), someone had to recognise who were and who were not reliable “Fathers”. These “someones” had to be “authoritative” witnesses.

              the Papacy is perhaps a plausible candidate for that role.

              As “plausible” at least as a “witness” as the Scriptures, the Liturgy, the Councils and the Fathers. All these are examples of the Church’s authoritative magisterium.

              But the Apostles commanded us to stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught

              The implied question here is “taught by whom?” Only those who had the authority so to teach, ie. magisterium.

              [N]one of the Apostles tells us to “take care that the faith be developed properly”

              That is understandable. None of the apostles (as far as we can guess) assumed that the Church would have a two thousand year plus period in which it was necessary for their teachings to engage with new circumstances. They had difficulty, for eg., even with the “development of doctrine” represented by the teaching of St Paul with regard to the Gentiles. Peter was not ready to receive this “development” immediately. As a conservative in regard to the “tradition” he saw Paul’s teaching as a “novum” – until God revealed to him that this was an authentic development of the Gospel.

              I would say that the “ordinary magisterium” is responsible for passing on the deposit of faith, of which the councils, the canons, the liturgy, and the Scriptures are witnesses.

              But it is precisely AS “witnesses” that the Councils etc are ordinary acts of the magisterium. And right from the first Council of Jerusalem, they did in fact determine what was and was not an authentic “development” of the faith (which Paul’s gospel for the Gentiles most certainly was).

              Lutherans reject confirmation as a sacrament because we don’t see it as being distinct from baptism, which historically it never was. Confirmation is nothing more than the pneumatological aspect of baptism.

              I am prepared to go with you on that point – but in conceding it, you also concede the sacramental nature of confirmation, even if you do not concede it as a “separate” sacrament in its own right.

              The “rite of anointing” (chrismation) was not something that “accompanied” baptism, it was an inseparable part of baptism, without which the baptismal rite is incomplete.

              Well, okay. That’s what I meant by “accompanied”.

              To defer confirmation and thus separate it from baptism, as if a believer could be united to Christ without being given the gift of the Holy Spirit, is a travesty.

              The separation of confirmation/chrismation from baptism was an historical development, arising from the question of who had the authority to bestow it. The Lutheran reformers did not argue that confirmation must be restored to the moment of baptism (as in the East); rather they taught that it was not a required rite at all.

              (That is also why Luther’s original baptismal rite includes the laying-on of hands to signify and effect the giving of the Holy Spirit.)

              But Luther, in a “deformation” rather than “reformation”, omitted the anointing in toto in his later baptismal rite. This cannot be said to be consistent with the tradition – as both Catholics and Orthodox object. We do not deny that the gift of the spirit is given in baptism, rather we say that confirmation, as a completion of the baptismal rite, seals and perfects (in the sense of completes) the initiation begun in baptism.

        • Schütz says:

          “no historical development can be circular”

          To be honest, I am not at all sure what that means. I am not talking about “historical circularity” (whatever that is), I am talking about logical circularity.

          I meant this: the development of the doctrine of the extraordinary magisterium of the papacy was not a “logical” development, but an “historical” one. Ie. it arose by historical process rather than by a logical process.

          And my point about history (like good logic) is that it is not and cannot be circular. It is linear. It has a beginning and end – or at least points along a continuum. It doesn’t go around in circles.

          So while the argument for the papal magisterium looks “circular” when it is argued out logically, it was historically not circular, but linear, in development.

          • Chris Jones says:

            the development of the doctrine of the extraordinary magisterium of the papacy was not a “logical” development, but an “historical” one.

            That is just silly. Every development is an historical development, the false ones as much as the true ones. To say that it is “historical” does not mean that it does not have to be demonstrated to be true. Arianism, Pelagianism, and Nestorianism were all “historical developments,” and they were false. Who is to say that the Papacy — an historical development just like those — is not as false as they were?

            If the Papacy is the sole means to distinguish true developments from false, then the Papacy must validate its own claim to be a true development. Describing the development as “historical” does not obviate that self-referentiality, and in fact buys you nothing.

            • Schütz says:

              Every development is an historical development, the false ones as much as the true ones. To say that it is “historical” does not mean that it does not have to be demonstrated to be true.

              No, of course not. I wasn’t arguing that it did mean that. You were rejecting the magisterium of the Roman Papacy on the grounds of it being “logically circular”. I was pointing out that it was not a doctrine reached on the basis of “logic”, but which developed historically. As an historical development, it cannot be “circular” because it has a beginning and an end, whereas a logically “circular” argument does not. As for being “self-referential”, well that would be true if you could historically show that the magisterium of the Bishop of Rome is something that the Bishop of Rome himself (or in his 250 or so manifestations) has imposed upon the Church. I don’t think that you can demonstrate that.

              My reading of history is that there was at least a broad recognition of some kind of special significance pertaining to the Apostolic See from the beginning, and that Christians of different times and locations over the years came to see this significance in conflicting terms. It was the faith of such Christians over the centuries that affirmed the authority of the Bishop of Rome (or denied it). In so far as the pope’s defended their own magisterial authority, they were acting not in some sort of “power grab” for themselves, but out of the conviction that they were preserving an essential component of the original deposit of faith.

  7. Tony Bartel says:

    David, as I am sure you are aware, the difficulty with approaching the patrisitic tradition in the manner Pastor Henderson does is that one must necessarily be selective in what one reads from the fathers or even a particular father. In a recent post, Pastor Henderson quoted Saint Cyril of Jerusalem on the authority of Scripture.

    http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com/2011/05/cyril-of-jerusalem-on-scriptures.html

    As my response showed (printed below), what Saint Cyril of Jerusalem meant by the authority of Scripture is very different from what Pastor Henderson means. As Newman said: “To be deep in history is to cease to be a protestant.” Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Basil, Gregory, Ambrose, Augustine et al were simply not sola scriptura protestants and to make their words sound like they were you must take them out of the context in which they were written.

    ——————-

    Dear Pastor Mark,

    Clearly, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem saw his teaching grounded in and proven by Holy Scripture.

    The question is, though, what did Saint Cyril mean by “proof from the Scriptures.” It may well be that he meant something very different from what Luther.

    For example, the very same Saint Cyril who insisted on proof from the Scriptures, taught the following on Holy Chrism:

    “But beware of supposing this to be plain ointment. For as the Bread of the Eucharist, after invocation of the Holy Ghost, is mere bread no longer, but the Body of Christ, so also this ointment is no more simple ointment, nor (so to say) common, after the invocation, but the gift of Christ; and by the presence of His Godhead, it causes in us the Holy Ghost.” Mystagogical Catechesis III.4

    He later appeals to the anointing of Moses and Solomon as priest and king as types of Chrismation. Finally he quotes Isaiah 25:6 in the Septuagint: “They shall be anointed with ointment”.

    Saint Cyril’s proof from Scripture consists of an analogy with the Eucharist, the type in the Old Testament and a passage which historically made reference to anointing in the context of a promised feast in Jerusalem.

    From my understanding, and correct me if I am wrong, this is a very different proof from Scripture than the one for which Luther asked, and which you have asked for in relation to the question of relics.

    Kind regards

    Tony Bartel

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