Thanks to Dan at "Beatus Vir"; and a Defence of Newman's "Development" thesis

I just want to say a big “Thank you” to Dan at Beatus Vir (a rather odd blog which has nothing on it except a link to three excellent documents that every Lutheran should read and then ask himself: Why I am not a Catholic?) for doing an excellent job in the combox discussion to my post below on Sacred Scripture establishing doctrine.

I have been a little pre-occupied with mundane matters of late, and have not had the opportunity to pursue my argument with Pastor Weedon as the topic deserved (with relentless logic and multiple quotations from the Fathers). Riding to the rescue comes Dan with the most excellently argued and well expressed reposts. Truly, Dan, you should put something on your own blogsite. No, on second thoughts, I am quite happy with you continuing your excellent apologetics on my blog!

And, while I can understand how Past Elder rejects the thesis of Newman’s “Essay on the Development of Doctrine” (clear proof of history and logic of argument meaning little in that quarter), I can’t quite make out how Pastor Weedon can dismiss it in such a cavalier fashion. He wrote (in the same combox string):

You have frequent recourse to Newman; I do not buy his entire line of argument of development and hence growth of the doctrinal corpus.

The faith of the Church is the faith of the Apostles; and the Apostles under the Holy Spirit’s influence wrote for us an inspired record of what they believed and what they taught and the Church is bound to this record in her teaching. To quote another Father on this very matter:

“What is the mark of a faithful soul? To be in these dispositions of full acceptance on the authority of the words of Scripture, not venturing to reject anything nor making additions. For, if ‘all that is not of faith is sin’ as the Apostle says, and ‘faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,’ everything outside Holy Scripture, not being of faith, is sin.” Basil the Great (The Morals, p. 204, vol 9 TFOTC).

Dan nicely shows how Pastor Weedon’s interpretation of the matter is clearly at odds with what St Basil himself wrote in another place, but nevertheless, can it truly be said that, by reflecting upon the deposit of faith which the apostles received from our Lord, authentic Catholic theology has been guilty of “rejecting anything or making additions” to that faith once received? Applied strictly, Pastor Weedon would require that we only use the words of Scripture itself in our preaching, and not interpose any interpretation or elucidation of our own. The fact is that in his essay, Newman describes and seeks to explian nothing other than what has actually and indisputably taken place in regard to the dogmatic affirmations of catholic and orthodox Christianity.

How anyone can deny it is beyond me. It is like denying that the sun comes up every morning simply because one has read somewhere in a science book that it is the earth which goes around the sun, and not vice versa.

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30 Responses to Thanks to Dan at "Beatus Vir"; and a Defence of Newman's "Development" thesis

  1. Beatus Vir says:

    Thanks for the kind words, David.

    I just put the blog up, and am in the process of getting several things put together before it’s debut. You kinda just walked into the room when I had my pants down! …And then said to your friends, “come and look at this, what a very odd thing I have found!”

    But that’s okay. I was wearing boxers, and I do have the physique of a greek god (but unfortunately more like Bacchus, than Apollo.)

    Just give me a week or two to get going “for real” and don’t let the links raise your expectations too highly! I doubt very much that I’ll do as fine as a job as is done right here.

  2. William Weedon says:

    I’d urge that St. Basil’s works be read as a whole. The more I’ve read of him, the more I see that the statement in later part of *On the Holy Spirit* is not representative of his usual approach. Those who cry out: “You’re taking him out of context” seem invariably to be those who have NOT read much of him. Now, I am not setting myself up as an expert, for I’ve read him only in English, but I have read several of his works and I was not simply “picking” quotes from works that I hadn’t tried to read and understand. I think if you contextualize St. Basil, as any scholar worth his salt would try to do, you’d not ignore the role that he assigns to Scripture in numerous spots of his writing as being the sole fountain from which the Church serves up the water of life.

  3. Beatus Vir says:

    Pastor Weedon,

    Yes, I am the Dan you know, although, as you can see, not exactly the Dan you knew. Salve, my friend.

    So where do I begin. Let me start by pointing out that your position on Sola Scriptura, if we are honest, isn’t exactly what Lutherans hold. You may have a few quotes from Luther on infant baptism, but they pale in comparison to his whole line of argument in “On the Councils.”
    Nor do I think Chemnitz’ discussion on the kinds of tradition really help you out of this.

    The question is about which teachings and practices are binding to consciences, and which are not. You said infant baptism was not a dogma. Chemnitz, under the 5th kind of tradition, calls it a dogma of faith. But the question is not really about nomenclature, or your definition of the word “dogma.”

    The question is whether you are bound, by your confession, to baptize the infants who are brought to you. May a pastor in the LCMS say, “Sorry, I don’t do that.” Would you be right to confirm someone who flatly rejects it as something not taught in the Scriptures? The answer, of course, is no. On what basis? That it is a apostolic tradition? Who says? The fathers could be wrong, after all, you say they were wrong on the “chief article of the Christian faith.” And when it comes to the actual practice of the Fathers, who delayed baptism much after infancy, and then you have a few early fathers who witness against it. It’s hard to make a conclusive argument there.

    And then we come back to the invocation of saints. I can’t remember whether any church father call it a “apostolic tradition.” Nor have I ever looked for that terminology in this connection. (Although I think the Council of Trent has so called it.) But what if? There are a good many practices that the Fathers do call apostolic, and which Lutherans reject. And one must have in mind, also, on what basis they refer to something as apostolic, namely, it had existed in the Church from ancient times and was universal, being attested to by those who were choses to follow in the seats of the apostles.

    Nor is there any evidence that the invocation of saints was not practiced in the couple hundred of years between the Apostles and written references. And if it were an innovation, as idolatrous or close to idolatrous as you believe it to be, one would clearly expect to find some reference to the controversy.

    This is hardly a foundational argument, I realize. But hardly may it be totally dismissed either. One would think that any large scale assaught diminishing the “glory of God”, if it were thus understood, would have historical reference somewhere. But the silence suggests that no such controversy every took place, or that no later generation had deviated from the teaching of the apostles. Perhaps such an ungodly innovation may have taken hold in one region, but in them all?

  4. Beatus Vir says:

    And now we have come full circle back to St. Basil. May he pray for us as we ponder his words.

    I believe my very first words in this discussion were precisely to the point that Catholics don’t have to try to reconcile what Basil said at the beginning or the end, or in this work or that one. What presents itself to you as an inconsistancy or tention to be resolved, or perhaps not resolved. Is for Catholics, a harmony. Perhaps that is a good analogy, for the doxology of our faith is sung, not in monotone, but in polyphony. You see a contradition between “do” and “fa” because “do” is not “fa.” For the Catholic, it’s all part of the same chord.


  5. William Weedon says:


    As a Lutheran you know I affirm that St. Basil oraT pro nobis. :)

    Sometime I’d like to hear more of your story – if you’d be willing to share. But know it’s you makes a short-cut in the discussion.

    You disagreed sometime back on a blog – was it Consensus – with Fenton’s approach to the catholic principal. You are saying now that you reject that position on sola Scriptura you then espoused; and you are arguing that the position I take on the catholic principal is not essentially Lutheran (on that you have not changed!). I’m not sure that we need to rehash that whole discussion again.

    About Basil, I think your argument has it in reverse. It’s Rome that loves the single voice of Gregorian Chant and the Lutherans who were the masters of polyphany! ;) Seriously though, I’m NOT arguing that one note or the other be heard alone; but that in Basil both notes be heard together – something that does not happen with RC/Orthodox apologists lift the one section from On the Holy Spirit and ignore his numerous other statements on the topic.

  6. William Weedon says:

    One more thing, I also think it is worth noting how often he sounds the one note in comparison with his frequent sounding of the others. If I may say it such, his teaching in par. 66 of On the Holy Spirit strikes me as a bit of a grace note on the way he most commonly speaks, FWIW.

  7. Past Elder says:

    You keep asking, either in so many words or in other words, why are you not Catholic.

    Now that Pastor is engaged, I’ll leave so far as I can a Lutheran answer to his more capable hands in this matter, and re-state what is really all I came here to state originally — I am not Catholic because being a conciliar Catholic is as much a rejection of the Catholic Church as being any other non-Catholic Christian, and the Catholic Church has no greater enemy on the face of the earth than conciliar Catholicism.

    Of course, now I am not Catholic because I am Lutheran, but that came twenty years later.

    Pay a little more attention to Manning rather than Newman. You might be less likely to enlist “history” and “reason” to have Scripture and the church come out saying whatever the Roman Catholic Church says they say.

  8. William Weedon says:


    Your comment on Manning is bang on right! I have a lot more respect for those Roman Christians who can look the history in the face and admit: “well, that’s not exactly in our favor” than those who have to pretend that it was always there “in embryo” or such.

  9. William Weedon says:

    One more point: I do NOT say that the Fathers were wrong on the chief article of the faith! I say that both Rome and the East do not attend fully to what they clearly taught on the subject. Of all the fathers, St. John Chrysostom seems to have had the penchant for tossing that sola alongside fide – all over the place!

  10. Schütz says:

    There is much in our history which “is not in our favour”, Pastor W. Who could say otherwise? Not this little black duck. I have SOME sense of history!

    But in the end, I have to keep coming back to this bunch of “only men” (and “only women”, one might add). They are embarrassingly human, but they are what God chose to deal with. Just as he chose “only water” and “only bread” and “only wine” etc.

  11. Past Elder says:

    No, it is not just as he chose “only” water, bread, the fruit of the vine etc.

    Maybe that’s yet another way the whole point comes out — the RCC takes what Jesus did say and analogises arguments for things he didn’t and puts them all on the same level. Zum B, the Incarnation is just that, not a “principle”.

    Since I said I leave the Lutheran lifting to Pastor and then promptly didn’t, I’ll tie it in like this: my first clue was when the RCC presented new analogies to replace the old ones and it didn’t add up except that they said it did. Something was wrong, and first I thought it was the whole deal about Christ if this is his church, later to find it was the whole deal about church and had been for centuries, not starting at Vatican II

  12. William Weedon says:

    Hey, I didn’t have that “u” in favor! You’re obviously altering my words. ;)

  13. Past Elder says:

    Oddly enough, this whole Newmanian business of something new being held as only a new found clarity on something that was there all along was a major factor in my switch from WELS where I was an elder to LCMS.

    This was the work of the co-called Wauwatosa theologians re the Office of Holy Ministry and whether synod is church in the same sense the parish is church.

    My own pastor, for whom I was an elder, was the one who put it best and supplied references for further information and detail. The whole WELS position on these matters — whose nature is not important to the point here — was quite Newmanian: these were not new positions and doctrines as some allege, but the positions and doctrines that were there all along but not with the clarity now brought out.

    I’d been there before: this is how black becomes white, how white becomes a development of black, how anything becomes anything else and is yet the same, according to what it is one wants to maintain and still call it the same. There had to be something wrong with that! I’ve already read Lao Tsu, forget Newman and do it up right, be a Taoist! And I ended up in LCMS, the worst synod in the world, except for all the others. (HT to Pastor Lehmann)

    PS — if there are no revealed scriptures, iow if there is no book revealed by God and all which claim they are are false, then imho Lao Tsu is the only spiritual writer worth reading!

    Well, throw in a little Chuang Tsu too. Thomas Merton liked him and published a translation of some of his passages, if memory serves. Gee whiz. Nietzsche, Rabelais, now Lao Tsu, if we get Mark Twain and Saint-Exupery worked in here somehow we’ll cover about my entire “short list” of books!

  14. Beatus Vir says:

    Pastor Weedon,

    You wrote “Of all the fathers, St. John Chrysostom seems to have had the penchant for tossing that sola alongside fide – all over the place!”

    I’m pretty sure He would not have used the Latin lingo. But you are right about one thing, all over the place he uses the words “faith” and “alone” or “only”, but what is important are the other words he tosses in there too, like “not by” and “not sufficient for salvation.” Check it out:

    “Though a man believe rightly on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, yet if he lead not a right life, his faith will avail nothing towards his salvation. Therefore when He saith, “This is life eternal, that they may know Thee the only true God” ( John 17.3 ), let us not suppose that the (knowledge) spoken of is sufficient for our salvation; we need besides this a most exact life and conversation. Since though he has said here, “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life,” and in the same place something even stronger, (for he weaves his discourse not of blessings only, but of their contraries also, speaking thus: “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him”;) yet not even from this do we assert that faith alone is sufficient to salvation. And the directions for living given in many places of the Gospels show this. Therefore he did not say, “This by itself is eternal life,” nor, “He that doth but believe on the Son hath eternal life,” but by both expressions he declared this, that the thing (fn. “i.e. believing”) doth contain life, yet that if a right conversation follow not, there will follow a heavy punishment. Chrysostom, Homily XXXI on John (3: 35, 36). NPNF 1 vol..14. Page 106.

    “Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” He shows that not faith only, but a virtuous life also is required, and the consciousness to ourselves of nothing evil. Since the holy of holies does not receive “with full assurance” those who are not thus disposed. For they are holy, and the holy of holies; but here no profane person enters. They were sprinkled as to the body, we as to the conscience, so that we may even now be sprinkled over with virtue itself. Chrysostom, Homily XIX on Hebrews. NPNF 1 vol.14. Page 445.

    But wherefore hath He chosen us? “That we should be holy and without a blemish before Him.” That you may not then, when you hear that “He hath chosen us,” imagine that faith alone is sufficient, he proceeds to add life and conduct. To this end, saith he, hath He chosen us, and on this condition, “that we should be holy and without blemish.” Chrysostom, Homily I on Ephesians.. NPNF 1 vol.13. Page 50.

    3. After this, that we may not be confident in the gospel merely preached, nor think that faith only suffices us for salvation, He utters also another, an awful parable. Which then is this? That of the net.
    “For the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.”And wherein doth this differ from the parable of the tares? For there too the one are saved, the other perish; but there, for choosing of wicked doctrines; and those before this again, for not giving heed to His sayings, but these for wickedness of life; who are the most wretched of all, having attained to His knowledge, and being caught, but not even so capable of being saved. Chrysostom, Homily XLVIII on Matthew.. NPNF 1 vol.10. Page 295.

    “Then in order that not even these should put confidence in their faith alone, He discourses unto them also concerning the judgment to be passed upon wicked actions; to them that have not yet believed, of coming unto Him by faith, and to them that have believed, of care with respect to their life. For the garment is life and practice.
    And yet the calling was of grace; wherefore then doth He take a strict account? Because although to be called and to be cleansed was of grace, yet, when called and clothed in clean garments, to continue keeping them so, this is of the diligence of them that are called.” Chrysostom, Homily LXIX on Matthew.. NPNF 1 vol.10. Page 423.

  15. William Weedon says:


    How do you see that in any way different from a preaching against carnal security that takes faith as an opinion (hence, dead faith) and relies on that as a get out of hell free card? Compare the above from St. John Chrysostom to the way Walther preached:

    Arise! If we want to serve God, let us not only hear His Word but also act by the faith that is active in love. Let us not suppose that we have already served God merely by going to church, partaking of Holy Communion, confessing our sins, and returning to our home where we speak pious words on our knees. Let us practice love for our neighbor. Let us visit the orphans and widows, armed with a mouthful of comfort and a hand full of works of love. Let us clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, receive the needy into our home, visit the sick, and help those in distress, including the oppressed Church of Christ. – C.F.W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 428

    While it is impossible to obtain salvation by holiness, it is entirely possible for a person to lose his salvation again by the neglect of his holiness. — C.F.W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 277

    Woe, therefore, to those who, after they come to faith in Christ, think they have now received a license freeing them from the earnest pursuit of sanctification. — C.F.W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 274

    The Christian should be a person of progress. He should never stand still, but always seek to go forward. He should always be found actively doing the will of God, always in battle for the treasure, always in the race for the crown of glory. With each day he should come closer to the goal, that is, seeking to become holier and more like Christ. — C.F.W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 271

    Do you hear a difference in substance here? I sure don’t!

  16. William Weedon says:

    The passages from St. John Chrysostom you might want to add to your collection are these:

    The favors of God so far exceed human hope and expectation, that often they are not believed. For God has bestowed upon us such things as the mind of man never looked for, never thought of. It is for this reason that the Apostles spend much discourse in securing a belief of the gifts that are granted us of God. For as men, upon receiving some great good, ask themselves if it is not a dream, as not believing it; so it is with respect to the gifts of God. What then was it that was thought incredible? That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. — St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Timothy 1

    “They said that he who adhered to faith alone was cursed; but he, Paul, shows that he who adhered to faith alone is blessed.” – St. John Chrysostom (Homily on Galatians 3)

    “But he calls it their ‘own righteousness,’ either because the Law was no longer of force, or because it was one of trouble and toil. But this he calls God’s righteousness, that from faith, because it comes entirely from the grace from above, and because men are justified in this case, not by labors, but by the gift of God.” – St. John Chrysostom (Homily 17 on Romans 10:3)

    “Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” Homily 7 on Romans – St. John Chrysostom

    “For you believe the faith; why then do you add other things, as if faith were not sufficient to justify? You make yourselves captive, and you subject yourself to the law.” – St. John Chrysostom (Epistle to Titus, Homily 3, PG 62.651)

    “’To declare His righteousness.’ What is declaring of righteousness? Like the declaring of His riches, not only for Him to be rich Himself, but also to make others rich, or of life, not only that He is Himself living, but also that He makes the dead to live; and of His power, not only that He is Himself powerful, but also that He makes the feeble powerful. So also is the declaring of His righteousness not only that He is Himself righteous, but that He doth also make them that are filled with the putrefying sores (katasapentaj) of sin suddenly righteous. And it is to explain this, viz. what is “declaring,” that he has added, “That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men. And be not abashed and shamefaced. For if He Himself openly declareth (endeiknutai) Himself to do so, and He, so to say, findeth a delight and a pride therein, how comest thou to be dejected and to hide thy face at what thy Master glorieth in?” – St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 3

    “But what is the ‘law of faith?’ It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 3

    “For the Law requires not only Faith but works also, but grace saves and justifies by Faith. (Eph. ii: 8)
    You see how he proves that they are under the curse who cleave to the Law, because it is impossible to fulfill it; next, how comes Faith to have this justifying power? for to this doctrine he already stood pledged, and now maintains it with great force of argument. The Law being too weak to lead man to righteousness, an effectual remedy was provided in Faith, which is the means of rendering that possible which was “impossible by the Law.” (Rom. viii: 3) Now as the Scripture says, “the just shall live by faith,” thus repudiating salvation by the Law, and moreover as Abraham was justified by Faith, it is evident that its efficacy is very great. And it is also clear, that he who abides not by the Law is cursed, and that he who keeps to Faith is just. But, you may ask me, how I prove that this curse is not still of force? Abraham lived before the Law, but we, who once were subject to the yoke of bondage, have made ourselves liable to the curse; and who shall release us therefrom? Observe his ready answer to this; his former remark was sufficient; for, if a man be once justified, and has died to the Law and embraced a novel life, how can such a one be subject to the curse?” – St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Galatians 3

    “God does not wait for time to elapse after repentance. You state your sin, you are justified. You repented, you have been shown mercy.” – St. John Chrysostom, Homily 7 On Repentance and Compunction, p. 95 in FOTC, vol. 96.

  17. Beatus Vir says:

    “Do you hear a difference in substance here? I sure don’t!”

    Yes, there is a huge difference, and it lead to a little thing called the reformation. If there were no difference in substance, Lutherans would have agreed with the Confutatio.

    Walther is not always the best Lutheran to quote on the doctrine of Justification. His pietistic tendencies, which come out especially in his preaching, are well known among confessional Lutherans.

    I believe I am being fair to the Lutheran position when I say the reason why a Lutheran would say that a person who does not do good works is in danger of losing salvation is because this will undoubted’y lose faith in Christ. But at the same time, a Lutheran dare not say that “Good Works are necessary for salvation.” The Formula of Concord put Melancthon and Major to rest for good.

    It is by faith, yes faith alone, that a person is brought into the kingdom of God. Call it conversion or first justification or whatever. If you look at the context of the verses you cite, you will see that this is what he is speaking about, about how men are made Christians.

    Side note: Chrysostom is very good here, and I am thankful for the citations. I’m not sure he is consistent on this point, because there are a few times that he understands man, through the working of free will, as making the beginning of faith (initium fidei). And that was the unfortunate view pick up by Chrysostom’s (alledged) disciple John Cassian, and that is an error the Eastern Schism holds to this day. But whether Chrysostom actually fell into this error is hard to tell, and citations such as these seem to suggest otherwise, but not conclusively.

    But the controversy is about the second part, and I dare say, if you are not made uncomfortable by the citation which say “faith alone is not sufficient for salvation”, etc, then you are not a Lutheran. Thats okay. Neither am I, and I had my doubts about you long ago.

  18. William Weedon says:

    Dear Dan,

    Lay your doubts aside: the phrase “faith alone is not sufficient for salvation” is TRUE IF faith is spoken of as assent to opinion; in other words the sort of “faith” that can coexist with mortal sin. Such faith saves no one. The devils have it too.

    If in the phrase “faith alone is not sufficient for salvation,” the faith that is intended is the reception of the life of God through the Spirit’s work which is held onto for dear life, then it is false.

    Chrysostom is capable of speaking either way, without apparently reflecting on the meaning of faith in either statement. But I think that’s the key. You know how exhaustively Chemnitz demonstrates this in Examen, or Melanchthon in the Apology. I think St. John would have been more careful in his speech had he known HOW it would be taken later. Note that he speaks of faith alone justifying and justifying instantly and as being wholly gift. When he speaks so, he clearly means the God-wrought faith which cannot coexist with mortal sin. When he speaks of faith not being sufficient, he is clearly (so it seems to me) talking to people who claimed faith as an excuse for not living in repentance. It’s the old James’ definition vs. Paul’s definition of faith.

  19. William Weedon says:

    Or said the way that you used to like to say it (!):

    Faith alone saves; but the faith that saves is never alone.

    If it IS alone; it’s not saving faith.

    About Walther, I think that’s a stereotype that doesn’t hold. His preaching is VERY much of a piece with what came before. Just for an example, look at Urbanus Rhegius (confessor at Smalcald) and his Preaching the Reformation:

    “Of course, faith alone (that is, heartfelt trust in God’s mercy promised us in Christ) or God’s mercy alone justifies the sinner. Yet faith never remains alone, for genuine faith is active through love. Just as a good tree yields good fruit, faith also produces good works that most certainly accompany faith. Where no trace of improvement is evident, no fear of God or repentance, and no good works are found, there is definitely no faith present or, at most, only a false faith. People who still carnally by drinking and eating too much, or by fornicating and committing adultery, by stealing and similar sins, should not boast that they have faith and are Christians, but rather turn away from evil and do good. … Faith without works is no faith. Works without faith are not good works. Therefore, these two things, believing and doing good works, must go together as long as we live. Those who do not improve their lives and do good works should know they are not Christians.”

  20. Schütz says:

    Oh, back to the original post – David, I never said nor ever suggested that repeating the very words of Scripture is what preaching is all about. I’m not sure where you got that idea.

    I got the idea from two points, Bill, old boy. You reject Newman’s thesis out of hand, thus denying that there is any development in doctrine, and you cite St Basil to the effect that one should not make “additions” to scripture or teach anything that is “outside Holy Scripture”.

    How Basil is to be understood is to be taken depends on context. If you accept Newman’s thesis, then Basil’s insistence that nothing be “added” to Scripture or that nothing “outside” of Scripture be taught is perfectly consistent with the development of a doctrinal tradition that might (at first glance) appear to be a long way from the bare words of Scripture.

    If you DON’T accept Newman’s thesis, then you cannot explain Basil’s teaching in any sense other than to forbid any formulation of doctrine which does not simply repeat (without any addition and without recourse to any ideas and terminology from outside scripture) the plain words of Scripture.

    That’s what I meant. If you reject Newman, you force St Basil’s words to take on a meaning that is patently absurd.

  21. William Weedon says:

    Do you really believe there is no alternative to Newman? Let me offer a suggestion: could it be that the deposit was there whole and entire and that the history of the Church’s theological endeavor is the history of learning to speak ever more precisely about what was originally given, a precision that grew under the threat of various ways Satan through men attempted to falsify that original deposit? Then St. Basil’s point stands as he stated it: we don’t go beyond the original deposit, though as time and circumstances and insight grow (under the Spirit’s guidance) we may express the boundaries of the mystery with ever greater precision.

  22. Past Elder says:

    There can’t be an alternative to Newman for these guys, because it is Newman who makes possible what they hold.

    His entire argument for being Catholic is essentially non-Catholic and was recognised as such by many at the time. Pius IX had no time for him. Neither should anyone else who wants to be true to the Roman Catholic faith.

  23. Schütz says:

    could it be that the deposit was there whole and entire and that the history of the Church’s theological endeavor is the history of learning to speak ever more precisely about what was originally given, a precision that grew under the threat of various ways Satan through men attempted to falsify that original deposit?

    Surely that is the negative aspect of Newman’s thesis, is it not? The positive aspect is that, even without direct attacks of heresy, the Church has delved ever deeper into her understanding of this original deposit seeking to express the original deposit in ever new situations and to elucidate the manifold riches of this deposit (like miners following a gold vein ever deeper into the ground)? The process is no different, only the occasion for the process.

  24. Christine says:

    Pay a little more attention to Manning rather than Newman. You might be less likely to enlist “history” and “reason” to have Scripture and the church come out saying whatever the Roman Catholic Church says they say.

    Yikes, Cardinal Manning! How fortuitous, I was just reading about him this morning on my commute.

    Let’s see:

    An Anglican convert who deeply loved his wife who unfortunately died an early death, theirs was a blissfully happy marriage. He retained warm relations with his evangelical relatives by marriage, some of whom later became Catholic. Manning nevertheless later expressed appreciation for the Catholic Church’s clerical celibacy policy.

    Manning was received into the Catholic Church in April 1851, having concluded that the church of his birth was under the thumb of secular powers.

    Fourteen years later, he succeeded Nichoals Wiseman as archibishop of Westminster, becoming an architect of the doctrine of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council and a cardinal in 1875.

    As head of the Catholic Church in England, he bought the site on which Westminster Cathedral was built and was credited with turning what hd been known derisively as the “Italian Mission” into a social and cultural force to rival the established Church.

    A truly remarkable Servant of God.

  25. Schütz says:

    Thanks, Christine. My 19th Century English Church history is a little hazy, I have to admit. He sounds like my sorta guy! Not, however, to be contrasted with Newman, whom I also love to little bits. Both/and, I always say!

  26. Christine says:

    Both/and, I always say!


    And I, too, have a great deal of fondness for Newman. Many of his prayers are so beautiful.

  27. William Weedon says:

    His beautiful prayer: “O Lord, support us all the day long of this troubled life…” is included in Compline in Lutheran Service Book. Where Manning is helpful is above all in his honest determination: “We must overcome history with dogma.” He knew history wasn’t on Rome’s side on many of the disputed points.

  28. Christine says:

    Well reconcile that honesty, please, Pastor Weedon, with the fact that Cardinal Manning was one of the strongest supporters of papal infallibility (which Newman also believed but did not think that at the time it would be prudent to issue a formal declaration).

    Remembering that it was the questioning of the efficacy of the sacraments that led Manning out of the Church of England, which he came to view as a man-made institution created by Parliament.

    One of my favorite prayers by Cardinal Newman for a happy death:

    O my Lord and Savior, support me in my last hour by the strong arms of Thy sacraments, and the fragrance of Thy consolations. Let Thy absolving words be said over me, and the holy oil sign and seal me; and let your own body be my food, and Thy blood my sprinkling; and let Thy Mother Mary come to me, and my angel whisper peace to me, and Thy glorious saints and my own dear patrons smile on me, that in and through them all I may die as I desire to live, in Thy Church, in Thy faith, and in Thy love. Amen.

  29. William Weedon says:

    He was a supporter of a dogma he knew could not be found in the history; that’s why he said: “we must overcome history with dogma.”

  30. Past Elder says:

    What specifically lead to Manning’s revision of his thinking on the Church of England was when the Privy Council ordered the Church of England to accept an institution as vicar of a man whose bishop found his views Calvinist regarding Baptism.

    While Newman appealed to bookish Protestant divines, Manning championed the cause of a decent standard of living for the working class. Newman’s thought paved the way for the revisionism of Vatican II, Manning’s for Rerum Novarum.

    At his death, a locket with a picture of his wife was found on Cardinal Manning. Newman had himself buried with the remains of another man.

    Both/and indeed.

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