Past Elder, I challenge you to a DUEL!**

Since there are 26 comments on the Cyprian post already… I’m going to continue this here. And the time has come to throw down the guantlet.

Faith is very important to me as a Catholic. I have faith in the promises of Christ. Christ made a whole bunch of promises including:

“The Spirit will lead you into all truth”
“You are Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it”.
“Behold I am with you always until the end of the Age”.

I have faith in Christ and his promises, and therefore in the Church. I believe that the Church which is governed by the Successor of St Peter and the bishops in communion with him is the one Catholic Church of Christ.

And I believe that today’s Catholic Church is continuous with the very Church established by Christ on the foundation of his apostles for both reasons Pastor Pearce points out:

1) It is continuous in doctrine (ie. it is evangelical)
2) It is continuous in outward fellowship (ie. it is not gnostic)

The second is historically demonstrable. You would have a tough time disproving it. Even the 2nd Vatican Council was run by guys who were the direct successors of the Fathers of the 1st Vatican Council and the Fathers of Trent etc. etc. and the Fathers of Constantinople and the Fathers of Nicea and the Fathers of the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem.

The first–continuity in doctrine–is only partly demonstrable by means of historical evidence (eg. quotes from the past–although there is a general ignorance about what was realy taught eg. by the Early Church Fathers and eg. by the pre-Vatican II popes). Continuity in doctrine is, in the final analysis, only clearly demonstrable by means of FAITH–which includes faith in Christ’s promises given above.

As I said in my post on the Lutheran at the CTSA meeting, if you find the teachings of the Catholic Church to be contradictory, you are not reading them correctly. Professor Koons, who recently converted to the Catholic faith, has stressed the importance of Newman’s theory of the development of doctrine for understanding the teaching of the Church.

Part of that theory (which is widely accepted) is the presupposition of continuity within the Tradition. I have yet to find an instance of any teaching that was held and taught by the Church at some earlier time which is not faithfully reflected and included in the faith of the Church at this present time–or, for that matter, a teaching that is held and proclaimed today that is without precedent within the past Tradition of the Church.

In fact, Past Elder (and Pastor Weedon and anyone else who wants to wade in) I challenge you to a duel. Give me an official documented teaching of the Church today–for our purposes, let’s say a quotation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church–which you believe contradicts the official documented teaching of the Church in the past. And I will show you how what you see as a contradiction is in fact in full continuity according to the principles of Newman’s development of doctrine.

That’s my challenge. Let the fun begin.

**And Pastor Weedon is right, it’s not a “duel”–its a prayerful dialogue. That’s what I meant.

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22 Responses to Past Elder, I challenge you to a DUEL!**

  1. William Weedon says:

    Now, David. It’s not a duel. It’s a serious disagreement on matters that are momentous. Not to be handled with “I gotcha” but with prayer and earnest dialog. But if you promise to pray about it and to engage in conversation on the topic, I’ll give you one that Lutherans find troubling.

    For instance, in #966, Pius XII’s decree is cited, and a hymn from the Byzantine rite, but there is no Scripture offered, nor the citation of any father. I know they could have cited St. John of Damascus, but is there any reference by a single father of the fourth century or before who holds that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven, raised from the dead, to be the promise of our rising?

    Note I’m NOT arguing that it could have happened and may be believed; I’m arguing that by making it a dogma of the Church, which presumably must be believed, the Roman Bishop in the mid 20th century stepped beyond the boundaries of Tradition and suddenly a pious opinion became in the Roman communion a dogmatic fact.

  2. Schütz says:

    Thanks for this one, Pastor Weedon, and I will keep this topic in mind for future discussion, but it doesn’t fall into the “rules of engagement” for this particular dialogue (I accept your point about it not being a “duel”–I was being cheeky).

    We are specifically looking for a doctrine “which you believe contradicts the official documented teaching of the Church in the past”. The Definition of the Assumption of Mary was very careful to work within the boundaries of all the ancient traditions relating to this dogma–both East and West–and does not demonstrably overstep those boundaries or contradict earlier teaching.

    In other words, I would be asking you to find a “reference by a single father of the fourth century or before who DID NOT HOLD that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven, raised from the dead, to be the promise of our rising.”

    And, for what its worth, there is the curious historical fact that–unlike the apostles–there has never been a venerated tomb or any bodily relics of the Virgin Mary. That in itself is historical evidence that should be taken into account.

    To take a parallel case, we have no scriptural witness or any reference earlier than Eusebius (I might be wrong–please correct me if I am) to say that St Paul was beheaded under Nero’s persecution–yet we accept this as fact, which is authenticated by the fact that we have his tomb in “St Paul outside the Walls” in Rome. No-one has ever thought of disputing this fact, despite the lack of reference in the ante-Nicene Fathers or in the Scriptures.

  3. William Weedon says:


    It is your blog and you may certainly do as you like, but what contradicts the past is not the tradition of the Blessed Virgin’s assumption but the teaching of this as a dogma of the Church which *must* be believed. It’s the MUST that’s new.

    For myself, I think that the lack of relics speaks quite forcefully in regards to the Most Holy Virgin likely being assumed into heaven. But I would not by any stretch condemn a person who was no so persuaded. Can you, as a good Roman Catholic, say the same?

  4. Schütz says:

    Yes, I take your point that “the MUST” appears to be new. Certainly Pius XII was in no doubt that this defined doctrine had to be held:

    “45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.
    “…47. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.”

    (I like that last bit–you can just imagine Peter and Paul getting hopping mad, can’t you?)

    Yes, certainly this is “new”–but as a development rather than as a contradiction of earlier Catholic teaching.

    First, I do not know of any officially stated teaching of the Catholic Church PRIOR to this definition that it was permissable to deny the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. Some may have done so, but the Church never taught that you could.

    Secondly, the definition clearly builds upon the earlier definition of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. As Pius XII makes clear, the one follows fairly naturally upon the other in such a way that to allow a denial of the latter would be a contradiction of the former.

    Thirdly, it is not new to propose that if a doctrine is the defined teaching of the Church, then it must be held faithfully by all Catholics. The definition of this doctrine was simply a clarification of what the Church had always and everywhere believed (especially evidenced by the Sensus Fidelium at the time of the definition). Since this was a definite statement of the true teaching of the Church (to sort it out from any heterodox expressions of the doctrine) then it is reasonable to say that it MUST be given assent by all who belong to the Catholic faith.

    So the upshot is that I don’t think that it really was “new” that Church declared the dogma of the Assumption was to be believed. Certainly it was not greeted at the time by Catholics as anything “new”. For instance, you didn’t get a split-off group like the Lefebrists or the Sedevacantists or the Old Catholics who denouced it as something “new” and “contradictory”.

    It might have been regarded as “new” by Lutherans, but then they didn’t believe it in the first place.

  5. Schütz says:

    In fact, Pastor Weedon, it just occured to me that you could have said the same thing about the decree of the Council of Nicea that from now on it MUST believed that the Son was homoousios with the Father. That was “new” too.

    I remember reading once in a study of heresy that there was a kind of heresy which was heretical, not for teaching new heterodox doctrines, but for being stuck in the past and unable to receive new authoritative expressions of the orthodox faith.

  6. Past Elder says:

    Judas H Priest.

    We’re starting off in typical Brave New Church newspeak. Prayerful dialogue as the true meaning of duel. No doubt a deepening of our understanding of duel, an aggiornamento of duelling, a clarification of what has always been really there in the meaning of duel, a hermeneutic of duelling continuity. Bless us and save us, Mrs O’Davis. Ten paces and pray your Rosary. Wait! I can’t, mine hasn’t got the bloody Luminous Mysteries! Oh crap.

    Great jumping Judas on a raft.

    OK I’ll say it again. How Vatican II is a falsification of Catholicism has been laid out with greater precision and clarity than I can do, let alone on a blog comment, on the SSPX site. You want to engage over the so-called catechism of the so-called Catholic Church? Read the following, including the four part article linked at the bottom of it.

    Extra credit for Pastor Pearce! Yeah for the Lutheran guy! I may have to dust off Ecce Homo after much more of this.

    A warning — I used to believe those “whole bunch of promises” too. God grant that you pass to your eternal reward before some other lunatic in Rome calls a council to doctrinally develop that to which you have attached those promises!

    And again — any of you clowns read Frank Sheed?

    Where’s my ruddy hammer? Is your readership entertained now? Good. I’ll sneak off for a minute and listen to the Vorspiel to Parsifal.

  7. Past Elder says:

    Sunny Gunny!

    We haven’t even named seconds! You can’t have a proper duel without seconds! Or did the Pontifical Commission for the Restoration of Duelling or the Sacred Congregation for the Duelling People of God doctrinally develop them out of existence in a hermeneutic of continuity, with an aggiornamento for a chaser?

  8. Schütz says:

    Dear Past Elder,

    You also are not playing by the rules. I didn’t ask for a whole “catechism” of instances–I asked for one. So be my guest. To continue the duelling image, choose your ONE weapon. It’s not fair to hit me with the entire arsenal.

  9. Schütz says:

    And okay, I couldn’t resist it, I went to the SSPX website where I found this:

    In particular, the novelties of Vatican II appear in the following paragraphs:

    an infatuation with the dignity of man (§§225; 369; 1700; 1929…),
    such that we may hope for the salvation of all the baptized (§§1682ff),
    even non-Catholics (§818),
    or those who commit suicide (§2283),
    and of all the unbaptised, whether adults (§847),
    or infants (§1261);
    which is the basis of all rights (§§1738; 1930; 1935) including that of religious liberty (§§2106ff),
    and the motive of all morality (§1706; 1881; 2354; 2402; 2407, etc.),
    a commitment to ecumenism (§820f; 1399; 1401) because all religions are instruments of salvation (§§819; 838-843; 2104),
    collegiality (§§879-885),
    over-emphasis on the priesthood of the faithful (§§873; 1547; 1140ff, etc.).

    Now, just as he who denies but one article of Faith loses the Faith, so a teacher who errs on one point alone proves himself fallible, and, renders all he teaches questionable.

    I confess that that the Catechism does indeed include all (except ONE) of the teachings on this list (thank God!), but I deny that these are new teachings of the Catholic faith or that they are in anyway contradictory to or false developments of earlier official teachings of the Church.

    And to take their own saying, that “a teacher who errs on one point alone proves himself fallible”, I will point out for the record that the Church does not teach that (AND I QUOTE): “all religions are instruments of salvation.”

    CCC §819 speaks only of Christian religions. It says that “Christ’s Spirit uses these [separated] Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation” but only because of their “power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church”, thus upholding the teaching that there is no salvation apart from the Catholic Church. And who could deny that the Church has always and everywhere taught that valid sacraments celebrated outside the Catholic Church [eg. baptism performed by heretics] are efficacious?

    Nowhere does the Catechism teach that “all religions are instruments of salvation.” There is very strong evidence that the Church has always allowed the possibility of salvation to those who are not formally united with the Church (cf. IS THERE SALVATION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH? by Fr. William Most at The citation of §§838-843 is interesting because it happily ignores §844 which points out the “limits and errors” of the non-Christian religions.

    §2104 says that that a “sincere respect” for different religions does not contradict the Church’s teaching, since to different degrees these religions often “reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men.” How is this contrary to the ancient teaching of the Church (see again Most’s essay referenced above)? Certainly it is most true of the Jewish faith which has the Word of God in the Old Testament. It is also true of those religions that teach that there is only one God–surely a “ray of that truth” which the Catholic Church has in its fulness.

    So, the SSPX analysis of the contemporary Catholic Church is WRONG in one aspect, and therefore by their own declaration we should regard them as “proven fallible”.

    Chose another weapon, Past Elder.

  10. Peter says:

    Naughty David, naughty!

    Now, you’d better hope they don’t figure out why!

  11. Past Elder says:

    Wonderful. You have “proven” the SSPX does not have something it never claimed to have. Post conciliar Catholicism at its best. Black is white, white is black. Your handlers have trained you well.

  12. Past Elder says:

    Oh and hey, a gauntlet and a duel are not the same thing. Which are we having here? Oh wait. We’re in the Brave New Church. Maybe they are the same thing after all.

  13. Dafydd says:

    “according to the principles of Newman’s development of doctrine”

    Is Newman’s conception of the development of doctrine (“a reflection that has been incorporated by magisterial teaching” according to Fr Neuhaus) itself an example of contradiction?

  14. Schütz says:

    No, because it is precisely by means of reflecting upon the Deposit of Faith that our understanding of the Word of God develops.

    The magisterium judges whether or not to incorporate the fruit of this reflection into its teaching depending on whether it has grown organically from the seed sown by Christ or whether it is an alien idea which someone is attempting to graft onto the tree of faith (or indeed whether it is a weed which has been sown among the seeds of the Word).

    The incorporation of Newman’s reflection into magisterial teaching as a development of doctrine is interesting, though, precisely because it is a doctrine about the development of doctrine.

    That is, it is by the methods and principles which are inherant within Newman’s doctrine that it is judged to be an authentic development. That might not exactly be contradictory, but it is paradoxical!

  15. Christine says:

    David, this is your blog and I profusely apologize for interjecting this because it is not related to the post at hand but I just read of this exciting development and want to share:

    ROME – A groundbreaking meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the Russian Orthodox patriarch could take place within a year, a senior Vatican cardinal said Thursday, according to the news agency of the Italian bishops conference.

    Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Vatican office for relations with other Christian confessions, said both the pope and Patriarch Alexy II were open to the meeting, and that much depended on the “internal situation” of the Russian church.

    . . . .

    “No one is against the meeting, even among the Orthodox,” the SIR agency quoted Kasper as saying. “There is the hope that Benedict XVI and Alexy II can meet within a year.”

    In a recent interview with the Italian newsweekly L’Espresso, the Cypriot archbishop said Benedict had deep knowledge of Orthodox theology, a factor he said should help in arranging a meeting with Alexy and also in reuniting the two churches, which split apart nearly 1,000 years ago.

    Hooray !! Perhaps this could be explored on a new post?

    Now back to the subject matter at hand . . .

  16. Past Elder says:

    Can we come up for air for a moment in this gauntlet or duel or whatever it is for me to ask this:

    You rightly lament what certain forces have done to the Lutheran faith within Lutheran church bodies, then you turn around and accept a Catholicism that is the result of what the original Roman counterparts to those forces did to Catholicism. Huh?

    At least our converts to Orthodoxy converted to, well, Orthodoxy.

  17. Lucian says:

    And I will show you how what you see as a contradiction is in fact in full continuity according to the principles of Newman’s development of doctrine

    I guess that that speaks for itself.

  18. William Weedon says:


    So sorry it took a while to get back to you on this. Been a busy week and weekend.

    About the Holy Trinity as confessed in what were admittedly new – and even scandalous terms (that had a less than savory background) – the difference that I see with the promulgation of the Assumption as dogma is this: the doctrine of the Trinity is exhaustively founded upon the witness of the Sacred Scripture and the meaning of homoousius was not what earlier heretics had meant by that term, but ultimately defined by what Scripture gave us of the relationship of the persons and the unity of the essence. One thinks, for example, of the exhaustive Scriptural and grammatical treatment that Basil provides in *On the Holy Spirit.* Grounded in the Sacred Scriptures and in complete harmony with them, the Church promulgated the Nicene formula: homoousius to Patri.

    But where is the Scriptural justification for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin? You mentioned the beheading of St. Paul earlier. Is not the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in rather the same category: something that is not divinely revealed in the Spirit-inspired Scriptures, but a cherished tradition and pious opinion of many Christians throughout the centuries.

    It raises the question of whether the Church can dogmatize that which is not and cannot be grounded in the Sacred Scriptures.

  19. Schütz says:

    Thank you, Pastor Weedon, for returning this discussion to the matter at hand.

    Let us briefly summarise so far:

    1) I raised the question in the form of whether there are any teachings taught by the Church today which contradict her teaching in the past.

    2) You responded with the suggestion that the Assumption of Mary was such a teaching.

    3) I responded that this teaching in no way contradicts the faith as it has been held by the Church of the past, including the witness of the early Church Fathers.

    4) You responded that what is “new” is the requirement that this dogma (which you hold to have been previously “just a pious opinion”) “must” be held as an authentic part of the Catholic Faith.

    5) I responded that it was hardly “new” that the Church require newly defined dogma arising from the deposit of faith as essential to the faith, and gave, as an example, the definition of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity at Nicea.

    6) And now you have responded that the this example is not valid because it could be shown to be contained in Holy Scripture.

    And now you see how far we have departed from the original request, because I did not ask for a definition of dogma which might be supposed not to be inherant in Holy Scripture, but rather which contradicted a previously held teaching of the Church.

    In fact, I would hold that if the Church were now to proclaim such a “sola scriptura” approach this would in fact be a contradiction of the Church’s previously proclaimed dogma.

    For the record I simply point to

    1) doctrines such as apostolic succession and infant baptism which are and always have been part of the teaching of the Church but are not explicity stated in Scripture,

    2) The fact that “sola scriptura” is itself a doctrine not to be found in scripture itself

    3) that the Assumption of Mary is not in contradiction to scripture (cf. Rev 12)

    4) that the doctrine of the Assumption (like the doctrine eg. of Mary as the Theotokos) is built upon the foundation of previously defined doctrine and grows organically and necessarily out of it, such that it is not simply a “pious opinion”, but an article of faith, the denial of which would result in the denial of other previously defined dogmas and as such would constitute a contradiction such as that which I deny to exist in the Church’s public doctrine.

    Of course, all of those statements in themselves would require entire books to substantiate and argue convincingly. Another time and another place, as they say.

  20. Schütz says:

    I might also add that in connection with the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, it might be helpful to refer to the latest ARCIC document “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ” (

  21. Past Elder says:

    As to the original request, good brother, I thought it was to produce an offically documented teaching of the conciliar or post-conciliar Roman church which contradicted an officially documented teaching of the Roman church before Vatican II.

    I understand that you are looking for allegations that the Church has contradicted the Church, not Scipture — I thought, the challenge being directed to me, it was to disprove my oft stated belief that the Roman Catholic Church since Vatican II is apostate from the Roman Catholic Faith.

    The Assumption of Mary was dogmatically defined by Pius XII in Munificentissimus Deus in 1950, pre Vatican II. I’ll happily follow you and Pastor Weedon slugging it out about the Assumption (rooting for Pastor Weedon, of course) but if you still want from me some evidence that the documents of Vatican II and/or the liturgy promulgated in its wake constitute a departure from the Roman Faith not able to be harmonised with prior Roman teaching even by Newman’s concept of doctrinal evolution (referencing your latest post) I offer again what I offered at the outset. You can find that laid out with considerably more precision than that of which I am capable throughout the SSPX site, and it would be silly to attempt some sort of layman’s Cliff Notes here.

    And also again, I am not now nor have I ever been affiliated with SSPX; I agree with their assement of Vatican II and their presentation of the Roman Faith since it at all points is exactly what the Roman Church presented to me prior to the Council; I do not agree with them as to what to do about it or what the current situation implies for the validity of what the Roman Church once was and taught. In fact I rather imagine on those grounds they would not be happy with my citation of them, being now a professed confessional Lutheran.

    If that is not sufficient, I will retire from the discussion.

  22. Christopher says:

    Wasn’t the “must” of Nicea stating that the Son was homoousios with the Father new for its time, as well? Prior to that, one could believe in various definitions of the Trinity and still be orthodox – until Nicea spoke definitively, catholicly and universally. As St. Gregory the Theologian said, to be orthodox prior to Nicea was to be only slightly in error. One can’t be held responsible for what one does not know – per a wonderful little section of Dorotheos of Gaza.

    In catholic and orthodox traditions, especially earlier in time, the “must” was something understood as a part of the Tradition being handed on – nothing could be changed, adapted, argued out of, etc. You held inviolate what you were given. Dogma, in the way we understand it to mean an authoritative and definitive pronouncement of the Church that “must” be believed, really only entered the Church in the conciliar age. This tendency to dogmatization was more forceful in the West, and used as more of a fence beyond which one could not go, but that allowed for a great deal of freedom until that fence was reached – the assumption being that local churches were serious about maintaining their depositum fidei and were not theologizing innovatively or by majority vote (there was a breach in this trust, which is the underlying inability of East and West to speak to each other in any broad, serious way.)

    The question for Pr. Weedon would be, paraphrasing your question, “is there any reference by a single father of the ante-Nicene age who holds that the Son is homousios with the Father?”

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