Discussion on the Nature of the Church


Date: 10-27-97 / From: JIM JEFFCOAT / To: SEAN M. BROOKS / Conf: FidoNet RCatholic

On or about 10-20-97, Sean M. Brooks wrote this to Jim Jeffcoat:

JJ> Do you have doubts that Protestants are part of the Body of Christ?

SMB> Not relevant to a correct interpretation of the word "Catholic."

But quite relevant, as far as I'm concerned, to a correct interpretation of the word "catholic" as opposed to "Catholic". If you don't wish to answer my question, I suppose that is your choice.

JJ> A valid Baptism and orthodox view of the Trinity does not make one a Christian.

SMB> Mistaken, Jeff. It is possible to be a bad man or woman and still be a Christian.

Being a bad person is, in fact, a _prerequisite_ for becoming a Christian. Only when we recognize our sinfulness do we realize our need for a Savior. With regard to my prior statement, it is quite possible for one to have been baptized, and have an orthodox view of the Trinity, yet never have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior.

JJ> High church Anglicans have nothing whatever to do with it. Anyone who is saved is part of the universal church and therefore "catholic" with a small "c".

SMB> Again, mistaken. Here you're talking about the communion of saints with God in the Beatific Vision. There are lost souls within the Church and saints outside it.

Depends on the meaning you pour into the word "Church". If you are speaking of a human institution, such as a particular church or denomination, then this is quite true. However, the *universal* Church includes, and is contigious with, all who are saved. All who are saved are, by definition, part of Christ's Church. One who is lost could not, by definition, be part of the assembly of those who are saved.

SMB> Also, recall Bruce's comments about how Stalin used words like "peace," "justice," "democracy," etc. I think it's only right to exercise judgment on whether Stalin used those words the same way we do!

Gad....does EVERYONE on this echo want to compare me to Stalin??!

JEJ

... The resurrection assures what calvary secures.

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Date: 10-30-97 / From: ROBERT MCKAY / To: SEAN M. BROOKS / Conf: RCatholic

SMB> Exactly right! I tried to point out to both Robert and Jeff why they are wrong to insist on only the small "c" interpretation of the word Catholic. I also pointed out to Robert how the correct interpretation of the word "Catholic" goes back to the earliest centuries of the Catholic Church. I quoted from St. Augustine's AGAINST THE LETTER OF MANI CALLED "THE FOUNDATION" (Jurgens, volume 3, No. 1580).

The problem is that I don't insist only that meaning, and nor does Jim AFAIK. I *do* insist that "catholic," with a lower case C, preserves the *original* meaning of the term, whereas "Catholic," with an upper case C, is restricted to one particular denomination. To believe in the catholic church is to believe in the universal body of Christ which includes all genuine Christians, no matter which visible church they belong to (if any); to believe that the only catholic church is the Catholic church is to deny membership in Jesus' Body to all non-Catholics ipso facto - whether that fact is accepted or not.

If the only catholic church is the Catholic church, then by definition I and a great many other people who genuinely trust Jesus, genuinely serve Him, genuinely love Him, are by definition cut off from salvation. For to be a non-member of the catholic church is to be a non-member of CHrist, and if the terms "catholic" and "Catholic" are synonymous, then I and those those others who are not Catholic are likewise not catholic, and are not Christians in any Biblical and useful sense of the word.

Now I know that it is *not* your position that I and others like me are not Christians, and I know that is *not* the position of the Catholic church. However, if you insist that the only way to be catholic is to be Catholic, then you *should* take the position that I'm not a Christian, for that position is a requirement of equating "catholic" and "Catholic."

... "The Lurking Fear" H.P. Lovecraft

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Date: 10-30-97 / From: SEAN M. BROOKS / To: ROBERT MCKAY / Conf: RCatholic

Hi, Robert. Hope you're well. Thanks for this note.

=> Quoting Robert McKay to Sean M. Brooks <=

LB> Unfortunately I know a Catholic bookstore in Winnipeg where the store owner pushes Kung's books as 'great stuff!'

SMB> Bah!!! I hope the owner is merely misguided and not a Modernist heretic himself! There is a difference between a Catholic book store selling the works of heretics like Calvin in order to help inform our fellow Catholics how to refute him and doing so because the heretic is allegedly right.

RM> Of course, when it comes to Calvin the words "heretic" and "allegedly" are completely inapplicable.<g>

Ah, Robert! You know I'll never agree to this error of yours! <g>

Instead of poor Calvin, I could have substituted the names of any of the other apostates and renegades who spread so many heresies in the 16th century. Luther, Zwingli, Melancthon, Cranmer, et al, comes to mind.

Pax tecum. Sean

... BRAIN WAVE, by Poul Anderson

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Date: 10-30-97 / From: ROBERT MCKAY / To: LANGSTON GOLDFINCH / Conf: RCatholic

LG> I have been struck in the past by the tendency of churches with hierarchical and authoritarian structure to in practice be more open and tolerant that vast majority of congregational style churches (say many Baptist, etc.). To test this simply experience disagreeing with a "leader" in a Baptist (typical) church and then try an Episcopal one. Many exceptions, no doubt.

I've disagreed, at some time or another, with every pastor I've ever had, I think - and I've been a member of nearly a dozen churches (not counting the church I pastored). I am currently in open and public disagreement with the fundamentalist dictators who currently run the Southern Baptist Convention (just ask people in this echo if that's not so). And you know what kind of disciplinary action has been taken against me? Exactly NONE.

Baptists treasure the priesthood of the believer, which means that each individual not only has the right, but the *responsibility* to seek God for himself, read and interpret the Bible for himself, and follow Jesus for himself. Baptists are not, and have never been (with certain anomalous exceptions such as the current SBC situation or the so-called Independent Baptists), dictatorial at any level.

* Origin: The Gate: Albuquerque, New Mexico (505) 255-2333 (1:301/1701)


Date: 11-02-97 / From: ROBERT MCKAY / To: JOHN JANCEWICZ / Conf: RCatholic

RM> Just FWIW, I'm not a Catholic, and the more I learn about Catholicism the gladder I am that I'm not.<g>

JJ> Just curious, what is there not to like?

To summarize the various things I've said over the time I've been in here, I find Catholicism to have encrusted simple Christianity with an un-Biblical superstructure of man-made ritual and custom and authority.

* Origin: The Gate: Albuquerque, New Mexico (505) 255-2333 (1:301/1701)


Date: 11-08-97 / From: P / To: JIM JEFFCOAT / Conf: RCatholic

THE "TRUE CHURCH" DEBATE

Jim Jeffcoat and Robert McKay (representing Protestant Evangelicalism)

vs. P (representing traditional Catholicism)

=======================================

PP> Okay, so this means you want to debate me? Or maybe Robert McKay?

JJ> Sure, I'd be glad to debate Robert any time. :-)

We don't have to see it as a "debate" but I would like for you to defend what you believe and why you believe it. If you and Robert want to team up, that would be great. That's why I am here.

PP> [Jim Jeffcoat says] the "true Church" is not a visible institution but all the "true believers in Christ" around the world, regardless of what church they may attend. How's that for fairness?

JJ> OK, what would be your term for the collective assembly of all believers throughout the ages?

The problem is you are laboring under a Protestant misconception of Church history that has no historical foundation whatsoever. Stop listening to Hank Hanegraaff for a few days and drop by a library and get some books on Church history. J.N.D. Kelly Early Christian Doctrines (1978) would be a good start. Here's a quote for you --

"What these early Fathers were envisaging was almost always the empirical, visible society; they had little or no inkling of the distinction which was later to become important [in the 16th century] between a visible and an invisible Church." (Kelly, page 191)

The invisible "collective assembly of all believers" is a product of Protestant imagination, invented in the 16th century. If you have evidence to the contrary, produce some. Take some time off work. :) According to the visible One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church for the first 1,500 years of Christian history -- "all believers" were those who

(1) were Baptized, (2) believed in Christ, (3) received the Sacraments, (4) believed all the defined teachings of the One Church of Christ, (5) were in obedience to their Bishop in communion with the Pope

In other words, Jesus founded only ONE Church, a VISIBLE Church, called the "Catholic Church" from the earliest centuries, with visible leaders called Bishops and a visible Head, the Pope -- within that Church are more or less sanctified believers, depending on whether the individual member of the Church is in a "state of grace" or not.

BTW, I am not saying that Protestants are not Christians. That is a separate issue. What I am challenging is your and Robert McKay's notion of the small-c "catholic church" -- meaning an "assembly of believers through the ages" who did NOT obey their Bishops, who disputed the teachings of the General Councils, who could care less about the Sacraments, and who did NOT belong to the VISIBLE Catholic Church. That is essentially what you and Robert McKay are defending.

To quote Robert McKay to Sean Brooks from 10/30/97 --

RM> I *do* insist that "catholic," with a lower case C, preserves the *original* meaning of the term, whereas "Catholic," with an upper case C, is restricted to one particular denomination. To believe in the catholic church is to believe in the universal body of Christ which includes all genuine Christians, no matter which visible church they belong to (if any); to believe that the only catholic church is the Catholic church is to deny membership in Jesus' Body to all non-Catholics ipso facto - whether that fact is accepted or not.

The notion that there was this small-c "catholic church" meaning all "genuine Christians" (however you or he defines that) "NO MATTER WHICH VISIBLE CHURCH THEY BELONG TO (IF ANY)" cannot be found in Church history before the 16th century. Again, it is a Protestant invention.

Now for the evidence. I'll quote some Anglican scholars and answer the rest of your message in the following posts.

The notion that there was this "universal Church of genuine Christians no matter what visible Church they belonged to" is refuted in the following paragraphs. Note: these are Anglican scholars who would not necessarily hold to the full Catholic teaching on the Papacy, but that is a complicated issue and I have whole books on the subject that I could mail you or Robert McKay later.

"Here we are well supplied. The testimony is ample, and it is consistent. Whatever variations may be discerned, in accordance with the idiosyncrasies of particular authors, the main outlines of the conception are the SAME. Alike at Rome and at Alexandria, in Africa and in the East, men believed in a great spiritual community, founded by Christ, through His Spirit working in His Apostles, to which all the promises of the Old Testament were attached. This community was necessarily UNIQUE. In it, and in it ALONE, the gifts and graces of the Spirit of Christ were to be looked for. In spite of human imperfections, it was guided and permeated in every part by the Spirit. Nor was this community an intangible thing. It was a reality of experience, embodied in a practical discipline.

"The society was well known and unmistakable. Its doctrine was everywhere the SAME; its worship, with rich diversity of forms, centered around one Eucharistic memorial. It had an ORGANIZED HIERARCHY for worship and for the pastorate of souls. This hierarchy maintained union between the local branches, and did so in the name and by the authority of Christ. However far back the history is traced, no date can be assigned, however roughly, for the appearance of Catholicism in the Church. The Church was Catholic from the outset."

(Anglican Canon A.J. Mason, cited in The Church and Infallibility [1954] by B.C. Butler, page 37-38)

H.B. Swete, editor of Essays on the Early History of the Church and the Ministry [1921], in summing up Mason's views, concluded as follows --

"Primitive Christianity recognized no invisible Church on earth as distinct from the visible society of the baptized; no self-governing power in the local congregation apart from the authority of the whole Body of Christ; no assured gifts of grace outside the Catholic communion." (cited in Butler, page 38)

For the evidence on the belief "no salvation outside the Catholic Church" see the section in my 22-part "Unam Sanctam Resolved" series. Sean Brooks produced quotes from St. Augustine on what he taught the "Catholic Church" was -- he repudiated the notion of an invisible church of "genuine Christians no matter what visible Church they belonged to."

There is simply not a shred of evidence in the first 1,500 years of Church history for what Robert McKay and yourself are claiming -- the "invisible church" of Protestant invention. Finally, Robert McKay's conclusion that he is therefore not a Christian since he does not formally belong to the one Catholic Church of Christ does not follow. From McKay to Brooks 10/30/97 --

RM> However, if you insist that the only way to be catholic is to be Catholic, then you *should* take the position that I'm not a Christian, for that position is a requirement of equating "catholic" and "Catholic."

As far as the historic Church is concerned, there is no difference between small-c and big-c Catholic so we can forget that distinction. However, the conclusion that since Protestants are not Catholics they are not Christians does not follow. This is a subject I will be getting into when I finally get around to finishing "Unam Sanctam Resolved" -- the Catholic teaching on the Mystical Body of Christ. In short, while only Catholics are FORMAL members of the Catholic Church and the Mystical Body of Christ (these two are equated by Pius XII), all baptized Protestants are rightly called "Christians" (according to Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism) since they are believers and followers of Christ (to the best of their knowledge and ability) and are in some way RELATED to the Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, the visible One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

So while there is no distinction to be made between small-c catholic and big-c Catholic, there *IS* a distinction in Catholic theology between "FORMAL" membership in the One Church of Christ and membership that is not formal but bears a relationship to that One Church of Christ.

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Date: 11-08-97 / From: P / To: JIM JEFFCOAT / Conf: RCatholic

PP> Care to defend your use of the word "Catholic" from the documents of early Christianity (say the first 500 years) ?

JJ> Try my use of the word "catholic", not "Catholic".

As far as the One Church of Christ is concerned, there is no distinction to be made between small-c catholic and big-c Catholic. If you or Robert McKay wish to produce evidence for this distinction from the documents of early Christianity, go ahead. It does not exist.

JJ> The word "catholic" means "universal". Look it up in any dictionary. I have checked at least a couple, and even _they_ differentiate between the word used with lower vs. upper case C and the respective meanings for each. I don't think there is really all that much to defend there.

See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 830 ff. The word "catholic" does mean "universal" in the sense of "according to the totality" or "in keeping with the whole." That is not in dispute.

Sean Brooks would acknowledge this as well. What is in dispute is your and Robert McKay's unhistorical notion of this invisible "universal church of believers no matter what visible Church they may belong to." That is a 16th century invention nowhere found in Church history. St. Augustine repudiated this notion and Sean quoted him on this.

According to the Catechism, the Church is Catholic in a double sense:

(1) Because Christ is present in her and receives from Him the fullness of the means of salvation: correct confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession

(2) Because the Church has a "universal mission" sent out to preach the true Gospel to the whole human race and all mankind is called to belong to this new People of God (the visible Catholic Church)

So once again, the issue is not "catholic means universal" but WHERE is that invisible catholic church that you and Robert McKay insist upon?

* OLX 2.1 TD * "Rome has spoken; the case is closed." St. Augustine

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Date: 11-09-97 / From: P / To: JIM JEFFCOAT / Conf: RCatholic

CHURCH HISTORY 101 : A Lesson for Jim Jeffcoat and Robert McKay

DID THE EARLY HERETICS CLAIM TO FOLLOW THE BIBLE ALONE?

PP> You would also have an impossible time defending what are the "essential teachings" of Christianity from the Bible alone

JJ> Oh, I dunno... Hank Hanegraaff does a pretty good job (as did Walter Martin).

PP> since all the heretics of those early centuries used the Bible and denied such teachings as the divinity of Christ

JJ> They did not use the Bible alone, IMO. They attempted to use the Bible to justify doctrines that are not consistent with its teachings, based on their own ideas or prejudices. (As do the modern day JWs, Mormons, UPCs, etc.)

In your opinion? Jim, this is something you can check out for yourself. Get to a library sometime this century. You have a few years left. :) Your statement is also circular. You are not infallible and you have no way to bind the conscience of any Christian to any interpretation. What you are really saying amounts to the following --

(1) The Bible teaches what I believe are the "essential teachings"

(2) Anyone who uses the Bible and contradicts me is not consistent with its essential teachings but showing their own ideas and prejudices

What you have are people who agree with you on what are the "essential teachings" (such as Hanegraaff, Martin, and myself). However, any heretic with a Bible can claim their interpretations are the truth and disagree with you, and Hank, and Walter, and myself....

PP> Actually, I would agree with your previous statements about what the "essentials" are

JJ> Remember that.

Which proves nothing. All this shows is that you and I agree on what the "essential teachings" are -- but I submit we ultimately get these "essential teachings" from the Creeds, Councils, and Tradition of the Catholic Church which interpret the Bible for us, not Sola Scriptura. Now turning the clock back to the year 450 AD.....

St. Vincent of Lerins answers the following two questions --

(1) How was the truth arrived at in the earliest centuries?

(2) Did the early heretics claim to follow the Bible alone?

"With great zeal and closest attention, therefore, I frequently inquired of many men, eminent for their holiness and doctrine, how I might, in a concise and, so to speak, general and ordinary way, distinguish the truth of the Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical depravity. I received almost always the same answer from all of them, that if I or anyone else wanted to expose the frauds and escape the snares of the heretics who rise up, and to remain intact and sound in a sound faith, it would be necessary, with the help of the Lord, to fortify that faith in a twofold manner: first, of course, by the authority of the divine law [Sacred Scripture]; and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church...."

That answers the first question. And here are his reasons why --

"Because, quite plainly, Sacred Scripture, by reason of its own depth, is not accepted by everyone as having one and the same meaning. The same passage is interpreted in one way by some, in another by others, so that it can almost appear as if there are as many opinions as there are men. Novatian explains a passage in one way, Sabellius in another, Donatus in another; Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius in another; Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian in another; Jovinian, Pelagius, Caelestius in another; and afterwards in still another, Nestorius."

Jim, what St. Vincent of Lerins should have said, according to you

"Hey, you heretics are not following the Bible. Read the Bible a little closer and a bit more carefully and you'll find the truth."

On the contrary, St. Vincent advises us (as do the rest of the Fathers)

"And thus, because of so many distortions of such various errors, it is highly necessary that the line of prophetic and apostolic interpretation be directed in accord with the norm of the ecclesiastical and Catholic meaning. In the Catholic Church herself every care must be taken that we may hold fast to that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. For this is, then, truly and properly Catholic." (St. Vincent of Lerins, Commonitoria 2, c. 450 AD)

St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria in the fourth century, shows us that it was the Arian heretics who were privately interpreting Scripture apart from the historic traditional teaching of the orthodox Fathers and the Catholic Church. Joe Gallegos has compiled numerous citations from Athanasius on this point -- look for the new book edited by Robert Sungenis Not By Scripture Alone (Queenship, 1997). The following is taken from Volume 4 of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers edited by the Protestant scholars Philip Schaff/Henry Wace. I now have access to volumes of the Fathers and can verify the quotes.

ATHANASIUS (small sample from the Gallegos file TRAD.ZIP)

"forcing on the divine oracles a misinterpretation according to their OWN PRIVATE sense" Orat 1,37

"However here too they (Arians) introduce their PRIVATE fictions, and contend that the Son and the Father are not in such wise 'one,' or 'like,' as the CHURCH preaches, but as they themselves would have it" Orat 3,10

"We are content with the fact that this is not the teaching of the Catholic Church, nor did the Fathers hold this." Epis 59

"Of course, the holy Scriptures, divinely inspired are self-sufficient for the proclamation of the truth. But there are also numerous works composed for this purpose by blessed teachers. The ONE WHO READS THEM will ==UNDERSTAND== the INTERPRETATION of the Scriptures AND will be ABLE to GAIN knowledge he desires" C. Gentes 1

"But what is also to the point, let us note that the very TRADITION, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning was preached by the Apostles and PRESERVED by the FATHERS. On this the CHURCH was founded; and if anyone departs from THIS, he neither is, nor any longer ought to be called, a Christian." Ad Serapion 1,28

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Date: 11-06-97 / From: MICHAEL BRAZIER / To: ROBERT MCKAY / Conf: RCatholic

"For the Snark was Robert McKay, you see."

On Tuesday November 04 1997 16:39, Robert McKay wrote to Sean M. Brooks:

SMB> BUT, the upper case use of the word goes back as early as St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch (d. circa 107). And he meant that word in an INSTITUTIONAL, upper case sense. I'll quote from his LETTER TO THE SMYRNAEANS (8,1): "You must all follow the BISHOP as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the PRESBYTERY, as you would the Apostles. Reverence the DEACONS as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the church without the bishop. Let that be considered a VALID Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Nor is it permitted without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate the agape; but whatever he approve, this too is pleasing to God, so that whatever is done will be secure and valid."

RM> I remember that quote from my reading of the Lightfoot-Harmer-Holmes edition of *The Apostolic Fathers*. I note now, and noted then, that the actual statement wherein "Catholic" occurs, while using an upper case C, utilizes the word in the lower case sense. The statement is that "wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." Well, I'm no Catholic, but I know and you've acknowledged that I'm a genuine Christian; thus, I'm in the "Catholic" church in the sense of the universal Body of Christ, even though I've never been in the institutional Catholic denomination and can't see any circumstances whereby I would alter that.

The significant point (for the present purpose) is the references made to bishops, presbyters, and deacons, and the duty of obeying them. St. Ignatius clearly considers the bishop of a place to be the chief authority in it; the activities of the Church require his approval, and either he or an officer he appoints is required to conduct the Sacraments. We see an authority vested, not merely in an institution, but in a single person.

Baptist polity, as you've informed us, is nothing like this. Authority within a "parish" church rests in the congregation, and the governing officers are chosen by them. Above the "parish" level are only the conventions, and their authority springs from the consent of the member churches. The faction that has tried to give the Southern Baptist convention authority over its member churches (on the model of the Catholic Magisterium) is, among Baptists, an unwelcome novelty.

So, you tell me: which communion, the Catholic or the Baptist, is closer to the Church St. Ignatius described?

Michael Brazier

* Origin: Bellman's Island (1:397/6.4)


Date: 11-07-97 / From: MICHAEL BRAZIER / To: ROBERT MCKAY / Conf: RCatholic

"For the Snark was Robert McKay, you see."

MB> Those Christians historically closest to the Apostles seem to think that the Church is something visible; a society lodged on Earth, with an Earthly organization; an Earthly authority exacting obedience from the believer. The equation between the Church and the Saints cannot be traced further back than John Calvin. Unless we choose to think that the earliest Christians we know of had lost the true faith of the Apostles, the parallel is obvious. Just as the Mormons, by denying the truth about Christ, throw themselves beyond salvation, so do the Calvinists, by denying the truth about the Church, throw themselves beyond salvation. I cannot see any way to avoid this conclusion.

RM> IOW, you believe that I'm not saved, simply because I choose to follow Jesus in some church other than the Catholic church. What this amounts to is that it is membership in a visible organziation, and not personal faith in and/or relationship to Jesus, which saved; it is mere membership in an organized church, and not God Himself, which is the effectual saving power.

To say that membership in a specific visible organization is necessary for salvation is not, actually, to deny the role of personal faith, trust in Jesus, or the saving power of God. It *does* mean that God exercises His saving power through that specific organization, and that a true faith in Jesus will in time draw one away from all other organizations to that specific one -- and also that denying this fact cuts one off from God as surely as denying God Himself.

The notion that Divine Grace descends through specific earthly things, to the exclusion of all others, is no doubt to you an absurdity. But it is one of the central principles of the Catholic faith; it is called the Sacramental Economy. The Sacraments proper are examples of it, as is the relation held to exist between faith and works, and the concept of patron saints. The concept of a Visible Church as the sole gate to the Invisible Church is not a mere arbitrary constraint; it is one example of a principle that has always been familiar to Catholics.

Michael Brazier

* Origin: Bellman's Island (1:397/6.4)


Date: 11-14-97 / From: SEAN M. BROOKS / To: ROBERT MCKAY / Conf: RCatholic

Hi, Robert. Hope you're well. Thanks for this note.

=> Quoting Robert McKay to Sean M. Brooks <=

RM> I don't much care for that kind of arrogance in telling me that I am what I know for a fact I'm not.

SMB> Robert, that's because whatever is true in the Protestant churches came from the CATHOLIC Church. Those portions of Christian truth is what makes them Christian in the first place. I know, you don't agree!

RM> Negative. Whatever is true in Protestant churches *and* in the Catholic church comes from the Bible, which is neither Catholic nor Protestant.

On the contrary, not only is it true that all which makes any of the Protestant churches Christian came from the Catholic Church, you also received the Holy Scriptures from us. Recall, it was the Catholic Church which collected and defined as canonical the books of the Bible. The Church existed BEFORE the NT. It was only in the late fourth century that the canon of the Bible reached their COMPLETE form when the Council of Rome under Pope Damasus officially accepted for liturgical use the books of the Bible. A list which was formally defined as de fide dogma by the Council of Trent. We believe that Our Lord the Spirit guided the Church into deciding correctly which books are canonical.

Pax tecum. Sean

... St. Paul to Timothy: "Have some wine on me!"

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Date: 11-16-97 / From: P / To: JIM JEFFCOAT / Conf: RCatholic

THE TRUE CHURCH DEBATE: Definition of Terms

JJ> OK, what would be your term for the collective assembly of all believers throughout the ages?

PP> The problem is you are laboring under a Protestant misconception of Church history that has no historical foundation whatsoever.

I answered the way I did since the context of our remarks here was the definition of the words "Church" and "Catholic." I clarified what the historic Church has meant by these terms along with what constituted "all believers" according to Catholic understanding in previous posts. That is what all my rambling and quotations were all about. Hee, hee.

JJ> Amidst all the rambling and quotes you posted, it appears you did not even attempt to answer my question. Are you unwilling to give me an answer to a simple question? Let me try again... Throughout all of history, there surely exists a group of people who are redeemed and will ultimately spend eternity with the Lord. What term would *you* use to refer to this group of people?

The Elect : those who God infallibly knows will spend eternity with Him.

But the Elect is not the Church. The Church is and always has been a visible, hierarchical institution that is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, the original Church founded by Jesus, established to teach, define and clarify the truth, and to sanctify and save souls. Jesus teaches THROUGH His Church and saves THROUGH His Church (which the Bible calls the "Body of Christ"). This is not only the Catholic understanding but the position of ancient Christianity and accepted today by Catholics, Orthodox, and (some) Anglicans alike.

So far I have produced evidence for this Church from three Anglican scholars (namely, J.N.D. Kelly, Canon A.J. Mason and H.B. Swete), along with quotations from St. Vincent of Lerins and St. Athanasius (on how the heretics misinterpreted the Bible and what the remedy was for that). Sean Brooks has produced quotations from St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Augustine who both affirmed a visible, hierarchical Church. In fact, it is the UNANIMOUS position of historic Christianity.

Question: Are you going to assert an apostasy from the "Biblical model" of the Church this early in history? I'll get to the Bible later. This visible Church is variously called the "Catholic Church", the "Mystical Body of Christ" or the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" (the latter is used in the ancient Creeds of Christianity).

The Protestant Reformers in the 16th century broke from this ancient understanding in positing an "invisible church of the Elect." The Church includes the Elect but is larger than the Elect, so it is true that there are both visible and invisible (or spiritual) aspects and realities to the Church. See the Catechism, para 770 ff.

Jim, there are a number of terms that have been tossed around in these discussions with yourself, Robert McKay, Sean Brooks, Michael Brazier, myself and others that need to be defined very carefully. You are using the standard Protestant definitions (mainly from the 16th century) while Catholics hold to the historical definitions. These terms include the words "Church", "Catholic", "Christian", "visible Church", "invisible church" (my term which I will explain), along with the "saved", and now the "Elect." These are different terms.

VISIBLE vs. "INVISIBLE" CHURCH

PP> Sean Brooks would acknowledge this as well. What is in dispute is your and Robert McKay's unhistorical notion of this invisible "universal church of believers no matter what visible Church they may belong to."

JJ> I have never used the word "invisible"; that's your term, not mine. Unquestionably, certain aspects of the Church are visible.

You have never used the actual words "invisible church" but you have used the equivalent phrase: the "assembly of the saved" which in the Catholic understanding would be the invisible church of the Elect.

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Date: 10-27-97 / From: JIM JEFFCOAT / To: SEAN M. BROOKS

JJ> High church Anglicans have nothing whatever to do with it. Anyone who is saved is part of the universal church and therefore "catholic" with a small "c".

SB> Again, mistaken. Here you're talking about the communion of saints with God in the Beatific Vision. There are lost souls within the Church and saints outside it.

JJ> Depends on the meaning you pour into the word "Church". If you are speaking of a human institution, such as a particular church or denomination, then this is quite true. However, the *universal* Church includes, and is contigious with, all who are saved. All who are saved are, by definition, part of Christ's Church. One who is lost could not, by definition, be part of the assembly of those who are saved.

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A couple of propositions emerged from your messages. You believe

(1) The visible Church (whether the Catholic Church or any Protestant denomination) is a human institution, not divinely established

(2) Anyone who is "saved" is part of the "universal church" and therefore "catholic" with a small "c"

(3) The "universal church" is contigious with all who are "saved"

(4) All who are "saved" are by definition part of Christ's Church

(5) One who is "lost" could not by definition be part of the "saved"

A couple of distinctions need to be made here so we understand each other and so you can understand what is the historic Catholic position. First, I dealt with the divine establishment of the visible Church and the term "catholic" in my previous posts so propositions (1) and (2) above are answered by those posts. Now we must cover the distinction between the visible vs. invisible church, and the Elect vs. the saved. According to you, the "universal Church" = "all who are saved" -- that is exactly what I have meant by the term the "invisible church." I'll get into your use of the Biblical word "assembly" later.

Now why is this "church of the saved" invisible? Because NO ONE knows who the "saved" are -- they are indeed invisible since the Holy Spirit who dwells in the hearts and souls of the "saved" is the invisible Third Person of the Trinity. The saved cannot be "seen" but by God.

There is also a distinction in Catholic understanding between those who are "saved" (or "regenerate") and those who are "Elect." All the "Elect" will indeed be "saved" (will spend eternity in heaven) but not all those who were "saved" (were in a "state of grace") are "Elect." It is possible to reject salvation and lose that state of grace. I know you believe in Eternal Security but it was new with Calvin. Augustine made a distinction between the "regenerate" and the "Elect." I'll get into that discussion and provide some Biblical texts later.

While you may admit "certain visible aspects" of the "universal Church" exist, you cannot point to any ONE Church as being THE visible Church, nor can you point to any ONE faith (Eph 4:5) as THE truth proclaimed by the Church, but rely upon Scripture alone which is privately interpreted by many and has produced since the 16th century over 20,000 churches.

If the Church is defined as the "assembly of the saved" there is no one to say what is the true faith of Christianity. That is a major problem.

Catholics point to the original visible Church that was divinely estab- lished to teach the truth and sanctify the believer. All grace and salvation is to be sought within that one visible Church which Christ founded for that purpose -- which is the historic Catholic position.

Now the Catechism to define the Catholic position on the Church --

THE CHURCH -- BOTH VISIBLE AND SPIRITUAL

771. "The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men." [Vatican II LG 8]. The Church is at the same time:

-- a society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ

-- the visible society and the spiritual community

-- the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches

776. As sacrament, the Church is Christ's instrument. "She is taken up by him also as the instrument for the salvation of all," "the universal sacrament of salvation," by which Christ is "at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God's love for men."

The Church "is the visible plan of God's love for humanity," because God desires "that the whole human race may become one People of God, form one Body of Christ, and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit." [Vatican II LG 9, 48; GS 45; Paul VI; AG 7; LG 17]

779. The Church is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society and the Mystical Body of Christ. She is one, yet formed of two components, human and divine. That is her mystery, which only faith can accept.

780. The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men.

THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS

946. After confessing "the holy Catholic Church," the Apostles' Creed adds "the communion of saints." In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: "What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?" The communion of saints is the Church.

That officially defines the modern (and ancient) Catholic position.

For a full debate on the subject, see the P vs. JasonTE debate

P

* OLX 2.1 TD * You cannot have God for Father if Church is not Mother


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