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Are There Those In Christ Who Are Forbidden To Eat?

Posted by Remy on May 11, 2009

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on two separate occasions over I Corinthians 11. There are several misunderstandings, but one is the meaning of  “examine”. Pastor Jeff Meyers has written a superb article answering that question. There are a couple others that I want to draw out, but first a snippet of the passage:

 27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
 30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
 31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
 33Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
 34And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation.

First thing to notice is that there is no category of worthy Christians and unworthy Christians. That is an category invented to accommodate our blueprints. There is no halfway covenant, there is no firstclass Christians, secondclass Christians. The distinction drawn here is between worthy eating and unworthy eating.

Second, the reason for unworthy eating is over a failure to discern the Lord’s body. We don’t have the right to stretch this to other things; differences over doctrinal matters are not in light here. 

Third, the response to the problem is not to abstain from eating. All those in the body are expected to eat. A failure to eat is rebellion. A failure to eat is to avoid lifegiving judgement. Note verse 31 and 32, if we judge ourselves we will not be judged, but when we are judge (by eating unworthily) we are chastened by the Lord (and the chastening of the Lord should not be despised) that we should not be condemned with the world.

If you are in Christ you must eat. If you are in rebellion you must eat. Until someone is removed from the table by excommunication (not the frivolous blanket excommunication that serve only for schism), they must partake of the lifegiving judgement of the Lord. If you are weak you can only become weaker by abstaining. If you struggle with sin there is no other place to gain strength.

Wherefore, my brethren, when you come together, not if you come, but when you come together to eat, receive one another.

82 Responses to “Are There Those In Christ Who Are Forbidden To Eat?”

  1. Matt Yonke said

    Remy,

    Heresy is precisely a failure to recognize the Lord’s body. No stretching involved.

  2. Remy said

    Do you realize that you called the Roman church heretical?

  3. Remy said

    Upon further reflection, I’ll get no where with you just prodding you like that. Let me spell it out some more.

    I presume you mean by “failure to recognize the Lord’s body” to mean “failure to adhere to transubstantiation”. If I presume incorrectly let me know.

    But as I said above and will now repeat again, this isn’t a matter of blueprints. Everybody, yes, all Christians recognize the body of Jesus in the Eucharist. Is it always a potent understanding? No, I don’t think so. But everybody recognizes Christ.

    Is this passage concerned with that? No it isn’t. It is about some people hogging the Supper.

    Recognizing the body in this context means recognizing all those in Christ. If there are those in Christ who are withheld from the Supper, whoever is doing the withholding is not discerning the body of Christ.

    You are welcome to the table at my church (not that you would ever eat with us Gentiles), but am I welcome at yours?

  4. Matt Yonke said

    I presume you mean by “failure to recognize the Lord’s body” to mean “failure to adhere to transubstantiation”. If I presume incorrectly let me know.

    Indeed you do presume incorrectly, but not, perhaps, without reason.

    What I was referring to was the failure to recognize the Church as the Body of Christ which has the authority to proclaim the doctrine of Christ.

    The Catholic Church recognizes that protestant Christians are indeed Christians by virtue of their baptism, but affirms at the same time that the fullness of the Church subsists in the Catholic Church alone.

    So for a protestant Christian to remain protestant is a failure to recognize the Body of Christ in its fullness in the Catholic Church. Therefore heresy is, at its root, a failure to discern the Lord’s Body.

    As such, the Christian who hears the voice of the Shepherd in the Catholic Church and says, “No, the fullness of the Church is over here, not in the Catholic Church” cannot come to the table because he denies the source of the table.

    To go back to the oft referred to parable of the Prodigal Son, it’s no use insisting that you’re at your Father’s table while you’re in exile in a foreign land.

    The Prodigal Son was still a son while in the exile of his own making, but he couldn’t return to his father’s table till he returned to his father’s actual table.

    Let’s not mince words here. I’m not welcome at your table, I’m forbidden by my Church from coming to your table. It would be a gross violation of my conscience and the laws of my Church to partake at your table.

    The pan-churchism you profess is not taught by the Catholic Church. As recently as last year the Catholic Church made it clear that protestant communions are not Churches, per se. You are Christians, by virtue of your baptism, no doubt. But your communities are not Churches by the proper definition and that definition goes back to the blueprints you so frequently deride.

    The Church is centered around the Eucharistic sacrifice. If there is no sacrifice there is no Church. That’s why the Orthodox are regarded as true particular Churches, if not in communion with Rome. They still offer the Sacrifice of Calvary on their altars.

    The Sacrifice is the all-important aspect of this discussion. This isn’t a niggling debate about blueprints, it’s a fundamental question of what the table is.

  5. Matt,

    I don’t think you’re quite correct. The important issue isn’t the doctrine of the sacrifice–if a Bishop were to declare that his diocese will no longer believe that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, yet they would remain Catholic. The issue is the Episcopacy, and just what separation from the Bishop entails.

  6. Remy said

    Matt, someday you’re going to have to read the passage above and many more like it in the word of God. There’s no other way to take the above passage, those in Christ must eat. Avoid it if you want.

    I believe the church has authority, but not to undo the words of Christ. The scriptures clearly teach that all those in Christ get to eat. For Rome or anybody else to deny the body access to the table is a failure to discern the body.

    And your presumption is still that it is Rome’s table. It isn’t. It’s the Lord’s table.

    The Prodigal Son parable doesn’t work. For the son to take his inheritance is to view the Father as dead. When Rome drove out Luther it wasn’t because he rejected God, but b/c he stood against the greed and widow-eating of the Roman church.

    You keep saying we’re “in exile in a foreign land” which isn’t true. We’re in Christ.

    And I understand that St. Peter would not allow you to eat with the gentiles, I’m trying to persuade you to be a St. Paul.

  7. You know, a little bit of Reformation topography would sure help this “drove out of the church” business.

    Luther disagreed with the Pope, but he had the backing of his prince, and thus all of the churches of Saxony went with him. In his area, “the Church” was very much on his side. In Switzerland it was even more so. Calvin did not have to debate with any Roman Catholics in town. They were all gone before he got there. He showed up to a Reformed Church.

    All of England left Roman political rule. All of Scotland left. All of Scandanavia left. All of Hungary left. Transylvania left. Significant parts of Poland left. Half of the Netherlands left. Half of the nobles in France left, and had Henry of Navarre not converted to Roman Catholicism, it could have been the case that all of France would have left Roman jurisdiction as well.

    All this business about “When Luther left the Church” is just silly, as if he were a modern church-splitter (or lone-wolf hipster!). He did what his local manifestation of the Body did.

    As I’ve said before, for Roman Catholics the body of Christ is the polity. Bishops=Jesus. Law=Salvation.

    Lutheranly yours,

  8. Remy said

    Not that this is the be all end all, but what Calvin and Luther were promoting was the ancient faith; they were standing against the innovations of Rome.

    True Church! True Church!

  9. But Remy, Rome doesn’t “innovate.” They “develop.” Big difference…

  10. Josh said

    “Matt, someday you’re going to have to read the passage above and many more like it in the word of God. There’s no other way to take the above passage, those in Christ must eat. Avoid it if you want.”

    That’s helping. That’s helping, like, a whole lot.

  11. Remy said

    Don’t you think it’s an effective way to get him to read the passage? Maybe a little bit effective? It only has to be a little bit effective for me to feel fine about it.

  12. Matt Yonke said

    Petersen,

    Actually, though I think it’s a both/and rather than either/or situation with bishops and sacrifice, it was precisely the dropping of the sacrificial language from the rite of ordination that made Rome declare Canterbury’s ordinations invalid. They were no longer ordaining priests to do what priests do, which is offer sacrifice.

    So while I agree that the bishop is essential to communion, if a bishop and his diocese declared that they no longer believed the Eucharist to be a sacrifice, they would be excommunicated.

    Remy,

    The disagreements and different uses of terminology here are unfortunately legion.

    All baptized Christians can eat, but it does not follow that all Christians must eat. Those who would eat and drink to their own destruction (who must exist because St. Paul identifies them as an existing class) must not eat. What they must do is step back, evaluate their lives, do the works of repentance, and then eat.

    The implications of this don’t extend merely to violations of moral commands, like if you’re living in unrepentant fornication you come to your own destruction. It also extends to the doctrinal. If you don’t believe in the Trinity, you eat to your own destruction. If you don’t believe in the resurrection, you eat to your own destruction. If you don’t believe in the incarnation, you eat to your own destruction.

    Why is this? Because if you deny the resurrection and eat the flesh of the resurrected Christ, you are lying with your body. The action of coming to Holy Communion is the action of declaring your faith in Christ and His Body, the Church. So if you come to communion while harboring in your heart beliefs contrary to the teaching of the Church, you lie.

    When we look back on Church history, this is clearly the case. If you were an Arian after Nicea, you did not get to come to communion. If you were a Donatist after Arles, you did not get to come to communion.

    The question is why, if you are a protestant after Trent, should you be allowed to come to communion?

    The process of defining the boundaries of communion by the boundaries of true Christian doctrine is as old as the faith itself.

    If you cannot affirm the faith of the Catholic Church, then to receive communion at a Catholic Church would be to say one thing with the thoughts of your heart and another with the chewing of your mouth.

  13. Remy said

    It absolutely must follow. All in Christ Jesus must eat. Look I’m not making this up:

    “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

    When we are judged [for eating unworthily] we are chastened of the Lord that we should not be condemned with the world. The chastenings of the Lord are good.

    The answer to your question is because Christ said so. All those in Him, all his sheep, are to be fed. You cannot prove otherwise.

  14. Remy and Steven,

    Regarding a point made earlier about Protestants not excommunicating people for doctrinal reasons. I don’t believe you. Give me a citation. In Massachusetts, it was a capital offense to have an icon or to pray to the Theotokos, or to be Catholic. Lutherans have never wanted to commune with Zwinglians, or even Calvinists. The Covenanters included imprecations against Papists in their battle songs. We can rightly say they were wrong to do so, but the CREC position is, as far as I can see, not the historical option for Protestants. At best, it seems, you could claim it was a historic option.

    Also, I find it hard to see how one can maintain, as the Helvetic Confessions does and as Steven has, that heresy is the true schism, but then say that heresy shouldn’t cause Eucharistic schism. If, as in Pr. Meyer’s article, the elders decide that through a certain doctrine a teacher is not discerning the body of Christ, but is instead is dividing the body of Christ, and therefore he is not fit to receive the Eucharist, you can turn around and say “really he is, he’s baptized.”

  15. Matt Yonke said

    Remy,

    Your position is so out of step with historic Christianity that I really don’t know how to respond to it. If you’re declaring a doctrine unknown to the billions of Christians who ever drew breath before you, so be it, but if you’re claiming some link with the Church through the ages, I’m sorry but it’s just not there.

    Furthermore, though I hold out hope that Christ is feeding you through the table you come to on Sundays, that table is simply not the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary made present unless Jesus makes it so by His divine will to take care of those who are His by baptism but despise His Church.

    Can I set out bread and wine, declare them to be a sacrament and have Christ be made present on my dining room table? If I can’t, how can your dad, or Doug Wilson, or the pastor of EV Free down the street?

    I’m sorry to be so blunt, but either Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist is made real by His priests who have received the power to make it so by the passing on of Holy Orders or it’s not. If it’s not, the Catholic and Orthodox Eucharistic celebrations are mockeries of your true reformed celebrations and so are the mere-memorials of the various evangelical traditions.

    I was very much encouraged by Wedgeworth’s vehement defences of the protestant position a few posts back. This equivocation on what the Eucharist means was not a small part of what pushed me over the Tiber. If you want to be a protestant, be a protestant. You just can’t have it both ways.

  16. I’ve got much to say, but for tonight, I’d like to offer you just one thing.

    From St. Matthew’s gospel:

    When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

    Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

    Now with that description in mind, I’d like you to compare two modern attempts to model this rite. HERE is the first. HERE is the second.

    Now, understanding that both have certain historical and cultural deviations from the gospel’s narrative, which looks closer to Matthew’s account? Which one looks like something utterly foreign to, even wholly unrecognizable as Mathew’s account?

  17. To correct myself, the first is not an attempt to model the exact rite of Matthew’s gospel, but the more general meal practice of its time.

  18. Steven,

    Wasn’t the Last Supper the impetus for both the Agape Feasts and the Eucharist?

  19. Remy said

    Matt, do you really want to present yourself as standing with tradition against the Bible? That is what puts you outside of historic Christianity. That gives me the more ancient faith and the more historic.

    You keep talking like you believe that Rome owns the table. If it is their table then it isn’t Christ’s. Christ is at the head of the table. His presence isn’t made real by priests, it is made real by Him. If two or three are gathered together in His name there He is in the midst of them.

    For protestants to gather in His name, sit at His table, recite the words of institution as He commanded, and eat and drink in faith, there is Christ Jesus the Lord in the midst of them. For you to deny this makes you the memorialists, I am the one who believes in true presence.

    For you to reject the real presence of Christ Jesus at His table puts you outside of historic Christianity. If you want to believe in real presence you need to believe in it all the way. You can’t have it both ways.

  20. Petersen,

    I’m not sure that we really know when Agape Feasts and Eucharistic liturgies became seperated. We do know that there were Eucharistic liturgies being celebrated out in the desert, apart from bishops or any formal structure.

    We can also see this more communal “breaking of bread” in the book of Acts.

  21. Remy,

    Again, for Rome the bishop is alter Christus. That’s Jesus for them. At the bottom of it all, salvation just is submission to a polity. There’s no Spirit or grace working apart from law. You can get various mystical writings and parachurch movements, but when it comes to philosophical dialogue, things all run back to the first principles.

    It seems even with all else we can say, Luther was basically right.

    Yonke will have to decide which language to speak, and that will determine his conclusion. If he decides to speak your language and read the Bible critically, comparing text with text and investigating the historical context in which those texts were written, agreeing to follow where the evidence leads him, then he’s basically a Protestant, even if a strange Petersonian one.

    To stay Roman, he’ll just need to point you to the rule book, of which you really can’t invalidate. The ministerium is the final reference point, even against the patristics (the Orthodox are at least open to a consensus of the fathers). It’s like Van Tillianism, you start and stop in the same place: a beatific circle.

  22. Matt Yonke said

    Wedge,

    No spirit of grace working apart from the law? Fr reals? Have you read any Catholic theology? I don’t mean to be rude, I know you’re much better read than I, I just don’t know how reading Catholic theology could lead you to this conclusion.

    Salvation to the Catholic is a work of the grace of God from start to finish. Without the grace that the Holy Spirit provides we would have no path to salvation at all. We certainly regard bishops and priests as alter Christus, but that hardly seems to imply we don’t believe in the gracious working of the Holy Spirit.

    Remy,

    I just don’t know how to arrive at a terminology that will allow for a workable dialog between us. As I said before, we’re just using so many words so differently. It’s really hard.

    Forgive me if I misunderstand, but you seem in your most recent comment to equate the presence of Christ among two or three believers to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Is this the same presence in your view?

  23. Yes grace all the way, but its still tied to the legal system all the way too. You could, I guess, appeal to Rahner’s “anonymous Christians,” but that’s a bit of an oddity and nothing that we could base our lives on.

    Baptism might be pointed to as being the total grace moment, but even that gets tied to apostolic succession, so the point remains.

    For Remy and myself, salvation (in the RC system) is this: submit to the bishop of Rome.

  24. Even under an NPP reading of Galatians, which is hardly the only possible reading (and not always the most satisfactory), the Roman polity becomes a tight analogy to the “works of the law.” Luther’s complaint wasn’t sacraments. It was sacerdotalism. Understanding the difference between those two makes all the difference in grasping his thought, and I believe that his thought is one articulation of Paul’s (see Agamben, Segal, and Chilton for various contemporary praises of Luther, Agamben being the most complimentary).

  25. Also Yonke (so sorry to triple post!),

    I don’t say this to be anti-Roman, though I suppose that I am that. One can still teach all that I submit Rome does and lay claim to a semi-Augustinianism, which is what the majority of the middle ages were (Council of Orange does not take all of Augustine’s thought). D B Hart has said it several times, the vast majority of Christians over the years were semi-Augustinian.

    I think a close reading of what I initially will also reveal that my point is the “apart from law” bit.

  26. Matt,

    I think Steven’s arguing against a Roman understanding of the priests and bishops which probably reached a climax in the late 19th century, and today is most likely to be found in its most robust form in the SSPX or sedevacantist communions, but which probably also manifests itself in some very traditional Catholic communities, though it still has lingering influences in the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican II does not embrace it, neither does Pope Benedict (at least not fully, though it could be argued that he still does to some degree), and like I said at the top, it is a Roman understanding–the Russians probably believed it for a while because they were very influenced by the West, and it probably influenced to some degree the Eastern Catholic Churches–but I would be a little surprised if it is really at home even in Eastern Catholic Churches. It is probably St. Therese of the Child Jesus, along with theologians like Yves Cognar that were most influential in overthrowing that understanding of the Church.

    I believe Steven’s objection is basically the same as Zizioulas’ objection that Catholic Ecclesiology (particularly that of Ratzinger and Rahner) is exclusively monistic. (Though Steven would object to Zizioulas’s identification of the cause of the difficulty.) (I would however be interested in Steven’s thoughts on the similarities between what Jenson said was the fundamental impetus of Protestantism and Zizioulas’ insistence on Person as a fundamental ontological category–to see it more clearly, read the whole chapter from the book I link to.)

    There is an ecclesiology in which hierarchical structures are regarded as central and necessary, but they are so on the basis of a Trinitarian model in which otherness is secondary to unity and is understood as existing only in order to serve unity. A substantialist Trinitarian theology is, in this case, transfered to ecclesiology.[1] This priority of the ‘one’ over the ‘many’, or or substance over personhood, turns hierarchy into a means not of producing and securing otherness, as in the case in the Cappadocian understanding of divine causality, but of enforcing unity. Juridical and legal notions become part of ecclesiology, and as C. Gunton observes, as a consequency, the Church, like any legal institution, ’employs constraint in order to maintain unity’.[2] No wonder, therefore, that the term ‘hierarchy’ provokes negative reactions and is rejected in ecclesiology.[3]

    ————–
    [1] A typical example is J. Ratzinger’s ecclesiology in which the universal Church ontologically preceeds the local Church, and the highest ministry exists in order to safeguard and express the one, universal Church. See K. Rahner and J. Ratzinger, Episcopat und Primat, 1962, p. 26; also J. Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics, 1988. Persons are ‘pure relations’ and ecclesial structures are conceived by way of the one substance of God; cf. M. Volf, After Our Likeness, pp. 67ff.
    [2]C. Gunton, The Promise of Trinitarian Theology, p. 60.
    [3]Thus, C. Gunton, The Promise of Trinitarian Theology, p. 70: ‘much ecclesiology has been dominated by mosistic or hierarchical conceptions’ (my italics). The association of hierarchy with monism reveals the deeper reason for its rejection.

    –Met. J. Zizioulas Communion and Otherness p. 145-6

  27. Maybe I’m confusing things a little in that post. The old Catholic doctrine (not dogma) was that it isn’t the laity who are the Church, but that the laity are connected to the Church which is the hierarchy. Zizioulas is objecting to the idea that the local Churches find their meaning by being in the One Church, rather than being particular instances of the One Church.

    That said, I’m not sure that the two are really that separate. Not only do the individual churches find their meaning by being in the one church, but the laity are also meaningful not in themselves, but because they are attached to the One, namely the Pope, and are secondary to the One, namely the Pope, and his representatives, who together constitute the True Church.

    Anyway, I’m relatively confident that neither Steven’s nor Zizioulas’ point hold against a Eastern Catholic understanding of the office of the Papacy, and also that Steven’s point doesn’t still hold. The Catholic teaching, though not dogma, was once that the Church was the priests and nuns, she has since rejected that theology, except in some very traditionalist groups, and splinter groups, like the SSPX and the sedevacantists.

  28. Matt Yonke said

    Remy,

    With all this priesthood of all believers business, what do you make of the Catholic doctrine that some doctrinal knowledge arises from the consent of the faithful?

    That is, the idea that some truths of the faith are not delivered by theologians, but by what all Christians, most conspicuously the laity, seem just to know by intuition?

    Is this an option? Is this a way God could reveal His truth to u?

    Not trying to score a point, just an honest simple question.

  29. Remy said

    I’ve never heard of that doctrine before, I’d be interested in reading up on that one.

    I don’t believe God works through osmosis if that is what is meant. God speaks to us through His word. Could the laity come to something that the heady theologians miss? I suppose, but not apart from the Bible.

    Typically what happens when untrained people are left to decide what to do they end up doing what feels right. Whichever way you feel about icons the one thing that can be said is that it looks like paganism. Worshiping god that way has always felt right.

    This is why I think tradition apart from Scripture isn’t worth a damn.

  30. I think though, that it’s kinda an extension of the fact that each Christian speaks Christ to me. Not only the Christians immediately around me, but all the Church speaks Christ to me. Particularly, we should look at what everyone does and believes as the Word of God.

    Of course this needs to be qualified to say that the only Christians who spoke the Word of God infallibly are the authors of the Scriptures and their prototype the Most Holy Theotokos she alone has spoken His Word fully, to every other Word of God we may add. Which is to say we may have to ultimately reject what someone speaks to us–though more likely we have to find what is good in their word and submit to and learn from that, for even if we don’t like it, they are Christ, and their word is God’s Word.

  31. joshgibbs said

    “Typically what happens when untrained people are left to decide what to do they end up doing what feels right.”

    Ah, the convenience of being a Protestant. Your church says something that you don’t like, you don’t believe it. Your church statement of faith makes claims you don’t like, you take exception to it. Believer’s baptism doesn’t seem right? Praise choruses don’t feel right? We can just Sola Scriptura those beliefs practices right out of here. Don’t believe anything you don’t want to believe. Don’t believe anything that doesn’t feel right.

    Sometimes I think the book you and I have been writing is actually a journal read by angels. “A Case Study in Theological Hypocrisy.” We impress them all, I think.

  32. Remy said

    Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs.

    This isn’t an individualistic. Theology can only be done corporately.

    And don’t act like this is a Protestant thing. Of the two of us there’s only one of us who has picked a tradition to submit to.

  33. joshgibbs said

    Remy, my little aphorism, you.

  34. Remy said

    Haha.

    It’s one thing to change your tradition. It’s quite another thing to individually leave the tradition God put you in and chose another because you agree with it the most and then act like others are radical individualists because they aren’t submissive.

    Say whatever else, I have remained to work in the tradition I was born into and you have suited yourself.

  35. Matt Yonke said

    Remy,

    The doctrine is formally known as sensus fidelium, or the sense of the faithful, and I don’t think you’d like most of the way it’s been played out in Catholic theology, but I thought you might like the idea.

    Some of the most apparent applications in Catholic Theology are the doctrine of calling Our Lady “Theotokos” and the doctrine our Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. (I know, both Marian doctrines that make you gag, but still). Both were doctrines debated by theologians for years, but the common tradition of the Church, especially among the laity was clear.

    Eventually, the Magesterium found that these doctrines were true and necessary doctrines of the faith, at least in part inspired by the devotion of the faithful.

    So yeah, I know that’s not how you would see it applied (though I believe both of these doctrines in no way contradict Sacred Scripture, but in fact arise from a right understanding of typology) but that’s how Catholics have understood it.

  36. Matt,

    Psalm 1 implies the Immaculate Conception.

  37. Remy said

    I don’t object to Theotokus, that’s creedal language.

  38. joshgibbs said

    Rems,

    Given the number of people that are jumping ship from the CRE, I suppose it makes sense to play party politics and complain about loyalty. What makes for worse denominationalism, leaving one denomination for another, or having a candy-aisle fit about those who do? I would say it’s a close call.

    When a woman marries a man, does she marry his sin and all? You might say that I have “suited” myself, but you’re willingly ignoring my own testimony on the matter. There are a number of Orthodox claims that I’m not comfortable with, that I am hard pressed to defend and understand. But please, carry on the assault.

  39. Matt Yonke said

    Remy,

    Interesting you should reply that way. Theotokos is actually not creedal language (the creed uses “virgin Mary”), but it is most assuredly counciliar language.

    Which raises the question, if you accept the language of the council of Ephesus, why do you reject the language and rulings of 2nd Nicea? Because they were wrong? Says who? And if the answer is you and your Bible, then why accord a submissive “Yeah, I accept “Theotokos” because it’s the language of the council” response to Ephesus?

    If councils have a special status of being able to affirm truths that are binding on the faithful, like we see in Sacred Scripture at the Council of Jerusalem, then they have that power and it ought to be honored and we don’t get to pick and choose which councils we agree with.

    But if a council is a group of men coming to the findings they deem best, only to be judged by Remy Wilkins 1700 years later and found wanting, why ascribe any special status to the Council of Ephesus (or any other council you want to fill in the blank with including Jerusalem)?

    Who’s to say the Remy Wilkins of 500 years from now isn’t going to find 1st Nicea wanting and throw it out, much to everyone’s chagrin? And by what standard would we judge him that can’t be applied to ourselves as we winnow the wheat from the chaff of the history of Church councils with such authoritative abandon?

  40. Remy said

    Gibbs you spin nonstop. You call the CREC a sinking ship and say I’m throwing a “candy aisle fit”. Then you say I’m “carrying on the assault”? Thanks for the report, Foxnews.

    Seriously though, it doesn’t matter that you acknowledge that your chosen tradition has sin. I never said you believed the Orthodox tradition was perfect (though you did imply that the Orthodox tradition wasn’t a bloody tradition one time, which is a crock).

    My point is, for someone to appoint himself pope of his life and to chose a tradition to submit to cannot call others who have submitted to the tradition they’ve been born into as “suiting themselves”.

    You have suited yourself, I have not. That’s my point.

  41. Remy said

    Matt, “theotokus” appears in the Chalcedon creed. Therefore creedal.

    For one, nobody accepts every single thing from every single council. I’m pretty sure you know this.

    Secondly, it is never me and my Bible.

    Thirdly, it is not an all or nothing situation with regards to the Holy Spirit working in time. I believe the church builds on knowledge, but I do not believe that the church is infallible. God doesn’t work that way, He never has. We are lords of the universe now, we search out, we expand, but we always take our theologies and grind them against the Godbreathed words. In no way can you assume that just because God is no longer giving us the Official Rulebook that everything is up for grabs.

  42. joshgibbs said

    If you wanted to know where I heard that people were jumping ship from the CRE, I’d have to respond to you privately lest this blog turn into a fire hazaard.

    It’s easy for you to deny plain testimony about me suiting myself. The idea that the move to Orthodoxy is difficult on me is impossible for you to understand. The situation is more complex than you can handle, but you’re content to think monolithically. This all starts to follow that claim you made earlier about icons resembling paganism. Jeremy, you get your information from the internet. Go buy yourself another beer at the Biblical Horizons bar and put it on the Orthodox tab.

  43. Remy said

    People leave churches and traditions all the time, but to spin it as “sinking ship” cannot be passed off as a neutral observervation. Again, that’s fine if you want to use words that way, but I get to point out your spin. S’all m’sayin.

    And I’m sure there’s been some hard things to swallow for you as you’ve moved into another tradition. I should hope so. But that takes nothing away from the fact that the move suited you. Unless you want to make the absurd argument that you chose Orthodoxy because it suited you the least then I don’t see how you can possibly keep objecting to this. I’m going to say that you are being silly.

    As for my comment on icons, you don’t think bowing to objects in worship looks like paganism? I didn’t say it was paganism, but I don’t think you can maintain that bowing to objects in worship doesn’t look like paganism. I think you’re being silly again.

    Perhaps you take offense that I would put iconophilia so near the word paganism. Perhaps you also object to the “-phila” because it could potentially invoke another more sinister “-philia”.

    What a joke about me getting my information from the internet. That’s far too physical for me. I just stare at my JBJ icon and a warm feeling comes over me, but only a metaphorical warmth, real actual warmth is too much like paganism to me.

  44. Oh wow, this thing just kept going. Well, one point got my attention.

    From Yonke,

    why do you reject the language and rulings of 2nd Nicea? Because they were wrong? Says who?

    Says Charlemagne and the Council of Frankfurt.

    Charlemagne hunted the auroch on foot: man’s game. I’m with him.

  45. Matt Yonke said

    Wedge,

    Let’s not bandy about history willy nilly. The Council of Frankfurt’s decrees a) were not actually accepted in the Western Church till nearly 100 years after the council and b) the bits about icons were not accepted even when some parts of it were.

    At any rate, this council was quite local and not at all the same thing as second Nicea, and even in the event that a council did err, the proper corrective would be another council, not a movement among the laity or Remy’s say-so.

  46. Matt Yonke said

    That said, you did catch me in some sloppy history and I should have been more careful in the examples I chose in my original post. Well played.

  47. Remy,

    My posts seem to be disappearing. If they’re stuck in your que, feel free to delete all but one.

  48. Steven,

    It just does that sometimes. It did it to me, and I have no idea how to get around it. After trying for a weekend, I just published it on my blog, and linked to it here.

  49. Remy said

    I don’t know what the cause for the missed posts is. I don’t moderate.

  50. Well, the point is that the 2nd Council of Nicaea is historically dubious, itself being a counter-council called by a rival emperor to its immediate predecessor.

    Charlemagne saw it as a bunch of junk, his churches all did too (there was no “The Church” to make such a decision), and all the Reformers did too. We’re nordic warriors at heart.

    Of course, the Jewish Christians rejected images too. Most historians are agreed that there were no icons in 1st-3rd century churches. 2nd Nicaea is a “development” of doctrine.

  51. Yonke,

    I’m reviewing Riche on Frankfurt right now. Riche himself doesn’t agree with the council, but he states that it included the whole Frankish empire (France, Northern Italy, and German), as well as delegate from England (118). It was understood to be an “Empire” council, as the West was taking over the role that the East had previously held. The patriarch of Jerusalem said that Charlemagne was the new emperor, the new leader of Christendom. The pope, of course, agreed. Riche also points out that Frankfurt was reaffirmed at the Synod of Paris in 825. (Frankfurt was originally called in 794.)

    It was the official position of western Christendom because it was the position of the (new) emperor.

  52. “delegates from England”

    The 118 is a page number. Synod of Paris is cited on pg. 349.

  53. Just a second,

    Frankfurt might have been a legitimate council, but the fact that Second Nicea was a reaction to the earlier council doesn’t at all invalidate it. If it did, Chalcedon would be invalidated since it was an immediate reaction to the Robber Synod.

  54. Chalcedon, as a council, is a big mess. I happen to believe it theologically correct, but I wouldn’t worry myself too much over its political authority (It has none on its own). The fact is, it was the Pope who made that one finally happen (and he managed to save Cyril from becoming a heretic as well).

  55. I’ve never thought of you as being a Coptic sympathizer before.

    🙂

  56. joshgibbs said

    Rems,

    Go back and read what I said again. You said “sinking ship,” not me. I said “jumping ship,” as in, “Almost every church in the CRE has someone leaving for Catholicism or Orthodoxy.” Of course, I’ve got to ask, is it slander for me to say this?

    Again, as for Orthodoxy “suiting” me (this is such a retarded thing to argue about, but whatever), would you say a man suits himself when he chooses a wife? If a guy told you, “Today I met the woman I want to marry,” would you say, “That’s selfish, always following your own wants around.” You might reply that I was already married, but the fact remains I left TRC in good standing and with a blessing. That’s not the way wives talk to husbands who are thinking of leaving them for someone else.

  57. Remy said

    “Jump ship” is sinking ship language. But not to get sidetrack from my point. You accused me of attacking, I merely pointed out that you were using spin and attack language. Not me.

    My point about you suiting yourself was in response to your accusation that I submit to no one but me and my interpretation of the Bible. I think it’s real neat the metaphors you have for leaving and I don’t have any complaints about how you left, but the fact remains you picked your theology and I didn’t. I have submitted to the tradition I was born into and you didn’t. You suited yourself. I don’t even say that changing traditions is a bad thing.

    So it’s like me saying, I’m glad you’re on your second virginity, but could you lay off the purity sermons to guys like me.

  58. joshgibbs said

    “Jump ship” is sinking ship language.” OMG, are you an adult? Is this rhetoric class?

    “Spin and attack language”? You’re delusional. Man, this is all starting to seem so familiar. Why don’t you bust out some enemy theology on me already and start praying the imprecatories?

    Sean Penn called and said you’re Sam now. Congwadulations.

  59. Remy said

    What are you talking about? If you inadvertently used sinking ship reference you may say so. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

    But I don’t understand your candy aisle tantrums here.

    Is it that I keep pointing out that you hold to old world beliefs? Is it that I put up passages from Scriptures that clearly show you hold to old world beliefs?

    Is it that I keep pointing out that you only submit to a tradition that suits you? How about that you’ve chosen a tradition that doesn’t require anything of you aside from membership? Is this the sort of thing you mean by me “attacking” you?

    As for the first thing, I personally think it’s true and you haven’t offered any sort of defense for your beliefs whatsoever, nor explained what the passage above might mean. So if pointing this out is an attack, then I suppose I have attacked you.

    As for the submission thing, it isn’t so much an attack as me just saying that you don’t get to hit protestants with the “I submit, you don’t” stick. I like to consider that sort of thing a “reality check”.

  60. Matt Yonke said

    Remy,

    Is the idea really so obtuse or are you playing dumb?

    If the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are what they claim to be, submitting to them is not “choosing a tradition,” it’s following Jesus.

    The underlying presupposition in your thesis is that all Christian communities are equally “Churches” or equally “Traditions.” You assume that no one group has it all nailed down. But if one group is actually the Body of Christ in all its fullness, then all other Christian communities are not traditions to be chosen from. They are, to varying degrees, false traditions.

    Fortunately, our God is a merciful God who loves mankind, so I believe He takes care of those in traditions that hold to falsehoods in spite of their error, but the Catholic Church’s claims put it in the same place as Jesus in Lewis’s analogy. It cannot be just a good tradition among many. It’s either true, or insane, or unbelievably wicked.

    Treating the Catholic and Orthodox Churches as if they’re just options like OPC or CREC, EV Free or SBC, is to severely misunderstand the audacity of their claims.

  61. But if one group is actually the Body of Christ in all its fullness, then all other Christian communities are not traditions to be chosen from. They are, to varying degrees, false traditions.

    Nor are they the Body of Christ, since “its fullness” is elsewhere.

    This reaffirms my point earlier that these traditions subordinate salvation to polity.

    Protestants believe in salvation by faith, a direct union with the divine. We are no longer under law.

  62. Indeed, it is the Protestants who can truly say that the fullness of the catholic church is found in the Eucharistic assembly, because we believe that each eucharist- each table- is the fullness.

    The Body of Christ makes the Church, not vice versa.

  63. Matt Yonke said

    Tell that to the excommunicated Arian, Wedge. Your position makes a mockery of the very idea of heresy and excommunication.

  64. You tell it to the individual congregations among the Copts, Persian, and Oriental churches today. Your position makes a mockery out of the Holy Spirit and faith.

    I’d much rather be guilty of letting too many people in. Call me crazy.

  65. Dear Grandma,

    I know that you believe in Jesus and really trust in him, but I’m writing to tell you that you actually have no part in his body. To have that, you will need to submit to my bishop.

    But God might save you anyway. Maybe.

    All the best

  66. But on a more precise note, the excommunicated Arian is excommunicated from the group of believers. You do it on an individual basis, and not simply for disagreements.

    I would think that you guys went to Calvary Chapel or something, but I know better. Magisterial Protestants all do excommunication, but they have a different understanding of the why and how.

    But the point is a side-track. Damnation is accidental to the gospel.

    Positively, the gospel is a message of salvation to be believed. It is not a legal polity.

    Paul is converted and who baptizes him? A bishop? No. It was a no-namer. He doesn’t receive authority from the other “pillars.” He doesn’t need it.

    He’s super unimpressed with genealogies and with personal name-value. It isn’t his bag at all. This is because his gospel is not dependent on these things.

    I’m going with some mixture of Lewis’s second and third options.

  67. joshgibbs said

    Rems,

    Over the course of the afternoon, I’ve been thinking over something you’ve said repeatedly and now I’m wondering why I missed it before.

    You keep saying that I have “suited myself” in leaving Protestant Christianity and joining Orthodoxy. You said, “You have suited yourself, I have not.” Is it that you want to leave Protestant Christianity and yet don’t? Or are you staying Protestant because you want to? Because if you’re doing what you want to do and I’m doing what I want to do, I don’t see that there’s much difference between us. Also, has everyone who moves from one tradition to another “suited” themselves? If so, I suspect at least one of the pastors on your “Five Pastors” list on the side has some choice words for you.

    Setting down my own lame rhetoric for a moment: I suspect that you’re going through something I went through when Matt left Protestantism, and which I felt indirectly when Jon Paul left Protestantism, and a bit less when Jeremy Downey became Anglican. I think you’re worried over the fact that a number of smart people your age see things radically different than you do. And why not? This isn’t an illegitimate concern. People who once owned very similar beliefs to your own, and of whom have respectable families and a reasonable taste for film and music, have moved from a place you like (they would say “moved on,” you might reason “moved down” or some such) and they’ve done so with eyes wide open. I used to argue for the same stuff you’re arguing for now. I even convinced others of it, wrote enraptured stories about it. But now I think it’s pretty tame, not exciting, immature. I think you’re offended by this, and I don’t think that offense is entirely unwarranted.

    I’m more than willing to grant that your logic and reasoning and hermeneutics are not simple. Your reasoning for an open table is far more sophisticated than the typical evangelical, and I’m happy to grant that, within it’s own internal logic, it is quite beautiful. A little more than a year ago, an open table was of great concern for me, and that great concern was a mixture of personal offense, confusion, ignorance, empathy for others excluded, sadness, outrage, Scriptural backing, poetic argument, etc.

    You keep saying I have “suited myself,” and perhaps this is true, but that which I suited myself unto was the relinquishing of a number of intellectual rights I had to my own beliefs. If you do not understand or like this, I suspect mixed motives- some of those motives stemming from the fact you’re so proud of the fact you have not “suited” yourself. I’m curious what the “suiting” of Remy Wilkins would look like. Theologically, doctrinally, what is it that you feel you’re sacrificing? What are you holding back on? What is it that you want to do, but can’t or won’t? And if it’s merely holding your tongue on a number of issues, then brother, let me remind you of the fact that I didn’t quit The Cedar Room because I was offending my priest. We’ve all got to keep quiet to keep the peace sometimes.

    I hope that you don’t do a complete Casey Jones five years from now when you need two hands and a foot to keep track of all the people you know who’ve left Geneva.

    • Remy said

      You said:
      “Ah, the convenience of being a Protestant. Your church says something that you don’t like, you don’t believe it. Your church statement of faith makes claims you don’t like, you take exception to it. Believer’s baptism doesn’t seem right? Praise choruses don’t feel right? We can just Sola Scriptura those beliefs practices right out of here. Don’t believe anything you don’t want to believe. Don’t believe anything that doesn’t feel right.”

      My point has been that of all people you don’t get make this charge. For as long as I’ve known you you’ve jumped churches. Always have. That’s not to say that you always will, fatigue sets in at some point I’m sure, but for you to change yet again and then act like I’m the one that has a submission problem, or that I go around and suit myself is garbage.

      I’ve never argued that it is wrong to change churches. And I’m not offended either. My experience is so much more different than you, Jon, and Guido. All three of you bounced around. And, to be perfectly honest, your understanding of the historical church doesn’t convince me that you’ve rejected “similar beliefs to my own”.

      So you can save the Dr. Laura routine.

      And though you say you’re “relinquishing a number of intellectual rights” I’m not sure what you mean. Orthodox doesn’t require anything of you aside from joining the club. You don’t have to be orthodox to be Orthodox. So whatever you’ve relinquished was only relinquished out of your own desire to relinquish it.

      I’ve gone into these discussions full of peace because I truly believe that our unity is in Jesus. Certainly it bothers me when you or Guido throw up old world distinctions that “complicate” the matter of being in Jesus, inventing secondclass Christians from Judahitic thin air, but I do not despair because I know that Jesus meets with us and brings us together despite our flimsy paper differences.

  68. Steven,

    Come on. You sound like an Anabaptist. Salvation most definitely is not a message to be believed, but a God to be worshiped in community–into the Eucharistic community. But we don’t confess “and many Holy Catholic Churches.” We confess “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” To leave the Eucharistic assembly and seek to establish another is to attempt to establish a new Church, and hence a new Christ.

    Now you may object that the Bishop isn’t a necessary part of the Eucharistic assembly, or something like that, and it may well be that the Presbyter is a legitimate head of a Eucharistic assembly and the Bishop is merely an administrative position among Presbyters. And it may be that the Catholic doctrine of Bishops makes that administrative role constitutive of the Church.

    But your argument proves too much. Your argument as presented isn’t against the non-Eucharistic polity of the Catholic Church, but against the One Church. Your argument makes a mockery of the One Church.

    Dear Grandma,

    I know that you believe in Jesus and really trust in him, but I’m writing to tell you that you actually have no part in his body. To have that, you will need to receive Baptism and partake of the Eucharist.

    But God might save you anyway. Maybe.

    All the best.

    And that satire really doesn’t get at the heart of the problem with your position, that you make the oneness of the Church irrelevant. If there were one Moscow Church, and I were to decide “this isn’t the Church” and were to lead several people off in opposition to Christ’s Church, proclaiming “here’s the Church” or even “you can come here too” would I really not be starting a new Church, and hence a new religion? If not, how is the Church One?

  69. Remy,

    Josh has a point. Pr. Wilson says it’s only submission when you don’t agree. If anyone can say “I don’t suit myself, you do” it’s me. And I don’t.

  70. And Steven,

    Come on, St. Paul is a special case. His point that he didn’t receive his authority from the pillars is that he is a special case with a special sort of authority.

  71. Petersen,

    I am afraid that you do not understand Anabaptist theology, since they are all about the community. I would think that you’d really like Yoder, and so much of Yoder is a rediscovery of the original Anabaptist vision.

    You also pulled a classic Petersen and misread what I said. I did not say that “salvation” is a message to be believed. I said that the gospel is. Salvation is a state of deliverance. The gospel is a message that is proclaimed: Acts 8:25, Acts 15:7, Rom. 1:9, etc. 1 Cor. 15:1 has a good summary: “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

    It is I who believe in one Church because I believe the essence of the Church is the Holy Spirit (which is also the essence of the Trinity, hence John 17. In fact, making the unity of the Church a polity would then imply a sort of subordinationism within the Trinity). Thus many congregations can be one Church. You guys have to say that the unity is found in a particular polity, in which case those not in that polity are not the church. This is the position that I critiqued way up at the top, and you said that no one held to it. But it turns out that they do.

    The Eucharistic assembly is the act of breaking bread. This went on in each town and even in multiple places in each town, as the need arose. The “bishop” was the president of the particular assembly (see Burtchaell, Lowrie, Sohm, and Beckwith).

    In the event of church discipline, an individual is removed from that assembly. Protestants are able to do this as well as anyone else.

    But the point that y’all seem to be after is that you want to ensure that this person is no longer a member of the true body of Christ. Of course this isn’t what Paul is looking for when he speaks of church discipline. He disciplines “for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

    Again, I am the one who can allow for true divine unity: the One Church. And I can do this while saying that the polities of RCC and EO are false gods.

  72. Steven,

    Sorry I got “salvation” and “gospel” switched. I don’t think it was material to my point. The gospel is not something to be believed, He is the Man Jesus Christ. The Gospel is truth to be believed, the Gospel is Bread to be eaten, the Gospel is a God to be Worshiped, the Gospel is a community to be lived in.

    Yeah, sure I have no problem saying the Gospel is something to be believed–I just did. So long as we don’t make it only something to be believed, particularly, if we wish to exclude a legal polity from the gospel. To quote you: “Is God not the judge of all the earth? Is not Jesus the King? That’s law.” Is not the Church a Polis? That’s polity. Is not the Church a Polis with Jesus as King? That’s legal polity. And is not our unity “one Lord”? That’s a legal polity.

    Now the natural objection, which I and Pope Benedict grant, is that it is Christ and not the Pope who is the head and unity of the Church. But still, the Church on earth is One. I’ll, of course, grant that Nicea didn’t mean the Church across space, but the local Church. That’s again immaterial to my point. The Church, the assembly, the Polis of God, is One. Which means that to leave that assembly and seek to found another one is to seek to found another Eucharist, which is to say, another Church and another Christ.

    Moreover, any polis has government, and though our government is Christ, Christ isn’t here and has appointed stewards or messengers to govern in his stead. This mediated governing is of course destined to perish with use, but it is indisputable that there is such a mediated government. If Pr. Sumpter and Pr. Leithart aren’t Christ (and they aren’t) but if they speak with authority to me (and they do) they are mediators.

    Now it is sensible from within a community to distinguish between the government and the people, it really isn’t sensible from without. If an Englishman renounces the Queen, he renounces England. And if he renounces England he renounces the Queen. To leave the government is to leave the Church. When we attempt to be able to leave the government we assume an over-realized exchatology–as if Jesus were here ruling immediately.

    Now it might be that the Catholic or Orthodox government isn’t the real government. But to split from the government is to split from the Church and from Christ. No the polity isn’t the Church, but the polity is the polity of the Church. And aside from that polity, wherever it is, is to be aside from the Church.

    Yes, of course I’m saying something different here than I was back then. That was a week ago. You can’t expect me to be making the exact same point every week. Then I said that the Catholic Church no longer believes that the hierarchy is the Church. They plainly don’t. Only SSPX and Sedevacantists do. Now you’re trying to have a different conversation. You’re arguing that Nicea meant the invisible Church when she said there is One Holy Catholic Church, and to think that that unity in any way refers to the Polis of God here is to be legalistic. So I’m conceding the point that the Catholic and Orthodox might have mistook which community on earth is the Polis of God, restricting it to only a part of that One Polis, but that the difference with them should not be whether there is one Polis here but which community of that Polis is the Polis itself.

    Sure, I’ll grant I don’t understand Anabaptist theology. I was just teasing you and not really attaching any weight to the word. Kinda like you did when you said “I would think that you guys went to Calvary Chapel or something.” No one in their right mind would go and see if your point stacks up with the actual practices of Calvary Chapel and then make that a point of contention.

  73. Is not the Church a Polis? That’s polity. Is not the Church a Polis with Jesus as King? That’s legal polity. And is not our unity “one Lord”? That’s a legal polity.

    The Church is not a polis in our earthly sense. We know this because Jesus and Paul say as much, but also because it is a city which can live in all cities at the same time without challenging any of those cities’ validity. The Church is a heavenly city, an alternate dimension of sorts (flaming chariots and all), which appears on the earth at various time and in various ways.

    It is most certainly not a legal polity of human government, which is the context of this discussion.

    Our one Lord, Jesus Christ, comes to us in the Holy Spirit, and thus the unity remains Spiritual.

    The Church, the assembly, the Polis of God, is One. Which means that to leave that assembly and seek to found another one is to seek to found another Eucharist, which is to say, another Church and another Christ.

    Wherever the Church is, it is the same Church. It cannot actually be divided, destroyed, or (re)founded.

    If I leave your assembly and join another, I have not necessarily started “another Church.” Paul split with several of his peeps over the course of his life, at times fiercely so and even over doctrinal issues. If the assemblies have the same Spirit, they are the same Church.

    If Pr. Sumpter and Pr. Leithart aren’t Christ (and they aren’t) but if they speak with authority to me (and they do) they are mediators.

    But you can speak authoritatively to them as well (or at least it is possible that you could), and thus you would also be a mediator for them. Neither would be a necessary mediator of the Spirit or grace though.

    We are all mediators to one another, yet the Spirit also works immediately upon each believer.

    If an Englishman renounces the Queen, he renounces England. And if he renounces England he renounces the Queen. To leave the government is to leave the Church. When we attempt to be able to leave the government we assume an over-realized exchatology–as if Jesus were here ruling immediately.

    But Englishmen renounced their kings and queens without renouncing England several times over the years. Englishmen forced their king to sign the magna carta. Englishmen chopped off their king’s head. The analogy doesn’t hold, and one reason it doesn’t hold is that the Church is not an earthly polity. The earthly polity within the Church often does work like the earthly kingdoms, though, and that’s exactly why it is so difficult.

    Jesus was clear that he would send “another” in his place: the Spirit (John 14:16). That is who is ruling in his place now, and each believer has this Spirit in his belly.

    Now it might be that the Catholic or Orthodox government isn’t the real government. But to split from the government is to split from the Church and from Christ. No the polity isn’t the Church, but the polity is the polity of the Church. And aside from that polity, wherever it is, is to be aside from the Church.

    This is a bizarre argument. The government might not be the real government, but to split from it is to split from Christ???

    Or perhaps, to split from the “real government” is to split from Christ. But nobody admits to doing that.

    But even at the end of this argument, it still does not follow that to be apart from the polity is to be apart from the Church exactly because it is the polity of the Church: they are two different things. The Church can be apart from her polity, just as I can be apart from mine, an American can be apart from his, as a school can be apart from its administration, as a team can be apart from its coach and owner, etc, etc.

    Now you’re trying to have a different conversation.

    No, I am most certainly having the same conversation and making the same point.

    You’re arguing that Nicea meant the invisible Church when she said there is One Holy Catholic Church

    No, I am arguing that Jesus meant that the Spirit is the locus of unity in John 17:21. Jesus also says that the world will know us (thus indicating the mark of the Church) by our love, which is, of course, also the Spirit.

  74. The Church is a heavenly city, an alternate dimension of sorts (flaming chariots and all), which appears on the earth at various time and in various ways.

    I’m not sure I exactly agree. I’d look on the analogy of the Incarnation. Jesus was surely a heavenly man, but he wasn’t an alternative dimension. He appeared on earth as a flesh and blood man, and established a flesh and blood communion. Now of course, just as He the Incarnate Christ is the Age to Come, but dwelling in this age here; so too the Church is the Age to Come, dwelling in this age here. (I say the Church, not the polity.)

    So I wouldn’t say that the nations exist along side the Church, but inside the Church. The Church doesn’t challenge their validity, but establishes and transfigures it. And Rome surely saw the Church as a threat.

    It is most certainly not a legal polity of human government, which is the context of this discussion.

    But just as the question wasn’t whether the head of the infant Christ was God, but whether Joseph was in a very real sense his head; so too now, the question isn’t whether the head of the Church on earth is Christ, but whether in some real sense, the head of the Church on earth is the Bishop, or Priest, or Pope or whatever (for I’m not trying to imply a particular polity).

    Our one Lord, Jesus Christ, comes to us in the Holy Spirit, and thus the unity remains Spiritual.

    Well, yes, of course. But the Spirit comes in the Eucharist, and so our unity remains Eucharistic. We are the people around the Eucharist united thereby by the Spirit. And if I break with the Eucharist and seek to establish a new Eucharist, I am attempting to establish a new Spirit. Where is the Spirit? There, at the place I am spiting from and rejecting. Spiritual unity does not mean aphysical unity, but Eucharistic unity.

    Wherever the Church is, it is the same Church. It cannot actually be divided, destroyed, or (re)founded.

    Which is why to attempt to refound it is idolatry.

    If I leave your assembly and join another, I have not necessarily started “another Church.” Paul split with several of his peeps over the course of his life, at times fiercely so and even over doctrinal issues. If the assemblies have the same Spirit, they are the same Church.

    Well, yes, of course, if you leave the Church for the Church you aren’t founding a new Church. But if you attempt to establish a new Church in opposition to the old One on earth, you are.

    And the issue of St. Paul splitting with Sts. Peter and Barnabas is a red-herring. Even a Catholic would say that an episcopal split with the Pope is conceivably justified, and the Orthodox surely would. The question is whether an establishment of a new community, that is a rejection of this Eucharistic community Christ founded for a new one, is legitimate.

    Also we never are told that St. Paul left the Eucharistic assembly and founded a new one. So your example comes up short.

    But you can speak authoritatively to them as well (or at least it is possible that you could), and thus you would also be a mediator for them. Neither would be a necessary mediator of the Spirit or grace though.

    But I can’t speak as Pastor to them, or more accurately, as Pastor to Trinity. The governance of Trinity is mediated. Likewise the governance of the One Church is mediated–whether that One Church is each individual synaxis or the assembly throughout world. I can be a mediator for the person Peter Leithart, or for the person Toby Sumpter, but not for the Church Trinity Reformed.

    We are all mediators to one another, yet the Spirit also works immediately upon each believer.

    This isn’t a point of contention. Well, unless I talk with most Protestants about the prayers of the saints. Then suddenly they all deny that point.

    But Englishmen renounced their kings and queens without renouncing England several times over the years. Englishmen forced their king to sign the magna carta. Englishmen chopped off their king’s head. The analogy doesn’t hold, and one reason it doesn’t hold is that the Church is not an earthly polity. The earthly polity within the Church often does work like the earthly kingdoms, though, and that’s exactly why it is so difficult.

    The regicide is perhaps a valid point. I’m still wondering.

    This is a bizarre argument. The government might not be the real government, but to split from it is to split from Christ???

    Or perhaps, to split from the “real government” is to split from Christ. But nobody admits to doing that.

    Yeah, I meant the second. And yes, of course, no one admits to splitting from the real government. Which is the point of contention is precisely over what the real government is, not over whether claiming that there is a real government that must not be split from is legalistic.

  75. Can’t keep going with all this, but I would encourage you to consider the Church, not as the incarnation of Jesus, but as the incarnation of the Spirit. Jesus is gone. He sent another. It’s ascension and Pentecost time, so a good subject to ponder.

  76. joshgibbs said

    “So you can save the Dr. Laura routine.”

    This comment more or less sums you up anymore. Your anger comes across more strongly than anything else and your reply does more to confirm to me what I suspected already.

  77. Remy said

    Ha.

    You’re rage and insecurity betray your measly attempts to try to draw me into a less than holy attitude.

    But you cannot do so because I understand that you are just in your “cage stage” and will calm down later.

  78. Remy said

    I of course don’t feel any of that above. My point is that saying such things is cheap rhetoric. You keep avoiding pointed remarks and reflecting things back to me. It looks dodgy.

    So no, I’m not angry. In my own retorts I’m just trying to keep up with the humorous abuse you’ve heaped on me. At least, I’ve assumed you’re just poking at me.

    I’m not bothered by any of this because I have a much higher view of the body than you do (yes, that’s another challenge).

  79. Matt Yonke said

    . . . I have a much higher view of the body than you do . . .

    (realizing this barb was not directed at me . . .) Yeah, you have a much higher view of the body, if it’s true.

    If it’s not true, it is actually a much lower view of the body because it’s a lie.

    The universalist could claim a much higher view of salvation than you have because he thinks everyone get’s into heaven, no exceptions. And if universalism is true, then he’s right. He does have the bigger view. But if he’s wrong, it’s a lie and it’s actually the smaller view.

    To argue that your view has the greater poetic sweep is all well and good, but thinking an idea is beautiful doesn’t make it so.

  80. Remy said

    The difference is that I have Biblical backing whereas you and Josh have antiquated racism.

  81. Remy said

    That sounds really hard, even to me, but what I’m trying to say is: you look at what God says and tell me I’m wrong.

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