Sunday, July 29, 2018

Indulgences Debate Commentary Part 4


Next we have Peter D. Williams ten minute rebuttal...
1:15:00 - One of the things he (James White) brought up was the idea of development. This isn't something which was apostolic it wasn't something applied by the Apostles; I admit it, it wasn't - quite right. And? Your point is? 
While I would agree, there is some development going on here, but as I have already pointed out, this indeed WAS something applied by the Apostles AND we have scriptural references to Purgatory AND to praying for family, friends and/or other loved ones who have gone before us. This is also part of the "communion of saints" which most Christian communities actually confess as part of the Nicene and Apostle's Creeds!
1:15:20 - I've got no problem with the idea of development and neither indeed did St. Vincent of Lerins. St. Vincent of Lerins said this in AD 445, "Is there to be no development in religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly there is to be development, and on the largest scale. Why can we be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God as to try to prevent it? But it must be true to be development of the faith not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing to another." So you do see the difference here between mutatative change; the kind of thing which states, "OK, we're going to completely reverse our teaching, or we're going to add something completely new," as opposed to organic change. Now, what I've pointed out, what I've proved, in my opening presentation was that when you go into the roots of these concepts... we go into temporal punishments, when we go into Purgatory, when we go into the idea of merit, when we go into the Precious Blood of Christ and how that works - what do we find? We find that all of these teachings coming together, as a matrix, are a legitimate development of or literally developed into the idea of indulgences. We all do development. 
And, of course, Mr. Williams and I agree on this. Development does not deny the Gospel so long as it is "organic change" and not "mutatative change." Williams is also driving the point home that we, Catholics, do not confess that indulgences add to the finished work of Christ on the Cross - rather they are the application of Christ's finished work on the Cross.
1:16:28 - Homoousios, which is a christological term used at the Council of Nicea, the idea of Christ being of one substance with the Father. That was originally a Gnostic term which was appropriated by Christians as they used Aristotlian terminology to express in a systematic way what the data of Scripture expressed. But it was a development. And so we all do development, regardless if we like it or not. 
Taking this a bit further - homoousios is not a scriptural term - you won't find it anywhere in Scripture. The term is a result of development and became part of the official Catholic teaching in the early 4th century.
1:16:51 - Quoting further from St. Vincent, "The understanding, knowledge and wisdom of one and all, with individuals as well as the whole Church ought then to make great and vigorous progress with passing of the ages and the centuries. But only along its own line of development, that is with the same doctrine, the same meaning and the same import. The religion of souls should follow the law of development of bodies. Though bodies develop and unfold in their component parts through the passing of the years, they always remain what they were. There is a great difference between the flower of childhood and the maturity of age, but those who become old are the very same people who were once young. Though the condition and appearance of the individual may change it is one and the same nature, one and the same person. The tiny members of unweened children, the grown members of grown men are still the same members. Men have the same number of limbs as children. What ever developed at a later age was already present in embryo. There is nothing new in old age that was not already latent." That is exactly what we see with the doctrine of indulgences. And what this shows, this passage from St. Vincent, other than the fact that St. Vincent of Lerins in the (5th) century knew much had a far better grasp of elementary biology than the average abortion advocate or indeed 42.8% of the Irish electorate south of the border, just saying, is the doctrine of development is not a concept invented by Blessed John (Cardinal) Henry Newman as a post-factor rationalization or as an afterthought to justify what he wanted. It is an ancient recognition of the necessary and authentic organic maturity of the Faith of Christ. 
Again, and I'm sure no one is surprized - Williams and I are in agreement here. Development from embryonic doctrine does not mean the doctrine itself fundamentally changed. What it "matures" to is still essentially the same.
1:18:14 - It is in stark contrast to what we have to do in Protestant theology which is a kind of archeological, a rationalistic archeologist in which you take the Holy Scriptures and you try to take the necessary limited data of the New Testament and to artificially reconstruct supposedly purely and more original apostolic model of the Christian faith and practice. It's shear folly, it's shear folly for no other reason than sola scriptura, as a doctrine, which is presupposed by James (White) has to be - can't work. Now I'm going to use the example I've used in every single debate we've had thus far I think, because it is important for everyone to know and to realize when we're discussing any of these questions which is the problem of the canon.
While again, I am in agreement with Williams here, the debate is not on sola scriptura. I can see how he's using sola scriptura to demonstrate a mutatative change since sola scriptura is unheard of in the Early Church and while Latin is the common language of the Roman and Holy Roman Empire, you do not find those Latin words used together until about the time Protestantism arose. The same can be said of sola fide, and especially there since the ONLY time those two words are used together in Scripture is in NEGATION of the concept of sola fide! (James 2:24). But again, while both those concepts (foundational to Protestant doctrine) are great examples of mutatative change - neither topic is the topic of this debate and thus can be seen as diversionary (much like White bringing up the subject of the Holy Mass).
1:18:56 - The problem with the canon is that the canon constitutes the contents of your Bible. OK, everything from Genesis... all the way through the Book of the Apocolypse (Revelation). Now that is a necessary and essential truth of the Gospel and sola scriptura, the doctrine of Scripture alone, the concept on which Protestant theology is based, that Scripture alone is sufficient, is the sole, sufficient, infallible rule of faith because it is able to give all the necessary and essential truths of the Christian faith.  Well, is the canon a necessary and essential truth?  Yeah! Because if you have the Scriptures and the Scriptures are your sole and infallible rule of faith, well you need to know what they are. So, if you need the Scriptures... then you need to know what the Scriptures are. But guess what? There's no inspired table of contents page, there's no golden index, there's nothing in Scripture which tells you what Scripture is. So consequently the canon disproves the idea of there being the sufficiency of Scripture.  
And again, we (Williams and I) agree on the matter of the Scriptures not containing a so-called "inspired table of contents" - leaving someone whose basis is "Scripture Alone" with a lot of unfinished business - but again, not really the subject of this debate.
1:19:51 - Now I realize of course that Anglicans and Presbyterians don't agree on sola scriptura, or Reformed Baptists in fact, so you've got the Anglican idea is that all things that you need for salvation and the Presbyterians believe that it's everything relating to man's salvation, faith, life and God's glory; and you've got the idea within the London Baptist Confession of Faith that it's all saving knowledge and obedience... you know so it's not exactly clear what Scripture is to be sufficient for. Nonetheless, even if you think it's just salvation, again if you need the Scriptures to know what you need to know to be saved then you need to know what the Scriptures are in order to know what you what you need to be saved.  You don't get out of it either way. So there we go. If Scripture is sufficient it should give us all the data and revelation (that) Holy Scripture is necessary; if Scripture is necessary then the knowledge of what is Holy Scripture is also necessary therefore if Holy Scripture is sufficient then it should be able to give us a knowledge of what Holy Scripture is. Holy Scripture, however, cannot give us itself - it cannot give us the canon, therefore by definition it is insufficient.
I am beginning to sound like a broken record here - but I must say it - a LOT of time during this ten minute rebuttal is spent on sola scriptura and the fundamental problems Protestants have with each of those topics - but THIS debate is supposed to be focused on the matter of indulgences and whether or not the practice/doctrine denies the Gospel message. Williams does a great job with these other topics, but if I were moderating that debate - I believe I would have been compelled to interrupt him and call him back to the topic at hand.
1:20:55 - What we have instead is a reality within Christian history is Scripture (and) tradition that is to say that which is those that are passed on outside and then the development of both Scripture and tradition together within the Magisterium of the Church. 
OK, Williams is beginning to pull himself back into the topic...
1:21:08 - The whole point with indulgences is that indulgences are a development but they are a development which is based fundamentally on premises found within Holy Scripture and within Sacred Tradition and that development is by no means illegitimate. It is an entirely necessary part of Christian revelation.
Now, while again I agree with Williams here - I would like to have seen him present the scriptural premises listed here as opposed to the discussion on sola scriptura and the canon. To borrow a little from Catholic Answers:
When someone repents, God removes his guilt (Is. 1:18) and any eternal punishment (Rom. 5:9), but temporal penalties may remain. One passage demonstrating this is 2 Samuel 12, in which Nathan the prophet confronts David over his adultery:

"Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan answered David: ‘The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin; you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die’" (2 Sam. 12:13-14). God forgave David but David still had to suffer the loss of his son as well as other temporal punishments (2 Sam. 12:7-12). (For other examples, see: Numbers 14:13-23; 20:12; 27:12-14.) 

https://www.catholic.com/tract/primer-on-indulgences 
I recommend reading through that whole article. 
1:21:26 - Now we've heard further that really... I'm going to go into some of the arguments which were introduced in the beginning statements as well... The idea of indulgences is contrary to solas christus it detracts from because it adds to the perfect finished work of Christ because He is the propitiation for us by His blood. Well, as we've seen, the Atonement was not about taking punishment or removing temporal punishments; even if that were not the case, that Christendom confuses/conflates, again, the efficient and meritorious causes of our salvation with the instrumental cause that we gain from the meritorious cause. The efficient meritorious cause is still God, by His Grace, merited by Christ. The instrumental cause is merely indulgences on our appropriation of them which applies the merits of Christ, imputes the merits of Christ to take away temporal punishments which is not a matter of salvation it is a matter of part of what we go through in the process of sanctification. There's no addition to the perfect work of Christ in the Thesaurus Meritorum. The merits of the Saints are the merits of Christ! Indulgences are an application of the merits of Christ. 
And THIS is the point I'd like to see more of from Williams! While he does make the point, and he makes it well when he does - side topics also leave room for ones opponent to go off on those tangents and thus detracting from the effectiveness of the REAL message here - which again, Williams DOES make - and White loses on this point alone. Indulgences are the APPLICATION of the merit of Christ - not a replacement or an addition to His finished work on the Cross. White constantly confused/conflated the topic of indulgences with salvation.
1:22:25 - Hebrews 7 tells me absolutely nothing because it is fundamentally always based on the idea that Christ is the sole meritorious cause. I'm not going to go into all the arguments he (White) made on the Holy Mass, that is not the subject of our debate, even though I am very happy to have it at a different date, but there is nothing within the doctrine of the Holy Mass which contradicts the idea that Christ is our sole meritorious cause.
And as I implied earlier, White would be quite within his rights to say the same thing about Williams discussion of sola scriptura and the canon.
1:22:50 - (Brings out a pamphlet from the Confraternity of the Precious Blood which is Victorian in origin, within the booklet it says...) "There is no spiritual blessing, be it grace on Earth or the Beatific Vision in Heaven which is not purchased for us by the blood of Jesus. If we are redeemed as captives saved from the power of Hell; if our sins are pardoned and we are reconciled to God it is only because our souls are washed in that life-giving stream. There is no remission of sin or the penalty due to our guilt, no pardon, whether it be given to us by the Sacrament (of Confession) or through an indulgence, which is not, as it were, an infusion of the Precious Blood. It nourishes us in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist; it pursues us after death into the very flames of Purgatory.
Yes!  More like THIS please!  This PROVES the doctrine on indulgences does NOT deny the Gospel!  Williams wins this debate on THIS point!
1:24:00 - (Takes out a 'Handbook on Indulgences' which tells us the actions we may engage in to gain us an indulgence, whether it be plenary or partial).  There are set prayers or exhortations to God to fulfill Paul's admonition to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17). One of these short exhortations is simply "amor te" or "I love Thee" or "I hope in Thee" or "I believe in Thee" to Jesus, and this is one of them: "O crux, ave spes unica" "O Cross, hail our only hope." Not another hope, not a basic hope, but we got some other hopes, no, the Cross is our ONLY hope. THAT is the confession of the Catholic Church; that is the confession which is the fundamental foundation of the practice of indulgences - and anything which says otherwise is fundamentally a false one. Thank you.
Yes! Yet another affirmation that the teaching on indulgences does NOT deny the Gospel! Regardless of any spin White would want to put on this - in OUR OWN WORDS it is clear that indulgences do NOT deny the Gospel!

1:25:03 - Begins the direct cross-examination phase - I will hold off on this part for now, unless there is interest in me going through all that plus questions from the audience (another hour and twenty minutes).

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