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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Concerning 'sola scriptura'

This post and its comment thread is intended to allow for a discussion of the Protestant doctrine of 'sola scriptura', rather than hi-jacking a thread at Neo-neocon.

So, in this OP, I'll duplicate the pertinent parts of some comments from that linked thread.
Roy Nathanson
Just a point…

There is nowhere in the Bible (Old or New Testaments) that expressly proscribes abortion. The absolute forbidding of abortion is an extreme position, when looked at in historical terms.
1. Protestants made up a solid majority of the population during the days when serious Christians made up much of the population. Consequently, the assumption called Sola Scriptura leaked into the popular culture: Non-Christians in the U.S. naturally assume that all the content of the Christian religion can be derived from Bible passages (which will state that content with sufficient clarity that the meaning won’t be misunderstood).
This is relevant because outside the Protestant world, Sola Scriptura does not exist as an operating premise; it’s considered a weird and self-contradictory 16th-century well-meaning-but-heretical innovation.
Something I find amusing about this particular comment is that R.C. goes on (which I haven't quoted) to contrast 'sola scriptura' ... with an approach which is totally in keeping with 'sola scriptura'.

Crazy me, but I also dream of a day when the bureaucrats of The One True Bureaucracy will stop instructing their flock in false teachings about 'sola scriptura' (especially) and the other Protestant 'solas'.

The fact of this false teaching is especially amusing when one understands that The One True Bureaucracy implicitly endorses 'sola scriptura': does not the the Roman denomination ultimately try to justify all its claims, no matter how questionable, by appeal, no matter how strained, to Scripture?

(Warning: the following reply to Ilion is utterly uninteresting to anyone uninvolved in Protestant-Catholic disagreements. If that ain’t your cup o’ tea, skip it.)


Thanks for your reply; and I think I kinda like your characterization “One True Bureaucracy.” It has a ring to it, and is (sadly) a fair characterization of one of the worst traits in one segment of the Roman clergy: Too many senior clergy come off more like bank branch-managers than like, say, Athanasius or Thomas Aquinas. They ain’t all like that; but too many are.

That said, I have to disagree with a three of assertions you’ve made (one implicitly):

Assertion #1: “[Catholic bishops] instructing their flock in false teachings about ‘sola scriptura‘ (especially) and the other Protestant ‘solas‘”:

I don’t think that’s accurate, because in my experience Catholic bishops don’t teach Catholics anything about Protestant beliefs, true or false. In fact only the best of them make much strenuous effort to teach Catholics anything detailed about Catholic beliefs. This goes hand-in-hand with my complaint that many of the bishops act more like careerist middle-managers. When it comes to faithful preaching of the Catholic faith, Protestant Billy Graham probably outdid 75% of the current American episcopate.

In response to that, I anticipate you might reply, “Okay, fine, if 75% of your bishops aren’t really teaching, perhaps it wasn’t they, but in my opinion someone has been teaching Catholics something false about ‘Sola Scriptura’, which leads to…

Assertion #2 (implied): “[Some Catholic teacher, somewhere] instructing [Catholics] in false teachings about ‘sola scriptura‘”:

If I have correctly anticipated that clarification, let me grant that, yes, some Catholic teachers have, on occasion, failed to distinguish between Sola Scriptura as held by, say, John Calvin, and the less-defensible “just my Bible and me” approach which makes no reference whatsoever to patristics or liturgical tradition. (One wag used the term “Solo” Scriptura for this latter form.)

My Southern Baptist upbringing makes me sensitive to the distinction, so I’m always quick to point it out whenever I find my Catholic friends conflating the two. One ought not to indulge in straw-manning one’s interlocutors even if they’re atheists; still less if they’re brothers-in-Christ.

Fortunately, I find that the recent (last 30 years) influx of Protestant clergy, lay apologists, missionaries, seminary professors, etc., becoming Catholic has led to a wider understanding. When Catholics have Sola Scriptura described to them these days, it’s by folks like David Anders, Bryan Cross, Jimmy Akin, Tim Staples, and Scott Hahn. In this way, they get a more-nuanced description than they would if some “cradle” Catholic tried to do it.

Assertion #3: “The One True Bureaucracy implicity endorses ‘sola scriptura‘: does not the the Roman denomination ultimately try to justify all its claims, no matter how questionable, by appeal, no matter how strained, to Scripture?”

Nope. Not in the way you mean.

Catholic apologists argue by the following pattern:
– We’re being told that XYZ is integral to the theological/moral/liturgical content delivered by Christ to the apostles, and by the apostles to their earliest disciples, and they to their disciples, down to the present. But is that accurate?
– Ignore, for the moment, the claim of “divine inspiration” or “inerrancy” of these texts called “the Bible,” and view them (or even just the least-controversial parts of them) as historical witnesses to what the early Christians did, said, and thought. Do they support XYZ ambiguously, or unambiguously?
IF unambiguously, then skip down to the step marked “CHURCH”
IF ambiguously, continue…
– We are unsure whether XYZ was supported by Those Historical Texts or not, because the relevant passages are ambiguous: They can be interpreted in various ways, not all of which support XYZ. How can we exclude some of these competing interpretations?
IF an interpretation is anachronistic in the context of a 1st-century Jewish audience, exclude it (the earlier traditions in the Mishnah and the Dead Sea Scrolls are helpful to understand the assumptions of the initial hearers/readers);
IF an interpretation utterly contradicts the consensus views of the early Christians whom the apostles installed in positions of early Church leadership (a.k.a. the “Early Church Fathers”, exclude it;
IF an interpretation means that true Christianity didn’t exist anywhere in the world for multiple centuries at in the history of Christianity, such that Christ’s promises were thereby proven false and His claim to be even a true prophet (let alone God) were also proven false, exclude it. (After all, the guy rose from the dead, and normal folk don’t do that.)
– What remains, then, among the interpretations still open to us?

Catholic apologists argue that the remaining interpretations include no known forms of Protestant ecclesiology and sacramentology. It’s pretty much down to hierarchical and sacerdotal churches (Catholic, the various Orthodoxes) who claim judicial binding and loosing authority with divine sanction (“He who hears y’all hears Me, he who rejects y’all rejects Me” / “Whatsoever you/y’all bind on earth is bound in Heaven and whatsoever you/y’all loose on earth is loosed in Heaven”).

– “CHURCH”: If you have a church with an authoritative and divinely-sanctioned judicial authority on matters of faith and morals (parallel to the system of judges, tribal overseers, and “seat of Moses” seen during the Exodus) then naturally that Church will do the following:
(a.) preserve (by judicial affirmation) those traditions of faith/morals which come from the apostles;
(b.) allow (by judicial permission) those traditions of men which don’t nullify the word of God, but can contribute beneficially to the lives of the faithful (e.g. fasting on certain days, having Wednesday Night church suppers);
(c.) reject (by judicial condemnation) those traditions of faith/morals which do nullify the word of God (i.e. contradict those preserved by (a.)).

Through that process, the content of the Christian religion (or “Apostolic Deposit of Faith”) can remain objectively knowable (and thus potentially obey-able) in every century from the Ascension to the Second Advent. But which traditions were approved by this process?

– The traditions judicially approved by the Church include:
(d.) apostolic origin (sometimes indirect through scribes or secretaries) of the 27 New Testament books;
(e.) apostolic use of the Septuagint Old Testament canon (including Wisdom, Baruch, Sirach, Judith, Tobid, 1&2 Maccabees, and the disputed parts of Daniel);
(f.) a tradition giving certain books the supreme honor of being read-from aloud from them in the Liturgy of the Word (the first half of the Divine Liturgy, the second half being the Liturgy of the Eucharist);
(g.) a tradition of limiting that highest-honor to only books of apostolic origin or use;
(h.) a tradition of applying the phrase “God-breathed” in Paul to all those highest-honor books, not just the Septuagint Old Testament (which is what Paul was referencing when he wrote that phrase to Timothy);
(i.) a tradition of interpreting “God-breathed” to logically imply “inerrant, given a correct interpretation of the authors’ intended meaning.”

So, by means of that judicial approval, Catholics get a divinely-inspired inerrant collection of 46 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books, to which they grant the supreme honor of being read aloud from at Mass.

But as you see, this practice required the Church first to exist, and then to have divinely-protected judicial decisions (on such matters), to be able to arrive at confidence about the content of the Apostolic Deposit of Faith.

And the Table of Contents of the Bible (the “canon”) is a derivative work of the Apostolic Deposit of Faith, arising from the need to know which books should be granted the supreme honor of being ritually read from in the Liturgy.

Now, Ilion, I don’t know how you wish to define the term “Sola Scriptura,” but I don’t know of any popular definition of that term that could possibly be implicitly endorsed by the Catholic understanding.



Here is the response I have composed to the above --

R.C.: "... and I think I kinda like your characterization “One True Bureaucracy.” It has a ring to it, and is (sadly) a fair characterization of one of the worst traits in one segment of the Roman clergy: Too many senior clergy come off more like bank branch-managers than like, say, Athanasius or Thomas Aquinas. They ain’t all like that; but too many are."

Thank you; and that is one of the points of the quip.

R.C.: "[Objection #1] .. .In response to that, I anticipate you might reply, “... someone has been teaching Catholics something false about ‘Sola Scriptura’,"

Your objection is fair; and your anticipation of my response is correct.

I interact with a lot of intelligent-and-educated Catholics on the internet. In my experience, perhaps in large part due to where and with whom I interact on the internet, it's almost always a Catholic who broaches this sort of subject (that is, related to our insoluable disagreements), and it almost always involves 'sola scriptura' ... and what those Catholic persons say about 'sola scriptura' is always a gross misrepresentaton.

R.C.: "(One wag used the term “Solo” Scriptura for this latter form.)"

I like that; I'll try to add that to my cache.

R.C.: "... Nope. Not in the way you mean."

And yet, you lay out a series of steps for judging whether "XYZ is [indeed] integral to the theological/moral/liturgical content delivered by Christ" which is, just as I said, "... ultimately [to] try to justify all its claims ... by appeal ... to Scripture."

R.C.: "But as you see, this practice required the Church first to exist, and then to have divinely-protected judicial decisions (on such matters), to be able to arrive at confidence about the content of the Apostolic Deposit of Faith.

And the Table of Contents of the Bible (the “canon”) is a
derivative work of the Apostolic Deposit of Faith, ..."

And there is seen another reason for the phrase, 'The One True Bureaucracy': the Catholic hierarchy is a late Imperial bureaucracy ... which outlived its Empire, and still has not given up on its imperial (and imperialistic) pretentions.

AND, in what you have written there is seen why 'sola scriptura' is so critical; for Catholicism does, indeed, set its bureaucracy above Scripture.

R.C.: "Now, Ilion, I don’t know how you wish to define the term “Sola Scriptura,” but I don’t know of any popular definition of that term ..."

What? Suddenly we're evaluating 'sola scriptura' by popular understandings ... and mis-understandings, a la "solo scriptura"?

Here is a treatment of 'sola scriptura' from 'the Gospel Coalition':

"Firstly, sola scriptura meant Scripture was the supreme authority over the church. It did not mean Scripture was the only authority. ..."

See, this is the very point of contention. On the one hand, the bureaucrats of 'The One True Bureaucracy' say, "*We* are the supreme authority over the souls of all men, for we (and we alone) speak in God's Name." And on the other hand, we Protestants say, "Well, no, you're not. Rather, Scripture is the supreme authority for evaluating all allegations of speaking in God's Name."

And, of course, 'sola scriptura' does have the inescapable consequence, much lamented by those who wish power over the souls of others, of individual liberty-of-conscience and even "Solo Scriptura" error.

(Shoot! Even that font of knowledge and wisdom, the Wickedpedia, does a fair job of explaining 'sola scriptura'.)

R.C.: "... that could possibly be implicitly endorsed by the Catholic understanding."

Oh, it's so much worse that I said initially. When necessary, The One True Bureaucracy will go straight-up hard-core Calvinist -- I was shocked (and amused) when I read the reasoning (at say, the Catholic Encyclopedia) to justify the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Re: the claim that "Religious propositions are both unverifiable and unfalsifiable"

A strange thing I've noticed is that persons self-identifying as Christians (or, at any rate, as Catholics) (*) who say things on the internet along the lines of "Religious propositions are both unverifiable and unfalsifiable" or "It's impossible either to prove or to disprove whether God exists" *really* dislike it when one attempts to show that the claim is false.

Of the two or three people who even know of me (on the internet), at least one likes to jeer because I've "had a run-in" with William Vallicella; well, the genesis of that "run-in" was when I tried to show Mr Vallicella and a God-denying friend of his, using reason (without reference to revelation), that their agreement that one can neither prove nor disprove that God is is false.

So, the post immediately prior to this one is another example of that strange phenomenon. I made that content a stand-alone post on my little blog because the blogger to whom I was responding chose not to allow it to appear in the comments of his blog (**).

(*) Similarly, self-identifying 'agnostics' generally seem more angered than self-identifying 'atheists' by the presentation of an argument which seeks to test the question of God.

(**) He had done that previously, so this time I made a point to save the text of my response until I'd seen what he would do.

If one wishes a mild amusement, pop over to the comments section of the linked blog-post.

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Is the doctrine of the Trinity a self-contradiction?

This post is a comment on the following --
... Religious propositions are both unverifiable and unfalsifiable. ...

There is a moral order in the universe, written into its most fundamental laws. That order cannot be the product of vain, capricious, quarrelsome “gods” with no particular interest in Mankind. But it can be the product of a Benevolence that stands above all else, that wants for nothing, and that despite its triune nature suffers no conflict. Indeed, that’s exactly what it is.
The reality of morality is *one* of the ways that we can know that God is. Others have presented these proofs; that's not my purpose here.

The reality of morality shows, via reason alone (without reference to any purported divine revelation):
1) not only that God is;
2) and not only that God is transcendent;
3) and not only that God is personal;
but also, shocking to some, that:
4) God is a multiplicity of persons.

A quick proof of proposition 4) is as follows:

Morality is:
a) interpersonal -- only persons *can* have moral obligations and moral expectations, and only with respect to other persons;
b) relational -- all persons' moral obligations (and expectations) follow from their relationships with/to other persons;

now, because morality is interpersonal and relational, it cannot exist if there are no persons in relationship to one another;
c) Morality is also transcendent -- it is not a created thing; its reality is not contingent upon the existence of human persons.

For instance, if morality were not transcendent, if it were after all a created thing, if its reality were contingent upon the existence of human persons, then knowing what are the moral obligations and expectations between *this* father and his son would tell one nothing about the moral obligations and expectations between *that* father and his son.

Since the reality of morality cannot grounded in human persons, it can be grounded only in divine persons.

So, the real existence of morality shows that there is a *multiplicity* of divine persons. Yet, there is but *one* God; to say that there are two or more Gods is incoherent. Yet again, if there is but one divine person, then morality is not transcendent.

How can this paradox be resolved?

The paradox vanishes IF God is one being and a multiplicity of persons.

This argument does not establish the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, that is, that God is *precisely* three Persons, but it does show that the doctrine is not a self-contradiction. And that is the question of the title.

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Friday, August 16, 2019

This is socialized medicine

UK: He said something was stuck in his throat after surgery. The doctors didn’t believe him.

Canada: Canadian Health Care Refused to Pay for Disabled Father's Care, but Happily Paid for His Assisted Suicide

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide

Sick joke making the rounds: If you’re surprised by Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide, imagine how surprised Epstein was.

Alternate sick joke making the rounds: I was stunned by the news of Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide, though probably not as much as Epstein himself.

On the one hand, enough is publicly known about the sordid details of Epstein's hobby-group that *everyone* knows that powerful people wanted him dead. This will make some sort of conspiracy theory at least rational and credible.

On the other hand, if I were the sort of person who could be brought down by the full facts coming to light — and being that sort more than implies that murder is never off the table — I’d have had him whacked a long time ago. He became a liability when the "Lolita Express" first came to light.

NBC News: Prison experts are stunned and angry that Jeffrey Epstein was taken off suicide watch
Bob Hood, a former federal Bureau of Prisons chief of internal affairs and former warden at the ADX Florence “supermax” prison in Colorado, said he also was perplexed by the decision to remove the suicide safeguards.

“Under the circumstances, I would have a staff member sitting there or have a camera on him 24/7 while he was in my custody, purely to cover my butt,” said Hood. “I know that sounds tacky, but this is not your average inmate.”
Shoot! I'd have had multiple cameras watching Epstein, and cameras watching the cameras, and people physically watching Epstein, and cameras watching the people physically watching him, and people watching the cameras ... and cameras watching *them*.

EDIT 2019/08/13:
New York Post: Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself with prison bedsheet: source
Jeffrey Epstein was found hanging in his lower Manhattan jail cell with a bedsheet wrapped around his neck and secured to the top of a bunk bed, The Post has learned.

The convicted pedophile, who was 6 feet tall, apparently killed himself by kneeling toward the floor and strangling himself with the makeshift noose, law enforcement sources said Monday. He hadn’t been checked on for several hours, sources said.
Now *that's* commitment -- not only to "hang" yourself when merely standing up will abort the hanging, but to "hang" yourself with a sheet that's essentially tissue paper.

EDIT 2019/08/14:
OK, the bit about the sheet being essentially tissue paper was a tongue-in-cheek reference to his having been removed from "suicide watch" mere days after allegedly trying to kill himself a couple of weeks ago.

Look, it's impossible to commit suicide in the manner described unless you first ensure that you are unable to free yourself. When the carbon-dioxide level in your lungs passes a certain threshhold, your body automatically enters a panic mode which overrides any conscious decision to kill yourself by asphyxiation.

So, if he did indeed kill himself in the manner we are being told, then he managed to do it only because he couldn't free himself. And that means either:
1) that he had used the sheet to rig a complex system which:
- cut off his air-supply
- prevented him from moving in such a way as to relieve the pressure which was cutting off his air-supply
2) he was already unconscious when the asphyxiation itself began

And 2) takes us right back to a conspiracy

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The "alt-right" is "alternative" to conservatism because it's just more leftism

K T Cat: Ta-Nehisi's Inverse -- "In a substantive way, the Left screaming about racism is just the Left screaming at itself."

K T Cat links to a tweet by one Sissy Willis, saying --
"Vox Day says the alt-right is conservative. It’s actually an identity movement on par with Black Lives Matter, La Raza, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, & other products of @CulturalMarxism." … "

My comment -
Actually, VD emphatically denies that "alt-right" is conservative -- he *despises* conservatism [and conservatives] -- so, that's one of the few times he's honest.

And, yes indeed, "alt-right" *is* "actually an identity movement on par with Black Lives Matter, La Raza, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, & other products of @CulturalMarxism." Or, to put it another way, it's just another variant of collectivism ... which is left, not right.
The "alt-right" is just as inimical to individual liberty as any other variant of leftism is.

K T Cat: Jordan Peterson Destroys The Myth Of The Alt-Right

To paraphrase Kathy Shaidle, "It you see "alt-right" and "antifa" battling in the street, the correct response is not to pick sides, but to pray for a meteor strike."

ps: Peterson is also not a conservative, much less a Christian.

Donald Sensing: Mass shootings - a few relevant links

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Saturday, August 3, 2019

About that "viral" math question

... which is apparently freaking so many people out --

"8 ÷ 2(2+2) = ?" is not the same question as "8 ÷ 2 * (2+2) = ?"

Perhaps it will help some people to understand why "1" is the correct solution if we replace the number '2' with the variable 'a' --

"8 ÷ 2(2+2) = ?"

"8 ÷ a(a+a) = ?"

"8 ÷ (a**2 + a**2) = ?"

"8 ÷ 2a**2 = ?"

"4 ÷ a**2 = ?"

Now, plugging the known value of 'a' back into the equation, we have --

"4 ÷ 2**2 = ?"

"4 ÷ 4 = ?"

"4 ÷ 4 = 1"

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Go back to where you came from

Back in about 2000, I was instructed by a black man (*), a minor flunky in the state government, to “Go back to where you came from; we don’t need your kind here.”

I was nonplussed; it struck me as that funny.

What I might have said, but of course didn’t, was something like, “Sonny-boy, I *am* where I came from; it’s you Old-Worlders who need to go back to where you came from.”

(*) who looked to have as much European ancestry as I have

EDIT 2019/07/24: When Black Democrats Tell Cuban Immigrants to “Go Home!” it’s different because 'Shut Up'.
According to information in a police report, it was the accuser–a Georgia state legislator–who uttered an allegedly racist phrase to a fellow shopper at a grocery store.

That news from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Rep. Erica Thomas originally claimed a “white” man confronted her when she had too many items in an express lane and hurled racist insults at her including “Go back to your country” or “Go back where you came from.” . . .

"A Publix employee told a Cobb County officer that she witnessed part of the conversation and heard Thomas “continuously tell Eric Sparkes to ‘Go back where you came from!”’ but did not hear Sparkes utter those words to Thomas." -- Atlanta Journal Constitution
This is my shocked face. As it turns out, I already knew when I first wrote this post that he -- a Trump-hating Democrat, himself -- hadn't ordered her to "Go back where you came from!”. What I didn't know at the time, and am not at all surprised to learn, is that *she* issued that command to him.

Also, I'm not at all surprised to learn that she "continuously" ordered him to "Go back where you came from!” Because, you know, ghetto.

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

And *why* would 'the Russians' protest?

Donald Sensing: Ukraine: Nazism equals Communism
Radio Free Europe reports what is basically a "Duh!" headline: "Ukraine's Constitutional Court Upholds Law Equating Communism To Nazism."
Ukraine's Constitutional Court has upheld a law that equates communism to Nazism and bans the dissemination of its symbols, a law that has prompted angry protests from Moscow.

In the July 16 ruling published on its website, the court said the "communist and Nazi regimes" used similar methods of "implementing repressive state policies."

"The communist regime, like the Nazi regime, inflicted irreparable damages to human rights because during its existence, it had total control over society and politically motivated persecutions and repressions, violated its international obligations, and its own constitutions and laws," it said.
The Russians have, of course, protested.

That Nazism and Communism were inherently contradictory is an invented, deliberate lie ...
And *why* would 'the Russians' protest?

Because the people who rule the Russian people are still leftists and statists ... and communists.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

America’s False Religion

J. Frank Bullitt at 'Issues & Insights': Recycling: America’s False Religion

"Though recycling rarely makes economic sense and often burns up more fresh resources than would have been used in making new items, Americans recycled. And recycled. And recycle still."

An old friend from college unfriended me on Fascistbook because I tried to get him to see that truth.

By all means, recycle when it makes economic sense to do so, when the act of recycling does not consume more resources in total than can be recovered. And how does one *know* when recycling makes economic sense? Why, when it doesn't need to be subsidized by using the threat of government violence to take money from you and me to give to the politically-connected few who thereby profit from the scam.

Edit: I recycle aluminum cans. I store them in the basement for 6 months to a year, then toss them in the truck and take them to be recycled. If I fill the truck bed with (grocery) bags of *crushed* cans, I may get about $50 for ... collecting trash in my house for a year. And that's for something that *does* pay for itself to be recycled.

EDIT 2019/08/09: Legal Insurrection: California’s Minimum Wage Rules Kill State’s Largest Recycling Center
California’s largest operator of recycling redemption centers has shut down and laid off 750 employees.

The Mercury News reported Monday that the company, Ontario-based RePlanet, has closed all 284 of its centers.

RePlanet President David Lawrence said the company stopped operating because of increased business costs and falling prices of recycled aluminum and PET plastic.

The move comes three years after RePlanet closed 191 of its recycling centers and laid off almost 300 employees.
The anti-economic wage-hike certainly contributed to the closure, but the greater cause is the fact that most recycling consumes more resources than it recovers.

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