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Prayer To The Deceased And Angels

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Jason Engwer, Jun 13, 2009.

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  1. Jason Engwer

    Jason Engwer Newbie

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    The Biblical record gives us a lot of information about how the people of God in past ages lived in a large variety of circumstances. Prayer to God is mentioned often, whereas prayer to the deceased and angels isn't mentioned at all. There are hundreds of passages on prayer in the Bible, covering thousands of years of history. It can’t be argued that scripture doesn’t say much about prayer. It can’t be argued that there are no contexts in scripture in which prayers to the dead could be mentioned if it was an acceptable practice. There are many contexts in which prayers to the dead could have been mentioned if men like Abraham, David, and Paul had believed in such a practice. In all of those contexts, we're never encouraged to pray to the dead.

    To the contrary, scripture condemns any attempt to contact the deceased (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Isaiah 8:19, 19:3). While such passages address the use of mediums and other practices different from prayer, they also state some broader principles that would be applicable to attempts to contact the deceased by other means, such as prayer.

    The evidence from the earliest patristic sources is against the practice as well. Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian wrote treatises on the subject of prayer without encouraging prayers to the dead. Instead, they either state or imply that prayer is to be offered only to God. Origen in particular is emphatic on the point (Against Celsus, 5:4-5, 5:11, 8:26; On Prayer, 10). The later popularity of the practice is a departure from what the Bible teaches and what the earliest patristic Christians believed.
     
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  2. OrthodoxyUSA

    OrthodoxyUSA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What does "alive in Christ" mean to you?

    Death has been defeated.

    Forgive me...
     
  3. Jason Engwer

    Jason Engwer Newbie

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    OrthodoxyUSA wrote:

    "What does ‘alive in Christ’ mean to you?"

    Nothing that justifies praying to the deceased and angels. I live in the United States. There are Christians in China, but I don’t think that I can or should pray to them on the basis that they’re alive in Christ.

    And having life in Christ doesn’t prevent people from physically dying. That’s why Jesus refers to Lazarus as “dead” (John 11:14). That’s why, in addition to referring to those “alive in Christ”, Paul can refer to Christians who are “dead in Christ” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

    If the commandments against attempting to contact the dead were about the spiritually dead, not the physically dead, then Moses would have been sinning by speaking with the spiritually dead Pharaoh. The prophets would have been sinning by speaking with the spiritually dead Israelites they were rebuking. The commandments against trying to contact the dead are about physical death, not spiritual death, and being alive in Christ doesn’t prevent people from dying physically. If you pray to a Christian who has physically died, then you’re trying to contact the dead.

    But even if we accepted, incorrectly, the concept that deceased Christians aren’t dead, the fact would remain that Biblical figures like David and Paul, as well as the earliest patristic Christians, didn’t pray to the deceased. Saying that men like Abraham and the apostle James are alive in Christ, despite their physical death, doesn’t explain why nobody prays to them in the Biblical record.
     
  4. revrobor

    revrobor Veteran

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    When the Disciples ask Jesus to show them how to pray He said "Our Father who is in Heaven....". It is our Heavenly Father to whom we are to pray, not Jesus, not the Holy Spirit, not dead people like the virgin Mary or who are called "saints" by some churches. Seems clear to me.
     
  5. Jason Engwer

    Jason Engwer Newbie

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    revrobor said:

    "When the Disciples ask Jesus to show them how to pray He said 'Our Father who is in Heaven....'. It is our Heavenly Father to whom we are to pray, not Jesus, not the Holy Spirit, not dead people like the virgin Mary or who are called 'saints' by some churches."

    Jesus was giving His disciples some general principles, not something that has to be followed in every detail in every prayer. There are many Biblical prayers, including some after the time when Jesus spoke those words, that differ from Jesus' prayer in some ways.

    The earliest Christians prayed to Jesus. In Matthew 21:16, Jesus identifies Himself as the object of the prayer of Psalm 8:2. Jesus is referred to as the one who chose the apostles in Acts 1:2 and as Lord in Acts 1:21, so the prayer to the Lord to choose another apostle in Acts 1:24-25 seems to be a prayer to Jesus. Hebrews 1:8-12 identifies Jesus as the object of some prayers in the Psalms. See, also, Acts 7:59, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 16:22, and Revelation 22:20.

    Prayers to Jesus suggest that the prominence of prayer to the Father in scripture isn't meant to exclude prayer to the other persons of the Trinity. And the prominence of prayers to the Father shouldn't be overestimated. With many of the prayers in scripture, we aren't told which person of the Trinity they're directed to. People may have a misconception of the extent of the Father's prominence in this context as a result of a dubious assumption that all prayers with an unspecified recipient are prayers to the Father. And the significance of the prominence of prayers to the Father in the gospels is lessened by the fact that Jesus wouldn't have prayed to Himself and the fact that His followers wouldn't have needed prayer to communicate with Him while He was on earth. The prominence of prayers to the Father isn't as significant as it may seem. If Jesus is sometimes the object of prayer, as He is, then that precedent for praying to a person of the Trinity other than the Father increases the credibility of praying to the Spirit. In Acts 5:3-4, Peter not only refers to the Holy Spirit as God, which suggests that prayer to the Spirit would be acceptable, but also seems to assume that it's acceptable to speak to the Spirit. Ananias would have been speaking to the Spirit whether he had lied or told the truth. The problem was that he lied. Peter condemns the lying, but not the concept of speaking to the Spirit.
     
  6. revrobor

    revrobor Veteran

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    You seem desperate to justify your belief and use innuendos and perceived implications to try to do it. While we all know Jesus and the Spirit are all God the fact is when Jesus was asked to teach the Disciples how to pray he made it clear that our prayers are to be addressed to our Heavenly Father. And there is just no such thing as a prayer to an "unspecified recipient".
     
  7. Jason Engwer

    Jason Engwer Newbie

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    revrobor said:

    "While we all know Jesus and the Spirit are all God the fact is when Jesus was asked to teach the Disciples how to pray he made it clear that our prayers are to be addressed to our Heavenly Father."

    You're repeating your initial argument. I've already responded to it. You need to interact with my response rather than just repeating the argument.

    You write:

    "And there is just no such thing as a prayer to an 'unspecified recipient'."

    How do you know that every Old Testament prayer addressed to "God" or "Lord", for example, is directed to the Father? As I explained above, Matthew 21 and Hebrews 1 tell us that some of the prayers in the Psalms were addressed to Jesus. We wouldn't know that from reading the Old Testament alone.

    Anybody following this thread can read passages like Acts 7:59 and Revelation 22:20 and see Jesus being addressed. Repeating your appeal to The Lord's Prayer doesn't explain such passages.
     
  8. revrobor

    revrobor Veteran

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    Your response doesn't hold water.

    In the Old Testament Jesus was not known to God's people. There is no Biblical justification for praying to anyone but our Heavenly Father.
     
  9. Jason Engwer

    Jason Engwer Newbie

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    revrobor wrote:

    "In the Old Testament Jesus was not known to God's people. There is no Biblical justification for praying to anyone but our Heavenly Father."

    Jesus wasn't known by name. But there was familiarity with multiple persons within the Godhead. The prophets anticipated Jesus, for example, though not by name. But even if most Israelites hadn't had a Trinitarian view of God or any relevant component of such a view, the fact would remain that God could reveal such a concept to some individuals. As I've explained, the New Testament refers to some of the prayers in the Psalms as directed to Jesus. Noting that the Old Testament Israelites didn't know Jesus by name doesn't refute anything I argued.

    You keep ignoring the large majority of the evidence I've cited. You're mostly relying on assertions rather than argumentation.
     
  10. OrthodoxyUSA

    OrthodoxyUSA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I suppose then that the "harrowing of hell" disturbs you, because you can not prove it scripturally?

    Forgive me...
     
  11. JJM

    JJM Senior Veteran

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    I think that we should begin by addressing what is meant by prayer. In one sense prayer means asking. But I don't think that is what you are getting at. In another sense it could mean communicating with someone who is not there physically as is implied by your comment "the fact that His followers wouldn't have needed prayer to communicate with Him while He was on earth" would imply. However Catholics believe that Jesus is physically there in the Eucharist and I doubt you would say that they are not praying to Him. So that also seems to be a bad definition.

    I suggest that the word means more along the lines of a form of communication with a religious entity (excluding those of the same arbitrary level as you, in this case human beings who are materially living on earth and do not yet have a glorified body). In other words it is a term to denote religious communication. In this sense if anyone asks something of Jesus in the NT they are praying to Him. Besides this it is never prayer to the dead in the OT that is condemned but communication with them. And as far as I know the one instance of necromancy in the OT the dead person actually shows up (I think it is in kings or Samuel please forgive for not looking it up. One of the prophets is called from the dead by a witch).

    With that set let's move on.

    While this is true in the strict sense, prayer to the dead is only acceptable to those who are in heaven so the OT and the NT up until a few chapters into Acts, are basically right out. That leaves a very small section left.

    That said, Jesus prays to the dead in a sense at the transfiguration. Technically both Moses and Elijah were assumed into Heaven body and Soul (though Moses did die). But most people who pray to Mary think this about her too so at least we could talk to her.

    Besides that whenever angels appear to people they are permitted to talk to them and even ask (pray) them for/about things (Luke 1:26-28). Plus the jews have a tendency of worshiping things they shouldn't which is why you don't see them addressed often. It may have been a mistake to confuse them while they were still trying to get the whole no idolatry thing down. However angels are addressed in the psalms for example Psalm 103:20-21 in the NAB (as you know the numbering of psalms and verses varies).

    Let's ask why this is. By the end of the OT there are only three people in heaven. Moses, Elijah, and Enoch and for all technical sense they are not dead but living in their bodies. So in order to contact the dead you would not be contacting someone in the presence of God in Heaven but someone in Sheol/Limbo/the pit/the abode of the righteous dead/the bosom of Abraham (whatever you want to call it or even worse Hell. Both of those at the time are the realm of Satan in a sense and to contact someone there would require either a) God working an extra-ordinary miracle or b) collaboration with a demon. If a is happening you know it most likely. If b then you are doing something very very wrong.

    In the NT the dead who are prayed to are in the presence of God and through that connection know what is happening on earth (or at least that is implied by Hebrews 12:1 and Luke 15:7 & 10) so they know it if we are addressing them.


    This is not unanimously true.

    Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 23:9
    "Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls , for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth."

    Speaking of prayers to the dead i'm on pilgrimage to Santiago right now so my replies may be slow but this should get this discussion headed in the right direction.
     
  12. Jason Engwer

    Jason Engwer Newbie

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    OrthodoxyUSA wrote:

    "I suppose then that the 'harrowing of hell' disturbs you, because you can not prove it scripturally?"

    I didn't suggest that one's view of prayers to the deceased and angels has to be "proven scripturally". To the contrary, I included a discussion of the patristic sources in my initial post.

    And the concept of a harrowing of Hell was defined in a large variety of ways in the patristic era. There are possible Biblical references to it, depending on how the concept is defined.

    What does this have to do with prayers to the dead and angels?
     
  13. JJM

    JJM Senior Veteran

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    It's relevant because the reason prayer to the righteous dead in the OT was not happening was because Hell had yet to be harrowed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2009
  14. Jason Engwer

    Jason Engwer Newbie

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    JJM wrote:

    "However Catholics believe that Jesus is physically there in the Eucharist and I doubt you would say that they are not praying to Him. So that also seems to be a bad definition."

    The reason I would say that they're praying to Jesus if they speak to Jesus in the presence of the eucharist is because I don't think Jesus is physically present in the eucharist. If He was present, I wouldn't consider it prayer to speak to Him.

    You write:

    "I suggest that the word means more along the lines of a form of communication with a religious entity (excluding those of the same arbitrary level as you, in this case human beings who are materially living on earth and do not yet have a glorified body). In other words it is a term to denote religious communication. In this sense if anyone asks something of Jesus in the NT they are praying to Him."

    That's not how the term is commonly defined. I've seen many scholars and other sources address the issue of prayers to Jesus, and none that I've seen think that discussions with Jesus during His earthly ministry are equivalent to prayers to Jesus. If prayer was commonly defined as you're defining it, then I don't think that the issue of praying to Jesus would be as controversial as it is. Revrobor's posts in this thread are an illustration of my point. Those who have opposed prayers to the dead and angels over the centuries haven't denied that humans sometimes speak with angels, for example. Somebody like Origen can write a treatise on prayer, and be aware that humans have sometimes spoken with angels, yet say that we shouldn't pray to angels. And I doubt that many people, if anybody, would classify exorcisms that involve speaking to demons as instances of prayer to demons, for example.

    Prayer is commonly defined as involving a being who hasn't been physically manifested. If an angel or demon manifests himself in a physical form, one we can perceive through our senses, we wouldn't normally classify communication with that angel or demon as prayer.

    You write:

    "Besides this it is never prayer to the dead in the OT that is condemned but communication with them."

    Are you suggesting that prayer to the dead is significantly different from attempting to contact the dead? If so, how is it significantly different?

    You write:

    "And as far as I know the one instance of necromancy in the OT the dead person actually shows up (I think it is in kings or Samuel please forgive for not looking it up. One of the prophets is called from the dead by a witch)."

    The fact that Saul didn't think he could contact Samuel through prayer is significant.

    You write:

    "While this is true in the strict sense, prayer to the dead is only acceptable to those who are in heaven so the OT and the NT up until a few chapters into Acts, are basically right out. That leaves a very small section left."

    Where are you getting the concept that "prayer to the dead is only acceptable to those who are in heaven"? That's a conclusion that would have to be argued, not just asserted.

    And where are you getting the timeframe of "a few chapters into Acts"? People are referred to as being in a state we would commonly call Heaven, a condition of peace and joy in the presence of God, well before "a few chapters into Acts" (Psalm 49:15, 73:24-26, Luke 16:19-31, 23:43, etc.). There are different regions or conditions within what's commonly called Heaven, such as the New Jerusalem, but what do such distinctions have to do with prayers to the dead? If you want us to believe that something relevant changed "a few chapters into Acts", you'll need to explain what it was.

    The "very small section" of scripture you refer to includes a history of the first few decades of the church (Acts), all of the letters of Paul and the other letter writers in the New Testament, and Revelation, which says a lot about prayer and events on earth in a wide variety of circumstances.

    You write:

    "That said, Jesus prays to the dead in a sense at the transfiguration. Technically both Moses and Elijah were assumed into Heaven body and Soul (though Moses did die). But most people who pray to Mary think this about her too so at least we could talk to her."

    Why do you think Moses was assumed? If you're thinking that the concept is implied by Jude's use of some apocryphal literature, I disagree. See here and here.

    And what about your earlier claim that "prayer to the dead is only acceptable to those who are in heaven so the OT and the NT up until a few chapters into Acts, are basically right out"? How could Jesus have been praying to the dead before then?

    In the Mount of Transfiguration incident, Moses and Elijah had returned to life on earth. No prayer is involved. And the only one who spoke with them was Jesus. Peter, James, and John didn’t speak to them. Even if we were to conclude, without good reason, that Jesus had been praying to Moses and Elijah, Jesus isn’t merely human. He’s also God. To cite His conversation with Moses and Elijah as justification for Christians to pray to the dead is to assume that anything Jesus did must be acceptable for Christians to do. But it’s possible that praying to the deceased, if Jesus had ever done such a thing, was done through His unique attributes as God. There would be no way for us to know. Given the absence of any prayers to the dead in the remainder of scripture, your interpretation of the Mount of Transfiguration is highly dubious.

    You write:

    "Besides that whenever angels appear to people they are permitted to talk to them and even ask (pray) them for/about things (Luke 1:26-28)."

    The fact that such discussions occur when angels manifest themselves in order to initiate a conversation tells us something. That's not what's normally classified as prayer, and the absence of human initiation of such discussions, when angels haven't manifested themselves, is significant. How would you know that an angel hears you, if his presence isn't known by means of a manifestation?

    You write:

    "Plus the jews have a tendency of worshiping things they shouldn't which is why you don't see them addressed often. It may have been a mistake to confuse them while they were still trying to get the whole no idolatry thing down."

    How would a Jewish tendency to "worship things they shouldn't" explain an absence of Biblical prayers to angels and deceased humans? The Biblical writers included faithful servants of God, such as Moses and Daniel. The sins of other Jews wouldn't explain the absence of encouragement to pray to the dead and angels in the writings of Jews who were more faithful to God and whose writings would be read by others who were faithful. And you've claimed that discussions with angels who manifested themselves should be considered prayer, so, by your definition, prayer to angels is mentioned in the Bible repeatedly. But, then, why is it only mentioned in the form I referred to above, namely in the form of angels initiating discussions when they manifest themselves?

    You write:

    "However angels are addressed in the psalms for example Psalm 103:20-21"

    When the psalmists speak to the mountains (Psalm 68:16, 114:6), or somebody writes a message to a deceased person on his gravestone, that isn't equivalent to prayer. The psalmist isn't praying to the mountains, and the message on the gravestone isn't meant to be a prayer. To equate such rhetorical devices with prayer is erroneous. Nobody who goes to a Protestant graveyard and sees "rest in peace" addressed to a dead person, or who sees angels being addressed in a Protestant hymn, would conclude that Protestants must therefore believe in praying to the dead and angels. Such data would be inconclusive at best. You cite verses 20-21 of Psalm 103, but you don't cite the next verse, which tells all of God's "works" to bless Him. Should we conclude that it's acceptable to pray to all of God's works?

    Again, if praying to angels was considered an acceptable practice, we would expect to see it reflected in historical narratives, such as what we have in Genesis, Judges, 1 Kings, Acts, etc. Prayers to God are found there many times, under many different circumstances, from many sources. But in order to make a case for praying to the dead and angels, you have to go to passages in which an angel manifests himself to initiate a discussion, a passage in the Psalms that then goes on to address all of God's works after addressing angels, or the account of the Mount of Transfiguration, which, once again, involves beings who manifested themselves on earth.

    You write:

    "By the end of the OT there are only three people in heaven. Moses, Elijah, and Enoch and for all technical sense they are not dead but living in their bodies."

    Where are you getting that concept? And even if it was true, one of those three men, Moses, was among the most highly regarded figures in ancient Israel, and the other two were highly regarded, though to a lesser extent. Why wouldn't we see prayers to them?

    You write:

    "In the NT the dead who are prayed to are in the presence of God and through that connection know what is happening on earth (or at least that is implied by Hebrews 12:1 and Luke 15:7 & 10) so they know it if we are addressing them."

    You're making a lot of dubious assumptions. As I documented earlier, deceased people were "in the presence of God" long before "a few chapters into Acts".

    And your interpretation of Hebrews 12:1 is disputed. Surely you know that. You would have to argue for your interpretation.

    Luke 15 refers to rejoicing in Heaven among the angels, concerning the repentance of a sinner. How do you know the means by which the angels acquire that knowledge? You don't. And how are you getting from angels knowing some events on earth to their knowledge of prayers? How are deceased humans being assigned the same capabilities?

    Angels can be aware of some events on earth without being aware of every event. They have limitations in understanding and interacting with events on earth (Daniel 10:13, 1 Peter 1:12). Passages like 1 Kings 8:38-39 and Revelation 2:23 suggest that only God thoroughly knows the human heart, and 1 Kings 8 is addressed specifically to the context of prayer. We would need some further warrant before concluding that the deceased and angels are aware of people's thoughts and speech. Angels are messengers. They're sent to perform particular tasks. Different angels work in different parts of the universe. The fact that an angel is highly knowledgeable in the earthly context he's sent to address, or in some other contexts, doesn't suggest that he would be aware of a prayer in the heart of a child in some other part of the world, for example.

    You write:

    "This is not unanimously true."

    You then go on to cite Cyril of Jerusalem, who wrote about a century after the latest source I cited. And opposition to prayers to the dead and angles wouldn't have to be "unanimous" in order to be significant. Regardless, the passage doesn't mention prayers to the dead. And it's beyond the timeframe I was addressing. I don't deny that prayers to the dead and angels became popular within the patristic era later on.
     
  15. Jason Engwer

    Jason Engwer Newbie

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    JJM writes:

    "It's relevant because the reason prayer to the righteous dead in the OT was not happening was because Hell had yet to be harrowed."

    Not only are you assuming a particular interpretation of the harrowing without arguing for it, but you're also assuming, without argument, an implication that the harrowing allegedly has for prayers to the dead. (And the harrowing is irrelevant to prayers to angels.) Why would deceased humans be unavailable to receive prayer earlier, but become available after the harrowing? The fact that later sources chose to make that distinction in an attempt to explain an early absence of prayers to the dead doesn't mean that we should uncritically accept that distinction. What's the logical connection between the harrowing and prayers to the dead? I'm not asking for a possible connection. I'm asking for a probable one.
     
  16. matilda1991

    matilda1991 The truth shall set you free.

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    Oh come on. Why mess around. Retitle this thing "let's bash Catholic Doctrine" and we can really have some fun.
     
  17. Jason Engwer

    Jason Engwer Newbie

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    matilda1991 wrote:

    "Retitle this thing 'let's bash Catholic Doctrine' and we can really have some fun."

    Roman Catholics aren't the only people who believe in praying to the dead and angels. And I doubt that you call it "bashing" when you disagree with people's behavior or beliefs. Should I conclude that you're "bashing" me? Do you think it's "bashing" when Roman Catholics argue against the beliefs of those they disagree with? Instead of trying to gain people's sympathy with a term like "bashing", why don't you address the more significant issues that have been raised in this thread?
     
  18. Trento

    Trento Senior Veteran

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    The same 4th-century Church whose judgment you are prepared to rely on unreservedly when it comes to the canon of Scripture already exhibited quite explicitly most of the Catholic doctrines and practices which Protestants have always rejected. Praying to Mary and the saints, the authority of tradition recognized as well as that of Scripture, purgatory and prayers for the dead, the sacrifice of the Mass and an order of sacrificing priests, monasticism, the veneration of images and relics, and so on—these were all well established features of the Church's life by the time the New Testament canon became fixed in the Church's living tradition. If you need Patristic evidence i can provide it.
    Why suppose that the Holy Spirit should have guaranteed an accurate discernment of the canon to the late 3rd century Church, while withholding from it the grace to discern and correct all these other "abuses" and "corruptions"? If there were some divine revelation telling us that the Holy Spirit did after all adopt this rather improbable course of action, it would no doubt be a different matter.
     
  19. Jason Engwer

    Jason Engwer Newbie

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    Trento wrote:

    "The same 4th-century Church whose judgment you are prepared to rely on unreservedly when it comes to the canon of Scripture already exhibited quite explicitly most of the Catholic doctrines and practices which Protestants have always rejected....Why suppose that the Holy Spirit should have guaranteed an accurate discernment of the canon to the late 3rd century Church, while withholding from it the grace to discern and correct all these other 'abuses' and 'corruptions'? If there were some divine revelation telling us that the Holy Spirit did after all adopt this rather improbable course of action, it would no doubt be a different matter."

    It's not as though the guidance of the Holy Spirit was the only factor involved in leading people to their theological conclusions. Many factors were involved, and case-by-case judgments have to be made about which factors were most influential in which contexts.

    Just as I disagree with some of the popular beliefs of Christians in the late third century or beyond, so do you. Presumably, that's why you refer to "most of the Catholic doctrines and practices", not all of them. It's not as if the assumption of Mary, for example, was held by a majority of Christians in the late third century. As late as the fifth century, Augustine writes that Jesus is the only immaculately conceived human, rejecting an immaculate conception of Mary, and he notes that such a position is consistent with "the catholic faith" (On The Grace Of Christ, And On Original Sin, 2:47-48).

    And what about earlier popular beliefs that you reject? What about the premillennialism of the ante-Nicene Christians, the widespread early opposition to the veneration of images, etc.? Are we to believe that only the popular beliefs of the late third century and beyond were the result of the Holy Spirit's guidance, whereas earlier popular beliefs weren't? What about popular beliefs in our day? Do you think that the average professing Christian today, if asked in an opinion poll, would correctly define and affirm a Trinitarian view of God or transubstantiation, for example? Should we follow opinion polls in order to arrive at our theological conclusions?

    Why do you claim that I "rely unreservedly" on the canon of the fourth-century church, given that I disagree with your Old Testament canon? Surely you don't think the fourth-century church rejected your Old Testament. Rather, you're being careless. Instead of specifying the New Testament canon, you refer to "the canon", and you don't even address the implications of my Old Testament canon.

    I've addressed the New Testament canon in depth elsewhere. I don't accept the twenty-seven-book canon just because I think all of the theological beliefs of the fourth-century church, or late third-century church, must have been guided by the Spirit. Your approach toward this issue is simplistic.

    We don't just look at what Christians in the late third century and beyond believed. We take all of the relevant evidence into account, which includes far more than you've outlined above. It involves a combination of internal and external evidence, and the external evidence doesn't just come from Christian sources. And the Christian sources who are involved represent a wide variety of theologies. It wouldn't make sense to classify them collectively as Roman Catholic (or Eastern Orthodox). Again, see my series of articles on the New Testament canon, linked above.

    One thing we do when evaluating a subject like the New Testament canon is ask if later beliefs are consistent with earlier ones. It's unreasonable to treat two beliefs as equally credible just because both were popular in the fourth century, for example. If the first belief is consistent with the evidence prior to the fourth century, whereas the second belief is inconsistent with the earlier evidence, then that difference is significant, despite the similar fourth-century popularity. Prayer to the dead and angels is a practice that's highly inconsistent with the Biblical and early patristic data, as I've explained above. The same is not true of the twenty-seven-book New Testament canon. That canon isn't widely absent where we'd expect to see it mentioned in the early sources, and it isn't contradicted nearly as widely or as significantly in the early sources as prayer to the dead and angels is. The fact that prayer to the dead and angels later became popular, as the New Testament canon did, doesn't change the fact that the two are significantly different in other ways. Again, your approach toward these issues is simplistic.
     
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