Friday, December 31, 2010

A Trilemma?

Lest I forget, let me wish you a Blessed 7th Day of Christmas as we begin...

John Lollard (a pseudonym) has on his blog an article he believes challenges Catholic authority.  I believe his premise is flawed, so let us look at this article (John's words in green) and my response to it:

St. John Lateran, Peter's Seat

The Catholic Trilemma of Matthew 23


I remember a few years ago, reading Matthew 23 and for the first time I noticed the introduction in verses 2-3. If you aren't familiar, Matthew 23 is a scathing polemic, delivered by Jesus, about the hypocrisy and immorality of the Pharisees. There are similar versions of this in Luke 11, that includes in the middle of this speech one of the scribes interrupts Jesus in protest that His rebukes on the Pharisees were insulting the scribes, too. Jesus' response is to launch off into a string of condemnations specifically on the scribes, too. But verses 2-2 reads thus:
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach."
I remember reading this and thinking it was the single most obvious statement in the Bible I had yet to find specifically refuting the notion of papal primacy. What I've found is that the exact same texts that I find explicitly denouncing the idea of a papal seat are the exact same texts that Catholics actually USE to support their claims of a papal seat.

Hello John,
I am trying to figure out how you see Matthew 23:2-3 as contrary to the papacy.  First off, it’s not the papacy in this context, it is “Moses’ seat” which would be a prefiguring of Peter’s seat.  Secondly, Jesus does not denounce the office/seat of Moses - and in fact reinforces that office saying they must still do whatever they tell you to do - just don’t do what they do.  At this point Moses’ seat truly is still in authority.

Here's how I see it. Catholics claim that Peter received a divine teaching authority from Jesus in Matthew 16:18,19 and that this teaching authority was handed down from Peter to the Bishop of Rome in an unbroken succession, such that the current pope sits on the seat of Peter and has divine authority to teach on issues of faith and morals. This (office of) pope has been handed down (by) an oral Tradition going all the way back to Christ's teachings to Peter and the Pope uses this in making binding statements.

OK, I’m with you so far...

Yet here we see that an identical office existed for the Pharisees, and those who sat in this office rejected the Messiah and ordered Peter and John to stop sharing the Gospel. So why trust the papacy if the identical Sanhedrim can be this wrong?

Well first off, you’re not quite comparing apples to apples here.  The Sanhedrin, while it was authoritative for the Jewish people, was never given infallible authority to bind or loose whatsoever they chose on earth - and that would also be bound in heaven.  That’s where infallibility comes into play - for nothing errant could possibly be so bound in heaven.

The way Catholics see it, is that Jesus is establishing that the Sanhedrim really does have an authoritative teaching that His followers must obey. This is a foreshadowing of the papacy, where this same position and power are given to Peter as an authoritative teacher to whom we must be obedient even when he acts like a hypocrite. We see that this position has always existed, first in Jerusalem and now in the Church.

True, to a point... a foreshadowing is not necessarily an equivocation, and in this case it most certainly is not.

Or at least that's as much as I can gather. I am open to corrections on the Catholic view of these verses.

I hope you can see where there is a difference here between the papacy and the Sanhedrin.

Let me then remark on the trilemma that we have. I call it that because the Catholic has set up three authorities who cannot all possibly be authoritative. These three on the scene are:
1) Jesus
2) Peter
3) the scribes and Pharisees
At this point in the narrative, by a Catholic reckoning, Peter has already been declared the first Pope back in chapter 16, and thus is already established in the position of authority that the seat of Moses is a precursor for. Thus we should say that the scribes and Pharisees do not sit in Moses' seat because now Peter has taken that seat. Yet, by the Catholic reckoning, we also see that not only do the Pharisees also hold this position of authority at this point in the narrative, but Peter is subject to their authority (see v. 1 that this is addressed to the disciples and the crowds). This itself wouldn't be that big of a deal if Peter and the Pharisees do not directly contradict one another. In Acts 4, Peter and John are called before the Sanhedrim on account of preaching the Resurrection of Christ and are commanded by the Pharisees who sit in Moses' seat and to whom they must be obedient to stop preaching Jesus' Resurrection. Peter replies that he's going to do so anyway, because he must obey God and not men.

OK, I did not want to interrupt your train of thought, so let’s take this in order:
1) The Catholic Church has not set up three authorities.  Jesus is our Authority, and He left St. Peter to be “in charge” as His Vicar.
2) The scribes and Pharisees are a thing of the past - though I suppose you’re comparing that to the Magisterium of the Church.  If you refer to the Magisterium, the bishops - as a group - were given similar authority to St. Peter in Matthew 18:18, and again - by Jesus Himself, not some oral tradition after-the-fact.
3) St. Peter did not immediately receive the authority Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16:18-19, as Jesus was speaking of some point in the future when He would build His Church - it didn’t happen at that sitting.  So, until this giving of the authority happened which we would surmise this happened at Pentecost, or as some like TheDen, may argue for the event of John 21:15-19 when Jesus tells Peter to "Feed My sheep" - either way the Sanhedrin was still holding the office of authority.
4) In Acts 4, Peter and John are still respecting that which preceded them, but the Jews did not accept the Messiah - Peter and John knew that the New Testament Church rested with them, not with the Jews who rejected their Messiah.  They still respected their elders, but the time was nigh to move on, the Old Covenant had been fulfilled and the New Covenant is now in place.

More to the point, Peter declares Jesus is the Christ and the Pharisees declare that Jesus is not the Christ.

They cannot both be teaching authorities at the same time. So then who is?

If it is the Pharisees, then Peter is not the pope because the office of the papacy depends on an interpretation of an event that had already occurred by this point in time. If the teaching authority is still with the Pharisees on Moses' seat then it cannot be on Peter's seat.

If it is not the Pharisees, but in fact Peter is the teaching authority here, then how are we supposed to understand Jesus command to obey the scribes and Pharisees who sit in Moses' seat? The only way I can possibly see to take it, then considering that the Pharisees no longer have this power granted to Peter a little while ago, is that Jesus is being sarcastic and challenging the hubris of the Pharisees to dare claim to sit in the seat of Moses and claim to have binding oral traditions going back to Moses not found in Scripture, and to presume to require people to follow doctrines made by them and not God.

No, not quite.  Again, at the time Jesus makes the statement to obey the Pharisees, they truly are still occupying that seat - but as of Pentecost, that authority moves to the New Testament Church.  At that point Peter alone (per Matthew 16) or Peter with the rest of the Bishops (Matthew 18) now sit in that seat.

But that means that Israel was this whole time without an infallible teaching authority to bind and loose doctrines on them. 

Correct, well, perhaps not the whole time - as God did provide them with the prophets who did indeed speak with God’s Authority - however, the days of the prophets had ended before Christ came upon the scene - though John the Baptist could be seen as the bridge between the prophets of the Old Testament to the Messiah of the New Testament.

That means that Israel did not need such an institution in order to identify the Scriptures or to understand the Scriptures or make correct doctrine.

Actually, though there were recognized portions of Scripture - and even a couple “canons” of Scripture prior to the Christian Church - they (the Jews) had not finalized what they considered to be canonical - in fact “canonical” was not even part of their vocabulary and really still isn’t as their view of “Scripture” is not quite how Christians view “Scripture.”  Christians see ALL of Scripture as “God breathed” and/or God’s Word - whereas Jews see different levels of inspiration.  The Torah, the Books of Moses or Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible) they see on the same level as we see all of Scripture.  Then comes the Prophets, and then to a lesser level comes the books of History and Poetry.  God installed the Judges to govern His People, but they wanted a king - so God relented and let them have a king.  It didn’t take long for the kingship to split the kingdom, but I digress.

After all, the Pharisees were correct about the prophecies of the Messiah and about the general Resurrection, even though these aren't always explicit in the text.

If they were truly “right” about the Messiah then they would not have rejected Him.

Then Protestants, too, it seems, do not need a binding teaching authority outside of Scripture, neither to know or understand Scripture, negating any need of an office of Pope.

Protestantism is a whole ‘nother story.  They neither accept Moses’ seat nor Peter’s - let’s try not to get distracted here.

If we want to say that Jesus is really affirming both the authority of Peter and the Pharisees at the same time, then we must make the absurd conclusion that Jesus isn't an authority either.

As I stated above, each has their own time - and when Jesus told the crowd to “do as they say, but not as they do...” they, the Pharisees, were still occupying that seat of authority.

Maybe there are errors in this idea?

I would say there’s no “maybe” here.

Love in Christ,
John Lollard

Likewise,
Scott<<<

17 comments:

  1. Scott, you honor me by bothering to respond to my blog :)

    Thank you very much for taking the time to write to address my question. If you so desire, I will provide my thoughts on your response later.

    Love in Christ,
    John Lollard

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  2. Of course I would be interested in your thoughts.

    In His Timing,
    Scott<<<

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  3. I pray that you, John, (and your heart and mind) are indeed open to correction from a Catholic apologist as you implied. A lot more dialogue between protestants who could be a lot more open minded and sincere faithful Catholic apologists would do Christianity and the world a lot of good.

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  4. Hey Scott,

    So, reading your response and then waiting and then reading it again, I still do not feel like you've really understood the point that I was getting at or successfully answered it. You say this:

    "At this point Moses’ seat truly is still in authority."

    And then this:
    "If you refer to the Magisterium, the bishops - as a group - were given similar authority to St. Peter in Matthew 18:18, and again - by Jesus Himself, not some oral tradition after-the-fact."

    And don't seem to realize that this is the very problem I'm talking about. The whole Magisterium and St. Peter get authority in Matthew 18, before the events of Matthew 23. Who does St. Peter say the Jesus is? The Christ. Who do those who sit in Moses' seat say He is? Not the Christ.

    The simple Jewish peasant person, there in Jerusalem, standing off to the side while listening to Jesus speak Matthew 23, according to what you are apparently saying, is bound to one authority that says Jesus is the Christ and to another that says Jesus is not the Christ. At this point in time, the followers of Jesus are beholden to two completely contradictory statements about the nature of Jesus. If you really believe that Christ is the Logos, then you will know that that cannot be possible.

    If your answer is that the Sanhedrim was authoritative and Peter wasn't yet, then Peter could not have received it in Matthew 18:18 or 16:19, but more to the point, when does Peter get this authority and when does the Sanhedrim lose it?

    (What makes you so sure the Sanhedrim ever did lose its authority, by the way?)

    Based on other of your statements, you seem to imply that the Sanhedrim ceased to be authoritative and Peter received this authority either at the end of John or the beginning of Acts - both events occurring after the Sanhedrim on the Seat of Moses had the Messiah executed for blasphemy. I hope you realize that makes just as little sense as the previous position.

    Darned if you do, darned if you don't :P

    Another statement of yours, this one:
    Again, at the time Jesus makes the statement to obey the Pharisees, they truly are still occupying that seat - but as of Pentecost, that authority moves to the New Testament Church. At that point Peter alone (per Matthew 16) or Peter with the rest of the Bishops (Matthew 18) now sit in that seat.
    seems to imply that the seat of Moses and Peter are the same seat. Is this so?

    You also briefly addressed some of my other statements. I know Jews never really had a concept of "canon", because they had no concept of an infallible authority that could bind and loose upon them, except for God alone. Yet they still new God's Word and relied upon it and are held accountable to it by Jesus without even the notion (as you admitted) of an infallible Magisterium to bind and loose an official list of books in order for them to be sure of what God has revealed.

    Neither, by the way, did Peter, John, or James have any such idea.

    I'm afraid the only way I can see this working is no seat of Moses and no seat of Peter. I could maybe see how no seat of Moses and seat of Peter could slip past Matthew 23. Or, I could see that they're authorities and we are only obedient to religious authorities to the extent that they do not proclaim falsehood and suppress the gospel. I'm afraid that you haven't convinced me otherwise, but hopefully, between being a dad and husband and reading some boring book about Luther, will will have time to try again.

    Love in Christ,
    John Lollard

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  5. John writes:
    JL: And don't seem to realize that this is the very problem I'm talking about. The whole Magisterium and St. Peter get authority in Matthew 18, before the events of Matthew 23. Who does St. Peter say the Jesus is? The Christ. Who do those who sit in Moses' seat say He is? Not the Christ.

    SW: Well, first off - I appreciate you're trying to correct my understanding of what your intention is - as I indicated when I opened my article, I was trying to figure out your point.

    SW: Now, I believe it is you who is misreading the context here. In Matt. 16 and 18 a promise is made for the FUTURE authority they WILL have. My position is this authority begins at Pentecost when the Holy Ghost descends upon the Apostles.

    John continues:
    JL: If your answer is that the Sanhedrim was authoritative and Peter wasn't yet, then Peter could not have received it in Matthew 18:18 or 16:19, but more to the point, when does Peter get this authority and when does the Sanhedrim lose it?

    SW: Correct, as stated above, Peter and the Apostles did not receive the authority in Matthew 16 or 18 - they received the PROMISE of such authority. Again, as above, that authority comes at Pentecost.

    John continues:
    JL: Based on other of your statements, you seem to imply that the Sanhedrim ceased to be authoritative and Peter received this authority either at the end of John or the beginning of Acts - both events occurring after the Sanhedrim on the Seat of Moses had the Messiah executed for blasphemy. I hope you realize that makes just as little sense as the previous position.

    Darned if you do, darned if you don't :P


    SW: Again, I would have to disagree with your stance. The fact that the Sanhedrin had the authority to put Jesus to death still because God allows this. God enabled them with this authority in order to fulfill HIS plan.

    SW: Now, did the Sanhedrin relinquish this authority immediately upon Pentecost? No, they were still looking for a temporal authority - a "king" to be their Messiah and thought this Messiah would free them from the bonds of Rome. They were wrong and by 70AD God used the Romans to completely extinguish any power or authority the Jews previously had. By this point the Jews lost any real significant authority in history for centuries - in fact, nearly two millennia "the diaspora" was reduced to the authority of individual Jews congregations and rabbis - and even with the formation of the nation of Israel, they still have not reestablished the Sanhedrin.

    (to be continued...)

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  6. (continuing...)
    John writes:
    JL: Another statement of yours, (snip - see above) seems to imply that the seat of Moses and Peter are the same seat. Is this so?

    SW: The "same seat?" No, I would not say that since we're talking about two separate Covenants, but it is a similar seat.

    John continues:
    You also briefly addressed some of my other statements. I know Jews never really had a concept of "canon", because they had no concept of an infallible authority that could bind and loose upon them, except for God alone. Yet they still (k)new God's Word and relied upon it and are held accountable to it by Jesus without even the notion (as you admitted) of an infallible Magisterium to bind and loose an official list of books in order for them to be sure of what God has revealed.

    Neither, by the way, did Peter, John, or James have any such idea.


    How could they NOT have such an idea? Jesus told them they have this infallible authority! Infallible means it is without error - so unless you believe they could bind error in Heaven, then you would be sorrily mistaken. Are you implying they did not believe Jesus when He told them they have the authority to bind and loose whatsoever they chose to? When St. Peter overturns the Jewish dietary laws in Acts 10, was he not exercising this authority as motivated by the Holy Ghost through the vision?

    John continues:
    I'm afraid the only way I can see this working is no seat of Moses and no seat of Peter. I could maybe see how no seat of Moses and seat of Peter could slip past Matthew 23. Or, I could see that they're authorities and we are only obedient to religious authorities to the extent that they do not proclaim falsehood and suppress the gospel. I'm afraid that you haven't convinced me otherwise,

    SW: Hold on now, "no seat of Moses?" So Jesus was inventing something and lying about it having authority which should be listened to? I'm afraid you'll have to deal with this before we can continue this discussion much further... as for Me, I do not see Jesus as a liar. I believe He spoke of a TRUE "seat of Moses" which indeed prefigured Peter's seat.

    It's time to get out of that river in Egypt and cross the Tiber.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  7. One last thought from John in the last combox...
    JL: but hopefully, between being a dad and husband and reading some boring book about Luther, will will have time to try again.

    Over the weekend it has been more of the husband and dad obligations. My main computer died on Friday, so I am working my way around on other computers. (I didn't even set my fantasy football teams in the two leagues I'm in - and was in the championship game in both - and sadly, lost both games which I could have won by simply changing one player in each!) I'm still waiting for one more Luther resource to arrive - and until it does, I'm not giving too much attention to that discussion. Swan (& Co.) still seems to think HIS way of reading Luther is the ONLY way of reading Luther. I have granted that one COULD read Luther the way he does, he does not grant the reverse (yet I am the dogmatic one?).

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  8. Scott,

    Just wanted to add a small comment. First off, good post.

    The Church sees establishment not at Pentecost but at the cross (CCC 766). It's at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended that "the Church was openly displayed to the crowds" (CCC 767).

    Peter's authority is evident before Pentecost as Acts 1:15-26 shows Peter deciding they need a replacement for Judas.

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  9. Hey Scott! (And hey Dennis, but I'm going to reply to Scott),

    I'm sorry to hear about your computer troubles, but it's good you have family obligations to fill your time with.

    Thank you for taking more time to respond to my objections. I think I understand your position better. You believe that it is sometime after this passage that the disciples receive the promised authority. Dennis argues for the Crucifixion, you argue for Pentecost, but all the same it is sometime later and Peter does not currently have authority.

    (I don't know if you're aware, by the way, that James White uses this a point in his debates with Catholics on the papacy.)

    If you want to understand my position, by the way, I believe that Jesus is being sarcastic. I can elaborate further if you wish, but I like to keep to one post.

    I don't buy your response to a religious authority executing the Messiah for blasphemy. Yes, the Sanhedrim had a political authority in addition to a religious one, because Judea was a theocracy, and they still exercised their political authority in conjunction with the Roman authorities to execute the Messiah, in accordance with God's perfect will. They had authority in the sense that they could still up crowds to demand the crucifixion of Jesus and the crowds would listen. No doubt about that here.

    But you also claim that this same Sanhedrim that condemned God as a lawbreaker are a religious authority, akin to how the pope is a religious authority. The crowds and disciples are supposed to be in obedience to what they say (but not what they do). The Jews who cried for His blood to come upon them were being obedient to the scribes and Pharisees who sit and were then sitting in Moses' seat - not only could the Pharisees stir them up and they would listen, but they should listen.

    I'm sorry, but I just cannot believe that they were right for listening to the Sanhedrin, nor that the Sanhedrin was a religious authority who must be listened to at the time they were inciting Jerusalem into crucifying the Messiah.

    When they made the ruling that He was a blasphemer, they were binding and loosing, as they did with plenty of other things that Jesus contradicted them on. If you believe that the Pharisees had the authority to bind and loose, as they claimed, as was part of their claim to sit on Moses' seat, then great, they have bound that Jesus is not the Christ and is worthy of death. They did this at a time when you believe they had an authority to do so.

    "When St. Peter overturns the Jewish dietary laws in Acts 10, was he not exercising this authority as motivated by the Holy Ghost through the vision?"

    When Sts. Peter, James, John, Paul, etc., all of them, really, in Acts 15, bind that Christians should not eat meat with the blood in it or from strangled animals or food sacrificed to idols, do you obey this? I don't know whether this council came before or after St. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 8, but it doesn't seem like St. Paul had the same understanding of authority as you. Even based on the words of the council, it doesn't seem like anyone there had the same understanding as you, but that they thought of themselves as people wise in the Scriptures and the Grace of God to such a point that they could

    I've rowed a canoe out in the middle of the Tiber for quite awhile, my friend. I've even come up on your side for picnics. I'm sure there is much to be appreciated, but your theologians do not understand God's saving grace, the basis of the New Covenant.

    Love in Christ (who alone is to be praised),
    John Lollard

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  10. John,
    First off, I hope you took my closing comment in the spirit it was intended... a serious invitation, but stated a bit on the lighter side (being in the "river in Egypt = "de-Nile").

    Secondly, I never stated nor do I imply that "Moses' seat" had the same authority of "Peter's seat." They had authority - but not infallible authority. The first time infallible authority for any men is seen is when Jesus promises it to Peter and the Apostles, as I have already discussed.

    Thirdly, when you say Jesus was being "sarcastic" - please explain.

    Fourthly, I have debated White on many topics, but strangely, I don't think we've had any kind of in-depth one on the papacy. I doubt one will come forth though, I believe he's tired of me pointing out his errors, which I've done several times and typically his answer is wholly lacking of substance, but filled with plenty of ridicule (quite the red herring approach). That being said, I would welcome a written formal debate with him on this subject. Consider this an open invitation to him.

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  11. Whew! And I'll try to avoid run-on sentences like in that last comment!

    (grin)

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  12. The Den writes:
    > TD: Just wanted to add a small
    > comment. First off, good post.

    SW: Thanks.

    > TD: The Church sees
    > establishment not at
    > Pentecost but at the cross
    > (CCC 766). It's at Pentecost
    > when the Holy Spirit descended
    > that "the Church was openly
    > displayed to the crowds"
    > (CCC 767).

    SW: I can see what you're saying by CCC 766, and the Church is "born" there according to this catechism, however I believe a careful reading of 767 supports more of what I have contended. It is at Pentecost that the Holy Ghost descends upon a group of cowardly Apostles and empowers them to go forth into the world to preach the Gospel. Certainly it could be argued they had this authority a bit earlier - I won't deny you that, but the Church truly began functioning AS a Church at Pentecost. Would you not agree?

    > TD: Peter's authority is
    > evident before Pentecost as
    > Acts 1:15-26 shows Peter
    > deciding they need a
    > replacement for Judas.

    SW: Well, if you're going on that - then Peter was first to speak out on many occasions. He took a more leadership role quite early on, and perhaps that is why Jesus ultimately selected him to be His Vicar. However, we would not argue (neither of us) that St. Peter was exercising this authority of Matthew 16 prior to Acts 1 (the selection of Judas' replacement) or Acts 2 (Pentecost). I have always heard it express that the Church began at Pentecost. I have a little problem with saying it was at the crucifixion, for His Work was not really done until He rose again, victorious over sin and death - and then He continued to "work" with His Apostles/Disciples for another 40 days before His Ascension - and even after that, they were huddled away in the Upper Room in fear of the Jews and it was on Pentecost that THEY emerged with Christ's Authority through the Holy Ghost and began preaching the Gospel to all nations - and for most of them they paid the price for their boldness in martyrdom (St. John being the only one to die of old age - and he was in exile).

    In JMJ,
    Scott<<<

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  13. Scott,

    I have always heard the Church being born at Pentecost as well and then when discussing it once with a Protestant, this was brought up to me and I’d heard it both ways and actually had to look it up.

    I “think” the reason why the Church is born at Calvary is because two of our sacraments bring us to that one point in history. In Baptism, we are crucified with Him (per Romans 6:4/CCC 1220) and the Eucharist is a re-presentation of His sacrifice on the cross (CCC 1366). So, when we are baptized, we are brought back to the one point in time at Calvary and every week in the Eucharist, we are brought back again to that one point in time to the Cross.

    In real terms, I have always heard that the “birthday” of the Church is Pentecost and agree with you. I do believe, however, the change in covenant from old to new would have happened at Calvary.

    Peace,

    Dennis

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  14. Hi Dennis,
    OK, and I'm not arguing with or against you here - just airing the discussion...

    Consider this - if everything were finished at the Cross - why celebrate Easter? There would be no Resurrection needed, nor Ascension nor Pentecost. Yes, our Sacraments come back to the Cross - but do not end there. In Baptism we rise with Him too! The Eucharist is not merely a remembrance of His Death, but a celebration of His Victory. A lot is missing if we focus on the death part, and Christianity would be such a gloomy religion. But! We celebrate His LIFE, DEATH and RESURRECTION while we anticipate His SECOND COMING (which is the root of our liturgical readings in Advent)!

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  15. Scott,

    No problem and I don't see this as arguing.

    Actually, we focus on all of it. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:2 that he knows nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

    The reason the death is so important is that it's the sacrifice that purifies us. (Ephesians 5:25-26)


    As the Jews offered the firstborn lambs to God (Exodus 13:1, 12-13), God offered His firstborn for man in atonement for sins. Jesus becomes the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

    This sacrifice in atonement for our sins is re-presented at each Eucharist celebration on heaven and earth. (CCC 1370). So the death is important as Paul said (and is repeated in every mass), we "proclaim the death of the Lord Jesus until You come again in glory."

    I don't disagree with anything you wrote. Actually, I am in total agreement but as Catholics, we hold all of it important which is why--as I'm sure you'd agree--Lent always seems so darned long.

    Peace,
    Dennis

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  16. Hey Scott,

    I sadly have to break my one-post self-regulation :(

    I listen to Dr. White's program with some regularity, and I know that he has several times expressed regret that no Roman Catholics are willing to debate him anymore. I don't think that he follows your blog, but you may wish to consider emailing him about that possibility. He is about to start writing a book on Islam, so he may not have time.

    As to your comment, inviting me to become a Catholic isn't a very offensive thing to say.

    Anyway, to the main point. I don't remember saying that you believe the Pharisees have infallible authority, or if I implied it then I was mistaken. But you certainly believe they have a "listen to what they tell you" authority, and you believe that Jesus is telling his followers to listen to what they tell them.

    These Pharisees are going to tell them that Jesus is not the Messiah.

    Thank God the followers of Christ do not listen to what the Pharisees tell them, thank God they do not keep silent as the Pharisees tell them, thank God they have enough discretion and judgement and rational thinking power to discern that a religious authority is only an authority so long as they proclaim the Gospel of Christ, and as soon as they mar that Gospel with their own opinions and traditions and power-grabbing and cover it up and suppress it, then they are an authority to be ignored.

    That's what Peter did, that's what Luther did, that's why Protestants separated from Rome, that's why we like this side of the Tiber just fine.

    As to my interpretation, yes, I believe Jesus is being sarcastic. God is often sarcastic with people, in particular with Job in 38:12-21, or with Jewish apostates to paganism in Jeremiah (ch. 10 is one example). I know everyone likes to throw out "read it in context" like it's a magic wild card that negates all opposition, and I really don't want to do that, but let me just bring up the context:

    Jesus enters Jerusalem in Chapter 21. By this point in Matthew He has rebuked several false teachings of the Pharisees and been challenged by them over eating on the Sabbath, healing on the Sabbath, not washing your hands, not casting off your wives, etc. He states that the chief priests and teachers of the Law are going to crucify Him in 20:18,19 and enters. In Matthew, He goes straight to the Temple and casts out the money changers and is confronted by the Pharisees right there. Next we hear the story of the withered fig tree, that did not bear fruit for Him and so was caused to never bear fruit again. Next the Pharisees question His authority. There's the parable of the two sons, comparing a son who says he will obey and does not and a son who says he will not obey and does, and the Pharisees are clearly linked to the first son. Then the parable of the tenants, accusing the Pharisees of slaying the prophets and foretelling the wrath of God that is upon them for their hard heartedness, and the Pharisees look for a way to arrest Him. Then the parable of the wedding banquet, where the guest who is not wearing wedding clothes is kicked out into the darkness starts of Chapter 22, the rest of which consists of the Pharisees challenging Jesus' authority trying to trap Him to accuse Him, and Jesus returning their accusations and challenging them. The chapter ends in Jesus' challenge about who's Son the Messiah is and He leaves them speechless and they no longer dare to question Him. Then comes the chapter in question, a scathing polemic against them, ending that their house is left to them desolate. You get the parable of a good and foolish servant in Matthew 24, of the ten virgins and the talents and the sheep and goatsin 25 - all parables expressing damnation. Chapter 26 is when the plot to kill Jesus is officially revealed, with all the chief priests and elders (who sit on Moses' seat) gathering in conspiracy, and then carries over to the Lord's Passion.

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  17. I apologize for all the over-posting, and I can't figure out what on earth is going on, so I'm just going to post on my blog. Sorry for the inconvenience. If any of my comments show up as spam, please feel free to delete them.
    http://1corinthians120.blogspot.com/2011/01/response-to-scott-windsor-on-matthew-23.html

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