Crossing the Tiber

Approaching the Water

I was born and raised in a traditional Southern Baptist home. As a young boy my first recollections of church were at First Southern Baptist of Guthrie, OK, where I ultimately accepted Christ and was baptized at the age of nine. From there we moved to Clinton, OK, where we were very active at FSB-Clinton and I was among the ‘Youth Leadership Council’.

My family later moved back to Edmond, OK, in my eighth-grade year, but we did not immediately re-engage in a church. It was not until my college years that my parents rejoined the Community Baptist Church after it had split off from the FSB Guthrie due to internal conflicts. But that was well after I had met Jessica (my bride-to-be), and I was already in deep introspection about faith along with my involvement in Campus Crusade for Christ. Shortly thereafter in the winter of 1998, I learned my paternal grandmother had converted to Catholicism. I was livid.

I remember very vividly attending the Christmas Mass at St. Mary’s in Guthrie at her request, but I did so very begrudgingly because my father had implored us to attend out of respect for my grandmother. I left the mass spewing criticisms and vituperation all the way from the front door to the car. I was so negative and vocal that my father had to call me down for it. Now, mind you, I had never taken the time to actually study Catholic doctrine or to learn specifically what it was my grandmother believed. But we will get to that later.

At some point in the following year I learned that Ambassador Alan Keyes, whom I adored and still do, was devoutly Roman Catholic. It did not shake my honor and respect for him as a moral crusader and guiding light in America, but it left me really questioning things. In the summer of 1999, we moved to Virginia Beach to begin my graduate studies at Regent University. As God would have it, I immediately jumped into the political fray in volunteering for a local campaign. I soon learned while on this campaign that the well-respected elected official was Catholic as well. It was then that the question sparked: “How is it that these awesome men of God and very well-educated conservative stalwarts could belong to the Catholic Church? How could they be so right on everything else, but so wrong on the faith?” This boggled my mind.

But as fate would have it, it did not stop there. The commencement speaker at my graduation from Regent was none other than Father John Richard Neuhaus. I was familiar with him and his brilliant scholarship. And it struck me as odd that Pat Robertson, a strident Evangelical Protestant, would ask an eminent Catholic–and a man of the cloth no less–to speak at my graduation. What a conundrum. My admiration for Neuhaus grew because his leadership in the midst of the moral vacuum of America was well known among us at the School of Government.

What’s more, I had scanned the entire east coast looking for quality Ph.D. programs in Political Theory. Of the dozens of excellent universities along the eastern seaboard, the best program by far was at…The Catholic University of America. So I applied, and to my surprise they accepted me. So here I was, a Southern Baptist Evangelical who was a former staffer for the newly-elected Majority Leader of the Virginia House of Delegates (a Catholic), now running the presidential campaign for a former U.S. Ambassador (a Catholic), while studying political theory at a Catholic University in which I was soon to be mentored by a high-church Anglican (quasi-Catholic), Dr. Claes Ryn, who himself was the apprentice of one of the greatest conservative minds of the 20th century (a Catholic), Russell Kirk.

I marveled at how odd this was. Could all of this have been a mere coincidence? I know I had not consciously sought these things because in most cases I did not know about the Catholicism until after the fact.

Enter my time at Catholic University. It might sound a bit strange that my progress in this journey was as important outside the classroom as it was inside. My study under Dr. Ryn was some of the most challenging I have ever experienced. He challenged me to think on a higher plane than I ever had before. So much so that I am still reflecting on many of those things and coming to new insights as I continue to mature.

But I recall as well very vividly on a regular basis the solemnity and reverence that surrounded that place. It was as if the entire campus was a sanctuary…a sanctuary to Christ. And it was that solemnity and reverence that drove me to wander almost daily over to the Basilica. No matter how often I went there, the sheer majesty of the place struck me each and every time as a holy place consecrated to Christ and to His worship. I found myself often walking toward the altar with a profound sense of conviction that I should be on my knees before that altar of Christ, that I had no business standing on my feet before Him in His house. But I was torn because, after all, Baptists, nay, Protestants (with some very few exceptions) do not traditionally genuflect in the presence of God. This troubled me greatly. Should I submit to what I felt was the Holy Spirit bidding me to submit in worship of Him or should I rely on the traditions of men that I had come to understand through my upbringing?

I recall, too, watching the movie Amistad with great fanfare when it was released in the theaters. It is still one of my most favorite movies. There is a scene in which the young judge (a Catholic) goes to the church on the day before the big court battle, over which he would preside, in order to pray for wisdom and prudence. As he approached the altar alone in the dark, dimly-sunlit sanctuary, he knelt and prayed. I was envious of his humility and piety and genuinely troubled that I had never had an opportunity nor even an expectation by the church to perform such a profoundly simple act of worship and devotion.

But with the tumult of our lives in DC and with the birth of our first daughter, Rebekah, along with our move back home, it was easy to put all of this in the back of my mind. I had no time or patience to delve any further into such matters when getting back on our feet and paying the bills were so pressing.

Wading in the Surf

As our time back in Oklahoma settled down and we got our feet on the ground, I had time to rekindle relationships with old friends. And the group with which I have remained closest are the pals with whom I helped found the first conservative newspaper at the University of Oklahoma. We have been as close as brothers and though we all moved away for school and work, we have all come back home and remained close-knit.

We’re a group that is as much an accountability council as any are. We challenge each other to resist the tide of secular culture; to hold fast to the call that Christ has placed on us; to lead our wives and raise our families to fear God. We are iron forever sharpening iron. It is within this group of men that my intellectual sword is constantly sharpened. We challenge each other never to become idle, to stay on the leading edge of the mandate that is on our lives. And chief among these things is our spiritual lives.

Within this group are men who represent several denominations: Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Baptist. Though we have differences of opinion on non-essentials, we are all unified in the centrality of the Gospel and the truth of the Apostles’ Creed. And among all the deep conversations that we have–on politics and family and economics and politics and faith and marriage and politics and culture and politics–one thing continued to goad me as a thorn in my side. Whenever the conversation turned to doctrine, the Reformation, and church history I always fell silent. I had nothing to contribute because, though I have always had a deep love and understanding of history, I had never delved specifically into the history of Christianity and the development of the Church over the last 2000 years.

This troubled me greatly because my one fear in life is not knowing, not having an answer. But I kept pushing this to the back of my mind. Finally, one night in late 2010, four of us men went on our annual camping trip to Lake Eufaula. This is an iconic manly expedition in which we pitch some cheap tents on the shore of the lake and lounge around a small bonfire drinking various malted libations, eating fish we’ve caught and other fire-roasted meats while talking all things politics, culture and religion. On that night my three comrades launched into a two-hour conversation about the differences between con-substantiation and trans-substantion. I had no clue what they were talking about, so I sat in conspicuous silence. I was ashamed that my knowledge of the doctrine and of its history in the church was dismal. That night I drew a mental line in the sand and committed to myself that, come what may, I would no longer rest in ignorance of the history of my faith. I knew what I had learned in church, but I had no clue about where our faith came from and who had played critical roles throughout history in addition to the Apostles.

So, I began to dive into church history and began reading like a madman…

But I must stop there and roll back a bit. After my father died in 2008, I began writing my book about his legacy and our family’s history of service to our nation. And as I began to lay out the book and conduct research on our family’s history, I discovered (which should not have come as a surprise) going back well over 300 years that our Irish family in America was overwhelmingly Catholic.

But this was true, of course, of all the Irish that came to America and of those over the preceding thousand years. And what I discovered as well was that the Irish Catholics were not just Catholic, they were the culture that saved Europe from the brink of self-destruction in the late first millennium. Through the leadership of St. Patrick, Irish culture led the way in establishing new universities and families and culture that revivified Christianity when the occult threatened, first in France, and then throughout Europe to take over. This deep-seated faith in Christ and close-knit, family-oriented culture was brought to America at a time when it was needed most.

But something struck me as odd. How could these devout Irish Catholics, so many of whom migrated through the South into Georgia, then Louisiana, and finally to Oklahoma end up becoming Baptist and Methodist and Disciples of Christ and Church of Christ and so many other various denominations? So I dug for more information. What I discovered was that the poverty that was so rampant in the South after the Civil War and moving westward, combined with the lack of parishes, forced people to do precisely what we had done after our move from DC…to pay attention only to putting food on the table. So faith winnowed and flagged until it was no more because there was no institution to support it. When finally communities had sprung up in the rural south, including Oklahoma, the later generations had no memory of their family’s faith. So they gravitated to congregational denominations that offered a place — any place — in which to worship.

I learned also of the tragic event in which my great-great grandfather (having emigrated to Louisiana after his father’s death in the Civil War) choked to death on a toothpick. Left with six children and a set of twins on the way, his widow did what any desperate widow would do in rural Louisiana at the turn of the century: remarry immediately. And so she did. Georgiana Farley became Georgiana Cherry and followed her new Protestant husband to Oklahoma. Soon after, my great grandfather and his twin brother were born and with no memory of their Catholic father and heritage, save what little could be passed on from their mother. After coming of age, my great grandfather moved to Edmond to dive into the booming oil patch. And voila, the Farleys have been Protestant Edmondites ever since.

This reality answered another pressing question that had plagued me: why was I Baptist or even Protestant? I did not choose this tradition, rather I practiced it merely because it was all I had known. But confronted with the reality of our family’s history through so many hundreds of years, the Baptist trend was a mere novelty, a new thing. I started to yearn to return back to the things that made our Irish culture what it was. Not just religion, but family, food, education, marriage, child-rearing, everything. As John Quincy Adams’ character is quoted in Amistad, “Who we are is who we were.”

So back to my research into church history…

Swimming Full Stride

The more I dug and read, thousands of pages in fact (more than I had ever read in undergrad and grad school combined), written by titans of the faith (on both sides of the Tiber), I began to discover the real history of the Church of Christ, and it was this truth on which so many of my questions about Catholicism were finally answered. I learned that Christ had charged Peter — the head of the Apostles — with founding his Church on Earth, the visible, unified Body and Bride of Christ. To Peter were given the ‘keys to the kingdom’ and that, aided, encouraged and educated by the Holy Spirit, the ‘gates of Hell would not prevail against it’.

Peter and the Apostles set out quickly in establishing new churches all over the Mediterranean region, Peter founding the church in Rome. Each of them took charge over these churches and the subsequent churches founded by their leaders in those respective regions. I learned that these Apostles has become the first bishops of the churches. When they grew too old and frail to continue their leadership, they handed over their authority to the next generation of bishops, giving them charge to teach and train all that they had learned from the Apostles who had been with Christ and had been taught by the Holy Spirit. Thus began an apostolic succession.

Peter, I discovered, had always been the head of the church, the ‘rock upon which Christ founded his Church’. All bishops looked to Peter for final authority on doctrine and church matters. Thus began the papacy which continued on in Peter’s line of succession. It was this succession of leaders who continued the teaching and authority given directly to the Apostles by Christ that formed the authority charged with finally canonizing the Bible, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, after nearly 400 years. But until that time, the Gospel, the doctrine of Christ, had persisted consistently and authoritatively as an oral tradition. During those four centuries, Christianity was not the written word but rather the Gospel of Christ writ on the hearts of the leaders of the Church and nurtured by the Holy Spirit. I learned further that this authoritative oral tradition both informed the authority of the resulting canon of Scripture and legitimized it. Thus the Tradition of the Church fathers, handed to them by Christ through the disciples, rested alongside the Bible as the basis of all faith…precisely because they both were the word of God writ on the hearts of the leaders and on the pages of the Bibles they translated and trasnscribed. Together they were the Gospel.

This Tradition, both oral and written, remained consistent and unchanged for 1500 years. What I found was that for a millennium and a half, Catholics did not often refer to themselves as Catholics. They were simply Christians. To call oneself Catholic was to state the obvious. ‘Well of course we are’, would have been the response. Save for periodic heresies, there was no other kind of Christian. Then I discovered that the Reformation, haplessly begun by Martin Luther, was as much a political revolution as it was a doctrinal fight. And what resulted from it was as far from what Christ had charged the disciples with as anything could be. He charged them with unity, ‘above all things’, and St. Peter agreed, exhorting that ‘there be no divisions among you’. And yet this new movement under Luther (and later Calvin and others) declared that the individual was the final authority and could decide for himself what the doctrine of Christ was. And so they did, and new churches with new versions of Christianity began springing up all over Germany and then Switzerland and England. And it was on this basis that Henry VIII declared the Church of England to be free and independent of Rome. And the story goes on and on and on into America where the splintering of denominations runs into the tens of thousands, all fighting with each other over this doctrine or that. Is this really what Christ wanted? I knew it surely was not.

So, I had to ask myself the fundamental question. If the Church that Christ charged Peter and the Apostles with founding and growing and spreading, which ultimately became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine, had the authority and wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit to give us the final, canonized Bible and to be sure that the letters and books floating around that were not inspired remained out of the canon, then when did those church leaders lose that authority and inspiration from the Holy Spirit? If the Reformation which resulted in so many feuding denominations had been justified, then I should be able to find a point in history when the leadership of the Church renounced or lost its authority and inspiration from the Holy Spirit. I searched for that point in history. Alas, I could not find it. I asked so many knowledgable Christians where and when it was that this had happened. No one had an answer.

I was in a quandary. How then could the Reformation have been justified? Why was the authority given to Peter and passed down through the ages to the men who canonized the Bible suddenly gone in 1517? There was no credible explanation.

If I could not absolutely trust that Luther was justified and correct in his assertions about Rome, then how could I trust the authority of the denominations who had built their doctrines and traditions on Luther’s words? An interesting aside: I also found ironically that much of what Luther preached was still in agreement with Rome (as were John Calvin’s teachings) and that most of modern day Protestant faiths do not believe what Luther believed. So where did all of this modern Protestantism come from and where did the authority come from for these men to start their own movements with so many various contradictions among them? The Reformation clearly was a disaster for Christianity and for Western culture.

So I had to dig back into what the Fathers of the early church (in the first 100-200 years after Christ) believed. These leaders in many cases had been taught personally by the Apostles or in other cases taught by those who succeeded them. What I found was ground-shaking. They revered Mary and ask her to pray for them, just as they might ask a living Christian. They regarded Peter, and his successors, as their Holy Father, the Pope. They believed in infant baptism, the Eucharist and the real presence of Christ in it, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and that God the Father had created all things through Christ, given His only Son to die for the penalty of our sins, and sent the Holy Spirit to sustain and guide us in all salvation unto the end that we may run the race to the finish.

This was the faith of the earliest Christians…in their own words. So I was perplexed. I had either to conclude that I had been wrong all this time or that the Christianity that began from the very outset under the leadership of the Apostles was wrong, that it was wrong for 1500 years (despite that these men who believed the wrong things somehow maintained enough inspiration to correctly canonize the Bible) until finally some very odd fellows in Germany stumbled onto true Christianity. I have my prideful moments, but not so much to think I know better than 1500 years of brilliant Christian scholars, many of whom are cited and admired by Catholics and Protestants alike (Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Cyprian, et al).

I then turned to modern day leaders. I looked for other imminent Christian leaders who had once been Protestant but converted to Catholicism. What I found was nothing short of amazing. Here is a list of just a few of them. I began to realize that so many of the major Catholic thinkers throughout the last 150 years were converts. This had escaped me before. Even C.S. Lewis, though Anglican at the time due to his birth in Ulster, Ireland, believed almost all of what Catholics believed. So many of the great leaders of the Catholic faith were once members of other denominations and often-times did not become the leaders they were until after they converted.

So, again, I was in a quandary. Should I trust my own judgment or should I give some credence to the authority of so many trusted men and women of God? No one I consulted could offer answers to the fundamental questions I had asked. And all of these questions boiled down to one: by what (or whose) authority did they believe and practice the things they did? Either Christ’s authority given to Peter and the Apostles was final or it wasn’t. If it wasn’t then Christianity was a sham religion. If it is was then that I had to trust in that authority and in the Church that the Apostles built in His name and by His power.

The rest was simply a matter of rediscovering that faith which they labored to protect under threat of torture and death. And it is a beautiful thing. After 13 years of searching in the wilderness – we have finally come home. On November 20, 2011–The Feast of Christ the King–we entered into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

[For a list of many of the resources that aided my journey ‘home to Rome’, click here]



§ 95 Responses to Crossing the Tiber

  • Katie Gordy says:

    Amazing story! Our Faith is SOOOO rich because of Converts – maybe that’s why God allowed the Reformation so that down the road, passionate Protestants would come back home!

  • Deacon Keith Fournier says:

    I would love to republish your wonderful story on Catholic Online. I canoot find your E mail? Also, I would like to have you write for Catholic Online.Deacon Keith Fournier, Editor in Chief

  • In all of your study did you ever consider the question between Catholicism and Orthodoxy? Frank Schaeffer (son of Francis) seems to think it is even closer to the way the early Church worshipped:

  • prep4ok says:

    That’s quite a journey, Brett. Reading about your experiences in Virginia reminded me of others who found something lacking in their walk. A personal crisis such as losing a father can certainly shake one’s view of religion. It did mine in 1985 when i lost my dad. That led me to Christ, through a desire to know my Heavenly Father, and several growth “spurts”, both in spirit and truth by the Holy Spirit. Regent University did little for me spiritually as the churches of the area were lacking. However, a Regent History prof, Dr. Walter Davis, gave an encouragement in class one day that I never appreciated until I was immersed in a kind of socializing influence while being force-fed a synthetic doctrine at a Pentecostal church back here in Oklahoma. Breaking out of that religious bind, by His grace, the Lord eventually drew me to a place in Tulsa where a gifted minister had been putting Dr Davis’ words into practice for some 15 years, training many to engage the Holy Spirit as the minister of their understanding, and demonstrating the power of the love of God. Unlike various denominations and apostate churches, you could see and experience Mark 16:15-20 happening under this ministry. Signs would indeed follow to confirm the Word that was taught and preached. What Jesus told His disciples to expect and do in his final instructions was consistent and genuine, not happenstance. At great personal cost, I was blessed to hear amazing truth and see His power working despite ferocious resistance from the devil and other aspects of this world. Now, it’s not for me to declare that your departure from one authoritarian institution to another is wrong or bad, or even destructive of your soul. As long as you’re truly seeking to know Him in the power of His resurrection, you’ll be OK. I believe that, Brett. And speaking of the reality of RESURRECTION, as you read in St. Paul’s brilliant exposition in Romans 6 let me ask what’s your take on the ‘Christ on a stick” imagery of the Roman church-state? May i ask how you resolve that one? Does it not strike you as a blatant demonic scheme. Does the Vatican archive contain somewhere a record of St. Peter or another apostle carrying this ornament about the streets of Jerusalem, Rome, or Ephesus? If you can read the Scriptures with the benefit of the Holy Spirit’s assistance, then you will find answers that come to you in accordance with the inspired and living Word, not the doctrines of men. What does I John 2:27 tell us, Brett, for this is key to our most essential freedom in which Peter erred and was upbraided by Paul. Time permitting, we might explore some other questions, a prime one being the notion of the Petrine doctrine and its odious impact on humanity. Forgive me if I seem abrasive when I say that an “educated” Christian American should know better, given the brutal history of persecution by the Papists in England, as they sought to deprive us of direct access to the Holy Word of God. Have you never read of William Tyndal and the price he and others paid for the common man to receive the precious Word of God– the Psalms, the Gospels, Creation the Prophets and Revelation– or do you commend the Roman tormentors for hounding, persecuting and murdering them ? What of the Great Awakenings and other revivals here in America? Rome sent its emissaries to stop the gospel from spreading… Perhaps you never read what our founders had to report of these deeply wicked men– what Adams & Lincoln reported. It’s been concealed by the public schools, redacted from conventional history. But growing up under Baptist doctrine taught by seminary grads, it’s no surprise you struggled and found yourself adrift intellectually. Some people do find a kind of resolve for that in Catholic doctrine, along with guidance and order which apparently gives meaning to their lives– and that’s OK…. for awhile. In Ephesians 4:17 we find Paul addressing the futility of attaining truth by intellectual pursuit, even that of classical theologians. Where are their works, the things that Christ Himself said the church would be doing ? A former Southern Baptist named Carpenter also left the dry & parched land of dead faith to discover the reality of a powerful and living flow of spiritual truth where the pure teachings of Jesus are manifested in genuine works. He was led to a ministry of grace and a call as a Teacher, where the calling is validated by gifts of the Spirit– healing, prophecy & supernatural power. Perhaps you would be able to discern the difference. It’s all a question of desire. Indeed, it is a quest to see and do the works of God. I’m glad you found a measure of peace on your journey — a place where you are happy. But i hope you stay hungry, Brett. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

    • Brett Farley says:

      Randy, let me know when you’ve read and then we can discuss these things.

      • rjbarnett says:

        If there’s a particular doctrine in that Protestantism-Reformation booklet that addresses a key issue in your judgment, Brett, please share it. You mentioned several of them in your personal account. But if you’re putting me off, let’s not bother with it. There’s an abundance of writings on the web for reference.

      • Brett Farley says:

        No, Randy, I’m not at all putting you off. This book is the same I’ve recommended to quite a few people among family and friends. And it’s an important book I read during my own journey. But it wouldn’t be reasonable for me to address a particular topic in the book because it is all apropos to our conversation here, so for me to share a particular doctrine relevant to this thread would mean writing a lengthy book review. Which I definitely do not have the time for. But I recommend it as a sort of challenge, as it were, the same challenge laid before me by a very good friend (and former Baptist Minister turned Catholic convert). Randy, you are where I was just a few short years ago: resolute in my conviction that the RC Church was at best apostate. But, despite having earned a Masters in Government and nearing a PhD in Political Theory, I found myself in the first phase of epistemological ignorance, viz. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That is, until someone pointed it out to me. Then I had only to read, reason and realize. So I lay that challenge before you now, assuming you have both the conviction of your own biblical perspective and the courage of an open mind.

      • rjbarnettrj says:

        the essential provision that you were missing as a So Bapt has also been missing from the RC, by design of the enemy, for centuries. St. Paul writes of it by inspiration of the Spirit as his essential source of revelation knowledge. AND while Dr. Davis mentioned it at Regent and i alluded to it in my response to your testimony, yet it floats past you in these exchanges, Brett — It’s been the devil’s theft of the church’s key C4CM (if u get military parlance, recall encryption/ authentication procedures ) — While you’re asking me to discover some theological arguments, both types of Catholics (RC ) and Protestants are still missing the most critical safeguard against heresy that keeps all of us wondering around an intellectual maze. think about it a minute… there’s more to share but I’ll save it for later.

      • Brett Farley says:

        ‘Theft of the key’? We’re being serious, right? So, I’m both wrong now as a Roman Catholic but I was wrong still as a Southern Baptist? So, the conclusion we’re leading to here is that someone stole the ‘keys to the Kingdom’, hid them for 1500 years, then Luther – despite that he agreed largely with Roman doctrine – and his surrogates managed to convey them in a serpentine fashion for another few hundred years until the finally found themselves in their rightful, biblical home in the Presbyterian Church of America? What am I missing?

      • rjbarnett says:

        NOT the “keys to the Kingdom”, Brett– which has been a battleground doctrine among both/all parties , but the KEY to revelation knowledge, the key that empowered and inspired Paul to pen some 2/3 of the New Testament.! Where does that kind of revelation come from ? Our headstrong fisherman, a saint & chief apostle nevertheless, wrote only two books– TWO (2) ! That’s no more prolific than Luke…. How many did Paul write… some 12 or more ? Was that a fluke, a sovereign act of God– what’s the reason? Paul tells us directly. SO back to this military analogy,,,, we are contending for the faith, iron sharpening iron .. Don’t we need the same weapons as the early saints? Once again, what is the essence of C3CM (or C4CM– in terms of modern warfare ) ? God responded to something that Paul was doing by the Spirit — What’s missing in all of this discourse over doctrine, history and so forth ? ( I’m not playing games here! ) It’s something that the seminaries in both camps have discounted and minimized, Brett– much to the devil’s delight. (you’ll get it soon, unless you’re overcome by cognitive dissonance)

  • You said, “This Tradition, both oral and written, remained consistent and unchanged for 1500 years.” “Save for periodic heresies, there was no other kind of Christian.” “Christ charged them with unity, ‘above all things’, and St. Peter agreed, exhorting that ‘there be no divisions among you’.”

    How do you process the Orthodox church in this context?

    You also said, “So I had to dig back into what the Fathers of the early church (in the first 100-200 years after Christ) believed.”

    Frank’s point is that, at least concerning the liturgy, this has only been transmitted through the Orthodox church while the Catholic church has changed. How do you respond to that?

  • Brett Farley says:

    Charlie, I’ll defer to Jimmy Akin on this one, who’s a recognized expert on the writings of the Fathers.

    • Okay, defer to Jimmy. What does he say about Orthodoxy in reference to what you say? If you haven’t looked into Orthodoxy that’s fine. I’m just saying that, given what you were looking for, you might have found the genuine article in the Orthodox church. There might be a reason why the Church fractured specifically from the Catholic flavor. If you don’t know why the changes in the Catholic church made them superior to the Orthodox, your search may not quite be over.

      • rjbarnett says:

        Which Is the prime “fracture” to consider, fellas? The much vaunted departure of “Protestantism” under Luther, et al, OR should it be the apostate move to establish the first Roman pontiff and make the faith into a state -imposed religion with all the trappings of wealth and power? just asking friends, if you’re even focused on the true and fundamental break from the elementary teachings of Christ and His apostles?.

      • Brett Farley says:

        Charley, per your previous questions re: Frank Schaefer, I must say with all honesty that I’ve more or less written him off as a legitimate and respectable source of credulity. That he has and continues to lambaste Evangelical Protestants with the sort of vitriol that he does and that he represents some of the historical disparity between the Eastern and Western traditions with such glaring omissions and misrepresentation really gives me no choice but to disregard anything he says. I surely have many doctrinal disagreements with my former Protestant fellows, but I will never stoop so low – and with lack of Christ-like charity – to call them insane. A great many of those fellows constitute the bulk of Southern, conservative (small ‘c’) culture which stands as a bulwark against the wayward tide of what’s left of the Western tradition. To the question of this ‘flavor’ or ‘liturgy’ versus that, it really begs the more important question. Because matters of paramount import like this do a disservice to us if we fail to ask the central question: by what authority? In other words, which among the two has the more legitimate claim to authority and why? The Great Schism of 1054 wasn’t a singular event, and there are many issues that muddy the water. But ultimately the same case must be demonstrated by the Orthodox as by the Protestant: was there a legitimate claim upon which to break from the authority of the Roman Church? If that legitimate claim cannot be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt and with forensic/historic evidence, then it is a moot question.

      • Brett, I’m less inclined to consider Frank Schaeffer because of his personality than I am his arguments. Although you discount him for what he said about the Catholic Augustinianism’s belief in the separation of the soul and the body, I couldn’t help but notice that Aquinas also seems to separate the intellect from the body. Frank may have been more right than you want to give him credit, although I’m still foggy on whether Aquinas is a dualist or a monist.

        Still, factual arguments are factual arguments that must be considered whether they bare the face of Frank or not. The Orthodox church does indeed exist and is the elephant in the room that you shouldn’t help but acknowledge.

        The Authority of the Roman church? Such authority was not given by Christ nor recognized by the Church historically as the only monarch of Christianity was Christ alone. Tradition recognized the Pentarchy of the five Patriarchal sees as bearing equal authority. History bears out that there was no ruler of the Church other than Christ.

        Orthodoxy didn’t leave the Church. Catholicism was the one to act in leaving the Church. In 1054, the Papal legate traveled to Constantinople for purposes that included refusing to Cerularius the title of “Ecumenical Patriarch” and insisting that he recognize Rome’s claim to be the head and mother of the churches. On the refusal of Cerularius to accept the demand, the leader of the legation, Cardinal Humbert, excommunicated him. So you see, it was Catholicism that acted to divide themselves from the Church.

      • Randy, this is an excellent question. We could take it a step further, like my oldest brother does, and consider only doctrine that is Hebrew in tradition and weed anything with a Greek influence out of the Church as pagan corruption. The big question that arises is whether God failed to protect His true Church shortly after it was born and has been lost until modern times. If you’re willing to go down that road then perhaps we should all be Messianic Jewish.

  • rjbarnett says:

    Brett, your take on Frank Schaefer, discounting his credibility serves us all well. BIG kudos, as they say. Let’s find the real target now and avoid diversions, such as the Great Schism of 1054 which is almost a non-event in comparison to the original break from the early church, while it was still under persecution by the Roman imperial state. What was the truly significant event in that day? A paradigm shift from opposition/persecution to acceptance/comfort. Just agree to a few small tokens of syncretism. Let us keep our Babylonian idolatry & heritage and you Christians can avoid needless pain and suffering. What a deal! Those doctrines infiltrated the church while the message of transformation by the Spirit was replaced by rituals and and worse. Is this so difficult to appreciate?

  • Brett Farley says:

    Well, yes, this is difficult to appreciate. I really don’t know where to begin to address this because it does not reflect anything borne out by history or Scripture. But, I’ll humor the point for the sake of discussion. Please enlighten me on the alleged ‘original break’ event and on the ‘key to revelation knowledge’. But as you proceed, please bear some thought in mind as to how one juxtaposes the ‘break’ with the reality that somehow a bunch of wayward Catholic bishops managed to stumble into conclave and canonize the New Testament to which Christians the world around ascribe authority, and equally that one of those bishops presiding, St. Augustine, is taught with great fanfare in Protestant seminaries all over the world, and finally that most of these same seminaries prescribe Thomistic theology despite his thoroughgoing monkish Catholicism. Are we talking about a blind squirrels here or selective historical revision?

  • rjbarnett says:

    Sorry for delay– have some quotes and work remaining. Let me send by e-mail a short letter– a modern “epistle” that explains some detail far better than i can do in this space of time. Dr. Davis wasn’t speaking of revisionism, questioning the canon, etc. when he tossed out this nugget. It’s not Revisionist, Brett . This is MAINLINE Biblical fact with a complete record of credibility that is refuted by NEITHER side. There’s major clue in the book of Jude which deals with heresies, false teachers, and the like. Oh, how the devil hates this! Recall how short a book Jude is– one (1) chapter. Therein lies your clue, most explicitly stated in loving truth, my friend. And by the way, i admire your in-depth knowledge of church history, Brett. I hope this takes it to a higher level for you.

  • rjbarnett says:

    How could we believe that God “failed to protect the true church” , when He says clearly (in Peter’s epistle) that he has provided everything we need pertaining to life and godliness in Christ Jesus? The true church has kept the faith with the divine assistance of the Holy Spirit…. but wherever the “authorities”, the clerics and learned “Pharisees” have added to the Scriptures, supplanting the Holy Spirit, there you will find the devil doing his worst to discredit the church. Just look at the fruit of the false doctrine of celibacy. Surely, i don’t have to dredge up all the stats on nunneries, vast graveyards of aborted babies’ skeletal remains and the plague of pedophiles and gender-confused people that have mainline churches and even the latest Pope defending sodomites within their ranks. These poor souls deliver lots of dough, bro!

  • One Church, yes. But which church? Catholicism broke with Orthodoxy. The term Pentarchy was a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of universal rule over all of Christendom by the heads (or Patriarchs) of the five major episcopal sees of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The idea of the pentarchy was first tangibly expressed in the laws of Emperor Justinian I (527–565), particularly in Novella 131. The Quinisext Council of 692 gave it formal recognition and ranked the sees in order of preeminence. If the early Church had been organized under the rule of the Pope this idea would never have been the common understanding of the Church at that time. History gave no recognition to the rulership of the Pope. Catholics, however, saw the Pope as holding an office senior to that of other bishops, rather than merely being the most senior bishop. This jurisdictional claim was one of the main causes of the East-West Schism in the Church, which became formal in 1054. It was Rome that broke from the Church and not the Orthodox that broke with Rome.

    The doctrine of papal primacy is just absent in the first centuries. The idea developed over time. In fact, the figure of the bishop as leader of the local church seems to have appeared later than in the time of the apostles.

  • Brett Farley says:

    Charley, bear with me since I need to reply here to several comments from a couple venues.

    First, the offices of bishop, deacon, priest, etc didn’t develop until after the apostles, obviously, because quite a bit of ecclesial matters didn’t develop for decades and centuries. Let’s not forget that, after 70AD and running up to Constantine, the Church was under extreme persecution. So any fluid development in organization and communication would have been VERY difficult, notwithstanding the limited technology as well. Finally, biblical canon required an entire 400 years to be codified, well beyond the Apostles. But I’ve not read anyone proposing to question their authority (with the exception of Martin Luther and his fellow travelers).

    Second, to assert that Rome left the Orthodox is not only historical revision, it’s also highly illogical. You should familiarize yourself with the phrase “Roma locuta est; Causa finita est”. It is a most clear explication by St. Augustine in the 4th century communicating a doctrine that was already well engrained in the Church’s memory long before then. But specific to your point, here’s a good reference for the Catholic perspective on papal primacy:

    As to your assertion that Rome broke from the Orthodox, to excommunicate a person, one must first have the authority to do so. Therefore, to exercise said authority is by definition the act of removing an offending member from the main body, not the other way around. Further, to assert that Rome broke from the Orthodox, one must demonstrate convincingly that the Orthodox churches (notice the plural) represented a reigning authority from which to break in the first place. Not only does history not even remotely bear this out, but it contradicts your assertion of a non-monarchical structure of the Church. Not to mention that St. Paul (despite sending Timothy to do much important work in the East) continued to return to Rome, where he was ultimately martyred.

    Last, I’m entertained continually by my Protestant brethren (for, I once was among them) in the presumptive argumentation that pretends that the starting point for Rome’s tradition is some time after the Pentecost. But nothing further could be from the truth. I think all of us can join together in agreement that in God’s divine economy, the totality of His creative story begins at Eden. And proceeding thence, the story is almost exclusively about His interplaying with and among His chosen people via a patriarchial-monarchical regime (Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc). And in point of fact, even in the Davidic kingdom (which serves as a type and template for the Kingdom of Christ), authority was vested in the King, his Prime Minister and in the Queen Mother. On the contrary, the notion of local church rule can be found pretty much nowhere in the entirety of church history…until some point soon after 1517. So to argue against Roman Catholic ecclesial structure and authority really is to turn all the divine economy on its head.

    • You said, “Christ charged them with unity, ‘above all things’, and St. Peter agreed, exhorting that ‘there be no divisions among you’.”

      When Rome excommunicated Cerularius did it excommunicate a single individual or an entire patriarchy? History bears record that it was the patriarchy. Did Rome relinquish its charge by Christ to unity? Apparently so. In assuming it was the Church alone and dismissing all other patriarchies it divorced itself from the Church. The movement was by Rome and the action was to separate it from the Church. Rome created the division and is the mother of the division of Protestantism.

      The Bible makes clear that Christ is the king of the Church and the sole ruler of the Kingdom of God. The divine economy is preserved. This is why there was no tradition of a single leader of the Church besides Christ.

      • Brett Farley says:

        Charley, that doesn’t make any sense. That’s more circular reasoning. Essentially you are arguing that Rome assumed its authority, but since such an assumption was wrong, then it must have divorced itself. I don’t know how one gets more circular than that. What’s more, the Apostles were charged with unity, yes, but they were also warned of and charged with rooting out heresy, which they did a great deal of in the early centuries. And without said rooting, Christendom would have been utterly destroyed before the Bible ever made it to canonization.

      • How is it heretical to reject a head of the Church who is clearly other than Christ alone? As I said before, the very proclaimation of a pentarchy by Emperor Justinian I (527–565) and its recognition by the Holy Spirit through the Quinisext Council of 692 precludes the idea that the Church recognized a temporal head or ruler of the Church other than Christ.

    • I read the article Brett. All I can say is that it looks very much like Papal pride cost the Church its unity.

      One way to determine whether Rome left the Church or if it was the Orthodox is to look at the historical liturgy which Frank brings up. The Catholic liturgy has changed over time to where there is now a plurality of diversity from left-wing Marxist Maryknoll nuns to the pre-Vatican II Tridentine mass. Catholicism is just as fragmented when it comes to worship as Protestantism.

      However, the Orthodox Church, whether Greek or Antiochian or Coptic or Oriental, follow a liturgy that is the same as that written of by the Church historian Eusebius or Ignatius or James the brother of Jesus, the first bishop of Jerusalem or saint John Chrysostom or saint Basil the Great. This is an objective way to look for the true Church.

      • Brett Farley says:

        That’s unfortunate, Charley. Once mustn’t read his biases into the voice of any opposing authority lest the clarity of his open mind be clouded. Rather, take a ‘just the facts, ma’am’ approach. Once again, I don’t place any stock in Frank’s comments. Mainly because he is both uncharitable but also obviously bereft of a fair and comprehensive understanding of Church history.

        There’s a really, REALLY big difference between liturgy and doctrine. Which is also why my critique of Protestantism centers on doctrine, not style of worship. The East and West split over doctrine, not liturgy (specifically the filioque). That the Orthodox have a consistent liturgy is due to a consistency in culture (which was present long before 1054, I might add), and it is precisely this that gives rise to multiple liturgies. Liturgy is simply a cultural-geographic expression of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. And I can offer you some testimony from Orthodox clergy to back that up. I would advise against looking to Frank because he’s entirely unqualified.

        Look at it like the multiple ethnicities across the earth. There is ONE human race expressed in a multiplicity of ethnic characteristics. But all of them are equally valued as part of humanity, and all of them share the same complex physiology and a very common DNA.

      • Well, as I am actually quite ignorant of what Catholic or Orthodox Christianity actually are from an inside perspective I have to rely on what others say about them. I thought Frank, as much of a jerk as he is, actually made some good points that I hadn’t been exposed to before. I was using him to prod you to see how you would respond to such arguments.

        What good did it do with Rome being the head of the Church? All it seemed to do was to split the Church in two. If there had been doctrinal differences they should have called an ecumenical council and have the Holy Spirit settle it. Instead it appears that Rome pulled rank and caused division. If division is the issue with Protestantism, why is it not an issue here?

      • By the way, your argument about different cultures creating different liturgies seems equally applicable to the differences expressed in Protestantism. If the Church was meant to have only a single doctrine the Catholic church should have stuck with the system that was already in place and recognized the authority of the ecumenical councils, led by the power of the Holy Spirit, to determine doctrine. Notice, the councils were not determined by the proclamations of a single Pope but were a group effort. However, Rome balked when they didn’t get their way in the Quinisext Council of 692.

  • rjbarnett says:

    Asking about the church “historical” vs the church “invisible” might be misleading, Charley. The church is both historical and invisible.

  • rjbarnett says:

    OK, i’d like to pass up the blind squirrel remark and disregard the revisionism for now as well. We might take a break, if possible, from the polemics. Many times i have erred in my zeal to be right. I feel the danger of pursuing truth by debating among traditions is that we place ourselves at the mercy of various sets of facts, with a predisposition to be believe one or the other based on preconceived views and other human factors. If there’s a remedy to problem, it would have to be a genuine desire to know Christ and pursue and become more like Him daily — not because we get brownie points or merit badges, but because we can better serve Him. And even better, that we might know and receive His love as that of the Father. For me, this is truly the way of peace.

  • rjbarnett says:

    The “key to revelation knowledge” — it begins with the assurances given by the Lord Jesus to the disciples before His crucifixion. Looking at John chapters 14 and 16 we receive the introduction to the source.
    Our Helper, the Spirit of truth of whom He says in John 14:16_ “I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever– ”

    Here we get the first of a progressive revelation concerning the person of the Holy Spirit. (At this point you might ask, was this promise to the apostles only or to ALL Believers in Christ? )

    14:17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. ”
    (This answers the question– HE is the One whom the world can’t receive. )

    Then a little more is given in John 16:12 “I have yet many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now.
    16:13 However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.
    16:14 He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you.

    Can we agree that the Holy Spirit is given to us for our instruction to speak and declare things to come ? If so, how does this happen ?

    From here, we go to Mark 16 where Jesus begins to reveal the key: Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation.
    16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned.
    16:17 These signs will accompany those who believe:
    in my name they will cast out demons;
    they will speak with new languages;
    16:18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will in no way hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

    Did anything in this passage catch your attention, in particular the words of John 16:13 ? The completion of this progressive revelation will be revealed as they obey instructions to go and wait In Jerusalem but not proven until the Apostle Paul actually demonstrates the power of this promise, and testifies of it to the Corinthians. (please allow me to share that in the a.m. )

    • Brett Farley says:

      The flawed assumption here is that Christ was speaking to the Apostles on behalf of all of Christendom. In point of fact He was not. If one were to go about setting up a visible, organized hierarchy of authority, discipline and with marching orders, how would he go about it? Well, first he’d designate a leader among the lieutenants. Then he’d give specific instructions, authority and mandates to that leader. Then he’d give general marching orders to the whole group. And with that perspective, Christ’s Great Commission makes perfect sense. The role of the Holy Spirit was specifically to guide the Apostles in all truth as they went out baptizing and making disciples…and then leading the established churches as their respective bishops. And in reading the early history of the Church – both the Fathers’ writings and those of secular historians – this is precisely what happened.

  • rjbarnett says:

    Earlier, it appears that you’ve placed me somewhere in the Presbyterian camp. Not sure why, but it might help to share a few things that came along around 1997-99 to free me from denominational “organized” religion influenced by traditions of men. From Methodism and Episcopalian to a genuine salvation experience, I was eventually baptized in the Spirit to gain some appreciation of Charismatic & Pentecostal teachings. But that would not be sufficient, because no church — Catholic, Orthodox, mainline or Pentecostal was offering the key discipline(s) for real transformation. In 1997 I came to a special place in Tulsa, the oil capital of the world. That’s a hint of things to come … ( look for a letter to present the way that allowed Paul to accomplish amazing things in the Lord Jesus Christ)

    • I grew up Pentecostal and in the Word of Faith movement. I still consider myself spirit filled. I’m actually not Orthodox, although my wife grew up Orthodox. However, I found Frank’s argument against Protestantism to be compelling. It’s not that I accept it, I just find it to be a compelling argument. So when I discovered my old college buddy had converted to Catholicism I wanted to dig into why it would be any more the true Church than Orthodoxy. Call me a devil’s advocate if you will.

      One of the issues that’s brought up with being a Protestant or being led by the Spirit into all truth is that one person’s spirit will interpret the Bible one way while another’s will interpret it another way. And this is why we have so many denominations.

      So the question is, is there an objective way to determine the correct “voice” of the Spirit and therefore the correct interpretation of scripture, or should we rely on the “Church” to interpret scripture for us so that it doesn’t go all over the place the way it has in Protestantism? Of course, the question then becomes, “which church do we trust to interpret the Bible for us?”

      • Brett Farley says:

        Charley, you hit the nail on the head (or at least one of the nails). This is the crux of the matter discussed by Mark Shea in ‘By What Authority’ which I highly encourage you to read. There’s really no way to answer this question without reading that book.

      • rjbarnett says:

        Charley, you were asking “So the question is, is there an objective way to determine the correct “voice” of the Spirit and therefore the correct interpretation of scripture, or should we rely on the “Church” to interpret scripture for us so that it doesn’t go all over the place the way it has in Protestantism? Of course, the question then becomes, “which church do we trust to interpret the Bible for us?” HERE is a question that trips people up, all the time it seems …. It gets closer to the real need, a prime ISSUE that faces every Believer regardless of his POSITION or TITLE, in a church or other institution be it military, government, corporation or university. In my view, it leads us closer to the most essential question — which is not WHO but HOW. What do you think, Brett… is it a matter of WHO wears the mantle of authority or HOW a man is hearing from the LIVING GOD ?

    • Brett Farley says:

      My apologies, Randy. Somewhere I misconstrued you to be Presbyterian, but this new revelation makes all the more sense.

  • rjbarnett says:

    You raised some insightful questions, Charley — the notion of objectivity is elusive but the Holy Spirit provides a way to winnow it down for those willing to subject their own spirit (inner man) to His guidance through prayer, as Paul and Jude write (Romans 8, Ist Corinthians 14, Jude 19-20.. (See John 16:13.. He will disclose to you ..) The DEMANDS of the soul may often confuse us as we seek “the true church” by the claims of historical records. Those who find comfort and assurance in a strong, authoritative & structured organization may place that personal need above other needs. In the same way, others may be led toward FREEDOM. Only the Spirit can inform our spirit , which in turn directs and transforms the soul, if we subject our hearts to Him in prayer, worship, fasting, meditation of the Word, etc.. What i learned in 1998-99 about transformation of the soul must become our highest priority in order to fulfill the high calling of God. Paul makes this so clear to me. (See Romans 8: 25-26 ) SO, How is it that the seminaries of all denominations have minimized this pursuit , taking away the key of revelation knowledge, this process of transformation ? DO most people want structure and order above personal accountability to the Spirit by the Living (Rhema) Word ? THAT is where the real battle arises… it seems to me. That’s why, regardless of our chosen denomination, or my personality flaws or strongholds, my temperament, etc. the devil is able to manipulate us with his schemes or wiles (2 Corinthians 10 ) through the world and our carnal desires. We must each pursue the inward life — learning of the anointing (John 2:27), which was evidenced in the lives of many saints (Catholic and “Protestant” alike) as they mortified their flesh through the disciplines of the Spirit. Isn’t that the way to rise above the divisions — as Paul wrote — to pursue love (as Corinthians 13 and14 offer the keys to this inward working of the Spirit) ? . And what KEYS was Jesus speaking of when He said to Peter, as that most outspoken one of HIs disciples ? let’s visit that one soon as well — grace & peace, brothers

  • Brett Farley says:

    Gentlemen, it’s a bit daunting for me to follow two guys with multiple threads of conversation. Perhaps we should invoke Mr. Roberts and his Rules for the sake of sanity. Nevertheless, I’ll attempt some intra-comment replies to the most relevant comments above.

  • rjbarnett says:

    Brett, did you intend to say the Holy Spirit was given primarily or only to those in the hierarchy or formal positions of authority for specific organizational purposes? please clarify

  • From

    “440-461 — Pope Leo I. Many historians suggest that Pope Leo is the first to claim universal jurisdiction over the worldwide Church, thus initiating the rise of the papacy, a uniquely Roman Catholic structure.”

    Let me just say it didn’t hurt that Rome was the center of the empire at that time and so it seemed natural that the most influential political center would be the most respected patriarchate. It wasn’t ordained by Jesus and wasn’t the tradition from the founding of the first church in Rome.

    However, the center of political authority shifted to Constantinople and when the Western Roman empire fell in the Fifth Century the most logical center of the Church could only be in Constantinople.

    From Wikipedia:

    “The Council of Chalcedon in 451 established Constantinople as a patriarchate with ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Asia Minor (the dioceses of Asiane and Pontus) and Thrace as well as over the barbaric territories, non-converted lands outside the defined area of the Western Patriarchate (Old Rome) and the other three patriarchates, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, gave it appellate jurisdiction extraterritorially over canon law decisions by the other patriarchs and granted it honours equal to those belonging to the first Christian see, Rome, in terms of primacy, Rome retaining however its seniority (canon xxviii). Leo I refused to accept this canon, basing himself on the fact that it was made in the absence of his legates. In the 6th century, the official title became that of “Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch.”

    At that time the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, was declared primus inter pares (first among equals). The title basically traveled with the center of political authority. However, the tradition had remained that the bishops were coequal. There was never meant to be one bishop of the Church who would rule them all, rather, this was a primacy of honor only.

  • Brett Farley says:

    Gentlemen, sorry for the delay; I’ve been terribly busy. Allow me to address the above replies in a Thomistic format here for convenience and pith.

    1. Charley, that the Church split can just as easily (and I believe more correctly) be blamed on the Orthodox. Division IS the issue, but, as you’ve identified correctly, who split from whom? The question you should be asking, Charley, is in whom and when was the authority FIRST established? If not in Peter, then whom? If not in an individual and a hierarchical structure, then neither the Orthodox nor Rome has a claim to authority and each individual is the final arbiter of truth (see ‘autopapism’).

    2. Charley, you’re missing the point entirely on doctrine and liturgy. There’s a difference between liturgy and doctrine. The schisms between Rome and the Orthodox and between Rome and Protestantism, respectively, are over doctrinal matters. Differences in liturgy are historical-cultural, which, again, is why you find very distinct liturgical expressions WITHIN the Roman Catholic Church (see Marionites, Coptics, Byzantine, etc). See here for a chart:

    3. Randy, the problem with asking HOW is that it still leaves the individual in the position of determining whether the Holy Spirit has given them specific revelatory authority. Moreover, if you claim, for instance, that the Holy Spirit told you XYZ, how can anyone rightly deny that without calling you a liar? But then what do we do with the two people who both insist that the Holy Spirit has told them something, each of which happens to contradict the other? Clearly in such a situation one of them is wrong, but how do we determine which? Once again, we arrive at the question: “By what authority?”

    4. Randy, the Holy Sprit was given expressly to the Apostles at Pentecost (while they were celebrating Mass, I might add) but not exclusively. You will find all throughout the annals of Catholic tradition the various dispensations of private revelation to individuals in history (e.g. St. Thomas). Which conveniently points back to the previously question. How do we know these instances occurred? Because legitimate Catholic authority has demonstrated as much.

    5. Charley, Wikipedia is not often a legitimate source; it’s a crowdsourced encycloblog that has been demonstrated to be rife with errors. Again I’ll refer you to St. Augustine’s “Roma locuta, cause finita est” in the 5th century. Augustine was neither from the east or the west. That he could appeal to such a policy shows that there was an existing understanding of Roman authority long before then. Akin’s “The Fathers Know Best” demonstrates this convincingly.

    6. Finally, gentlemen, neither of you has responded to my challenge to read the Rose book. I implore you both, again, as logical men with capacity for deep-seated reasoning, to respond to that challenge…if only to sharpen your own apologetical position for your beliefs.

    • charleysanders2013 says:

      You’ve challenged me to read the Rose book as well as Jimmy Akin’s book as well as Thomas Aquinas in 50 pages.

      I challenged you to watch and comment on 10 minutes of Frank Schaeffer to hear his argument for the Orthodox church being the way the early Church worshipped. Did you watch it before I felt compelled to transcribe his argument to get your response?

      I also challenged you to watch about an hours worth of video on quantum mechanics implications for a holographic material universe. Were you ever able to make time for this?

    • charleysanders2013 says:

      1. Let’s let the Bible speak for itself. This is from Christ just before He ascended to heaven. Matthew 28:18-20, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

      Christ has complete authority both in heaven and on earth. He is still with us in authority over His Church to this day. If you suggest authority was given to Peter, then why don’t you recognize his authority in Antioch where he started the first gentile church and anointed his successor there before going to Rome to start a secondary church? If authority was given to a person it was not given to a place. What do you make of Peter’s successor in Antioch? Was that just a mistake? Did Peter call a “do over”? How is it that Peter’s fallibility didn’t transfer over to the infallible popes of Rome?

      2. Of course there’s a difference between doctrine and liturgy. Doctrine was established by infallible Ecumenical councils and not by the proclamations of a single bishop. Why did Rome leave this tradition and insist on its own infallibility apart from council with the Orthodox? All I’m saying about liturgy is that it can be used as a litmus test to recognize the rudiments of the true Church. I looked at the chart you provided. Although these mark distinctions within Orthodoxy (and by the way, each branch remains in communion with one another) I don’t believe they mark distinctions between the liturgy. According to Frank, he first experienced the liturgy in an Antiochian Orthodox church and was surprised that it was exactly the same as the liturgy in the Greek Orthodox church in his hometown. I believe the liturgy remains the same in the Coptic Orthodox church as well. And by the way, these are the same liturgies that were written about by the Church historian Eusebius or Ignatius or James the brother of Jesus, the first bishop of Jerusalem or saint John Chrysostom or saint Basil the Great. Do you have evidence that they are not?

      5. You’re right, Wikipedia is not infallible. Do you have evidence of where the information goes wrong or would you just feel more comfortable if I reference the original sources they cite in their reference section?

      • Brett Farley says:

        1. Yes, indeed, let’s let the Bible speak for itself. And in doing so, let’s see what Jesus said in Matthew 16:19, which is the relevant passage here. Now, you and I both know that the Bible cannot speak for itself; rather, men interpret what they think the Bible is saying. This is the reason we have 40,000 Christian denominations. All the more reason we needed an authoritative hierarchy that carried with it the Holy Spirit and therefore Apostolic Authority. Which is why, of course, that Christ commissioned the Apostles to “teach all that I have commanded” not “go, therefore, and setup Bible studies”. Further, Paul shares with Timothy precisely the same commission, viz. go and teach “…what you have heard from me” and to “stand fast to the traditions”.

        Yes, Christ has complete authority, but to suggest that He would be exercising it in-person, of course, negates the entire point of His having sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost.

        Concerning Antioch, there’s quite a bit of difference between setting up a church and handing the authority over to a subordinate and setting up another church and presiding over it oneself. This is, after all, precisely what happened. And remember, Peter wasn’t martyred in Antioch; he was martyred in Rome where he had remained and presided over the church there.

        2. You misunderstand the doctrine of infallibility. Until you understand that, this portion of the thread is moot.

        On liturgy, you’re entirely wrong that the chart does not mark distinctions between the rites. One quick visit to any Mass at one of the smaller rites in OKC will demonstrate that. The difference in culture, and therefore the resultant liturgical expression in each, is precisely what gives rise to the various rites. What you’re arguing here is akin to going to a donut shop and saying that there are not distinctions between the various pastries on the shelf. Hogwash. Of course there are. They are all donuts, yes; but each has a different name and a different flavor…all under one roof. And once again, you really REALLY need to stop listening to (and referring to) what Frank says. It’s not just that he’s rude. He’s fundamentally wrong on so many patently obvious things. Find another source.

        5. Original sources would be nice. And then I’ll cite Jimmy Akin.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        Matthew 16:19 is not the relevant passage. Jesus didn’t say that he was making Peter the head of the Church. The Bible clearly indicates that Jesus himself is the head of the Church. The Church itself is a headless body without Christ.

        Who said the Church didn’t establish a mechanism called the Holy Spirit led Ecumenical Council to establish authority to resolve doctrinal interpretation? It was established Church tradition that the Holy Spirit would lead the councils, not a single man who represented Christ on this earth. Why did Rome try to usurp authority from the councils?

        Regarding the special place of Rome in the Church, let’s look at this rationally. Rome was not chosen because Peter died there. You know as well as I that scripture was used after the fact to try to justify their claims of authority. Rome was “primus inter pares” solely because Rome was the center of political influence at that time. Once it fell from political significance in the empire that term was transferred to the Bishop of Constantinople. Speaking of authority, it was the emperor who held political authority in the empire and it was the emperor’s Patriarchate that held significant influence in the Church.

        It wasn’t the misunderstanding in 1054 that split the Church. In fact, they remained on relatively good terms after that. It wasn’t until Constantinople fell in 1453 that the lines were severed by Muslims. This is the same thing that happened in the Syriac Church once they were conquered by Zoroastrians. They had to break ties with the rest of Christendom to avoid the appearance of being foreign sympathizers.

        While the church at Rome claimed a special authority over the other churches, the extant documents of that era yield “no clear-cut claims to, or recognition, of papal primacy.” (1,2) I think Wikipedia sums it best, “For the cognitive bias sometimes known as the “primus inter pares” effect, see illusory superiority.”

        1. Kling, David W. (20 April 2005). The Bible in History:How the Texts Have Shaped the Times. Oxford University Press. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-19-988096-6

        2. “Roman Presidency and Christian Unity in our Time”.

      • Brett Farley says:

        Let’s ask a simple question. Do you read and abide by the New Testament which we find in every Bible, both Protestant and Catholic?

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        If you’re asking whether I believe the Bible’s the inerrant written Word of God then I’d hope you knew me better than that. If your question is related to authority then come out with it. I generally have felt that you’re the one who doesn’t like having scripture quoted to him.

    • charleysanders2013 says:

      I missed this the first time because I was distracted by Wikipedia. On St. Augustine’s “Roma locuta, cause finita est”, This comes from:

      This statement is said to come from Augustine’s Sermon 131 delivered on September 23, 416,. First, these words don’t appear in any of Augustine’s works, he simply didn’t say these words…at least all of them. He did say “causa finita est” in Sermo 131:10. Second, these words have nothing to do with Rome’s interpretation of the Bible.

      Ironically, these words are usually employed by Catholic apologists to demonstrate that Augustine believed Rome’s declarations were the final word in doctrinal issues, but Augustine said these words in a context which directly contradicts these apologist’s use of them.

      Augustine and the bishops of Carthage excommunicated Pelagius and his chief follower Caelestius at a Synod. Pope Innocent I agreed with this decision and officially supported it. Innocent’s successor Zosimus, deceived by ambiguous confessions of faith, reversed Innocent’s decisions and demanded Augustine and the Carthiginian bishops assent to this reversal. Augustine and the Carthignian’s responded with another Synod of about 200 bishops who disregarded Innocent’s reversal and condemned Pelagius. After further inquiry, Zosimus reversed this reversal and backed the Carthiginian’s decision. After all of this back and forth Augustine said the following:

      Sermon 131 from Migne, PL 38:734:

      “Jam enim de hac causa duo concilia missa sunt ad sedem apostolicam; inde etiam rescripta venerunt; causa finita est: Utinam aliquando finiatur error.”

      Translation =

      “for already on this matter two councils have sent to the Apostolic See, whence also rescripts (reports) have come. The cause is finished, would that the error may terminate likewise.”

      • Brett Farley says:

        Although some of the terms therein have a slight slant, this is more or less an accurate historical portrayal. But it makes our point all the more. That Augustine and the Councils responded to and appealed to Rome for authority is that very point. If they hadn’t then the actions of Popes Innocent and Zosimus would have been moot and entirely ignored as no more than an opinion of one of many bishops. Obviously that is not the case.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        lol Of course they appealed to Rome for authority. Carthage falls under Rome’s Patriarchy. That they appealed to Rome means no more than the reality that there did exist a Pentarchy. Look at the division of the Patriarchates:

      • Brett Farley says:

        You assumed they’d not have done so had they met in a different jurisdiction. And such an assumption belies the Councils of Nicea and Hippo, which obviously were somewhat authoritative given that our Christian creed and New Testament were decided there. Bottom line: one can’t have it both ways. But this begs the more central question: if you’re arguing against Roman authority because Constantinople (or some other Orthodox diocese) was the legitimate authority, then you’re implicitly accepting ecclesial authority over the church and, thus, denying the central tenet of Protestantism. I’m just not sure what endgame you’re after here.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        What are you referring to when you reference the Councils of Nicea and Hippo? Is there some sort of proclamation about Rome that I’m not aware of? If so please enlighten.

        I’m not denying Roman authority over the Roman Patriarchate which was recognized by the Church. I’m denying Roman authority over the entire Church. The Church is a body and a city is not the head. The only head of the Church is Christ proper. I don’t think it’s wrong that there is organization in the Church but I think it’s misguided to consider Rome the legitimate leader.

        So what is the issue here and what is the endgame? Is it the interpretation of scripture? Is it oneness in the Body of Christ? I yearn for the correctness of both. I wish there were more of a united front for the realization of the Great Commission. What’s the solution to unity? Is it agreement on doctrinal interpretation? Is it submission to the authority of a single church?

        Is God sovereign? Does He know what He’s doing in history? Was it His will that East and West be separated from each other due to political environment? Is fracture and variety His way of protecting His people so that if one element is destroyed the whole thing doesn’t perish?

        I’m not sure I know what my endgame is here. Ultimately it’s to think on these things. I’m not sure I have the answer for an endgame scenario with you. Perhaps I was hoping you might be able to convince me that God wills for His Church to submit to the authority of Rome but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Maybe I believe that all the Bible believing churches should submit to a world Ecumenical council so we can have Holy Spirit guided direction. I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

        I don’t know about endgame but the immediate benefit I’m looking for is the exchange of knowledge from one thinking Christian brother to another. Hopefully I’ve helped you to consider issues you may not have considered before. I know I’ve learned a lot. What should the endgame look like to you?

      • Brett Farley says:

        My point about Nicea and Hippo are simply that one cannot discount the proclamations and decisions of a council or synod in one specific diocese simply they were conducted under that specific authority and not another.

        But more to the point, in questioning the authority of Rome over all the Church, you implicitly must, then, also question an alternative authority in the Orthodox Church. Now, of course, a CITY is not the head; that’s the point of Apostolic Succession. Authority is not vested in the city, rather it is vested, Romans believe, in the Chair of St. Peter and in who sits on that Chair. But Orthodox do not disagree in Apostolic Succession. It’s not a question of “whether” but “whom”. So, yes, Christ is the head, but his administration magistrate was Peter.

        But let’s extend that a bit further. If we say, instead, that Christ is the ONLY head, then what does that really mean for us? How do we discern and interpret His will in the here and now? Surely I think we can agree that this is meted out in the person of the Holy Spirit. But this reality begs further questions still. In whom? How is it meted? How do we know in whom? In matters of disagreement, how do we discern His will? All of these questions beg the central question with which we started, viz. “By what authority?” You see? There can only be ONE entity into which Christ vested His authority, because to presume there is more than one results only in schism. Which is, once again, precisely why we’re where we are today. And that was the point of my FB post earlier.

        Do I believe the Holy Spirit is in me? Absolutely. Do I believe I am the final arbiter for what I should or should not believe and practice? May it never be! I must submit to Christ’s authority and in the authority He established. So once again, it’s not a matter of “whether” but “whom”.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        Why is an Ecumenical council not authority enough to lead the Church guided by the Holy Spirit?

      • Brett Farley says:

        It’s simple. To whom do members of the council appeal in a dispute? Who has final say? The Council of Jerusalem is a perfect example.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        It didn’t appear that Peter had the final say at the council. There was a debate. Peter made a good case. James, the first Patriarch of Jerusalem and brother of Jesus, seems to have had the last say even though he agreed with Peter’s position. So are you trying to say that the Patriarch of the particular Patriarchate that the council is held in should have the final say? Ultimately, didn’t they take votes?

      • Brett Farley says:

        In a word: no. That’s a common mythconception among Protestants. A close reading of the passage concerning the Jerusalem Council will demonstrate clearly that only after Peter had spoken (when the room quieted to hear him) did James interject to offer agreement with what Peter had proclaimed and then continued with a suggestion (“judgment”) as to how to make the decision practicable. But allow me to step aside and let the experts speak for the Church:

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        I read the article. It was an excellent example of what you would call using your interpretation of scripture to produce evidence for your interpretation of scripture.

        Here’s the issue: If Peter was infallible and was intended to give the final Holy Spirit inspired decree in all disagreements for ecumenical councils, then why have councils in the first place? The Pope could just give his decree anytime there was a disagreement. Why waste time with councils where issues could be debated about?

        The existence of the councils expresses the idea that the Church was not set up to be governed by a single person. In fact, the title, “first among equals” which was used first for the bishop at Rome and then at Constantinople expresses this very idea that there was to be no emperor of the Church. Who could be emperor if all were equal?

        This whole argument about who is the rightful leader of the Church reminds me of Matthew 18:1 “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

        It also reminds me a little of Matthew 19:27  Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them, 30 “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”

        And Mark 9:34 they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

      • Brett Farley says:

        That’s funny. I thought you’d say that. It’s a good thing you didn’t become a defense attorney because the “Well, of course he’d say something in favor of the prosecution’s case…he’s the prosecutor” defense doesn’t float well with judges. But, I sort of set you up here because to argue against Peter’s having presided over the J Council means you must also argue against the reality that Peter is REPEATEDLY singled out by Jesus from among the Apostles, culminating in the ‘keys to the kingdom’ passage. So you’re in the position of having to argue with the writers of the Gospels.

        That said, I’m not entirely sure why you brought infallibility into the discussion because Peter’s preeminence among the Apostles has absolutely nothing to do with the doctrine of ‘papal infallibility’, which demonstrates still that you don’t understand that doctrine.

        Finally, I’ll point you to the Council of Carthage, Canon 38:

        “[It has been decided] that nothing except the canonical Scriptures should be read in the Church under the name of the divine Scriptures. But the canonical Scriptures are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ruth, four books of Kings, Paralipomenon two books, Job, the Psalter of David, five books of Solomon, twelve books of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezechiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Ezra, two books of the Maccabees. Moreover, of the New Testament: Four books of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles one book, thirteen epistles of Paul the apostle, one of the same to the Hebrews, two of Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude, the Apocalypse of John.

        Thus [it has been decided] that the Church beyond the sea may be consulted regarding the confirmation of that canon; also that it be permitted to read the sufferings of the martyrs, when their anniversary days are celebrated” (From Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum, translated and published in English as The Sources of Catholic Dogma).

        Now, I must say again, if you cannot accept the possibility of ample evidence of Rome’s claim to original authority, then by all means pursue the Orthodox Church. I’d be ecstatic at the thought of you partaking of the full graces of Christ through his sacraments therein. My point is simple: neither the RC nor the OC govern merely by councils. Ultimately one man must have final say in a non-Protestant ecclesial body. That is the reality. So your choice is either democratically-instigated ecclesial anarchy (Protestantism) or some form of catholicity (either Roman or Eastern).

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        The Orthodox churches practice autocephaly which is the status of a hierarchical Christian church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop. This head bishop is the center of his ecclesiastical province. The many ecclesiastical provinces remain in communion with each other but they don’t report to the Patriarch of Constantinople. The borders of provinces have often been inspired, or even determined, by historical and/or present political borders. This is how authority within the Orthodox church differs from Catholicism.

        What I’ve shown is that the OC does govern by councils. One man does not ultimately have final say in an ecclesial body. That is the reality. The hierarchical Catholic model does not represent the only form of Church authority. The Church can be governed ecumenically without one bishop to rule them all.

  • Brett Farley says:

    As I’ve said, I will not waste my time on anything Frank says. He has wholly disqualified himself from objective consideration. What’s more, if your representation of his thoughts are accurate (and I presume they are), then it’s a non-starter all the same. If Frank cannot make a simple distinction between liturgy and doctrine, then there’s really nowhere else that portion of the conversation can go. Now, that having been said, I will certainly entertain qualified, scholarly perspective from an Orthodox apologist with some (charitable) authority.

    • charleysanders2013 says:

      So you don’t have evidence that the liturgy differs in the different branches of your chart. By the way Frank does distinguish between liturgy and doctrine. Had you watched the video you would know that the Orthodox Church is defined by three pillars. These are 1. Doctrine, 2. Law (morality), and 3. Liturgy.

    • charleysanders2013 says:

      Referencing Frank you said, “He’s fundamentally wrong on so many patently obvious things.” Can you name one? The first one you named was about the West’s adherence to Augustine’s distinction between soul and body. I agreed with you at first because of what you quoted from the CCC. However, upon reading Aquinas I’m not so sure how the Catholic church distinguishes or not between soul and body. In discussing the matter with you I discovered you also separate intellect from body as if they were two separate substances. Upon this knowledge I’m unsure how wrong Frank was. You’ll have to clarify. On what point is Frank fundamentally wrong?

      • Brett Farley says:

        I don’t have the time to review our previous threads but I do recall making a glaring point of distinction concerning his comments. I don’t recall whether it was here or on Facebook.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        It was on Facebook and it was concerning the distinction between soul and body. As I said, based on our conversation I’m not so sure he was off.

      • Brett Farley says:

        No, it wasn’t that. I’m positive it was something else. I just don’t recall what. I’ve slept a few times.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        Here’s what I remember of the disagreement:

        Frank Said:

        “Because of the Orthodox understanding of the unity between body and soul, we orthodox view the incarnation in quite a different way than Western Christians do whether they are Roman Catholic or Protestant. Our orthodox understanding of the unity of the spiritual and physical world rests on our belief that Christ was and is fully God and fully man. Nothing was given up of either of Christ’s two natures to accommodate the other. We believe in the unity of reality. Above all we believe in the unity of the Trinity. We hold that God is beyond yet within His creation. While we do not confuse the Creator with His creation we believe that His presence permeates all of creation. Therefore we understand that the physical world even in its fallen state is sacred and is being redeemed. As a consequence we put a greater emphasis on the goodness of creation than the Western Christians do. This emphasis manifests itself in many ways but is most obvious in our Orthodox expression of liturgical and physical sacramental worship. We Orthodox Christians believe that the Fathers such as St. Maximus the Confessor were speaking the truth when they taught that the soul and body were one:
        “Just as the soul and body combine to produce a human being so practice of the virtues and contemplation together constitute a unique spiritual wisdom.”
        The Western Augustinian idea is very different than that of St. Maximus and the Eastern Fathers. It is that the body is a mere worthless husk inhabited by the fallen immortal soul which is completely separate from its “mortal” shell. This in itself makes a huge difference in how we view even the small details in the liturgy and the rubrics of worship. These details reflect a whole way of seeing reality. To the orthodox, the physical world matters. It matters because we sense the presence of the divine in all of creation. It is impossible that sacramental truth evolved from a fundamentally mistaken Latin Western theology that has belittled the truth and beauty of the created world in favor of a Manichean spirituality can remain the same or unchanged within Orthodoxy. If it does so it is not Orthodox.”

        To which you replied:

        “I can’t think of a single serious Catholic theologian/philosopher who would disagree with a word of that emphasis on the sanctity of creation. He needs to spend more time reading Catholic thought, especially Aquinas. I think he’s unfairly painting the Roman Church with too broad an Augustinian brush. Of course that characterization is very true of Protestantism, particularly of the Reformed branch.”

        I suppose the emphasis I was looking at was Augustinian’s distinguishment between body and soul. Perhaps you were only looking at his statement about the sanctity of creation. I’m thinking the main thrust of his argument is the dualism of the Catholic church vs. the monism of Orthodoxy.

      • Brett Farley says:

        Oh, yes, ok I remember. My main objection was that he essentially hasn’t done his homework. Western thought is MUCH more Thomistic than it is Augustinian, and to that degree his characterization of the East is equally true of the West. His painting Western theology and liturgy as Manichean is downright insulting and not true in the least bit. Chesterton, in fact, had exactly the opposite to say and critiqued the East for the same thing. And I for one will take GKC’s word over Frank’s any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        His comment on Manichaeism is directly related to his comment on Augustinianism which is directly related to Thomism. This relation is the duality between soul and body or between spirit world and material world. From what I understand of Aquinas’ distinction between a man, animal, and angel, Thomas is also dualistic and separates the intellect from the body. This is the central issue of the argument. Do you deny this relation?

      • Brett Farley says:

        I didn’t the read the following passage as related at all to Thomism and duality. It had everything, instead, to do with the sanctity of creation.

        “The Western Augustinian idea is very different than that of St. Maximus and the Eastern Fathers. It is that the body is a mere worthless husk inhabited by the fallen immortal soul which is completely separate from its “mortal” shell. This in itself makes a huge difference in how we view even the small details in the liturgy and the rubrics of worship.”

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        I think his point was that duality affects how one views the incarnation. And by the way, I’m not sure he was stating that the West was Augustinian. Rather, he was commenting on the Augustinianism in the West to the extent that it existed. Perhaps Thomism adheres to the sanctity of creation. That wasn’t the issue for me from his argument about the differences between East and West. I was trying to emphasize that the East are not dualist concerning soul and body or the spiritual and physical. About that, he seemed to be spot on. About the sanctity of creation, I can’t comment about what the Catholic church believes. Does the Catholic church view a separation between the spiritual and physical worlds? If they do, wouldn’t this have some impact on the sanctity of creation?

      • Brett Farley says:

        I suppose that would beg the question what you mean by “separation”.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        Separation in terms of substances: a spiritual world made of a spiritual substance vs. a physical world made of a material substance. Also, as Aquinas seemed to allude to, an intellect made of an immaterial substance vs. a body made of a material substance.

      • Brett Farley says:

        Oh, well then, yes. If you mean it in the Thomistic sense, I obviously agree.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        So you agree that Frank was basically right about Catholic dualism (which was the whole reason I presented his argument) if not about how Catholics view the sacredness of creation. His point is that the duality impacts how one views the incarnation and creation. You may not like the connotation but I can’t see how dualism vs. monism doesn’t affect ones’ perception of either.

      • Brett Farley says:

        No, I disagree entirely. This line: “Our orthodox understanding of the unity of the spiritual and physical world rests on our belief that Christ was and is fully God and fully man. Nothing was given up of either of Christ’s two natures to accommodate the other. We believe in the unity of reality. Above all we believe in the unity of the Trinity. We hold that God is beyond yet within His creation. While we do not confuse the Creator with His creation we believe that His presence permeates all of creation. Therefore we understand that the physical world even in its fallen state is sacred and is being redeemed. As a consequence we put a greater emphasis on the goodness of creation than the Western Christians do” represents a gross mischaracterization of Roman Catholicism. Now, I’ll readily admit that it’s very appropriate for many Protestant brands, particularly of the Calvinist flavor. So, once again, to lump RC in with the former and in distinction to the EO it’s just flat wrong and represents either really bad scholarship, in the least, or a disingenuousness, in the worst. Given his display of shabby character, I’m not entirely unwilling to discount the possibility of the latter.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        You can’t disagree entirely because I don’t hear you denying that the Catholic church is dualistic. You may disagree to what extent that impacts one’s view of the goodness of creation but I’m not hearing you argue that it has no impact at all on ones’ perception of creation. It does on a fundamental level.

    • Brett Farley says:

      No, but that’s not what I’m arguing; that’s a non-issue for me. I’m arguing Frank’s characterization of the RC. But let’s get out of this rabbit hole and get back to the essentials of authority in the other thread(s). I’m still trying to determine where you’re at on authority.

  • Brett Farley says:

    Charley, honestly, this is silly. I might as well ask you if you have evidence that the liturgy doesn’t differ. Or perhaps, do you have evidence that the various donuts in the shop differ? Their very existence is evidence in itself. This reminds me of the scene in Amistad in which the judge asks Matthew McConaughey if he has any evidence countering the prosecution’s assertion that the defendants are slaves. He replies gesturing to the slaves-turned-defendants, “Your Honor, I have them.”

    • charleysanders2013 says:

      This comes from Wikipedia so feel free to discount what it says:

      “The Eastern Orthodox Church uses the Byzantine Rite liturgy almost exclusively, celebrating it in different languages.[23] The only exceptions to this are a small number of Western Rite parishes, which have adapted or specially composed liturgies based on Latin liturgical rites. The Oriental Orthodox Churches, on the contrary, use a great variety of liturgical rites.”

    • charleysanders2013 says:

      Here’s an interesting article on Church liturgy:

      • Brett Farley says:

        Yes, Wikipedia is a poor source. Case in point: “Although the term liturgy is used to mean public worship in general, the Byzantine Rite uses the term “Divine liturgy” to denote the Eucharistic service.” In point of fact, the Roman Rite uses the term ‘Divine liturgy’ as well.

        Nevertheless, as you can see, the various rites within the Orthodox Church have similar cultural iterations as in the Roman Church.

  • charleysanders2013 says:

    The more I think about it the more the modern Church appears to be a hydra with one body, one head, and many necks. Maybe this is what God intends for the purpose of the Great Commission. What do you think, Brett? Does a decentralized market economy Church breed more competition propelling the Great Commission forward or does it impede the progress of our commission?

    • Brett Farley says:

      I think that’s a disastrous idea. Monarchy is dangerous enough. Oligarchy is worse. As for a market approach, I’m not entirely sure Christ’s imposition of ‘unity’ connotes competition.

      • charleysanders2013 says:

        Perhaps not but I don’t pretend to understand the will of God in His Church. My question to you was whether you thought a unified monarchical Church was the most effective way of carrying out the Great Commission or if a competitive approach was more efficient? I suppose I’m considering ends and means. What is your opinion? Is fragmentation stifling the commission or propelling it? Is this question also related to bureaucratic efficiency vs. a market economy?

  • rjbarnett says:

    it’s an excellent question, Charley. Seems to go to the heart of the problems that develop within every denomination. Factions arise because too little time is devoted to the very thing that Paul recommended so heartily to the church at Corinth. Perhaps that reference was missed last week when I mentioned that it is addressed most directly in the book of Jude. Note that he Jude exhorts that we contend for the faith, in verse 3. He speaks of trees without fruit. (Looking at church history, we might ask “when was the church most unfruitful?”) Then he provides a simple solution along the lines of what Paul advocated to the Corinthians. This is the key – verses 19-23 — which Paul offers to everyone, every member, seeking to be a sincere follower of Christ and a blessing to others who desire the same.

    • Brett Farley says:

      I’d agree with Randy on this one. As to the proper management/governmental structure for the Church and propagation of the Gospel, I don’t know we can say for sure what we think is best. But, then again, THIS goes to the hear of all we’re discussing in these threads. First, from an historical view of God’s divine economy, patriarchy and monarchy have always been the way of things. And more specifically, Christ’s commission of the Apostles and of Peter (the ‘Rock’) as the cornerstone answer the question quite well.

  • rjbarnett says:

    I’m reminded again that the founders spoke of the benefits and wisdom that comes through a diffusion of knowledge and power among the people and the states. When you truly APPRECIATE the role of the Holy Spirit, then your devotion shifts from controlling people and institutions to the pursuit of and mentoring by the Spirit where liberty is the prized. When ministries are built on the Word of Truth (not seminary training in academics & theology ), they may engage in a friendly form of competition that produces much fruit, changed lives, and freedom with attesting signs, including scripturally sound, supernatural manifestations (I Corinth 12 ). How much of this do we see in the RC and OC, and most of the various reformed denoms ?

    • Brett Farley says:

      Well, Randy, to answer your question quite directly, both RC and OC have produced quite a bit of fruit and changed lives. To name them all would require an entirely separate blog, but allow me to name a few: the belief in the saving graces of Christ found in the following nations/peoples: Russia, Greece, Eastern Europe, China, India, South/Central/Northern Europe (including the entire Anglosphere), the whole of South America, the whole of North America, SE Asian islands, and the continent of Africa; including the following institutions of Western culture: parochial/public schooling, universities, hospitals, foreign missions, museums and so much more. Need I go on?

      But this dialogue here refers back to the graphic I posted on FB. To claim an exclusivity in biblical perspective that is founded on claim to private revelation of the Holy Spirit is profoundly circular (regardless whether you have the Holy Spirit or He has you). This is, after all, why the manifestation of tongues at Pentecost was PUBLICLY discernible, for instance.

  • rjbarnett says:

    it’s good to see that people in every clime and place are hearing and responding to the Gospel, believing they’re forgiven and receiving their salvation in Christ. I’m sorry for any implication that was not the case. It’s amazing to watch God moving in and through such people and incredible situations in spite of human flaws. Then we’re saddled with various forms of denominational baggage that is kindly laid upon us for the perceived benefit of institutional operations. Some is tradition, some is more devious. BTW, your reference to tongues for public worship, and its initial manifestation at Pentecost does not really address the diversities of tongues. The manner of receiving revelation as given to Paul for apostolic need, for teaching, for correction of doctrine serves to establish a norm, not only for for those in the ministry but all Believers. So the public purpose(s) for signs is not the same as the gift for edification along the lines of Romans 8:26-27, for prayer and spiritual growth, to overcome strongholds (2 Corinthians 10) of the soul and renewing of the mind (Romans 12/ Ephesians 4 ).

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