A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Be Fruitful and Multiply" (What It Really Means)

Puritan Calvinist has a timely, thought-provoking piece about how the "be fruitful and multiply" crowd abuse Gen. 1:28. A good read considering so many make an unscriptural idol out of childbearing and have Pharisaical attitudes towards married people who choose to not have children.

65 comments:

Triton said...

The phrase in question is one of the most common examples of plucking a few words out of a sentence so that they mean something entirely different from what they were supposed to mean.

Another one is "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.", which is often simply reduced to "Judge not". A statement against hypocrisy becomes a statement against passing judgment altogether.

Here's the whole verse from Genesis:

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

I wonder how many of the folks who believe in and practice the "be fruitful and multiply" doctrine actually send their kids out into the wilderness to tame the land. I'm guessing not many.

You know, I could come up with all sorts of strange doctrines by plucking phrases out of context. How about these:

Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her (Gen. 38:8)

Have no child (Deut. 25:5)

It is not good to marry (Mat. 19:10)

Let's have a contest - let's see who can come up with the most bizarre doctrine by taking a phrase out of context.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Here's a good one from the Boundless blog cited by PuritanCalvinist:

"Emma had the following to say on Aug 20 at 2:11 PM:

Children before education and career? Really? How can you hope to support them without a decent job?"


She's really missing the point, isn't she? Although I suppose that is a fair question for those 'Christian' women who are contemplating man-not-included reproduction or, more likely, kicking their wanna-be complementarian husband to the curb after he's served his purpose of inseminating her a couple of times and making enough of a living to support her divorced-and-loving-it dreams.

Going back to the point of the post, if not bearing children is a sin, then how many kids is enough to get your soul out of hock? 1? 2? 8?

Sounds like works to me. It's also is vaguely reminescent (sp?) of Mormonism where the number of kids you spawn determines how many planets you'll rule in the afterlife.

Christina said...

I would like to know the following -

What if the Noahic Covenant applies to the community as a whole?

In which case, the COMMUNITY is fruitful and multiplies, but not EVERYONE in the community has to reproduce.

After all, if not bearing children is a sin, then barren and celibate people are kinda screwed...

I doubt there's much biblical support of community address in the addressing of the Noahic Covenent and the Genesis verses, but I still think its worth looking at. After all, the covenant was established...but not just between any one person. It was established between a community of people...

Yeah, demanding EVERYONE who's married should reproduce is a big problem...but God help me if one of the idiots on the opposite side tell me I'm sinning because I had 6 kids and the earth can't support them or I'm being irresponsible. I'd like to clock them in the nose for that.

Oh...and I have a HUGE issue with married couples saying they don't want kids because they don't want to give up their life-style - I contend that that's pure selfishness and I DO think that's a sin.

Ken said...

I'm a married father (happily!) and I do not fear a population "explosion", but it irritates me when I come across people who look down on people without children. When you take Scripture as a whole, there simply is no command for believers today to have children or even marry.

And practically speaking, I don't think parenting is for everyone. it is for ME, but not everyone.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"...but it irritates me when I come across people who look down on people without children"

Changing the subject slightly, while I agree with this commenter, I do think the culture that does not wish to reproduce itself should be allowed to die.

"...they don't want kids because they don't want to give up their life-style - I contend that that's pure selfishness"

Christina, I agree.

Anakin Niceguy said...
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Anakin Niceguy said...
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Anakin Niceguy said...
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Anakin Niceguy said...


Oh...and I have a HUGE issue with married couples saying they don't want kids because they don't want to give up their life-style - I contend that that's pure selfishness and I DO think that's a sin.

The bottom line is that the Word of God does not require people to have children today. If a peope don't have the desire for children placed on their hearts and don't want to give up their lifestyles, that's their choice. I don't see many Christians giving up their SUVs, their suburban homes, etc. I don't see them in huge numbers joining the Peace Corps or taking vows of poverty. Are they selfish by default?

Christina said...

No - they aren't selfish by default.

Not necessarily.

In this case, the only way you or I would be able to determine if they are being truly selfish is if we knew them REALLY well or they actually claimed to be so.

If not, the only one who would know if they are being truly selfish is God - but we still have some responsibility in calling people to question their intentions.

I'm not going to go and judge a couple living in a suburban two-story house with an SUV as being selfish simply because they have no children.

But if they actually outright state that the sole reason why they don't want children is because they don't want to give up their life-style, or they don't want someone else infringing on their time, etc, then I think I'm quite well enough informed to make the call that they are selfish.

My cube mate is married and has absolutely no intention of having kids. I don't think he's selfish, because it has very little to do with his life-style, making the decision to not have kids. He actually has a life style that is conducive to children. He simply strongly dislikes kids...and so does his wife.

I'm not gonna give him a hard time about it. Some people were made for parenting, others were not. I'm not going to argue for or against that.

Anakin,

I love how you simply picked that one sentence out of my whole post and twisted it to say exactly what I had claimed I wasn't trying to say.

Good job, sir.

Amir Larijani said...

Christina is right: the command to be fruitful and multiply is a general command to humanity, not a specific command to everyone, let alone a "marriage mandate" or "reproduction mandate".

I have no use for the mandaters, nor have I any use for the "moderate" population controllers who insist on a 2.1 child per family dogma--looking down on couples with lots of children--or the genocidal looneys who believe in killing and sterilizing lots of people.

But let's make no mistake: a growing population is a good thing economically. We will find that out in the near future as our social insurance programs go bust because we do not have the demographic base to support those programs.

The abortion holocaust, and the birth control revolution, will indeed loom quite large when that happens.

Whether you support or oppose contraception is not the issue; all I am saying is that it has led to a whole mother lode of unintended consequences.

And what a mother it is...

Drina said...

Gen. Onan "spilled his seed upon the ground", and God slew him "because he did a detestable thing".

Also, Augustine (4th c.):"Marital relations even with a lawful wife, are unlawful and degrading when the conception of a child is deliberately frustrated. This was the sin of Onan, and God struck him dead because of it."

Only in recent decades have Protestant Churches accepted contraception. I'd like to hear your response to these points.

wombatty said...

Drina:

Here is Genesis 38:8-10:

Then Judah said to Onan, "Lie with your brother's wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother." But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also.

Onan disobeyed a specfic command directed at him in particular, one that, as I recall, was based on Jewish 'family law'. In contrast, the 'be fruitful and multiply' passage, as PC has so clearly demonstrated, is a general statement. It makes all the difference in the world.

The account of Onan has nothibg to do with contraception (or masturbation, for that matter), it has to do with disobedience to a specific command. Thus, Augustine was in error.

Amir Larijani said...

Wombatty: Actually, Onan had committed a couple of egregious offenses:

(1) He disgraced his brother by not fulfilling his role as kinsman-redeemer, thus denying heirs to continue his lineage. (This was huge back then!)

(2) He disgraced Tamar by consigning her to childlessness. Keep in mind that this was the worst thing a woman could experience back then, as barrenness left her socially ostracized.

Ergo, Onan was getting his rocks off while showing utter contempt for both his brother and his wife.

I doubt, however--whatever your views regarding contraception happen to be--that this passage is a good one for addressing that matter.

PuritanCalvinist said...

drina,

I would also add that Augustine did not know Hebrew. Augustine was a philosopher by training and profession, and thus, he was a great polemicist. However, in the area of exegesis, he sometimes said some interesting things, expecially some of his interpretations of the Old Testament.

Also, keep in mind that this line is the line of Judah, and Judah's first two sons were wicked. Hence, Onan was to raise up seed to his brother to continue the family line, namely, the line of the seed of the woman who would battle and crush the head of the serpent. Onan, therefore, is not only violating his duty to his brother, but is trying to go against the eternal plan of God. Hence, we can summarize what is going on here by stating that Onan was frustrating God's eternal plan of salvation by neglecting his duty to his brother because of his own greed. That is why God struck him down, as the text explicitly says.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Drina said...

Wombatty - I do see your argument. However, there is no proof that the "what" Onan did was referring to was the stopping of offspring for his brother and not withdrawal itself.

Furthermore, if "Be fruitful and multiply" is a general command, why would people think they are exceptions to it?

Also, you did not address the fact that it has only been in the past few decades that Protestant Churches (as a general rule) have accepted contraception.

Drina said...

Puritan Calvinist -
from my above post, you see I disagree that the text "explicitly says" what you say it says. Regardless, I'd like to hear your reponse to my two other points.

Drina said...

Also, I just found this, and think it is a worthwhile point:
The biblical penalty for not giving your brother’s widow children was public humiliation, not death (Deut. 25:7–10). But Onan received death as punishment for his crime. This means his crime was more than simply not fulfilling the duty of a brother-in-law.

Amir Larijani said...

Drina says:
The biblical penalty for not giving your brother’s widow children was public humiliation, not death (Deut. 25:7–10). But Onan received death as punishment for his crime. This means his crime was more than simply not fulfilling the duty of a brother-in-law.

Not necessarily. How God chooses to punish particular acts--on His own terms--need not coincide with His proscriptions to Man in the Law.

That God struck Onan down in Genesis whereas He only commanded public condemnation in Deuteronomy, hardly implies that Onan's offenses were any worse than those for which God described in the Law.

After all, Cain did not receive the death penalty for his offense, which was clearly proscribed as such in the Law.

PuritanCalvinist said...

drina,

No I do not ignore your statement. I just believe that the statement needs to be understood in the light of the previous statement that he knew that the seed would not be his, and also in the light of the context of the narrative given by Genesis 3:15, and the New Testament statement that this line is part of the line of the seed of the woman. This whole idea of good and evil form bookends to the entire book of Genesis, and if you do not follow this line, you are completely ripping this passage out of the context of the entire book.

Also, Drina, the context of Deuteronomy 25 is different. The book of Ruth is an example of where this is followed, and, notice, the kinsman of Ruth very clearly publically says that he cannot take her. However, Onan is doing this under deceit. Onan takes her, and yet, doesn't fulfill his duty.

As to your second point, I would argue that contraception in the sense in which we are talking was unknown to the early church, and to the reformers as it is a twentieth century invention. When Augustine made the statement he was making he was referring to coitus interruptus, and not to the modern day concept of contraception, something which would not be invented for another 1500 years. To read that back into Augustine is nothing but pure anachronism. Augustine never had the position put before him that you could complete sexual relations, and yet not have children. What would he have said to that? We don't know, and it is only mere speculation to guess what he might have said. The same thing can be said for Luther and Calvin, as they likewise were not dealing with the modern state of affairs. And yes, I have seen the quotations, and they all partake of this same kind of anachronism.

Secondly, I never said be fruitful and multiply was a "general command." What I said was that the command was giving to the [although I hate to use this term] "species" of humanity. It is the *group* that is commanded to "Be fruitful and multiply" not everyone within that group.

Consider back in school when you had group projects you had to do. Let's say you had a group of five people. Your teacher assigned certain responsibilities to the group. Now, did that mean that everyone had to do every one of those responsabilities so that you ended up with five of the same projects? No, of course not. You recognized that it was a group project, and that you had to divide the responsabilities amongst the group. That is what is going on in Genesis 1:28.

Again, if you believe that this is referring to individuals, how do you deal with the next phrase "fill the earth?" If you believe that "be fruitful and multiply" is a command given to individuals, then you are caught believing that only having twenty children is wrong, because this text says couples need to have seven billion children so that they "fill the earth."

In fact, what I find interesting about Augustine is that he rejects your interpretation of this passage, as he believed this command was already completed. He writes:

This reason for creation and union of male and female, as well as this blessing, was not abrogated after the sin and banishment of man. It is by virtue of this blessing that the earth is now filled with human beings who subdue it. [On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis 9.3.5-6]

Hence, I don't believe that the idea that contraception is wrong is exegetically defensible. In fact, I remember one Roman Catholic admitting that there is no evidince that contraception is wrong from scripture. Hence, if we are going to be protestants, and believe in Sola Scriptura, we must reject the idea that contraception is wrong.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Drina said...

Amir - Why would God allow for the law, and then make exceptions in giving out the punishment, particularly when the "exception" is much more harsh and not more merciful? The Law was from God, and Deut. stated exactly what the punishment for that particular sin is.

Puritan - I think that Deut. most certainly does apply here. Onan was deceitful because he was not willing to comply with the law. His punishment would have been that expressed in Deut.

I don't follow your reasoning about the traditional teaching on contraception. Morally speaking, what is the difference in preventing conception by coitus interruptus or modern methods?

Also, as Adam and Eve are the first couple, they are our primary example, and a model of marriage. And so I don't think your analogy of the school group holds up. God says, to the species if you will, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it." But we all (who are married) are under this command.

To your next argument: Adam and Eve were directly given the command to fill the earth, yet they didn't have a billion children (not to mention the impossibility of the notion.) But they did have children, as those married are called to do through that command.

Though the earth is, in a sense, filled, does that mean that we are no longer to submit to the command of multiplying? If we didn't, the world would cease to be filled; people die. It doesn't contradict Augustine to say that we must continue to have children in order for the world to remain filled.

Anonymous said...

"I would argue that contraception in the sense in which we are talking was unknown to the early church, and to the reformers as it is a twentieth century invention. When Augustine made the statement he was making he was referring to coitus interruptus, and not to the modern day concept of contraception, something which would not be invented for another 1500 years. To read that back into Augustine is nothing but pure anachronism. Augustine never had the position put before him that you could complete sexual relations, and yet not have children. What would he have said to that? We don't know, and it is only mere speculation to guess what he might have said."

But PC, the same thing could be said about abortion. In the middle ages, the church regarded the killing of a child in the womb as a sin only past the point of "quickening" (when the woman can feel the child moving in her womb).

As much as I think we should not get into the faces of people who don't want to have children, I think Amir is right when he points to the unintended consequences of controlling our fertility on our society. With a few exceptions, cultures who have the most children will eventually become dominant...it's as simple as that, pure mathematics and biology.

But discussing these unintended consequences has become quite politically incorrect, among liberals, as well as Christian "singles rights" folks. Kind of like Anakin's "off limits" analogy: to question whether or not there's a consequence to our generation not having enough children is to cast aspersion on the individuals who make up that generation, which we *mustn't* do.

Amir Larijani said...

Drina asis:
Amir - Why would God allow for the law, and then make exceptions in giving out the punishment, particularly when the "exception" is much more harsh and not more merciful? The Law was from God, and Deut. stated exactly what the punishment for that particular sin is.

Are you demanding that God must punish sin exactly the manner that He commanded man to do?

The Scriptures do not bear this out, and there is ample Biblical substantiation for what I am saying.

You want another prominent example? King David committed not one--but TWO--death penalty offenses, yet God was merciful and did not demand that he be put to death.

My point here is that there is plenty of Biblical precedent for God choosing to punish sins--with severity or with mercy--as He chooses, irrespective of how He laid down the expectations for Man's punishment of said sins.

Triton said...

The Law was from God, and Deut. stated exactly what the punishment for that particular sin is.

Since Onan predated the laws given at Sinai by several centuries, I think Deuteronomy is largely irrelevant to his behaviour.

If coitus interruptus is a capital sin, then why doesn't the Bible explicitly say so? Other capital sins - murder, adultery, homosex, bestiality, etc. - are explicitly prohibited.

When Augustine made the statement he was making he was referring to coitus interruptus, and not to the modern day concept of contraception, something which would not be invented for another 1500 years. To read that back into Augustine is nothing but pure anachronism. Augustine never had the position put before him that you could complete sexual relations, and yet not have children.

That's not entirely true. Condoms have been around for an awfully long time; at least since ancient Rome. And Augustine would have been familiar with whatever herbal abortion techniques existed in the folk medicine of the day.

In any event, Augustine is not Scripture, so we shouldn't bet the farm on his musings anyway.

But discussing these unintended consequences has become quite politically incorrect, among liberals, as well as Christian "singles rights" folks. Kind of like Anakin's "off limits" analogy: to question whether or not there's a consequence to our generation not having enough children is to cast aspersion on the individuals who make up that generation, which we *mustn't* do.

No one is denying any consequences, Anonymous. I'm sure Anakin is fully aware of the demographic consequences of his positions. I know I am.

But why should I care? If the future belongs to swarthy muslims and other non-white third-worlders, so what? If elderly white folks don't have enough young slaves to pay for their expensive medicines, so what? If Western Civilization dies out completely, so what?

I'm aware of the consequences; in fact, I believe they are unavoidable. If you want me to care, you must convince me that caring will somehow change the situation.

The seeds of destruction were sewn long ago. We will reap the bitter harvest, and no amount of marriage mandating or reproduction mandating will change that.

If you believe that "be fruitful and multiply" is a command given to individuals, then you are caught believing that only having twenty children is wrong, because this text says couples need to have seven billion children so that they "fill the earth."

I think that's a bit of a stretch, PC. The command was only given twice - once to Adam and Eve, and again to Noah and his family. In both cases, the human race was in danger of extinction due to insufficient numbers. I think that is the most probable reason for the command, and the one that makes the most sense.

PuritanCalvinist said...

drina,

Actually, Deuteronomy doesn't apply because Onan's sins were a whole number of sins. It was not just that he disgraced his brother [that would have been bad enough]. It was not just that he was selfish [that would even have been worse]. However, he selfishly disgraced his brother resulting in an attempt to destroy the seed of the woman. Where is deceit in the passage in Deuteronomy, and where is the attempted distruction of the seed of the woman in Deuteronomy? Where is someone pretending to take this person as their wife in Deuteronomy? They are not there, and therefore, this was far more severe than what Deuteronomy was talking about.

Also, as Adam and Eve are the first couple, they are our primary example, and a model of marriage. And so I don't think your analogy of the school group holds up. God says, to the species if you will, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it." But we all (who are married) are under this command.

However, the text does not say all who are married are under that command, it says that the species as a group is under that command. Follow the "them"s from 27c to 28a. There is only a two word difference. What warrant do you have to switching "them"s in only two words?

To your next argument: Adam and Eve were directly given the command to fill the earth, yet they didn't have a billion children (not to mention the impossibility of the notion.) But they did have children, as those married are called to do through that command.

So, although Adam and Eve were directly commanded to fill the earth, they didn't have to do so. Why can't I say that, although married couples are directly commanded to "Be Fruitful and multiply" they don't have to do so? You see, once you do that, you have to insert an arbitrary break into the text between "Be fruitful and multiply" and "fill the earth." If "Adam and Eve" are commanded to the one, they "Adam and Eve" are also commanded to do the other. To insert a break in the text like that is simply arbitrary.

Also, where do you see Adam and Eve in this text? That is exactly why it is impossible for this text to be referring to Adam and Eve or any other individual couple. Of course if the text *is* referring to individual couples, then you are forced into the precarious position of having to defend the fact that Adam and Eve *did* have seven billion children. If the first two are addressed to individual couples, in order to be consistent, you must say the last two are addressed to individual couples.

Again, it is pure eisegesis to read into Genesis 1:28 some idea that everyone must have children. It not only ignores the next phrase "fill the earth," but it also ignores the "them"s proceeding from 27c.

Triton,

I think that's a bit of a stretch, PC. The command was only given twice - once to Adam and Eve, and again to Noah and his family. In both cases, the human race was in danger of extinction due to insufficient numbers. I think that is the most probable reason for the command, and the one that makes the most sense.

Actually, just the opposite. The command to "Be Fruitful and Multiply" is applied to Jacob as well [Genesis 35:11]. Notice, even if you take your interpretation, it is not the individual couple who is commanded to "fill the earth," but the human race itself, which is what I am arguing the command "Be fruitful and multiply" is addressed to. Hence, what you are saying only confirms what I am saying.

My only point is that you cannot consistently read "Be Fruitful and Multiply" as referring to individuals, and yet reject the idea that "fill the earth" is referring to individuals without being arbitrary.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Christina said...

Wow...Drina started quite a debate there...

Lol.

Actually, IMHO, you guys ALL missed the reason why Onan was so summarily dismissed.

If you recall, Jacob's blessing on Judah, Onan's father, was that the Messiah would proceed from Judah.

One son was wicked, and slain.

The second son was unwilling to fulfill his duty to his brother, thereby causing the line of Judah to come to an ABRUPT halt, causing what had already been prophesied to happen - not to happen...

And if you know anything about the importance of Messianic prophecy, Jesus couldn't have been the messiah if he didn't align with any single one of the prophecies.

I really think that Onan's sin was a LOT more intricate that what is portrayed surface-level in Genesis. Its also why I believe Tamar is "blessed" even though she dressed as a prostitute and slept with her father-in-law in order to continue his line and fulfill her duty as a woman.

Triton said...

The command to "Be Fruitful and Multiply" is applied to Jacob as well [Genesis 35:11].

It's a similar command, but not the same. God had specific plans for Jacob's offspring that were unrelated to simply populating the earth.

The command to multiply and replenish the earth was only given on those two occasions when the human species was in peril of extinction.

In any event, whether the command is to replenish the earth or to produce kingly offspring, the point is that a specific reason is given for the going forth and multiplying. It's not just "multiply for the heck of it".

PuritanCalvinist said...

Triton and Anon,

Yes, I understand what I you are saying, and I was perhaps not the most perspicuious in what I was saying.

You need to understand that the reason why people like Augustine and the early church fathers would have said the things that they said is totally different from a traditional anti-contraception perspective today. The earliest references we find to these things in the early church are not in orthodox writings, but in gnostic writings.

The gnostics were neo-Platonic dualists who believed that the Physical was evil, and the spiritual was good. Hence, this is why you get writings of gnostics that either say that Jesus had no physical body, or that he was trying to escape from his physical body. The gnostics were very much against sexual relations in general, because of the carnal nature of them.

Probably because of the strong sexual debauchery in the early church, the idea that physical pleasure in sexual relationships was wrong became a prominant view. However, you are put into a logical quandry if you take this position. If you don't have any sexual pleasure, how can you reproduce? The answer came when many of the patristic writers called sexuality a "necessary evil." In other words, you had to have sexual pleasure in order to reproduce, but it is not something that we should desire, because it is carnal, and inherently evil.

This view was very prominent in the early church, and effected the church right up until the time of the reformation. Therefore, the reason why Augustine viewed this as being so bad is because carnal pleasure in sexuality must be accompanied by reproduction, otherwise it is simply carnal desire, which is the "necessary evil" part of sexual relations. Within a dualistic universe, carnal desire is the worst kind of evil because the physical is inherently evil. Therefore, to have sexual relations for simple pleasure, must be the worst kind of evil.

The point is that the gnostic background to this is very rarely pointed out when this issue is discussed. Most people who are against contraception today do not accept the dualistic worldview of many of the early church fathers, and yet, they will cite the early church fathers as evidence of their beliefs in the early church! They may agree with the fathers as to their conclusion, but as to how they got there, they would say that their reasoning was completely fallacious. You can't have it both ways.

Thus, to read the modern concept of anti-contraception back into Augustine or any other church father is to engage in a gross anachronism.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Drina said...

PC - I don't know who classified the orthodox from the gnostics in your book, but church fathers throughout history and others, from the first couple centuries through the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, all renounced birth control. I don't think you can blame it on a fault of a particular age. Even Augustine referred to "poisons of sterility" aka oral contraceptives, and did not condemn only coitus interruptus.

Regardless, if you do a little research you can find it all throughout history. SO, I think it makes sense to listen to what has always been taught. How can we assume that we know better than any of the past Christian thinkers who lived before, oh, 1930?

Also, a few of you spoke about modern methods of contraception making the arguments of those like Calvin and Luther n/a so to speak. But look at what Calvin says here -

"Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous. For this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring."

Now, granted, he is still talking about withdrawal. BUT, look at his reasons for condemning it. Modern methods of contraceptives do the same thing.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Drina,

Drina, it is not so much what contraception and coitus interruptus end up doing, but the reason why each of these early church fathers believed they were wrong. It is not the same reason why modern day Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant authors would argue that it is wrong. It doesn't make sense to listen to these writers if they are basing their belief on a worldview you and I would both renounce as heretical. All of the people you just quoted were referring to this same tradition that comes, not from orthodoxy, but from neo-platonic gnosticism. The reason why they believed that it was wrong to have sexual relations and not have children is because of the foundational belief that the physical is evil, and, therefore, the pleasure in sex was a necessary evil. I know you and I do not agree with that. The earliest evidence of this belief comes from the very gnostic sources that Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox condemn as heretical, and it is obvious that the beliefs are based upon their dualistic worldview, and yet, I am supposed to accept it because it got into Christian tradition, and made its way all of the way up to the reformation?????? That doesn't make any sense, Drina.

There are other beliefs that I as protestant reject that did the same thing. For instance, the perpetual virginity of Mary has its origins in gnostic dualism, and even it made its way to Luther and Calvin. This is another teaching that is clearly gnostic in origin, and has adherents, even amongst some protestants, and yet, again, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants would all condemn the very foundations of this teaching as heretical. Again, this is a totally anachronistic reading of the early church fathers.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Anakin Niceguy said...

Drina,

Look at this link and see what I think about your line of reasoning. If you are a woman, you are definitely going to love what the Church Fathers had to say about your sex:

"Among all savage beasts, none is found so harmful as woman." St. John Chrysostom (345-407 CE)

"Woman is a sick she-ass, a hideous tapeworm, the advance post of hell." - [John Damascene, 7th Century monk & Saint]

"Do you know that each of your women is an Eve? The sentence of God - on this sex of yours - lives in this age; the guilt must necessarily live, too. You are the gate of Hell, you are the temptress of the forbidden tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law." Tertullian in 22 CE

"Let us set our women folk on the road to goodness by teaching them to display submissiveness." "Every woman should be overwhelmed with shame at the thought that she is a woman." St. Clement of Alexandria in 96 CE

Every one of these quotes shows a sinful disregard for the truths expressed in Gal. 8:28; 1 Pet. 3:7 etc. Interesting that one can say the most stupid and ignorant things, but if one is in the right place and right time, one's contemporaries and history itself will be forgivingg. If I said the things above, I'd be dismissed as a sick puppy (and rightfully so), but the men above got canonized as Saints to where the undiscerning now cling on their words as if they were Scriptures. Of course, Protestants are often guilty of the same in how they exalt the Reformers, Spurgeon, etc.

Anakin Niceguy said...

One more thing: I wonder if the views of many theologians in the past were based on the mistaken assumption that men alone carried the life force of reproduction (his seed was a living organism unto itself). I think would explain not only the condemnation of birth control but also masturbation ("Killing one's seed."). Today, we know that it takes BOTH the sperm and the ovum BEFORE a life is created.

KnightWatch said...

No one is denying any consequences, Anonymous. I'm sure Anakin is fully aware of the demographic consequences of his positions. I know I am.

But why should I care? If the future belongs to swarthy muslims and other non-white third-worlders, so what? If elderly white folks don't have enough young slaves to pay for their expensive medicines, so what? If Western Civilization dies out completely, so what?

I'm aware of the consequences; in fact, I believe they are unavoidable. If you want me to care, you must convince me that caring will somehow change the situation.

The seeds of destruction were sewn long ago. We will reap the bitter harvest, and no amount of marriage mandating or reproduction mandating will change that.


I was thinking along similar lines when I read this thread. Unintended consequences work both ways. Look no further than to the biggest demographic ilk in the world, the Baby Boomers. Not all of them, mind you, but possibly most.

Nevertheless, it's selfish when children today are prioritized in terms of inventory fodder to help keep the latest pyramid schemes alive, such as, government fiat, insurance and medical care scams, etc., etc

John said...

Anakin,

We have been referencing and quoting almost anything extant from St. John Damascene, St. John Chrysostom, St. Clement, and Tertullian for well over a thousand years. Their body of work as a whole has stood the test of time. What are the chances that we are going to reference anything you wrote even ten years from now, not to mention a thousand years? I do not mean this to be an insult to you - you appear to be intelligent on many subjects - but rather, I mean this as an attempt to illustrate a point I think is important.

I presume you used the quotes by these Church Fathers for their shock value - to shock us into seeing that they were at least at some point in their lives, virulent misogynists, and therefore because of this weakness, if only for this weakness alone, they ought not to be held in such esteem as the Catholic, Orthodox, etc. hold them.

But I observe two things about the Catholic and Orthodox Churches that give me at least great pause in accepting your use of these Church Fathers:

1. The Catholic and Orthodox's knowledge and understanding of these Church Fathers greatly surpasses your own.

2. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches are not known for their misogynistic views of women.

Not a small reason of why I am a Catholic is that I am many times more likely to accept the Catholic understanding of these Fathers than a johnny-come-lately's understanding, such as mine or yours.

Therefore I am also likely to give the Church Fathers the benefit of the doubt when small portions of their writings are quoted against them to demonstrate their unreliability. For instance, with the quotes on women above, in spite of the point you were trying to make in quoting them, I want to also see the context of these passages, to see if the writing or homily as a whole supports what you are asserting about their views. I do not consider it impossible that they could support your assertions about these Fathers. But because they are the Church Fathers, and you are not, I will tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, that they were possibly making some sort of a point about how the cancer of sin has infected all of mankind, and that women are not excluded from this, nay even what is particular to women as a gender has been twisted by the effects of sin. Again this may not have been what they were saying, but it is the benefit of the doubt that I give them because they are the Church Fathers. If I were to live for a thousand more years, and a thousand years from now we are still quoting from "Scripturally Single" or "Biblical Manhood" blog to enhance our understanding of Christianity, then I would probably give you the same benefit of the doubt.

To bring the point around quickly, I also give the Church Fathers the benefit of the doubt on what they said in regard to human generation in much the same way as demonstrated above. It is possible and even likely that their understanding of everything was not yet fully developed. But I give them and the Catholic Church's understanding of them the benefit of the doubt that they are in harmony, and as against my own or another modern's understanding of them.

Triton said...

If I were to live for a thousand more years, and a thousand years from now we are still quoting from "Scripturally Single" or "Biblical Manhood" blog to enhance our understanding of Christianity

Hopefully, any Christians who are around a thousand years from now will quote from the Bible instead of from any "traditions of men".

PuritanCalvinist said...

John,

1. The Catholic and Orthodox's knowledge and understanding of these Church Fathers greatly surpasses your own.

Actually, the traditional Roman Catholic understanding of the Early Church Fathers is not even accepted by Roman Catholic scholars today. For instance, Father Ramond Brown denies that there is a universal testimony of the Early church fathers.

To bring the point around quickly, I also give the Church Fathers the benefit of the doubt on what they said in regard to human generation in much the same way as demonstrated above. It is possible and even likely that their understanding of everything was not yet fully developed. But I give them and the Catholic Church's understanding of them the benefit of the doubt that they are in harmony, and as against my own or another modern's understanding of them.

Well, then what do you do with the fact that all of the early church fathers held to the ransom to Satan theory of the atonement? Do you hold to the ransom to Satan theory of the atonement? Not only that, but what do you do with beliefs such as the Bodily Assumption of Mary, Papal infallability, and the Queen of Heaven, doctrines that were unknown in the first three hundred years of the church?

PuritanCalvinist

John said...

Hopefully, any Christians who are around a thousand years from now will quote from the Bible instead of from any "traditions of men".

Indeed, Triton. And hopefully a thousand years from now, Catholics will no longer be castigated for intellectual dishonesty when they defer to three thousand years' traditional understanding of Holy Scripture as against their own private interpretation.

Puritan Calvinist,

I don't know what I do with the ransom to Satan theory. That is the first time I've heard of it. As to the others - I have no idea how you can be certain they were unknown to the Church in the first three hundred years. How can you prove such a thing?

John said...

Puritan Calvinist,

I neglected your other point about Father Ramond Brown, but I don't know who he is, and it doesn't mean a whole lot to me anyway. I can find a few Catholic priests myself who promote same-sex "marriage," but that doesn't change the constant Catholic teaching that a valid marriage can only be between a man and a woman. But this continues further off-topic, as I'm afraid I've already done in previous response.

Vince said...

What this discussion needs is a Council, inspired by the Holy Spirit, like in Acts 15, to settle the issues -- you know, a Church that has succession and authority. Otherwise you guys just become your own Church councils. Oh wait, THAT's what Jesus founded!

PuritanCalvinist said...

Vince,

What this discussion needs is a Council, inspired by the Holy Spirit, like in Acts 15, to settle the issues -- you know, a Church that has succession and authority. Otherwise you guys just become your own Church councils. Oh wait, THAT's what Jesus founded!

Yes, and the Mormons claim that they are this authority, as do the Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as the Greek Orthodox, and the Roman Catholics. I think you need an infallible church council to decide...oh wait, each side says they have the infallible church council. Now how are you going to decide the issue? See, I can be sarcastic too.

Not only that, but once the infallible church council "settles" the issue, then how do you interpret the infallible church council? If you demand that no one disagree on anything, then you are left in an infinite regress that cannot ever be settled. Any document can be misused, including the church councils. The misuse of a sufficient source does not mean that the source is not sufficient. You can misuse the church councils just as assuredly as you can misuse the scriptures. Given your logic, therefore, nothing can settle the issue.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

PuritanCalvinist said...

John,

I neglected your other point about Father Ramond Brown, but I don't know who he is, and it doesn't mean a whole lot to me anyway. I can find a few Catholic priests myself who promote same-sex "marriage," but that doesn't change the constant Catholic teaching that a valid marriage can only be between a man and a woman. But this continues further off-topic, as I'm afraid I've already done in previous response.

The problem is, John, that these people are in good standing with Rome. All of the priests that you just mentioned are doing these things in full communion with the Roman Church. For instance, Raymond Brown, who does not even believe in inerrancy, has served on Pontifical commissions! These men are in good standing with Rome. Here is the problem. You are not the magisterium of the Catholic Church, and therefore, according to the Roman Church's teaching, you have no right to question the orthodoxy of someone that Rome says is orthodox.

Again, having an authority whether it be the pope or the councils will not help you here. You have to interpret those papal decrees and those councils.

And if what Vince says is true that you need extrabiblical authority to settle the issue, or, otherwise, you become your own "infallible council," then, when the disagreements are pressed amongst those who claim this "infallible authority" [Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, etc.], you are stuck having to be your own "infallible church council" to decide which one of them actually has that "infallible authority."

John, that is why I must keep telling you that running off to extrabiblical authority will not help you work through these issues. We must stand upon the word of God alone. Yes, Acts 15 was a council, but it was a council that was writing scripture, and, the only reason why it is binding upon the Christian, is because it was writing scripture. Our contience is to be held captive to the word of God alone...Sola Scriptura!

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Triton said...

And hopefully a thousand years from now, Catholics will no longer be castigated for intellectual dishonesty

Well, John, there are a number of steps the RCC can take to prevent such castigation. Most of those steps involve following Scripture instead of being in outright opposition to it.

As long as they follow the same course as the Pharisees, though, and place their own traditions in a superior and opposite position to Scripture, they will continue to be considered by many as "white-washed tombs, full of dead men's bones and all things unclean".

when they defer to three thousand years' traditional understanding of Holy Scripture

Wow. I had no idea the RCC had been around for three thousand years.

as against their own private interpretation.

Yeah, I think I'll stick with my own interpretation, thanks. I don't know how the RCC comes to the conclusions it does, but they sure don't seem to be reading the same Bible that I am.

It could be worse, though. They're not nearly as bad as the Anglicans, whose doctrine is downright heathen.

Drina said...

Anakin - I tend to agree with John about not knowing the context of the quotes you just gave. Even Scripture can speak of women in similar ways, when talking about a sinful woman/a woman leading a man into sin etc.

I also glanced at your link. I guess what I am trying to get at is that the traditional teaching on contraception backs up what Scripture says. (I know you disagree with me on that.)

PC - I follow the "logicality" of your him/them argument, but I don't think it holds up. "...male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it..." Seems to me that being fruitful, multiply and filling the earth are part of, and follow from, the male and female coming together. Even with reading the man as mankind, male and female come together and together take part in the command to mankind to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. Does that mean each couple fills the earth on their own? No, but they take part in filling the earth, as they take part in being fruitful. Simple as that.

So, moving away from Genesis, we can see that the Psalms etc. speak tons on the blessing of children. (I read your post on this, so I know where you come from on this as well.) I see the blessing to be welcomed as the child first existing in the mind of the Lord (Jeremiah - before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.) But, let's look at the Scriptures all together and move on to Malachi 2:15 which talks about God looking for Godly offspring from a marriage.

Looking at all these things all together, they confirm my belief that the Lord is the Giver of life and should give it as He sees fit. I believe a man and woman who are married should be open to let Him bless them as He sees fit. This seems to make perfect sense to me. Why would I want to interfere with his plans? This doesn't mean that I try to have as many children as I possibly can. Neither does it mean that I try to keep from it. Just be open to the Lord's work. And after having just one child, I must say that I see God within her - she truly is made in his image. That in an awesome thought! And who am I to limit God to the number of His children? (For she truly is His, not mine.) I choose to cooperate with His own will, that he may populate the kingdom of Heaven just as he wishes.

You might say, well that's ok for you, but not everyone has to do that. Well, I believe it's more than "just a personal choice." I believe it is within the nature of marriage as God intended it. I don't judge, because I don't know the hearts of others, but that's a different matter.

"Let the children come to Me!"

Pax.

KnightWatch said...

One more thing: I wonder if the views of many theologians in the past were based on the mistaken assumption that men alone carried the life force of reproduction (his seed was a living organism unto itself). I think would explain not only the condemnation of birth control but also masturbation ("Killing one's seed.").

This "killing the seed" is clearly a case of ignorance from people all around. Makes no difference physiologically: Whether it's celibacy (or a vasectomy, for that matter), the male body continues to produce sperm cells, and unused sperm "dies" and is absorbed back into the body. While masturbation is normally the culprit for "killing the seed" by critics (most likely due to the guilty pleasure motivated by it), any form of abstinence is biologically "killing the seed", also!

PuritanCalvinist said...

Drina,

Again, read the text consistently. What you are saying is that you don't actually have to "fill the earth," you just have to contribute to filling the earth. However, what if I contribute to "Being fruitful and multiplying" in a way other than actually having the children? I can "contribute to being fruitful and multiplying" by promising to watch the children while married couples go out for a night on the town once the children are born. I can "contribute to being fruitful and multiplying" by suggesting a woman for someone else to marry who would like to serve God in this fashion, or helping married people with their income so that they can have a family. If this is the case, then I am both contributing to being fruitful and multiplying, as well as contributing to filling the earth without having children.

Also, it your interpretation is grammatically impossible. There is no such thing as a "contributive imperative" in Biblical Hebrew. It is always used for direct commands, with a few other unique usages.

As long as humanity is "Being fruitful and multiplying," then humanity is obeying the command, and this passage is both being obeyed, and there is no binding on individual couples to have children.

So, moving away from Genesis, we can see that the Psalms etc. speak tons on the blessing of children. (I read your post on this, so I know where you come from on this as well.) I see the blessing to be welcomed as the child first existing in the mind of the Lord (Jeremiah - before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.)

Of course, then the next question has to be, how do you know that every couple has a child being thought of in the mind of the God?

But, let's look at the Scriptures all together and move on to Malachi 2:15 which talks about God looking for Godly offspring from a marriage.

Malachi 2:15 shouldn't be used to prove anything. That text is so obscure that many people believe we don't even have the original text. Let me give you a sampling of some of the translations at this point:

Malachi 2:15 "But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. [NASB]

Malachi 2:15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. [KJV]

Malachi 2:15 Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life? And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. [RSV]

Malachi 2:15 as not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. [NIV]

Malachi 2:15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. [ESV]

Malachi 2:15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. [NKJV]

To make a long story short, here are several unsettled questions. The first question is what the subject of the verb 'asa [To make] is, [is it the Lord, or "Not one?"]? Next, what is the term "reminant of spirit?" Next, is the subject of the seeking: "God," or the "not one."

However, I have done work on this text, and I have come to several conclusions. First of all, I believe the ESV to be the most correct:

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

You are obviously right in your interpretation that this is talking about the purpose of marriage. Of course, the problem is you ignored the context of the passage. If, indeed, marriage is the context of the passage, and one of the purposes of marriage is being laid out, then most probably this is going back to the institution of marriage. Hence, The discussion of the passage is to why it is that God instituted marriage in the first place. That is why I believe the ESV is correct here to translate this participle as an imperfect "was seeking."

However, notice the more broad context being spoken of here. We are not talking about whether or not you have children, but the relationship out of which these children come! The context is about priests who have been faithless to their wives, and the context is a rebuke of these men for so doing. This changes what the text means when it says he is seeking Godly seed dramatically. Hence, Godly seed is not something every couple must have, but, if a couple decides to have seed, it must be Godly seed.

In other words, God could have made human beings out of thin air when he created, but, instead, he made two human beings. However, before they had a child, God made them one. What Malachi is saying here is that God instituted marriage, because, outside of marriage, there can be no "Godly seed," because Godly seed can only come from a legitimate marriage. That is, the only way children can lawfully be brought into this world is if the couple having the children are first united as one. Hence, because these Godless priests are not doing this, they are not bringing children into the world in an illegitimate fashion, and thus, do not have the Godly seed that God was seeking when he instituted marriage.

Hence, the attack here is not upon whether or not the priests are having children [they are], but upon the fact that they are not having these children within the one flesh union with their wife. Hence, the text is saying that, if you are going to have children, you must be producing Godly seed, and not seed of a faithlessness.

However, again, this is just my interpretation of this passage. There are many other competent Hebrew exegetes who would even say that the ESV is wrong here, and that, for instance, the NASB should be accepted, and they have totally different way of understanding the passage. That is why I said that this text should not be cited to prove anything!

Looking at all these things all together, they confirm my belief that the Lord is the Giver of life and should give it as He sees fit. I believe a man and woman who are married should be open to let Him bless them as He sees fit. This seems to make perfect sense to me. Why would I want to interfere with his plans?

First of all, I am an Orthodox Presbyterian, so, I don't believe that we *can* interfere with his plans. Second, follow this logic to it's conclusion. We must be open to every blessing. Therefore, if it is in any way possible for us to have a particular blessing, we must have it. For instance, it is still really hot up here in North Chicago. I have several friends who have swimming pools that they use to cool off, and, yes, they are a wonderful blessing. Now, let us say that I have the money to buy a swimming pool. However, I decide that I would rather put the money in the bank, or I would rather get a copy of the Dictionary of Northwest Semitic Inscriptions. Does that therefore mean that I am doing something wrong because I am not open to God blessing me with a swimming pool on a hot day? Such makes absolutely no sense. In fact, the Bible says that the earth is the Lord's and the fulness therin. Hence, should I not be open to him blessing me "in any way he sees fit, including with a swimming pool on a hot day?"

This doesn't mean that I try to have as many children as I possibly can. Neither does it mean that I try to keep from it.

However, it is the logical conclusion of what you have said. Let me ask you, if the first child is a blessing, is not the second child a blessing? The third child? The twentieth child? The thirtieth child? Given your logic, if you must be open to God blessing you in whatever way he sees fit, then you must be open to him blessing you with a family of thirty children. In essence, this argument is an argument against contraception in general, and not against those who would say it is not wrong to not have children.

And after having just one child, I must say that I see God within her - she truly is made in his image. That in an awesome thought! And who am I to limit God to the number of His children? (For she truly is His, not mine.) I choose to cooperate with His own will, that he may populate the kingdom of Heaven just as he wishes.

Well, again, while I agree that it is truly amazing that God has created that new child in your womb, and I do believe she is created in God's image, and a gift of God, we must go back to the fact that, I as a Calvinist, believe that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. I believe that no purpose of his can be thwarted, and that he does as he pleases in the host of heavens, and among the inhabitants of the earth. Hence, God will bless you in whatever way he wants to, and we cannot thwart it. The only way you could deal with this is if you say that it is a sin to not have chldren. However, that is the whole subject we are discussing. Yes, God will punish sin, and it is sometimes by giving chastisement rather than blessing. However, we must first establish that this is sin.

You might say, well that's ok for you, but not everyone has to do that. Well, I believe it's more than "just a personal choice." I believe it is within the nature of marriage as God intended it.

I understand that, but I just don't believe that a person can consistently read the scriptures in this fashion. Not only that, but, if it is the nature of marriage, as God intended it, then does it not then follow that marriage to an infertile woman is invalid? If you marry a woman knowing that she will never bear children, does that mean that it is not truly a marriage?

Again, Drina, if it were just a matter of freedom, I would agree. However, when we do not believe that the Bible teaches this, and, consistently study, and find that the interpretations of scripture used to support it are inconsistent, and the logic used to support it is self refuting, then don't we have to question whether this is coming from scripture, or from extrabiblical tradition? If it is not coming from scripture then, as a consistent protestant, I must reject it. That is the issue.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

John said...

Wow. I had no idea the RCC had been around for three thousand years.

It hasn't. But in a thousand years it will.

Yeah, I think I'll stick with my own interpretation, thanks. I don't know how the RCC comes to the conclusions it does, but they sure don't seem to be reading the same Bible that I am.

Most likely true. I think you're probably reading a Bible that is missing a few books.

As to Puritan Calvinist and Triton's other comments in response to me, in an attempt to stay somewhat on topic ("Be Fruitful and Multiply" What it Really Means), I wish to delve a little into how we know what it means, since especially Puritan Calvinist seems to be flirting with the idea that no one knows what anything means.

I don't think you realize how feeble your propositions to "be captive to the Word of God alone...Sola Scriptura!" are to a Catholic. What you are really asking me to do is not just "be captive to the Word of God alone," but to be captive to your own limited understanding of the Scriptures. Am I being too harsh or presumptious of you? If so, then are you willing to accept that I approach the Scriptures honestly, just as you do, and find them admonishing me to submit to the Church, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth, and not to just Scripture alone? You want me to recognize Scripture as the highest authority, but I cannot do that when the Scriptures themselves tell me not to. You will tell me that I misunderstand the Scriptures, but then I ask you, what happened to Scripture alone, if it takes some sort of understanding that I don't already have by coming to the Scriptures alone? Therefore I find myself very small and insignificant as an interpreter of Scripture without standing decidedly also on the firm shoulders of Sacred Tradition as my authority.

Hopefully you see why I would think it very unconvincing for someone to presume to tell me what "Be fruitful and multiply" "really means" when that person holds the traditional understanding of the passage in contempt.

Amir Larijani said...

John: It's all about the credibility of those who are telling me I must submit to them.

When they tell me to pray to saints, to worship Mary, or that I must earn salvation whereas Scripture clearly tells me I cannot earn it, tell me that--to be an overseer--I must be celibate, or insist that I must treat their supreme leader as if he is infallible, then I will give them all the authority they are due: none.

I doubt that any sola Scriptura advocate would suggest that there is no basis for accountability of the believer to the larger Body.

Even then, the Bereans held Paul accountable to the Scriptures, as they fact-checked what he said against the Scriptures.

Now are you suggesting that it is perfectly Biblical to assert that the Pope has even more authority than the Apostle Paul?

John said...

Puritan Calvinist,

It seems that the Councils/Popes are clear enough on the Bodily Assumption of Mary, Papal Infallibility, etc. that you have no trouble understanding these doctrines well enough to reject them. Are they not then clear enough for us Catholics to accept them?

Triton said...

Most likely true. I think you're probably reading a Bible that is missing a few books.

Oh, I readily admit that I'm not reading the same Bible they are. But all of the books in my Bible should also be in theirs, so they should be reading the same Bible I am. Get it?

It's those books - the ones we have in common - that I was referring to.

patrick kelly said...

"Hopefully, any Christians who are around a thousand years from now will quote from the Bible instead of from any "traditions of men"."

Except maybe for the tradition that we accept from some men as to what is included in that "Bible".

;-)

PuritanCalvinist said...

John,

As to Puritan Calvinist and Triton's other comments in response to me, in an attempt to stay somewhat on topic ("Be Fruitful and Multiply" What it Really Means), I wish to delve a little into how we know what it means, since especially Puritan Calvinist seems to be flirting with the idea that no one knows what anything means.

Actually, my point was that Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox use postmodern arguments to try to refute Sola Scriptura, and yet, they don't want to take them to their logical conclusion. All of the arguments you think are valid against me can be turned back on the Roman Catholic, and say that no want can no anything that the Roman Catholic Church says, either.

I don't think you realize how feeble your propositions to "be captive to the Word of God alone...Sola Scriptura!" are to a Catholic. What you are really asking me to do is not just "be captive to the Word of God alone," but to be captive to your own limited understanding of the Scriptures,

So, are you saying that you have an exhaustive knowledge of the canons and decrees of the Roman Catholic Church? Have you read every church document? Do you know, infallibly, all of the background to those things? No, of course not! So, why the double standard.

The answer to all of these questions is that we do not have to because we believe in a God who has condescended to man. That is really the answer to all of these questions. We believe that God can communicate with man, because he has condescended to man. You have said that he has done so in the Roman Catholic Church. I simply say he has done so in scripture. Why do you not allow me to view scripture in the same way you view the church?

Not only that, but it is even worse for the Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox. How would a Jew living in 100B.C. Be able to interpret Genesis 1:28? Given your view that we need the Roman Catholic Church to interpret the scriptures for us, you would have to say it was impossible for a Jew to interpret the text at this time.

If so, then are you willing to accept that I approach the Scriptures honestly, just as you do, and find them admonishing me to submit to the Church, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth, and not to just Scripture alone?

Actually, if you go back and look at that verse, you will find it is in the context of the local church with elders and deacons. And, a pillar and foundation hold things up, and so, the local church holds up the truth of the scriptures for all to see.

You want me to recognize Scripture as the highest authority, but I cannot do that when the Scriptures themselves tell me not to.

See Matthew 15:1-10, and follow Jesus' example when he subjects all tradition to scripture [including this tradition that the Jews believed came from Moses], and will only accept a tradition if it is consistent with scripture.

You will tell me that I misunderstand the Scriptures, but then I ask you, what happened to Scripture alone, if it takes some sort of understanding that I don't already have by coming to the Scriptures alone?

Because, when we speak of "Scripture Alone," we are talking about the rule of faith. We are talking about what is binding upon the Christian. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that God calls us to "rightly divide the word of truth."

Therefore I find myself very small and insignificant as an interpreter of Scripture without standing decidedly also on the firm shoulders of Sacred Tradition as my authority.

That's and easy problem to fix. Read up on language, and upon language interpretation. Notice what you do in interpreting others, and how language interpretation applies to your daily life. Read up on logic as well. You will soon find that, with a little hard work and practice, you can become a wise interpreter of the word of God.

Hopefully you see why I would think it very unconvincing for someone to presume to tell me what "Be fruitful and multiply" "really means" when that person holds the traditional understanding of the passage in contempt.

I understand, and that is why I have gone after the Roman Catholic concept of tradition. That is why it is really the issue.

It seems that the Councils/Popes are clear enough on the Bodily Assumption of Mary, Papal Infallibility, etc. that you have no trouble understanding these doctrines well enough to reject them. Are they not then clear enough for us Catholics to accept them?

However, Augustine wrote back to the Bishop of Rome, and told him to keep his nose out of North African affairs, since the Pope had ordered Augustine to let Pelagius and Coelestius back into the North African communion. At one point in time, Athenatius [sp?] was one of only a few people who believed that Jesus was God during the Arian controversy.

Not only that, but as I pointed out above, you have many people throughout the church today who are in good standing with Rome, and yet reject foundational Catholic belief. There is no clear testimony, and it is evidenced by the fact that Papal infallibility, The bodily assumption of Mary, and the Treasury of Merit, were things that were all unheard of in the first three centuries of the church. Rome's tradition hardly speaks with clarity.

Patrick Kelly,

Except maybe for the tradition that we accept from some men as to what is included in that "Bible".

Yup, I guess Paul's statement that the oracles of God were given to the Jews [Romans 3:2] was just a tradition of men. I guess that Cardinal Cajatan, who was the Cardinal sent to interrogate Martin Luther, was just following a "tradition of men."

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Drina said...

PC - I have to admit that your last post was a little difficult to get through. Alas, I have finally done it! And in an effort to keep these comments from getting even longer, I hope to make this very short. Your argument on Genesis' story of creation has not convinced me. I still believe your interpretation is wrong. And I'll leave it at that. I'm sure there is a way to better express my understanding, but I have not quite found it. And yours has left me more than ever unconvinced.

However, I would like to draw your attention to an article I found today while I was surfing the net. It is well written, well-thought and, and has any interesting points. Some of these directly address your protests to my interpretation of Onan's situation. It also brings up other interesting factors to add to the discussion.

Check it out: http://ccli.org/nfp/morality/bible.php

Referring to an infertile marriage - seems pretty simple to me that they are infertile through no fault of their own. They were as open as they could be to the marital act... what more can the Lord expect? That argument seems silly. And now it seems that you are looking at exceptions to the norm. Doesn't make for a very good case.

Anyway, hope you take the time and interest to look at that article.

patrick kelly said...

"Except maybe for the tradition that we accept from some men as to what is included in that "Bible".

Yup, I guess Paul's statement that the oracles of God were given to the Jews [Romans 3:2] was just a tradition of men. I guess that Cardinal Cajatan, who was the Cardinal sent to interrogate Martin Luther, was just following a "tradition of men."
"


I'm not sure what your point is.

Paul does say that, but he does not define what is included in those "oracles".

I'm not that familiar with Cajatan or Luther, but that seems to be part of the Protestant reformation issues with Rome, and means little to me as an Orthodox Christian.

"At one point in time, Athenatius [sp?] was one of only a few people who believed that Jesus was God during the Arian controversy."

This is a bit of an oversimplification.

The real St. Nicholas also stood boldy against Arius as well as many others. Find a good book that goes into detail about this period of history and you may learn a few things.

Western christians seem quite fond of quoting Athanasius when defending whatever canon of scripture they have, but often ignore how he interpreted those scriptures and practiced his faith.

This is one of many reasons it is difficult for those of us "eastern" christians to participate in these discussions. There are so many theological innovations and assumptions we just don't share with post-schism Rome and her children.

John said...

Puritan, et al.,

It looks like I am getting nowhere fast, as the more I respond, the further I get from helping you to understand, for it really does appear that you understand little of what I have said. Perhaps I am weak in understanding what you are saying, but it seems to me that you are somehow making me party to an argument that I don't espouse, leaving me dumbfounded as to how to carry on a conversation.

That said I think I will hang up my hat for this thread. I easily grow weary.

May God guide you as you seek to know the truth.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Patrick Kelly,

Actually, *you* are the one who needs to read up on your history. Have you not heard of the phrase "Athenasius contra mundum?" In fact, Athenasius was excommunicated from the church, and had to flee his see five times!

Your mistake is thinking that the council of Nicea ended Arianism. It did not. In fact, if anything, it made matters worse. Arianism grew so large after this that it deceived the established church forced Athanasius from his see five times. It took time before Nicea became accepted by the established church. Now, I can say that it one out because it was the Biblical position. However, what are you going to say when you had the entire "Eastern Orthodox" church driving Athanasius from his see because he was not an Arian?

I'm not sure what your point is.

Paul does say that, but he does not define what is included in those "oracles".

I'm not that familiar with Cajatan or Luther, but that seems to be part of the Protestant reformation issues with Rome, and means little to me as an Orthodox Christian


That's fine. Western Orthodox Christians argue like Roman Catholics sometimes on this topic. The point is that we know what the canon looked like at the time of Christ. If you look at Roger Beckwith's excellent book The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church, you will find that the Jews rejected the apocrypha. Also, William Webster, who is likewise a church historian, has written a book with David King entitled Holy Scripture, The Ground and Pillar of our Faith He has reproduced the sections on the apocrypha here:

http://www.christiantruth.com/Apocryphapart1.html

http://www.christiantruth.com/Apocryphapart2.html

http://www.christiantruth.com/Apocrypha3.html

http://www.christiantruth.com/Apocryphaendnotes3.html

http://www.christiantruth.com/Apocryphaconclusion.html

His thesis is [and I would agree with him], that the apocrypha was rejected by the Jews, and was rejected by multiple church fathers in every century up until the time of the reformation. In fact, I am a M.A. candidate in Old Testament who has read a whole lot in this field and, given the current state of affairs in this study, I know of no one who is willing to defend the idea that the apocrypha books were ever accepted as canonical by the Jews. Not only that, but it was debated up until the time of the reformation, and, in point of fact [for all of those Roman Catholics out there], Trent probably made it scripture precisely because the rejection of those books was something totally protestant.

Hence, when Paul tells us that the oracles of God were given to the Jews, he is rejecting the apocrypha. Jesus, himself, speaks of a threefold division of the canon [Luke 24:44]. We know what this threefold division was, and it did not include the apocrypha. In a translation of Ecclesiasticus, Jesus ben Sirah, says that there is a threefold division of the canon in his day, and implies that it was this way at the time of his father.

Josephus likewise gives a 22 book canon [which would have excluded the apocrypha], and Philo, although he clearly knew of the existence of the Apocrypha, though he has a mountain of quotations from all the other books of scripture, never quotes the apocrypha.

These are just a few of the problems for the idea that the Jews held the apocrypha. In fact, so strong is the evidence, that there are many Eastern Orthodox Bishops that I have heard that are willing to reconsider whether or not the Apocrypha should be scripture. As I said, I know of almost no one who is willing to defend this given the current state of affairs in the studies of the Old Testament canon.

Western christians seem quite fond of quoting Athanasius when defending whatever canon of scripture they have, but often ignore how he interpreted those scriptures and practiced his faith.


Well, Also, Eastern Orthodox Christians do not hold to everything Athanasius held to either. His view of scripture is something no Eastern Orthodox theologian could ever hold. The reality is that these things which Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism hold took time to develop, and many things, such as the perpetual virginity of Mary, are gnostic in origin. This view of Scripture plus tradition comes right out of the gnostic heresies who said that you needed their "secret knowledge" in order to interpret the scriptures correctly. In fact, Irenaeus faults them for this very thing!

Consider this, though. If you do believe that the Apocrypha is a matter of doctrine that you cannot reject, then you have to say that Athanasius is in hell right now because he removed books from scripture. Not only that, but you forget that we as protestants do not accept Athanasius as infallible. We test everything he said against the text of scripture, as, I am sure, he himself would want us to do.

This is one of many reasons it is difficult for those of us "eastern" christians to participate in these discussions. There are so many theological innovations and assumptions we just don't share with post-schism Rome and her children.

I would not agree with this statement at all. The "innovations" are coming from Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. When we look at the heresies such as gnosticism, we find that many of the developments of later Eastern Orthodox theology actually come from this neo-Platonic philosophy. Yet, it is interesting that, not only do I believe protestant theology is consistent with the scriptures, but I also believe that Eastern Orthodoxy has a significant break philosophically from Judaism. [This is one of my areas of interest, so, sorry I am rambling]. The Jewish philosophy of the Old Testament, for example, rejects the idea of images, and, in point of fact, the Jews were known for not having statues and images used in their worship. However, at the second Nicene council, you had already had a strong influence of Platonic philosophy come into the church, and, notice, there was really no argument made from the scriptures that we should use icons in worship.

Hence, I agree with John Calvin that, while all three traditions of Christianity hold beliefs that are ancient, Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism have chosen all of the bad things from Church History, rather than all of the Biblical things. In fact, Larry Carrino always tells a story about how he was visiting St. Valdimir's Seminary, and there were two student's talking about this. One student said "I am tired of hearing that the Eastern Orthodox church was the church Christ Founded. It isn't. It is an eleventh century Byzantine relic." He is right. The complex and complicated developments of church history have been so oversimplified in Eastern Orthodox writings. However, if you are a protestant, you can allow the early church fathers to be the early church fathers. You can test them by scripture, and keep the good things they say, and get rid of the bad, because you do not have to think that they are carrying some kind of tradition to which you are bound.

PuritanCalvinist

PuritanCalvinist said...

BTW,

I wonder how Albert Mohler and the folks over at Boundless would feel if they knew that there were this many people out there who agreed with me that the only way you can hold to their position is to deny Sola Scriptura? Absolutely fascinating.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

PuritanCalvinist said...

Patrick Kelly,

I should also note that, during the time Athanasius was driven from his see, there were Arian councils that met that condemned trinitarianism as a heresy. The question is, given your view, why is it that we should not be accepting the authorities of these councils, rather than the authority of the council of Nicea, expecially when these councils had a much larger percentage of the church believing their conclusions? If you really believe in the infallibility of the councils, then why is it we are not to accept these councils, but to accept Nicea? Why do these councils not bear infallible authority, but Nicea does?

PuritanCalvinist

patrick kelly said...


"
Actually, *you* are the one who needs to read up on your history. Have you not heard of the phrase "Athenasius contra mundum?" In fact, Athenasius was excommunicated from the church, and had to flee his see five times!
"


Excommunicated by who? From which church? The way you present "Athenasius contra mundum?" is as if he was literally the lone christian in the world, with everyone else turned Arian, which is just not true.

My point is that those who cite Athenasius as an authority to discover what is scripture then turn around and interpret those scriptures and apply them differently than he did. He did not hold to your modern notions of "sola scriptura", "original sin" or even your model of atonement and salvation. It is not hard to find documentation of the Liturgy he likely used, and it is not to be found in western, protestant worship services.

Sigh.. there are so many assumptions in your post and conclusions based on looking back at history through your modern, dark, post "reformation" lens that you cannot even recognize them.

You throw around phrases like "established church" and "gnostic heresy" which you define based on your own biases and "traditions" of Calvin et al. Yet if you were to closely look at the practice of Athenasius and even Augustine you would find Orthodox liturgy, icons and "traditions" concerning Mary. They did not interpret the scriptures the way you do and had a completely different understanding of the nature and purpose of the Church.

You cannot even begin to see this because you're too busy proof texting the a very thin surface of patristic writings or scripture, mining for evidence of your pre-determined conclusions.

It is clearly rapidly becoming tiresome trying to address every point because this whole pattern and method of examining such issues is frankly un-Orthodox in nature. There were so many errors upon errors by the time Luther and Calvin starting addressing these issues that they merely chose a different way of looking at a theology which was already foundationally flawed and built upon many of the innovations and mistakes of Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas, which were never adopted as part of any of the eastern Churches, whether they were Greek, Armenian, Oriental, Coptic, or even Nestorian.

I don't know why you insist on declaring the 11th century as the beginning of the "modern" Orthodox Church when our Liturgy, practices, and "traditions" can cleary be shown to pre-date that by centuries.

Dig deeper through the dirt piled on by 9 centuries of Roman and Protestant diversions from The Orthodox Faith and you will find true treasure.

Until then, I think we are talking past each other in a way which frankly cannot be resolved in a forum like this. The Orthodox Christian Faith is a real, authentic, in the flesh, experiential faith which I am seriously lacking the ability to present adequately here. Maybe bigger hearts and minds will do a better job than me, but this novice will go back to lurking and praying for now.

the sinner patrick.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Patrick Kelly,

Understand what I just said. There were entire councils that condemned Athanasius as a heretic. The question I asked you is how you know that these councils are false, and Nicea is correct. In essence, the reason why you believe this is because the Eastern Orthodox church says so. I always point this out to Roman Catholics as well. When you deny Sola Scriptura, and you allow the church to define what is tradition and what is scripture, and how to interpret scripture and tradition, you have just made the church the ultimate authority, and, rather than Sola Scriptura, you believe in Sola Ecclesia.

My point is that those who cite Athenasius as an authority to discover what is scripture then turn around and interpret those scriptures and apply them differently than he did. He did not hold to your modern notions of "sola scriptura", "original sin" or even your model of atonement and salvation. It is not hard to find documentation of the Liturgy he likely used, and it is not to be found in western, protestant worship services.

(Sigh) did you not even read my post? Since when is Josephus Athanasius? Since when is Jesus Christ, or Jesus bar Sirah Athanasius? The reality is, the Roman and Eastern view of the Canon was rejected throughout Jewish and Church history, and was rejected by Jesus Christ himself. I am relying on a whole lot more than just Athanasius to talk about the Canon. I even quoted scripture, namely, the words of the apostle Paul who tells us that we need to look at these things. To say that I am just taking Athanasius' word for it is simply not a very accurate reading of my post.

I don't know why you insist on declaring the 11th century as the beginning of the "modern" Orthodox Church when our Liturgy, practices, and "traditions" can cleary be shown to pre-date that by centuries.

I didn't say that. I cited Larry Carrino who always tells this story of someone at Vladimir Seminary [An Eastern Orthodox Seminary!!!!!!] who said that. This man was an Eastern Orthodox seminary student!!!!!!

Not only that, but you can find beliefs of all three major branches of Christianity in the early church. I agree with Larry Carrino that Eastern Orthodoxy has an incredibly overlysimplistic view of how doctrine developed in the early church. First of all, as I mentioned, Eastern Orthodoxy is a development from Neo-Platonic ideas. Hence, when you quote these early church fathers who are holding neo-Platinic ideas, you are not viewing it from that perspective. You are viewing it in light of later developments of these platonic ideas. We know that Neo-Platonic thought influnced Christians at this time. We can see elements of these Platonic categories in Eastern Orthodox beliefs. In fact, many of the very things I have seen Eastern Orthodox theologians cite are viewed through the lens of Eastern Orthodoxy, and not through the lens of the Neo-Platonism of the time.

You throw around phrases like "established church" and "gnostic heresy" which you define based on your own biases and "traditions" of Calvin et al. Yet if you were to closely look at the practice of Athenasius and even Augustine you would find Orthodox liturgy, icons and "traditions" concerning Mary. They did not interpret the scriptures the way you do and had a completely different understanding of the nature and purpose of the Church.

Well, first of all, neither Augustine or Athanasius knew Hebrew. So, I have strong leg up on them there. Not only that, but you might want to check this book out when it comes out:

http://www.eisenbrauns.com/wconnect/wc.dll?ebGate~EIS~~I~LEVIMAGES

Apparently, Iconoclastic traditions existed in...ancient Israel. Apparently, as well, Israel was unique in this. Hence, iconoclast traditions were pre-Church. Not only that, but I would not agree with the idea that the usage of images were universal, and, again, I would invite people to go and read the second Nicene council's decision on Iconoclastic traditions, and try to find any scriptural argumentation. You cannot do it.

You cannot even begin to see this because you're too busy proof texting the a very thin surface of patristic writings or scripture, mining for evidence of your pre-determined conclusions.

That is the beauty of being a protestant. I do not have to turn the early church fathers into protestants. I can let the early church fathers be the early church fathers, and let the complexity of the teachings of the early church fathers develop into the modern state of affairs. It is *you* who have to force the the Early Church Fathers to be Eastern Orthodox. I can just let them speak for themselves and keep the good, and get rid of the bad. Hence, I don't look at the early church fathers through "predetermined conclusions." I allow them to speak for themselves, and evaluate them according to scripture.

Dig deeper through the dirt piled on by 9 centuries of Roman and Protestant diversions from The Orthodox Faith and you will find true treasure.

Ok, then, if I need this "treasure", then how would a Jew living 150 years before the time of Christ be able to interpret scripture? Apparently, if you need this "treasure," they could not do so. You see, the real treasure in this sense is not the church [although the church is a treasure], it is the covenant. It is God's voluntary condescention to us to reveal himself to us. That has been going on since the beginning of time, and thus, cannot be limited to any visible church, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or otherwise.

Until then, I think we are talking past each other in a way which frankly cannot be resolved in a forum like this. The Orthodox Christian Faith is a real, authentic, in the flesh, experiential faith which I am seriously lacking the ability to present adequately here. Maybe bigger hearts and minds will do a better job than me, but this novice will go back to lurking and praying for now.

That's fine, Patrick. However, I will continue to pray for you that you will come to know the real, authentic, fresh, and experiential faith of being a part of God's voluntary condescention to his people to do for you what you could not do for yourself. I have studied Eastern Orthodoxy for a while now, and I can honestly say that there is no more real, authentic, fresh, and experiential faith then knowing that you have a God who does for you what you cannot do for yourself, who saves you completely from your sin, when you cannot do anything to effect your own salvation. Knowing this kind of faith, and having this relationship with the savior, it makes Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism totally unappealing to me. I pray that one day you will come to see this for yourself.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Triton said...

Apparently, Iconoclastic traditions existed in...ancient Israel.

PC, did these traditions have anything to do with the household gods that seem to keep popping up in the Old Testament? Or were the icons you speak of something else entirely?

PuritanCalvinist said...

Triton,

When we talk about iconoclastic traditions, we are talking about those who forbid the usage of images in worship. That was true of Ancient Israel, in fact, in distinction to its neighbors.

The question you bring up is a very interesting one, and that is why I am looking foward to the publication of this book. For example NIDOTTE, one of the standard Old Testament lexicons, says the following with regards to the term:

The term functions in a worship setting. In Hos 3:4-5 as punishment Israel will be without a ruler (David their king v. 5), and without Yahweh's cult items: sacrifice (= altar), pillars, ephod, or teraphim (T.:RFPIYM). In deuteronomistic history these words, apart from the teraphim, are standard equipment for a shrine, though condemned by the Jerusalem-centric writer. Similarly the shrine of Micah in Judg 17:5; 18:17, 18 (probably additions here), and 20 has ephod, teraphim, and P.ESEL W.MAS."KFH.

What is going to be interesting about the book that is coming out, is that he is going to be discussing these cult objects, and their relationship to the other traditions in the ANE, and how they influenced ancient Israel. What is intersting is that, as the author of NIDOTTE mentioned, there were iconoclastic traditions that existed even at the time Hosea was written.

The short answer to your question is "sometimes yes, and sometimes no." For instance, the household gods of the book of Genesis have nothing to do with it, because these are family emblems, and have nothing to do with worship. The only passages that would be relevant are the passages in Hosea, and, as NIDOTTE points out, there is a strong tradition against them.

Sorry I can't give you a better answer. When it comes to the study of Hebrew literature, we are still waiting for someone to find us a library of writing in ancient Israel. We have only about as much writing as would fill the complete works of William Shakesphere. However, suffice it to say that, given the literature that we do have, we still have a strong iconoclastic tradition throughout the Old Testament, even given the sprinkling of this term in different contexts.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Christina said...

What's wrong with anglican doctrine?

Lol.

Note, I'm not asking about Episcopal Doctrine (though traditionally, in my experience, its been consistent with scripture...and pretty much ONLY scripture...except maybe the transubstatiation of the bread and wine...)

And lets look at it minus the recent developments in the anglican and EUSA communions concerning the "open door" policy and homosexual bishops...

Anonymous said...

I don't think Anglicans or Episcopals believe in transubstantiation -- that's more of a Catholic thing.

Triton said...

And lets look at it minus the recent developments in the anglican and EUSA communions concerning the "open door" policy and homosexual bishops...

I think you sort of answered your own question there, Christina. ;)

Christina said...

I think you sort of answered your own question there, Christina. ;)

Lol, Triton...

That's why I said "minus" that.

Actually, Anonymous, some groups of Episcopalians and Anglicans do believe in transubstantiation. They are not, by any means, in agreement in that regard.

As for the "open door" policy and homosexual bishops, I said minus that because its still considered a "recent" development, there are still dioceses in the episcopal church who refuse to teach those things - my uncle and my diocese happen to be two of them (bishops have the overall authority of what's taught in their dioceses in the episcopal and anglican churches) - and half of the Anglican church (the African half, to be exact) refuses to accept these doctrine changes...

Classical Anglican and Episcopal doctrine is really very solid (I thought)...and I was also under the impression that the Anglican church did NOT give their blessing to the EUSA on their little trip off the deep end...

Hence why I asked if there was anything OTHER than that =p