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July 31, 2006



That's very encouraging news.


The problem with any agreement with the current leadership of any protestant sect is that at heart, true reconciliation with the members of those sects is an individual, one-at-a-time proposition. That is because the essence of protestantism is that each person is their own infallible Pope. To the individual lutheran, and especially for a methodist, the fact that their group's leadership has agreed to this declaration means very little. How does it bind them. Of course it does not. Does it even affect them, except as a curiosity? I doubt it.

What would be nice to see, instead of a group of theologians holding these meetings and group therapy sessions, would be to see the Bishops and Priests trying to actually bring the truth of the Faith to the protestants in the pews and converting them to the Church. After all, souls are stake here.

Just my perspective, of course. Feel free to flame me.

Jeb Protestant

One of the things to keep in mind is that the World Lutheran Federation (WLF) is made up of far left groups that don't speak for historic Lutheranism. The two conservative Lutheran churches in the US (WELS & LCMS) aren't members. For example, the ELCA has defacto merged with the Episcopal church. You can't get to be a bishop in a Scandinavian lutheran church unless you support women ministers, etc. In fact, Pannenberg -- who denies the virgin birth and the historcity of Adam & Eve -- is seen as a conservative in German lutheran circles.

One thing about liberals is that they are very slippery with language. While they may talk about God, justification or whatever, what they mean by them isn't what is normally meant by these terms.

I can't claim to be an expert on the Joint Declaration, but that liberal lutherans and almost as liberal catholics can agree on all sorts of things isn't something that I am particularly impressed by.

Funky Dung
"the historcity of Adam & Eve

I sure hope that's not a required belief for Catholics because it's not one I espouse.


To Tim:

Really? I'm my own infallible Pope? I suppose you are referring to what Baptists call soul competency. However, you appear to have a severe misunderstanding of the Protestant position. We are not subject to simply our own rule, but by the rule of Scripture. Ah, but how do we know what is the right interpretation without a self-contradictory magisteriate to guide us? By studying the Historical context, the greek grammar, analyzing culture, and even by looking at how a verse has been traditionally interpreted. Truly shocking, I know, that a Reformed Baptist would look at traditional interpretation. The difference between us is that you are a slave to those traditions and I am not. You must agree with an infallible (at least since 1870)Pope, even if the evidence proves otherwise. Where the pope has spoken ex cathedra there is no room for discussion, and that my friend is why I shall never be a Roman Catholic.


Well, It's so sad how people can be so easily delusional when it comes to defending a position they hold (and that includes me too). You can study all the historical context, grammar, culture you want but that will still not give you anything Jeremiah. All I have to look is at Protestants around me! Here in TX I can meet three Baptists and I'll get four positions on a specific verse. You can't in all seriousness tell me that you are following the rule of Scripture without any sort of bias (well all do). The question is are well all reading Scripture as it is intended to be read? Well that's where you being your own pope comes in: You read into it whatever supports your position no matter what. It's sometimes puzzling to me what my Evangelical friends will resort to so that they can explain away the inconsistency of their scripural views.
We Catholics are not afraid to admit that we are severely biased when we read Scripture, but our bias comes from the Teaching of the Apostles instead of some men that decided that they new better.


To Jeremiah,

Thank you for proving my point.

Good thing, though, you were born after the invention of the printing press, or else you might have been a "slave" to the magisterium you fear so much.

Of course, Christ Himself established the Church and gave it His authority. That is the place from where the magisterium comes.

But good luck with your strategy...


Or how about the fact that there are even "Reformed Baptists." If scripture is clear enough to interpret on its own, taken in context, then how can men like John Calvin and Charles Spurgeon agree on their understanding of justification and many other matters, but be completely at odds on something as basic as baptism?

And to Funky Dung: irrespective of what the Church teaches concerning the historicity of Adam and Eve, our attitude should not be "I hope that's not a required belief for Catholics because it's not one I espouse." Rather, it should be "if that is what the Magisterium of the Church infallibly teaches, then I must be wrong and I submit to the Church's authority." Otherwise, we risk falling into the same error that the Protestants do. Martin Luther wanted to remove entire books from the New Testament because they didn't agree with his own private interpretation of scripture, so of course, they must not have been authentic in his mind. Once you throw out the authority of the Church, you might as well go ahead and throw out the Bible, too, because you're going to end up with a new religion in the end. The fact that just in the U.S., there are three large bodies of Lutherans and a bunch of smaller ones should be proof of this. And this is a confessional tradition with a set of creeds and confessions, and yet still they can't maintain unity of doctrine!


To be fair..with the Luther comment, he DID put the New Testament books back (though not the old Testament.) The difference between Luther and St. Jermoe is that St. Jerome had the Church telling him to keep the books in while Luther had peer pressure telling him to put them back in.

Not sure what that proves or disproves, but I find it an interesting parallel.

Eric G.

This Declaration is nothing but straw, since "salvation by grace alone" was never an issue during the Reofmration. Lutherans still hold to their historic heretical beliefs on the subject (forensic justicication, total depravity, etc.), and we Catholics our own. The Methodists have always been agreed with the Catholics; so what's the big deal?


You are as ignorant in your speaking about evangelicals and other protestants as James White is about Catholics.

Jeb is right about the LWF. WELS, ELS, and LCMS are far closer in doctrine to Rome, but have an identity born out of persecution, which doesn't bode well for reunification.

The document is nonetheless interesting.

Jimmy, have you forgotten Evangelicals and Catholics Together, and The Gift of Salvation documents?

Sky, the same thing can be done with any three Catholics. Even Catholic priests. So I"m not sure that is by itself a good argument. Who is the infallible interpretation of where the Magisterium begins and ends? Who si the infallible interpreter of the infallible interpretation, etc., ad nauseum.?
If language doesn't work, it doesn't work period, not just when you need it to not work, for the sake of defending a position.

Luther did not remove any NT books. A throw-away phrase that he didn't even say doesn't establish any such accusation.

How many Roman Catholic orders are there? How many divisions with them? How many Roman Catholic theologies are there? How many "dissenters", including bishops and archbishops? And that is in only one of the 22 Catholic churches. (24 if you count Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical Catholic(aka Lutheran) - which you won't).

Slander is not valid. It fails to meet the 'double-effect' test. Especially if the goal is John 17.

Jeb Protestant

I find it interesting that Catholics will attack confessional Lutherans, Calvinists, Baptists and whomever for allegedly watering down the faith, but when it comes to radical liberal protestants like the LWF crowd, Rome doesn't seem to have a problem.

Many Catholic apologists insist that Roman Catholics have more in common with evangelicals, but I don't get the impression that Rome does. When has Rome spoken in favor of biblical inerrancy, creationism, or the exclusivity of salvation in Christ? In fact, I'm familiar with Catholic prelates who attack these doctrines. Let's face it, if you want a defense of Mosaic authorship of the Pentatuech, Pauline authorship of the Pastorals, or (curiosly) Peterine authorship of I and II Peter, you have to look to us benighted evangelicals.


Puzzled that's where you're wrong. There may be as many Catholics that will disagree but we can point to the Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church, therefore there's no comparison with Protestants here. There can be a billion Catholics dissenting for all I care, that won't change the fact that you can get the truth from the Church but of course that takes humility and obedience...
Also it's not that language doesn't work, rather that language doesn't interpret itself, context and meaning will often require the author to specify what he/she meant. The same with Scripture. I can claim that the Church has the full authority to make such pronouncements about the meaning of Scripture and Tradition, you can't; you rely on your so called "rule of scripture", which really means whatever you want Scripture to mean.

Jeb Protestant


When the church fathers and the "magisterium" prior to say 1950 claimed that Paul wrote the Pastorals; and Cardinal Ratzinger (and presumably B16) and the Pontifical Biblical Commission say today that Paul didn't, which do I believe?

Why isn't this private interpretation by Rome?


Jeb Protestant, nice to see you back!

But if we're going to be trading stories on just how bad some Catholics can be in their misunderstanding of the catechism, then I have to say it goes both ways. In my debates with a staunch Lutheran friend, he has a tendency to point out how much he has in common with Catholicism in order to point out the legitimacy of his beliefs.

Look at actual doctrine and bring up intelligent points in order to have an intelligent conversation. "But some Catholics/Protestants do such and such" doesn't directly address actual doctrine.

We don't address biblical inerrancy? My friend, we're the original Bible Christians. By now you've hung around here enough to know that we don't believe that we earn our way to heaven outside of grace and that this grace comes through Christ. Creationism isn't something I have an issue with either.

You just engaged in what's called, "Shotgun apologetics". Stick with one point at a time and then productive dialogue is possible. I could also blast you with several dozen reasons why Sola Fides and Sola Scriptura are man-made traditions that contradict not only Christianity and common sense, but the bible itself. That's not a way to have a productive dialogue even if you're fed up and frustrated. One topic at a time is the way to go.


Eric. Read the article, read the addendum. The Lutheran position is no longer regarded as heretical by Rome, now that Rome understands it better.

I apologize to all for my crankiness. I am finding the 'diversity' of opinion by Roman Catholics on what Roman Catholic doctrine teaches to be very frustrating, personally. I have no right to take that out on you.

Sky, what -is- the magisterium and tradition, what are its boundaries, and what is its table of contents? How can I know what is authoritative? What an apologist says? What someone on EWTN says? What popes and councils say? (and they've disagreed with each other), what a priest says? A layperson from a sound school like Steubenville?

They all disagree! Some teach salvation by working off our sins, others teach the gospel as I know it. Some teach the inerrancy of Scripture and its superiority to legend and folk tradition, but that only the Magisterium can interpret it with authority, others teach that Scripture is -less- authoritative than tradition, and on it goes.

How is someone not born a cradle Catholic supposed to figure it out???!

And sky, grammatical-historical interpretation means specifically that I may not have the Text mean whatever I want it to mean, but must find out what the Text means, with scholarly care, with showing my work for correction by others. You keep saying that it means whatever I want it to. Get it straight. It does NOT!

Jeb, has Rome really gone Bultmannian on us? I thought that the Modernist heresy had been suppressed, not enthroned.

J. R. Stoodley

tim is right that Methodist doctrine means next to nothing to most Methodists. I used to be a United Methodist and much of my family still is, so I know this by experience. This will be recieved as a nice thing some church leaders decided to do, nothing more.

Besides, this is just a statement of what elements of theology that some Methodists can agree on with some Lutherans and the Catholic Church. It does not mean that there are no differences between us anymore, despite what a certain liberal priest I know says. Still, if interpreted correctly it does have the element of promoting understanding between us.


"By studying the Historical context, the greek grammar, analyzing culture, and even by looking at how a verse has been traditionally interpreted. Truly shocking, I know, that a Reformed Baptist would look at traditional interpretation. "

Reformed Baptists only do this up to a certain point. After that, the anti-intellectual fundamentalist culture within Protestantism tends to overcome these pretensions. Catholics tend to hold more 'liberal' views on Biblical interpretation (I hate using that loaded term), because their Christian faith does not hang exclusively on the tenet of Biblical inerrancy. I'm not saying that Catholics should be encouraged to always employ the historical-critical methods, nor should they be encouraged to just throw traditional belief to the wind.

Neither am I saying that I agree with most of the historical-critical method's conclusion. I am merely pointing out the delusion of "Reformed Baptists" claiming that they are more open than Catholics to interpreting the Bible. It is one thing to disagree with the historical-critical method, but it is another thing to simply ignore the arguments of the historical-critical school, as Protestants generally tend to do.

For all the bashing of Ratzinger and the Vatican's somewhat "liberal" stance on Biblical studies, at least those parties have one advantage that you Protestants cannot ignore. Our intellectuals actually deal with the arguments of the historical-critical school, and when they are convinced of the truth of a certain argument, they cede their ground. Ratzinger, for example, has done more work opposing certain hyper-critical methods than Protestants generally give him credit for.

It is too easy for Protestants to sit back in their comfortable armchairs lecturing others for being too "liberal" on the matter of Biblical interpretation, when they have not even dug into these complicated issues for themselves.


"Where the pope has spoken ex cathedra there is no room for discussion, and that my friend is why I shall never be a Roman Catholic."

Jeremiah, the same exact type of "reasoning" can be applied to your belief in Scriptural inspiration. The bible is an authority for you, correct? Well then, would you say that when the bible says something, there is no longer any "room for discussion"?

These are the kinds of "arguments" that Protestants use against Catholicism that have led Protestantism right into the hole of secularism. If Protestants are so intellectually immature as to immediately scoff at the idea of an external, binding authority, then it is only inevitable that their scorn would eventually be directed towards the bible itself.

Just look at the history of Prussia, one of Europe's most important Protestant states. That is the country that has produced such influential atheists as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche. These figures only carried Protestantism to its logical conclusion.

J. R. Stoodley

All right, a few responses to some of this silly combox.

The Church has consistantly taught on the inerrancy of scripture, so let's have no implying anything else.

Yes, some people nitpick what is infallible, what is not, who can say whether it is or is not, etc. That doesn't matter. Just humbly submit to the authority of the Magestarium and accept its guidance on all matters of faith and morals, and there will be very little confusion. I can appreciate how the massive dissention among Catholics right now can be confusing to non-Catholics. That does not change the fact that what the Catholic Church teaches is clear from things like the Catechism, Church Councils, Papal Encyclicals, Apostolic Constitutions etc., and even the teachings of your local bishop to the extent he does not conflict with Rome. Whether a document is infallable or not is occasionally a tricky subject but matters little since if there it is formal enough for it to be an issue than it is clearly taught by the Magestarium and therefore should be believed. Opinions from a faithful Catholic apologist like Jimmy Akin, a faithful theologian like Scott Hahn, or a faithful organization like Catholic Answers or EWTN mean about what they would in the Protestant world, they are trustworthy people who likely know more about the subject than you and will not knowingly contradict the Church, but ultimately have no real authority.

Some matters, including some details held by Creationists, are not explicitly fet forth in teachings by the Magestarium. It will tend to lay down barriers like the inerrancy of Scripture and (I think) the decent of all humanity from a single set of parents who incurred Original Sin, and then leave the rest to your own private speculation. Thus room for disagreement is left until the Church decides to clarify something. This by the way is one reason why some important Catholic dogmas like Papal infallibility and the Immaculate Conception have only been formally declared recently. The Chruch is authoritative and often infallible when it teaches, but can rightly or wrongly choose not to teach on a subject if the bishops choose not to.

When it comes to private interpretation of Scripture by Protestants, there are many opinions (of course!) but most I think can be boiled down to two basic viewpoints, at least if the Protestant would be honest with him/herself. Either the individual is ultimately infallible themselves due to some divine guidance, or he/she can not really be sure of anything and is just basing their beliefs on their best guess. I suppose a third catagory would be those so confident in their education and mental abilities that they are convinced that by reason and study they can come up with the absolute truth. Catholics on the other hand, and to some degree others like the Eastern Orthodox, look to Church authority, which we believe to be supported by both Scripture and Tradition and given in a way the teaching authority of Christ, for interpretation, leaving what the Church hasn't taught on for options one, three, or maybe even two.

J. R. Stoodley

Continueing from my last post, we accept the authority of the Catholic Church because Divine Revelation (Scripture and Tradition) teaches that it has this authority. We accept Scripture and Tradition to be Divine Revelation because the Church teaches that they are. We accept the whole trio on Faith. It makes little sense to me to accept Scripture on faith but reject the Tradition that said (and says) what books belong to it and the Church that declared what this Tradition was (and is), but oh well.

About the Modernist herecy, it was suppressed with Vatican I, but after the light-hearted Vatican II it experienced a resurgence in the Church, which Pope Paul VI MAY have deliberately given an almost free reign to prevent a schism in which many or even most Catholic would have left and formed some Liberal Catholic Church. Whatever the cause, it is a massive and diverse heracy in the Church but obviously is just that: a heracy.

J. R. Stoodley

Sorry, I mean a heresy. My spelling, as always, if far from inerrant or infallible.


Jeremiah, the same exact type of "reasoning" can be applied to your belief in Scriptural inspiration. The bible is an authority for you, correct? Well then, would you say that when the bible says something, there is no longer any "room for discussion"?

My issue is not with a "binding authority", but with a human and fallible binding authority in the Pope.


"Where the pope has spoken ex cathedra there is no room for discussion, and that my friend is why I shall never be a Roman Catholic."

That's interesting. That is one of the principle reasons I left rebellion behind and became a Catholic. I found the one Church with the authority from Jesus Christ that I could submit to.

J. R. Stoodley


My issue is not with a "binding authority", but with a human and fallible binding authority in the Pope.

Your reasoning could also be applied to your belief in Scriptural inspiration.

The books of the Bible were written by human beings. They sometimes seem to contradict each other. A non-believer might say that you believe in a human and fallible binding authority. Not that it is quite the same situation (the Pope's formal declarations are infallible not inspired) but your logic still would annul Biblical as well as Church authority. We Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit not only inspired writers thousands of years ago but continues to guide the Church, including by giving the Pope the charism of infallibility. I can understand if you don't believe the Holy Spirit happens to give anyone this gift. What I can't understand is if you regect the idea that He could or that you would follow anyone given that gift.


"My issue is not with a "binding authority", but with a human and fallible binding authority in the Pope."

That isn't what you wrote earlier.

You said:

"Where the pope has spoken ex cathedra there is no room for discussion, and that my friend is why I shall never be a Roman Catholic."

All you said is that "there is no room for discussion." You didn't say anything about the "human" or "fallible" nature of the Pope.

Nevertheless, you wrote again:

"My issue is not with a "binding authority", but with a human and fallible binding authority in the Pope."

J.R. Stoodley has written a good response to this comment. The books of the Bible are wirtten by human beings. The only reason why you accept them as an authority is because you believe them to be inspired.

John Henry

Oh my word. What a tempest.

Thanks be to God that the Methodists have signed on. And for the Lutherans too. So all Methodists and Lutherans won't agree? So what. Some of them will. And Rome isn't dialoguing with other Lutherans bodies? So what. They would if those other bodies would come to the table. And Rome isn't dialoguing with the non-denom evangelical powerhouse Church of the Savior down the street? Are you kidding? Maybe they should also dialog with my in-laws' house church. Give thou me a break. Rome deals with large church bodies. The rest happens, God willing, at the parish and individual level.

And Rome never speaks about the inerrancy of the bible? Try reading the CCC, or Dei Verbum (i.e., official documents). Rome doesn't teach creation (i.e., God is creator of heaven and earth)? Then how come we recite it every bloody week in the Creed. And we don't believe Paul wrote the Pastorals? Then how come my epistle reading always says, "the X letter of St. Paul to Timothy", for example. The problem is that Jeb and Jeremiah and their ilk have axes to grind, and will more readily believe that some crank at some biblical commission somehow has authority to bind and loose and speak for Papism. And maybe the crank actually has some valid points. "But I will stamp my tiny feet in impotent rage that Rome isn't dialoguing with me, and listening to my long list of gripes." Get real.

Catholics disagree on Scripture interpretation? You're darned right, we do. But whatever you do, don't take that as evidence that we're not actually monolithic, having checked our brains at the door, and that all we need to do give our brains to Rome for salvation. No. That just proves your point that the Church is hypocritical. Hmmm. Maybe that's really not what it's like on this side of the Tiber. But don't let that thought free for too long. Must not forget: Have. Axe. To. Grind.

Catholics disagree on scriptural interpretation. But here's the key: Within limits. There is a fenced in area, inside of which we can freely play and inquire and seek and find. So long as we don't stray outside those barriers. Which would constitute heterodoxy. Those barriers are actually very wide. Oh, it doesn't look so to Jeb and Jeremiah and their ilk, because those very fenceposts were erected in response to their (or their forefathers) going a little too far in their exploration. But to those who accept the authority that Christ very clearly handed to his Church, those fenceposts are far too far to ever reach. Are there exceptions? Yes. Simplification? Maybe.

And what, Popes and Doctors and Saints somehow know less about greek, context, tradition and whatever than Reformed Baptists? Disagreements on scripture, sure, but not on things like, "what does baptism mean and effect?"

Oh, the sweet yolk of slavery and oppression to an old man in Rome. I'm just saying...

John Henry

that my friend is why I shall never be a Roman Catholic.
Oh, and I love Jeremiah's little gem. "You can rejoice all you want about gaining the Methodists. But you'll never get me. I'm no slave." I guess that'll be our loss, Jeremiah, won't it.

Oh well. I think I'll continue to rejoice over the Methodists, though.



We don't ignore the Bultmanians, we have disproven them, thoroughly.You claim that we ignore and do not deal with Bultmannianism is simply false.

Stoodley, the actual nature of the discussions among Patristic and earlier Christians on the homolegoumena, antilegoumena, Tanakh and Apocrypha does not have the characteristic of Tradition, insofar as I understand what that means to you. Rather, it looks very much like the historical part of the grammatical-historical method.

Once again. I do -not- believe in private interpretation. As far as I know, only the Southern Baptists do. The Text is God's word, not mine, and it sits there on the table in front of us all, objective and immutable. We are mutable and fallen, but it is not. We are the ones who must change to conform to it.

I would point out that German-school Deism of Lasch, Feuerbach and Bultmann is of the Modernist heresy, which is why I find it so disturbing that Rome is accepting of it.

What would you do, if you discovered what certainly seemed to be a direct contradiction between a teaching passage in the Bible, and what was being proclaimed as Tradition, or Magisterial teaching? Is there a process for learning and correction, or do you just take the word of men over the word of God?

It would make more sense for Rome to dialogue with the National Association of Evangelicals than with a given local autocephalous Baptist church. Assuming that John 17 and Ut Unam Sint carry weight in Rome, which they -should-.

John Henry,
"Catholics (Roman - I don't know about the others) disagree on scriptural interpretation. But here's the key: Within limits." You could have been talking about Evangelicals just as well. There are limits. The Text itself is the limit. If you argue mistakenly on the grammar or lexicography, you can be disproven, if you refuse to show your work, you should be ignored. In practice, we also use the three ecumenical creeds, because they are a summary of what the Bible teaches. Which I suspect is what you will say of other sources. Ok, can you please provide us poor benighted non-cradle Catholics with the proper contextual grammatical-historical proofs? Please? It would help. Really.

If only the United Methodists -were- as orthodox as the Roman Catholics. I could easily become a United Methodist pastor, but I just could not shake hands with a Wiccan priestest who performs croning ceremonies and worships the false goddess Sophia as a rightly ordained fellow Christian, orthodox United Methodist pastor. There are many such, and it would have been required of me. I know because I did look into it. And I wasn't too sure that they really believed in the Real Presence, either.


That isn't what you wrote earlier.

You said:

"Where the pope has spoken ex cathedra there is no room for discussion, and that my friend is why I shall never be a Roman Catholic."

All you said is that "there is no room for discussion." You didn't say anything about the "human" or "fallible" nature of the Pope.

The rather obvious difference being that God is an authority I have no right to argue with, and a Pope, being simply a man, is someone I do have the right to disagree with.

Jeb Protestant

Let's make one thing clear. What contemporary catholcs mean by biblical inerrancy is not what evangelicals mean (or used to mean). Just read the books of church-approved scholars like Brown and Fitzmyer.

Tim J.

Jeb -

The fact that a "scholar" has an imprimatur printed in the front of his book does not make his work "church approved".

It only means he found some bishop who agreed with him.

The only Church approval that counts is that which comes from conformity with what the Church has actually taught.

There are approved teachings, rather than approved scholars.

Instead of getting your ideas of what is "church approved" from reading the books of individual scholars, try reading the relevant council documents and papal encyclicals.

Tim J.

"...a Pope, being simply a man, is someone I do have the right to disagree with.".

As long as he has not spoken ex-cathedra on a matter of faith or morals. Once the pope exercises his official teaching office, for all good Catholics the matter is settled.

Jeb Protestant


Brown and Fitzmyer were placed on the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Brown twice (once by JP the Great). That's why I say they are "church approved".

Tim J.

My objection still holds, though, Jeb.

Brown's work as a member of the PBC may be wildly different from what he wrote in some book.

As I said, there are approved teachings, rather than approved scholars. If Brown writes that the New Testament was compiled by an infinite number of monkeys, this has no impact on the teaching of the Church at all.

Now, you and I still might have different ideas about what Biblical inerrancy really is, but don't bring Brown into it. If my belief is any different from what the Church has officially taught, that will be news to me, and I will change my views accordingly. Brown, as an individual scholar, is neither here nor there.

J.R. Stoodley


You make your own reason the standard by which you judge whether Tradition is a tradition or the Magisterium is legit. I use faith. No one has explained why the Protestant faith in the Bible is any different. If your faith is different then mine fine (in a sense of the word) but please acknowledge that this is the case, don't suggest that belief in the Bible or being a Christian automatically means not believing in Tradition or Ecclesial authority.

Also you seem to say that one must always have scholarly, fancy vocabulary filled reasoning derrived from massive education to know what to believe, about the Bible or anything else. For shame.

About the United Methodist Church, there is just tons of diversity. I have never encountered Wicca in the UMC but I bet it's there. My mother, a lifelong Methodist, believes in the Real Presence and I was taught it in Sunday School but some Methodists don't believe it. I don't know if there is anything about it in the current Book of Discipline or not. The basics of baptism is taught as well and at least some consider Annointing (rarely do they say "of the sick" since they annoint anyone that feels they are in need of any kind of healing) to be a sacrament. I was told the UMC taught that these three, Baptism, Communion, and Annointing were the three sacraments. There is a sense of being decidedly not Calvanist and that man (whoops, humanity) has free will but God knows what they will do. A certain kinship with the Anglican and Catholic Churches on this matter, and others like liturgy and Holy Orders, is expressed. A major and beautiful focus is on the "Gospel of Grace," the idea of grace being essentially that of the Catholic Church, except that the terminology is a bit different (sanctifying grace for instance is not the grace that justifies but that by which we do good works and thus are made holy). Regarding salvation, it is generally said (in my hearing) that faith justifies but for faith to justify one must do good works since faith without works is dead. This faith and the justification that come from it are free gifts of God's wonderful grace. One must persevere in faith and good works though to ultimately be saved. When it comes to those who do not profess to be Christians, the general idea seems to be that what imperfect faith they have will be credited to them as rightiousness and they will likely be saved too. Of course there are also liberals who hold that all faiths are equal, and doubt things like the divinity of the historical Jesus, the Ressurection, and the unique and inerrant inspiration of the Bible. These though are generally considered extreme and even scary and non-Christian to many if not most in upstate New York. At the last Troy Annual Conference a very narrow vote (which the loosing side thought should have been counted by ballot not by raising hands since it was so close) led to the recommendation (it will now go to higher levels of the UMC for consideration) that the definition of marriage be changed from between a man and a woman to between two persons. More extreme suggestions about homosexuality were blocked. Individual positions on abortion varry, with most I know against the action but some in favor of its being legal. I believe the official position is weakly pro-Choice.

I can not guarrenty that all this is an accurate presentation of the official positions of the UMC or not or whether it is already out of date, but it gives a better picture of Methodism than what Puzzled said.

J.R. Stoodley

As a bit of clarification, there are other Methodists and Wesleyan churches besides the United Methodist Church, and in general I think they are more orthodox. My sister goes to a Free Methodist college and they are very solid, in a protestant sort of way.

J.R. Stoodley


I looked at one of my previous comments and realized I made a serious mistake. When I said at 9:22:02 on July 31 "leaving what the Church hasn't taught on for options one, three, or maybe even two." I should have said "leaving what the Church hasn't taught on for options two, three, or maybe even one."

I did not mean to say that believeing you have personal infallible guidance from the Holy Spirit was normative in the Catholic Church and that leaving some doubt about whether your private opinions are correct is questionable. I meant the exact opposite.

Jeremiah Bailey

As long as he has not spoken ex-cathedra on a matter of faith or morals. Once the pope exercises his official teaching office, for all good Catholics the matter is settled.

Which is my point Tim. I have no reason to believe that the Holy Spirit works in some special way on the Pope, except of course tradition, which I should believe just because the church says so. By the way, how do we know when a Pope is speaking infallibly anyway? Seeing as how the doctrine was solidified in 1870, how can one read say a 14th Century Pope's statements and tell if they are made ex cathedra? If it is simply through commanding language and a declaration of a dogmatic stance or a Papal Bull or such, then according to said 14th century Pope anyone not Baptized by the RCC and not under the Popes authority cannot be saved.


I realize this an old thread but I wanted to comment on Jeremiahs last comment. He said:

"I have no reason to believe that the Holy Spirit works in some special way on the Pope"

I give you Matthew 16:17-20

"Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

So directly from Scripture (which Protestants repute to believe is inerrant) Christ Himself founds the Church in Peter, who was the founder of the Catholic Church. Further since he gave Peter the keys to the kindgom he also gave him Authority the self-same Authority the Pope relies on today as Peters direct successor.

Furthermore, if you go to Church on Sunday then you already submit to Tradition and Papal Authority. It is the only way a faithful person can "remember and keep" the Sabbath on a Sunday rather than on a Saturday wihout breaking a commandment.

Tim J.

"how can one read say a 14th Century Pope's statements and tell if they are made ex cathedra? If it is simply through commanding language and a declaration of a dogmatic stance or a Papal Bull or such..."

People sometimes make the same mistake with Catholic teaching that they make with the Bible - they tend to want to break it into bits and take each one in isolation, rather than reading them in full context.

Catholic teaching must be understood as a totality, and not a series of isolated statements. There are universal moral principles that underly all Catholic moral teaching, and ignorance of these will lead to misunderstanding.

For instance, one universal moral principle is that ignorance reduces individual culpability. When a Pope writes that all must be subject to the Roman Pontiff or be damned, his statement does not undo this underlying moral principle. Those who act in rebellion against the Pope with full knowledge of his authority will be FAR more culpable than those who wouldn't know a Roman Pontiff from Roman Meal or Roman Wrestling.

In addition, not all Papal pronouncements carry the same weight, but I'm no expert in that. Again, I think context is key. If the Pope took a fever and dashed off a note after breakfast which taught that Jesus was a space alien, it would be apparent, I think, from the context (or lack of it) that this note did not enjoy the protection of infallibility. In all likelihood, such a thing would never see the light of day, as some compassionate underling would see it for what it was, pocket the thing and put the Pontiff to bed, after a strong toddy, perhaps.

Such a scenario is EXTREMELY far-fetched, though. Really authoritative teaching documents are put together over many months, usually, with a great deal of input from numbers of people, and then there's the actual publishing and promulgating to do.

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