This continues my replies to your material on the “Bible Only” discussion.
POINT #13: Scott, the Bible that “fundamentalists” have today existed, as it is today, at the very point that John (if he was the last writer) put down his pen from writing the last letter of the last word of the last line of his book. What you are trying to allege is that since it was not published under one leather cover until later, the Bible itself is somehow less authoritative, and in need of the Roman magisterium to interpret it. If you miss the logical connection between the historical facts and the claims of Rome, you are not alone–there is no logical connection.
I find it interesting that you ask, “So how can one be a Christian with the OT only?” Did you miss 2 Timothy 3:14-16 again? Seemingly, you and Paul don’t believe in the same things! You then write, “Yes, canonization lists were *started* before 400, but *none* completed till this time. Who is avoiding truth and honesty here?” You are, Scott! It has been pointed out to you many times that at least 95% of the text of the Bible is to be found in, for example, the Muratorian fragment from A.D. 186; full canon lists predate A.D. 400 by about 70 years. And, as has been pointed out, this whole thing is a smoke-screen–Augustine, or Jerome, or Athanasius did not in the least believe that they were for a second “giving” authority to the books of Scripture; none of them believed that the Pope in Rome was the sole ruler of the church; none of them thought they were acting as representatives of “the Church of Rome” in the sense that modern Romanism gives to their claims; and, again, all of this is utterly irrelevant to the real Christian belief in the sufficiency of Scripture.
POINT 14: No, Scott, as has already been said over and over again, the author of this tract, and you in following him, continue to miss the whole issue, the whole question. The belief in the sufficiency of Scripture is not relevant to the distribution of Bibles; how many Bibles there are in the world is not relevant to the fact that the Bible itself is the sole and sufficient authority for the believer. Today in many communist countries believers risk their lives to own a copy of the Bible–does that for a second mean that the Bible is insufficient in its authority in Russia, while, due to its widespread sales in America, it has more authority here? Of course not. The number of printed and bound copies of the Bible is not relevant to the issue–so, I have to ask, why does this author misrepresent the position he denies? It is either ignorance or malice–you decide which.
POINT 15: You skipped the main point of my rebuttal here, Scott. The fact remains that the claim of this author is (again) irrelevant and erroneous–there were always other groups around that did not bow the knee to the Pope in Rome. Indeed, it was not till after the sixth century that the Papacy in Rome even began to function as superior to Alexandria or Constantinople or Jerusalem or Antioch. As documentation (remember, you asked for it), let’s look at the sixth canon of the council of Nice (Nicea): “Let the ancient customs prevail which are in Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis; that the Bishop of Alexandria have authority over all, since this is customary also to the Bishop of Rome. In like manner also as regards Antioch, and in all other provinces, let the churches preserve their dignity. This is altogether certain, that if any one become a bishop without the consent of the Metropolitan, the great synod has determined that he ought not to be a bishop.” This canon gave the same authority over the province of Alexandria to the bishop of Alexandria that the bishop of Antioch, and the bishop of Rome, had over their provinces, showing the equality of the bishop of Rome with these other bishops. Note also that it is said that this was an “ancient custom”: that is, that it was nothing new that the bishop’s authority was limited to his particular province– hence, the bishop of Rome obviously was not the “supreme Pontiff” at this time.
As a further aside, I might point out to you the 28th canon of Chalcedon as well, where, when it speaks of the honor paid to the Bishop of Rome is clearly says that it is given not because Peter was the first “Pope”, or that the pontiff the vicar of Christ, or Peter the rock on which the Church is supposed to be built; rather, honor is given the bishop of Rome because Rome was the Imperial City, the seat of Roman government! Not only this, but the canon gives “equal precendency to the most holy throne of New Rome” (that is, Constantinople).
Finally in this series of asides, I point out that, outside of Rome itself, for the first five centuries of our era, “no Christian father of any note dreamt that” Matthew 16:18 “gave Peter the sovereignty of the Church” (Cathcart, “The Papal System,” page 77). Augustine wrote, “The Church does not fall, because it is founded on the rock from which Peter received his name. For the rock is not called after Peter, but Peter is so called after the rock: just as Christ is not so denominated after the Christian, but the Christian after Christ; for it is on this account our Lord declares, ‘Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ On this rock which thou hast confessed, he declares, ‘I will build my Church;’ for Christ was the rock on whose foundation Peter himself was built.” (Tractate 124, 5). Chrysostom wrote, “Upon this rock, that is, upon the faith of his confession…” and “Christ says that he would build his Church upon Peter’s confession.” And Theodoret joined Chrysostom in this by saying, “Our Lord permitted the first of the apostles, whose confession he fixed as a prop or foundation of the Church, to be shaken.”
So, it seems clear that not only have there always been those who did not bow the knee to the Pope in Rome (as many Irish churches, the Eastern churches, etc.) but there was a long period of time in which the bishop of Rome was not even viewed by those in fellowship with him as “vicar of Christ” or Supreme Pontiff. Do you have any rebuttal of these facts?
Finally, after all these asides, in regards to the Bible, allow the 14th canon from the council of Toulouse in 1229, to answer your statements. It “prohibited laymen to have the books of the Old or New Testaments, unless a Psalter, a Breviary, and a Rosary, and they forbade their translation in the vulgar tongue.” (Du Pin, Vol. ii, p. 456).
POINT 16: At this point I will grant your reply: you wrote, “And pointed out that the “Reformers” had started preaching a new gospel basically.” That is true–the Gospel as proclaimed by the Reformers was indeed very new to Europe in 1517–it certainly was not that preached by Rome. But it *was* the Gospel as proclaimed by Jesus and Paul, which Rome had buried under layers of tradition to be point of destroying it. The Reformers did not preach any other gospel than the one preached by Paul–it was the Romish innovators over the centuries who find themselves under the anathema of Galatians 1:8-9! When we hear, over and over again, that our sins can be forgiven by suffering in purgatory, we see just how far from the completed work of Christ is the teaching of Rome! So, though the author’s point is completely irrelevant to the topic of the complete and sufficient authority of Scripture, it is instructive to see the recognition of the substantive differences between the Gospel as found in the New Testament (as it was faithfully preached by the Reformers who broke free from the yoke of Rome) and that system of works, penances, and ceremonies that is the message of Rome.
POINT 17: Yes, Scott, I’ve heard the “hey, we are all united in one group and you are not, so we must be true” argument before. And guess who has given it to me? Yes, you guessed right again! Jehovah’s Witnesses love pointing out how “united” they are–but, of course, theirs is a unanimity based upon force rather than truth, human authority rather than the Word of God. And we might add the many, many LDS people to whom I’ve spoken. They say the same thing- -they are so united. But they are united in falsehood, not on the basis of God’s Word. If what you look for is unity based upon a twisting of the Word of God, then you can find it in many, many religions. But if obedience to the Word of God is your goal, you have far fewer choices.