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David S. Clark -The Message From Patmos: A Postmillennial Commentary on the Book of Revelation (1921) "This early twentieth-century Postmillennial commentary on the Book of Revelation, written by the father of theologian Gordon Clark, offers an easy-to-read alternative to the popular Pre-millennial/Dispensational views of the best-selling Scofield Reference Bible and a multitude of other dissertations on end-time prophecy that litter the shelves of Christian bookstores. "
Art Sippo and the Demise of Catholic Apologetics
By Catholic Apologetics International
"And while we're on the subject, perhaps Sippo can tell us where he obtained his Ph.D. in theology, or for that matter, any degree in theology. The fact is, if we are going to judge each other by the degrees we have in theology, then I'm afraid Sippo doesn't even qualify, for he has none. He has a medical doctorate only. So how is it that, if having the right theological degree is one's ticket to acceptance, does Sippo allow himself to enter this fray?" (R. Sungenis)
"Anyone who has tried to keep up with the field knows that the movement for "biblical theology" is a new and exciting area of study that crosses confessional lines and participates in the New Pauline Perspective which has been systematically dismantling the classical Protestant interpretation of Scripture in favor of a view of soteriology that is more favorable to the traditional Catholic position." (Sippo)
R. Sungenis: How is it that a critique of Scott Hahn's theology - critiques that Hahn himself has invited and encouraged to keep him abiding in the truth - is interpreted by Art Sippo as "recklessness"? It can only be so to Sippo if he has already concluded in his mind that such critiques of Hahn are off limits. It can only be so if Sippo has already elevated Hahn's theology to such a point where it is beyond reproach. Suffice it to say, I don't even think Scott Hahn would categorize his theology in that way.
We can get more of a sense of Sippo's motives as we observe him trying to reduce the issue to one of who has the better Ph.D. Apparently, in Sippo's world, truth is judged by whether you have a Ph.D. after your name, and only from an institution of which he approves.
Like a true demagogue, he has to start by suggesting that I am not getting my Ph.D. from an "accredited institution." Not only is his accusation false, but it only shows the low-life level of retort for which Sippo has become infamous, even among his friends.
But rather than getting into that quagmire, let me assure you that my Ph.D. program is from an accredited institution. Maryvale Institute is in the consortium of the Open University of Europe and is accredited. Ask Protestant Eric Svendsen. At least he bothered to find out. But my Catholic "friend," Art Sippo, apparently didn't bother to do any investigation before he decided to levy his insidious comment.
Reason it out for yourself: Which one of us is being "reckless"?
As for the institution where Hahn received his Ph.D., if someone wants to call Marquette University an "institution of Catholic higher learning," he can do so, but only with the greatest trepidation. As Hahn himself will agree, Marquette University is one of the most liberal-oriented establishments existing. Ask Hahn himself. He'll tell you that when he was being examined for his doctoral dissertation, one woman on the panel of four (I believe her name is Diedre Dupey) asked Hahn how he regarded the "gods of the Old Testament." According to what Hahn told me, the lady wasn't asking this as if she denied their existence but quite the opposite! That, Hahn said, was only a small taste of the almost total loss of the Catholic faith at Marquette.
It is common knowledge that most Catholic universities, colleges and seminaries are cesspools of liberal theology and homosexuality. If you don't believe me, visit Catholic University of America in Washington DC, home to some of the most audacious and heterodox modernists and liberals this world has ever known, not to mention the underground homosexual network that permeates the campus and the surrounding dioceses.
And while we're on the subject, perhaps Sippo can tell us where he obtained his Ph.D. in theology, or for that matter, any degree in theology. The fact is, if we are going to judge each other by the degrees we have in theology, then I'm afraid Sippo doesn't even qualify, for he has none. He has a medical doctorate only. So how is it that, if having the right theological degree is one's ticket to acceptance, does Sippo allow himself to enter this fray?
Sippo: Scott is very well read in the Patristic literature and is on the cutting edge of modern biblical scholarship. Anyone who has tried to keep up with the field knows that the movement for "biblical theology" is a new and exciting area of study that crosses confessional lines and participates in the New Pauline Perspective which has been systematically dismantling the classical Protestant interpretation of Scripture in favor of a view of soteriology that is more favorable to the traditional Catholic position.
R. Sungenis: Thanks for proving my point. In case you didn't catch it, Sippo has admitted by the statement "crosses confessional lines and participates in the New Pauline Perspective," that he and Hahn have received their newfound ideas on soteriology from Protestants. Need I say more? According to Sippo, we've been waiting exactly two-thousand years to be enlightened from on high by none other than Protestants, men who deny almost every facet of the traditional Catholic faith. This is classic Catholic liberalism, and apparently Sippo wants to be a vital part of it.
As for being "more favorable to the traditional Catholic position," please tell us where any of the Fathers, the Medievals or Trent taught or even suggested the type of soteriology you have accepted from the Protestant liberals. I've read them quite carefully, but can't seem to find any of your ideas in their writings. Perhaps you can enlighten us.
Sippo: A recent series of lectures at Beeson Divinity School given by German Scholar Peter Stulmacher -- probably the leading European exponent of the Biblical Theology movement -- sees the teaching of St. Paul as being transformational and explicitly denies the nominalist views of the 16th Century Deformers on externally imputed righteousness. To any Catholic with a sensitivity to the dogmatic issues, the modern Biblical Theology movement is THE future of the ecumenism precisely because it establishes the biblical credibility of the positions of the Patristic, Medieval, and Tridentine eras.
R. Sungenis: The idea of "transformational" justification was already present in the Swiss Reformers of the 16th century, but they were few and far between, and those who expounded it were thoroughly anti-Catholic in every aspect of their theology. Even Luther incorporated some of the transformational language, as most everyone does at one time or another, but he was thoroughly anti-Catholic as well. The same is true today - hardly anyone adopts the transformational view, and those that speak about it come no where near the concept of infused grace that Trent demanded they accept. Even at that, notice Sippo can only find one example of a transformationalist in this "vast" movement of which he speaks.
As for the rest of the "modern Biblical Theology movement," most of them explicitly deny a transformational aspect to justification proper. You won't find Stendahl, Dunn, Suggate, Gaston, Stowers, Hays, Wright, or hardly any of the other Protestants who are pushing for the "New Perspective" citing transformationalism as their cornerstone. In fact, I sent Hahn an article written by N.T. Wright just a year or two ago in which Wright was promoting forensic (non-transformational) justification, yet Wright is one of the leading exponents of the New Perspective and a major source for many of Hahn's views. Unfortunately, Hahn and Sippo are in the quagmire of ecumenical eclecticism, the Heinz-57 variety of spirituality. Just add a little Protestant thought here, throw in a few Jewish thoughts there, add a few out-of-context quotes from the Fathers, and shake it all up and, Presto! The new religion of the modern age appears.
To put it bluntly, the "New Perspective" has little to do with transformational justification, if anything. It has to do with ethnic and social paradigms. If anything of "transformation" is included, it is only in seeking to dissolve intrinsic ethnic prejudices that the New Perspective says are built up into the human psyche. The few that speak of "transformationalism" don't even come close to the Tridentine doctrine of infused grace, nor would even consider infused grace as the formal cause of justification. That is precisely why the Lutheran/Catholic Joint Declaration on Justification tried its best to avoid the Council of Trent's insistence that infused grace is the real and formal cause of justification.
Consequently, Sippo's claim that the New Perspective "establishes the biblical credibility of the positions of the Patristic, Medieval, and Tridentine eras" is just a boldfaced falsehood. I know of no New Perspective theologian who has adopted the Patristic, Medieval and Tridentine doctrine of infused grace being the formal cause of justification. It just ain't there. But here's the rub. Unless it's there, then it is heresy, pure and simple.
Sippo: Sungenis on the other hand is still hawking the theological anti-Semitism of the Deformers and trying to pretend that St. Paul's primary concern in Romans, Galatians, et al. was "works righteousness." This is an anachronism that can no longer be tolerated in Catholic circles and is on its way out among intelligent Protestants. Neither Patristic nor Medieval positions would affirm Sungenis's views. Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism were not the concern of the Biblical authors but rather heretical responses in the 3rd-5th Centuries AD to the Christian doctrines of grace and salvation. Sungenis is acting like a typical Protestant exegete in the way he handles St. Paul on these topics and I think it is very hypocritical of him to attack Dr. Hahn as being "too Protestant."
R. Sungenis: Let me see if I can sort out this confusing assortment of thoughts that Sippo has brought forth. First, the "works righteousness" model used to understand St. Paul was the very thing taught by the Patristics, the Medievals and the Tridentine dogmas. You won't find one word in Trent concerning ethnic or social issues, or even any discussion on the relevance of circumcision or Jewish ethnic badges to the issue of Justification. (And you'll notice that Sippo didn't include Trent in his list of supporters). According to Sippo, Trent's methodology "can no longer be tolerated."
But if Sippo insists that "neither Patristic nor Medieval positions would affirm Sungenis's views," then I challenge Sippo to show us where the Fathers or Medievals taught the "New Perspective" view to which he holds, and also show us where the same denied the "works righteousness" view. That is an open challenge. If he can't find it, then you know what you can do with his assertions - put them in the "reckless" file.
If one wants to find out where the Patristic and Medieval backing is, all one needs to do is read my book Not By Faith Alone, a book Sippo said was "a thorough presentation of the Catholic doctrine of justification from the biblical perspective...It is written with such sensitivity and depth of scholarship that both Catholics and non-Catholics will benefit from a careful reading. Anyone interested in Catholic apologetics and sound biblical exegesis needs to read this book" (NBFA, p. xiv).
Sippo writes: "Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism were not the concern of the Biblical authors but rather heretical responses in the 3rd-5th Centuries AD to the Christian doctrines of grace and salvation."
Apparently, Sippo hasn't read the Bible carefully enough, for "works righteousness" is all over the New Testament, not only as the problem of the Jews, but also of Gentiles. If anyone wants more information on this, please read my 30-page paper titled "Works of the Law" at www.catholicintl.com/epologetics/Works_of_the_Law.htm or purchase our two-tape audio set on our homepage at www.catholicintl.com. There you will see all the biblical passages that speak of "works righteousness" as the true perspective to understand the issue of justification.
The Council of Orange of 529 AD, the very council that laid out the canons against Pelagianism and Seim-Pelagianism, QUOTED FROM the very passages in the New Testament that are commonly used in reference to condemning "works righteousness," and many of the very passages that appear in my paper. For example, Canon 1 cited Ezk 18:20; Rom 6:16; 2 Pet 2:19; Canon 2 cited Rom 5:12; Canon 3 cited Rom 10:20; Canon 4 cited Phil 2:13; Canon 5 cited Eph 2:8; Phil 1:6, 29; Canon 6 cited 1Cor 4:7; 15:10; Canon 7 cited John 15:5; 2 Cor 3:5; Canon 8 cited John 6:44; Canon 9 cited 1 Chr 29:14; Canon 16 cited Gal 2:21; Eph 4:8; Canon 17 cited Rom 5:5; Canon 21 cited Gal 2:21; Canon 25 cited Rom 5:5. All of the canons of Orange deal with salvation from a "works versus grace" perspective, not the "New Perspective" of Sippo.
Each of the 25 canons of the Council of Orange footnote St. Augustine and St. Prosper of Aquitane, the very Fathers who understood the issue of justification as one of condemning "works righteousness," the very Fathers that the "New Perspective" theologians ignore or ridicule, and the very Fathers that are absent from Hahn's and Sippo's treatment of the issue.
Trent's canons do exactly the same thing as the canons of the Council of Orange, even adding more "works" quotes from the New Testament in order to show that "works righteousness" was THE principle paradigm in order to understand Catholic soteriology. There was NO ONE even suggesting anything near the "New Perspective," let alone making any of its tenets a functional part of dogmatic theology. Hahn and Sippo need to face the fact that their view is a Protestant view, and it has absolutely no foundation in our Catholic tradition. Unfortunately, it seems Hahn and Sippo have been influenced by the spirit of the age they are living. If Sippo thinks otherwise, then he is required to show us where the Fathers and Councils rejected the "works righteousness" model and adopted something akin to the "New Perspective." If he can't find it, then I suggest you place his assertions in the "reckless" file of interesting but heretical ideas.
Also, I can't help notice the disingenuous of Sippo's present approach. Several years ago, knowing that Not By Faith Alone did not ascribe to the "New Perspective" (and actually critiqued the view in a lengthy appendix), nevertheless, Sippo gave a glowing endorsement of the book, and even recommended it on his website, and to my knowledge, is still there. So why, all of a sudden, is the view I espouse in the book something Sippo claims is not represented in the Bible, the Patristics and the Medivals, and is not accepted by modern scholars? You figure it out. I think it speaks more of Sippo's duplicity then it does of the real truth.
Sippo: The work of PROTESTANT scholars such as Krister Stendahl, E.P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn, John Zeisler, and N.T. Wright have made it clear that the primary problem which St. Paul was dealing with in his body of NT work was JUDAIZING: the allegation that Gentiles had to become observant Jews in order to be Christians. It was this body of work dating from the 1960s which helped lead Scott Hahn into the Catholic Church.
R. Sungenis: Again, let me thank Sippo for helping me to prove my argument. Notice that Sippo admits that his view of justification comes from "PROTESTANT scholars," not Catholic tradition. Very interesting. Since when is Catholic dogma based on "Protestant scholarship"? When was it EVER based on what Protestant scholars think?
Sippo has made the choice very clear for you. It's either Catholic tradition or "Protestant scholars."
In addition, the truth is that most "Protestant scholars" don't accept the view of Stendahl, Dunn, et al., for the simple reason that they are said to be reading into the Bible what they want to see. One of the more outlandish conclusions comes from Dunn's partner, Alan Suggate, who claims that Hitler's real problem was not intrinsic evil but merely a failure to recognize ethnic equality between himself and the Jews. The truth is that Sippo is being sucked into the new religion of the modern age, a religion that is heavily influenced by liberal Protestant theology.
As for what brought Hahn into the Catholic Church, if it was a soteriology based on the rejection of "works righteousness" as the principle paradigm, then Hahn came into the Catholic Church under false pretenses. Understandably, if you listen to Hahn's "Romans" series, he explains that one of the chief factors that led him to the Catholic Church was his "discovery" that "works of the law" referred only to the Jewish ceremonies. Hahn then built a whole theology around this concept, using Protestant N.T. Wright as his mentor - the very scholar who is still fostering the Reformation concept of forensic imputation as the means of justification.
But I can tell you this. If Hahn came to the Catholic Church under the notion that the Catholic Church teaches that "works of the law" refers to Jewish ceremonies, he came in under a mistaken notion. The Fathers, the Popes, the Councils simply DO NOT use the incidence of Jewish ceremonies as the foundation for understanding the essence of Catholic soteriology. Yes, they mention the ceremonial law, but only as a subset of over-arching theme of "works righteousness," a fact that Hahn continually misrepresents when he deals with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus.
This is precisely why the Council of Trent, our principle dogmatic source for understanding Catholic soteriology, does not mention, even one time, the ceremonial law of Israel, let alone use it as a basis for understanding the nature of justification. I think Hahn sees this but is afraid to admit it. I say this because there is a marked difference in Hahn's approach in his "Romans" series as opposed to his "Galatians" series. In the former, Hahn denies that the Catholic Church views "works of the law" as referring to the whole Mosaic law, and condemns Luther for holding the view. In the latter series, after I had wrangled with him for close to ten years, he finally admitted that Augustine taught that it referred to the whole law, and that Thomas Aquinas made a synthesis of the two views. I think Hahn needs to come the rest of the way. He needs to reject the view of these modern Protestants and liberal Catholics and go back to the Augustinian/Tridentine doctrine.
Let me add also that, "works righteousness," being the principle paradigm to understand New Testament soteriology, does not only come from Trent. The 1992 Catholic Catechism teaches the same thing. In all the paragraphs that cover justification, not one word is mentioned about the ceremonial law as being the exegetical base to understand the issue (Paragraphs 1987 to 2029). The Catechism uses the same paradigm of "works righteousness" that appears in the Council of Trent and the Council of Orange. I defy Hahn or Sippo to show us differently. In fact, paragraphs 1987-2029 quote from Augustine and Trent a total of 13 times - the very sources that Hahn and Sippo virtually ignore in their "New Perspective."
Sippo: Scott Hahn's doctoral dissertation is a great piece of CATHOLIC Biblical scholarship. Scott provides documentation of all of his assertions including material from the Church Fathers, the Rabbis, and modern biblical scholars from all religious backgrounds.
R. Sungenis: I've read Hahn's dissertation. I can tell you this. It has very little documentation from the Fathers. It may have a lot of quotes from "rabbis and modern biblical scholars from all religious backgrounds," but it is practically absent of patristic witness. Here's the tally: Hahn's dissertation contains 1110 bibliographical references and 1242 footnotes (which often contain multiple citations, and thus the references total more than 2000). Of those, over 90% of them are from modern Protestant exegetes.
There are exactly eight references to the Fathers. This amounts to .4% of his references being attributed to the Fathers. Of those eight references, Hahn cites Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Tertullian, Origen, Araphaat and Augustine. Of those, he concentrates on Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, since in them (although he takes them out of context) he thinks he has found support for his thesis. The others, Chrysostom, Terullian, Athanasius, Origen and Araphaat are cited only for incidental support regarding the meaning of certain words, references to God as Father, and one or two other minor issues.
But even more significant than Hahn's minuscule references to the Fathers over against his overwhelming references to Protestant exegetes is his almost total neglect of St. Augustine, the very person who had more to say on this topic than all the Fathers combined. Hahn has precisely two references to Augustine in his 750-page dissertation. The second reference is merely incidental. In the first reference, Hahn more or less dismisses Augustine's view and any impact it may have on the discussion. He relegates Augustine's view of "works of the law" (which understood it as referring to the whole Mosaic law) to merely a "theological sense," and then places it as last on the list of possible meanings of the phrase. In fact, Hahn makes a point to say that "Luther took Augustine's view, even though he misunderstood it," implying that those who take Augustine's view on the subject are somehow getting mixed up with Luther.
I know this to be the case since, in one of my many attempts over the past ten years to convince Hahn otherwise, I visited his house in Steubenville a few years ago to discuss the issue. At the house, Hahn's wife, Kimberly, was talking with me in their dining room while Scott was outside, and remarked that Scott told her that I was espousing "Luther's view" of justification. As one can imagine, I was quite taken aback by this comment, and wondered where it could have originated. Then I remembered how Hahn had treated Augustine in his dissertation, associating his view with Luther.
In essence, Hahn has an aversion to Augustine that goes very deep, almost to the point of contempt. Unfortunately for Hahn, Augustinianism is the premier theology of the Catholic Church. It always has been, and it is not going to go away any time soon, despite the thousands of references from modern Protestant scholars in Hahn's dissertation to try to silence Augustine.
Augustine is so thoroughly permeated in the theology of Catholicism that the Council of Orange, one of the first councils to give us canons on Catholic soteriology, quotes only from Augustine, and his pupil, Prosper of Aquitane. It is the same reason that the 1992 Catholic Catechism, in its paragraphs dealing with justification (1987-2029), quote Augustine SIX times from six different works. The only other Fathers mentioned are Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa, each with one entry. The Catechism also quotes from the Council of Trent SEVEN times in the same paragraphs. In light of that I think it is remarkable that Hahn's dissertation does not quote once from the Council of Trent, or any other council for that matter. Why is that? Because the Council of Trent was using Augustine's soteriology as its foundation. Trent quotes from Augustine five times, which is five times more than any other Father. The coalescence of Augustinian soteriology with Tridentine soteriology is undeniable, yet Scott Hahn did his best to suppress that from his audiences for the last 17 years.
In effect, Hahn's dissertation is a concerted effort to divest the Catholic Church of Augustinianism. Why is that? Because of all the Fathers, Augustine was the most prolific against Hahn's modernistic view and the modern exegetes from whom Hahn quotes ad nauseam. They are against Augustine because he was THE theologian who taught that justification's formal cause was the infusion of grace, and that the main polemical issue in the New Testament was "works verus grace," and that both Jew and Gentile had their major problem in "works righteousness."
Unfortunately, it is not only Luther who "misunderstood" Augustine, but Scott Hahn misunderstands him more so. Or perhaps, Hahn indeed understands Augustine but has made a concerted effort to deny his listening audience of Augustine's valuable insights. Hahn's rejection of Augustine also appears in his eschatology. Rejecting the Amillennialism of Augustine which held that the Millennium of Apocalypse 20 began at the cross and transpires till the end of time into eternity, Hahn has sided with the lone and late exegete Eugene Corsini, who posits that the Millennium of Apocalypse 20 was already fulfilled in the Old Testament, particularly beginning with the reign of David. Once this identification is made between the Millennium and the Old Testament, it infects almost every other interpretation that Hahn brings to Scripture, for now he must make everything fit into the eschatological framework he has adopted. Many think that Hahn's thesis that the Apocalypse speaks about the Catholic Mass is such a wonderful insight, but in reality, it is demanded of a system that places the Millennium in the Old Testament, since the Catholic Mass is the only thing left that could possibly fit into the remainder of the Apocalypse.
Sippo: Furthermore, this work is accessible to any intelligent Catholic adult willing to invest the time to read it. Scott identifies the BIBLICAL warrant for understanding the Davidic Kingdom as universal and not merely particular to the Jewish people. This is critical for understanding why Jesus as the "Son of David" is the Savior of all men not just the Jews.
R. Sungenis: What Sippo doesn't tell you is that Hahn has such a heightened view of the Davidic kingdom that he feels the necessity to steal the Millennium away from Christ and the New Testament period so that he can put it back in the time of David. But the truth is, David did not have a divine mandate to bring the gospel to the nations. In fact, David's life was so filled with the blood of the nations that for that very reason God told him he could not build the temple. The only thing worthy of mention that David had that Moses didn't have was a "court of the Gentiles." Most exegetes have seen this as a type of the "nations no longer being deceived" of Apoc 20:3, but certainly not its fulfillment, as Hahn sees it.
Sippo: Furthermore, Scott's insight into the escalating burdens of the Torah on the Jews in the Pentateuch as punishments for their continued infidelity helps to explain why the Mosaic law as a whole no longer applies while the moral principles extracted from it remain perpetually valid.
R. Sungenis: Sippo is confusing the issue. I AM THE ONE who has been arguing, quite profusely, I might add, that "the Mosaic law as a whole no longer applies while the moral principles extracted from it remain perpetually valid." If you read my writings, including the paper on the Works of the Law, that's exactly what you will see. I have been preaching that gospel for the last ten years, and it is the essence of my book Not By Faith Alone. In fact, I use the very word PRINCIPLES that Sippo used above.
But this is not what Hahn teaches in his lectures. He teaches that the ceremonial law is the law that no longer applies, but that the moral law of the Decalogue still applies. Hahn has failed to understand and teach that the WHOLE Mosaic law has been set aside (ceremonial, civil and moral laws) and has been replaced by the New Covenant, which has its own ceremonial (sacraments), civil and moral laws. Granted, the New Covenant borrows from the PRINCIPLES in the Old Covenant and expands on them, but the main fact that must be understood if anyone is going to understand this issue is that the Mosaic Law, as a LEGAL and BINDING entity, has been totally abrogated (cf., Romans 6:14; 7:6-10; Gal 3:10-12; 5:1-4; Heb 7:18; 10:9). Christ is our lawgiver now (James 4:12). This was the teaching of Augustine and Trent, as well as Aquinas and every other Father and Medieval who spoke on this issue, including the 1992 Catechism. I defy Sippo to show us differently.
Sippo: With regard to circumcision, Scott and I had a poignant discussion of this matter prior to his completing the dissertation. The fact that circumcision was a punishment levied on Abraham for his dalliance with Hagar is easily established by studying the biblical text. I insisted to Scott -- and I still insist today -- that cutting the tip off Abraham's genital member was at the very least a "Sicilian message" concerning sin if not an outright blood sacrifice to atone for it. IMHO Circumcision continues to function as an atoning sacrifice for sin to this day. Recent Jewish scholarship supports this view. (See Covenant of Blood: Circumcision and Gender in Rabbinic Judaism by Lawrence A. Hoffman
Scott did not want to go quite that far, but he at least recognized the irony that the badge of honor which the Judaizers touted as necessary for salvation was in fact a badge of shame done as a punishment for Abraham's sin.
R. Sungenis: Sippo claims that "The fact that circumcision was a punishment levied on Abraham for his dalliance with Hagar is easily established by studying the biblical text." If it's so "easily established," then why didn't Sippo give us a chapter and verse where the Bible explicitly teaches that notion? It seems the only support he has for his contention is from "recent Jewish scholarship." Apparently, Jewish exegetes are Sippo's authority as opposed to an explicit reference from Scripture.
In regards to Scripture, the only commentary we have on the theological origin and basis for circumcision is Romans 4:11, but it says nothing of Sippo's interpretation. In fact, it is just the opposite. Romans 4:11 says that circumcision was "a seal of the righteousness of faith" of Abraham. Now, how much more positive can you get than calling something a "seal of righteousness"? In fact, Romans 4:18-22 goes on to say how tremendous was Abraham's faith that earned him the rite of circumcision. Moreover, the Fathers and one pope said that circumcision, being an "ex opera operandis" action, dealt with the eternal consequences of original sin, and is the means the Abrahamic fathers attained access to the "limbus patrem." But Sippo and Hahn would have us believe that no, circumcision was a sign of Abraham's sin, the very opposite commentary that the Apostle Paul - a "Jewish scholar" who could run circles around any of the Jewish scholars of today who are mostly in unbelief concerning the very thing about which Paul wrote, that is, Christ.
Sippo: Meanwhile, Sungenis's output continues to degenerate into more and more narrow minded anti-Papal rhetoric.
R. Sungenis: "anti-papal rhetoric"? Hardly. I only object to things the pope says and does that are obviously not in our Tradition (like calling 160 world religions to pray for world peace), and to which Canon Law allows me to raise objections. Unfortunately, the Catholicism of Art Sippo consists of idolizing the pope. That being the case, I'll tell him the same thing I told Tim Staples.
If you prefer to "hang on to JPII" in everything he says and does, then I encourage you to set a good example for all your fellow apologists by inviting your Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim friends and neighbors to your house this week, encouraging them to pray to their pagan gods for your mutual aspirations of peace in the world. And while you're at it, don't forget to ask your Muslim neighbor for a copy of the Koran so that you can kiss it in front of your Catholic children, telling them that the pope wants them to kiss it too.
After all, if you really want to "hang" with the Pope, shouldn't you be doing the same things he is doing? I'm sure if you did, and then sent him pictures of the occasion, he might even invite you to the Vatican to share them.
And while we're talking about justification, let's see what the Pope has allowed to be disseminated under the banner of the Vatican hierarchy these last few years. In the year 2000, John Paul II approved a document which contained the sentence "man is justified by faith alone," the first pope in history to do so. It can be found in section 2C of the Annex in the Lutheran/Catholic Joint Declaration on Justification, a document promoted heavily by the Vatican and encouraged by the pope. This despite the fact that the Council of Trent condemned the phrase and concept of "faith alone" no less than thirteen times in thirteen different ways.
This is the duplicitous world that apologists such as Art Sippo find themselves in today. But like the ostrich, they stick their heads in the sand and just pretend these anomalies aren't happening. Fortunately, there are a few of us who, in our conversions to the Catholic faith, haven't become pope idolizers like Art Sippo, but have the guts to call a spade a spade when we see it. In the end, the true Catholic is the one who abides by all traditional Catholic teaching, not those who think that bowing to every whim and wish of the pope somehow makes them more Catholic than the rest of us.
Sippo: Sungenis seems to think that HIS limited knowledge of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church forms a consensus and that the aridity of the manual theologies of the early 20th Century should be a universal norm for all Catholic theology from now on.
R. Sungenis: Well, I think it's quite obvious that when a major dissertation on Catholic soteriology has only eight references from the Fathers out of over 2,000, and has only two references from the medievals, ignores and demotes Augustine, fails to quote from the Council of Orange, the Council of Trent, and the 1992 Catholic Catechism on the historical understanding of Catholic justification, but instead quotes 99.6% of the time from "20th Century" Protestants and liberal Catholics, then I think it can be safely said that it is not my knowledge of the Fathers that is limited, but the very people who have made a concerted effort to keep the Fathers from us.
Sippo: He even makes the serious mistake of attacking the preterist views supported by Dr. Hahn and others as if they were non-Catholic innovations. This shows how little Bob knows of the Catholic Biblical scholarship of the last several centuries. Study notes in Catholic Bibles form the 1930s onward supported a preterist interpretation of the book of Revelation. The 1941 book Back to the Bible by Fr. Cuthbert Lacey recently republished by the Catholic "Traditionalist" publisher Roman Catholic Books also does this.
R. Sungenis: This shows the confusion Sippo is in. The "preterist" view has been around for quite a while, but those preterists do not put the Millennium of Apocalypse 20 in the Old Testament! Even Augustine's view was partly preterist, but he had enough sense to know that the rest of the Apocalypse was future, as did all the other Fathers and Medievals. In any case, the overwhelming view of the Catholic Church has been Amillennial. I know of no one, even the preterists, who have placed the Millennium in the Old Testament.
Sippo: Bob Sungenis continues to drive himself further away from the Catholic mainstream.
R. Sungenis: Well, if Art Sippo represents the "mainstream," then yes, I will continue to drive myself away from him.
Sippo: He has contempt for the reigning Pope,
R. Sungenis: Not true. I merely object to some of his teachings and actions. I have the utmost respect for the papacy, and it is the very reason I traveled to Rome last year and had the wonderful opportunity of kissing the pope's hand. Sippo: is alienated from his local ordinary,
R. Sungenis: Oh, you mean the homosexual Bishop Loverde who helped pass two gay rights bills when he was a bishop in Connecticut, and who, according to a legal deposition given under oath by Father Haley (the priest Loverde has tried to silence), has had a boyfriend for the last 15 years? Let's hope I'm "alienated" from him, as I think most people should be.
Sippo: opposes Vatican Council II,
R. Sungenis: Not true. I oppose the liberal interpretations made from the ambiguous statements in Vatican II.
Sippo: perpetuates anti-Semitism at all levels in social and religious matters,
R. Sungenis: Not true. I only point out that the Jews are no longer God's chosen people and need to be saved just like the rest of us.
Sippo: flirts with Feeneyism,
R. Sungenis: "Flirt" with Feeney? I can assure you I do no such thing. I'm a married man with six children. :)
Sippo: and now is attacking one of our most important Biblical Scholars.
R. Sungenis: I'm not attacking anyone. I'm just following through with what Hahn himself said about his own theology - if he is wrong, he wants to know about it, so I'm telling him.
Sippo: IMHO, Sungenis becomes more Protestant with every new development.
R. Sungenis: Oh, this is quite a gas. Here, I'm the one who insists that we stick with Augustine, the Council of Trent and the 1992 Catechism regarding Catholic soteriology, while Hahn and Sippo praise Protestant exegetes and Jewish rabbis, quoting from them incessantly, yet Sippo claims that I'M THE ONE who is "becoming Protestant"! Sure, that makes a lot of sense. This just shows you how confused Sippo is.
Sippo: Sadly, I think he is moving himself inexorably out of the Catholic Church, but his pride prevents him from submitting himself to any authority other than himself.
R. Sungenis: Gee, I was wondering when the "pride" accusation was going to come. That's the same one Hahn tried to use on me when I dared question his biblical theology. It seems to be the perennial excuse from the neo-Catholic crowd to anyone who would critique their ideas. Dare any of us try to get them out of the modernism of the age they are all imbibing.
Sippo: Sungenis contra mundum!
R. Sungenis: Sippo, hii sunt murmuratores querellosi secundum desideria sua ambulantes et os illorum loquitur superba mirantes personas quaestus causa.
Continuing the discussion, one very wise and astute contributor to Ray's discussion board made the following observations concerning Hahn's biblical theology.
Interlocutor: I agree that Hahn has problematic areas, like his millenial Partial-Preterism, and the totally novel meaning of the bris when this rite was, extra-biblically, pre-Abrahamic, practiced in Egypt. Like marriage, orthodox observation of God's precepts has always existed, even if in a remnant. I do think Hahn corrected his falsely starting covenant history with Noah instead of the First Father, Adam.
And the assertion about the firstborn as priests is not even extra-biblical, it just doesn't exist anywhere in ancient history. The firstborn had inheritance rights through the father, and the lastborn had inheritance rights through the mother. God picked the lastborn, as in David, highlighting the Woman & Seed mandate to crush evil. And the first two sons, probably twins as the wording says Eve "littered" them, Cain and Abel, both offered sacrifice. The Levitical priesthood was genetic, not based on birth order, and temple service was decided by casting lots.
In Christ's lineage, there are non-genetic Jewish converts, so this Hahnian exposition of the blessing of the Gentiles through the Jews while defining Jews as genetic-only, is off-putting. Catholics are ingrafted Jews, brothers and sisters through Jesus Christ, and in a legal fulfillment through John's adoption to the Blessed Mother. In the ancient world, adoption counted 100%, on par or above natural birth relations.
This obsession with some kind of divine weenie cutting punishment for sleeping with Hagar is wrong. It was a health precept and covenant sign. Hahn, like others, entirely overlooks the widely promulgated legal role of the Genesis 3:15 Woman, a title and office widespread in antiquity and etymologically continued to this day in the role of queen. This is the basis for a separate female sacred culture, Woman & Seed, entwined but apart from Adam's stewardship, and male-only priestly reparation for the "Sin of Adam." Didn't see Eve offering sacrifice...
Our Lady's very use of the word "handmaid" is a reference to the legal raising up of seed to Sarah through Hagar, the Egyptian. This wasn't new, and was practiced after Abraham with no punitive effect. Some of the Twelve Tribes of Israel were raised up through "handmaids", a word which defines a specific, legal status. If one is a handmaid, one's children are fully adopted with all rights of sonship. The Blessed Virgin insured this for her Son in using the term "handmaid."
Sarah reduced Hagar to "servant," meaning she and her son could legally be expelled and sonship severed. In spite of this, God chose to exalt Abraham in blessing his son with Hagar with progeny, though they (the Arabs) were prophesied to always be warlike, with every man's hand against them. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
And "works of the law" has always been understood to mean the divinely-inspired Mosaic statues, including but not limited to rites, as apart from God's laws, the Ten Commandments. This parallels the Church's mutable religious disciplines, like not eating meat on Friday, versus the immutable dogma, like the divinity of Christ. END
Sippo attempted a response to these critiques. I will respond intermittently to Sippo's statements:
Sippo: I fail to see why these are problematic. They are not new ideas. Many Catholics have held Preterist views as did some of the Fathers. And Scott's view of the bris is well grounded in current biblical scholarship as are his views on the first-born as priests prior to the Golden Calf. The Rabbis have held to this last view for quite sometime.
R. Sungenis: Notice Sippo's lack of distinction between current "Preterist" views and the views of Hahn who, following Corsini, has what we might call an Ultrapreterist view, that is, placing the Millennium of Apocalypse 20 in the Old Testament.
Also, Sippo claims that "many Catholics have held Preterist views," but that is not the case at all. You can probably count them on one hand. Almost all of them, perhaps less than half a dozen, are all in the 20th century. As such, they establish no precedent in Catholic biblical theology. Up until the onslaught of historical criticism, which sees every prophecy in Scripture as preterist, all Catholic eschatology was Augustinian and Amillennial, which understood most of the Apocalypse as future, with its base of fulfillment as the time period between the First and Second Coming of Christ.
As for Hahn's bris view, Sippo contends that it is well-grounded in "current biblical scholarship." When Sippo refers to "current biblical scholarship" he doesn't tell you that most of these "scholars" are comprised of liberal Protestants and Catholics. For example, as I stated earlier, Paul in Romans 4:11 tells us that circumcision was a sign of Abraham's faith. A modern scholar would dismiss Paul's statement as an opinionated anachronism that was merely trying to put the best light on a terrible circumstance. One reason he does this is that he doesn't really believe Paul was divinely inspired.
As for the first-born sons being priests, this again is a reading into the biblical passages an issue that Scripture gives absolutely no detail. We can reason that, if the issue of priesthood being passed from the first born to the Levites was such a big issue (big enough that Hahn makes it a major plank of his biblical theology) we would expect Scripture to give us at least some direct evidence that such was the case. Unfortunately, it does not. In Hahn's dissertation, page 234 cites Cassuto as the origin of the first-born = priest idea. In that text, Hahn cites Exodus 13:1-2; 19:22, 24; 24:4 as the passages which equate the first born with priests. But the undeniable fact is that in none of these passages do the words "firstborn" and "priests" appear together, yet this is Hahn's only evidence.
Sippo: Just because a view has not been widely held in the past does not make it problematic or less than Catholic. Far too many folk equate the Catholic view with a narrow set of ideas popular during the Counter-Deformation. As Catholics we believe in development of doctrine. The understanding of the truths of the faith deepens over time with greater study with the advance of scholarship under the guidance of the Magisterium.
R. Sungenis: Unfortunately, the so-called "deeper truths" that Sippo desires come straight from the Historical Critical school which has long abandoned biblical inerrancy, that is, accepting that Scripture gives an accurate account of history and theology, as part-and-parcel with true biblical studies. Far too many of the "scholars" that Sippo has accepted are Protestant liberals who have rejected almost every tenet of Catholic soteriology, ecclesiology and eschatology. The Catholic Church does not believe in "development of doctrine" that does not have its roots in Catholic tradition. If a novel idea comes down the pike, then the burden of proof is on the novelty to prove itself. Not only have they not proven themselves in regards to pedigree, but even the notions they bring forth are erroneous on their own merit, since they fail to account for all the evidence, and fail to allow Scripture to be one of the principle commentaries on its own propositions.
Sippo: Dr. Hahn is very careful about establishing the credentials of his views before promulgating them. He has taken some novel approaches but always keeping in mind the big picture of what Catholicism stands for. The same cannot be said for some of his critics of whom Mr. Sungenis is a sad example.
R. Sungenis: Catholicism stands for truth. That is the bottom line. If someone wants to put forth a novel idea, then the burden is on him to prove his point, otherwise, it is not Catholic. Those of us who witness these novel ideas coming from Hahn have every right to question them, and challenge them, if we don't see their pedigree in our tradition. The problem is that Sippo has elevated Hahn's theology to a place of grandeur in his mind that it is untouchable, least of all from a traditionally-minded Catholic like me.
I stood by for almost ten years watching Hahn develop this theology without saying a word in public. That, of course, has all changed now, since in divorcing myself from the neo-Catholic establishment I no longer hesitate in pointing out its flaws. And let me remind the reader that up until I joined the Traditionalist movement, Sippo regarded my work very highly. You can read about it on page xiv in my book Not By Faith Alone which Sippo commended as one of the best books on the subject of Catholic justification.
After the Interlocutor remarked: "And the assertion about the firstborn as priests is not even extra-biblical, it just doesn't exist anywhere in ancient history," Sippo commented.
Sippo: This is a carciature of Scott's position as are so many other of your objections. Scott has already established the reasonableness of his positions in his doctoral dissertation to which I refer you.
R. Sungenis: As I stated above, this is probably one of the weakest points of the dissertation. There simply is no direct biblical evidence that firstborns were priests. Although it is certainly obvious that some firstborns were priests, we cannot conclude that priests were limited to firstborns.
The Interlocutor states: "This obsession with some kind of divine weenie cutting punishment for sleeping with Hagar is wrong. It was a health precept and covenant sign." To which Sippo responds.
Sippo: Rubbish. There is no foundation for the health claim and circumcision was not practiced by Abraham until after God came to inform him that Hagar's child was not the child of the promise. Circumcision functioned as a rite of manhood for the Egyptians and was practiced at age 13. When Ishmael was circumcized that year, God commanded that all of Abraham's males be circumcised at that time as well and that thereafter it would be a rite performed on all newly born males of Abraham's lineage. It was not a covenant sign per se. It was a punishment for a failure to recognize the true covenant sign, the birth of a son by Sarah. Like original sin, it was passed on to all of Abraham's progeny. Later on, circumcision would be a sign of belonging to the Mosaic community.
R. Sungenis: Notice Sippo's statement "It was not a covenant sign per se" is in direct contradiction of Genesis 17:10-12
10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.12 He that is eight days old among you shall be circumcised; every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house, or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring,
One will search in vain to find anything of circumcision being given for Abraham's misstep. This is another case in which Sippo, like Hahn, get fixated on an assertion they can't prove, but will not relinquish the assertion.
Sippo: The Jews tried to put a positive spin on circumcision in and of itself, but as St. Paul clearly said "He is a true Jew who is circumcised inwardly" (Rom 2:29). That whole section of Romans warns that to be outwardly circumcised while persevering in sin does a man no good. Circumcision in St. Paul's view should stand for a purging of sinfulness.
R. Sungenis: Notice how Sippo avoids mentioning Romans 4:11, the very passage in which Paul makes his only commentary on the origin and reason for physical circumcision.
Sippo: This is made quite explicit in Colossians: Col 2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; Col 2:12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, Col 2:14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Here circumcision is likened to baptism and to the "putting off of the body of flesh." In Pauline language "flesh" (Gr: sarx) is a euphemism for the the sinful tendencies of human nature and is not identified with teh body (Gr: soma) which was considered good. How much clearer can the connection between circumcision and atonement for sin be?
R. Sungenis: First of all, the Greek word SARX does not always refer to sin. If often refers simply to the body of flesh (Mt 16:17; 19:5; 24:22; Acts 2:17; Rom 1:3; 4:1; Gal 1:16; Col 1:22, 24; 2:1, et al). Here Sippo misses the whole point of Colossians 2:12-14, which is a spiritual analogy. Its purpose is to show that circumcision, as an act of removing flesh from the body, is analogous to Christ who was cut off in the flesh from God. If anything, circumcision signifies Christ being cut off. In effect, the cutting off of Abraham's foreskin pointed to Christ, the seed who would come from his penis, who would be cut off for Abraham. Abraham received this sign in faith that God would send the Redeemer. It was an act received in faith, as Romans 4:11 says, just like Baptism is received in faith. It was similar to the purpose of the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 15:9-21, in which Abraham was told to cut animals in two so that God could pass through them in a flaming torch. This "torch" represented the suffering that Christ would undergo in order to secure the covenant for Abraham.
The Interlocutor states: "And 'works of the law' has always been understood to mean the divinely-inspired Mosaic statues, including but not limited to rites, as apart from God's laws, the Ten Commandments," to which Sippo replies:
Sippo: This is not correct. Among the Catholic Fathers and Doctors, there were a variety of opinions as to what these words meant. Some saw them as referring to the Mosaic Law as a whole. Others limited it to those laws that were ceremonial.
R. Sungenis: Yes, there were some Fathers who understood "works of law" as referring to the ceremonies, but those same Fathers understood that ceremonies were merely a subset of the larger issue of "works righteousness" and that ultimately, the ceremonial law was a representation of the whole Mosaic law that needed to be abrogated to make room for the New Covenant. This is especially true in Justin Martyr, the one Father that Hahn has tried to use to limit "works of law" to the ceremonies.
For example, we see Justin's twofold approach in the following two quotes. The first equates "works of law" with ceremony, the second reveals that Justin if fully aware that the whole law was to be abrogated, not just the ceremonial law, in order for the New Law to be inaugurated.
First quote: "If circumcision was not necessary before Abraham, nor before Moses, the sabbath observance and festivals and sacrifices, then, similarly, they are not necessary now..." -- Dialogue with Trypho, 23).
Second quote: "I have read, Trypho, that there will be a final law, and a covenant the most authoritative of all, which must be observed by all men who seek after the inheritance of God. That law on Horeb is old, and was only for you; but this is for all in general. A law set down after another law abrogates that which was before it, and a covenant made later likewise voids the which was earlier" Dialogue with Trypho, 11.
Sippo: Still others thought that it referred to those practices which distinguished a Jew from a Gentile. This latter view was that of the Qumran sectaries especially in the document 4QMMT. Modern Biblical scholarship (especially the New Pauline Perspective) supports this last view as being most likely what St. Paul meant by the phrase. I would submit that the evidence is overwhelming that this is what St. Paul means in Romans and Galatians.
R. Sungenis: It is interesting how the current crop of modern scholars base almost their whole thesis on 4QMMT, as Hahn seems to do in his dissertation. One obscure phrase from one Qumran fragment, and they are ready to overturn 20 centuries of biblical theology. The fact is that 4QMMT doesn't prove anything, and in fact, has been noted by other scholars to say just the opposite of what Sippo is claiming. In my book Not By Faith Alone, I mention the work of Mark Seifrid who shows the contradictions of the view Sippo is espousing (pp. 623-624). Even the scholars in the circles that Sippo travels have seen the same problems.
For example, Brendan Byrne, S.J. has issued a critique of Dunn's thesis in the piece: The Problem of Nomos and the Relationship with Judaism in Romans. Among other things, Byrne points out that "works of the law" refers to "the Jewish law in toto"; and that the famous Qumran document 4QMMT, which has been touted by followers of Dunn, turns out to be a Hebrew phrase meaning simply "some precepts of the Law" without the connotation of performance (See M. Bachmann's "4QMMT und Galaterbrief, ERGA NOMOU" in ZNW 89  91-113).
Sippo: No Catholic ever thought that "works of the law" referred to the 10 Commandments or the other moral precepts of the Mosaic Law. This idea was a prot innovation.
R. Sungenis: This is one of the most ignorant and audacious comments Sippo has ever made. It only shows how biased and ill-informed he really is. Here is just a sparse sampling of the concept among the Fathers:
On Romans 3:20, where the phrase "works of the law" appears for the first time in Paul's epistle, the Father have this to say (NB: Hahn's view of this passage is that "works of the law" refers to the ceremonial law which convicted only Jews of sin, since more ceremonies meant they were sinning more).
Chrysostom: "Note that Paul was in the habit of referring to the entire Old Testament as the law...for here he calls a psalm The Law...Furthermore, it was not the Jews he was referring to by the whole of mankind" (Homilies on Romans 7).
Chrysostom understands that circumcision is a mere subset of the law in toto, and proceeds to argue such in interpreting Galatians 2:16.
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, save through faith, in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus." Observe here too how cautiously he expresses himself; he does not say that they had abandoned the Law as evil, but as weak. If the law cannot confer righteousness, it follows that circumcision is superfluous; and so far he now proves; but he proceeds to show that it is not only superfluous but dangerous. It deserves especial notice, how at the outset he says that a man is not justified by the works of the Law; but as he proceeds he speaks more strongly (Homilies on Galatians, 2:16).
We know this to be the case, since in Galatians 5:4 he equates "works of law" with the "Commandments."
"He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Have ye been vouchsafed, he says, so great a gift, and achieved such wonders, because ye observed the Law, or because ye adhered to Faith? plainly on account of Faith. Seeing that they played this argument to and fro, that apart from the Law, Faith had no force, he proves the contrary, viz., that if the Commandments be added, Faith no longer avails; for Faith then has efficacy when things from the Law are not added to it. "Ye who would be justified by the Law, ye are fallen away from grace:" (Gal. v: 4.)
Added to this is the identical manner Chrysostom interprets Gal 3:10-12:
Ver. 10. "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse."This is what he lays down, before proving it; and what is the proof? it is from the Law itself. Ver. 10, 11. "For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the Law to do them. Now that no man is justified by the Law is evident." For all have sinned, and are under the curse. However he does not say this yet, lest he should seem to lay it down of himself, but here again establishes his point by a text which concisely states both points; that no man has fulfilled the Law, (wherefore they are under the curse,) and, that Faith justifies. What then is the text? It is in the book of the prophet Habakkuk, "The just shall live by faith," (Hab. ii: 4.) which not only establishes the righteousness that is of Faith, but also that there is no salvation through the Law. As no one, he says, kept the Law, but all were under the curse, on account of transgression, an easy way was provided, that from Faith, which is in itself a strong proof that no man can be justified by the Law. For the prophet says not, "The just shall live by the Law," but," by faith" Ver. 12. "And the Law is not of faith; but He that doeth them shall live in them." For the Law requires not only Faith but works also, but grace saves and justifies by Faith. (Eph. ii: 8.). You see how he proves that they are under the curse who cleave to the Law, because it is impossible to fulfill it ..." (On Galatians).
Clement of Alexandria: "But the law given to us enjoins us to shun what are in reality bad things - adultery, uncleanness, pederasty....to whom we say the law did not cause, but showed sin" (Stromata, Bk 2, Ch vii). "Then those who obey the law, since they have some knowledge of Him. cannot disbelieve or be ignorant of the truth. But those who disbelieve, and have shown a repugnance to engage in the works of the law, whoever else may, certainly confess their ignorance of the truth" (Stromata, Bk 1, ch 26).
Jerome: For whilst he invites all to chastity and to the reward of virginity, he shows that virginity is more excellent than all these conditions. And again writing to the Galatians he says:(1) "Because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Among the works of the law is marriage, and accordingly under it they are cursed who have no children. And if under the Gospel it is permitted to have children, it is one thing to make a concession to weakness another to hold out rewards to virtue. (Against Jovinianus, Bk 1, 37). Again, when explaining the witness of the apostle to the Galatians, "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified," I have spoken to the following effect: "Marriages also are works of the law. And for this reason there is a curse upon such as do not produce offspring. (Letters, No 48).
On Romans 3:28, the second time Paul uses "works of the law":
Origen: "A man is justified by faith. The works of the law can make no contribution to this....Even if they are good in themselves they cannot justify the one who does them" (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans).
Ambrose: Does he, a man full of blood and full of murder, dare to make mention to me of a discussion? He who thinks that they whom he could not mislead by his words are to be slain with the sword, giving bloody laws with his mouth, writing them with his hand, and thinking that the law can order a faith for man to hold. He has not heard what was read to-day: "That a man is not justified by the works of the law," or "I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I may live unto God," that is, by the spiritual law he is dead to the carnal interpretation of the law. And we, by the law of our Lord Jesus Christ, are dead to this law, which sanctions such perfidious decrees. The law did not gather the Church together, but the faith of Christ. For the law is not by faith, but "the just man lives by faith." Therefore, faith, not the law, makes a man just, for justice is not through the law, but through the faith of Christ. But he who casts aside his faith and pleads for that the claims of the law, bears witness that he is himself unjust; for the just man lives by faith" (Sermon Against Auxentius, 24).
Basil: [On the Rich Man]: A youth, who provides himself upon the observance of the law, but did not know the end of the law, which is Christ, who thought himself justified by works, without perceiving that Christ came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and to those who believe that the law cannot save through the faith of justification, questioned the Lord of the law, tile Only-begotten God, as though He were a teacher of the common precepts and the writings of the law. But the Lord, abhorring this declaration of irreverent unbelief... (The Trinity, Bk 9, 16).
Augustine is well aware of some who interpret "works of law" are referring only to the ceremonies. Below he speaks of his desire to expose that wrong understanding.
Augustine: The law, then, of deeds, that is, the law of works, whereby this boasting is not excluded, and the law of faith, by which it is excluded, differ from each other; and this difference it is worth our while to consider, if so be we are able to observe and discern it. Hastily, indeed, one might say that the law of works lay in Judaism, and the law of faith in Christianity; forasmuch as circumcision and the other works prescribed by the law are just those which the Christian system no longer retains. But there is a fallacy in this distinction, the greatness of which I have for some time been endeavoring to expose; and to such as are acute in appreciating distinctions, especially to yourself and those like you, I have possibly succeeded in my effort. Since, however, the subject is an important one, it will not be unsuitable, if with a view to its illustration, we linger over the many testimonies which again and again meet our view. Now, the apostle says that that law by which no man is justified, entered in that the offence might abound, and yet in order to save it from the aspersions of the ignorant and the accusations of the impious, he defends this very law in such words as these: "What shall we say then? Is, the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known concupiscence, except the law had said, Thou shall not covet. But sin, taking occasion, wrought, by the commandment, in me all manner of concupiscence," He says also: "The law indeed is holy, and the commandment is holy, and just, and good; but sin, that it might appear sin, worked death in me by that which is good." It is therefore the very letter that kills which says, "Thou shalt not covet," and it is of this that he speaks in a passage which I have before referred to: "By the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ upon all them that believe; for there is no difference: seeing that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God: being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare His righteousness at this time; that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." And then he adds the passage which is now under consideration: "Where, then, is your boasting? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith." And so it is the very law of works itself which says, "Thou shalt not covet;" because thereby comes the knowledge of sin. Now I wish to know, if anybody will dare to tell me, whether the law of faith does not say to us, "Thou shalt not covet"? For if it does not say so to us, what reason is there why we, who are placed under it, should not sin in safety and with impunity? Indeed, this is just what those people thought the apostle meant, of whom he writes: "Even as some affirm that we say, Let us do evil, that good may come; whose damnation is just." If, on the contrary, it too says to us, "Thou shall not covet" (even as numerous passages in the gospels and epistles so often testify and urge), then why is not this law also called the law of works? For it by no means follows that, because it retains not the "works" of the ancient sacraments, -- even circumcision and the other ceremonies, -- it therefore has no "works" in its own sacraments, which are adapted to the present age; unless, indeed, the question was about sacramental works, when mention was made of the law, just because by it is the knowledge of sin, and therefore nobody is justified by it, so that it is not by it that boasting is excluded, but by the law of faith, whereby the just man lives. But is there not by it too the knowledge of sin, when even it says, "Thou shall not covet?" (On the Spirit and the Letter, ch 21).
Although, therefore, the apostle seems to reprove and correct those who were being persuaded to be circumcised, in such terms as to designate by the word "law" circumcision itself and other similar legal observances, which are now rejected as shadows of a future substance by Christians who yet hold what those shadows figuratively promised; he at the same time nevertheless would have it to be clearly understood that the law, by which he says no man is justified, lies not merely in those sacramental institutions which contained promissory figures, but also in those works by which whosoever has done them lives holily, and amongst which occurs this prohibition: "Thou shalt not covet." Now, to make our statement all the clearer, let us look at the Decalogue itself. It is certain, then, that Moses on the mount received the law, that he might deliver it to the people, written on tables of stone by the finger of God. It is summed up in these ten commandments, in which there is no precept about circumcision, nor anything concerning those animal sacrifices which have ceased to be offered by Christians. Well, now, I should like to be told what there is in these ten commandments, except the observance of the Sabbath, which ought not to be kept by a Christian,--whether it prohibit the making and worshipping of idols and of any other gods than the one true God, or the taking of God's name in vain; or prescribe honour to parents; or give warning against fornication, murder, theft, false witness, adultery, or coveting other men's property? Which of these commandments would any one say that the Christian ought not to keep? Is it possible to contend that it is not the law which was written on those two tables that the apostle describes as "the letter that killeth," but the law of circumcision and the other sacred rites which are now abolished? But then how can we think so, when in the law occurs this precept, "Thou shall not covet," by which very commandment, notwithstanding its being holy, just, and good, "sin," says the apostle, "deceived me, and by it slew me?" What else can this be than "the letter" that "killeth"? (On the Spirit and the Letter, ch 23).
Notice that Augustine is well aware of the temptation some have experienced in concluding that the "Law" refers only to the ceremonial law. To avoid this temptation, Augustine tells us that St. Paul "would have it clearly understood" that he does not wish to confine "Law" to the ceremonies. One of Augustine's proof texts is Romans 7:6-10, where Paul says that the Ninth and Tenth commandments, which are concerned with the sin of coveting, are representative of the entire Law that condemns men in sin and cannot be relied upon to justify him.
In another place, Augustine combines Romans 7 with Galatians 2:16 where the phrase "works of the law" appears.
Augustine: He then adds the statement: "Nay, I had not known sin but by the law;" which is of the same import as the passage above quoted: "By the law is the knowledge of sin." Then: "For I had not known lust," he says, "except the law had said, 'Thou shalt not covet." But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy; and the commandment holy, just, and good. Was, then, that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, worked death in me by that which is good,--in order that the sinner, or the sin, might by the commandment become beyond measure." And to the Galatians he writes: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, except through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (On Grace and Free Will, ch. 22)
Augustine uses 2 Cor 3:7-14 as another proof text:
Augustine: In the passage where he speaks to the Corinthians about the letter that kills, and the spirit that gives life, he expresses himself more clearly, but he does not mean even there any other "letter" to be understood than the Decalogue itself, which was written on the two tables. For these are His words: "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who hath made us fit, as ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance, which was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more shall the ministration of righteousness abound in glory. A good deal might be said about these words; but perhaps we shall have a more fitting opportunity at some future time. At present, however, I beg you to observe how he speaks of the letter that killeth, and contrasts therewith the spirit that giveth life. Now this must certainly be "the ministration of death written and engraven in stones," and "the ministration of condemnation," since the law entered that sin might abound. But the commandments themselves are so useful and salutary to the doer of them, that no one could have life unless he kept them. Well, then, is it owing to the one precept about the Sabbath-day, which is included in it, that the Decalogue is called "the letter that killeth?" Because, forsooth, every man that still observes that day in its literal appointment is carnally wise, but to be carnally wise is nothing else than death? And must the other nine commandments, which are rightly observed in their literal form, not be regarded as belonging to the law of works by which none is justified, but to the law of faith whereby the just man lives? Who can possibly entertain so absurd an opinion as to suppose that "the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones," is not said equally of all the ten commandments, but only of the solitary one touching the Sabbath-day? In which class do we place that which is thus spoken of: "The law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression?" and again thus: "Until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law?" and also that which we have already so often quoted: "By the law is the knowledge of sin?" and especially the passage in which the apostle has more clearly expressed the question of which we are treating: "I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet?" (On the Spirit and the Letter, ch 24).
Augustine warns the reader that the passage say nothing about circumcision:
Augustine: Now carefully consider this entire passage, and see whether it says anything about circumcision, or the Sabbath, or anything else pertaining to a foreshadowing sacrament. Does not its whole scope amount to this, that the letter which forbids sin fails to give man life, but rather "killeth," by increasing concupiscence, and aggravating sinfulness by transgression, unless indeed grace liberates us by the law of faith, which is in Christ Jesus, when His love is "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us?" The apostle having used these words: "That we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter," goes on to inquire, "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay; I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.... (On the Spirit and the Letter, ch 25).
Augustine applies the same principle to the Gentiles, showing it is not merely a Jewish problem:
Augustine: And this the same Apostle in another place confessing more plainly saith, "Man shall not be justified of the works of the Law." The Corinthians also he rebukes, saying, "Are ye not carnal, and walk after man?" After he had called them carnal, he saith not, ye walk after the flesh, but after man, forasmuch as by this also what would he have understood, but after the flesh? For surely if to walk, that is, to live, after the flesh deserved blame, but after man deserved praise, he would not say by way of rebuke, "ye walk after man" (On Continence, 11).
Notice in this next passage how Augustine combines "justified freely by His grace without works of the law" with Romans 11:6 "If by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace," which is the same thing that the Council of Trent does in Chapter 8.
Augustine: Now he could not mean to contradict himself in saying, "The doers of the law shall be justified," as if their justification came through their works, and not through grace; since he declares that a man is justified freely by His grace without the works of the law, intending by the term "freely" nothing else than that works do not precede justification. For in another passage he expressly says, "If by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace" (On the Spirit and the Letter, ch 48).
In the next passage, Augustine deals again with Galatians 2:16 and tells us not to be limited into thinking that this applies to circumcision only.
Augustine: But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. And why? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works - in other words, working it out as it were by themselves, not believing that it is God who works within them. "For it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure." And hereby "they stumbled at the stumbling-stone." For what he said, "not by faith, but as it were by works," he most clearly explained in the following words: "They, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Then are we still in doubt what are those works of the law by which a man is not justified, if he believes them to be his own works, as it were, without the help and gift of God, which is "by the faith of Jesus Christ?" And do we suppose that they are circumcision and the other like ordinances, because some such things in other passages are read concerning these sacramental rites too? In this place, however, it is certainly not circumcision which they wanted to establish as their own righteousness, because God established this by prescribing it Himself. Nor is it possible for us to understand this statement, of those works concerning which the Lord says to them, "Ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition;" because, as the apostle says, Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness." He did not say, Which followed after their own traditions, framing them and relying on them. This then is the sole distinction, that the very precept, "Thou shalt not covet," and God's other good and holy commandments, they attributed to themselves; whereas, that man may keep them, God must work in him through faith in Jesus Christ, who is "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." That is to say, every one who is incorporated into Him and made a member of His body, is able, by His giving the increase within, to work righteousness. It is of such a man's works that Christ Himself has said, "Without me ye can do nothing" (On the Spirit and the Letter, ch 50).
At the same time, Augustine also acknowledges that "works of the law" can refer to the ceremonies.
Augustine: If, indeed, like Timothy, they chose to accommodate themselves to the views of those of the circumcision who were still wedded to their old sacraments, they were free to do so. But if they supposed that their hope and salvation depended on these works of the law, they were warned against them as a fatal danger. So the apostle says: "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing;" that is, if they were circumcised, as they were intending to be, in compliance with some corrupt teachers, who told them that without these works of the law they could not be saved. For when, chiefly through the preaching of the Apostle Paul, the Gentiles were coming to the faith of Christ, as it was proper that they should come, without being burdened with Jewish observances--for those who were grown up were deterred from the faith by fear of ceremonies to which they were not accustomed, especially of circumcision; and if they who had not been trained from their birth to such observances had been made proselytes in the usual way, it would have implied that the coming of Christ still required to be predicted as a future event;--when, then, the Gentiles were admitted without these ceremonies, those of the circumcision who believed, not understanding why the Gentiles were not required to adopt their customs (Against Faustus, Bk 19, 17).
In Aquinas' understanding of Galatians 3:10-12 he is very careful to say that the "Law" which Christ came to set aside so that man can be justified refers to the WHOLE Law of Israel, the ceremonial law and the moral law. Here's what he says:
"I answer that he is speaking here about keeping the commandments of the Law insofar as the Law consists of ceremonial precepts and moral precepts. This is the Law that is not of faith...Therefore, strictly speaking, he fulfills the command of faith who does not hope to obtain from it anything present and visible, but things invisible and eternal." (Commentary on Galatians 3:12; Aquinas Scripture Series, trans., F. R. Larcher, p. 83).
As it stands, the Council of Trent rejected the apologetic that we were to understand the law in terms of Jewish ceremonies that become obsolete.
In the sixth session of the Council (where Justification is addressed), neither the words "ceremonial law," "ritual practices," nor anything of the sort are mentioned, not even one time. The only time the Council mentions the word "circumcision" is in Chapter 7 when it is quoting from Galatians 5:6 ("in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith, which worketh by charity"), but it gives no elaboration on the usage of the term. Again, this is significant because it shows us that the Council did not think the "works of the law = ceremonial law" argument was a good, or even biblical, argument to explain the nature of Justification.
Rather than focus on the ceremonial law, the Council of Trent went right to the main, overarching issue, that is, the issue concerning "grace versus works" that I mentioned above. In the very first Canon the Council says:
"If anyone shall say that man can be justified before God by his own works which are done either by his own natural powers, or through the teaching of the Law, and without divine grace through Christ Jesus: let him be anathema."
Notice that the Council's view of "works" includes ANY kind of work, whether the work stems from one's "own natural powers" or "through the teaching of the Law." In the Council's mind there is no distinction between "ceremonial" works and "moral" works, at least in regard to how a man is justified before God.
Thus, the Council's tactic is to make an immediate antithesis between "works" and "grace." In the remaining 32 Canons, the Council continues the same argument, never once trying to settle the issue by an appeal to the ceremonial law of Israel, or an antithesis between Jew and Gentile.
The Council twice mentions the "Jews," but in neither case does it make a dictinction between the ceremonial law and the moral law of the Jews. The two references are in Chapter 1 and 2 of the Sixth Session: (1. "not even the Jews by the very letter of the law of Moses were able to be liberated (from the power of the devil and of death"; 2. "that He might both redeem the Jews, who were under the Law").
Again, in Chapter 8, Trent states: "...and are, therefore, said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things which precede justification, whether faith, or works, merit the grace itself of justification; for, 'if it is a grace, it is not now by reason of works; otherwise (as the same Apostle says) grace is no more grace' [Romans 11:6]." Obviously, if Trent includes "faith" as "none of those things" which can justify, then surely moral works are included in the "none."
Now one might argue that by these injunctions Trent was merely denying Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. First, Trent never makes such a claim. In fact, the very foe they were fighting, Martin Luther, was the one accusing the Catholic Church of Pelagianism. Second, if Trent used some other kind of argumentation other than the one presented in Canon 1 and Chapter 8, namely, an argument that focused on the ceremonial law as the exclusive meaning of the "works of law," then the objection could be sustained. But such is not the case.
The point remains that Trent NEVER sought to answer the question of Justification by dissecting the Law into its constituent parts, i.e., ceremonial, moral or civil precepts. Although they had every opportunity to do so, the Council simply did not cite any verses from the New Testament that single out the ceremonial law. They only quoted from the NT passages which view the Law in its totality, since their main objective was to distinguish grace from law, not grace from ceremonies.
Logic dictates that if the ceremonial law apologetic was so crucial to the understanding of the issue of Justification (as some modern Catholic theologians claim) then Trent would have been REQUIRED to use it. They would have no right to ignore it in favor of a view which taught that the Law referred to the WHOLE law of Moses and Works referred to ANY work.
Now some might argue that the Council's focus was dictated by the particular arguments that the Reformers were advancing; and since this is not our concern today, nor was it the concern of Paul in the first century AD, then we are not obligated to use it. Let me say quite candidly, this is wrong.
First, as I noted above, the Council of Trent already ignored the "ceremonial law" argumentation which was being advanced by various Catholic clerics who were trying to answer the Lutherans.
Second, and this should come as no surprise to Catholics who know their history, the Fathers of the Church show quite clearly in their writings that there was a consensus of understanding that, in reference to how a man is justified, the words "works of the law," "works," or "law" referred to ANY work, ceremonial or moral.Robert Sungenis
Catholic Apologetics International
March 18, 2003
What do YOU think ?
catholic prets are everywhere!! (but very quiet, eh??) TD
Bob Sungenis for "Prez"!!... Maj Scott "Road Kill" Keller
bob sungenis is clearly a fennyite. poor bob will never be happy until the world bows to his feet. Luther has to be smiling right now.
The arguments on the first born as priests is nonsense. When God says that all the first born are consecrated to him it is as priests. The Levites did not receive property by lot as their inheritance is God. The first born of everything was the Lord's. Past and present Jewish tradition says that a first born son who is the first child of the womb must be redeemed Ex 34:19. Accordingly the Pidyon Ha Ben ceremony still takes place today with the father gibing five silver coins to a priest or Levite to redeem his "Reuven". The argument that Abraham is being punished for his "dalliance" with Hagar is hardly worth replying to. Romans 4:11 and Genesis 17 surely should dispell that very stupid idea. Bob NYHuguenot@aol.com
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Date: 29 May 2009
Date: 29 May 2009
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