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« Biblical Authority Is the Real Issue | Main | Is Consistency Important? (Video) »

July 26, 2012


A preview of what we can expect in America: Britain is taking steps to try to force churches to perform same-sex marriages.

American churches better get in front of this.

No surprise there. British leadership has had it morally wrong since Winston Churchill(the homicidal liar).

Yes, indeed. And we have the Boston mayor trying to use the power of government to take out Chick-fil-A. You’re always told this stuff won’t happen – then it does.

It really makes me sad, the state of the world we live in. The worst part about it is that to most people it doesn't matter. Morals are a thing of the past.

What is the 'Christian position', Melissa? Yours?

I must admit, being an ex-Evangelical, I can't help being a bit naughty at times, and so I'll question Evangelicals I know in our town on a hot-button issue - knowing what they insist is the 'Christian position' is actually their own subjective hunch and feeling about it, and nothing objective. In fact, they respond much like the 'Witch in Wisconsin'.

So, of course, I not only rarely get the same answer from these Christians, they also insist their response is 'biblical', as if that somehow authenticates it or gives it authoritative weight.

Also, I'm often invited to attend their home Bible studies (as they want to free me from 'Romanism'), however, all I learn is how many conflicting and differing opinions they have: 'To me, it means...', then someone gives a totally contradictory, 'Well, to me it means...'.

As to this specific issue, I know congregations who disfellowship to keep themselves 'pure' because they think that's what the Bible is telling them in their pet proof-texts, whilst others disagree using their pet proof-texts.

One thing I know - from this strong empirical testing - is that you claim far too much that simply isn't the case about a so called 'Christian position'.

I'd say claiming there's a 'Christian position' in Protestantism is just as disingenuous as what I do by proving it's simply a lie, or wishful thinking on your part, because you know there are too many Christians who'd contradict whatever was proposed as such for there to be a 'Christian position' in Protestantism.

Let me make sure I have this down correctly, Paul R. You were at one time a Protestant of some nature--Evangelical, I believe you said. Then you became a Catholic. Now you're here to do... what? Bash evangelicals? Establish yourself as a superior believer? Doubtless you must recall being taught somewhere along the line, that reasoning a Biblical passage by using the words, "To me it means..." is irrelevant. And those who indulge in this kind of thing are not involved in any meaningful growth as Christians. The text MEANS something--not some arbitrary thing, but something specific. Believers intent on growing in their knowledge of God and His Word dig a lot deeper and base their understanding on something other than their opinion. So to use these people as examples representing authentic or quintessential "Christians" is pretty myopic. Yes, there are differences among the different denominations--though the majority hold to the essential elements of the Faith. Those that don't are sadly lacking, and the wheat will be separated from the chaff. So yes, there is consenus in terms of a Christian position about matters of faith and morals and ethics for those who take Scripture seriously and follow its tenets. Furthermore, it seems to me that there is some wisdom in having at least several denominations within Protestantism--because if one of them strays far from the Truth (as many have and continue to do), the Church as a whole does not collapse, and all are not led astray. This is in sharp contrast to Catholicism which provides no official recourse for such a thing and, of course, it can and has been argued for centuries that it (Catholicism) has led earnest men astray. And let's not forget, MANY within Catholicism simply hold to their own version of it, doing what they want and clinging to the things they want to observe while ignoring what they don't want to comply with; the difference is that they are not called "another denomination" of Catholicism. Having come from that background for the first 24 years of my life, I am very well acquainted with it!

So maybe before lash out at Evangelicals or Protestants, you might want to consider why you're doing so. This blog is for those who seriously want to discuss and contemplate issues of faith. Your posts seem to convey a lot of spiritual pride and anger and you probably won't find a lot of kindred spirits here. Perhaps you would find a Catholic blog might be more receptive?

What is the 'Christian position', Melissa? Yours?

I must admit, being an ex-Evangelical...

You're being dis-ingenuous. This isn't an issue of a "Christian" position. It's an issue of either following the Bible or not. Wanna support so-called "homosexual rights"? That's fine, but don't claim to find anything in the Bible to back up that claim. It's spelled out very clearly and anyone who claims otherwise is a charlatan.

Hi Carolyn - well, you should listen to Gregs talks where he takes delight in parodying Catholics all as relativists by using the example of one liberal Catholic priest on a radio show he was on once.

You are right that may Catholics hold their version AND THEY ARE WRONG - and I can say that AUTHORITATIVELY, and most of them are excommunicated, "late sententiae" especially if they question the life position.

I'm not knocking Protestants as they do so many good works and are far more pious than most Catholics. I'm just pointing out that Protestants who do what Melissa is doing are in a very fragile glass house.

Who is she to say? It's just her opinion as you have no objective revealed Sacred LIVING Tradition which is authoritative and addresses current problems, which scripture cannot.

That is, ALL Protestants have their own version of Christianity - and so when they don't hear what they like, they church shop, or start their own. Whereas those Catholics you talk about leave the church. THEY LOCK THEMSELVES OUT.

The problem is what is called ecclesial relativism. It's the achilles heel of any Protestant group when it starts arguing that some other Protestant group is wrong, as Melinda is doing.

Catholics know that the charge of ecclesial relativism normally is met with accusations of bigotry because you can' t answer it.

Truth is not dictated by consensus. Catholicism hasn't led people astray any more than Fred Phelps or Joel Osteen. It's individual, heretical, Catholics who've gone off the rails that have done that.

Hi, f
You need to read Christian Smith' s latest book about what he calls pervasive interpretive pluralism

That aside, 2 Timothy 3.16 is the only verse to justify sola scriptura yet it doesn't. It says all scripture not only scripture, and profitable or useful, not essential.

See also
1 cor 11.2
1 cor 11.23
1 thess 2.13
2 thess 2.15
2 thess 3.6
2 tim 1.13
2 tim 2.2
Esp 2 pet 1.20, 21 MEN moved by God i.e. Apostolic authority
1 tim 3.14, 15

Just to say (and I'll shut up):

I have probably +$100 of the STR downloads and they're great. I have Greg's books, too.

I also think STR is the best resource around for countering atheists, and I promote it to my more discerning Evangelical friends (who don't know about it!).

However, every year STR posts a 'Reformation Day' piece to rub it in, and Greg, as I said, takes pot-shots - publicly - at Catholics with his stale, liberal Catholic, priest example.

You need to answer the relatively new criticism of Ecclesial Relativism/Consumerism if you're going to criticise other Christian groups:

- and not just accuse me of being uncharitable or Protestant-bashing. I'm actually presenting you with a real problem, and that's why you don't like it.

Melinda is Episcopalian-bashing - and she needs to show she is in an authoritative position to do so - apart from the Bible - which has been effectively critiqued by Christian Smith in his, "The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture".

- and Greg's 'Never Read a Bible Verse' doesn't solve it, as authority according to that approach still resides merely in the human powers of the intellect, not revelation. Greg's arguing is circular as he can't get it past the powers of man in deciding.

LASTLY, you have been silent towards the comments of WisdomLover or Louis Kuhelj.

I am in England. It's amazing how parochial you are - and how you conveniently overlook any offensive comments which don't affect you.

I have no interest in Episcopalianism, nor promoting Catholicism - but that Evangelicalism is in deep denial of its problems - and Melinda's comments need balancing against all the nodding dogs in here who like Episcopalian- and Brit-bashing.

Her rhetoric goes down well with her supporters.

It's not their position!

It's their position that it's the Bible's position.

Don't y'all see how that puts them beyond reach?


And here we go...again.


"and Greg's 'Never Read a Bible Verse' doesn't solve it, as authority according to that approach still resides merely in the human powers of the intellect, not revelation."

I don't see eye-to-eye with everything that Greg asserts, but I think that there is a solid foundation there that he is working from. I think your above statements makes an attempt at chipping away at that foundation and I think I have good reason to think that your observation has some faults built in. The intellect, on my view and I think Greg's, is a gift given by god to man as a tool to comprehend revelation. As such, the intellect is in fact not a "human power", but god's power that he generously granted to mankind for among other purposes also one I already mentioned. It is, I think, the gravest of mistakes to think that you can trump intellect through christening the word "revelation" with spirituality and some kind of mystical quality when it is in fact nothing more than the engagement of our intellect by what has been penned and recognized as words originating from god. Greg has often spoken of examples where when someone cannot win an argument on the basis of intellectually persuasive argument they try to trump you with spirituality and I think you have offered us a classical example of this kind of move, thus proving that he is on the right track on this one.
The truth of the matter is that if it were not for the "human powers of intellect"(which I don't think we are the authors of), any revelation, from god or not, would have no place to go and a homeless revelation has the power to do nothing.


"I have no interest in Episcopalianism, nor promoting Catholicism - but that Evangelicalism is in deep denial of its problems - and Melinda's comments need balancing against all the nodding dogs in here who like Episcopalian- and Brit-bashing."

You, of all people who call themselves Catholics, should realize that when Britain turned over 30,000 Catholics in 1945 over to the Communists to be slaughtered after promising to protect them, are not to be placed on a pedastal as having the higher moral ground and a clear understanding of what is the right thing to do. For that, I would prefer to turn to the pages of the scriptures...thank you. So, if the British get any kind of bashing from me, it is because I, I protestant, am offended by how Catholics were treated by the Brits (being lied to and then turned over to be slaughtered). So, what is your objection to my standing up for the Catholic church again?


Tradition which is authoritative.

Truth is not dictated by consensus.

Is “Tradition” consensus?


Here are some thoughts from the nodding dog caucus.

Here is what Melinda actually said:

Christians' position on this is no different than any other sin. All of us are sinners and are welcomed, but all of us are also called to confess our sin and live lives under God's authority. No sinner is "locked out" of church. But when sinners come, the church under God's authority will offer them reconciliation with God through repentance, forgiveness, and grace on God's terms, not our own.
Breaking it down here are the propositions that are explicitly or implicitly involved in her claims:
  1. All human beings are sinners.
  2. All sinners should be welcomed at church.
  3. All sinners are called to confess their sin.
  4. All sinners are called to live under God's authority.
  5. No sinner should be locked out of the church.
  6. When sinners come to the church, it will, under God's authority, offer them reconciliation to God through repentence, forgiveness, and grace.
  7. These benefits are offered on God's terms, not human terms.
  8. Every sin should be treated the same as every other sin according to (1)-(7).
  9. Homosexuality is a sin.
This certainly seems to be what Mr. Thomas, the representative of the Church of England, was also saying.

For example, when he said "the suggestion that the church was 'locking out' a section in the community was a 'misinterpretation' of the church’s position", it looks like he was expressing point-4. When he said "However the church’s mission is to bring God’s word to God’s world...God is not a person with whom even UK prime ministers can negotiate a more congenial set of commands", he appeared to be expressing point 7. Likewise, all of the points Mr. Thomas makes seem to be in concord with the points Melinda was making.

In short, I think Melinda was agreeing with the representative of the Church of England. Now, American Episcopalians have a different view, but I don't believe that the view of American Episcopalians was ever mentioned in Melinda's post.

In short, what we appear to have here is Melinda agreeing with one British Anglican, Mr. Thomas, a representative of the British Anglican Church, against another British Anglican: David Cameron.

How does that work out to Episcopalian bashing? How does it work out to Brit-bashing?

(Rhetorical question...of course it doesn't.)

That movement that my head makes, up and down, up and down, is not actually nodding. What I'm doing is moving my eyes up and down the page, scanning letters, parsing their sequence and interpreting. Sometimes I'll repeat this process several times to make sure than my final interpretation is correct. Thus the appearance of nodding. It's part of a strange and occult art practiced by all nodding dogs and even by some humans. It's called reading. You might try it some time.

BTW 1 Timothy 3:16 and 17 says that Scripture is profitbale to equip the man of God in every good work. Holding true doctrinal views is a good work. Thus Scripture is sufficient for the discovery of all doctrinal truth that we need to be equipped with (which is what the meaning of Sola Scriptura is). This does not mean there is no need for teachers and preachers to construct and present arguments from Scripture. It simply means that all the contingent premises of these arguments start with Scripture.

Now, to the passages PaulR offers against the sufficiency of Scripture.

What we find in 1 Cor 11 is that Paul preached to the Corinthians. He didn't just write them two letters. Somehow that counts against the sufficiency of Scripture.

Apparently the same scandal against the sufficiency of Scripture can be found in the church at Thessalonica. We see this in PaulR's references to the letters to that church. St. Paul actually preached to them. He didn't just send them letters. And that means Scripture is not sufficient. Or something.

And apparently Paul even told Timothy stuff...he didn't just write him letters. And he even told Timothy to teach others what he had taught him. Whoa! What devastating evidence against the sufficiency of Scripture!

As for 1 Peter, I'm pretty sure that it says how God's Word comes to us (or at least rules out some ways that it doesn't come to us). And it affirms of the OT that it is the inspired Word of God. But it doesn't seem to have much to say about whether Scripture is sufficient. Certainly, nothing that it says suggests that Scripture is not sufficient.

What is really interesting about all of this is that the UK probably has a larger number of Muslims who attend Mosque on a regular basis than Christians that go to church.

So why does the Prime Minister so willingly single out the Churches as opposed to Mosques that believe homosexuality to be a sin?

This has more to do with a culture hatred of a specific people group (Christians) than anything else. Because if it was really about homosexuality and religion he would address the largest religious attending segment of his country.


You should hear the interview with Christian Smith that Michael Horton did on The White Horse Inn. It is really good and informative.

I hope that link works.

Why are we arguing about catholicism, episcopalian-ism, and protestantism? CHRISTIANS ARE BEING SINGLED OUT AND SNIPED.This seems almost a joke in light of this matter... Can't you leave the denominational debates for a later time please and unite in for the church? She needs her bridegroom to show up and defend her and show her blameless and spotless.

Good point, Joshua. Sadly, that's the way it is when you dare set up a blog. People just have to come by and fire away.

Doctrinal conflict is something that shouldn't be overlooked. It's the difference between Truth and heresy.


You seem surprised that Christians are being persecuted. It has never stopped. We have always been attacked.

Apostolic Tradition isn't consensus. It's guaranteed truth of the Holy Spirit.
The Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded and it is him. It is truly his body, not symbolically, but really, therefor cannot err.

Hi RonH.
STR's position is one of the manifold conflicting viewpoint of all those who disagree yet claim their position is biblical.

Hi Louis Kuhelj

The Catholic Church believes in faith and reason. But that some things are open only to revelation (e.g., the Blessed Trinity).

The intellect isn't the judge of Christian truth: Christ's One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is because it is Christ himself. He promised he would not leave it. He instituted the Eucharist to seal this and, as in Genesis, everything Jesus said, came into being. Christ is, and was, the Word. The same Word that spoke the Universe into being.

Therefore in John 17 when Christ prayed for his disciples it was fully effective - or else he wasn't God.

Hi WisdomLover.
Catholics believe that Scripture is material sufficient. We don't believe it is formally sufficient.

Hi Joshua Green

is the spotless Bride of Christ an action of men or Grace?

The Catholic Church teaches it's the latter - hence how it's perfect in its Truth, yet full of sinners. Sinners lock themselves out spiritually through mortal sin.

That's why Adam didn't 'die' when he ate of the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Because he didn't die physically, but he did spiritually - and why it's called 'mortal sin' because it kills the life of God - grace - in the soul.

Hi squallybimbadine

Thanks so much for the link!

I will listen to the program with a lot of interest. I have Michael Horton's books, and find a lot of agreement with him in relation to the state of Protestantism.

Michael Horton on Legonier has an interesting set of youtube parts in relation to Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, which, sadly, is becoming the default position of most of my Evangelical friends.
Sadly, they don't talk about heaven, hell, judgement, etc., any more, but crave whacky poltergeist-like phenomena they reckon are 'the holy spirit' as they refer to them.

I'd read the recommended book 'How to Go From Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps' on the White Horse Inn page to which you point, too, if you can.

It's a great book, and every one of the 95 steps 'puts a stone in your shoe', as Greg would say...


The whole idea of formal sufficiency above and beyond material sufficiency is a will-o-the-wisp.

Material sufficiency: Scripture implies all theological truth that human beings need to know.

Formal sufficiency: Scripture is not always clear in those implications and must be interpreted by Church teachers relying on Church tradition.

So Scripture is materially sufficient, but Scripture + Tradition + the Magisterium is formally sufficient.

An example that's sometimes given here is the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity is there in Scripture (so Scripture is materially sufficient). But the Sabellians and Arians still made their heresies. It took the teachers of the Church to bring the true teaching out and make it clear to everyone (so Scripture was not formally sufficient, but Scripture + Tradition + the Magisterium were formally sufficient).

There are so many things wrong with the example that it's almost difficult to know where to begin. But I think the central point is that it gets the origin of the heresies wrong. They did not come from a lack of clarity in Scripture. There's actually not much that Scripture is clearer on than on the subject of the Trinity. So Sabellius and Arius didn't have trouble understanding what Scripture taught. Their problem was that they found it difficult to believe the believe the clear teaching of Scripture. So they 'interpreted' Scripture (i.e. twisted it) so that it said the exact opposite of what it actually does say.

Might I remind you of the topic is of this and other recent threads. It really comes down to a simple question: "Is Homosexuality sin?"

Scripture couldn't be much clearer on this subject. Scripture certainly does not need the aid of the teaching Magisterium or Sacred Tradition to get its message out. Yet there are still millions of people professing to be Christians who say that homosexuality is not sin. Most of them might even characterize themselves as Bible-believing Christians. They will claim that the Bible does not teach that homosexuality is sin.

I'd say that they interpret the hell out of Scripture, but, in truth, they're interpreting the hell into it. Whether they realize it or not, they are making people easy in their sin, so easy that they don't even see that it is sin. There are few things more inimical to true repentance than to accept one's own sin as not sinful.

So we have utter clarity in the Bible on the subject of homosexuality, coupled with willful obfuscation of the truth as a cloak for disobedience. Or, as I like to call it: routine humanity.

What exactly does Tradition and the teaching Magisterium have to add here?

That Scripture really does teach what anyone reading it honestly can see that it does teach?

OK. Check. Thanks for the 1 cent tip on the million dollar bill.

On a different, though related subject, guess what?

There's something else that isn't always clear...indeed, it's almost always far less clear than the Bible.

That's the pronouncements of the teaching Magisterium. And the Catholic Magisterium is not alone here. Almost all official Church pronouncements from churches of every denomination are more likely to muddy the waters than they are ever to achieve clarity. When you find pieces, like the Creeds, that actually do clear things up...that's actually pretty amazing.

I'd suggest that what each denomination needs is some institution, a meta-Magisterium if you will, to help it clear up the denomination's own pronouncements. Unfortunately, given the track record of human instituitions on 'clearing things up', what we would get as a result of that would probably bear a closer resemblance to a series of randomly generated post-modern essays than real teaching.

There is no escaping the fact that someone can completely miss the point. And they can do so for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with the fundamental clarity of the point they are missing. This is not unique to the points made in the Bible. It's true of every piece of language that has ever been and that ever will be written or spoken. There has never been, and never will be, any human institution that can control the human capacity for accidental or deliberate misunderstanding. In the effort to do so, they're just as likely to make matters worse.

And, as a practical matter, the human institutions are as likely as not in 'clearing things up' to introduce falsehoods contrary to Scripture. That is why they must not be granted authority. Their role must always be advisory.

The only sufficiency there is is what Catholics call material sufficiency.

Looking for formal sufficiency is running after a will-o-the-wisp.

WisdomLover, can you please provide your mail contacts? Mine is Thanks

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