Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dialogue: Are All the Biblical Books Self-Evidently Inspired and Canonical? (vs. Ken Temple), Part Three

By Dave Armstrong (6-22-06)

If everything were so obvious, how could there be so many differences?

Again, writing "so many differences" plays into the hands of skeptics and enemies of all of Christianity, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, so it would better to be more accurate and admit that there were some doubts and differences of opinions about some books, but to always emphasize the positive agreement on most of the books of the NT, even long before Athanasisus' time.

This general (fallacious) line of "complaint" has already been replied-to. Note that my crucial, altogether relevant question wasn't even answered; you didn't even attempt to answer. Instead, you opted for the boilerplate rhetoric again. This is what people do when they have no cogent reply: obfuscation and obscurantism; diversion tactics. Not consciously, of course . . .

The awareness of a canon itself didn't even become prominent until the end of the 2nd century.

What are you referring to here? The Muratorian Canon?

No, the canon, period. Patristic expert J.N.D. Kelly writes:

The first writer to speak unequivocally of a 'New' Testament parallel to the Old was Irenaeus . . . The formal recognition of a fixed list, or canon, of New Testament writings can be dated about the middle of the second century.

(Early Christian Doctrines, San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1978 revised edition, 56-57)
Your nitpicking at every statement I make, from a mere two-page overview, is absurd, given Kelly's statement that:

The development of the canon throughout the rest of our period makes an exceedingly complicated story, and falls outside the scope of this book. The student should refer to specialized manuals on the subject.

(Ibid., 59)
I think I did pretty good at the nearly-impossible task of summarizing this material so briefly. The only error you have caught me in so far was simply a poor choice of words (about James "denying" that he was an apostle), which inadvertantly expressed something that I didn't even believe in the first place. Kelly provides a great summary of the major difficulties or anomalies in NT canon development:

The main point to be observed is that the fixation of the finally agreed list of books, and of the order in which they were to be arranged, was the result of a very gradual process. While the broad outline of the canon was settle by the end of the second century, different localities continued to maintain their different traditions, and some (e.g. Alexandria in Origen's time) appear to have been less partial to fixity than others.

Hebrews was for a long time under suspicion in the West, and Revelation was usually excluded in the fourth and fifth centuries where the school of Antioch held sway. The Western church was absolutely silent about James until the latter half of the fourth century, and the four smaller Catholic epistles (2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude), absent from most early lists, continued for long to be treated as doubtful in certain circles . . . the process was not everywhere complete until at least a century and a half later [after 367; making this accomplishment 517 or later]

(Ibid., 59-60)
Not true, there are other earlier indications of some kind of "corpus" or "collection" or "canon". (see below)

In kernel, yes. Note that I used the word "prominent," which allows for some prior development.

But even before then, even in Peter's second epistle, written in 67-68 AD, before he was martyred, he indicates a kind of "canon", or collection of all of Paul's letters and the rest of the Scriptures.

It's a very underdeveloped, vague notion, precisely as we would expect at that early date.

Jude implicitly also teaches the same thing in Jude 3, "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints."

I dealt with this earlier: the delivered "faith" was not the Bible but the Christian faith: originally proclaimed orally, not via Gideon Bibles in everyone's stone hut.

St. Athanasius was the first person to list our present 27 New Testament books, in the year 367: more than 300 years after the death of Jesus.

That is true, technically, but would it not be a better apologetic for the truth of all of "catholic" Christianity (Roman, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodoxy) to emphasize this issue the way I have, speaking the truth to those who have not faith, or want to use that large gap of 300 years as somehow, some kind of an argument against the Bible?

I am contending that one particular way of determining the canon is inadequate. I'm also arguing that the Church is necessary for Christians to have a definite understanding or framework of which books are biblical and which are not. How that is construed as some sort of blast "against the Bible" is, I confess, totally beyond my understanding. The Bible can't be used to produce an argument based on what individual biblical books supposedly claim, when they don't in fact claim it.

In my experience of ministry with Muslims for the past 23 years, they use these statements similar ones to your emphasis on the 300 year old gap; and which is emphasized by those skeptics and unbelieving scholars to doubt all of the NT and they fail to recognize that most of the NT was not questioned and was received by all the historical churches.

I'm not dealing with Muslims (or skeptical, liberal types) at the moment; I'm dealing with a certain sub-group of Protestants who approach this issue in a wrongheaded, historically-naive way. If I were dealing with Muslims, I might very well take the approach you are taking. But just because you are engaged in outreach to Muslims (good for you!), doesn't mean that I must construct every apologetic argument I make according to how you think Muslims would react to it (or use it for nefarious ends, etc.). That's clearly absurd. It's tunnel vision. They won't even be reading this.

The Jehovah's Witnesses do the same thing when they come to my door over the past 30 years or so. The mix up Nicea and the Deity of Christ with the canon and Constantine's power and put it all under one bullet attack against the Bible, Christianity and the Trinity.

There are all sorts of false teachings out there (including many in all the Protestant sects). I can't fight all those things at once. I'm dealing with one particular false method and false notion. I can't prevent certain folks from distorting what I am arguing and using it. So it's not my problem.

Many other "anomalous" facts indicate the numerous substantial difficulties of canonicity.

They are not so numerous as you make them out to be; and they are not that substantial. Rather they are small compared to all the positive issues that I have already pointed out.

Readers can be the judge of that.

It is historical fact that many biblical books were slowly accepted.

NO! It is a historical fact that some, a few, biblical books were slowly accepted.

I've given the facts of the matter: all from reputable Protestant sources.

St. Justin Martyr (d.c. 165) didn't recognize Philippians or 1 Timothy.

Does he clearly reject them, or did he just fail to mention or quote them? If he merely does not mention them, then that does nothing for your argument.

Silence does tie into my argument, because that would mean that 100 years or so after Paul's death, a major Church Father still didn't seem to be aware of the entire NT as we know it (of course, no one cited all the books till Athanasius in 367: some 300 years after Paul's martyrdom).

According to Brooke Foss Westcott (A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 6th edition, 1980, from 1889 edition, 110-111; cf. Bruce, ibid., 127), Justin Martyr also repeatedly cites a work called Memoirs of the Apostles (e.g., ten times in his Dialogue With Trypho). Westcott states:

In addition to the Gospels the Apocalypse is the only book of the New Testament to which Justin alludes by name . . . But it cannot be concluded from his silence that Justin was either unacquainted with the Acts and the Epistles, or unwilling to make use of them.

. . . he appears to shew traces of the influence of all St. Paul's Epistles with the exception of the Pastoral Epistles [1 and 2 Timothy and Titus] and those to the Philippians and Philemon.

In the other writings commonly attributed to Justin besides the apologies and Dialogue the references to the New Testament exhibit the same general range . . . there are coincidences of language with . . . the Epistle to the Philippians, and the First to Timothy . . . the Catholic Epistles and the Epistles to Titus and Philemon alone of the writings of the New Testament have left no impression on the genuine or doubtful works of Justin Martyr.

(Ibid., 168, 171-172)
This is sufficient for my brief statement to remain accurate. He didn't cite these two books in his main writings, and in other less certain ones attributed to him there are possible "coincidences of language." In any event, he is unaware of several NT books, any way you look at it, which is the larger state of affairs that I was driving at in my brief survey-argument.

Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix's book, From God to Us: How We Got the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), in its handy chart of patristic witness to the canon (p. 109) does not indicate any citation or allusion in Justin for the following books: Philippians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, and 1, 2, and 3 John. That's eleven out of 27 books. I used the description "didn't recognize." I submit that this is adequate to describe an instance of someone not citing a book by name, though granted there are some ambiguities here, as usual with this complex and confusing topic.

Bruce makes an interesting statement about the Gospel of John:

Justin says nothing about the authorship of the Fourth Gospel . . . The first known writer to call the evangelist John is Theophilus, bishop of Antioch c. AD 180 (To Autolycus, 2.22).

(Ibid., 129)
The Muratorian Canon (c. 190) excluded Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter.

It needs to be pointed out that the Muratorian Canon is sometimes dated earlier at 170 or 180 AD; and that the text was corrupted when found, so that it starts with "but at some, he was present" (referring to Mark and the fact that he was probably at some of the events in the life of Jesus) and then it has the phrase, ". . . The third book of the gospel, according to Luke . . . "

This shows that the rotten part of the parchment included Matthew and Mark, and also opens the possibility that the end of the list was also corrupted and could have included at least I Peter, if not the others also.

But, as many scholars, point out, including one of your favorites, J. N. D. Kelly, about the Muratorian Canon: "The text is very corrupt, and emendations have been proposed restoring a mention of the Petrine epistles, or at any rate of I Peter." ( Early Christian Doctrines, p. 59, see also, Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, p. 29).

Okay; thanks for the information. At any rate, this doesn't overthrow my factual statement of certain books missing. But it is an impressive collection for such an early time. Geisler dates this document c. 170. Bettenson says "The Greek original probably dated from the end of the second century" (Oxford Univ. Press, 1947, p. 40).

Also, Clement, written about 95 AD, quotes from the epistle to the Hebrews.

Great. Good for him.

J.N.D. Kelly, citing Justin Martyr as testimony of a growing "corpus of Scripture" in about 150 AD, writes, "If it is too much to say that they already formed a 'corpus', they were well on the way to doing so." (p. 58.)

Yes, of course they were. I already noted that above before I read these words of yours.

As to a fixed "collection" of Paul's epistles, Kelly asserts, "There are numerous apparent echoes of then in Clement which perhaps indicate that he was acquainted with the nucleus of one [a corpus or collection of them] as early as 95."

Yep. This has no adverse effect on my present argument. I never denied this.

When referring to Marcion, the heretic's "canon", Kelly writes, "It is altogether more probable, therefore, that when he formulated his Apostolicum, as when he singled out the Third Gospel [Luke], Marcion was revising a list of books currently in use in the Church than proposing such a list for the first time." (ibid, p. 58.) Marcion's time dates at 144 AD, when he separated from the catholic (universal) church in Rome.

Again, no difficulty for me here . . .

The Council of Nicaea in 325 questioned the canonicity of James, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. Even up to the late 4th century, the book of James had not even been quoted in the west. The books of Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation were still being disputed at that late date. Revelation was rejected by St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386), St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), and St. Gregory Nazianzen (d. 389). None of this is consistent with the notion that it is easy to determine a biblical book (i.e., an inspired book) simply by reading it.

As pointed out several times, no one that understands these historical realities claims that it is easy to determine a biblical book by merely reading it once or lightly.

I didn't say "once or lightly." Nice try at putting words in my mouth. I said (in effect) "by oneself without the necessary aid of the Church to authoritatively determine the canon; otherwise, there would have been endless disputes, as in Protestant sectarianism."

We realize we have lots of history and tradition behind us to help us discern and understand. The "self-attesting" character of the canonical books are not pure subjectivity, but the quiet confidence of the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, based on good objective evidence, both Biblical and historical. Faith is based on evidence, not just on an internal "burning of the bosom".

You go beyond your master John Calvin, then. He sees little place for "evidence" when it comes to Scripture (in accordance with the presuppositionalist mindset that many Reformed continue to hold to this day), though I am fully aware that he is quite capable of contradicting himself at any time (just like Luther):

The prophets and apostles do not . . . dwell upon rational proofs. Rather, they bring forward God's holy name . . . we ought to seek our conviction in a higher place than human reasons, judgments, or conjectures, that is, in the secret testimony of the Spirit . . . God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word.

(Institutes of the Christian Religion, I, 7, 4; pp. 78-79 of Vol. 1, McNeill / Battles edition of 1960)

. . . Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence, it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning . . . illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else's judgment that Scripture is from God . . . We ssk no proofs . . . a conviction that requires no reasons . . . a feeling that can be born only of heavenly revelation. I speak of nothing other than what each believer experiences withion himself

(Ibid., I, 7, 5; pp. 80-81)
Believers in the early Church (such as St. Athanasius or St. Augustine) were just as zealous for the Bible and Christian truth as Christians today. Yet they often disagreed on this score.

But Athanasius and Augustine were agreed with each other in their understanding of the NT canon, and Athanasius and Jerome were basically agreed on the OT canon. (The only confusion was because some texts in Greek has additions to Daniel and Jeremiah, (as opposed to the Hebrew originals) and sometimes Esther was not mentioned, probably because it did not have the word, "God" in it.

The above sentence does not imply that I was only talking about Athanasius and Augustine. I was referring to body-wide disagreements (with those two as parenthetical examples) . So your reply is irrelevant.

Using "often", again, weakens the case for the supernaturalness of the Scriptures,

This is fascinating. So when I describe the complexity of the canonizing process by using a perfectly appropriate, accurate word that you don't care for, I now weaken the supernatural nature of Holy Scripture. Wow! I must learn one day the "logical" process (???) by which you arrive at such ludicrous whoppers.

when your emphasis is trying to show the authority of the Roman Catholic Church as "declaring" or "authoritatively" deciding which books belong in the canon. This leads unbelievers and skeptics to doubt Christianity more, for in their minds, a church council or bishop is "human", and less important than the testimony and evidence of the Scriptures themselves as to their inspiration and infallibility and inerrancy.

Only insofar as they adopt the erroneous thinking and (ultimately) lack of faith in God's power to not only preserve a book of His revelation, but also Church authority, so that His truths can be known with the certainty of a rational faith. In this instance, both you, as a quintessential evangelical Protestant, and the skeptic, agree that God is unable to preserve Church authority in a supernatural way, according to His providence and omnipotence.

But we Catholics have the faith that he is able and willing to do so, and we have Scripture to back us up (e.g., Acts 15:25-29; 1 Tim 3:15) . So if there is any anti-supernaturalist bent here, it is on your part, not mine. I believe all that the Bible teaches, including its teaching on authoritative human ecclesiastical authority. I don't pick and choose, according to my preconceived notions and unbiblical, historically late-arriving, novel Protestant tradition(s).

When you say the church council is merely "human" you forget that this is also true of apostles and prophets. They, too, are just "human," and sinners, yet God used them to write the inspired revelation of Holy Scripture. We believe God can protect councils and popes in the far lesser way of infallibility, which is far less of a miracle than inspiration. Yet you can believe the latter for no "reason" (if you take Calvin's fideist approach), while the former you rule out of hand (also with no good reason at all, let alone biblical warrant).

For purposes of evangelism to unbelievers, it is better to emphasize the inspiration of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21), the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture (Titus 1:2 "God cannot lie", John 10:35 "The Scripture cannot be broken") and carefully and more accurately admit the historical realities of the process of recognizing canonization, but also to point out all the positive evidence for the Scriptures earlier from 68 AD to 96 AD, and 140, 150,180-220 AD) etc.

All old ground . . . for the eighth time, I'm not writing primarily to unbelievers here, but to Protestants and Catholics who are subjected to these particular errors that Protestants promulgate.

(Clement, Marcion's as a reaction to something already there, and Justin, Tertullian, and Ireneaus' are all positive evidence for most of the NT books. All of those earlier evidences are more positive, and more truthful, than general statements that jump from Jesus to 367 AD.

How does one answer such a broad statement? So I won't try. Generals and particulars are two different things, anyway.

Moreover, we observe that many non-Scriptural books were regarded as Scripture by many important people and lists of canonical books in the early Church.

Again, "many" is not true. "some" is more accurate, or "a few".

Old ground. I believe you have even conceded this in replies made before I finished this multi-part response.

The Gospels of St. Justin Martyr contained apocryphal materials. The Epistle of Barnabas and the Didache were regarded as Scripture by St. Clement of Alexandria (d.c. 215) and Origen (d.c. 254);

Both Clement of Alexandria and especially the heretic Origen have many problems in their doctrines, and the internal evidence against the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas can be clearly discerned, even though they did not.

Always the quick, dismissive answer, huh Ken? Origen is a heretic . . . Clement believes some false doctrine (well, so do Luther and Calvin, according to you: they can't even figure out that infants ought not be baptized; Luther even thinks that baptism regenerates!). So what does the presence of error in someone's belief-system have to do with the subject at hand (fluidity of the early NT canon)?

The Didache has much good in it; but maybe the fact that it rejected Jewish legalism regarding fasts, and then added another legalistic rule for the early church is clear evidence, it seems to me, that it is not inspired, and one of the early signs of the church emphasizing works in addition to faith as having merit, or at least an emphasis on moralistic, legalistic piety, rather than the freeing message of the gospel in Romans and Galatians. (Didache 8.)

So it's clear to you, but not so clear to others. You see clearly that it has false teaching. Yet a hero of yours such as St. Athanasius thought it was good enough to include alongside the canonical books, in the same list where he first lists the 27 NT books, and to be profitably read in churches for edification (Bruce, ibid., 209). He can't figure out something that is obvious to you. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) took the same position (Ibid., 211), as did Rufinus (d. 410) (Ibid., 225).

Also, the Epistle of Barnabas' allegorical method of interpreting OT law texts proves it is not inspired.

While allegorical works such as Song of Solomon clearly are inspired . . .

For one example, see 10:7-8, where he makes gross scientific and biological errors. "because this animal (the hyena) changes its nature from year to year, and becomes male one time and female another." And Psuedo-Barnabas says about the weasel, "for this animal conceives through its mouth."

Interesting tidbits . . .

Now, I can confidently say that these are clear "self attesting" evidences that these books are not inspired, and that Origen and Clement of Alexandria were just wrong and "goofy"; and that it is not arrogant to see this, even though they lived back in the second and third century.

I think it is excessively dismissive, but then I think many of your Protestant beliefs are equally false or (shall we say?) "goofy," so I guess it all evens out in the end.

so was the Shepherd of Hermas, by St. Irenaeus (d.c. 200), Tertullian (d.c. 225), Origen, and St. Clement of Alexandria. The Muratorian Canon of c. 190 included the Apocalypse of Peter and Wisdom of Solomon. The well-known Codex Sinaiticus of the late fourth century still included the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas.

[no response from Ken]


The existence of disagreements on the canon doesn't prove that it was unable to be determined by a close study of the biblical books.

This is better, because now you are presenting that case more careful by writing, "by a close study of the Biblical books."

Yes, of course you would like this, because it is the hypothetical Protestant objector! I'll take that as a compliment: that you acknowledge my accurately presenting a "better" argument from my hypothetical (but representative) opponent.

But the case also includes an accurate and realistic look at the historical issues also.

Not very much so for Calvin . . . but I'm glad to see that you have moved more towards the Catholic approach to the issue.

All this shows is that Church fathers were fallible men, just like everyone else. The more the Bible was studied, the more men came to understand which books were truly inspired and which were not, by the clear indications in the books themselves.

Reply to Objection

It's very easy to make such (somewhat logically circular) claims, and "hindsight is 20-20"; however, there is no way to test or disprove (or, for that matter, prove) them other than by looking at what actually happened in history.

We can be honest about the historical process and the doubts about some books, without going over-board, as you did, which I showed previously.

So your view is "under-board"?

Also, we can show all the positive history for at least most of the NT books, 20 out of 27 makes the case positively as testifying that there was almost unanimous consensus over the 4 gospels, Acts, and Paul's letters.

Those achieved the most consensus; absolutely (though Acts was later than the other two sets of books).

This shows that the "self attesting" nature of at least 20 of the 27 was indeed, self attesting and clear for the early church.

I don't deny all "self-attestation"; I only deny that this alone was sufficient to establish a known canon with definite boundaries, or that it is as sweeping a characteristic of "all" the biblical books as some Protestants make out.

Are we to believe that the same people in the early Church who developed doctrines like the Holy Trinity, didn't understand which books belonged in the Bible as well as we do today, because they were poor readers or slow to comprehend the relatively obvious?

When you frame the issue in a sentence like that, that they "didn't understand which books belonged in the Bible"; you tend to sweep all of the NT books into the issue, when the issue is only the "anti-legomena" (those that are spoken against by some, and it was only a few).

Okay, then will you at least explain this difficulty in relation to those books?

The doctrine of the Trinity was fully taught in the four Gospels, Acts, and Paul's letters, and they are all agreed upon much earlier than the 7 books in which some people were not sure about.

Old ground . . .

Athanasius backs up his doctrine of the Trinity by appeal to Matthew 28:19 ( and many other verses), and Matthew was written around 50-57 AD. Origen taught the Trinity, and yet doubted a few, or reported that they were doubted, like 2nd Peter.

Neither here nor there . . .

No, we can admit that given the time and circumstances, and the fact that they wanted to be careful about books that they were not sure about, it is understandable that they had concerns about some of them.

Is this to be considered as a major concession from you? :-)

The fact remains that there were disagreements because some books were not all that clearly inspired

Only comparatively, when compared to the four Gospels, Paul's letters, and Acts.

However you describe it; it is still a fact. They didn't even explicitly claim to be inspired, except for Revelation, as F.F. Bruce noted.

(and other non-biblical books seemed to be).
Indeed, we expect men to disagree; all the more reason to need an authority.

That authority and historical witness is a great help to us, in adding to the internal evidence and the internal witness of the Spirit as to the truth of the canon. They are wonderful men who we can look to help, Athanasius, Jerome, Augustine,

Good Catholics all (not proto-Protestants in any way, shape, or form) . . .

and the church councils and decisions. Just because there was a process of discernment and/or discovery of what was already there, does not lessen the self-attesting nature of the canonical books. They do not "self-attest" in a vacuum. We appreciate their work and history, and Protestants can be "deep in history" also, contra Newman's false and over board claim.

You still have to square perspicuity and self-attestation with the actual history of canonization. You can put all the Protestant polemical spin on it that you want, but it won't change the hard facts.

Thus, the Church decided on the issue of the canon in the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397): both influenced heavily by St. Augustine.

The church did not "decide" or even "create canon", rather the church discerned, and discovered which books were inspired and had apostolicity behind them, and thus based on their inspiration, and inherent canonicity, (nature of being a law, a standard, a measuring rule, a criterion to measure other things by); make a list of the books.

Exactly! I would add, though, that deciding a canon is different from making Scripture what it is, because Scripture is inherently inspired, as I have noted in another paper. In other words, the canon is not identical with Scripture, anymore than a table of contents is identical with the book it describes by chapter.

The word "canon" later came to mean "a list". Some even communicate this issue in such a way so as to give the impression that the Church just decided or "created" by decree which books were written by apostles or which were canon based on a supposed infallible authority to just make it so. Al Kimel, in his blog Pontifications even communicated it in that way. ( I will have to find that later.)

This is not the Catholic position. Al is a recent convert; he may have gotten this wrong. Or he may have been misunderstood (if my own history of apologetic interaction on certain topics that Protestants have the greatest difficulty seeing through anything but Protestant glasses, is any indication).

But Jerome disagreed with Augustine on the Apocrypha, as did Athanasius (agreeing with Jerome), and their discernment was better than Augustine's on that issue. But they were agreed on the NT.

How do you know it was "better"? Your own private judgment? because Calvin and Luther told you so? What authority do they have? Exactly none . . .

It is sometimes objected that these were merely local councils. But they were preceded by a Roman Council (382) of identical opinion, and were ratified by Popes Innocent I (405, 414) and Gelasius I (495). The 6th Council of Carthage (419) also concurred.

The first two were indeed local councils, and the question of the apocryphal books was not settled until the Council of Trent, from the RCC position.

Many other catholics, earlier writers (Athanasius, Jerome); and Roman Catholics (Cardinal Cajetan), even a pope (Gregory the Great, 601 AD) all the way up until the Reformation, dispute those claims, especially about the Apocrypha books, that it is clearly from history that that question was not "authoritatively settled" from the RCC viewpoint until the Council of Trent.

I've dealt with this stuff elsewhere, so I won't spend yet more time on it now.

I'm gonna skip the F.F. Bruce quotation, since I'm weary of this round, having spent the better part of two days now replying (and wanting badly to jump in my pool on this hot day). You mostly ignore the point I was trying to make anyway, and think that by simply supplying more contextual Bruce material, somehow this changes things. It does not. Besides, of course again, it is a matter of having just a brief space to write the paper (two pages), including the quote. I did not misrepresent Bruce's opinions in any way. As far as I can tell, he backs up nearly all of my contentions. That proves that this issue is not simply "Catholic vs. Protestant." I would characterize it as an overly-simplistic view of canonization vs. a more historically realistic, nuanced one.

Thanks again for your reply. We continue to massively disagree, but it is nice that we can do it pleasantly and amiably, for the most part. Looks like we will have a Round Two as well, but I want to wrap this up for this first round, in three parts.

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