Sunday, January 27, 2008

Apostolic Succession Based on Biblical Data / Supposed "Prooftexting" & Protestant Reluctance to Discuss Bible Text Interpretations With Catholics




The following exchange occurred on the website Evangelical Catholicity. I was responding to one part of the post Holy Orders, Ordination, and Apostolic Succession, by Gabe Martini. I think it is a case study of how what should have been a simple, straightforward discussion on biblical interpretation and the biblical basis for a particular notion, got off track to digression upon digression on methodology and various aspects of Catholicism, rather than the topic at hand. Gabe Martini's words will be in green; Jonathan Bonomo's in blue. My cited words will be indented.

This is somewhat of a follow-up to the post on the necessity of Bishops.

I have the following questions which I would like to see fleshed-out from all parties:

1. What is Biblically necessary for proper Ordination unto the Ministry, or Holy Orders?

2. What is Apostolic Succession? How does Apostolic Succession relate to the validity of Ordination?

3. How can we move towards greater Catholicity in these areas, in the greater catholic Church (i.e., Protestants, Eastern, and Western Catholics)?

Please speak with charity, humility, and love in this discussion. There will be no “warnings” before blatantly and intentionally offensive posts are removed. Thank you.

St. Paul teaches us (Ephesians 2:20) that the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles, whom Christ Himself chose (John 6:70, Acts 1:2,13; cf. Matthew 16:18). In Mark 6:30 the twelve original disciples of Jesus are called apostles, and Matthew 10:1-5 and Revelation 21:14 speak of the twelve apostles.

After Judas defected, the remaining eleven Apostles appointed his successor, Matthias (Acts 1:20-26). Since Judas is called a bishop (episkopos) in this passage (1:20), then by logical extension all the Apostles can be considered bishops (albeit of an extraordinary sort).

If the Apostles are bishops, and one of them was replaced by another, after the death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ, then we have an explicit example of apostolic succession in the Bible, taking place before 35 A.D.

In like fashion, St. Paul appears to be passing on his office to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:1-6), shortly before his death, around 65 A.D. This succession shows an authoritative equivalency between Apostles and bishops, who are the successors of the Apostles.

As a corollary, we are also informed in Scripture that the Church itself is perpetual, infallible, and indefectible (Matthew 16:18, John 14:26, 16:18). Why should the early Church be set up in one form and the later Church in another?

All of this biblical data is harmonious with the ecclesiological views of the Catholic Church. There has been some development over the centuries, but in all essentials, the biblical Church and clergy and the Catholic Church and clergy are one and the same.

… we are also informed in Scripture that the Church itself is perpetual, infallible, and indefectible (Matthew 16:18, John 14:26, 16:18)

Is the Church infallible or is the Church the defender of the infallible Truth in God’s Word? Surely experience alone shows the absurdity in claiming the Church is infallible, does it not?

Why should the early Church be set up in one form and the later Church in another?

I guess I’d ask you the same thing in regards to Transubstantiation/taking the Supper away from children, restricting marriage in the priesthood, veneration of Mary and saints, Mary as co-redeemer or mediator, the Papacy, Papal infallibility, and on and on and on.

* * *

Is the Church infallible or is the Church the defender of the infallible Truth in God’s Word?

Both. Acts 15:28-29 clearly shows infallibility at work in a Church council.

Surely experience alone shows the absurdity in claiming the Church is infallible, does it not?

Rightly understood, not at all. If God can preserve a written document from error, though written by sinful men through inspiration of the Spirit, then surely He can also enable a Church (composed of sinful men) with a written corpus of doctrine to be infallible. Why is one more difficult than the other? We believe not only that He can do so, but that He has in fact. It takes faith. Protestants simply lack the amount of faith required to believe in an infallible Church. I understand that. Infallibility was once the most difficult thing for me to accept. My thought was so thoroughly Protestant that it seemed unthinkable.

I asked: “Why should the early Church be set up in one form and the later Church in another?” You didn’t answer my question, but I’m happy to answer your eight:

1) Transubstantiation: the real presence is taught in Scripture itself, and the real presence is the essential aspect of “change of substance,” because the change involves becoming the Body and Blood of Christ. The rest is straightforward development of doctrine.

2) taking the Supper away from children: based on the concept of the age of reason. Lots of things are withheld from children: like marriage, ordination, military service. Also, if one doesn’t believe in the substantial presence of Christ in Holy Communion, then of course it is no big deal for children to partake, as it is just a bit of bread and grape juice and kids eat and drink those at home.

3) restricting marriage in the priesthood: based on St. Paul’s principle of the preferability of singleness for the sake of more concentrated devotion to God (1 Cor 7). This is a perfectly good biblical principle. I never saw that it was some terrible thing, even when I was Protestant. Of course it would be if one presupposed (over against Scripture) that it is impossible not to marry or to live without sex.

4) veneration of Mary: if an angel “hails” Mary (Luke 1:28), then why not human beings, too?

5) veneration of saints [this reasoning applies especially to Mary, the Mother of God]:

[cited long excerpt from A Biblical Defense of Catholicism: pp. 102-104]

Is that enough scriptural basis for you?

6) Mary as co-redeemer or mediator: the notion of Mediatrix is not immediately dismissible as contrary to Scripture in the sense that it blatantly contradicts it. There are many biblical analogies of non-divine “distribution of grace”:

[cited biblical evidences from my paper: Human, Pauline, and Marian Distribution of Divine Graces: Not an "Unbiblical" Notion After All?]

7) the Papacy: tons of biblical indication: too much to delve into here, so I’ll have to refer you to my introductory paper: 50 New Testament Proofs for Petrine Primacy and the Papacy.

8) Papal infallibility: With God all things are possible. If He chooses to protect a man from error, He can do so, and in fact, we often see this in Scripture.

[cited arguments and Scripture from my paper: Biblical Evidence for Papal and Church Infallibility]

Now maybe you’d do me the courtesy of answering my question too? I think it is an important one, and one that Protestants would do well to consider.

Lastly, I thought the thread was about apostolic succession? Catholics are not the only ones who believe in this; so do Anglicans and Orthodox, while they disagree with several Catholic doctrines. If you want to discuss biblical rationale for apostolic succession, I have given you some material that I think is able to be discussed. But instead we’re already into the “1001 questions for the Catholic who believes all this goofy stuff” routine.

I have to say, too, that I find it odd that in a thread where the first question asked was “what is biblically necessary . . .?”, I didn’t see a single Bible verse cited in the first 13 comments before mine. Then I gave plenty of proposed biblical rationale, while the reply overlooked all that and cited no Scripture and argued against none that I gave, but asked me eight rhetorical questions in return.

How are Christians of different stripes going to come to a significant agreement on anything if we don’t appeal to that which we all love and hold in common: Holy Scripture? Doesn’t all constructive discussion presuppose something held in common as a common premise: from which the discussion can proceed and accomplish something?

One can disagree with my (Catholic) interpretation of Scripture of course, but they should at least make some argument and give a better alternative. That’s all I ask.

If the question is apostolic succession and ordination, and the originator of the thread wants to hear from “all parties” how is this ultimately done other than appealing to Scripture?

Mr. Armstrong,

You’ve brought far too many things to the table for us to adequately address on this thread. I know that you were addressing Gabe’s questions, so I don’t blame you. Let me just say that I think your biblical presentation is a bit simplistic… kind of like hearing an evangelical string together a group of proof texts to justify the practice of an altar call and the “sinner’s prayer.” Yes, you can draw all manner of conclusions from isolated proof-texts. We can all do it. Paul says in 1 Corinthians that “all things are permissible.” Think of all the conclusions we could draw from that one.

I don’t mean any offense here. It’s just that I don’t think taking a handful from our bag of proof-texts and throwing them out on the table is conducive to productive dialogue. We all have them, and I’m sure you know that once you get Protestants in a battle over proof-texts, the war will never end. The issue is one of perspective, not of isolated passages. Interpreted through your grid, the passages you’ve brought forth make perfect sense to you. To me they say absolutely nothing like what you want them to say. Our differences go deeper than one side simply not seeing what is “clear” in Scripture.

The fact is that there is no positive teaching of papal infallibility, purgatory, or that mediatrix stuff about Mary in Scripture. These doctrines rest on the assumption that the Church is infallible, which assumption itself rests on a certain interpretation of a few isolated passages, which are themselves interpreted the way they are because you have “faith” that the Church really is infallible. I understand why this assumption is held, and I hold it to a certain extent as well. But I’m not willing to go quite as far with it as you are. Maybe it’s just because I lack “faith.”

I believe that the Church is preserved in the Truth in every age. But I have a different conception of what this Truth entails. The Truth is Jesus Christ and the witness concerning him in the Apostolic Gospel, which is offered and received within the Church in every age, well summarized in the Apostles’ Creed and further interpreted in the Nicene and Chalcedonian definitions. Thus, it is not each and every particular doctrine which the Church is to be considered unquestionable on. It is the Gospel–the truth about Jesus. And even here, the Church itself does not have an absolutely unquestionable authority. The Apostles themselves were subject to the Apostolic *message*, as we see in Gal. 1-2.

I’m willing to grant a succession of sorts. However, I will not grant a succession which enables the Church to do what she wants in every age and ignore the call to repentence proferred by her faithful sons and Reformers.

* * *

Hi Jonathan,

I don’t mean any offense here. It’s just that I don’t think taking a handful from our bag of proof-texts and throwing them out on the table is conducive to productive dialogue.

All Christians cite Scripture, and we all do it and times by just “throwing them out on the table” without doing exhaustive exegesis every time. The implication was drawn that Catholics have no biblical backing at all for what we believe. My own apologetics specialize in arguing that this is not the case.

As you noted, I started out giving a biblical argument for apostolic succession, and I was not the one who led this down eight different rabbit trails. Anyone can argue doctrine from the Bible if they like, but no one yet has. Instead, totally unrelated questions were thrown at me. In a way my answer was designed to show the foolishness of that diversionary tactic, which was itself designed to imply that Catholics have this huge mountainous mass of doctrine that is completely indefensible and unconnected to Holy Scripture.

We all have them, and I’m sure you know that once you get Protestants in a battle over proof-texts, the war will never end.

That may be, but at present it appears that it has not and will not even begin. I love to discuss the interpretation of Scripture. For some reason I find similar desires rare in online discussions, even among those with a formal theological education.

The issue is one of perspective, not of isolated passages. Interpreted through your grid, the passages you’ve brought forth make perfect sense to you. To me they say absolutely nothing like what you want them to say.

Great, but why?

Our differences go deeper than one side simply not seeing what is “clear” in Scripture.

Who said it was “clear”? You’re the ones who are big on perspicuity of Scripture. I have made an argument that no one wants to interact with. Instead of simply saying my argument proved nothing (which is no argument), why don’t you interact with it? I find this curious. Now, it’s true that you may have no desire to discuss this particular issue, but then why comment? I just think it is an odd way to respond to a biblical argument that someone has made. Nothing personal here, either.

The fact is that there is no positive teaching of papal infallibility, purgatory, or that mediatrix stuff about Mary in Scripture.

Depends on what one means by “positive.” If by that you mean explicit, detailed teaching, that is certainly true of mediatrix (but I never denied that; my presentation had to do with background plausibility). Purgatory is indicated by many passages: far more than most Protestants realize. I compiled some 25 indications in my chapter on this in my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism. Papal authority also has a great deal of indication.

Protestants manage to believe in sola Scriptura with no explicit biblical evidence, either, and (I would contend) no really compelling biblical proof at all, and much information to the contrary. You also accept the canon of Scripture based necessarily on some ecclesiastical tradition (in your case, the one that rejects the deuterocanon). That doesn’t seem to give Protestants pause.

These doctrines rest on the assumption that the Church is infallible,

Yes, we accept the authority of the Church, but they also rest on biblical indication as well. This is what I was trying to demonstrate! Why would you assume (as I alluded to above) that any Catholic doctrine that you disagree with can have no conceivable biblical indication in its favor, and therefore must rest solely on Catholic Church authority? This doesn’t follow at all. We have our biblical arguments just as you do, and you disagree with them, just as we disagree with yours.

I commented on this thread, hoping to get into a good discussion on the interpretation of the Bible regarding apostolic succession. But no one wants to do that. The thread began in this way:

I have the following questions which I would like to see fleshed-out from all parties:

. . . 2. What is Apostolic Succession? How does Apostolic Succession relate to the validity of Ordination?

I assumed that “all parties” included Catholics. But I don’t perceive that anyone wants to have this discussion with a Catholic, based on the nature of the responses to my comments thus far. That’s fine, too, but then the post should have said, “except for Catholic [or Orthodox?] arguments: we don’t want to hear about those because we think so little of them.” :-)

which assumption itself rests on a certain interpretation of a few isolated passages, which are themselves interpreted the way they are because you have “faith” that the Church really is infallible.

My system is not based on circular reasoning, but it does require faith, of course. I’ve always argued, however, that the Protestant rule of faith is viciously circular, so I wold say you are contending about my rule of faith what is actually true of yours but not mine. How ironic, huh?

I understand why this assumption is held, and I hold it to a certain extent as well. But I’m not willing to go quite as far with it as you are. Maybe it’s just because I lack “faith.”

It’s not for me to judge why you believe whatever you do. As a generality, I do maintain that Protestants lack faith in what God can do, because they refuse to believe that infallibility can apply to anything but Scripture. All I can do is use biblical argument with Protestants, and interact with theirs, because that is what we have in common. So far it is a non-starter around here, which is disappointing.

But at least I am allowed to comment here, which is a start. I’m hoping someone will enjoy getting into some exegetical discussions on some topic somewhere along the way, because it is so rare to be able to do that intelligently and without acrimony. I enjoyed my previous discussion on development with Rev. Pahls, though it was brief and didn’t really go very far.

One has to cross the hurdle of being accepted as a fellow Christian. That is no issue here. But the deeper, longstanding, deep-seated suspicions about Catholicism and how we approach Christianity are not so easily gotten over and it still remains difficult to simply engage in a biblically-oriented doctrinal dialogue without being sidetracked into precisely the sorts of discussions we are presently doing.

That said, I do appreciate your cordiality and expression of your opinion, even though, in my opinion, not much was accomplished by way of the topic itself.

* * *

Mr Armstrong,

A couple things, very briefly,

1. You read into my comments more than I was wanting to say. You said,

Why would you assume (as I alluded to above) that any Catholic doctrine that you disagree with can have no conceivable biblical indication in its favor, and therefore must rest solely on Catholic Church authority? This doesn’t follow at all. We have our biblical arguments just as you do, and you disagree with them, just as we disagree with yours.

But I never said such a thing. My only point was that we both have our passages and our interpretations of them, and that these interpretations are conditioned by our different perspectives and presuppositions. I don’t see where I implied that “any Catholic doctrine that [I] disagree with can have no conceivable biblical indication in its favor.”

2. I had no intention to comment on this thread until I noticed the string of proof-texts you marshalled forth. The reason I commented was solely because I don’t think what you are attempting above is conducive to productive discussion. If you’re looking for someone to do battle with on that ground, I am not your man. You said, “at present it appears that it has not and will not even begin.” And for this I am thankful. I really hope we can keep the level of discussion around here above that sort of thing.

It is true that such engagements can generate a certain type of discussion, like a debate where the interlocutors just continue offering as many proofs as possible of their position in hopes that someone may be “converted” by their impenetrable fortress of Scripture and reason. But this is not my cup o’ tea. If you would like to discuss the interpretation of specific passages, then we can do that… one at a time, while paying due heed to the historical, literary, and grammatical context of the passage in question. But putting all of our chips on the table in order to tally the score and see who wins is not what I’m about. If someone else would like to engage you in such a fruitless task, they are of course free to do so, as long as comments remain respectful. But it will not be me. Sorry.

3. Finally, I see that you have raised a question about the propriety of my commenting in this regard. I’d like to remind you that you are a guest here, while I am not. With all due respect, please do not presume to tell me when I should and should not comment on this blog.

* * *

You simply dismissed all of my biblical argumentation out of hand. That’s what put me off a bit. So I was saying, in effect, “if you want to interact with what I argued, please do so, but don’t just editorialize about my method . . .”

2. I had no intention to comment on this thread until I noticed the string of proof-texts you marshalled forth. The reason I commented was solely because I don’t think what you are attempting above is conducive to productive discussion.

Neither do I. It was not my desire to go off on eight rabbit trails at once. That was brought into this by Gabe. But given the fact that he did it, I made my point, which is that Catholics can (agree or disagree with it) produce more than enough biblical argumentation in favor of their distinctives. I’m quite happy to go back to the original topic of apostolic succession and the biblical data in that regard that I submitted.

If you’re looking for someone to do battle with on that ground, I am not your man.

I wouldn’t call it “battle”; I’d call it “dialogue” but that is a minor point, I suppose. One presupposes that if a post is written that asks for “fleshed-out” opinions “from all parties” that the one writing it, at least, might be interested in discussing the issue that he himself raised. So my response is completely within bounds.

You said, “at present it appears that it has not and will not even begin.” And for this I am thankful. I really hope we can keep the level of discussion around here above that sort of thing.

Above what, pray tell? Discussing the Bible? What is so controversial about a Christian suggesting that the Bible may teach thus-and-so about a particular issue?

It is true that such engagements can generate a certain type of discussion, like a debate where the interlocutors just continue offering as many proofs as possible of their position in hopes that someone may be “converted” by their impenetrable fortress of Scripture and reason.

SIGH. You miss my point entirely. Above, I wrote:

How are Christians of different stripes going to come to a significant agreement on anything if we don’t appeal to that which we all love and hold in common: Holy Scripture? Doesn’t all constructive discussion presuppose something held in common as a common premise: from which the discussion can proceed and accomplish something?

It was a sincere [rhetorical] question. I’m not trying to do anything except defend my present point of view from Scripture. It would be pleasant and nice to discuss the issue based on what I brought forth. Instead, we seem to be in yet another completely undesired “controversy.” I’m not trying to convert you or anyone here. I rarely try to persuade anyone to convert. That’s ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit anyway. I simply make my arguments.

But this is not my cup o’ tea. If you would like to discuss the interpretation of specific passages, then we can do that… one at a time, while paying due heed to the historical, literary, and grammatical context of the passage in question.

That would be nice. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, of course. There is systematic theology and biblical theology, etc.

But putting all of our chips on the table in order to tally the score and see who wins is not what I’m about.

Again, you have gotten my replies to the eight rabbit trails all out of proportion with what I was trying to do originally. My original response was six paragraphs (four of them with biblical citations) that presented a concise biblical argument for apostolic succession.

Gabe didn’t want to interact with that, which is fine. It’s a free country. But I did nothing improper. I simply responded to the eight things and showed that there is a lot more there than meets the eye, in terms of Catholic biblical rationale.

If someone else would like to engage you in such a fruitless task, they are of course free to do so, as long as comments remain respectful. But it will not be me. Sorry.

I fail to see why any Christian would think that discussing Bible interpretation and theology based on Bible passages is “fruitless.” I am truly baffled by your perspective on this.

3. Finally, I see that you have raised a question about the propriety of my commenting in this regard.

I did? Where? I remember writing: “I do appreciate your cordiality and expression of your opinion.”

I’d like to remind you that you are a guest here, while I am not. With all due respect, please do not presume to tell me when I should and should not comment on this blog.

I was talking about (if I did such a thing at all) the relationship of your comments to my argument, and how I felt that we had gotten off the track a bit. I believe in free expression and vigorous-yet-cordial dialogue. My ideas were critiqued, and I returned the favor. That should cause neither alarm, distress, nor suspicion. I’m simply trying to have a biblical discussion. I’m disappointed that it has gotten bogged down into a digression about good and bad method, but that is life, I guess.

It is true that I take a rather dim view of the method that merely disagrees with an argument without giving any reason for the disagreement. I contended that that is not an argument. It’s the distinction between the two following scenarios:

Argument:

Person A: “I believe a, b, and c, because of biblical reasons x, y, and z.”

Person B: “I disagree with a, b, and c because of my exegetical (and etc.) objections i, ii, and iii to your biblical reasons x, y, and z.”

Bald Disagreement

Person A: “I believe a, b, and c, because of biblical reasons x, y, and z.”

Person B: “I disagree with a, b, and c, and it is fruitless to discuss x, y, and z.”

I fail to see the point of the second method. Why bother to say that one simply disagrees with something without giving the reasons? That was what I was saying, not that anyone should or shouldn’t comment. It was (again) an argument, and had nothing to do with persons or supposed transgression of the principles of discussion as elucidated on this site. There is no mystery to me. I say what I mean and mean what I say.

Mr. Armstrong,

It seems we differ on the type of discussion we would like to be involved in. That is fine. As I told you above, I did not enter into this thread in order to cross swords with you. My initial reason for commenting on this thread was not to express disagreement with your points, it was rather simply to point out that, in my opinion, the argument you were attempting is fruitless if the underlying presuppositions are not first addressed. This would be an attempt to find the “common premise” about which you write above. There are things involved here which run much deeper than quoting our pet Bible passages will get at. That was my main point.

But those things aside, just for some clarity on my third point above: what I wrote was in response to this comment of yours:

Now, it’s true that you may have no desire to discuss this particular issue, but then why comment? I just think it is an odd way to respond to a biblical argument that someone has made.

Blessings,

Jonathan

Mr. Armstrong,

After reading through your last reply to me again, I noticed one other thing which I probably ought to clarify. You wrote:

I fail to see why any Christian would think that discussing Bible interpretation and theology based on Bible passages is “fruitless.” I am truly baffled by your perspective on this.

I absolutely do not believe discussing the Scriptures is always fruitless. But it can be. What is fruitless is discussing the Scriptures by way of a proof-text method where the parties involved construct their respective houses of facts and then everyone looks to see whose edifice is bigger. Maybe this is not what you were attempting. It just seemed like that to me. If I misinterpreted, I apologize.

You may regard my addressing this issue as getting “bogged down” in questions of methodology. I consider it being a good steward of the time I’m given and respectful of the word of God. A poor methodology of dialogue will in my opinion produce poor dialogue. This is why I consider it important to address methodology.

Thanks. Let me ask, then, if I may: how many Scripture verses can one give before it is suspected that one is engaging in the sort of "prooftexting" that you think is unfruitful? Certainly there must be some happy medium, assuming that it is helpful to engage in scriptural argumentation? Rev. Jordan gave none at all in his last post #28 (though he alluded to some biblical motifs). I'm just trying to figure out what you think is a manageable figure for Scripture citation, for future reference.

Can only one passage at a time be discussed profitably? If so, then one couldn't even mention a single cross-reference, which strikes me as prima facie unreasonable. So that seems to me to be a minimum of two passages. But if two, why not six or ten? I don't see that such limitations help very much.

I would submit that limitation of subject matter is what is more important (in terms of the stewardship of time that I am also keenly aware of), rather than a limit on how much Scripture one might bring to bear on that restricted topic. A glance at any systematic theology makes this fairly clear, I think. But then my bias is towards systematic theology, too.

I think that is more conducive to incorporating all of the relevant biblical data that can be brought to bear in any given area. The truly objectionable prooftexting is using too few passages without taking proper consideration of other related ones and the overall biblical worldview and theology.

Mr. Armstrong,

As I see it, the phenomenon of “proof-texting” is not so much a matter of quantity as it is of quality. Proof-texting is the resting of an argument upon a list (take your pick on a number) of Scripture passages baldly asserted without any engagement with or analysis of the text. In a word, it is an argument without an argument.

Again, this may or may not have been your intention. If it was not, I apologize if any offense has been caused. It just seemed that way to me, and given my fundamentalist background I am sort of allergic to that kind of thing, because I’ve been there, done that, and have no taste for it anymore. My objection to this method is not anything against your perspective on things per se. I have in fact been much more outspoken in the past against the Protestant bent towards such engagements (even when said Protestants are setting forth ideals which I agree with) than I ever have against Roman Catholics.

* * *

. . . given my fundamentalist background I am sort of allergic to that kind of thing, because I’ve been there, done that . . .

Maybe that’s where the problem lies. I never had that background, and in fact, I was protesting Gabe doing something very similar to that modus operandi, by throwing out eight things without argument, that implied my point of view was thoroughly incoherent. I suppose I should have ignored that and not replied to it. But it’s my nature as an apologist to respond to that sort of thing and show that there is much more than meets the eye in Catholic positions.

Also, surely you can understand that a Catholic in an environment of mostly Protestants would rather err on the side of giving more Scripture rather than not enough, since we are routinely thought of as virtually biblical illiterates.

Lastly, I again appeal to my original response, #14 (before the rabbit trails took over, courtesy of Gabe). It was a compact biblical argument that presented a position to be debated. It was not merely a listing of texts. It was exactly on-topic; it didn’t give any judgments of papal encyclicals, etc. There was nothing objectionable in it at all, as far as I am concerned. Nor was most of my other presentation of the nature of objectionable “prooftexting,” though I admit that the 50 NT Proofs for Petrine Primacy might reasonably be subjected to such a criticism. Any list of 50 things in Scripture is obviously going to be only the briefest overview by nature. Even Luther’s 95 Theses were that.

I’d be the first to wholeheartedly agree that each one of the 50 summaries could and should be discussed in depth, and in fact I have done so when that paper was critiqued by anti-Catholic Protestant apologist Jason Engwer. He did a sort of half-satirical critique, suggesting a counter “Pauline primacy” that I replied to in great depth [twice: one / two].

So I would contend that even a listing of Scriptures (as any systematic theology often does) is not impermissible, nor merely “prooftexting” in the fundamentalist sense, as long as the person is willing to discuss any particular point in depth (as I am, and always will be).

I appreciate your explanations of reasons for your possible overreaction. I have to say, though, that I think such reticence (seen also in Gabe’s response) goes beyond an aversion to prooftexting in the worst sense of that word. Protestants simply don’t like it when Catholics argue from the Bible, because Scripture is supposed to be Protestant turf, and most self-confident Protestants assume that and have taken in that assumption with their mother’s milk.

Therefore, if a Catholic brings in more than a little biblical argumentation, there must be some foundational error, because they can’t possibly succeed (the Bible being clearly, unarguably a Protestant book . . .). Either the premises must be false, or it is the appearance of strength only, or it’s based on blind faith in Rome, etc. Thus, we see these motifs above.

I don’t intend in the slightest to cause any offense, either. I’m merely trying to show that there are very deep biases in Protestantism against Catholicism, even amongst ecumenical folks and those who consciously have nothing against Catholics or Catholicism per se. It happens all the time. I’m in a position to notice, believe me, because I have specialized in “biblical evidence for Catholicism,” and I have seen these sorts of reactions a thousand times over 17 years.

And, don’t forget, I was a fervent evangelical Protestant for thirteen years and know that world, too. I was an apologist and evangelist then, as well, and an “anti-cult” researcher. I was on the radio as a Protestant, in 1989, on the largest Protestant station in the Detroit area, discussing Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It’s very simple. Once in a while, I would love to get into a discussion about a biblical texts or a few texts, give my position and interact with the Protestant opinion, without being subjected to all the evasive, somewhat belittling baggage of “you believe this only because Rome told you so” or “this obviously doesn’t mean what you think it means at all” or “you’re just trying to convert folks to Holy Mother Church.” I know it is possible to engage in such discussions, because occasionally I have been able to do it with Protestants. There are few things I enjoy more when it happens. But by and large, Protestants are very reluctant to do so, and I think we saw a bit of that in this thread.

I will continue trying to do that, as I think there are a lot of sharp and articulate people here. I’m not trying to convert anyone. I’m approaching this from a perspective of, “this is my position on this biblical text, from my Catholic perspective. What’s yours?” But if no one is interested, I won’t be here long and won’t bother you. Maybe no one wants to discuss the biblical arguments on apostolic succession, pro and con. But perhaps other topics would be more amenable for such purposes.

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