More on false gospels

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centuri0n

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PhilVaz in another thread:
The “gospel” is defined very basically of course in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ whereby we are “saved”, but in this basic meaning Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, all agree. Do you have something more in mind? Like pressing “justification by faith alone” as the true gospel?

A false gospel could also be defined as something not in accord with “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), i.e. the entire Catholic faith handed down and defined by the historic Church.
To which I replied:
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centuri0n:
Whoa! Slow down, Phil!

It will take a whole thread unto itself to unravel those 35-ish words. You’re saying that every single thing that the RC church today expouses as doctrine was (a-hem) really present in the first-generation church of the Apostles?

I will, in fact, start a new thread on that account. Don’t answer that question here.
So here’s that new thread. Let’s accept for a minute that the 1 Cor 15 definition of the faith is digested form of the Gospel, yes? That is to say, it is a fine (in fact, inerrant) summary of the Gospel, but it is hardly as inclusive as the Gospel of Luke or of John.

We do not need to parse the doctrines of Grace to find the reasons why Cathgolics and Protestants ought to be at odds over what the True Gospel is – so a protracted discussion over justification is not necessary. I think we can find something far more simple at the root of Protestant/Catholic disagreement which goes the the matter of “false gospels”.

Here’s my preface: Paul calls the gospel of the false bretheren in Galatia a false gospel – and it is a gospel which says that the circumcision is required to be a right believers. Would you agree with that assessment of the problem of false bretheren Paul addresses in Galatians?

Without waiting for your response to that, here’s my thesis: if the addition of circumcision to the preaching of the Gospel is enough to prompt the Holy Spirit and paul to inerrantly call that gospel a “false gospel”, any addition which is as great or greater than that addition would also qualify as a falsification of the true Gospel.

In the context of discussin that thesis, I report to you this passage from Munificetissimus Dei:
Pius XII:
We pronounce, declare and define that the dogma was revealed by God, that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary … was was assumed to the glory of Heaven in body and soul.

Therefore, if anyone, which God may forbid, should dare either to deny this, or voluntarily call into doubt what has been defined by Us, he should realize that he has cut himself off entirely from the divine and Catholic faith.
It seems pretty cut and dried that Pius XII is defining the Assumption of Mary and a necessary part of the Gospel – something without which one cannot be part of the faith.

That seems like a pretty significant addition to the true Gospel to me. Perhaps you could work it out for me.
 
The Word of God is far more than what is written in the New Testament.The Pope merely reinterated what had been taught since the early Church.
 
here’s my thesis: if the addition of circumcision to the preaching of the Gospel is enough to prompt the Holy Spirit and paul to inerrantly call that gospel a “false gospel”, any addition which is as great or greater than that addition would also qualify as a falsification of the true Gospel.
You have correctly identified the point of contention. Catholics, Orthodox, and an increasing number of Protestants (following the New Perspective on Paul) would dispute that thesis, and that must be resolved first.

More generally, we would likely also differ on what it means not to go beyond revealed truth. Again, that issue would have to be resolved before you could make any arguments based on that rule.
 
I have a couple questions here:

How do we know what is an addition to the “true” gospel and what is not?

For we can read in St John 21:25 “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suspose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

How can we know (infallibly) that Mary was NOT assumed into Heaven? How do we know that the early Church did NOT teach these things which Catholics and Protestants disagree upon?

Also, how was the issue of circumcision resolved? I believe that the issue was addressed at Jerusalem (council of). There was no Scripture to refer to. Besides, circumcision was part of the Mosiac law, so it doesn’t surprise me that there would be conflict as to whether or not it should be kept.

BTW centuriOn, I am grateful for your respectful and charitable manner! Keep up the good work!
 
centurion << That seems like a pretty significant addition to the true Gospel to me. Perhaps you could work it out for me. >>

Thanks for the posts. Definitions are important. You haven’t explicitly defined “true Gospel.” What is this “true Gospel” ? Is it “justification by faith alone” ? Is it Paul’s statement to the Galatians that one is “justified by faith apart from works of law”? What do you mean by “true Gospel” ?

Let’s back up. You asked first what is a false gospel. I mentioned (in another thread) how one could define the “gospel” using the Bible (1 Cor 15:1-4 is the basic summary of the gospel, Jude 3 “the faith” would be the gospel in broad terms).

Another passage defining “the gospel” in broad terms meaning “the entire faith handed down” would be 2 Thess 2:14-15. The “tradition” handed down “whether by word or by letter” (vs. 15) is said by Paul to be “our gospel” (vs. 14). W.E. Vine, the Protestant Greek scholar, says that “tradition” (paradosis) in this verse refers to “Christian doctrine in general” (Vine, Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, p. 639). So “our gospel”, or the “tradition” here, is all Christian doctrine in general, i.e. for the Catholic this means the entire Catholic faith.

As for the Assumption of Mary being an “addition”, depends how you define “gospel.” If the gospel is Jude 3 or 2 Thess 2:14-15 above, then No, the Assumption is not an “addition” to the gospel since the Assumption is part of that gospel or “the deposit of faith” (2 Tim 1:13-14; 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 2:2), the entire Catholic faith handed down from the apostles, and defined by the Church. If the “gospel” is “justification by faith alone” or Paul’s statements in Galatians you mentioned, then yeah the Assumption could be an “addition” since Paul doesn’t mention the Assumption in Galatians. You need to spell out your terms.

A dogma of the Church, once defined, becomes a part of the “true gospel” broadly defined (Jude 3; 2 Thess 2:14-15), the faith once delivered and handed on. There are other technical terms in Catholic theology, like “article of faith” and different levels of certainty regarding doctrine (see Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma).

So in what way is the Assumption an “addition” to the gospel as I have defined it above?

Phil P
 
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PhilVaz:
centurion << That seems like a pretty significant addition to the true Gospel to me. Perhaps you could work it out for me. >>

Thanks for the posts. Definitions are important. You haven’t explicitly defined “true Gospel.” What is this “true Gospel” ? Is it “justification by faith alone” ? Is it Paul’s statement to the Galatians that one is “justified by faith apart from works of law”? What do you mean by “true Gospel” ?
Sure – I agree that I didn’t offer my own definition. I did, however, use the one you supplied. 👍

For the record, I also noted that the definitions you provided did have their limits. So if we want to work out what the definition of the Gospel is, we can certainly begin to work that out.
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PhilVaz:
Let’s back up. You asked first what is a false gospel. I mentioned (in another thread) how one could define the “gospel” using the Bible (1 Cor 15:1-4 is the basic summary of the gospel, Jude 3 “the faith” would be the gospel in broad terms).

Another passage defining “the gospel” in broad terms meaning “the entire faith handed down” would be 2 Thess 2:14-15. The “tradition” handed down “whether by word or by letter” (vs. 15) is said by Paul to be “our gospel” (vs. 14). W.E. Vine, the Protestant Greek scholar, says that “tradition” (paradosis) in this verse refers to “Christian doctrine in general” (Vine, Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, p. 639). So “our gospel”, or the “tradition” here, is all Christian doctrine in general, i.e. for the Catholic this means the entire Catholic faith.
It is rather unfair to Vine to say he was endorsing the idea of Sacred Tradition, don’t you think? Even in his exposition on the word “tradition” in this passage, he is not referring to an infallible transmission of truth – he is talking about verbal teaching, which no one doubts happened. Paul did not lecture via letter; he did not evangelize via scroll. Paul certainly taught something to the Thessalonians by talking to them, by preaching. To, um, amplify Paul’s meaning here to say that he intends the Thessalonians to receive the Sacred Tradition is over the top.

I would agree with you, btw, that “the Gospel” is all one needs to have saving faith. But it is in the definition of the Gospel that we have the traditional separation between Catholic and Protestant. In that vein, let’s work on your assertion here for a moment. Let’s assume that a better definition of “the Gospel” for the sake of this discussion is, as you say here, “the entire faith handed down”. Did the Gospel which Paul is exhorting the Thessalonians to follow include the bodily ascension of Mary?

More to follow
 
… continued from previous post …
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PhilVaz:
As for the Assumption of Mary being an “addition”, depends how you define “gospel.” If the gospel is Jude 3 or 2 Thess 2:14-15 above, then No, the Assumption is not an “addition” to the gospel since the Assumption is part of that gospel or “the deposit of faith” (2 Tim 1:13-14; 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 2:2), the entire Catholic faith handed down from the apostles, and defined by the Church. If the “gospel” is “justification by faith alone” or Paul’s statements in Galatians you mentioned, then yeah the Assumption could be an “addition” since Paul doesn’t mention the Assumption in Galatians. You need to spell out your terms.
I’ll be glad to spell out my terms before we conclude this post. I think, however, that your slippery definition of the Gospel (that is: your view that the definition is a slippery thing) is not a great position – for anyone, Protestant or Catholic.

Let me suggest something to you as my definition of the Gospel, and then after you see that definition we can talk about why the slippery view is not very useful even to the Catholic advocate. My definition of the Gospel (as you can imagine) comes from Scripture – particularly Hebrews 11 & 12. Here’s the passage I would cite:
Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
RIGHT[/RIGHT]I use this passage because it talks about something critical to understanding the Gospel: it is the only thing which has ever saved men in all of history. The great cloud of witnesses are all those who died in the faith; they have the same faith we do. In that, it is impossible to say that, as an example, Abraham had a belief in the bodily assumption of Mary.

If the Gospel which saved Abraham is the Gospel which saved Paul and is the Gospel which saves today, it has to be the same Gospel: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Whatever final definition of the Gospel we might ever come to, that definition has to include that assertion of the Bible itself.
PhilVas:
A dogma of the Church, once defined, becomes a part of the “true gospel” broadly defined (Jude 3; 2 Thess 2:14-15), the faith once delivered and handed on. There are other technical terms in Catholic theology, like “article of faith” and different levels of certainty regarding doctrine (see Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma).

So in what way is the Assumption an “addition” to the gospel as I have defined it above?

Phil P
Ludwig Ott is not infallible, and does not speak infallibly. We can examine his opinion in addition to the infallible opinions issued by the Magisterium and the Pope, but that’s merely broadening the search without warrant.

It is convenient to define any addition by the magisterium to the body of doctrines as inherently not an addition, but it is also unconvincing. It is a contradiction at face value. I think you’re better off dealing with what you said prior to saying this.
 
That’s a high compliment, and I thank you for it. I am sure that there are others who, having spent more time with me under other circumstances, might disagree with you.

I believe I am a guest here, and I think that I ought not to slap the host or hostess – that’s not just bad manners but inherently stupid. I will endeavor to keep it between the ditches. 👍
 
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DonaNobisPacem:
I have a couple questions here:

How do we know what is an addition to the “true” gospel and what is not?
Ah! What a great question!

If you are wearing blue shoes, how do you know they are blue?
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DonaNobisPacem:
For we can read in St John 21:25 “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suspose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
I want you to think about what you’re advocating here for a minute, and I think any self-respecting Protestant has to listen as you think about your argument here. Your argument is that because Jesus taught so much in the 3 years that He spent with the Apostles, there was no way to write it all down; thus the concurrent oral tradition of the Apostles was (and still is) an inherent part of the faith and must have been perfectly preserved until today.

Working backwards, one has to wonder how or why the infallible transmission of an oral tradition is implied in the statement made by John? Consider the context:
John 21: 20 Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”
21 So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?”
22 Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
23 Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.
RIGHT[/RIGHT]The context of this passage is that John is a reliable witness to it all, and that his testimony, as the NASB says, is “true”. The final verse of John is not implying that there is an oral tradition that can or should or ought to be supplementing this text: it is saying that even thought there might be other things John might include, this is the testimony that he is giving. I would add that it is the sufficient testimony, because John’s other reference to himself and his purpose in writing his gospel account is Jn 19:35 – “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.” John is reporting truth for the purpose of causing others to believe.
 
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DonaNobisPacem:
How can we know (infallibly) that Mary was NOT assumed into Heaven? How do we know that the early Church did NOT teach these things which Catholics and Protestants disagree upon?
The answer to your first question is: we do not have to know infallibly that she was not assumed into heaven. The question is not whether Mary was assumed into Heaven or whether the protestant view is infallible. It is possible, I guess, that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven – Enoch was; Elijah was. The question is whether belief in this event is so important to the Gospel that, as Pius XII decreed in 1950, someone who denies it must be considered as being “cut off” from the true faith, the true Gospel.
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DonaNobisPacem:
Also, how was the issue of circumcision resolved? I believe that the issue was addressed at Jerusalem (council of). There was no Scripture to refer to. Besides, circumcision was part of the Mosiac law, so it doesn’t surprise me that there would be conflict as to whether or not it should be kept.
We can certainly review the message sent from the council in Jerusalem if you think that advances your position. I leave it to you to make your affirmative case.
 
In that, it is impossible to say that, as an example, Abraham had a belief in the bodily assumption of Mary.
If the Gospel which saved Abraham is the Gospel which saved Paul and is the Gospel which saves today, it has to be the same Gospel: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
I would most certainly agree about Abraham, but I would also point out that Abraham could not have known explicitly about the Trinity, or the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, or of the human and divine nature of Christ either. This does not infringe upon the validity of these doctrines.
 
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centuri0n:
Ah! What a great question!
If you are wearing blue shoes, how do you know they are blue?
Hmmmm, I don’t think that is a comprable comparison. 😉
The final verse of John is not implying that there is an oral tradition that can or should or ought to be supplementing this text: it is saying that even thought there might be other things John might include, this is the testimony that he is giving. I would add that it is the sufficient testimony, because John’s other reference to himself and his purpose in writing his gospel account is Jn 19:35 – “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.” John is reporting truth for the purpose of causing others to believe.
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I would agree with you that John’s testimony was guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit. (which I think is what you are saying as well) However, I would not dare to say that the other things Jesus did or said were of no consequence.
 
It is possible, I guess, that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven – Enoch was; Elijah was. The question is whether belief in this event is so important to the Gospel that, as Pius XII decreed in 1950, someone who denies it must be considered as being “cut off” from the true faith, the true Gospel.
I understand your point, but I cannot agree with it. The way I figure it, if Mary was assumed into heaven, it was for a reason. There are not many who are.
We can certainly review the message sent from the council in Jerusalem if you think that advances your position. I leave it to you to make your affirmative case.
I guess my point in bringing up Jerusalem is only to point out that the leaders of the Church had to make a decision apart from Scripture. And to make a decision on what was binding or not, they would have had to have the authority to do so.
 
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DonaNobisPacem:
I would most certainly agree about Abraham, but I would also point out that Abraham could not have known explicitly about the Trinity, or the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, or of the human and divine nature of Christ either. This does not infringe upon the validity of these doctrines.
I would reject these statements at face value. I suggest to you that Abraham actually met the Trinity in Genesis 18:2-3, and that in offering Isaac for sacrifice Abraham demonstrated a clear understanding of the substitutionary nature of the sacrifice God promised.

But keep this in mind: even if there is no evidence in the OT that Abraham believed these things, that does not overturn the exposition of Heb 11-12 that says he in fact did have faith in exactly the same things Paul and the other present believers had faith in. It’s the same faith, of which Jesus Christ is the author and the finisher.
 
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DonaNobisPacem:
I understand your point, but I cannot agree with it. The way I figure it, if Mary was assumed into heaven, it was for a reason. There are not many who are.
I’m not sure you do understand my point: this is not about whether the event ever happened. I would be willing to plead historical ignorance and allow that the event happened for the sake of this discussion.

The question is whether belief in this event is so central to the faith that if anyone denies it they are said to be cut off from the faith.
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DonaNobisPacem:
I guess my point in bringing up Jerusalem is only to point out that the leaders of the Church had to make a decision apart from Scripture. And to make a decision on what was binding or not, they would have had to have the authority to do so.
The issue is what they said out of that council. They did say something, but I’m pretty sure it’s not what you think they said.
 
Please forgive me for my blunder earlier on this post. I think it is correct to say that Abraham MAY have known the Trinity. If the faith had been revealed to him in this manner, he MAY have known about the Assumption of Mary also.

I think it is so hard to distinguish between what MAY be and MAY NOT be, that is why I look to the authority of the Church, since I believe Christ founded and guides the Catholic Church.
 
The question is whether belief in this event is so central to the faith that if anyone denies it they are said to be cut off from the faith.
Actually, that is not what “MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS” says. It reads:
“45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.”
To me this sounds like an act of the believer, not the Church.
And why shouldn’t we believe it wholeheartedly? Christ has revealed it.
 
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DonaNobisPacem:
I would agree with you that John’s testimony was guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit. (which I think is what you are saying as well) However, I would not dare to say that the other things Jesus did or said were of no consequence.
I didn’t say “of no consequence” – I said that the testimony was sufficient for the sake of the Gospel. The issue is if there is anything that is necessary for the Gospel that was not included in the Gospel of John (as the example you produced). My suggestion is that John did not think so – that his testimony was sufficient for having right faith.

If we view that statement through the lense that John was working under inspiration when he confessed that, we have a very clear picture of what is necessary to have the complete Gospel – and what would be reasonable to call an addition if it was asserted by some other party that this other doctrine was a requirement for right faith.
 
I think that you have to ask yourself how you know anything is true. Is it because an authority tells you that it is true, or is there some other reason you can know truth.

That’s why it’s the same as knowing that your blue shoes are blue.
 
Centurion,

I think it’s important to note the implicit consequence of denying the bodily assumption of Mary: that being the denial of the teaching authority of the Church. Because the Church has defined the assumption infallibly, to believe otherwise denies not only the assumption itself, but infallibility as well. If one believes in infallibility, one must logically also believe in the assumption: the first leads naturally to the second. One cannot hold the first belief without also (given knowledge of it) holding the second.

Is the belief in the bodily assumption of Mary necessary for salvation? Probably not. Is this belief, in and of itself, necessary to be considered in full communion with the Church? Maybe. Is the dependant belief, the infallibility of the Church, necessary to be in full communion with the Church? Definitely.

Look carefully at the wording of the Munificentissimus Dei:

“45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.”

Peace and grace,
Josh

P.S. As someone else already mentioned, thank you for your patience and humility.

P.P.S. If you haven’t read them already, Keating has some excellent essays on papal authority and the infallibility of the Church on www.catholic.com.
 
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