A few answers to Questions called Irrefutable. Well, Questions as such are not refuted. They are answered. But arguments are. Both answered and sometimes refuted./HGL
Steve Rudd's Challenge
Apostolic Succession, answering a conundrum
Extra-Biblical Apostolic Traditions - still kept up
Tradition as Bible Exegesis - the main one
Canon, defending LXX canon and authority of Church
Answering the Challenge of Steve Rudd
First of all, his question is essentially the question of Bossuet. That French Bishop, of the city and diocese Meaux - adjective Meldensic - asked if Lutherans could prove themselves the one true Christianity from the Bible without defending Calvinists, if Calvinists could do it without defending Lutherans or Zwinglians, if Anglicans could do it without defending either Lutherans or Calvinists and so forth. The Protestant answer to this challenge has chrystallised into Fundamentalism: saying that the divisions between the named and between even Baptists and Child Baptisers among Protestants are non-Fundamentals. Among Fundamentals they put Bible, Bible of 66 books, Bible alone, and Rejection of Romanism on other grounds, such as rejecting what they suppose its superstitions.
There are Calvinists who reject that and say you must be a strict Calvinist to be saved.
It is sometimes allowable to learn from adversaries.
OK, if Ho Chi Minh is totally cynic with civilians, taking a village hostage to force it to force a woman to become a human bomb trapping French or US troops, obviously it is not a good thing to learn such cynicism towards civilians from Ho Chi Minh. But I have sometimes wondered if Catholics and Orthodox cannot learn a thing or two from the Fundamentalist (as opposed to Integral Calvinist) approach.
Steve Rudd is giving Catholics and Orthodox a similar challenge as the one Bossuet gave the Protestants a few centuries before Fundamentalism. Actually Pope Pius IX in his syllabus of errors in a way encourages this. He condemns the position
18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.—Encyclical "Noscitis," Dec. 8, 1849.*
There is no indication directly in the syllabus (Noscitis et nobscum or Nostis et nobiscum does not mention the Orthodox, but only Italian contemporary adversaries of Catholicism: Socialism, Communism, Protestantism**) there that the same applies to Orthodox. Chèvetogne was encouraged by Pope Pius XI to engage in limited Roman-Russian ecumenism, until he later - Mortalium Animos - insisted even Orthodox must return to the true Church, i e are not already and still in it. Lumen Gentium and Benedict XVI both place the Orthodox higher as close to truth than Protestants. His predecessor's rival claimant Gregorio XVII of Palmar de Troya had received a revelation with Our Lady - purportedly! - saying the Orthodox were close and would soon be united. Catholics without a Pope, commonly known as Sedisvacantists, have some of them/us proposed a Council for Traditional Remnants of Catholics and Orthodox Churches. Catholics - private laymen and in private conversations - of the Lefèbvre Traditionalist School have spontaneously said about former Swedish subjects in Russian captivity or under Russian occupation converting to Orthodoxy: "at least that is better than Protestantism".
So here is the challenge of Rudd:
26. Name one sure way or method, that a new believer in Christ, can know that the Orthodox church is the one true church. (The challenge: make sure this method cannot apply also to the Roman Catholic church.)
27. Name one sure way or method, that a new believer in Christ, can know that the Roman Catholic church is the one true church. (The challenge: make sure this method cannot apply also to the Orthodox church.)***
Well, did Bossuet give you a similar challenge? Why not give a similar answer to you as the Fundamentalists are to his?
But before doing so, let us note that this might be objectively as unacceptable as the Fundamentalist answer is according to a Calvinist. So, maybe a new believer really has to choose between Rome and Orthodoxy and cannot have both: but even if that is true, at least the wrong choice between the two would for not only an atheist but even a Protestant be a step in the right direction. Note that steps in the right direction may prove finally to be traps.
I did however set out to state to myself the doctrinal prerequisites for Catholics and Orthodox both being the one true Church.
In Christology there is the Nestorian position which at least according to Church Historians says that in Christ there is not just two natures, but two persons. There is the Monophysite position which at least according to Church Historians says the opposite: there is not just one single person, but one single nature. And there is the Chalcedonian position which states that Christ is one Person, the Eternal Son of the Father, Second Person of the Trinity being the very same person as Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah of the Jews, but with two natures, which cannot be separate because they are natures of a single person, but cannot mix either, His divine nature remaining divine, His human nature remaining human.
In the Chalcedonian and main party of the Apostolic Churches, there are mainly two positions that collide as Nestorians and Monophysite collide. Papism - the typical Roman Catholic position when most colliding with Orthodox - saying your bishop has to be in communion with and obeying the Pope of Ancient Rome for your communion with him to be salvific. Since otherwise your bishop is a schismatic. Photianism - the typical Greek Orthodox position when most colliding with Roman Catholics - saying your bishop must not believe the Holy Ghost proceeds from both Father and Son for your communion with him to be salvific. Since otherwise your bishop is a heretic. There are two ways of combining them, one of which contradicts itself due to historic circumstances. The Popes of Ancient Rome have since Florence Council at least said that the Holy Ghost proceeding from both Father and Son is an obligatory dogma, without believing which you cannot be saved. If they have eased up a bit lately, that does not mean there were no centuries when there would have been logically impossible to have a bishop who was neither Schismatic according to strict Papism nor Heretic according to strict Photianism. So saying Papism and Photianism both oblige is contradictory.
Saying however that neither is strictly necessary is not. There are Latin Roman Catholics who quite believing the eternal procession of the Holy Ghost to be from both Father and Son, do not strictly believe the Pope of Ancient Rome must at every moment be adhered to in communion and by obedience. Bossuet is one example, he was a Gallican. Jansenists are another example - they are heretics about freewill, like Calvinists, but they examplify this position. The Little Church said that Pope Pius VII became an Apostate by crowning Napoleon I. If you have seen the painting, you know he did not. Napoleon took the crown out of the Pope's hands and crowned himself before - moment recorded in the painting - crowning his wife. Pius VII only looked on. But Little Church theologians have claimed Pius VII and subsequent Popes are apostates and that communion and obedience is therefore no longer possible. Logically that means, they are not strict and necessary parts of the Divine Constitution of the Church. Sedesvacantists take same take on Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, except Palmarians who limit it to the last three, and some other who might limit it to the last two. They also say there is a time in the Church - right now - when obedience to the Pope of Rome is not possible for a Christian. Therefore, logically, that it is not always obligatory. Abbé de Nantes qualified recent Popes as being "material but not formal Popes" - like corpses being material but not formal men. They are nothing totally other but there is an essential thing lacking. A corpse is not alive as a man, and to abbé de Nantes recent Popes are not alive as Popes. Mgr Lefèbvre has taken the right to resist a Pope who is thoughtlessly attacking the Church by a bad decision - confer St Paul resisting St Peter, Galatians! - to neither disobeying nor actually and effectively obeying Popes that are "habitually thoughtless" through a bad doctrine which nevertheless cannot be judged as heresy because no one has a right to condemn the Pope and the position as such has not yet been condemned.
But if Photianism does not oblige, Roman Catholics are not outside the Church for believing filioque, and if Papism does not oblige, it is not for not obeying the Pope that Orthodox would be so either.
This is the case, such as it is at best, for a Cathodox mirror of Fundamentalism.
There are some hickups, hinges and quirks, though. Try to live that position - I have - and Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox may ruin your life, some by excommunications, others by treating you as a visionary who has to be a true prophet in order not to be a false prophet. But for my part, I claimed to have understanding, not prophecy, nor the duties that go with prophecy. This has not been respected.
Another one is this: both Catholics and Orthodox accept Nicean Council of the Iconoclastic controversy, second in that city, seventh ecumenic council. It states that Pope and other Patriarchs of the Pentarchy have a right to convoke a Council. But not only the Pope, the other Pentarchs also convoked the council of Florence. So, Orthodox logically would have to accept Florence as valid, Photianism as illicit and Papism as compulsory. They answer by saying it was a council made in political duress. But their main reason for rejecting it is - Photianism. Saying the Pope Eugene IV and the Council were Heretical.
So, no, one cannot safely recommend this third option. I cannot, at least. But that does not mean that they do not share lots of common ground on which to answer the questions by Steve Rudd.
Pope Pius IX
**NOSTIS ET NOBISCUM
ON THE CHURCH IN THE PONTIFICAL STATES
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS IX
DECEMBER 8, 1849
***Irrefutable questions that Roman Catholics and Orthodox can't answer
Apostolic Succession and Tradition
The numbers 26 and 27* were challenged in a way which might be a bit unfair. Like Catholics and Orthodox being as opposed as Catholic and Protestant or Orthodox and Protestant - which they are not. They are more like as close to each other as Episcopalian Protestants (Luther, Anglicans, Wesleyans) between them, Presbyterian Protestants (Calvinist, Arminian) between them, Baptist Protestants (Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, Foursquare, I am not sure if Vineyard is there too) between them, Adventists (7th Day, Waco, Old Russellians, Watchtower Society, Mormons, British Israelites) between them.
And there is a very simple way for a new convert to Christianity to know he should be Cathodox rather than any of the Protestant things. Apostolic succession is limited to Catholics, Orthodox, Nestorian and Monophysite. And it is Biblical.
 And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them.  And seeing him they adored: but some doubted.  And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.  Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.**
 All power: See here the warrant and commission of the apostles and their successors, the bishops and pastors of Christ's church. He received from his Father all power in heaven and in earth: and in virtue of this power, he sends them (even as his Father sent him, St. John 20. 21) to teach and disciple, not one, but all nations; and instruct them in all truths: and that he may assist them effectually in the execution of this commission, he promises to be with them, not for three or four hundred years only, but all days, even to the consummation of the world. How then could the Catholic Church ever go astray; having always with her pastors, as is here promised, Christ himself, who is the way, the truth, and the life. St. John 14.**
Even without the comment, we can, once we think of it, see, that it is the Eleven with whom Our Lord promises to abide all days to the consummation of all time. Other Christians obviously have his presence too, but through them. If you say it was a promise for them personally, you have just justified invocation of saints Peter and Andrew, James and John. It is quite justified anyway, but that cannot have been what he meant. Because a twelfth one was added before Pentecost, to replace the one who was a traitor and dead. So the meaning is that any Christian has access to Jesus through his bishop, basically: since the successors of the twelve are precisely the bishops.
That means that Adventist and Baptist families of Protestantism, Presbyterian family are certainly left out, since certainly without bishops. But it may even imply that Lutherans, Anglicans and Wesleyans are cut off, by the fact of not having valid bishops.
All days means that error never reigns over all bishops that descend from the Apostles. And Reformation Theologians, including Episcopalian ones, say that error reigned some time before them. Essential error, or they would not have talked about abomination and superstition in the context. All Apostolic Churches - Chalcedonian, Nestorian or Monophysite, and both pre-Reformation branches of Chalcedonian - regard Mass or Eucharist as a Sacrifice which in a way renews the Sacrifice on Calvary. If that is an abomination or a superstition, there was a time when error reigned over all bishops. A day when Jesus was not with the successors of the Twelve. A day when Jesus broke that promise. This is also brought through by this verse:
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. [1 Timothy 3:15] ***
[with a very obvious comment:]
 The pillar and ground of the truth: Therefore the church of the living God can never uphold error, nor bring in corruptions, superstition, or idolatry.***
Meaning that if all Apostolic churches have sacrifice of the Mass, it cannot be superstition, it cannot be idolatry. Whichever of them is the real one.
That is the simple way of stating the necessity of at least generally being Cathodox, even if you do not yet decide whether to be Catholic or Orthodox or some shade in between like Écône (whose founder Mgr Marcel Lefèbvre obviously did not intend it to be a shade in between or renew in practise Bossuet's view of papacy as opposed to St Robert Bellarmine's: but what you intend and what you do is not always the same, and sometimes God intends better than oneself). And it is plain dishonest to divide that in two separate questions, as if Catholics and Orthodox were as separate as either from Protestantism.
Also, it is not like looking for a needle in a haystack. You have two - at most four - Churches to choose from. Each of them has Catechisms. Not to replace the Bible, but to make its content readily accessible to beginners. (And, yes, Bible itself contains verses very good for beginners, and Catechisms do quote them).
Now, we do not say that the sacrifice of the Mass is a Tradition-Only truth, one not found in the Bible. We say that to any Roman hearing Tu es Sacerdos in Aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedec, the word sacerdos at least as much as English priest (in contexts where that is another thing than pastor or minister) implies the bringing of a sacrifice. And the sacrifice in question to be made same way as Melchisedecs, at least in main approximation. Now Melchisedec did not sacrifice a lamb, he brought fourth bread and wine. Therefore, the Eucharist is a Sacrifice, otherwise the Bible would be lying in that verse.°
You have given up the Pauline Authorship of Hebrews? Too bad for you (and for the "Catholic" obviously non-Trad scholars who agree with you). But in order for Mass not to be a sacrifice, not only would Hebrews have to be non-Pauline, it would have to be utside Bible Canon. You would have less than 66 books. You would have degraded Hebrews as Rome degraded the Pastor of Hermas. But even so, all definitive Tradition in Apostolic Churches both affirm that Hebrews is by St Paul and Biblical and that Mass is a sacrifice. You would really be giving up on Matthew 28:16-20. That is: you would be giving up the Gospel. That is essentially why Pope Pius IX said that Protestantism is not just another form of the same Christian religion in which it is equally possible to please God. That is why The Pilgrimage of Faith (even before English Church became Protestant, simply by suspecting it might be so sooner or later, and they were right) rose against Henry VIII, and why Niels Dacke rose against the really Lutheran Gustavus Wasa in Sweden - and paid for it on the scaffold.
So, when we say we believe Bible and Tradition, we do not mean that most or the obvious differences between Catholics (or Orthodox) and Protestants are from Tradition alone. We take it from the Bible, as understood by exegetic tradition, just as with Holy Trinity.
*Irrefutable questions that Roman Catholics and Orthodox can't answer
**Douai-Reims Bible Online with Catholic comments, Matthew 28:16-20
***First Epistle Of Saint Paul To Timothy, 3:15
°Epistle Of Saint Paul To The Hebrews
So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest: but he that said unto him: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place: Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.
Correcting the table given in Q 16,
which concerns what traditions are known by not Bible but tradition alone:*
|Tertullian in De Corona, 3**||Luciferanus in St Jerome's dialogue, 8***|
|To deal with this matter briefly, I shall begin with baptism.|
|When we are going to enter the water, but a little before, in the presence of the congregation and under the hand of the president, we solemnly profess that we disown the devil, and his pomp, and his angels.||.|
|This is still done, both by Catholics and by Orthodox. In the case of childrern it is the sponsor who makes the renunciation.|
|Hereupon we are thrice immersed, making a somewhat ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed in the Gospe||For many other observances of the Churches, which are due to tradition, have acquired the authority of the written law, as for instance the practice of dipping the head three times in the laver,|
|Thrice is absolute rule, both among Catholics and among Orthodox. Immersions of full body is directly said by Tertullian, but in St Jerome's time immersion of the head might have sufficed. Still the spilling of water on the head is carried out three times. Orthodox require full immersion of body all three times.|
|Then when we are taken up (as new-born children), we taste first of all a mixture of milk and honey,||and then, after leaving the water, of tasting mingled milk and honey in representation of infancy;|
|I thought this was a metaphor for the Eucharist, this seems to be a custom lost among Latin rite Roman Catholics. Maybe among Orthodox too, unless it refers to what is now colliva - a dish used in many Liturgic circumstances: wheat kernels, honey, cinnamon and some more - it is also in use among Uniates.|
|and from that day we refrain from the daily bath for a whole week.||Don't you know that the laying on of hands after baptism and then the invocation of the Holy Spirit is a custom of the Churches? Do you demand Scripture proof? You may find it in the Acts of the Apostles. And even if it did not rest on the authority of Scripture the consensus of the whole world in this respect would have the force of a command. [...]and there are many other unwritten practices which have won their place through reason and custom. So you see we follow the practice of the Church, although it may be clear that a person was baptized before the Spirit was invoked.|
|In the old church confirmation was given immediately after baptism, now there may pass years between among cradle Catholics, Orthodox still confirm after baptism, even for infants. Confirmation involves unction, and after receiving it on the brown one takes or took care not to wash it away. Orthodox (maybe Uniates too) are usually supposed to wear a bandage for a week on the forehead, among Catholics (at least Latins) one takes chrism away with salt and cotton tissue then burning it - before it is licit to wash again. The reference on Confiormation to Acts is ch. 8.|
|We take also, in congregations before daybreak, and from the hand of none but the presidents, the sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord both commanded to be eaten at meal-times, and enjoined to be taken by all alike.|
|As often as the anniversary comes round, we make offerings for the dead as birthday honours.|
|Thus 29 of June for Sts Peter and Paul, maybe already the protomartyr Stephen in Christmastide (26/27 December according to Catholics/Orthodox). In other words: Saints' days are kept. Mass in honour of a Saints day is not idolatry, unlike what Reformers pretended.|
|We count fasting or kneeling in worship on the Lord's day to be unlawful. We rejoice in the same privilege also from Easter to Whitsunday.||and, again, the practices of standing up in worship on the Lord's day, and ceasing from fasting every Pentecost;|
|Kneeling. One Liturgic accusation from Orthodox against Catholics. The word is about a gesture of penitence. Latin Catholics respond that kneeling as standing on knees is not at all same gesture. Orthodox make that gesture with crooking the back and bowing down the head too.|
|We feel pained should any wine or bread, even though our own, be cast upon the ground.|
|At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign.|
|Two responses are possible: Both Catholics and Orthodox start the sign of the cross on the forehead. Or: both use it on forehead, mouth and breast before hearing the Gospel still (unless I misrecall the Orthodox usage). The full sign of the cross which only begins on the forehead but continues to mid-breast and shoulders might have been not used in public during the persecution epoch when Tertullian wrote.|
Finally on the non-Biblical Traditions enumerated by Tertullian and the Luciferan (a heretic who refused readmission of bishops fallen into heresy as bishops when they repent, but who obviously has common ground on liturgy) there is the question: do the Bible only group of Churches where Steve Rudd worships do everything exactly as in the Bible/New Testament? Have they like Mormons a hierarchy with "apostles, evangelists, prophets, angels, bishops/overseers, presbyters, deacons/servers" or do they accept adaptation in details?
Where his question 16 says only Orthodox use only one of the items, in reality both Catholics and Orthodox do all of them, except some adaptations with Catholics. That is we claim they are licit adaptations. Some Orthodox claim they are not licit.
Now, what questions have we covered? 26/27 with 29, 16 - see previous list where I correct the table of Steve Rudd - with 9 and 10. 25 too, unless one should add that Tertullian did not consider Hebrews to be the work of St Paul but of his twin in Pharisaic discipleship under Gamaliel and Christian conversion, St Barnabas. Leaves 1-8, 11-15, 17-24, 28.
*Irrefutable questions that Roman Catholics and Orthodox can't answer
**De Corona (Tertullian)
***Dialogue Against the Luciferians (Jerome)
Tradition as Understanding of Holy Scripture
I intimated Ihad speculated that Papacy might not be quite mandatory for belonging to the Church. But I will add to the effect that it might very well have been mandatory from start:
21. If universal distribution of the Bible in every home is an essential pre-condition of sola Scriptura, then how could Catholic and Orthodox pew-dwellers know the message of the Pope before the time of modern instant live communication?*
The concerned may have known it from a messenger. Walking Pamplona - Santiago (750 km official route, I balance car rides against detours) took me 50 days. Corinth-Rome and back again would have been longer but not at all impossible. I mention this due to the First and Second Epistles of St Clement to Corinth.
You see, Papacy does not mean that everyone all of the time listens to the latest message from the Pope. If one is important enough for all the Church, like decisions of a Council, sure enough, it is promulgated to every bishop who then promulgates it to every faithful in his diocese. In the Corinth case, we can be sure that Clement's Epistles or at least the first of them was read aloud all over the diocese of Corinth. If the Second was somehow not, it would have been because it was felt as intrusive, and that would have been the first division between Papacy and Local Episcopacy ecclesiologies (a few hundred years later such a division clearly exists, since Pope so and so is reminding the East of how Rome read canon 6 of Nicea Council: i e the East was understanding it otherwise, for the time being, as later again among Orthodox).
20. If each individual possessing a copy of the scriptures is an essential pre-condition to sola Scriptura, then how do illiterate Catholic and Orthodox pew-dwellers know the Catholic and Orthodox Catechisms? If illiterate Catholics and Orthodox can have the Catechisms read to them, then why not the scripture?*
22. If the ability to read is an essential pre-condition to sola Scriptura, then how do illiterate Catholic and Orthodox pew-dwellers know the Catholic and Orthodox Catechisms? Would not the same logic apply to illiterates in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches? If Catholic and Orthodox laity can "know the truth" by hearing the catechism read to them, then why not illiterate Christians when they hear the Bible read?*
Before answering the Apologetic question, I say BRAVO! That does away with Lollards claiming Catholics were deprived of Scripture since not having it in English. For if one can have Bible read to oneself, by someone who knows how to read, one can also have it translated to oneself by someone who knows Latin or Classical Greek or Old Slavonic. No "necessity" of Bible diffusion that supposedly Catholics sinned against. No "necessity" of everyone learning how to read, which Catholics and Orthodox would have been sinning against at least in Russia and Spain a hundred years ago.
Does your Church keep that attitude up, or does it adhere to the common Protestant prejudice?
Now, to the question. It was read aloud in Latin and Greek when those languages were commonly understood. It was read aloud and then translated as soon as that was not the case. And it was also catechetically explained, orally.
Similarily under the Old Covenant the obligation was not for every Israelite to read the Torah, but to hear it read once every seventh year by the Cohen Gadol. It was only when that became impracticable that individual reading and reading in synagogue (which Our Lord did too) became customary, and literacy along with it. And it was only after rejecting Christ that a Cohen Gadol, before the destruction of Jerusalem decided to make it illegal for Jews not to be literate.
23. If the ability to read is an essential pre-condition to sola Scriptura, then how do the illiterate Catholic and Orthodox commoner know for certain that the priest is faithfully teaching the dogma, canons and edicts of councils if they could not read the documents?*
24. How do the Catholic and Orthodox commoners who can read, know for certain that the priest is faithfully teaching the dogma, canons and edicts of councils if they did not possess copies of such documents?*
We do not, we trust. If we do possess copies, some of us do not trust some of the priests.
Now to the understanding of Scripture:
28. If the personal illumination of the Holy Spirit upon each believer to understand the Bible is not a valid method of determining truth because of the many denominations that use this approach, then does it not follow that apostolic succession and oral church traditions are likewise invalid because the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches are two denominations that use this method yet are divided on doctrine? Does this not prove both methods are wrong and a third method, one which we and the apostolic church practiced must be the correct method?*
29. If sola Scriptura cannot be the correct method of determining truth because of the religious division among churches that claim to use sola Scriptura, then does this not also disqualify the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches method of using tradition, since they are divided against themselves?*
The division between Catholics and Orthodox was the first thing I dealt with. Here comes a red herring clearing about method. We do not say that someone who is personally illuminated by the Holy Spirit will misunderstand the Bible, or that someone who only has a text of the Bible will certainly misunderstand it. We do say that such individual understanding is tested and must be tested against the common and Traditional understanding of the Church that Christ founded, as kept up by the Successors of the Twelve. Over the Centuries, obviously.
And this is in Scripture itself:
 Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation.**
 No prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation: This shews plainly that the scriptures are not to be expounded by any one's private judgment or private spirit, because every part of the holy scriptures were written by men inspired by the Holy Ghost, and declared as such by the Church; therefore they are not to be interpreted but by the Spirit of God, which he hath left, and promised to remain with his Church to guide her in all truth to the end of the world. Some may tell us, that many of our divines interpret the scriptures: they may do so, but they do it always with a submission to the judgment of the Church, and not otherwise.
Now, to Tradition as the means of determining how Scripture is to be read:
17. Why do Roman Catholics always use 2 Timothy 2:2; 3:14 as Bible proof that extra-biblical oral tradition is to be followed through apostolic succession, when tradition says Timothy became the bishop of Ephesians, which through succession, is now part of the Greek Orthodox church headed out of Constantinople? If 2 Timothy 2:2 proves succession, doesn't this prove the Roman Catholic church is not part of that succession?*
Not at all. We can be sure this was the case over each local Church, not Ephesus alone. Besides, both Catholics and Orthodox when in a quarrelsome mood against each other claim that the other party is intruding over its man present territory. I e some Orthodox claim that Roman Catholicism was founded by Franks who had not learned the Orthodox religion properly, especially in Carolingian times (this is a rehash of an Anglican divine who obviously in the 18th C was severly anti-Roman), then invaded Spain with the Reconquest, Rome and other parts of West through the Gregorian Reform, England and then Ireland through Norman Invasions. And Rome claims that Constantinople was really quite Papist earlier on. At least both Photius and his opponent did appeal to the Pope of Old Rome.
So, just as much as Orthodox claim Roman Catholics have no profit from the Rome of the first Millennium the Rome of Sts Peter and Paul, of St Clement, of St Leo, of St Gregorius, because we left - they say - their holy teaching, similarily the Latin West like St Robert Bellarmine claims they no longer profit truly from the Tradition of St Timothy or St John (both of whom were in Ephesus, if Steve Rudd is correct).
Succession is thought of either just as formal succession - in that case one might say that whoever is really in schism or heresy looses succession - or of variously [material and] formal and material [only]. In that case a bishop who joins a sect materially keeps his succession and is able to hand it on. Now that was one of the points St Jerome raised against Luciferianism. Precisely in the cited document.
18. When you see the word tradition, why do you always assume it to be oral tradition rather than scripture tradition, when the Bible calls scripture tradition in 2 Thess 2:15, and Athanasius call scripture tradition: "the Apostolic tradition teaches in the words of blessed Peter, 'Forasmuch then as Christ suffered for us in the Flesh" Athanasius then quotes: 1 Peter 4:1; Titus 2:13; Heb 2:1 (Athanasius, To Adelphius, Letter 60, 6)?*
We certainly do not assume tradition always means oral such, except when specifically stated. Also, as already said, many things where a Protestant would assume we were relying on an oral-only tradition, since they assume they have read the Bible and understood it, we are actually relying on Scriptural passages understood the traditional way. As already specified about Holy Mass.
19. The Church Fathers believed what Paul said in Eph 3:3-5, that the scripture could be understood by merely reading it. They indicated that the scriptures themselves were clear, so clear, they even criticized the heretics for getting it wrong. If those outside the church and common pew dwellers are unable to understand the Bible themselves as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches teach, then why did the apostolic fathers expect the heretics to understand the Bible with their own human skills? (Tertullian, The Flesh of Christ, ch 20), (Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word, 56), (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book 1, 35), (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book 7, 16)*
It is also said in Scripture, by St Peter, about St Paul:
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.***
So, though the Bible is clear, not all of it is so to everyone. Actually, once they get started they get on to twist passage after passage. This is the least one can make of the verse. But one can also go further and say unlearned and unstable are unable to get scripture, period. It is clear, but only to people with right disposition and education. That is the most one can make of it.
Now, as to human skills: they are both natural and cultural. Our natural skills of understanding a text are the same whether we are born in First of Twentieth Century - give or take a little for degradation of human genome or of living conditions now improving now degrading.
The cultural skill to read a text correctly becomes usually rarer with the distance in time from when it was written. Church Fathers wrote under Roman Emperors succeeding Caesar Augustus with more or less same degree of Hellenization, with more or less same legal situations pertaining to minority and legal maturities (marital one before administrative) or about slavery and lost of other things. They spoke to people raised among themselves or at least their fathers were, and who had thus learned the traditional understanding of the Bible at close hand before getting out of their way to misunderstand it. Not quite the way of a modern Protestant trying to understand the Bible without either the Catholic or Orthodox Church. Not quite. Even after centuries of existing Protestant sects, they may have a difficulty in understanding exactly what the Reformers read. Back then Protestantism was the Novelty and therefore understood to be revolutionary.
*Irrefutable questions that Roman Catholics and Orthodox can't answer (Steve Rudd)
**Second Epistle Of Saint Peter, 1:20
***Second Epistle Of Saint Peter, 3:16
Some last few corrections - Bible canon.
1. If the Roman Catholic church gave the world the Bible, being infallible, then why did Rome reject or question the inspiration of James and Hebrews , then later accept it? Conversely, Rome accepted as scripture books that were later rejected [like Pastor Hermas]. If the Catholic church really is illuminated by the Holy Spirit so that men can trust her as "God's organization", why was she so wrong about something so simple? Should not the "Holy See" have known?*
2. If the Orthodox church gave the world the Bible, being infallible, then why did the eastern churches reject or question the inspiration of Revelation, then later accept it? Conversely, the east accepted as scripture books that were later rejected. If the Orthodox church really is illuminated by the Holy Spirit so that men can trust her as "God's organization", why was she so wrong about something so simple?*
There are local and temporary traditions and there is universal tradition all around it. So, Rome has too functions: a see, and the see that other sees appeal to. It is only in the latter sense that Rome is claimed to be infallible, and its decisions have been claimed to be irreformable - except when Rome itself recognises an earlier lapse (Latinists are advised to search Denzinger for the phrase "nis quid subreptum sit", I know it was written by Pope St Leo IX, and I recall it was written once earlier, I think some time 6th or 7th C.) So, accepting Pastor Hermas but not St James was a local lapse, noone claims they excommunicated anyone - like the East who rejected Apocalypse at the time - over it.
Same thing applies to Eastern Orthodox understanding. They do not as a truth in itself identify the Orthodox Church and the Church of Byzantium: they even admit Byzantium was heretic under iconoclasm, except for commoners and monks, while Rome was Orthodox in its then bishops.
8. Both Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox church leaders make the identical claim that they gave the world the Bible. If both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches make the same claim they gave the world the Bible, why do they have different books in each of their Bibles? Whose "church authority" shall we believe? Whose tradition is the one we should follow?
There is a link to a page examplifying: 1. Esra, 3. and 4. Maccabees, Psalm 151 are not in Roman Catholic but in various Greek Orthodox Bibles. Now, like earlier when it came to Apocalypse of St John and Epistel of St James, these differences were tolerated. Unlike the case between Cathodox and Protestants, where II Maccabees were attacked for an obvious reason: they said one was to sacrifice for the dead so they could be cleansed from their sins. And Protestants to attach themselves to the Talmudic OT canon to get rid of it.
Now, here is an argument from the page linked to:
4The New Testament never quotes from the any of the apocryphal books written between 400 - 200 BC. What is significant here is that NONE of the books within the "apocryphal collection" are every quoted. So the Catholic argument that "the apocryphal books cannot be rejected as uninspired on the basis that they are never quoted from in the New Testament because Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon are also never quoted in the New Testament, and we all accept them as inspired." The rebuttal to this Catholic argument is that "Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther" were always included in the "history collection" of Jewish books and "Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon" were always included in the "poetry collection". By quoting one book from the collection, it verifies the entire collection. None of the apocryphal books were ever quoted in the New Testament. Not even once! This proves the Catholic and Orthodox apologists wrong when they try to defend the apocrypha in the Bible.**
On another page*** Steve Rudd refers to the Septuagint (LXX = 70 in Roman Numerals for short, and septuaginta means seventy) which he accepts. But these books were in that Collection. In the Septuagint certainly Tobit, Judit and I and II Maccabees, probably or at least possibly I Esra, III and IV Maccabees were in the History Collection or a continuation of it. And the Wisdom of Solomon and the Wisdom of Jesus Syrach were also in the poetry or wisdom collection of the LXX. Which brings us to the next point:
12. Why did God fail to provide an inspired and infallible list of Old Testament books to Israel? Why would God suddenly provide such a list only after Israel was destroyed in 70 AD?
Problem is there were three, possibly four lists in competition. Samaritan list excluded book of Ruth and anything after it. One Palestinian list was in Hebrew and provided what was later to become the Biblia Hebraica - and Protestant OT. And LXX provided what was to become early Christian OT, which included the books Steve Rudds cavalierly insists on calling apocryphic. There are variants as to what are its exact limits. Roumanian Bible has IV Maccabees as a kind of PS to the Old Testament, written as it supposes it by Flavius Josephus, which is why its title is Iosip. Slavonic Bible has another post-script to OT which begins with I Esdras (and I think continues with II Esdras - usually known as book of Ezra or in Vulgate as I Esdras - then III Esdras=Vulgate II Esdras=Nehemiah). Fact is that Jews did not decide between these lists until Jamnia, by Rabbis who at exactly same occasion excommunicated Christians of Jewish origin.
3. If the Roman Catholic church gave the world the Bible in 397 AD, then why did many different versions of canons continue to circulate long afterwards?
7. If the Catholic church, "by her own inherent God given power and authority" gave the world the Bible, why did she not get it right the first time? Why did the Roman Catholic church wait until 1546 AD in the Council of Trent, to officially add the Apocrypha to the Canon?
Council of Carthage was not an Ecumenic Council, did not oblige the East, was however approved by Rome (similar status to the famous Councils of Orange and Toledo).° Trent claimed to be fully ecumenic, at the time Photians were not only thought of as Schismatic but as even heretic, and therefore assistance of what now would be called Greek or Russian Orthodox bishops was not seen as necessary. Obviously Orthodox answered by the councils that condemned both Trent - and even harder condemned the Protestantism condemned by Trent: Iasi in Roumania and Jerusalem. Orthodox give them a similar status as we give to I of Toledo. And none of these councils ever gave an OT that is identic to Protestant one, that of Carthage gave exactly same canon (though on a lower level of juridic-canonic obligation) as later Trent. As I recently found out on FB.
4. If the Roman Catholic church gave us the Bible, why were the two synods of Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage, (397 AD) African councils, and not initiatives of Rome?
5. Since the synod Carthage in 393 AD stated, "But let Church beyond sea (Rome) be consulted about confirming this canon", does this not prove that Rome had no direct input or initiative in determining the canon.
6. Since the two synods of Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage, (397 AD) were under the control of what would later become the "orthodox church", how can the Roman Catholic church claim they determined the Canon? Would not such a claim be more naturally due the Eastern Orthodox church?
First of all this is once again reading a doctrinal and ecclesiologic clear division f our times backward into the history of the provinces later concerned.
Second of all Africa was anyway part of Latin sphere: it was there that Mass was first said in Latin. Between Vandals and French conquest of 1830 there was not much of a Church there anyway, except as underground practising individuals in slavery, often Roman Catholics, sometimes Lutheran (Iceland after Reformation had been a victim of Algerian pirates headed by a Dutch renegade).
But last, Roman Catholicism does not mean that Rome and the Pope take all initiatives. It means the initiatives are taken where they seem to be needed, and then appeal is made to Rome - as from both Toledo (our copies were written on orders of Rome° or Carthage).
*Irrefutable questions that Roman Catholics and Orthodox can't answer
**List of books in the Christian Bible, Roman Catholic Bible, Greek Orthodox Bible (Steve Rudd)
***The Bible Timeline of History
°And first council of Toledo is a testimony against Photians claiming filioque to be heretic. It was held way before Barbarian invasions, under the Papacy of St Leo I whom even Orthodox consider a saint, since both the council and the Pope do confess filioque:
Filioque far older than III Council of Toledo