Conservative Colloquium

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Archive for August, 2010

Table of Contents of the Bible = Unbiblical, Catholic Tradition

Posted by Tony Listi on August 16, 2010

The canon of the New Testament, i.e. the Table of Contents of the Bible, was determined by the authority of the Catholic Church. Prior to Church proclamations in the late 4th century, there were plenty of disagreements among eminent Church fathers about individual books and whether they were divinely inspired or not. These controversial individual books included some that are in the Bible today: Philippians; 1 and 2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon; Hebrews; James; 1 and 2 Peter; 1, 2, and 3 John; Jude; and Revelation.

Thus the New Testament canon, the Table of Contents page of every Bible, is indubitably an authoritative unbiblical tradition that Protestants accept in contradiction to sola Scriptura, to their own rule of faith. Scripture never contained its own Table of Contents page; that had to be authoritatively decided at the Council of Carthage in 397. Without this council, there would be no Bible as it is today.

Without the Bible as it is today, sola Scriptura is impossible. But the Protestant has to accept a 1600+ year old, binding, infallible, authoritative decree of the Catholic Church in order to get his Bible’s New Testament as it is today. This raises huge problems of internal incoherence. Protestants are forced to either make a huge exception to their rule of faith (and then one asks, on what basis do they do this?, etc.), or simply ignore the difficulties raised by discussion of the canon (the usual insincere recourse).

There’s only three options: 1) admit sola Scriptura is incoherent and thus false, 2) admit sola Scriptura is incoherent and irrationally embrace the incoherence, or 3) ignore this entire post as if you had never read it, putting your soul at risk.

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Posted in Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Religion and Theology, Sola Scriptura, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Jesus, Peter, Paul, Matthew, James, and Jude Rejected Sola Scriptura

Posted by Tony Listi on August 16, 2010

If some parts of extrabiblical (non-Old Testament or non-gospel) traditions can be cited as true in the New Testament, then it stands to reason and is quite plausible that other parts can be true (and hence, authoritative) without being cited in the New Testament.

Protestants simply assume without argument that anything that is fully authoritative must be in the Bible. But then why do Jesus, Matthew, Peter, James, Paul, and Jude cite traditions that we can’t find in our Bibles?

Our Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel writer St. Matthew did not believe in sola Scriptura. “Moses’ Seat” (Matthew 23:1-3) is an example of a tradition that is not in the Old Testament and yet confirmed as authoritative by Jesus and Matthew:

Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice….”

Jesus says that the Golden Rule can be found in the law and the prophets, but it’s not in the Old Testament (least not in this positive form):

 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. (Mt 7:12)

Matthew refers to another prophecy that cannot be found in the Old Testament:

And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Mt 2:23)

St. Peter did not believe in Sola Scriptura either. He also cites an oral, unbiblical tradition about Jesus that can’t be found in the written gospels:

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. (1 Pt 3:18-20, emphasis mine)

St. Paul did not believe in sola Scriptura either. He cites the unbiblical tradition of a rock that follows Moses and the Israelites in the desert:

“For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor 10:4)

The Torah speaks only about a rock from which water issued, but rabbinic tradition amplified this into a spring that followed the Israelites throughout their migration.

Paul also names Pharaoh’s magicians even though the Old Testament gives them no names:

As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith; but they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (1 Tim 3:8-9)

Paul also quotes a saying of Jesus that is not in the gospels:

 …remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

St. James also did not believe in sola Scriptura. He refers to a tradition about Elijah and a lack of rain that cannot be found in the relevant Old Testament passage 1 Kgs 17:

Eli’jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit. (James 5:17-18)

Jude also refers to an extrabiblical, tradition that cannot be found in the Old Testament:

But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 9)

Jude also directly quotes 1 Enoch  1:9, which is not in the Bible:

It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14-15)

If Jesus, Matthew, Peter, James, Paul, and Jude were not Scripture Alone Christians, then why should anybody be?

Posted in Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Religion and Theology, Sola Scriptura, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Hypocrisy, Abuse, and Truth in the Catholic Church

Posted by Tony Listi on August 15, 2010

Hypocrisy and abuse are no proof of error; they are proof of weak, sinful human beings. To point to hypocrisy or abuse in argumentation is an ad hominem fallacy, a fallacy that many dissenters to and enemies of the Catholic Church employ over and over again.

The distinction between abstract/absolute ideas and and individual actions is crucial to the acceptance of the Catholic faith (or any belief system for that matter). Yet many people are unable to understand or unwilling to accept this crucial distinction. 

If the saints of the Church are not proof of the truth of Catholic doctrines, then neither are corrupt clergy proof of the error of Catholic doctrines. Doctrinal truth is not dependent on the character of individual men and women but upon the Holy Spirit acting through the offices of pope and bishop, who declare what is true doctrine (1 Tim 4:11, 6:2-5; Titus 1:13, 2:1, 15).

St. Peter and St. Paul were both sinners and hypocrites, as Scripture tells us. Peter is rebuked by Paul because of Peter’s hypocrisy in declaring no food unclean and circumcision unnecessary at the Council of Jerusalem yet drawing away from the Gentiles in fear of “the circumcision party” (Gal 2:12-14; Act 11:1-18, 15:6-14). Paul too showed himself to be a hypocrite to Christian teaching in his trivial quarrel with Barnabas over John Mark and in his other sins (Act 15:37-40; Rom 7:14-25).

Did the sins of Peter and Paul make their teachings any less true? Of course not!

Truth does not cease being truth just because an individual acts sinfully and in contradiction to truth that he knows to be true and has preached to be true. This truth about truth is true even in the case of popes, bishops, and priests.  The sins of clergy or individual lay Catholics have not and cannot change Catholic truths, which Catholic clergy, esp. the popes, have merely preserved and passed on since the time of the original apostles.

So it doesn’t matter how many times you bring up the Crusades, Inquisition, adulterous popes and clergy, individual Catholics complicit in the Holocaust, leftist Catholics like Nancy Pelosi, pedophile priests, abuse of annulments, or any other scandal, whether real or false: NONE of these things have changed Catholic doctrine over time. Nor could they.

That this is an historical fact is a tangible testament to the unique work and presence of the Holy Spirit in the Roman Catholic Church, which has preserved correct doctrine without change for about 2000 years. Jesus was not lying when He said that His Church built upon the Rock of Cephas would not fail.

The Roman Catholic Church is holy, not because its leaders and members have been or are sinless but because by the power of the Holy Spirit it possesses certain and true doctrines without error, doctrines that can be traced historically through Church history back to the beginning. “If the root is holy, so are the branches” (Rom 11:16).

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Contraception (& Protestantism) Paved Way for Gay “Marriage”

Posted by Tony Listi on August 13, 2010

No Children

Contraception literally divorces procreation from sexual intercourse in violation of Scriptural commands and of both Catholic and early Protestant traditions. It is immoral and its rotten cultural fruit, including the gay “marriage” craze, has been immensely harmful to American society.

Contraception also allows men and women to divorce procreation from marriage. Because of contraception, American society no longer views marriage as a children/family-centered institution but merely a relationship of mutual self-gratification and convenience that can be ended at whim. Children and their rights are no longer integral to the institution of marriage in the minds of many Americans, especially among the young.

Because marriage is viewed this way now, it is only natural that the notion of gay “marriage” has gained ground culturally. Popular debates surrounding the issue hardly ever even mention children and their positive rights (see here also). Marriage is treated as an institution whose purpose is primarily for the benefit of the two (or more, perhaps) people involved. Only when one forgets that only one man and one woman united together procreate children and that children develop better under the care of their biological parents do the notions of “marriage discrimination” and “marriage equality” begin to gain plausibility.  

Contraception is what started the cultural ball rolling in divorcing children and their positive rights from marriage.

And how exactly did contraception come to be accepted and widespread in American society? American Protestants caved in to liberal regressives in the early 20th century. Up until around 1930, all Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant) rejected contraception as immoral. It was only a matter of time before this cultural change would produce legal changes.

So I find it very ironic that many conservative Protestants are staunch defenders of marriage and yet condone the use of contraception, the very thing that paved the way for gay “marriage” in American culture and law.

Posted in American Culture, Christianity and Politics, Conservatism, Culture War, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Marriage, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Sex, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Catholic Baptism in Scripture

Posted by Tony Listi on August 13, 2010

“Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Jn 3:5

“Baptism which saves you now” 1 Peter 3:21

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” Mark 16:16

“Then Peter declared, ‘Can any one forbid water for baptizing these peoplewho have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”Acts 10:47-48

“And I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness….” Ezk 36:25

“Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins….” Acts 2:38

“Rise up and be baptized and wash away your sins….” Acts 22:16

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church and delivered himself up for it: That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life….” Eph 5:25-26

“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them” Lk 18:15

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me…. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Mt 18:5, 14

“And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.'” Mk 10:13-14

Whole households and families are baptized: Acts 16:15, Acts 16:30-33, Acts 18:8, 1 Corinthians 1:16

Scripture is quite clear that baptism replaced circumcision (Colossians 2:11-12). And circumcision was given to male children eight days after birth, i.e. before the age of speech and reason.

The faith of some can effect grace for others: Matthew 8:5-13, Matthew 15:21-28, Luke 5:18-20, Luke 7:7, 1 Cor. 7:14

“Going therefore, teach all nations: baptizing them….” Mt 28:19

Do Protestants base ALL their doctrines on that stupid thief on the cross? Even supposing “paradise” really means heaven, is the extraordinary to be the standard for the ordinary? But there is very good reason to believe that “paradise” doesn’t necessarily mean heaven at all.

For more comprehensive citations and explanations of Scripture about baptism, see here and here.

Posted in Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Religion and Theology, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Conservatism, Libertarianism, and Children’s Positive Rights

Posted by Tony Listi on August 13, 2010

Libertarians sometimes complain that Big Government treats its citizens like children (e.g. using the adjective “paternalistic” to describe govt.). They also denounce the notion of natural positive rights, which are rights that compel others to do something, and uphold negative rights only, which compel others to refrain from doing certain things.

The irony of all this is that many libertarians don’t see that these two concepts, children and positive rights, are related. The government should not treat its adult citizens like children because adult citizens have only negative rights and no positive rights. But the inherent logic of this sort of argument seems to dictate that children have positive rights, unless one wants to erroneously assert that no one has positive rights.

Adulthood, legally defined according to age as a matter of prudence, carries with it a moral responsibility to take care of oneself rather than demand others take care of you (which is what children and statists do). Thus one major reason why the welfare state is immoral: it forces some citizens to care for other citizens as if the former were parents and the latter were children when in fact everyone is an adult. Adults are expected to be mature, self-sufficient, cooperative with others, rational, independent. Thus they have no positive rights.

Children are irrational, dependent, and helplessly weak by nature. Yet they are still innocent human beings, persons with human dignity. It is children’s irrational, dependent, and helplessly weak nature that confers upon them natural, individual, positive rights. They have a right to attention and care for their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being. It is an evil and an injustice for a child to be neglected or abused.

But upon whom do children have these rights to attention and care? Not upon everyone. Not upon the State. And not upon just any random person. It is parents who are obligated to provide attention and care insofar as they are able to; it is upon them that children have positive rights. Why upon parents? Because the parents gave their children life and existence and are thus responsible for their children and their children’s rights. One would think this would be self-evident but apparently not in this decadent era and culture.

It is the concept of children’s positive rights that separates conservatives and libertarians philosophically. From this concept springs the conservative’s commitment to pro-life and pro-marriage public policy. The inherent moral differences between adulthood and childhood cannot be ignored or glossed over when it comes to political philosophy.

The purpose of government is to protect people’s rights, both natural and civil, both positive and negative, as far as it is possible for government to prudently do so. Of course, this purpose assumes an accurate determination of what rights human beings actually have and what differences among human beings really matter.

Not only does the child in the womb have negative rights against being killed, but he or she also has positive rights upon the mother, a right to her body and the sustenance it provides. (However, if the baby actually does pose a threat to the life of the mother, which is extremely rare and usually means the baby would not survive either, one may save the life of the mother by infringing on the positive rights of the child but not the negative rights. One may remove the child from the mother but not actively kill the child through violence.)

The government has a duty to protect both the positive and negative rights of the unborn son or daughter as prudently as possible. Outlawing abortion and prosecuting abortionists seems very prudent. Because the preamble to the Constitution reveals that our founding document was meant for “posterity,” i.e. the unborn, and their rights too, I believe one can make a sound originalist, constitutional argument for federal involvement in protecting the rights of the unborn. But if not, I will take the states’ rights alternative as the next best thing. Even pro-life legislation has to be constitutional to be enacted, for the rule of law according to founding principles (e.g. federalism) is more important than any individual right or single issue.

Once born, how well these positive rights of children are secured is intimately tied to the character of the relationship between mother and father. The purpose of marriage as both a civil and religious institution is to ensure that the relationship between mother and father is best suited for the procreation and raising children. As a civil institution, it has no other purpose. Children are best raised by their biological mother and father (see here also). If the relationship between mother and father is unstable and unloving, the child’s positive rights will suffer in a variety of ways.  Because homosexual relationships are absolutely sterile by nature (not by dysfunction), they do not deserve any legal recognition whatsoever. (And the legalized separation of children from their biological fathers and mothers through sperm and egg “banks” is immoral and should be outlawed. No one has a “right” to a child and such “artificial” children suffer psychologically.)

The government has a duty to protect the positive and negative rights of children as prudently as possible. American society recognizes that children have negative rights, thus the laws against physical and sexual abuse. There are very few things that government can prudently do to secure the positive rights of children without causing greater evil. However, through prudent regulation of the institution of marriage, it can promote more stable, enduring marriages, which in turn will help secure children’s positive rights. Legally defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, repealing no-fault divorce, and treating marriage like a corporation are a few basic, prudent measures government should take to help strengthen marriages and thus better protect the positive rights of children. Because of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, I’m not sure how one can avoid a national marriage policy. But again, if the states’ rights alternative could work, I’ll take it as the next best thing. Even pro-marriage legislation has to be constitutional to be enacted, for the rule of law according to founding principles (e.g. federalism) is more important than any individual right or single issue.

Many libertarians like to say that “liberty is indivisible” and that conservatives are inconsistent for dividing economic and individual/social liberty. But in reality, conservatives absolutely agree that liberty is indivisible. We are not inconsistent; we just have a different view of human nature and rights. It is merely the case that many libertarians are unwilling to acknowledge the obvious and relevant differences between adults and children with regard to rights. This self-evident and empirical distinction among human beings is what libertarianism seems unable to handle morally and humanely.

Posted in Abortion, Conservatism, Government and Politics, Libertarianism, Marriage, Political Philosophy, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Culture War as Stigma War

Posted by Tony Listi on August 1, 2010

Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.
Alexis de Tocqueville

A friend of mine drew my attention to a very important article written by Jeff Schafer at the Alliance Defense Fund. It’s entitled “Stigma and Dogma, Revisited.”

This article re-echoes something that De Tocqueville (quoted above) observed early on about the dangerous tendencies of democratic culture. Stigma and social pressure rule the day in a democracy.

Yet stigma and social pressure were what kept the U.S. conservative and free for so long, esp. with regard to our current social issues. In the early history of America, abortion and deviations from traditional marriage were so powerfully and thoroughly stigmatized that they were not political issues at all. Not so anymore.

Stigma is the expression of moral outrage. The article reminds me of one of the Leadership Institute’s Laws of the Public Policy Process: “Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics.”

If conservatives are to take the long-term view of changing the culture in order to win (as the left did over a century ago), we have to be willing to publicly engage in the Stigma War. Big govt., govt. coercion, govt. dependency, promiscuity, sexual perversity, infanticide, etc. must all become shameful, stigmatized things again. Conservatives have to be willing to publicly denounce these things as immoral and shameful.

Why do you think the left likes to engage in name-calling? Racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot, etc. All these epithets are intended to stigmatize conservative views, whether the labels rationally apply or not. And they’ve done a pretty good job of it.

When people evaluate candidates or policies, it is moral factors that determine their choices; it is the elements of shame and guilt that convince people to be politically active and to hold certain political views with intensity.

We need not lose hope completely that the world is doomed to irrationality though. Feelings of guilt, shame, and moral outrage do not spring up spontaneously or irrationally; they are rooted in certain rational, though often false, paradigms and faith systems. The problem with the left is not that they aren’t rational; they are, assuming their faith-based assumptions to be true. It’s the fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality, human nature, and justice that separate us from them. (And these false assumption are inculcated into Americans through the cultural institutions of primary schools, academia, arts & entertainment, churches, and the media.)

We need to bring the reasons for our political faith and assumptions to the surface in the most clear, concise, direct, impactful, and thought-provoking ways possible. And this is where the necessity of activism comes in. And good activism is based on good organizational preparation beforehand that gathers the people and resources to make activism effective.

Moreover, activism should be directed not merely at challenging current leftist stigmas and dogmas but toward recapturing the cultural institutions mentioned above that inculcate these false stigmas and dogmas into American youth (and older).

Posted in Abortion, American Culture, American History, Culture War, Democracy, Education, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Marriage, Moral Philosophy, Political Activism, Political Philosophy, Political Psychoanalysis, Race, Racism, and Affirmative Action, Student Activism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »