A Calvin Objection to Conciliar Continuity


#1

Ok, here’s a direct quote, from ccel.org’s online thing of Calvin’s Institutes. Just ordered my copy, been putting it offfff for the longest time! Please help, I’m unaware of any of the Constantinoplean Councils addressing what he mentions.

  1. Moreover, why should I review the contests of council with council? Nor is there any ground for whispering to me, that when councils are at variance, one or other of them is not a lawful council. For how shall we ascertain this? Just, if I mistake not, by judging from Scripture that the decrees are not orthodox. For this alone is the sure law of discrimination. It is now about nine hundred years since the Council of Constantinople, convened under the Emperor Leo, determined that the images set up in temples were to be thrown down and broken to pieces. Shortly after, the Council of Nice, which was assembled by Irene, through dislike of the former, decreed that images were to be restored. Which of the two councils shall we acknowledge to be lawful? The latter has usually prevailed, and secured a place for images in churches. But Augustine maintains that this could not be done without the greatest danger of idolatry. Epiphanius, at a later period, speaks much more harshly (Epist. ad Joann. Hierosolym. et Lib. 3 contra Hæres.). For he says, it is an unspeakable abomination to see images in a Christian temple. Could those who speak thus approve of that council if they were alive in the present day? But if historians speak true, and we believe their acts, not only images themselves, but the worship of them, were there sanctioned. Now it is plain that this decree emanated from Satan?

That’s from Book 4, Chapter 9, “Of Councils and Their Authority”

Ok, the version of the Church Council’s I’m reading, from dailycatholic.org, “Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils” by Norman Tanner says that Constantinople I in 381 was called by Emperors Gratian and Theodosius I, Constantinople II (533 A.D) was called by Emperor Justinian and Pope Vigilius, and Constantinople III, the one Calvin is probably referring to, was in 680, and was called by Emperor Constantine IV, Pope Donus, then Pope Agatho, and then Patriarch George of Constantinople held the council. Nothing about Emperor Leo. I haven’t gotten to Constantinople 4 yet. But it was actually after Nicea II, so that can’t be it!!

Ok, so is this some non-authoratative Constantinople council that Calvin is referring to? I know it’s Nicea II, the one that’s pro-icon and veneration of relics and icons and stuff that he’s saying was a bad council.

And what statement of Augustine was he talking about?

Thanks,

Rob


#2

Ok, I’ve got the answer.

There was a false council in Constantinople in 754. Why do we say it’s false? Well, Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem were not represented there. So, like 4 major regions were not there. It was an “iconoclast” council. They condemned religious icons, and the council was actually condemned by a real Ecumenical council, Nicea 2, like 30 years later, after much destruction of many orthodox, Catholic churches and terrorizing of the Catholics that wouldn’t agree with the iconoclasts.

The reference to Augustine, well, I don’t know yet. But in his “Reply to Faustus the Manichean” he certainly did not speak out against icons, rather condemned idols, and said that its not improper to offer the sacrifice (Mass) at the tombs of saints and martyrs, with the understanding that the sacrifice is offered to God, not to the martyr, like the pagans do.

Calvin should have known better than that. Surely, that’s not the best he’s got!!


#3

[left]The following are select quotes from an online article at

[/left]
[left]http://www.christianchronicler.com/history1/schism_between_east_and_west.html

[/left]
[left]"Moslem invaders surrounded the Byzantine Empire by 700. Emperor Leo III (717-41) attacked the use of images because he knew Moslems avoided worshiping statues or other representations. In 726, Leo called for a council of bishops and senators to discuss the issue. The council forbade kneeling before icons. It also ordered all but the cross removed from churches to refute Moslem charges of idolatry…

[/left]
[left]Had the Roman bishop remained out of the picture, the whole issue would have remained in the east. Pope Gregory II condemned and anathematized the iconoclasts…

[/left]
[left]The Seventh Ecumenical Council assembled at Nicea settled the issue in 787. The council reaffirmed the use of images but drew distinctions between bowing down before/kissing and worship."

[/left]
[left]~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[/left]
[left]This seems to be what Calvin was refering to, and the time frame is correct (“about nine hundred years since”). But it doesn’t sound like an “Ecumenical Council” to me, so I don’t think his point is valid.

[/left]
[left]Grace & Peace

[/left]


#4

Hey, Reformed Bob, you’re talking to yourself! :smiley:

I saw your follow-up just as I was posting…

Think you can beat me to the Augustine quote too???

Grace & Peace


#5

[quote=quaysman]Hey, Reformed Bob, you’re talking to yourself! :smiley:

I saw your follow-up just as I was posting…

Think you can beat me to the Augustine quote too???

Grace & Peace
[/quote]

Hey, thanks for that! Very much:thumbsup:

What you said about the Muslims and the like was new to me. That’s interesting and helps give more of the surrounding events.

I don’t think I’ll be able to beat you to the Augustine quote. But I’ll maybe try to find it tomorrow or the next day. It should be on some anti-catholic site.


#6

Since this thread could be about either counciliar continuity or the icon issue (which always amazed me – Who worships icons as opposed to God???), and since the title mentions counciliar continuity, I’ll go with that.

Presumably, truth is unchanging, so Council X should not contradict Council Y should not contradict Council Z, which was Calvin’s point – Counciliar Contradiction = Catholic Magisterial inspiration is nonsense.

In looking for contradiction to condemn the Church, one does not have to look very hard. All one has to do is have tunnel vision, and pretend, by not looking at details, that there is contradiction.

For example, Christ says X…
15 ****Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. ****16 ****Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:15-16.…and Y…**3 ****But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, ****4 ****so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:3-4.**An anti-Christian Moslem would blind himself to the details – Christ is actually making two completely different points to two completely different audiences – Group X, afraid to be publicly Christian, and Group Y, intent on showing how great they are – and use the overt contradiction to condemn Christ, Christianity and Scripture, by commenting, “Do you see how worthless and contradictory these supposedly-inspired ‘Scriptures’ are?”

Well, an anti-Catholic Protestant can do the same. (And in my opinion, that is precisely what Calvin was doing, in the objection by Calvin being focused upon, aside from the false council hook we hang our response on.)

But, Is there “counciliar contradiction”? More to the point, is there magisterial contradiction?

In my opinion, if we sit back and calmly grab a smoke and sip a little Merlot, we must agree that there is, on issues of faith and morals.

But, in my opinion, Catholics do not need to get into such a huge sweat about it.

Truth “emerges,” sometimes slowly. As a consequence, as we are bossing one another around with the truth and hitting one another over the head with the truth and condemning and anathematizing one another with the truth and feeling so good when we do that – being dogmatic is so much fun! – we sometimes come to false conclusions based on the little that has been revealed.

In another thread I noted that (a) the Church ratified the Bible canon, which rather clearly implies at a few places that Mary bled when she gave birth; (b) a few Church councils subsequently ratified the concept of in partu virginity, which denies that Mary’s generative tissues were ever negatively disturbed by Jesus’ presence in her womb or by Jesus’ coming out of her womb, even for a moment.

In effect, this amounted to magisterial contradiction.

Many Catholic scholars, including this website, permit Catholics to profess the words, “Mary bore her Son without any violation of her virginal integrity," while denying the obvious physical implications of those words!…“But while many of the Church Fathers (few exceptions) did hold to the belief that ‘Mary gave birth in miraculous fashion without opening of the womb and injury to the hymen, and consequently experienced no pain,’ that is not part of the dogma and, thus, there is no obligation to believe it.” In this fashion, they perhaps instinctively, and functionally, avoid by an essentially illogical means any collision with Scripture.

No matter what, there is clear non-resolvable incongruity between Scripture and the dogma “Mary bore her Son without any violation of her virginal integrity." (Some folks here will respond that “her virginal integrity” refers to the fact that Mary had no sex with anyone. Rest assured that it does not. The entire *in partu *controversy was about whether Mary’s generative flesh was negatively impacted by her childbearing, not about whether she had sex with anyone.)

In my opinion, the *in partu *virginity concept is theological error. But, in my opinion, the error is part of a larger structure or process of emerging truth. It is similar to the way Pope Liberius condemned his own prior pronouncement on the Arian heresy.


#7

Since this thread could be about either counciliar continuity or the icon issue (which always amazed me – Who worships icons as opposed to God???), and since the title mentions counciliar continuity, I’ll go with that.

Presumably, truth is unchanging, so Council X should not contradict Council Y should not contradict Council Z, which was Calvin’s point – Counciliar Contradiction = Catholic Magisterial inspiration is nonsense.

In looking for contradiction to condemn the Church, one does not have to look very hard. All one has to do is have tunnel vision, and pretend, by not looking at details, that there is contradiction.

For example, Christ says X…
**15 ****Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. ****16 **Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:15-16. …and Y… **3 ****But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, ****4 ****so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:3-4. **An anti-Christian Moslem would blind himself to the details – Christ is actually making two completely different points to two completely different audiences – Group X, afraid to be publicly Christian, and Group Y, intent on showing how great they are – and use the overt contradiction to condemn Christ, Christianity and Scripture, by commenting, “Do you see how worthless and contradictory these supposedly-inspired ‘Scriptures’ are?”

Well, an anti-Catholic Protestant can do the same. (And in my opinion, that is precisely what Calvin was doing, in the objection by Calvin being focused upon, aside from the “false council” hook we hang our response on.)

But, Is there “counciliar contradiction”? More to the point, is there magisterial contradiction?

In my opinion, if we sit back and calmly grab a smoke and sip a little Merlot, we must agree that there is, on issues of faith and morals.

But, in my opinion, Catholics do not need to get into such a huge sweat about it.

Truth “emerges,” sometimes slowly. As a consequence, as we are bossing one another around with the truth and hitting one another over the head with the truth and condemning and anathematizing one another with the truth and feeling so good when we do that – being dogmatic is so much fun! – we sometimes come to false conclusions based on the little that has been revealed.

In another thread I noted that (a) the Church ratified the Bible canon, which rather clearly implies at a few places that Mary bled when she gave birth; (b) a few Church councils and popes subsequently ratified the concept of in partu virginity, which denies that Mary’s generative tissues were ever negatively disturbed, physically, by Jesus’ presence in her womb or by Jesus’ coming out of her womb, even for a moment.

In effect, this amounted to magisterial contradiction.

Many Catholic scholars, including this website, permit Catholics to profess the words, “Mary bore her Son without any violation of her virginal integrity," while denying the obvious physical implications of those words!…“But while many of the Church Fathers (few exceptions) did hold to the belief that ‘Mary gave birth in miraculous fashion without opening of the womb and injury to the hymen, and consequently experienced no pain,’ that is not part of the dogma and, thus, there is no obligation to believe it.” In this fashion, they perhaps instinctively, and functionally, avoid by an essentially illogical means any collision with Scripture.

No matter what, there is clear non-resolvable incongruity between Scripture and the dogma “Mary bore her Son without any violation of her virginal integrity." (Some folks here will respond that “her virginal integrity” refers to the fact that Mary had no sex with anyone. Rest assured that it does not. The entire *in partu *controversy was about whether Mary’s generative flesh was negatively impacted – broken to allow Mary to break water, made to bleed, tear, subjected to contractions, etc. – by her childbearing, not about whether she had sex with anyone.)

In my opinion, the *in partu *virginity concept is theological error. But, in my opinion, the error is part of a larger structure or process of emerging truth. It is similar to the way Pope Liberius condemned his own prior pronouncement on the Arian heresy.


#8

Thank you for that, I did read it some time ago, and just now figured I’d respond. Ok, thanks


#9

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.