Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Concerning the Similarity and Affinity of the Traditions of the Papalists with those of the Pharisees and of the Talmud

Section 3 compares the Talmudic tradition to the Roman Catholic Tradition.  Chemnitz’ basic argument in this section is that if one holds to the Catholic Tradition and its argument then one could also hold to the Talmudic tradition. His best argument was a challenge to Andrada in which he wants Andrada to respond to a Jew who wishes to free himself from the Talmud and base his faith on only the Old Testament since no catholic would encourage the use of the Talmud as authoritative.  Chemnitz also compares the priestly succession with the prophetic and rabbinic succession, and how Moses received more on Sinai than what is written to the disciples receiving more from Jesus than what is written. 
           It is interesting how quickly tradition can usurp Scripture but how slowly if at all Scripture trumps tradition.

Concerning the Origin, Reason for, and Use of the New Testament Scripture

 In section two, Chemnitz begins his argument for the sufficiency of Scripture against the use of tradition.  He begins his argument by looking to the history of the Old Testament.  He first notes that throughout ancient history the oral tradition was not preserved  always and everywhere but was repeatedly corrupted and adulterated. Therefore God instituted the written word to Moses so that constant special revelation wouldn’t be necessary.  Chemnitz’ best argument for the sufficiency of the Old Testament comes in paragraph 15, “Christ when He wanted to appeal to the testimony of the doctrine of the fathers and prophets from the beginning of the world, interprets Scripture and says: ‘Thus it is written.’ This testimony should be diligently considered. Christ had already entered into His glory through His resurrection and could have brought to remembrance many things concerning the true unwritten traditions of the patriarchs and prophets; for He Himself was the one who spoke with the fathers.  But He adduces only what is written. For He wanted to attest the fact that in what has been written concerning the doctrine of the patriarchs and prophets all is contained that is necessary and sufficient when the question is asked what the doctrine and faith of the patriarchs and prophets was.”

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Section 1

Section one can easily be summarized by Chemnitz himself in the fifth paragraph, “Lest I take more time reciting the abusive words of individual papalists against Holy Scripture [he is speaking of Andrada], the sum and substance is this: They maintain that Holy Scripture is not canon, norm, measuring instrument or rule, according to which all disputes concerning matters of faith are to be adjusted and this chiefly for two reasons (1) because Scripture is insufficient, for it does not contain everything that is necessary for faith and godly living; (2) because also in those things which it does contain it is obscure and ambiguous, like a waxen nose or a leaden square…Therefore they say that it is an occasion of strife than the voice of a judge, a teacher who cannot speak, a dead letter, yes a letter that kills, etc.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The First and Second Decree from the 4th Session

             The first decree from the fourth session of the Council of Trent is primarily a declaration of the council’s norm and source for their future decisions.  It states, “[The council] receives and venerates with equal devotion and reverence all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament (since one God is the author of both) and also said traditions, both those pertaining to faith and those pertaining to morals, as dictated either orally by Christ or by the Holy Spirit and preserved by a continuous succession in the Catholic Church.”  The list of Scriptures they hold to include the thirty-nine Old Testament books alongside the Apocrypha with no distinction in authority with the twenty-seven books of the New Testament.  Their second decree is to uphold the use of the ancient Vulgate edition approved for centuries by the church.
            Chemnitz opens his examination of these decrees by noting the good intentions of the church.  What they say they intend to do is needed and they way they say they are going to perform the council is in accord with the process of the ancient church.  The issue however is in setting their rule and norm.  That the council holds the unwritten tradition to be as authoritative as scripture, that the apocrypha is held as authoritative without caveat, and that the old Vulgate has been shown to contain error discourage Chemnitz as to the effectiveness of the council. Beyond this the decrees also note that only they as church authorities have the right and authority to interpret Scripture.
            Chemnitz notes in his sixth paragraph, “They could have resolved the whole matter with a few words if only they had declared at the opening of they synod that they wanted to retain the present condition of their church, such as it is, and stubbornly defend it, nor permit anything whatsoever to be corrected or emended according to the norm of the canonical Scripture. Then it would not have been necessary to take so many years, unless they judged that people had to be deceived under the pretext and name of a synod.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Preface

In Chemnitz’ preface for his examination he first introduces the theologians and context surrounding the occasion for his examination.  The first person mention is John Alber who Chemnitz calls “a hired scapegoat” and “poor hotshot from the University of Ingolstadt.” He was the first to justify the existence of the Jesuits against claims that they were established for the sole purpose of destroying the Lutheran churches of Germany.  Chemnitz then moves to Jacob Payva Andrada, “a boastful orator to act out the farce of the Jesuits.”  It is Andrada who is the primary opponent of Chemnitz and who Chemnitz directly attacks in the rest of his preface. 
            Following an introduction of characters, Chemnitz recounts the story of the formation and growth of the Jesuit movement citing Andrada.  He notes in paragraph 6 that he tells this story so as to discount the good will of the Jesuits for he believes that the papal authorities intentionally used the Jesuits to destroy the progress made through the education of German children and the preaching against German churches.
            Finally Chemnitz looks at the authority of the Council of Trent.  He states that no council or synod can establish truth without the norm and testing of Scripture which Trent has failed to do.  Therefore it is Chemnitz’ goal to examine the decrees of Trent against Scripture and the Fathers in order to demonstrate their false doctrine and teaching.

New Project

I have decided that for this new year I will attempt to read through the four volumes of Martin Chemnitz' Examination of the Council of Trent.  I will then publish summaries of the sections here for anyone to read and discuss.  I have often said that I don't wish to blog unless I have something that is actually worth saying. Therefore since my own knowledge of Chemnitz is sufficiently lacking this seemed like a worthy project fitting of the blog title. I hope that this project does not fall by the wayside or is put on the farthest back burner, but the priorities of vicarage and seminary may dictate otherwise.  I begin with Chemnitz' preface to volume 1.

***Note all quotations will be taken from Examination of the Council of Trent: Part 1 by Martin Chemnitz translated by Fred Kramer and published by Concordia Publishing House