The Instigator
michaellofton
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
TrueScotsman
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

Protestants removed certain books which belong to the canon established by the early Church.

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
TrueScotsman
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/29/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 796 times Debate No: 67623
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (3)

 

michaellofton

Pro

Protestants removed certain books which belong to the canon established by the early Church. However, Catholics have maintained the canon established by the early Church, most notably by the councils of Rome, Hippo and Carthage in the late 4th to early 5th centuries. Even before these councils, many of the early Christians identified the deuterocanonical books as part of the canon of Scritpure.
TrueScotsman

Con

Hello Michael,

This is an interesting debate topic in that it isn't on whether or not the the books Protestants refer to as the Apocrypha are true, but whether or not they were "removed from the Canon" by Protestants. This is a question of history, not doctrine or theology.

When it comes to the Canon, the most important event to note is perhaps the Synod of Hippo, which was subsequently accepted by the Council of Carthage. This Synod of Hippo did not name the books known in the Apocrypha but only the standard Protestant Canon.

"Canon 24. Besides the canonical Scriptures, nothing shall be read in church under the name of divine Scriptures. Moreover, the canonical Scriptures are these: [then follows a list of Old Testament books]. The [books of the] New Testament: the Gospels, four books; the Acts of the Apostles, one book; the Epistles of Paul, thirteen; of the same to the Hebrews; one Epistle; of Peter, two; of John, apostle, three; of James, one; of Jude, one; the Revelation of John. Concerning the confirmation of this canon, the transmarine Church shall be consulted. On the anniversaries of martyrs, their acts shall also be read."

It was actually at the time of the reformation that it was officially proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church to be part of the Canon, in the Council of Trent in 1546. This was done in the fourth session of Trent.[2]

[1] http://www.ntcanon.org...
[2] https://history.hanover.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
michaellofton

Pro

Hello Truescotsman,

I appreciate your willingness to discuss/debate these issues. Yes, we are more dealing with the historical situation rather than the content of the deuterocanonicals, though we can discuss that as well in another debate if you would like.

In response to what you said about the Council of Hippo, notice nothing in your quote of canon 24 demonstrates what was included in the Old Testament, so that quote alone does not prove the Council of HIppo maintained the Protestant canon of the Old Testament. As evidence that the Council of Hippo did approve of the Catholic canon, which includes the Deuterocanonicals, I offer the following quote from the famous Protestant historian, J. N. D. Kelly:

"The same inclusive attitude to the Apocrypha was authoritatively displayed at the synods of Hippo and Carthage in 393 and 397 respectively, and also in the famous letter which Pope Innocent I dispatched to Exuperius, bishop of Toulouse, in 405" (J N D Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 55-56).

Just for good measure, Catholics also acknowledge the Council of Hippo listed the deuterocanonicals (I list this so you can see what I claimed was reliable according to both Protestants and Catholics about the Council of HIppo)

"At the Synod of Hippo (393), and again at the Synod of 397 at Carthage, a list of the books of Holy Scripture was drawn up. It is the Catholic canon (i.e. including the books classed by Protestants as 'Apocrypha'). The latter synod, at the end of the enumeration, added, 'But let Church beyond sea (Rome) be consulted about confirming this canon'." (The Catholic Encyclopedia)

The Council of Carthage also confirmed the Catholic canon, as it says:

"It was also determined that besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in the Church under the title of divine Scriptures. The Canonical Scriptures are these: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two books of Paraleipomena, Job, the Psalter, five books of Solomon, the books of the twelve prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezechiel, Daniel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Maccabees. Of the New Testament: four books of the Gospels, one book of the Acts of the Apostles, thirteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul, one epistle of the same [writer] to the Hebrews, two Epistles of the Apostle Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude, one book of the Apocalypse of John. Let this be made known also to our brother and fellow-priest Boniface, or to other bishops of those parts, for the purpose of confirming that Canon. Because we have received from our fathers that those books must be read in the Church. Let it also be allowed that the Passions of Martyrs be read when their festivals are kept." (B.F. Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (5th ed. Edinburgh, 1881), pp. 440, 541-2.)

As to the claim the Council of Trent officially proclaiming the canon, we should note a previous ecumentical council already confirmed the Catholic canon (e.g. the Council of Florence) officially. The Council of Trent simply elevated the doctrine to a dogma.

Thus, it is established that the early Church determined the deuterocanonicals were part of the canon, well before the Council of Trent. For this reason, it can legitimately be claimed that the Protestants removed certain books which belong to the canon established by the early Church, following Luther's example of rejecting the deuterocaononicals during his debate with Johann Eck, after Eck pointed out that purgatory is based on a 2 Maccabees. Protestants maintained the deuterocanonicals in their Bibles for several centuries, not aceepting them as Scripture, but as accepting them as profitable for historical appendix.

In conclusion, I would like to quote again from the famous Protestant historian, J. N. D. Kelly, who concedes the Catholic claim that the early Church maintained the deuterocanonicals as part of the canon, as he says:

"It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive than the [Protestant Old Testament] . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha or deuterocanonical books. The reason for this is that the Old Testament which passed in the first instance into the hands of Christians was . . . the Greek translation known as the Septuagint. . . . most of the Scriptural quotations found in the New Testament are based upon it rather than the Hebrew.. . . In the first two centuries . . . the Church seems to have accept all, or most of, these additional books as inspired and to have treated them without question as Scripture. Quotations from Wisdom, for example, occur in 1 Clement and Barnabas. . . Polycarp cites Tobit, and the Didache [cites] Ecclesiasticus. Irenaeus refers to Wisdom, the History of Susannah, Bel and the Dragon [i.e., the deuterocanonical portions of Daniel], and Baruch. The use made of the Apocrypha by Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian and Clement of Alexandria is too frequent for detailed references to be necessary" (Early Christian Doctrines, 53-54).
TrueScotsman

Con

I thank my opponent for his well organized arguments, which certainly have some merit and am learning quite a bit from this debate. However, I am not ready to concede just yet as it is important to draw a distinction in Catholicism between the councils such as Hippo or Carthage and that of Trent.

The first ecumenical councils were regional councils that were not considered infallible, or as authoritative as the subsequent councils such as the Council of Trent. From a Catholic Encyclopedia, we have this pronouncement:

"The Tridentine decrees from which the above list is extracted was the first infallible and effectually promulgated pronouncement on the Canon, addressed to the Church Universal."[1]

That means prior to this council, there was no official and infallible statement on the matter, despite widespread acceptance of the Canon as presented in the Council of Trent and Florence.

Since the Canon was only established as Dogma (necessary to believe) in the Council of Trent, such an application of what was truly the "Canon" cannot truly be ascertained by a Catholic except retrospectively through the Council of Trent.

There was indeed descent in the Early Church regarding the authority of the Apocryphal books. Jerome, who translated the Latin Vulgate and was a foremost scholar in his time did not accept these books.

St. Jerome distinguished between canonical books and ecclesiastical books. The latter he judged were circulated by the Church as good spiritual reading but were not recognized as authoritative Scripture. The situation remained unclear in the ensuing centuries...For example, John of Damascus, Gregory the Great, Walafrid, Nicolas of Lyra and Tostado continued to doubt the canonicity of the deuterocanonical books. According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church at the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent definitively settled the matter of the Old Testament Canon. That this had not been done previously is apparent from the uncertainty that persisted up to the time of Trent (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, The Canon).[2]

It is made clear then to the readers that the since the infallible decision of the Church had not been made since the Council of Trent, the true nature of the canon prior to this date cannot be fully established from a Roman Catholic perspective. Indeed Jerome distinguished these books as merely ecclesiastical books in his Vulgate translation which was the official translation of the Church for sometime. It can be further noted that the source of this information is not from biased Protestant sources, but rather Roman Catholic sources about the nature of the Canon and it's doubt up until Trent.

Certainly it can be calimed that Protestants disagreed with the popular belief concerning the Canon and the "deuterocanonical" books, but it cannot be said that they removed books from the Canon, when such Canon had not been officially established by the Church in a universal and infallible delivery as per their doctrine.


[1] http://www.newadvent.org...
[2] http://www.justforcatholics.org...;
Debate Round No. 2
michaellofton

Pro

That was an excellent rebuttal and I truly applaud you for it. It was well written and the arguments were both logical and cogent. I think you put your finger on the heart of the debate and that is: how can the Catholic Church say Protestants changed the canon when the canon wasn't determined infallibly until the Council of Trent. This is a legitimate question and one which Catholics must take seriously. I've wrestled with this question for several years, and here is what I have learned so far:

It is true that some of the early Church fathers questioned the canonicity of the Deuterocanonicals, as you pointed out in the Encyclopedia, BUT, we have to keep in mind that when the Church Fathers used the term "canon", they didn't always mean what we meant by the term. Today, when we refer to the "canon", we speak of those books which are divinely inspired as Sacred Scripture. The Fathers used the term to refer to those books which should be read in the liturgy. These same Fathers who questioned their canonicity, that is, whether they can be read in the liturgy, explicitly quote the deuterocanonicals as Scripture. So, we must be careful not to import our definitions for the words that we use, into the words that they used. For a list of examples where the Fathers quoted the deuterocanonicals as Scripture, but questioned their "canonicity", read see the following. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com...

For evidence that the Fathers were not using the term "canon" the same as we do today, here is also a quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia, which you quoted earlier:

"Following the precedent of Origen and the Alexandrian tradition, the saintly doctor recognized no other formal canon of the Old Testament than the Hebrew one; but also, faithful to the same tradition, he practically admitted the deutero books to a Scriptural dignity, as is evident from his general usage."

For this reason, when Catholics today say that the early Church fathers accepted the Catholic canon, we are saying they accepted the books Catholics believe are inspired by God, not necessarily whether they believed they should be read in the liturgy.

As far as St. Jerome, again, keep in mind the distinction by what we mean by canon and what they meant by canon. St. Jerome quotes the deuterocanonicals as are some quotes where he calls the deuterocanonicals "scripture":



"Does not the SCRIPTURE say: 'Burden not thyself above thy power'" [SIRACH 13:2] (Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 108 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:207)

“still our merriment must not forget the limit set by Scripture, and we must not stray too far from the boundary of our wrestling-ground. Your presents, indeed, remind me of the sacred volume, for in it Ezekiel decks Jerusalem with bracelets, (Eze. 16:11) Baruch receives letters from Jeremiah,(Jer. 36, Bar. 6) and the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove at the baptism of Christ.(Mt. 3:16)” (Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 31:2 (A.D. 384), in NPNF2, VI:45)

Additionally, with St. Jerome, we must always keep in mind that once the Church determined the matter at the council of Rome, he then accepted them as canonical, as he states:

The churches choose to read Daniel in the version of Theodotion [that is the version with the deuterocanonical parts]. What sin have I committed in following the judgment of the churches? But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna and the Hymn of the Three Children, and the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they commonly say against us. I did not reply to their opinion in the Preface, because I was studying brevity, and feared that I should seem to he writing not a Preface but a book. I said therefore, "As to which this is not the time to enter into discussion." (Jerome's Apology for Himself Against the Books of Rufinus, Book II, 33)

Thus, though it may have been legitimate to question whether the deuterocanonicals should be read during the liturgy before Trent, because this wasn't infallibly determined until Trent, the inspiration of the deuterocanonicals was determined before the Council of Trent. The same Catholic Encyclopedia that you quoted says:

"In 1442, during the life, and with the approval, of this Council, Eugenius IV issued several Bulls, or decrees, with a view to restore the Oriental schismatic bodies to communion with Rome, and according to the common teaching of theologians these documents are infallible statements of doctrine The "Decretum pro Jacobitis" contains a complete list of the books received by the Church as inspired, but omits, perhaps advisedly, the terms canon and canonical. The Council of Florence therefore taught the inspiration of all the Scriptures, but did not formally pass on their canonicity."

Thus, your claim that "Certainly it can be claimed that Protestants disagreed with the popular belief concerning the Canon and the "deuterocanonical" books, but it cannot be said that they removed books from the Canon, when such Canon had not been officially established by the Church in a universal and infallible delivery as per their doctrine" is false. The inspiration had already been infallibly determined, the use of the deuterocanonicals in the liturgy was still up for grabs until Trent. Again, we must distinguish between the two definitions of "canon" being used here.

That being said, it is true the early Church didn't infallibly determine the inspiration of the deuterocanonicals, and this had to wait until Florence, but the Church Fathers were practically unanimous in their inspiration (I can only think of one who denied their inspiration, and that was before the Councils of Hippo, Carthage and Rome). In the same way that it would be gravely wrong to baptize someone without the Trinitarian formula, even without an infallible canon determining baptism must be done with a Trinitarian formula, the Protestants were wrong to go against the practically universal consensus of the Church Fathers on the inspriation of the deuterocanonicals, (not to mention the later Ecumenical council of Florence). Thus, it can legitimately be claimed "Protestants removed certain books which belong to the canon established by the early Church" because the Early Church established the canon (that is, their Divine inspiration) by councils and even consensus. Furthermore, they removed the deuterocanonicals after an Ecumenical council infallibly determined their inspiration.
TrueScotsman

Con

I commend my opponent for starting this debate and his continual effort and positive attitude. I have really enjoyed this debate, and definitely succeeded in learning a thing or two.

I do believe that this debate has finally reached it's pinnacle and is now revealed to be a bit of a semantic debate. My opponent has revealed that the definition of the word "canon," as used by the Early Catholics and indeed the Council of Trent is different from what we use today.

He claims that the issue at Trent regarding the canon was the use of the deuterocanonicals in liturgy, and I will demonstrate that this betrays the historical occasion for the council as well as the text of the decree. The Council of Trent was a large ecumenical council in 1546 that made several dogmatic decrees to counter the Protestant Reformation. In effect, they made strict definitions within the Roman Catholic Church so as to draw the dividing line and pronounce the reformers as heretics and that they are "anathema" or accursed. Within this historical occasion, it makes no sense to make pronounce a dogma about the deuterocanonical texts to be read in liturgy, but rather that if one does not recognize these books as sacred and canonical that they are anathema. Which is exactly what is said.

"But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema."[1]

It is clearly not saying that every single part of Scripture needs to be used in liturgy, but that every single part of the Scripture they have just defined must be regarded as sacred and canonical.

You also mentioned the Council of Florence which actually did not really take up the issue of the Canon, but rather mentioned the list later affirmed as dogma in the Council of Trent. The context is in the eleventh session of the Council of Florence in which the inclusion of the Coptic Orthodox Christians, and mention of the Scriptures was merely to state their agreement on the matter. Not as a council to pronounce official dogma as it was with the Council of Trent.[2]

To conclude, no where in the Council of Trent, during the fourth session on the issue of the Canon does it even mention liturgy, but only that one must accept the books listed as sacred and canonical or be anathema. Thus, as this is the first pronouncement of dogma and full authority of the Roman Catholic Church on the matter, it cannot be stated that the Protestant Reformers removed these books from the Canon, but rather disagreed with the current dogma of the church, and was in agreement with other Early Church Fathers who also dissented regarding the inspiration of such texts. His semantic argument regarding the meaning of Canon in the Council of Trent has failed, and thus his argument has failed.


[1] https://history.hanover.edu...
[2] http://www.ewtn.com...




Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TrueScotsman 2 years ago
TrueScotsman
I normally italicize quotes, which I did in the final round, but forgot to do that later. Thanks for the feedback!
Posted by Ragnar 2 years ago
Ragnar
A couple suggestions for future debates...
Always include key definitions in R1. On that note, a touch more overview of it there would have been useful (I attend a Catholic university, and I still don't know off the top of my head which books each have different in their bibles).

I'm a pretty firm believer in formatting quotes, to make them stand out from your normal text. My personal choice is to italicize quotes from sources, and bold quotes from my opponents. Occasionally there is still crossover.
Posted by TrueScotsman 2 years ago
TrueScotsman
A shame only a Catholic has voted..
Posted by michaellofton 2 years ago
michaellofton
Here is the link to my concluding thoughts http://consolamini.org...

I enjoyed it.
Posted by TrueScotsman 2 years ago
TrueScotsman
Please do, I would be interested in hearing what you have to say.

I am I guess a Protestant (though I am protesting nothing), but I don't really have any problems at all with my Catholic brothers. This is my first time even debating this matter, but I more so just wanted to learn more on the subject. I think it's possible to consider that Protestants have given far less credence than these books perhaps deserve, though I would think it appropriate for myself to maintain my current position on the Canon.
Posted by michaellofton 2 years ago
michaellofton
Very good debate TrueScotsman. I enjoyed it and would love to debate you again in the future, as it was challenging, professional and didn't resort to ad hominems or emotional diatribes. I'm very impressed with your presentation and arguments.

I am going to write some follow up thoughts on my website to clarify some things that I think I may not have articulated well and may have caused some misunderstanding. I'll post the link here when it is posted.
Posted by TrueScotsman 2 years ago
TrueScotsman
Good debate!
Posted by kasmic 2 years ago
kasmic
No problem. The resolution is, in my opinion, the most important part of the debate. Poorly, or vaguely worded resolutions are impossible to defend. I can not tell you how many debates I have lost due to poorly worded resolutions. Plus, it helps to be extra clear so your opponent will know exactly what you mean to argue.
Posted by michaellofton 2 years ago
michaellofton
Kasmic, thank you for encouraging me to clarify this.
Posted by kasmic 2 years ago
kasmic
Much Better!
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 2 years ago
Ragnar
michaelloftonTrueScotsmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Difficult one, both did a good job. To me it falls down to that single word canon, pro agreed with cons claims then insisted the meaning of canon is different today... Language does indeed shift, but if we're going to have open meanings to the key words of the debate, than we have a situation in which each voter has to decide which meaning of canon they will follow. Overall, it seems the split happened before the Catholic Church wholly consolidated and properly decided what was canon (perhaps people removing books caused them to decide those were canon, but such is a little irrelevant).
Vote Placed by Bennett91 2 years ago
Bennett91
michaelloftonTrueScotsmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: To me this revolved around the Council of Trent. This event seemed to establish what is true canon or not, Pro's round 3 defining of canon can't be considered valid because it's made in the final round, not to mention liturgy was still varied at the time. Definitions should be in round 1. Back to Trent, Con made the convincing point that Trent defined true canon, before that any interpretation was up for grabs. The Protestant reformation could merely be seen as an extreme sect of Catholicism until it was made officially heretical by Trent (this is not so far fetched given the disagreements with the church already). However, this shows that protestantism was established BEFORE true canon was established, therefore it can't be said that the protestants removed canon because true canon had not yet been established.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 2 years ago
dsjpk5
michaelloftonTrueScotsmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's arguments are based on an irrelevant issue. Regardless if a council is considered infallible, it shows which scriptures were in use at the time of the council. Clearly the evidence showed the Catholic canon was the original Christian canon.