Reply to Hays’ “Catholicism” #25

Reply to Hays’ “Catholicism” #25 June 5, 2023

“Faith in Rome”; “Robber Council” (449); Bishops; “Intimidation Tactics”; 1 Tim 3:15; Catholicism & Non-Believers; Augustine & Aquinas & Evolution; Precursors to Newman’s Development; Fathers & Capital Punishment; Pope Clement of Rome

The late Steve Hays (1959-2020) was a Calvinist (and anti-Catholic) apologist, who was very active on his blog, called Triablogue (now continued by Jason Engwer). His 695-page self-published book, Catholicism a collection of articles from his site — has graciously been made available for free. On 9 September 2006, Hays was quite — almost extraordinarily — charitable towards me. He wrote then:

I don’t think I’ve ever accused him of being a traitor or apostate or infidel. . . . I have nothing to say, one way or the other, regarding his state of grace. But his sincerity is unquestionable. I also don’t dislike him. . . . I don’t think there’s anything malicious about Armstrong—unlike some people who come to mind. In addition, I don’t think I’ve ever said he was unintelligent. For the record, it’s obvious that Armstrong has a quick, nimble mind. 

Two-and-a-half years later, starting in April 2009 and up through December 2011 (in the following quotations) his opinion radically changed, and he claimed that I have “an evil character,” am “actually evil,” “ego-maniac, narcissist,” “idolater,” “self-idolater,” “hack who pretends to be a professional apologist,” given to “chicanery,” one who doesn’t “do any real research,” “a stalwart enemy of the faith . . .  no better than [the atheists] Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens,” with an intent to “destroy faith in God’s word,” “schizophrenic,” “emotionally unhinged,” one who “doesn’t trust in the merit of Christ alone for salvation,” “has no peace of mind,” “a bipolar solipsist,” “split-personality,” and a “bad” man. He wasn’t one to mince words! See more gory details.

I feel no need whatsoever to reciprocate these silly and sinful insults. I just wanted the record to be known. I’ve always maintained that Hays was a very intelligent man, but habitually a sophist in methodology; sincere and well-meaning, but tragically and systematically wrong and misguided regarding Catholicism. That’s what I’m addressing, not the state of his heart and soul (let alone his eternal destiny). It’s a theological discussion. This is one of many planned critiques of his book (see my reasons why I decided to do this). Rather than list them all here, interested readers are directed to the “Steve Hays” section of my Anti-Catholicism web page, where they will all be listed. My Bible citations are from the RSV. Steve’s words will be in blue.


[Chapter 9: Magisterium]

How ecumenical are “ecumenical councils”?

So what’s the basis for your confidence in the authority of Rome? [p. 496]

The Bible; Church history; the non-contradictoriness and utter uniqueness of Catholic history and claims.

Is it just an act of blind faith? A leap into the dark? [p. 496]

No. See my previous answer.

Is your faith in the Roman church independent of how you interpret the documentary evidence? [p. 496]

Ultimately yes, because faith and reason distinct things; though harmonious.

Put another way, is your faith in Rome conditional or unconditional? [p. 496]

I would say unconditional (based on the massive evidence already seen), short of a massive and compelling disproof. Paul rhetorically alluded to a hypothetical disproof of Christianity:

1 Corinthians 15:16-20 . . . if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. [17] If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. [18] Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. [19] If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. [20] But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, . . .

There might conceivably be some similar compelling disproof of Catholicism, in which case I would seriously reconsider my allegiance (just as I was willing to move from evangelicalism to Catholicism, and before that, from virtual paganism and practical atheism to evangelicalism. It’s the duty of both honesty and being open-minded. That said, I have not come within a billion miles of any such thing in my 32+ years as a Catholic.

You say your study “increases your confidence” in Rome. [p. 496]

That’s been my constant experience for 32 years. Every book and article I write increases my confidence; particularly when I observe how weak and insufficient the opposing argument are (like Steve’s book!).

Does that mean you began by entrusting himself to the church of Rome apart from study? [p. 496]

I certainly didn’t. I devoted an entire year (1990) to intense comparative study of evangelicalism and Catholicism. Then I followed the path that I sincerely believed to be the fullness of Christian truth.

Do you think the authority of the Roman church provides a level of certainty lacking in your private judgment? [p. 496]

Of course. That’s where faith comes in, and God must provide the grace for that. Religion and spirituality and theology are not philosophy (though certain forms of the latter are harmonious with them). Hays, in his hyper-rationalism, often acted as if they were equivalent, as if faith had little to do with it (quite odd for an adherent of “faith alone” isn’t it?). And this present line of socratic (but sophistical) reasoning is an example of his constant erroneous thinking and methodology. That’s why I’m replying to it, to expose its intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy.

But isn’t your identification of Rome as the one true church based on your study? [p. 496]

Initially yes, but not wholly. Reason is consulted and then the thinker determines whether the claims of the Catholic Church are consistent with it, and worthy to be adhered to with faith, led by God’s grace (discernment, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and so forth). All Christians must seek to harmonize and understand the relationship of faith and reason. But doing that doesn’t wipe out faith. It’s always central to the religious quest.

When you treat your personal study as uncertain, how can you then pretend that Rome affords certainty? [p. 496]

It’s not pretense; it’s a rational faith based on reason, by the best determination we can make, using the lights that God gives us. One decides what is worthy to be an object of faith. It can’t be contrary to reason, because that would make it untrue before faith even comes into the picture. Catholics have faith enough to believe that God is able to preserve an infallible Church as well as an infallible Bible. Protestants (here’s the sad thing) lack that level of faith. They think, seemingly, that God is either unwilling or unable to provide the desperately needed certainty that a strong teaching Church provides; that God supposedly wants Christians to be flailing around in the dark and believing contradictory things, where one or both parties must be wrong. He hasn’t revealed Himself to be that way, in His revelation, the Bible, which we all revere.

How can the conclusion be more certain than the source of the conclusion? . . . The conclusion can’t rise higher than the process
of reasoning that underwrites the conclusion. [p. 496]

It can because it’s faith: a supernatural thing enabled by God’s grace. Faith always involves a “leap” that goes beyond reason, just as Jesus told Doubting Thomas after He appeared, in His mercy, because of his weakness of faith: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). All of this can, of course, be turned around. How is the Protestant absolutely assured that he was justified and saved once and for all at one moment in time? It involves faith, of course; all the same questions could be asked right back. Even John Calvin conceded that such faith was, in the final analysis, subjective, and that one couldn’t be absolutely certain that they were among the elect, or whether anyone else was. Calvin wrote:

The election of God is hidden and secret in itself . . . men are being fantastic or fanatical if they look for their salvation or for the salvation of others in the labyrinth of predestination . . . (Commentary on John 6:40; in Francis Wendel, Calvin: Origins and Development of His Religious Thought, translated by Philip Mairet, New York: Harper & Row, 1963, 270)

[W]e are not bidden to distinguish between reprobate and elect – that is for God alone, not for us, to do . . . (Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV. 1. 3.)

What are his criteria for distinguishing an ecumenical council from a local council or robber council? There are no unanimous criteria. [p. 497]

It has to have representatives from far and wide, it must be presided over by a pope or his legate(s), and it must be orthodox, in terms of what had always been passed down by the apostles in the deposit of faith. Hays mentions the “robber council.” This occurred in Ephesus in 449, and attempted to establish the heresy of Monophysitism (Christ has one nature) as orthodox. Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox alike all reject Monophysitism as Christological heresy; so clearly this pseudo-council that promulgated it was neither ecumenical nor orthodox, by all subsequent mainstream theological standards. St. John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote about this infamous council:

[In the fifth and sixth centuries] the Monophysites had almost the possession of Egypt, and at times of the whole Eastern Church . . . The divisions at Antioch had thrown the Catholic Church into a remarkable position; there were two Bishops in the See, one in connexion with the East, the other with Egypt and the West with which then was ‘Catholic Communion’? St. Jerome has no doubt on the subject:
Writing to St. [Pope] Damasus, he says,
Since the East tears into pieces the Lord’s coat . . . therefore by me is the chair of Peter to be consulted, and that faith which is praised by the Apostle’s mouth . . . From the Priest I ask the salvation of the victim, from the Shepherd the protection of the sheep . . . I court not the Roman height: I speak with the successor of the Fisherman and the disciple of the Cross. I, who follow none as my chief but Christ, am associated in communion with thy blessedness, that is, with the See of Peter. On that rock the Church is built, I know. [Epistle 15] . . .
Eutyches [a Monophysite] was supported by the Imperial Court, and by Dioscorus the Patriarch of Alexandria . . . A general Council was summoned for the ensuing summer at Ephesus [in 449] . . . It was attended by sixty metropolitans, ten from each of the great divisions of the East; the whole number of bishops assembled amounted to one hundred and thirty-five . . . St. Leo [the Great, Pope], dissatisfied with the measure altogether, nevertheless sent his legates, but with the object . . . of ‘condemning the heresy, and reinstating Eutyches if he retracted’ . . .
The proceedings which followed were of so violent a character, that the Council has gone down to posterity under the name of the Latrocinium or ‘Gang of Robbers.’ Eutyches was honourably acquitted, and his doctrine received . . . which seems to have been the spontaneous act of the assembled Fathers. The proceedings ended by Dioscorus excommunicating the Pope, and the Emperor issuing an edict in approval of the decision of the Council . . .
The Council seems to have been unanimous, with the exception of the Pope’s legates, in the restoration of Eutyches; a more complete decision can hardly be imagined. . . .
[W]hen we look through the names subscribed to the Synodal decision, we find that the misbelief, or misapprehension, or weakness, to which this great offence must be attributed, was no local phenomenon, but the unanimous sin of Bishops in every patriarchate and of every school of the East. Three out of the four patriarchs were in favour of the heresiarch, the fourth being on his trial. Of these Domnus of Antioch and Juvenal of Jerusalem acquitted him, on the ground of his confessing the faith of Nicaea and Ephesus . . . Dioscorus . . . was on this occasion supported by those Churches which had so nobly stood by their patriarch Athanasius in the great Arian conflict. These three Patriarchs were supported by the Exarchs of Ephesus and Caesarea in Cappadocia; and both of these as well as Domnus and Juvenal, were supported in turn by their subordinate Metropolitans. Even the Sees under the influence of Constantinople, which was the remaining sixth division of the East, took part with Eutyches . . .
Such was the state of Eastern Christendom in the year 449; a heresy, appealing to the Fathers, to the Creed, and, above all, to Scripture, was by a general Council, professing to be Ecumenical, received as true in the person of its promulgator. If the East could determine a matter of faith independently of the West, certainly the Monophysite heresy was established as Apostolic truth in all its provinces from Macedonia to Egypt . . . (An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 6th ed., 1878, Univ. of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1989, 251, 274, 282-3, 285-6, 299-300, 305-6, 319-20, 322, 312)

I’m not answerable to Catholic bishops. That’s not the divine standard of judgment. I’m answerable to God via biblical revelation. [p. 498]

That revelation takes for granted that there is such a thing as a bishop, and that he has authority. In fact, Protestants often make anti-Peter arguments about the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) by arguing that James, bishop of Jerusalem, presided. That’s episcopal authority. If he did preside (or if Peter did) — either way — an authoritative, infallible decree, guided by the Holy Spirit (as the text says) was made, that bound Christians in Asia Minor, many hundreds of miles away, since we know that Paul declared the council’s decision for observance (Acts 16:4).

So bishops are undeniably biblical. Paul casually mentions “the office of bishop” (1 Tim 3:1; cf. 3:2; Phil 1:1; Titus 1:7). Now, of course, one may wish to argue that Catholic bishops aren’t legitimately so, but then there must be plausible alternatives and solid arguments ruling out the Catholic bishops. Hays — the typical “lone ranger”-type low church Protestant –, had no bishop himself; and so he was plainly being unbiblical. That being the case, he had to play games and rationalize his unbiblical stance, by trying to wrongly pit the Bible against the episcopacy by saying “I’m answerable to God”: as if he was answerable to no man. But this is radically unbiblical and ahistorical as well. It’s completely arbitrary and unworthy of theological allegiance, since it is unattached from biblical teaching.

When people can’t win the argument through rational persuasion, they resort to intimidation tactics. [p. 499]

Yes; I’m well familiar with that from my personal experience with Hays himself (see what he said about me, trying to — unsuccessfully – shut me up and persuade everyone to think I was an unhinged and “evil” raving lunatic, in the introduction above). Then shortly after that, I was banned from his blog, Triablogue, as I have been ever since (2010 or so). Does that suggest that Hays or his followers over there are confident that they can “win the argument through rational persuasion” with me? But here I am, in my 25th critique of his book and many more to go. He almost certainly wouldn’t have replied to me if he were alive (judging by his almost universal behavior), and his followers like Jason Engwer and James Swan won’t do so now. None of this is mentioned in their impenetrable “bubble” over there. If a good friend of mine had died, and someone of a different theological persuasion was offering 25+ critiques of his book, I would be right there defending him. I would even welcome the opportunity.

Conversely, Protestants like me consider the input of many other Christians when we read commentaries, theologians, &c. [p. 499]

Right. Well, he wasn’t considering Catholic Christians, since he is on record regarding Catholicism as a “counterfeit religion” and “parody of the Christian faith” (p. 19; cf. pp. 20; 188-189).

Quest for the pot of gold at the end of the Roman rainbow

I’d say Nicene Christology is actually lower than NT Christology. We could get into that, if you wish. [p. 502]

I would love to! What a conversation that would be (development being my favorite theological topic)! This shows how radically ahistorical Hays was. He seems to have hardly ever met a consistent doctrinal development that he liked. But the man has passed on and it would have been exceedingly unlikely that he would ever have been willing to have such a discussion with me, anyway, since I was of an “evil character,” etc., in his opinion. That sort of ruins dialogue from the outset.

How is that worse than one man (the pope) determining the canon of Scripture for everyone, if that one man is actually fallible? [p. 502]

Technically, it wasn’t Pope Innocent I who did so on his own. He merely recognized the achieved consensus. It was two local councils that determined it: in Carthage and Hippo in the late 5th century, and they were dominated by St. Augustine’s thinking. So, if anyone, Augustine was the key figure; and Protestants love him. Protestants, in effect, regard St. Jerome as de facto infallible concerning the canon, since he disliked the deuterocanon; and they do the same with Athanasius, who first named all 27 NT books in AD 367. So we can be spared the bellyaching about Pope Innocent I, as if he came up with the canon down from heaven and out of the blue, like Mormon founder Joseph Smith and his silly plates, supposedly found on a New York hill.

1 Tim 3:15 . . . doesn’t say anything about the church’s authority or prerogatives. You imported those categories into your prooftext. [p. 502]

Really? I already refuted Hays on that score: 1 Timothy 3:15 = Church Infallibility [5-14-20].

But, of course, Paul didn’t say anything about the pope or papacy or a episcopal council in 1 Tim 3:15. [p. 503]

There was no intrinsic necessity for him to do so (not everything can or should always be mentioned in any given passage of Scripture; DUH!), but if we’re gonna play that game, he also didn’t say a word about Scripture, either, in a passage in which he refers to something (guess what?!) being “the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

Moreover, Paul doesn’t say the church is the source of truth. And he doesn’t say the church has the authority or prerogative to determine the truth. Rather, the church is tasked with the responsibility of upholding the truth. [p. 503]

That’s right. But it doesn’t get Hays off the hook. He didn’t ponder the passages deeply enough. One can’t uphold the truth with untruth. As I wrote in my book about sola Scriptura:

Pillars and foundations support things and prevent them from collapsing. To be a “bulwark” of the truth, means to be a “safety net” against truth turning into falsity. If the Church could err, it could not be what Scripture says it is. God’s truth would be the house built on a foundation of sand in Jesus’ parable. For this passage of Scripture to be true, the Church could not err — it must be infallible. . . .

Jesus is without fault or untruth, and he is the cornerstone of the Church. The Church is also more than once even identified with Jesus himself, by being called his “Body” (Acts 9:5 cf. with 22:4 and 26:11; 1 Cor 12:27; Eph 1:22-23; 4:12; 5:23, 30; Col 1:24). That the Church is so intimately connected with Jesus, who is infallible, is itself a strong argument that the Church is also infallible and without error. . . .

Knowing what truth is, how can its own foundation or pillar be something less than total truth (since truth itself contains no falsehoods, untruths, lies, or errors)? It cannot. It is impossible. It is a straightforward matter of logic and plain observation. A stream cannot rise above its source. What is built upon a foundation cannot be greater than the foundation. If it were, the whole structure would collapse.

If an elephant stood on the shoulders of a man as its foundation, that foundation would collapse. The base of a skyscraper has to hold the weight above it. The foundations of a suspension bridge over a river have to be strong enough to support that bridge.

Therefore, we must conclude that if the Church is the foundation of truth, the Church must be infallible, since truth is infallible, and the foundation cannot be lesser than that which is built upon it. And since there is another infallible authorityapart from Scripture, sola scriptura must be false.

By the way, the church fathers themselves were often members of the upper class. . . . So it’s not surprising that they view ecclesiology in autocratic terms. [p. 504]

Was the Jerusalem council “autocratic”? That was led by St. Peter, who was a fisherman; hardly an aristocratic background.

The people calling the shots in Acts 15 are apostles, plus a stepbrother of Jesus. [p. 505]

This is incorrect. It’s stated six times that the council was comprised of “the apostles and the elders” (15:2, 4, 6, 22-23; 16:4): which is yet another proof of apostolic succession, insofar as apostles and elders were working jointly and coming up with a decree that was agreed-to by the Holy Spirit. That strongly implies that elders / bishops were carry on as successors of the apostles after the era of the latter ended.

There wasn’t such a thing as Roman Catholics who believed what Vatican II says about non-Christian religions in Nostra Aetate until the mid-20C. [p. 505]

Really? Jesus (though not a Christian) said in the early 1st century about (as far as we know) a pagan Roman centurion: I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith” (Lk 7:9). Fr. Alfredo M. Morselli wrote:

I call up here a distinction by St. Thomas [Aquinas]: a) “Unbelief by way of pure negation” (infidelitas secundum negationem puram) in case a man may “be called an unbeliever merely because he has not the faith” “in those who have heard nothing about the faith”; this Unbelief is not a sin -and b) “Unbelief by way of opposition to the faith” (infidelitas secundum contrarietatem ad fidem) when “a man refuses to hear the faith” (S.Th II II, 10,1 c); this Unbelief is a sin.

The fact that “unbelief by way of pure negation” is not a sin, is not only a Thomist concept, but it’s also a verity of faith: St. Pius V [r. 1566-1572] condemned the proposition “Infidelitas pure negativa in his quibus Christus non est predicatus peccatum est” (D +1068) (= Purely negative unbelief, in those whom Christ was not preached to, is a sin). . . .

In fact St. Thomas teaches that “Nobody would believe if he doesn’t see he must believe” (non enim crederet nisi videret ea esse credenda – S.Th., II II, q. 1, a. 4 ad 2). Only God knows the degree of innocence or culpability in the heart of unbelievers. . . .

According to St. Thomas, the exercise of religion by an unbeliever may be a sort of natural preparation to receive grace: In IV Sent., II, d. 28 q. 1, a. 4 ad 4:

It’s possible, by natural reason, getting ready to have faith… If anyone, among pagan people, does as much he can (quod in se est faciat), God will reveal to him what is necessary for salvation, or by an inspiration that he will give him or by a savant whom He will send to him. (Ecumenical Gatherings at Assisi: A Defense; see much more related material in this article)

Moral of the story: when Steve Hays lectures about what Catholics through the centuries have believed or supposedly would not believe, don’t listen to him. He nearly always hadn’t prepared or researched the topic enough to be credible as any sort of self-proclaimed “expert.”

There wasn’t such a thing as Roman Catholic theistic evolutionists until Darwin. [p. 505]

Technically incorrect. There were thinkers who believed in some sort of biological process of creation, directed by God (as opposed to instant special creation all at once). One was St. Augustine, as John F. McCarthy noted:

This theory of primordial packages of forms later to emerge (often referred to by commentators as “seminal reasons”) is certainly developmental, but does not correspond with Darwinian evolution. Essential to Augustine’s theory is the idea that the order later to emerge was instilled by God in the beginning. Augustine also requires subsequent interventions by God to “plant” the forms whose “numbers” had already been instilled. Thus, as St. Thomas [Aquinas] points out, the ability of the earth to produce living forms was visualized by Augustine as a passive potency which disposed the matter to receive the forms but did not create the forms themselves. Augustine’s theory of primordial packages deserves more ample meditation and analysis in another place, especially with reference to theories of the development of living things, . . . Genesis 1:6-8 witnesses in several ways to the creative action of God. As the divine Fashioner of the universe, God guided the energies that He had invested in the primal matter by his creative intervention on the first day to bring the cosmos to its structured state. This is the unfolding of the active potency contained in St. Augustine’s “primordial packages.” But there is also implied in these verses an upward progress in the order of inorganic being which seems to have required additional creative divine interventions. (A Neo-Patristic Return to the First Four Days of Creation, Part IV; see also Parts OneTwoThreeFive, and Six; see also, ”How Augustine Reined in Science,” Kenneth J. Howell [This Rock, March 1998]; Davis A. Young, ”The Contemporary Relevance of Augustine’s View of Creation,” and Andrew J. Brown, ”The Relevance of Augustine’s View of Creation Re-Evaluated” [PDF] )

St. Thomas Aquinas also held to some extent to natural biological creative process guided by God in the 13th century, in a way remarkably similar to evolution:

In the first creation of things, however, the active principle was the Word of God, producing animals from elemental matter, either in act, according to some Fathers [e.g., Basil and Ambrose], or in potency (virtute) according to St. Augustine. Not that water or earth has in itself the power of producing all the animals, as Avicenna proposed, but the fact that animals can be produced from elemental matter by the power of seed or of the stars comes from the power originally given to the elements. (S. Th., I, q. 71, art. 1, ad 1.; see secondary source), and Part V and Part VI of McCarthy’s series, cited above, for more on St. Thomas Aquinas’ views)

Needless to say, we wouldn’t expect Hays, who was a young earth creationist, who believed that the earth was 6-10,000 years old (as I documented in my first reply), to have known this, nor to even care to do any research on it at all. And so — in his ignorance and bias — he once again lied about whether Catholics believed anything approximating biological evolution before Darwin.

There wasn’t such a thing as Catholics who redefined tradition as development until Newman. [p. 505]

Absolute horse manure! It’s not “redefining” tradition in the first place. It’s an interpretation of how tradition consistently proceeds through time. St. Augustine and especially St. Vincent Lerins were writing about it in the fifth century. St. Vincent was quite explicit in his Commonitorium, which was Newman’s starting-point when he was thinking through his theory of development.

Not only that, Hays is also ignorant regarding the immediate historical precursors of Newman, such as Johann Adam Möhler (1796-1838), the German priest and Church historian, who was writing vigorously and influentially about development of doctrine in his work, The Unity in the Church, or the Principle of Catholicism, Presented in the Spirit of the Church Fathers of the First Three Centuries, published in 1825, twenty years before Newman’s famous Essay. Entire books have been written about his theory of development.

And he didn’t have any clue that St. Thomas Aquinas — following Augustine, as he often did — also embraced development of doctrine in the 13th century. See: “Newman, Aquinas, and the Development of Doctrine,” by Joshua Madden, 30 June 2021.

There wasn’t such a thing as . . . Catholic opponents of capital punishment until the late 20C. [p. 505]

Wrong again (do we detect a pattern here?). Catholic apologist Mike Aquilina stated:

The great Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries — Ambrose, Chrysostom, Augustine — recognized the right of the state to execute criminals, but urged rulers not to exercise that right. St. Ambrose told a Christian judge named Studius: “You will be excused if you do it, but you will be admired if you refrain when you might have done it” (“Letter,” 50).

Ambrose’s disciple, St. Augustine, characterized the good Christian ruler as “slow to punish, but ready to pardon” (“City of God,” 5.24). He justified capital punishment when there was “no other established method of restraining the hostility of the desperate.” Then, he said, “perhaps extreme necessity would demand the killing of such people” (“Letter,” 134).

Augustine recognized the state’s right to wield the sword, but he hoped that lethal use would be extremely rare. “As violence is used toward him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due to the vanquished or the captive, especially in the case in which future troubling of the peace is not to be feared” (“Letter,” 189).

The later Fathers synthesized the various testimonies of their predecessors and concluded that mercy should predominate among Christian peoples, and life should be spared in all but the rarest cases. In this they speak with the same voice as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, St. John Paul II (Evangelium Vitae, 56) and indeed all the recent popes, the bishops of the United States and all the bishops’ conferences that have issued statements on the subject.

In this matter as in most matters, we see consistency between the earliest Fathers and our current leaders and teachers — and greater clarity with the passage of time. (“The early Church and the death penalty,” 22 September 2016)

Clement wasn’t a pope. [p. 510]

St. Clement I, byname Clement of Rome, . . . fourth pope from 88 to 97 or from 92 to 101, . . . Eusebius of Caesarea dates his pontificate from 92 to 101, following that of St. Anacletus. He was succeeded by St. Evaristus. (Encyclopaedia Britannica, “St. Clement I”)

The renowned Protestant historian Philip Schaff wrote about Clement of Rome:

See my related papers:

Pope St. Clement of Rome & Papal Authority [7-28-21]

Is First Clement Non-Papal? (vs. Jason Engwer) [4-19-22]


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Summary: The late Steve Hays was a Calvinist and anti-Catholic writer and apologist. This is one of my many critiques of Hays’ “Catholicism”: a 695-page self-published volume.

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