Thursday, June 29, 2006

Did St. Paul & Other Biblical Writers Always Necessarily Know That What They Were Writing Was Inspired Scripture? / NT Prophets (vs. Ken Temple)

This is from a discussion on my blog (starting here). Ken Temple is a Baptist and frequent enthusiastic contributor in my blog discussion threads. His words will be in blue. When Ken cites my words back, they will be in purple.

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John (blog contributor): "When Paul talked about scripture, I doubt he included his own writings . . . "

Ken: I absolutely [my emphasis] refute that:

I Corinthians 14:37:

"If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command."

We went through this in our recent debate. This is more of your wishful eisegesis. It doesn't prove that he thought that this particular letter was Scripture. Of course it was, but this doesn't prove that it was Paul's understanding at the time; nor is it necessary that he know that in order for it to be inspired; nor that this sort of thing be present in the writing to "prove" that it is Scripture for later readers.

Context and Scripture cross-referencing mitigate against you. "A command of the Lord" need not be Scripture itself, just as the prophets surely gave many "command of the Lord" which were not recorded in Scripture or anywhere else. In other words, the category of "Lord's commands" is much larger than such commands as have been recorded in Holy Scripture.

Paul mentions a "prophet." But previously in the same chapter he taught about prophesying (14:1,3-5,22,24,29,31-32,39; cf. 12:10,28-29). Paul is by no means the only "prophet" here. Note the implication (in light of context) in 14:6 that anyone who prophesies might "bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching."

Those who prophesy in church may bring a revelation? Try that out in your Baptist service sometime, Ken. Paul is even more clear, referring to "a revelation . . . made to another sitting by" in 14:30). Such "revelation" would be a "command of the Lord" just as much as Paul's letter in which this writing was recorded, since "God's commands" is also a category larger than Scripture itself. You or I could be commanded by an angel this very day if God so willed.

Moreover, four verses later, Paul goes right back to oral proclamation: "I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast - unless you believed in vain." (1 Cor 15:1-2)

Oops! Paul must have flunked Calvinism 0101, Eternal Security 0101, and Sola Scriptura 0101 classes in seminary. Let me correct his teaching here with the RFBV (Revised Fundamentalist Baptist Version):
I presented to you the gospel in this letter which is Scripture, which you received, in which you stand, by which you were saved; therefore you will hold it fast - unless you believed in vain.
Paul goes on to recount how he "delivered" the gospel to the Corinthians (orally), in 15:3-6. Later (15:29) he discusses folks "being baptized on behalf of the dead" - the most difficult verse in the NT for Protestants to interpret.

I Timothy 5:18 - he calls the Law and the Gospel (the phrase is in both Luke and Matthew) as "Scripture".

How is that relevant to the question of whether Paul knew that his own letters were inspired, as he wrote them?

All of these were considered the word of God, and he does not have to say, "What I am writing to you now is also Scripture"; as it was understood by the way he writes with authority, being an apostle, giving commands, teaching about the word of God and that the Holy Spirit is speaking, etc. "These things we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words." I Cor. 2:13.

This is very good, and you understand this better than many Protestants, who adopt a radical solo Scriptura position. My main point was to say that Paul may not have necessarily known he was writing Scripture, and that your "prooftext" of 1 Cor 14:37 did not establish that he did. Secondly, one didn't have to even be an apostle to pass along the "word of God." They merely had to be a prophet, or to prophesy; and Paul seemed to think that many would do so and that it would be a routine occurrence.

What's interesting here is how that squares with present-day Christianity, where such prophesying is a rare occurrence, in all the major Christian traditions. Even the pope doesn't claim such a gift, but rather, the far lesser gift of infallibility. So this becomes yet another indirect argument for the biblical plausibility or at least (for the more skeptically-minded) permissibility of papal infallibility, since both inspiration of sinful men and prophesying of sinful men occurred and were instruments through which a sure word of divine prophecy or revelation were received; why, not, then, also the far inferior gift of protection from doctrinal error, so that Christians could be certain of doctrinal truths?

*** CLICK ON "Tolle, lege!" immediately below to finish this article ***


We went through this in our recent debate. This is more of your wishful eisegesis.

I disagree and I don’t think I am eis-o-getting, or "reading into" the text. Paul says "what I am writing" "is the Lord’s command".

This remains to be seen, as the dialogue continues. By the way, the word eisegesis is just as I have spelled it, with the "e" in the middle, not an "o" (though I don't know if you were being tongue-in-cheek here or not). See, for example, the Theological Terminology Dictionary, which defines the word as following: "A methodology of textual study in which a meaning is assigned or 'read into' a passage of text." Exegesis, on the other hand, is defined as: "A methodology of textual study in which the meaning of a passage is explained from within the passage itself. To analyze and interpret a passage by what it says." Exegesis is what all Bible students should strive to do.

It doesn't prove that he thought that this particular letter was Scripture. Of course it was, but this doesn't prove that it was Paul's understanding at the time; nor is it necessary that he know that in order for it to be inspired; nor that this sort of thing be present in the writing to "prove" that it is Scripture for later readers.

Just because there are also other prophetic gifts, oral teachings, revelations, God inspired traditions at the time ( I Cor. 11:2, 2 Thess. 2:15, 3:6, etc.) does not speak against I Corinthians 14:37 or the whole book as Scripture.

I didn't say it did. What I argued was that the "prooftext" you produced to show that Paul understood his letters to be Scripture was insufficient for its purpose. The other stuff about prophets and prophesying had to do with a related issue: that inspired utterances are a larger phenomena than just Holy Scripture. So any Pauline reference to "inspiration" need not necessarily and always refer to Scripture. And even if he explicitly claimed inspiration for some piece of his writing, that still wouldn't prove that he thought it was Scripture, as opposed to a sure word from an apostle or a prophecy (though it is obviously consistent with such a notion).

It seems that Paul did know he was writing Scripture, putting both context and cross-referencing together, as will be fleshed out more through as we go along. No, it is not eisogesis.

I maintain that it is, but it is important to note that this is not a tremendously important issue, and reasonable men can differ. I'm not even definitely asserting the contrary. My position here is more of an agnostic one: "you have not proven what you assert by the 'proofs' you adduce."

Context and Scripture cross-referencing mitigate against you.

I disagree, as demonstrated more as we go along.

"A command of the Lord" need not be Scripture itself, just as the prophets surely gave many "command of the Lord" which were not recorded in Scripture or anywhere else.

Yes, Sola Scriptura does not deny this, but just because they were not all written down (at that time and place), does not prove that the writings we do have were not understood at the time as Scripture.

You're missing the point. You used 1 Corinthians 14:37 and Paul's reference to "the Lord's command" in reference to his message as (absolute) "proof" that Paul understood this writing as Scripture. I argued that this phrase can apply to non-Scripture, and you presently agree. Therefore, how can you prove that Paul didn't mean this other sense in this instance, or prove that he definitely meant "biblical inspiration"? I respectfully submit that you cannot do so; therefore, I conclude that you have inadequate information in that verse to substantiate your claim. And context (as I have shown) at the very least suggests that he may have had either apostolic authority or inspired prophecy (not necessarily Scripture or inscripturated) in mind.

I agree with what John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote:
20. If there be at once a divine and a human mind co-operating in the formation of the sacred text, it is not surprising if there often be a double sense in that text, and, with obvious exceptions, never certain that there is not.

Thus Sara had her human and literal meaning in her words, 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son,' &c.; but we know from St. Paul that those words were inspired by the Holy Ghost to convey a spiritual meaning. Abraham, too, on the Mount, when his son asked him whence was to come the victim for the sacrifice which his father was about to offer, answered 'God will provide;' and he showed his own sense of his words afterwards, when he took the ram which was caught in the briers, and offered it as a holocaust. Yet those words were a solemn prophecy.

And is it extravagant to say, that, even in the case of men who have no pretension to be prophets on servants of God, He may by their means give us great maxims and lessons, which the speakers little thought they were delivering? as in the case of the Architriclinus in the marriage feast, who spoke of the bridegroom as having kept the good wine until now;' words which it was needless for St. John to record, unless they had a mystical meaning.

Such instances raise the question whether the Scripture saints and prophets always understood the higher and divine sense of their words. As to Abraham, this will be answered in the affirmative; but I do not see reason for thinking that Sara was equally favoured. Nor is her case solitary; Caiphas, as high priest, spoke a divine truth by virtue of his office, little thinking of it, when he said that 'one man must die for the people;' and St. Peter at Joppa at first did not see beyond a literal sense in his vision, though he knew that there was a higher sense, which in God's good time would be revealed to him.

And hence there is no difficulty in supposing that the Prophet Osee, though inspired, only knew his own literal sense of the words which he transmitted to posterity, 'I have called my Son out of Egypt,' the further prophetic meaning of them being declared by St. Matthew in his gospel. And such a divine sense would be both concurrent with and confirmed by that antecedent belief which prevailed among the Jews in St. Matthew's time, that their sacred books were in great measure typical, with an evangelical bearing, though as yet they might not know what those books contained in prospect.

21. Nor is it de fide (for that alone with a view to Catholic Biblicists I am considering) that inspired men, at the time when they speak from inspiration, should always know that the Divine Spirit is visiting them.

The Psalms are inspired; but, when David, in the outpouring of his deep contrition, disburdened himself before his God in the words of the Miserere, [Psalm 51] could he, possibly, while uttering them, have been directly conscious that every word he uttered was not simply his, but another's? Did he not think that he was personally asking forgiveness and spiritual help?

Doubt again seems incompatible with a consciousness of being inspired. But Father Patrizi, while reconciling two Evangelists in a passage of their narratives, says, if I understand him rightly (ii. p. 405), that though we admit that there were some things about which inspired writers doubted, this does not imply that inspiration allowed them to state what is doubtful as certain, but only it did not hinder them from stating things with a doubt on their minds about them; but how can the All-knowing Spirit doubt? or how can an inspired man doubt, if he is conscious of his inspiration?

(On the Inspiration of Scripture, 1884; bolding added)
So Cardinal Newman agrees with the general principle I am defending as likely ("that inspired men, at the time when they speak from inspiration, should always know that the Divine Spirit is visiting them"). But later in the same section 21 he casually assumes that Paul was aware of his own inspiration in 1 Cor 2:4 and 7:40. It is not clear if he would equate this with writing Scripture, but it could very well be. That doesn't harm my point of view at all, since he agreed with my general principle (as seen in my precise title for this dialogue). I am not dogmatic about applying it across the board in all Pauline or other biblical passages, etc. Don't assume too much about what I am arguing.

The content of the prophecies may be the content of Romans, Galatians, and even Revelation, which the Corinthians probably did not have.

Why must they be restricted to biblical texts (or likely to be same, as you appear to imply)? A prophecy stands on its own as an inspired utterance. Certainly the OT prophets spoke tons and tons of prophecies which didn't end up being recorded. The same would be true of John the Baptist (the last prophet, as it were: Mt 11:13). But these were no less authoritative, if indeed they were true prophecies, because they were equally inspired by God, by definition.

The certainly did not have the book of Revelation, so the oral teachings in all the churches was most probably the content of other letters (and the gospels, that he didn’t write) that Paul wrote.

This is a fallacy, which doesn't follow, from logic, common sense, or biblical teaching. Nowhere does the Bible say that every prophecy is simply a citation of known biblical books, or that the oft-referenced oral preaching is restricted to NT (and OT) writings.

In other words, the category of "Lord's commands" is much larger than such commands as have been recorded in Holy Scripture.

This is true, but it does not refute my point. We don't know what any of them are and there is no evidence of any of those things that were spoken orally, were the word of God, and not written down. We can only guess.

Guess??!! Paul, in the very same chapter (1 Cor 14) repeatedly teaches about prophecy (prophesying). What is there to guess about? Obviously, if there was any significant amount of prophecy given, only an extremely small portion of it made it into the NT, if at all, because the NT is a pretty small book: about as long as an average-sized novel. So there was tons of oral messages by apostles and prophets and evangelists which would have been inspired, but ultimately non-biblical, just as was the case with our Lord Jesus. The NT refers several times to non-recorded speeches or acts of Jesus (Mk 4:33, 6:34, Lk 24:15-16,25-27, Jn 20:30, 21:25, Acts 1:2-3). It's the most elementary common sense.

Prophecy was rather common in NT or apostolic times (Acts 2:18). The Ephesians did it (Acts 19:6), as did the daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9), and the Corinthians (aforementioned passages and 1 Cor 11:4-5). There were even prophets (in terms of a calling or office), in addition to folks who prophesied on occasion. Prophets were listed in lists of ministries (1 Cor 12:28-29, Eph 4:11), and work with teachers, as in Antioch (Acts 13:1). They both proclaimed and predicted (see, e.g., Agabus: Acts 11:28, 21:10-11). Prophets exhort believers (Acts 15:32) and provide edification (1 Cor 14:3). Prophecy is described as revelation (1 Cor 14:30) and as connected with the Holy Spirit (plausible implication of 1 Thess 5:19-20). Prophets were subject to the norm of NT or apostolic tradition (1 Cor 14:29,37-38), just as the OT prophets had to be in conformity with the Law of Moses.

The Protestant assumes that they were various pieces of other important content in other letters of the rule of faith and doctrine and exhortations that are now contained in the other written letters.

This is a huge, non-necessary, and non-biblical assumption.

If the Corinthians did not have Romans or Galatians yet, we assume that Paul and other apostles, teachers, and prophets would be orally teaching those things, until all the churches got all the letters, gospels, acts, Revelation, etc.

The gospel message is not confined to the text of the NT. It cold be expressed in many different ways. We see, e.g., how St. Paul ingeniously crafted his message at Mars Hill in Athens, to effectively reach the philosophically-inclined Greeks. We know that this was his habitual method ("I have become all things to all men, that I may by any means save some of them").

The RCC assumes that it may be that also, but it also assumes much more, such as teachings on Mary, and the Pope and transubstantiation, etc., but that those "oral traditions" did not come out in writings (Early church fathers, councils, traditions, etc.) until centuries later.

They were already all there in kernel form; they merely had to be developed. There was also oral tradition which was around at the same time, and passed down.

For example, the first known statement that says that Mary was pure and undefiled was by Ephraem of Syria. (Died in 373, according to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia) "For in You, O Lord, there is no mark; neither is there any stain in your Mother". (Ephraem the Syrian, Camina Nisibena 27, 8.).

Not quite. It is already taught in the Bible itself, in Luke 1:28, since to be "full of grace" (a quite-permissible literal rendering of kecharitomene) is to be without sin. See my paper: Luke 1:28 (Full of Grace) and the Immaculate Conception: Linguistic and Exegetical Considerations. So when you have biblical revelation, why worry about Church Fathers from the 4th century?

That still does not prove he was actually teaching "immaculate conception", and if he was teaching that, namely sinlessness, it does not make it correct.

That's correct: sinlessness is the doctrinal kernel of the Immaculate Conception, which extends the sinlessness to the matter of original, as well as actual sin. Original sin was slow to develop among the fathers, and they wrote more about purgatory than about that subject. But I don't see Protestants being troubled by the logical implications of that (assuming they even know about it).

There are too many other fathers at his time and before who believed that Mary sinned - Origen, John Chrysostom, Basil, Cyril of Alexandria, and according to J. N. Kelly: Tertullian (On the Flesh of Christ, 7), Ireneaus (Against Heresies, 3, 16, 7) , and Hilary (Tract. In Ps. 118, 3, 2). (ECD, p. 493, 496).

They were wrong (assuming your references really prove that they thought this). Whatever contradicts Scripture must be erroneous.

Of course oral teachings on the gospel and prophetic words are the Lord’s command (from apostles at that time). In order to prove your point, you have to prove that when Paul said, "what I am writing" means "what I am not writing" or "not what I am writing" (which is ridiculous),

It certainly is, but this forms no part of my argument (nor is it required for my case), so it is a moot point.

and the opposite of what he clearly means, namely, "I am writing". It seems it is as if you are saying that Paul is saying: "I am writing something, and it is the Lord’s command, but that doesn't matter, it is not Scripture, even though the word 'scripture' means 'the things written'."

Not at all. I am saying that when Paul refers to his writing being the "Lord's command" he could mean it in the sense of prophecy or apostolic authority; not necessarily that it was Scripture (i.e., a book of the Bible, later recognized as such and canonized). What is so difficult to understand about this? Why does it threaten you so much. This particular discussion doesn't require you to forsake sola Scriptura or biblical inspiration or infallibility. I fully agree with you on the last two questions. Just because Paul may possibly have not always known that he was writing Holy Scripture has no bearing on the doctrines of inspiration or infallibility. Rather, it has to do with the complicated question of the relationship of the biblical authors to divine inspiration and guidance.

Just because oral teachings and traditions are also the word of God at the time, and are yet to be written down, does not mean that at least Paul understood his letters and writings to be Scripture.

This is incoherent. I think you wrote it incorrectly, missing one negative. But I have answered above, anyway, if you mean what I think you mean.

Paul mentions a "prophet."

Yes, so what?

I dealt with this above.

But previously in the same chapter he taught about prophesying (14:1,3-5,22,24,29,31-32,39; cf. 12:10,28-29). Paul is by no means the only "prophet" here. Note the implication (in light of context) in 14:6 that anyone who prophesies might "bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching."

No problem. It does not really directly relate to your argument, as far as I can understand.

I have now explained further how it does, somewhat indirectly.

Those who prophesy in church may bring a revelation? Try that out in your Baptist service sometime, Ken.

What is your purpose here?

To show that a truly biblical view sometimes creates difficulties for some present theologies. ON the other hand, doctrines develop, and we are not required to be exactly like the NT Church in absolutely every way (the Church of Christ futile attempt).

You don't believe in continuing prophesy either, at least prophesy on the level of Scripture, do you? I know you don't.

I think there is such a thing as prophecy (as one of the gifts which Paul mentions), but extremely rare. I agree with you that the canon is closed, and that there is no new revelation. So any prophecy today could not add to that deposit of faith: it can only expand upon it and make it better understood. I hasten to add that I am no expert on current-day prophecy!

There is disagreement today over that the gift of prophesy exactly means, for churches today. Is it "Spirit anointed preaching"? Is it "sanctified insight"? Is it guidance or comfort, or exhortation or edification, warnings? Even doctrinal (not the uniformed popular TV and sensationalistic level, at least until confronted); even doctrinal Charismatics, Pentecostals, and the 3rd Wavers (John Wimber, Wayne Grudem, Jack Deere) all agree that whatever the gift of prophesy entails for today, it does not add to Scripture.

Yes; we Catholics agree.

Now, many charismatics and Penetcostals and 3rd Wavers are sloppy in their applications of the gift of prophesy, and when confronted, they will usually back down and admit that it is not on the same level as Scripture. That is the strongest argument in favor of cessationism (for at least prophetic revelatory gifts that are on the same level of Scripture), it seems to me.

I believe that all the gifts operate today (though clearly less often than in unique apostolic times), and have written about the non-biblical nature of cessationism.

Paul is even more clear, referring to "a revelation . . . made to another sitting by" in 14:30). Such "revelation" would be a "command of the Lord" just as much as Paul's letter in which this writing was recorded, since "God's commands" is also a category larger than Scripture itself. You or I could be commanded by an angel this very day if God so willed.

No problem. All you prove is that there is other revelation, prophesy, teaching, etc. that is going on at the time in oral fashion, and that God’s word was at the time, both oral and written. Sola Scriptura has no problem whatsoever with any of that.

You have to look at my overall argument, in context. You are missing the interconnections that I make.

All of this is the reason why "cessationism" developed, which is the understanding that once the canon of Scripture was written, that is once a book was written whether from AD 49-69 (most, if not all of NT) or 80 (Jude) or 90-96 AD (maybe John, I-3 John, Revelation, but I personally believe that they were all pre-AD 70. (although not necessarily known to all the churches), prophecy and new revelation stopped.

New revelation did, but I see no NT indication that any gift, such as prophecy, would cease thereafter.

That is why Montanism was deemed a aberration and false doctrine. Right?

In part, yes. It was also the excessive rigorism and utopian perfectionism.

By the way, when did the Early church first decide that Monatanism was false and heretical? (I admit I need to study that issue more closely.)

I'd have to look that one up.

Moreover, four verses later, Paul goes right back to oral proclamation: "I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast - unless you believed in vain." (1 Cor 15:1-2)

Oops! Paul must have flunked Calvinism 0101,

This is no way contradicts Calvinism. Those who are saved, also, if their faith was also in the past and real, were saved, and are being saved, and will be saved.

Then why do Calvinists object so strongly to the Catholic notion of salvation as a process, if this is true? I think they talk out of both sides of their mouths too often. They will give lip service to the threefold temporal senses of salvation, yet when a Catholic talks about "working out your salvation" or brings up one of the many other passages about the salvific process, we get accused of being "synergists" or supposed purveyors of "works-salvation."

But if a person no longer believes, he is not saved, and never was saved.

Exactly. This is the conundrum of Calvinists and Eternal Security advocates, that I have pointed out for years (going back to my Protestant days). What this means is that no one can have assurance now that they are eternally saved, because (simply put) we don't know the future. If you should happen to fall into serious, persistent sin five years from now, this will "prove" that you never were saved. If you don't, then presumably you are, or (more accurately) will be, as a likelihood (not a certainty). But the fact remains that one cannot know that with absolute certainty presently, if the chance always remains that they may "fall away" or cease believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and thus prove they never were saved. It's a vicious logical circle (one of many in Protestantism and particularly Calvinism).

The warnings are real warnings; - not to have been saved and then lose real salvation, but they are spoken in such a way so as to have teeth, and not fall into the error of the "easy believe-ism" or a kind of eternal security teaching that says, "you are saved" no matter if you are living in deliberate sin.

We agree that faith and the fruits of sanctification go hand in hand, as a practical matter, however the relationship of sanctification to salvation is viewed.

If someone says "I believe", but later says, "I don’t believe", then that faith was "empty", "in vain", not real faith.

Possibly; possibly not.

Real saving faith perseveres and keeps going.

If someone is truly in God's elect, they will persevere in faith and belief. The trouble is, we don't know for sure who is in this elect camp, so for us there will always be ultimately a lack of knowledge and certainty, even for ourselves. We can have a reasonable moral assurance if we look at ourselves closely and see that we are not in serious sin and rebellion.

Eternal Security 0101,

(see above) Also, some of the best preaching and teaching on this issue is John Piper at www.desiringGod.org, especially his series on Hebrews.

Yes; he is a very good teacher and preacher (within the limitations and errors of Baptist theology).

This is classic Reformation understanding that both preserves God's sovereignty and power to keep us, and also makes the warning real warnings. The typical modern day Baptist teaching on eternal security waters down all the warning to not have any "teeth".

Why is that? Why has bad teaching become "typical"?

and Sola Scriptura 0101 classes in seminary.

How is I Cor. 15:1-2 related to the sola Scriptura argument?

The Gospel was delivered by means of oral preaching, not the written Bible.

As I have shown, it does not teach against oral preaching and teaching and revelation or God-inspired tradition, which later became inscripturated.

Yes, but note that the oral preaching (like any tradition) is only legitimate if it is later inscripturated. This teaching is itself not taught in the Bible; therefore it is a mere tradition of men, inconsistent with sola Scriptura, and yet another evidence of the hopeless incoherence and inconsistency of that rule of faith.

It does say that there is no more of those kind of traditions, that are equal to Scripture or "God's word" in the sense that Paul and others spoke about them, that they are on the level of Scripture – I Cor. 15:1-3 "delivered to you" , I Cor. 11:2, 2 Thess. 2:15, 3:5, Jude 3, 3 John 12.

We all agree that revelation has ceased. It does not follow from that that there is no such thing as a valid Christian tradition or an authoritative, infallible Church.

Let me correct his teaching here with the RFBV (Revised Fundamentalist Baptist Version):

No such thing. (as that version of the Bible)

Thanks for making sure our readers know that. :-) Maybe one day there will be. I would love to add more verses to it. It's so much fun.

"I presented to you the gospel in this letter which is Scripture, which you received, in which you stand, by which you were saved; therefore you will hold it fast - unless you believed in vain."

I understand your sarcasm and pejorativeness and point you are trying to make, but it is not true (that there is such a version, or that even a Fundamentalist would change the text, etc.)

It's called humor Ken. You gotta lighten up a bit. I know you can do it. I've had plenty of laughs with many dear Baptist friends of mine for 25 years. The point, of course, is that (from our perspective), several Protestant teachings are inconsistent with the Bible. You do the exact same thing with us, so it is fun to turn the tables on you: give you a taste of your own medicine.

What they might say is that "you are saved", because "you really were saved" and "if you hold it fast", that means you are saved, and "if you are truly saved, you will hold it fast", but if you don’t, you never were saved, that whatever you thought your experience was, it was an “empty, vain” faith – not real.

I see; so present really means the "real" past and future means the present, and the present "certainty" means that the future will be an inexorable outcome and consequence of the present reality. Right. Gotcha. This is why it makes no sense to speak of being "saved" in the past tense. The only salvation that ultimately means anything is eschatological salvation, and none of us possess that in the present because it is by definition future, and therefore, unknowable with certainty. We can only know if we are right with God right now. If we continue to strive to stay in His grace, by His power, we can have every hope of attaining final salvation. I'm not one whit less confident about my salvation now than I ever was as a Protestant. I know that God is mnerciful and good and that I am serving Him. If I continue to do so, everything will be great in the end.

Paul goes on to recount how he "delivered" the gospel to the Corinthians (orally), in 15:3-6. Later (15:29) he discusses folks "being baptized on behalf of the dead" - the most difficult verse in the NT for Protestants to interpret.

Yes, it is a difficult verse, but since the RCC does not do that (baptize for the dead) either, you also have to explain it. Yes, you pray for the dead, but what connection does that have here? How do you interpret I Cor. 15:29?

See my paper on that topic.

Just because it is a difficult verse to interpret, does not have any bearing on an argument against Sola Scriptura. I fail to see your connection.

There is no direct connection, other than that it happened to be in the context of the passage we were considering (so I threw it in for no extra charge), and shows how prevalent in the NT are doctrines which contradict Protestantism. Almost everywhere one looks, one can find them.

I Timothy 5:18 - he calls the Law and the Gospel (the phrase is in both Luke and Matthew) as "Scripture".

How is that relevant to the question of whether Paul knew that his own letters were inspired, as he wrote them?

Because, if he puts the gospels on the same Scriptural level as the Law, and he calls the OT sacred Scripture in 2 Tim. 3:15, and then expands it to "all Scripture" in 2 Tim. 3:16 and he is writing all of these things to Timothy "in order that you may know how to conduct yourself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." ( I Tim. 3:14-15), then it seems pretty clear that Paul understood his own letters as Scripture.

It's clear as mud. This doesn't follow. Paul probably does that, at least some of the time (as Cardinal Newman agreed), but your reasoning here does nothing to show that these particular elements prove this, let alone regarding all of Paul's letters. You seem to often conflate mere possibility or harmony and consistency with "proof."

Also, because he says, in 4:13, "give attention to public reading, preaching, and teaching", and he says to read his letters in the churches, Colossians 4:16.

So what? That doesn't prove that he necessarily knows it is Scripture. He knows for sure, though, that it has authority as the message of an apostle, whether or not it is literally inspired, or inspired Scripture. He knows that simply from the knowledge that he is an apostle.

All of these were considered the word of God, and he does not have to say, "What I am writing to you now is also Scripture"; as it was understood by the way he writes with authority, being an apostle, giving commands, teaching about the word of God and that the Holy Spirit is speaking, etc. "These things we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words." I Cor. 2:13.

This is very good, and you understand this better than many Protestants, who adopt a radical solo Scriptura position.

Thank you. I finally got something right!

Congratulations! Once in a while I do, too, huh?! :-)

My main point was to say that Paul may not have necessarily known he was writing Scripture, and that your "prooftext" of 1 Cor 14:37 did not establish that he did.

I don't think you disproved that Paul did know his letters were Scripture at the time. All you showed was that oral authoritative "God's word" existed also at the same time at the time that the letters and gospels were being written and the early churches were being founded. (AD 33-70 - 96).

As always, I appeal to the reader to make his own determination as to the better case presented. That's why God gave us this noggin, to apply reason to subjects like this.

That Paul understood himself to be writing Scripture, other evidence is in I Cor. Chapter 7, where he says at one point, "I say, not the Lord" (verse 12)

This is, of course, at least as strong of a proof that there are times when he himself does indeed not think he is writing inspired Scripture (cf. 1 Cor 7:25), when in fact he is (since we all regard this verse as inspired, along with the rest of 1 Corinthians and all of Paul's NT letters). What more do you need to prove that Paul wasn't aware at a particular time that his writing was inspired, besides his saying "I say, not the Lord" (1 Cor 7:12) and "I have no command of the Lord" (7:25). This is particularly effective against your own argument since you claimed (at the beginning of this dialogue) that when Paul said he was presenting the "Lord's command" (1 Cor 14:37), that was "absolute" proof to you that he was writing Scripture. Therefore, if he expressly denies this in other passages, he cannot possibly be conscious of writing inspired Scripture: at the time he writes those things. It's a slam dunk. Thanks! I should have thought of this passage myself.

and then at the end, he says, "I have the Spirit of God" (verse 40).

We discussed something like this before. I think this is most plausibly interpreted to simply mean that Paul is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, as are all regenerate Christians.

Since he clearly said, "I give instructions, not I, but the Lord" (verse 10); the only conclusion to draw from all this is that Paul knows 1. He is quoting and repeating teaching in the gospels from Jesus himself (Matthew 5, 19, Mark 10) 2. Marriage to an unbeliever was a new issue, not addressed by the Lord Jesus, so Paul says he is also giving advice, and that this advice is from the Holy Spirit. (verses 12-40)

Those portions are quite consistent with his knowledge of inspiration, but 7:12 and 7:25 are not (which seems to be a pretty compelling proof for what I am arguing). You want to look at one thing (a rather weak argument) but strangely ignore the other (a rather strong one).

Secondly, one didn't have to even be an apostle to pass along the "word of God." They merely had to be a prophet, or to prophesy; and Paul seemed to think that many would do so and that it would be a routine occurrence.

That is true, that is why Ephesians 2:19-20 says "the household of God, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone." But that is also not an argument against Sola Scriptura.

Go back and look at the context, and my argument as a whole.

What's interesting here is how that squares with present-day Christianity, where such prophesying is a rare occurrence, in all the major Christian traditions. Even the pope doesn't claim such a gift, but rather, the far lesser gift of infallibility.

I understand this point you are making, but in effect, the infallibility dogma, even though saying that it does not add new revelation, in a practical sense does function as prophecy, because the Bodily Assumption of Mary does not even have any material sufficiency of Scripture behind it, which is like adding new revelation, no matter who much you claim that it was already deposited in the first century, there is no evidence for this.

See my next comment.

And, as I heard Gerry Matatics and, I think Tim Staples declare, this dogma is part of the gospel, (even though not in I Corinthians 15:1-9, where Paul comes close to defining what the gospel is; and it is not in any other text.) Is it part of the "gospel"? If it is de fide dogma, something one is oblibated to believe as a RC, then that means the RCC says it is part of the gospel. this is adding things to Scripture, seems to me, as many others think also.

Catholics tend to define the "gospel" as the entire teaching of Christianity, whereas Protestants tend to define it as a particularly soteriology (TULIP, sola fide, etc.). We can all agree, however, on the stricter definition of the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, and the Good News which flows out of the incarnation and sacrificial death on our behalf.

So, even as many admit, there is not material sufficiency for it,

There is, indirectly and deductively. If Mary was without original and actual sin (as we believe is made clear in the second sense, in Luke 1:28), then she would not be subject to bodily decay, or death (Gen 3:16-19). It is also fitting that the Mother of Jesus Who is God, would be the "firstfruits" (1 Cor 15:20) of the general resurrection (15:35-58). We also have the biblical precedent of certain persons not undergoing death, such as Enoch (Heb 11:5; cf. Gen 5:24), Elijah (2 Kings 2:1,11), and Paul being taken up to heaven, possibly in the body (2 Cor 12:2-4), and of those who are alive when Christ returns, who will not have to die (1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thess 4:15-17: the latter falsely regarded as the "rapture" by dispensationalists). None of that "proves" the Assumption of Mary, but rather, shows that the notion is not at all incompatible with the biblical worldview. So, coupled with Luke 1:28, we see it as altogether plausible from Scripture itself, that Mary could be assumed bodily into heaven.

and that is one reason why there are arguments between RCs as to the Partim-Partim theory of Scripture and Tradition and the material sufficiency view. John 20:30 or 21:25 hardly counts as a text for this doctrine to promote material sufficiency.

It does in the sense I have just described.

So this becomes yet another indirect argument for the biblical plausibility or at least (for the more skeptically-minded) permissibility of papal infallibility, since both inspiration of sinful men and prophesying of sinful men occurred and were instruments through which a sure word of divine prophecy or revelation were received; why, not, then, also the far inferior gift of protection from doctrinal error, so that Christians could be certain of doctrinal truths?

2 Timothy 3:16 says that the writings are God-breathed, and therefore, infallible. It does not say the prophets or apostles as people are "inspired" or "God breathed".

That's correct. The Bible teaches that in Acts 15:28, regarding the Jerusalem Council. One inspired Scripture is as authoritative as another, right Ken?

They were controlled and carried along to write what God wanted them to write, as taught in 2 Peter 1:20-21.

And the Council was "controlled and carried along" to decide what the Holy Spirit (God) wanted it to decide, too.

Once the ink dried on the last NT book, inspiration of Scripture stopped, and so did infallibility, because only God and His Word, now written is without error.

We see no indication in the Bible itself that the Jerusalem Council was sui generis.

Yes, the prophets and apostles were sinful, and God used them to write Scripture, but Scripture's quality of being "without error" and includes necessarily that it is without sin. Scripture is without error because it is without sin, because God cannot lie.

Scripture is without sin because only creatures can sin, not books and words. But sinners wrote inspired Scripture. Since that could happen, it is even more plausible that sinning popes can be merely infallible, not inspired. Jesus also promised us that the same Holy Spirit would "guide [us] into all the truth" (Jn 16:13), and it is not stated that this is solely through the biblical books, or any book. But this is perfectly consistent with what we see in Acts 15:28.

You cannot separate infallibility from impeccability in the writings. It is the product of Scripture that was inspired or God-breathed, not the people themselves.

It was the product of men who were sinners, being used as inspired, infallible instruments of God. Therefore, it takes far less faith to believethat sinners can be non-inspired, infallible instruments of God.

Their sins or mistakes did not make it into the Scriptures.

That's right, just as pope's sins or even (theoretically) heresies do not make it into their definitive pronouncements.

Thanks for the meaty debate. I enjoyed it and was excited, as always, to delve (along with you) more deeply into Holy Scripture, where we find inexhaustible riches and treasures of knowledge and wisdom.

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