Monday, January 18, 2010

Dialogue With Protestant Apologist Jason Engwer on the Rule of Faith in the Church Fathers, Part One (Papias)



This is a follow-up discussion (Round Two) to my previous four-part critique of a post by Jason Engwer (Parts one / two / three / four). Jason is now starting to counter-reply, with preliminary remarks and the beginning of more substantive response, in his latest post, Papias, Apostolic Succession, Oral Tradition, And "Relativism". His words will be in blue. Past comments of mine that he cites will be in green.

* * * * *

Yesterday, I posted some introductory remarks [link] about a series of posts by Dave Armstrong that was written in response to an article I posted in 2008. What I want to do today is address some comments Dave made about one church father in particular, Papias. I do so for a few reasons. For one thing, it was in response to something I said about Papias that Dave issued some of his harshest criticism.

True.

And some of his other comments about Papias are relevant to his claims to "copiously document everything" and his objection that I'm not offering enough documentation for my own views. His comments on Papias also illustrate just how misleading it can be to use terms like "apostolic succession" and "oral tradition" to describe the views of a father.

Well, we'll see about that as we go along.

In the course of his series of posts responding to me, Dave repeatedly accuses me of "relativism".

That's because his position on this business of the rule of faith in the fathers entails it, as I will be happy to elaborate upon and clarify. I don't make any serious charge lightly, and readers may rest assured that when I do, that I have very good reason to do so: a rationale that I can surely defend against scrutiny and/or protest (as indeed I am doing presently).

I said that if I were in the position of somebody like Papias, I wouldn't adhere to sola scriptura. I went on to comment that "If sola scriptura had been widely or universally rejected early on, it wouldn't follow that it couldn't be appropriate later, under different circumstances." Dave responded [link]:

And he is employing the typical Protestant theological relativism or doctrinal minimalism....After having expended tons of energy and hours sophistically defending Protestantism and revising history to make it appear that it is not fatal to Protestant claims (which is a heroic feat: to engage at length in such a profoundly desperate cause), now, alas, Jason comes to his senses and jumps on the bandwagon of fashionable Protestant minimalism, relativism, and the fetish for uncertainty. He resides, after all, in the 'much different position' of the 21st century. He knows better than those old fuddy-duds 1500 years ago. What do they know, anyway?...Why are we having this discussion at all, then, if it doesn't matter a hill of beans what the fathers en masse thought?

What Dave claims I "now" believe is what I had been saying for years, long before I wrote my article in 2008.

That comes as no surprise. But my "now" was primarily intended in a rhetorical / logical sense, not a chronological one, anyway. But in a larger sense it is part of Jason's overall approach (which is not without self-contradiction, which I was partially alluding to there): what I call the "slippery fish" or "floating ducks at the carnival sideshow" approach. Protestants of a certain type (nebulous evangelicals, primarily: I still have no idea even what denomination Jason attends; perhaps he will be so kind as to inform me) reserve the right to criticize Catholicism endlessly; yet if we dare to dispute their arguments and ask if they have anything superior to offer, it's often the moving or unknown target runaround. Or there is the retreat into obfuscation: Jason's own specialty.

First, we hear from these circles that the fathers believe in sola Scriptura, period (I will have more on this below). Then we are blessed with a more clever, subtle argument: that they didn't believe in sola Scriptura per se, but that, nevertheless, what they did believe (whatever it was, in many variations), is definitely closer to Protestantism than to Catholicism. This has been Jason's general approach through the years, as I understand it. Now we enter into a third phase, so to speak: the fathers didn't always believe in sola Scriptura, but it doesn't matter, because times were different, then, and different times demand a changing rule of faith. The moving target . . .

And I didn't say or suggest that "it doesn't matter a hill of beans what the fathers en masse thought".

Mostly what matters to Jason is how he can poke holes in what he (sometimes falsely) believes to be Catholic belief.

Anybody who has read much of what I've written regarding the church fathers and other sources of the patristic era ought to know that I don't suggest that they're "old fuddy-duds" whose beliefs "don't matter a hill of beans".

He picks and chooses what he thinks will hurt the Catholic historical case. Jason's method is nothing if it is not that. But he's highly selective and the "grid" that he tries to fit all of this data into is incoherent and changes to suit his polemical needs at any given moment.

My point with regard to Papias, which I've explained often, is that God provides His people with different modes of revelation at different times in history, and there are transitional phases between such periods. For example, Adam and Eve had a form of direct communication with God that most people in human history haven't had. When Jesus walked the earth, people would receive ongoing revelation from Him, and could ask Him questions, for example, in a manner not available to people who lived in earlier or later generations. When Joseph and Mary could speak with Jesus during His childhood and early adulthood, but the authority structure of the New Testament church didn't yet exist, a Catholic wouldn't expect Joseph and Mary to follow the same rule of faith they had followed prior to Jesus' incarnation or would be expected to follow after the establishment of the Catholic hierarchy.

Catholics agree with many, if not all of these points. But how Jason goes on to apply this in his analysis will eventually involve a self-contradiction that isn't present in the Catholic view of history and development of doctrine.

Catholicism doesn't claim to have preserved every word Jesus spoke or everything said by every apostle. A person living in the early second century, for example, could remember what he had heard the apostle John teach about eschatology and follow that teaching, even if it wasn't recorded in scripture or taught by means of papal infallibility, an ecumenical council, or some other such entity the average modern Catholic would look to.

Of course. Both sides agree on that.

Because of the nature of historical revelation in Christianity (and in Judaism), there isn't any one rule of faith that's followed throughout history. And different individuals and groups will transition from one rule of faith to another at different times and in different ways.

This is where the differences emerge. Catholics believe there was one rule of faith that consistently developed. It is what we call the "three-legged stool": Scripture-Church-Tradition (as passed down by apostolic succession). There is a great deal of development that takes place over time: especially when we are looking at the earliest fathers (Papias lived from c. 60 to 130, so he was actually in the apostolic period for a good half of his life). But the rule of faith did not change into anything substantially or essentially different.

Papias had the Scripture of the Old Testament and he even had much of the New Testament even at that early stage, as the Gospels and Paul's letters were widely accepted as canonical, very early on. Therefore, Papias could indeed have lived by sola Scriptura as the rule of faith. There is no compelling reason to think that he could not have done so, simply due to his living in a very early period of Christian history.

The position that Jason is staking out: that Papias wouldn't have lived by sola Scriptura, and indeed, that he didn't have to, for the Protestant historical position to make sense, entails not a consistent development, but an essential break: there was one rule of faith in the earliest periods, and then suddenly, with the fully developed canon of Scripture, another one henceforth.

Needless to say, this is merely yet another arbitrary Protestant tradition: a tradition of men: just as sola Scriptura itself is. There is nothing in the Bible itself about such a supposed sea change. The Bible teaches neither sola Scriptura, nor this view of tradition at first, and then sola Scriptura after the Bible. But these are cherished Protestant myths, despite being absent altogether in Holy Scripture.

These complexities can be made to seem less significant by making vague references to "oral tradition" or "the word of God", for example, but the fact remains that what such terms are describing changes to a large extent over time and from one individual or group to another.

There are complexities in individuals and exceptions to the rule (of faith), but there is also a broad consensus to be observed and traced through history, as we see with all true doctrines. Jason wants to assert both a radical change and the absence of a consensus. At the same time he denies the interconnectedness of all these related concepts having to do with authority, as I have noted in my previous critique.

In any event, he dissents from some of the allegedly best lights in Protestant research about the rule of faith in the fathers; for example, the trilogy of books about sola Scriptura by David T. King and William Webster (Vol. I (King) / Vol. II (Webster) / Vol. III (King and Webster), where it is stated (bolding my own):

The patristic evidence for sola Scriptura is, we believe, an overwhelming indictment against the claims of the Roman communion.

(Vol. I, 266)


Such statements manifest an ignorance of the patristic and medieval perspective on the authority of Scripture. Scripture alone as the infallible rule for the ongoing life and faith of the Church was the universal belief and practice of the Church of the patristic and medieval ages.

(Vol. II, 84-85)


When they [the Church Fathers] are allowed to speak for themselves it becomes clear that they universally taught sola Scriptura in the fullest sense of the term embracing both the material and formal sufficiency of Scripture.

(Vol. III, 9)

Sales pitches for the trilogy on a major Reformed booksite (Monergism Books) echo these historically absurd assertions (bolding my own):
It reveals that the leading Church fathers’ view of the authority and finality of the written Word of God was as lofty as that of any Protestant Reformer. In effect, Webster and King have demonstrated that sola Scriptura was the rule of faith in the early church.

--Dr. John MacArthur, Pastor/Teacher of Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA

William Webster and David King have hit the bull’s eye repeatedly and with great force in their treatment of sola Scriptura. The exegetical material sets forth a formidable biblical foundation for this claim of exclusivity and the historical argument illustrates how the early church believed it and traces the circuitous path by which Roman Catholicism came to place tradition alongside Scripture as a source, or deposit, of authoritative revelation.

--Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

(on the book page for Vol. I)

[Description]: In this Volume, William Webster addresses the common historical arguments against sola Scriptura, demonstrating that the principle is, in fact, eminently historical, finding support in ‘the unanimous consent of the fathers.’

The authors show, with painstaking thoroughness, that sola Scriptura is the teaching of the Bible itself and was central in the belief and practice of the early church, as exemplified in history and the writings of the Fathers.

--Edward Donnelly, Minister of Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church, Newtownabbey, and Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological College, Belfast, Northern Ireland

King and Webster have utterly destroyed that position by showing that the consent of the fathers teaches the doctrine of sola Scriptura.

--Jay Adams, co-pastor of The Harrison Bridge Road A.R.P. Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina, founder of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation of Laverock, Pennsylvania

In painstaking detail, Webster and King systematically dismantle the unbiblical and ahistorical assertions made by modern Roman Catholic apologists who all too often rely on eisegetical interpretations of the Bible and ‘cut and paste’ patrology.

--Eric Svendsen, Professor of Biblical Studies at Columbia Evangelical Seminary

[The Forewords of this volume (II) and Vol. I were written by James White]

(on the book page for Vol. II)

[Description]: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the principle is illegitimate because, she claims, it is unhistorical. By this she means that sola Scriptura is a theological novelty in that it supposedly has no support in the teaching of the early Church. Roman apologists charge that the teaching on Scripture promoted by the Reformers introduced a false dichotomy between the Church and Scripture which elevated Scripture to a place of authority unheard of in the early Church. The Church of Rome insists that the early Church fathers, while fully endorsing the full inspiration of the Old and New Testaments, did not believe in sola Scriptura. . . .

The documentation provided reveals in the clearest possible terms the Church fathers’ belief in the material and formal sufficiency of Scripture. By material sufficiency we mean that all that is necessary to be believed for faith and morals is revealed in Scripture. Formal sufficiency means that all that is necessary for faith and morals is clearly revealed in Scripture, so that an individual, by the enablement of the Holy Spirit alone, can understand the essentials of salvation and the Christian life. Page after page gives eloquent testimony to the supreme authority that Scripture held in the life of the early Church and serves as a much needed corrective to Rome’s misrepresentation of the Church fathers and her denigration of the sufficiency and final authority of Scripture.

(for the book page of Vol. III)

This is the standard anti-Catholic-type boilerplate rhetoric about sola Scriptura and the fathers. At least it is consistent (consistently wrong). But Jason dissents from his colleagues and wants to play the game of having a relativistic rule of faith: not in play from the beginning of Christianity, but only set in motion later. This allows him to play the further game of denying that Papias' views are consistent with Catholic dogma and our rule of faith, while not having any responsibility of showing that it is consistent with a Protestant view.

He always has that "out" (which is rather standard Protestant anti-Catholic apologetics): "but that ain't me / us." It's like a wax nose that can be molded to any whim or desire. Papias ain't Protestant but (and here is the important part) he certainly ain't Catholic (!!!) -- so sez Jason Engwer. Yet I have shown (and will continue to demonstrate) that his views are perfectly consistent with the Catholic rule of faith, taking into account that he is very early in history, so that we don't see full-fledged Catholicism. We see a primitive Catholic rule of faith: precisely as we would and should suspect.

Jason thinks he contradicts our view because (as I discussed in my Introduction to the previous four-part series) he expects to see the Catholic rule of faith explicitly in place in the first and second century: whereas our view of development, by definition, does not entail, let alone require this. Thus, he imposes a Protestant conception of "fully-formed from the outset" that he doesn't even accept himself, onto the Catholic claim.

I could agree with the vague assertion that we're to always follow "the word of God" as our rule of faith, for instance, but that meant significantly different things for Adam than it did for David, for Mary than it did for Ignatius of Antioch, for Papias than it does for Dave Armstrong, etc.

It depends on what one means by different: different in particulars; different in time-frames (David had no NT or revelation of Jesus); difference in amount of development, etc. What was in common was that all accepted "the word of God" (both written and oral) as normative for the Christian faith, but not in the sense of sola Scriptura.

To accuse me of "relativism", "minimalism", and such, because I've made distinctions like the ones outlined above, is unreasonable and highly misleading. The average reader of Dave's blog probably doesn't know much about me, and using terms like "relativism", "minimalism", and "fetish for uncertainty" doesn't leave people with an accurate impression of what a conservative Evangelical like me believes.

Jason can hem and haw all he likes. The fact remains that he has expressly denied that Papias would have believed in sola Scriptura. But the standard anti-Catholic historical argumentation is what I have documented: "Scripture alone as the infallible rule for the ongoing life and faith of the Church was the universal belief and practice of the Church of the patristic and medieval ages" (William Webster); "they universally taught sola Scriptura . . . embracing . . . formal sufficiency of Scripture" (David T. King and William Webster). So which will it be? There are three positions to choose from:

1) Papias was one of the fathers who "universally" held to sola Scriptura.

2) Papias didn't hold to sola Scriptura, but also didn't espouse a rule of faith consistent with Catholicism.

3) Papias didn't embrace sola Scriptura, and his rule of faith was consistent with Catholicism.

#1 is the standard boilerplate anti-Catholic Protestant position, as I have shown above. #2 is Jason's pick-and-choose "cafeteria patristic" view, that contradicts #1. #3 is my view and the Catholic view.

In some other comments about Papias, Dave writes [link]:

Jason will have to make his argument from Papias, whatever it is. J. N. D. Kelly says little about him, but what he does mention is no indication of sola Scriptura...When we go to Eusebius (III, 39) to see what exactly Papias stated, we find an explicit espousal of apostolic succession and authoritative tradition. He even contrasts oral tradition to written (as superior): 'I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice' (III, 39, 4).

I didn't cite Papias as an advocate of sola scriptura.

Exactly. From what we can tell, James White wouldn't say that. Webster and King and Svendsen and John MacArthur wouldn't. Why is it, then, that they aren't out there correcting Jason? He disagrees with them (Papias doesn't teach sola Scriptura) just as much as he does with me (Papias doesn't hold to a primitive version of the historic Catholic rule of faith; he contradicts that). He's betwixt and between. He needs to go back to King's and White's and Webster's books to get up to speed and get his evangelical anti-Catholic act together.

I didn't cite Papias as an advocate of sola scriptura. And we have much more information on Papias than what Eusebius provides. See here. [link]

Thanks for the great link.

I referred to Richard Bauckham's treatment of Papias in Jesus And The Eyewitnesses (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2006). See, particularly, pp. 21-38. Bauckham goes into far more depth than J.N.D. Kelly did in the work Dave is citing.

Cool. And what position did he take, choosing from #1, #2, and #3 above? I was able to read pp. 21-38 on amazon, and discovered that Bauckham tries to make a big deal of the distinction between oral history and oral tradition, with the former directly relying on eyewitness accounts (of the sort that Papias tried to collect). Bauckham's stance, then, is a subtler version of #2. He seems to be trying (by repeated, almost mantra-like emphasis) to undermine a Catholic notion of oral tradition without saying so in so many words.

But he doesn't prove at all that Papias' approach is inconsistent with the Catholic three-legged stool rule of faith. Of course we would expect Papias to seek eyewitness accounts, since he lived so early. How in the world that is construed as somehow contrary to Catholic tradition is, I confess, beyond me. The following distinctions must be made and understood:

View of Tradition I:

I. 1) Legitimate tradition relies on eyewitness testimony only.

I. 2) Once the eyewitnesses die, then there is no longer true [binding] tradition to speak of.


View of Tradition II:


II. 1) Legitimate tradition relies primarily on eyewitness testimony where it is available.

II. 2) Legitimate tradition after eyewitness testimony is no longer available continues to be valid by means of [Holy Spirit-guided] unbroken [apostolic] succession, so that the truths originated by eyewitnesses continue on through history.

Jason and Bauckham appear to be asserting I. 1. But I. 2 does not necessarily follow from what we know of Papias' views. We know that he collected eyewitness testimony. We don't know that he would say that was the only tradition that was legitimate. In other words, it is the claim of exclusivity that involves the prior assumption brought to the facts. The Catholic view is Tradition II, which is perfectly consistent with what we know of Papias, or at the very least not ruled out by what we know of him.

The biggest problem with Tradition I is that it is not biblical. It contradicts what the Bible teaches. St. Paul, after all, was not an eyewitness of the life of Jesus (though he did have a post-Resurrection encounter with him that remains possible to this day). Yet he feels that he can authoritatively pass on Christian apostolic traditions (1 Cor 11:2, 23; 15:3; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6, 14). Thus, whoever learned Christian truths from St. Paul did not receive them from an eyewitness. Paul had to talk to someone like Peter to get firsthand accounts (or Bauckham's "oral history").

He was passing on what he himself had "received" from yet another source (1 Cor 11:23; 15:3; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 2:13). He even specifically instructs Timothy to pass on his (oral) traditions to "faithful men," who in turn can pass them on to others (2 Tim 2:2). So just from this verse we see four generations of a passed-on tradition (Paul: the second generation, Timothy, and those whom Timothy teaches). This tradition is not even necessarily written by Paul or anyone else (Rom 10:8; Eph 1:13; 1 Thess 2:13; 2 Thess 2:15; 2 Tim 1:13-14; cf. Heb 13:7; 1 Pet 1:25). There is no indication that the chain is supposed to end somewhere down the line.

Secondly, even Papias, according to Eusebius, didn't claim to talk to the apostles, but only to their friends:

2. But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends.

7. And Papias, of whom we are now speaking, confesses that he received the words of the apostles from those that followed them, . . .

(Ecclesiastical History, III, 39, 4)

That makes Papias a third-hand witness; not even second-hand (someone who talked to apostles).

Contrary to what Dave claims, there is no "explicit espousal of apostolic succession" in Papias. And the "living and abiding voice" Papias refers to is a reference to proximate and early testimony that was soon going to die out.

This doesn't rule out apostolic succession; to the contrary, it is a perfect example of it. He talked to people who knew the apostles. His testimony was third-hand. He "received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their [the apostles'] friends." What is that if not succession? It is more or less independent of Scripture. Papias' rule of faith was:

Apostles and apostolic doctrine ---> friends of the apostles ---> Papias

But the Protestant methodology and rule of faith is:

Apostles and apostolic doctrine ---> Scripture ---> Papias and everyone else

The theme Papias is referring to is taken from, among other sources, the historiography of his day. As Bauckham notes, Jerome's rendering of the passage in Papias indicates that he understood Papias as Bauckham does (pp. 27-28).

He says that Jerome understood Papias as referring to access to living witnesses as his preferred mode of collecting information. But as I have already shown, I think, this in no way is inconsistent with Catholic tradition. It's plain common sense. What Jason doesn't mention, however, is Bauckham's observation right after citing Jerome, translating Papias:


Jerome here seems to take Papias to mean that he preferred the oral communication of eyewitnesses to the written records of their testimony in the Gospels.
(p. 28)

And that sounds distinctly unProtestant and contrary to sola Scriptura, doesn't it? If we're gonna mention one aspect of St. Jerome's thought (even if it is falsely thought to bolster some anti-Catholic line of reasoning), why not the other also, even if it doesn't fit in with the game plan? Get the whole picture, in other words.

Here are some of Bauckham's comments on the subject:

Against a historiographic background, what Papias thinks preferable to books is not oral tradition as such but access, while they are still alive, to those who were direct participants in the historical events - in this case 'the disciples of the Lord.' He is portraying his inquiries on the model of those made by historians, appealing to historiographic 'best practice' (even if many historians actually made much more use of written sources than their theory professed)....What is most important for our purposes is that, when Papias speaks of 'a living and abiding voice,' he is not speaking metaphorically of the 'voice' of oral tradition, as many scholars have supposed. He speaks quite literally of the voice of an informant - someone who has personal memories of the words and deeds of Jesus and is still alive....Papias was clearly not interested in tapping the collective memory as such. He did not think, apparently, of recording the Gospel traditions as they were recited regularly in his own church community. Even in Hierapolis it was on his personal contact with the daughters of Philip that he set store. What mattered to Papias, as a collector and would-be recorder of Gospel traditions, was that there were eyewitnesses, some still around, and access to them through brief and verifiable channels of named informants.

(pp. 24, 27, 34)

Again, the trouble with this is that Eusebius specifically says (twice) that Papias only knew friends of the apostles: not they themselves. So one of is key premises is unfactual. And then we have Paul espousing authoritative fourth-hand tradition in Scripture. In any event, Bauckham appears to contradict himself:

Bauckham I: "what Papias thinks preferable to books is not oral tradition as such but access, while they are still alive, to those who were direct participants in the historical events - in this case 'the disciples of the Lord.' . . . when Papias speaks of 'a living and abiding voice,' he . . . speaks quite literally of the voice of an informant - someone who has personal memories of the words and deeds of Jesus and is still alive . . . "

Bauckham II: "Even in Hierapolis it was on his personal contact with the daughters of Philip that he set store. What mattered to Papias, as a collector and would-be recorder of Gospel traditions, was that there were eyewitnesses, some still around, and access to them through brief and verifiable channels of named informants."

Which is it?: Eyewitnesses or those who knew eyewitnesses? Once one starts going down the chain to third-hand, fourth-hand or later generations of witnesses, one is squarely within oral tradition. It's something other than eyewitness testimony. Protestants have been rejecting, for example, St. Ignatius, as too "Catholic" (therefore corrupt), for centuries. They thought the books with his name weren't even authentic for a long time, till they were indisputably proved to be so. Now they are authentic, but still disliked by Protestants because they are already thoroughly Catholic.

In other words, the traditions that he teaches are rejected, no matter how proximate they are to the apostles. St. Ignatius (c. 35 - c. 110) was born a generation earlier than Papias. He may possibly have known St. John, or known of him through St. Polycarp (c. 69 - c. 155). But does that impress Protestants? No; not if they are intent on rejecting any doctrine that has the slightest "Catholic" flavor in it. Anti-Catholicism is the driving force: not some great goal of getting close to apostles via those who talked to them or to those who knew them.

Bauckham goes into much more detail than what I've quoted above. He gives examples of Polybius, Josephus, Galen, and other sources using terminology and arguments similar to those of Papias. He emphasizes that Papias is appealing to something more evidentially valuable than, and distinct from, "cross-generational" tradition (p. 37).

It is more valuable, in evidential or strictly historiographical terms. But this is no argument against Catholic tradition. It simply notes one special, early form of apostolic tradition.

As he notes, the sources Papias was referring to were dying out and only available for a "brief" time. The historiography of Papias' day, from which he was drawing, was interested in early oral tradition, the sort we would call the testimony of eyewitnesses and contemporaries, not an oral tradition three hundred, a thousand, or two thousand years later. He got it from individuals and his own interpretation of their testimony, not mediated through an infallible church hierarchy centered in Rome. It wasn't the sort of oral tradition Roman Catholicism appeals to.

Sure it was. This is apostolic tradition. Much ado about nothing . . . Jason will try to kill it off by his "death by a thousand qualifications" methodology, but it won't fly. Nothing here (in the case of Papias) causes our view any problems whatsoever. The only problems are whether (in the Protestant paradigms) one wants to claim Papias as one of the fathers who supposedly "universally" believed in sola Scriptura, or to deny that he did so, as Jason does. The contradiction arises in Protestant ranks, not between Papias and Catholic tradition.

Modern Catholics aren't hearing or interviewing the apostle John, Aristion, or the daughters of Philip and expecting such testimony to soon die out.

Thanks for that valuable information.

That's not their notion of oral tradition.

It's perfectly consistent with our notion, and we continue to think oral tradition is authoritative, whereas Protestants have ditched it: in direct contrast to what the fathers thought about such things.

And it won't be sufficient for Dave to say that he doesn't object to that other type of oral tradition that we find in Papias.

It will do just fine!

He's accused me of "relativism" for making such distinctions.

No. Jason was accused of that because he arbitrarily decides that sola Scriptura kicks in later on and not from the first (itself a wacky Protestant tradition, and not biblical at all). He has a "jerky," inconsistent view of Church history. But the Catholic view is a smooth line of development.

(It's not as though Papias would disregard what he learned about a teaching of Jesus or the apostle John, for example, until it was promulgated in the form of something like papal infallibility or an ecumenical council.

Exactly. More truisms . . .

Rather, the oral tradition Papias appeals to makes him the sort of transitional figure I referred to above. He didn't follow sola scriptura, but he didn't follow the Catholic rule of faith either.)

He followed the latter in a primitive form. What he believed is no different in essence from what Catholics have believed all along, and from what I believe myself, as an orthodox Catholic. But it's sure different from what Protestants and Jason believe. Even he concedes that, and is half-right, at least.

And Dave's appeal to "oral tradition" in a dispute with an Evangelical is most naturally taken to refer to the common Catholic concept of oral tradition, not the form of it described by Bauckham.

Which is a species of ours . . .

If Dave agreed all along that Papias' oral tradition was of the sort Bauckham describes, then why did he even bring up the subject?

My goal was to show that Papias is not a counter-example to Catholic tradition. I think I have succeeded in showing that, if I do say so.

It's at least misleading to refer to Papias' view as "oral tradition" in such an unqualified way in a dispute with an Evangelical.

One doesn't have to go through every fine point and distinction at any given time. There is an oral element here that is different from sola Scriptura. The Jason method won't work (i.e., note any distinction or exception whatever to be found, and then thrown that in the Catholic's face as a supposed disproof). It hasn't worked in the past, and it is failing again now.

How many of Papias' oral traditions, such as his premillennialism, does Dave agree with?

I don't believe in that (used to), but the Catholic Church has not proclaimed many eschatological beliefs as dogma. Our position is not to uncritically accept any given father's view on anything, but to look at the consensus.

In response to my citation of Bauckham in my article in 2008, Dave wrote:

I'm not gonna go read all that. I've spent enough time on this as it is. Whatever Jason's argument is involving Papias, can be presented anew, if he thinks it is worthwhile to consider.

The point being that if Jason wants to drop scholars' names, then he can at least cite some of it rather than making his readers go look up everything. He didn't even link to the amazon book, where, fortunately, I could read the section he referenced. He cites it now; but that bolsters my point. He could have done that before, rather than just dropping names.

Yet, in his articles responding to me he frequently links us to other articles he's written, without "presenting anew" what he said previously.

I didn't know it was too hard for Jason to click on a mouse (take all of a third of a second to do that "work") or to do a simple word search within articles. I am providing instant access to support for some point I am making if I cite past articles and link to them.

* * *

Moving on to one theme in the combox that seems to keep coming up, due to the widespread personal hostility towards me on the blog where Jason is a contributor, "Ronnie" writes:

Good job Jason. Once again it is demonstrated that all Dave's bluster about good ecumenical dialog is hogwash.

What is hogwash is this statement. I have been ecumenical all along (both as a Protestant and as a Catholic). Jason and all anti-Catholics are my brothers in Christ, as long as they subscribe to the Nicene Creed and especially to belief in the Holy Trinity. But Jason doesn't believe that the Catholic Church is a Christian entity. Therefore, since I wholeheartedly accept all its doctrines, I follow a false gospel, according to him, and cannot be his brother in Christ because of that. And I submit that that falsehood puts a huge damper on ecumenical relations: infinitely more than anything I have ever said or done.

Secondly, I have recently made several comments about Jason's cordiality (in high contrast to virtually all of his anti-Catholic buddies). He has not reciprocated those remarks in my direction.

Dave reads you in the worse [sic] possible light and uses all kinds of poisonous language in the process. You [sic] initial post and this response has [sic] been very respectful in tone even where you disagree. Dave has failed to live up to you in tone and quality so far.

This is sheer nonsense. I am merely offering passionate, vigorous argument, as is my wont: sticking to arguments. My words are routinely interpreted in anti-Catholic circles as far worse than they are (again, because of the prior hostility, which leads men to make irrational proclamations and accusations).

Secondly, Jason (though generally amiable, as I have been saying) is every bit as hard as I am on his opponents (and far more personally insulting), if he is frustrated with them and thinks they are dead wrong. This is seen, for example, in his numerous jibes and potshots (in the combox) at "Seraphim" (now banned from the blog where this happened, whereas anyone is welcome to post on my blog at anytime: and Ken Temple --see below -- often does): the Orthodox person he was interacting with in the original exchange that I critiqued, that has led to all this (my bolding):

You don't seem to be giving your responses much thought before posting them.

. . . you have poor reading comprehension or some other problem . . .

You're still missing the point, even after having been corrected.

I've already corrected you on these points.

You keep missing the point.

In other words, you're changing the subject.

You addressed Hegesippus and Augustine, and you were wrong about both.

As if you've been conceding points that you've lost?

I doubt that anybody understands your argument at this point, even you.

You keep ignoring context and confusing categories.

Seraphim keeps changing his arguments, and he often applies standards to his opponents that he doesn’t apply to himself. He doesn’t even attempt to provide supporting argumentation for the majority of his dubious assertions.

I doubt that anybody, including Seraphim, can make sense of all of his vague and seemingly contradictory assertions . . .

Either Seraphim’s positions keep changing from post to post or he’s a poor communicator, if not both.

In his latest post, Seraphim makes the ridiculous claim that having unity is “the highest calling”.

Seraphim keeps confusing categories.

He’s ignored most of the evidence I cited . . .

And he doesn’t even understand the issue under dispute, . . .

Why does Seraphim so often fail to even understand what issue is being discussed? What does that suggest about how careful he’s been in thinking about these issues and commenting on them?

Among many other misrepresentations of what I’ve said about the canon, . . .

Why is it that Seraphim so often posts comments like these that make so little sense?

Seraphim often commits multiple errors within a single sentence, and it would require far more hours than I’m willing to spend to correct him on every point where he errs.

Since Seraphim keeps misunderstanding or misrepresenting the topics that are being discussed, I’ll remind him, again, of one of the points I made at the beginning of this thread.

You keep changing your arguments, and much of what you write is vague or doesn’t make sense.

You’ve frequently made comments like what I’ve quoted above, and you keep adding qualifiers that you didn’t even suggest earlier. You keep reinventing yourself, and you object if I don’t anticipate how you’ll change your argument in your next post or don’t anticipate some qualification you had in mind that you didn’t mention. You don’t seem to have thought about these issues in enough depth, and you’re a poor communicator.

Etc., etc. And that is just one exchange with one person . . .

* * *

I now have no less than three anti-Catholic Protestant apologists other than Jason responding to me at great length: Ken Temple, Steve Hays, and the infamous Anonymous One (aka "Turretinfan" and TAO). As I have said from the start of this: I am making an exception to my usual rule of refraining from debate with anti-Catholics, due to the special circumstances of a Catholic apologist (David Waltz) stating that he is no longer Catholic, and citing as one of his reasons why, Jason's article. It doesn't follow that because I make the exception for Jason, that I have decided to throw the gates open and answer four people at once. Nice try, guys.

And of course that is unreasonable and literally impossible, anyway. How can anyone answer four lengthy critiques from four different people all at once? I said that I did this for David Waltz's sake, and I was critiquing Jason Engwer. Jason has the prerogative of ignoring it or defending his views. So far, he is defending. I won't even read the other stuff (don't have the time even if I wanted to). It's Jason's responsibility to defend himself, and David's to look at both sides and grapple with them, to (hopefully) help resolve his own difficulties.

Let me just note the humor, however, of these particular three folks responding, since two of the three (minus Ken) have stated repeatedly (following the established James White / Tim Enloe Playbook and Spinbook) that I am not to be taken seriously by anyone: so ignorant and stupid and unsubstantial am I. Why, then, are they here writing at extreme length about my arguments again, even despite the fact that Jason is defending himself (and quite able to do so)? I suppose it is because they think their anti-Catholic minions are even dumber than they repeatedly say I am, so that they can be swayed by my arguments. Otherwise, why waste their time?

Even Ken's response is quite comical as well, since it appears on a site where the blogmaster is on record saying not only that I am not to be taken seriously at all -- including by himself, despite his having written some 120 papers about me -- but also that I have serious mental problems and therefore should be left alone to mend my allegedly deep wounds. Not that blatant contradiction, empty promises, and vacillation on any anti-Catholic site comes as the slightest surprise . . .

Steve Hays, for his part, has stated that I am "evil" and shouldn't even be mocked and toyed with anymore: it's gone way beyond all that; so sez Steve "the earth is 10,000 years old" Hays. So I am either evil or nuts, and in any event, have nothing to the slightest degree of seriousness to offer anyone. Yet by the oddest coincidence, here are four people (all anti-Catholics) simultaneously replying to my arguments.

Is truth not far stranger than fiction? But within a few weeks of saying that, Hays was back to his usual mocking, sophistical mode, and here he is again (much of his recent materials being of that nature). Moreover, he is still trashing me for supposedly breaking a "vow" in writing these recent posts, when in fact it is a simple exception to a rule: a self-imposed policy of principle. That is no contradiction, let alone lie or revelation of a fatally flawed character; whereas he is the one who is clearly breaking his own stated intention to stop mocking me because I was so far gone as to be characterized as flat-out "evil" by this scion of Internet ethics and charity.

And some people still wonder why I have set this policy (as a matter of stewardship and avoiding vain discussions) about whom I will spend time debating, with this sort of ludicrous imbecility constantly taking place where replies to me are concerned?

But Jason doesn't get into all that. He hasn't attacked my character and I have not attacked his. We are both vigorously critiquing arguments, not persons. I know it is a novel concept, but it is still entirely possible; even in this day and age; even on the Internet!

Now, in honor of the heroic efforts set forth by Temple, Hays, and TAO, I thought a word-picture could capture their work better than a thousand words (I'm the contrary oyster, of course, who, alas, couldn't even be taken out with six gun shots . . . ):

46 comments:

Ronnie said...

Dave said the following:

Therefore, Papias could indeed have lived by sola Scriptura as the rule of faith. There is no compelling reason to think that he could not have done so, simply due to his living in a very early period of Christian history.


No compelling reason??? Jason gave you a very compelling reason. No thoughtful Protestant should claim they would reject the Word of God (e.g. from Jesus directly, or from the Apostles ) because it is not written. If that is not compelling to you then nothing will be. If I read Jason correctly he is making the point that Sola Scriptura is logically necessary now, because it is the only Word of God that we can be sure we have. During early times that was not always true.

Carmelite said...

For sola scriptura to be a doctrine it must be taught before the death of the last Apostle when revelation stop. As we know Jesus and the Apostle did not practice sola scriptura. Since they did not practice sola scriptura they did not teach sola scriptura,,,,,,case closed. The teaching Sola scriptura can't not be a revelation after the death of the last Apostle because all revelation has stop. Sola Scriptura is base on a assumption of a nebulous definition what they want sola scriptura to be.

Carmelite said...

Sola scriptura can not be base on scripture because as scripture was being written sola scriptura was impossible to practice. When St. Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Tim 3:16, did Timothy after reading this start to practice sola scriptura?? or he know this was sola scriptura but it would be be practice 300 years later. Remember sola scriptura must be taught by scripture to be true. Since we know Timothy did not practice sola scriptura he did not read sola scriptura in 2 Tim 3:16 like James White, David King does.

Carmelite said...

If you agree that Timothy did not practice sola scriptura after he read 2 Tim 3:16 then its over for the doctrine of sola scriptura, because then you have to make the largest leap in the world in saying well 2 Tim 3:16 was teaching sola scritpura but they all knew they could not practice it to Hundred's of years later. That's crazy to me...lol

Carmelite said...

The universal oredering of the Church at ist birth took its origin from the office of blessed Peter, in which is found both directings power and its supreme authority. From him as from a source, at the time when our religion was in the stage of growth, all churches received their common order. This much is shown by the injunctions of the council of Nicaea, since it did not venture to make a decree in his regard, recognizing that nothing could be added to his dignity: in fact it knew that all had been assigned to him by the word of the Lord. So it is clear that this church is to all churches throughout the world as the head is to the members, and that whoever seperates himself from it becomes an exile from the Christian religion, since he ceases to belong to its fellowship."
Boniface[regn A.D. 418-422],To the bishops of Thessaly

Carmelite said...

"Philip, presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See, said: There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: Our holy and most blessed Pope Celestine the bishop is according to due order his successor and holds his place....Accordingly the decision of all churches is firm, for the priests of the eastern and western churches are present....Wherefore Nestorius knows that he is alienated from the communion of the priests of the Catholic Church."
Council of Ephesus,Session III (A.D. 431

Dave Armstrong said...

Sola Scriptura is logically necessary now, because it is the only Word of God that we can be sure we have. During early times that was not always true.

I see. So you think the OT is not Holy Scripture? and you think the "word of God" is always written?

Dave Armstrong said...

Jason has made a third response to me: seizing upon two sentences:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/01/do-scholars-see-catholicisms-acorn-in.html

I freely grant that he has written a lot of other stuff about Catholicism. But all of his work in this regard suffers from the same fallacies and methodological flaws that I noted in the Introduction to my four-part series.

It is best shown to be deficient when someone grapples with it line-by-line, in order to demonstrate how he tries to reason.

But Jason's usual method in responding to me is to pick-and-choose and be highly selective as to what he will respond to, whereas everyone can see that when I responded to him, it was line-by-line, without ignoring anything.

Therefore, nothing is ever truly accomplished, in terms of dialogue, because both parties have to be willing to interact with the other's stuff comprehensively, not in a scattershot fashion.

So I'll wait to see if he will try to actually interact with my reasoning considered as a whole, rather than from isolated tidbits. I don't have unlimited time.

Moreover, note that in this present response, if I actually wanted to pursue it, it opens up into almost all major areas of Catholic theology, so that it strays almost completely from the topic at hand. I don't play those games. One can't do everything at once. I can't simultaneously answer four people all answering me at once, and every paper that Jason has written about Catholicism.

I hope Jason is not relying on Ken Temple, TAO, and Steve Hays to do a comprehensive reply, because I will respond to him alone. When all this is done, I'll go back to my normative policy of ignoring anti-Catholics.

That may be soon, if this trend continues.

Dave Armstrong said...

TAO has made his usual uncomprehending reply. I answered him on his blog:

In an unsurprising move, Dave's response has has already been to run away from this rebuttal of his work, stating that he "won't even read" it

Why in the world should I? You are well aware that I have ignored your work ever since you (along with five of your colleagues) refused to do the live chat debate on the definition of Christianity.

It is Jason Engwer's paper that I critiqued. It is his responsibility to defend his own ideas; not yours.

I made a temporary exception to my rule, partially because at least Jason is cordial and doesn't have to descend to juvenile insults, as almost all of his anti-Catholic comrades habitually do.

And you really thought I would start "dialoguing" with you?: with your track record: a history of ceaseless insults, including the following:

"you're not really in line with orthodox Roman Catholic teaching, Dave." (7-6-09)

"You are as kind as you are wise or honest." (8-21-09)

"I've recently commented on your lack of integrity. It seems this is going to be an ongoing trend for you." (8-21-09)

"Many folks would be ashamed to have the reports of their dishonesty recalled, . . . your agenda is more important to you than the truth." (8-21-09)

And now you want to talk seriously? Why in the world would you want to do that with (as you say) a liar with no integrity, who isn't even a real Catholic?

Don't you think it would be more profitable to interact with an honest Catholic who has a lick of sense, and who (by your unerring judgment) actually accepts Catholic teaching?

Wonders never cease. If you were truly interested in real discussion, you would have taken me up on my challenge, back when I was still willing to spend time debating anti-Catholics (whereas now it is merely a temporary exception to my rule with one person). But you had to play games. Live with your choices; you made them, not me.

Dave Armstrong said...

Here is TAO's response (his bolding):

***

a) I see, you had no choice in the matter. We forced you to run away by saying negative things about you. Got it.

b) You know very well, I didn't refuse to do the live chat debate. I've brought this to your attention many times, and you continue to lie about the situation.

c) Until you give a straightforward answer to the simple question I posed to you previously (i.e. whether you treat "Christian" and "saved" as equivalent), you are not permitted to contribute further to the comment boxes here. I have enough trolls as it is.

***

Note that yesterday he was itching for dialogue with me. Today, he has banned me even from his combox, unless I bow to his irrational, asinine requirements of having to define terms in the way HE demands, regardless of Catholic theology. So he chides me falsely for being dishonest because I don't buy his hogwash, then demands that I dishonestly accept his definitions of things before I am even allowed to participate in his blog, as a non-troll.

WOW!

And this is the guy who was foolish and naive enough to think I would fall for his bait and start talking seriously with him?

TAO is a classic case study of what the false premises of anti-Catholic fundamentalism do to what appears to be a very sharp (if utterly confused and disheveled and relentlessly illogical) mind.

It's very depressing to observe, but he is only one of many thousands who "reason" like this. Pray for them. Ask Mary, especially, to intercede for these poor souls. It's way, way beyond our control. We can't persuade people with this level of noncomprehension with mere rational argument. It will take a literal miracle to change them.

Ronnie said...

I said:
Sola Scriptura is logically necessary now, because it is the only Word of God that we can be sure we have. During early times that was not always true.

DA response:
I see. So you think the OT is not Holy Scripture? and you think the "word of God" is always written?


The exact opposite. The OT is the word of God, but also the words spoken by God’s prophets under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit are the word of God, therefore it is not Scripture alone during these periods. Logically this also means God’s word is not always written, which is the point I was making and Jason’s point. If someone has direct revelation from God(i.e. Jesus ) or indirect from God’s inspired means (i.e. OT prophets ) then it is stupid to claim Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith. Jason’s point that you said was not compelling. Well, like I said if that is not a compelling and cogent reason to you then you just refuse to listen. Furthermore, today there is no other certainty of the Word of God outside Scripture so there can be no source equal to God’s word, besides God’s word. Even your church doesn’t claim the Pope or councils are under the inspiration of God.

Turretinfan said...

"Note that yesterday he was itching for dialogue with me."

No, I wasn't.

Spoils23m said...

Ronnie,

Perhaps I am dense (or, perhaps, you'd call me unregenerate), but...

You wrote:
"Sola Scriptura is logically necessary now, because it is the only Word of God that we can be sure we have."

I don't see how SS is "logically necessary now" unless you assume it in some fashion first.


Speaking personally... I don't intrinsically *know* that the Christian Bible is "the Word of God" from some feeling I get about it when reading it... if not because I was inculcated as Cathoic... in short... I believe in the Bible because of the testimony of the Church I was made aware of early on in my upbringing... i.e. I don't believe in the testimony of the Church of my upbringing because I read the Bible...

Am I making sense?

IC XC
Spoils

Dave Armstrong said...

I see, TAO. Why, then, did you complain today: "Dave's response has already been to run away from this rebuttal of his work, stating that he 'won't even read' it," if in fact, you had no expectation of, or no desire, for me to respond at all?

Turretinfan said...

Dave:

Are you seriously asking why I might point out your errors without having any expectation that you will respond? Didn't you just complete a series of responses to a dead guy?

-TurretinFan

Spoils23m said...

Turretinfan,

I hope that you are well...

You wrote:
"Are you seriously asking why I might point out your errors without having any expectation that you will respond? Didn't you just complete a series of responses to a dead guy?"

To be fair... Dave didn't accuse Calvin of running away. ;)

IC XC
S

Turretinfan said...

Calvin didn't.

Spoils23m said...

TurretinFan,

You wrote:
"Calvin didn't."

Of course he didn't... he's dead.

Do you think he might have responded to someone who was accusing him of running away?

IC XC
S

Turretinfan said...

What?

Spoils23m said...

TurretinFan,

By the by, it has almost always been a pleasure speaking to you (sans last time we spoke until today), but... it appears as though there is a bit of banitis going around in the world of electronic Reformed apologetics today. :(

At any rate.... I hope that you have a good day.

IC XC
S

Ronnie said...

Spoils,


You wrote:
"Sola Scriptura is logically necessary now, because it is the only Word of God that we can be sure we have."

I don't see how SS is "logically necessary now" unless you assume it in some fashion first.


It is logically necessary if you agree that there is no higher authority than God speaking and the Scriptures are the only extant source of God speaking today.


Speaking personally... I don't intrinsically *know* that the Christian Bible is "the Word of God" from some feeling I get about it when reading it... if not because I was inculcated as Cathoic... in short... I believe in the Bible because of the testimony of the Church I was made aware of early on in my upbringing... i.e. I don't believe in the testimony of the Church of my upbringing because I read the Bible...


So I guess if you were brought up a JW you would be saying the same thing? Now, of course when you were a child you thought like a child(i.e. you believe in what you were taught ), but now being an adult you should think like an adult(i.e. if the church you believed in as a youth does not line up with what it teaches is the word of God, that is scripture, then you would leave right?). That in a nutshell is sola Scripturea. The only infallible rule of faith, because it is the only source of God speaking. There can be no higher authority than that and it is the only sure thing we have as infallible.

Turretinfan said...

To be clear, the part of your comment that confuses me is: "Do you think he might have responded to someone who was accusing him of running away?"

I'm not sure whether you mean Calvin or someone else, and I'm not sure what you mean by "think he might" in that I guess one could say that he might or he might not - regardless of whether it is Calvin or someone else.

Spoils23m said...

Ronnie,

Thanks for answering!!

Do you think that it would be fair to surmise that Papias believed in Sola Scriptura before he died? Just asking... (I don't know your beliefs as to the death dates of all of the Apostles as they relate to that of Papias)

I believe that the Bible is the written Word of God, but that's because of the testimony of the Church. As it stands my worldview presupposes that the Catholic Church is what She claims to be.

I don't see an assertion of the concept that the Scriptures (once the period of "inscripturation" is over) are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church, and I am not sure that I buy that "canon is a fuction of Scripture" either... so I don't think this has to do with thinking like a child as opposed to thinking as an adult.

You ask:
"So I guess if you were brought up a JW you would be saying the same thing?"

I can't speak to this issue with any real certainty as I was not, in point of fact, brought up JW. I will have to think more on this... I would say, however, that the JWs don't have the same historical pedigree as does the Catholic Church... my worldview considers this to be important.

I have seen no reason to believe that Sola Scriptura is true... I guess it would take a clear assertion of the concept from within the pages of the Holy Writ itself for me to reexamine that proposition... I have yet to see anything but a deduction based on a presuppostion offered as proof. Proof that your position is right ***over-and-against*** my position. At best this is a stalemate, IMHO.

You wrote:
"It is logically necessary if you agree that there is no higher authority than God speaking and the Scriptures are the only extant source of God speaking today."

I am not I agree with how you worded your premise... and I am not sure how you concluded,
"Scriptures are the only extant source of God speaking today." I just know that it seems as if you concluded this for reasons very different from mine.

I hope you are well.

IC XC
S

Spoils23m said...

TurretinFan,

I did mean Calvin, yes...

Thanks for your response.

IC XC
S

Ronnie said...

Spoils,


Do you think that it would be fair to surmise that Papias believed in Sola Scriptura before he died? Just asking... (I don't know your beliefs as to the death dates of all of the Apostles as they relate to that of Papias)

Spoils, I don’t know and I’m in no position to say. My initial point was that Jason’s explanation was very compelling and Dave dismissed it as if he was spewing nonsense. However, I agree with Jason that we are in different time period now where the only extant inspired Word of God we have is found in Scripture, therefore there can be no higher authority, right? At most there could be another equal authority if it is equal to the God speaking. The Protestant point is that we don’t know of extant source of God speaking.

I believe that the Bible is the written Word of God, but that's because of the testimony of the Church. As it stands my worldview presupposes that the Catholic Church is what She claims to be.

So again if the Jehovah Witness believes in their doctrine because they presuppose the Watchtower and the Mormon likewise for his church you are at a stalemate it seems.

I don't see an assertion of the concept that the Scriptures (once the period of "inscripturation" is over) are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church, and I am not sure that I buy that "canon is a fuction of Scripture" either... so I don't think this has to do with thinking like a child as opposed to thinking as an adult.

Do you agree that only the Scriptures are God speaking? If yes, then what is equal to God speaking besides another source of God speaking? Do you have this other source?


You ask:
"So I guess if you were brought up a JW you would be saying the same thing?"

I can't speak to this issue with any real certainty as I was not, in point of fact, brought up JW. I will have to think more on this... I would say, however, that the JWs don't have the same historical pedigree as does the Catholic Church... my worldview considers this to be important.

I made that argument because previously you said you believed in the church because of your upbringing, therefore my point is if you were brought up a JW you would believe in that upbringing. However, now I see you are reasoning like an adult in that you examine the claims of your church based on historical pedigree. Well history is much more complicated to navigate then the Scriptures. So why not join us and use Scripture to validate the church?

I have seen no reason to believe that Sola Scriptura is true... I guess it would take a clear assertion of the concept from within the pages of the Holy Writ itself for me to reexamine that proposition... I have yet to see anything but a deduction based on a presuppostion offered as proof. Proof that your position is right ***over-and-against*** my position. At best this is a stalemate, IMHO.

I don’t think it is stalement just because we may use a similar line of reasoning. My point is fairly simple. We both agree that Scripture is God speaking. Is there another source equal to God speaking that we have in our possession? If not then the Scriptures are the highest authority and by default they are infallible if it is the word of God.


You wrote:
"It is logically necessary if you agree that there is no higher authority than God speaking and the Scriptures are the only extant source of God speaking today."

I am not I agree with how you worded your premise... and I am not sure how you concluded,
"Scriptures are the only extant source of God speaking today." I just know that it seems as if you concluded this for reasons very different from mine.

OK, then give me another example of God speaking to us in our possession?

Carmelite said...

Evangelical James White admits: “Protestants do not assert that Sola Scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at the very time coming into being.” (“A Review and Rebuttal of Steve Ray’s Article Why the Bereans Rejected Sola Scriptura,” 1997, on the website of Alpha and Omega Ministries). By this admission, White has unwittingly proven that Scripture does not teach Sola Scriptura, for if it cannot be a “valid concept during times of revelation,” how can Scripture teach a doctrine since Scripture was written precisely when divine oral revelation was still being produced? Scripture cannot contradict itself. Since both the 1st century Christian and the 21st century Christian cannot extract differing interpretations from the same verse, thus, whatever was true about Scripture then must also be true today. If the first Christians did not, and could not, extract Sola Scriptura from Scripture because oral revelation still existent, then obviously those verses could not, in principle, be teaching Sola Scriptura, and thus we cannot interpret them as teaching it either." (Not by Scripture Alone, page 128)

Spoils23m said...

Ronnie,

I appreciate the fact that you are continuing the discussion.

You wrote:
"Spoils, I don’t know and I’m in no position to say."

Assuming that all of the Apostles were dead before Papias died... he would *have* to have embraced SS, no? After all you *seem* to have indicated that if Jesus and His Apostles weren't around to give it 'directly' (by which I assume that you mean something like 'orally')... that it would be 'logically necessary' in their physical absence, right?

You wrote:
"However, I agree with Jason that we are in different time period now where the only extant inspired Word of God we have is found in Scripture, therefore there can be no higher authority, right? "

How do we know that we have "found it," Ronnie? It's as if you think that the fact that we're very different on this point should have nothing to do with how we view or answer the question?

It seems as though you are trying to drive an ideological wedge between God and the Church. God's Word and His Body. Being a member of His Body is how I know His Word... not the other way around.

"So again if the Jehovah Witness believes in their doctrine because they presuppose the Watchtower and the Mormon likewise for his church you are at a stalemate it seems."

Perhaps. I suppose it depends on the consistency of each of the worldviews. This should be familiar territory to a Reformed chap... especially if you're a presuppositionalist. ;)

You wrote:
" ...now I see you are reasoning like an adult in that you examine the claims of your church based on historical pedigree. Well history is much more complicated to navigate then the Scriptures. So why not join us and use Scripture to validate the church?"

1. Because I'm not all that sure that the question your posing to me is biblical (i.e. I am not all that sure it's biblical for a Christian to question those in authority over him).

2. I am not sure that I agree that history is any more complicated that the Holy Writ.

3. The Holy Writ has its own history, does it?

You wrote:
"I don’t think it is stalement just because we may use a similar line of reasoning."

I don't think that we *are* using a similar line of reasoning, Ronnie. I think we're come to a similar conclusion based on *very different* (so it seems) presuppositions. I see that as something foundational... you don't seem to recognize it as that important.

You wrote:
"My point is fairly simple. We both agree that Scripture is God speaking. Is there another source equal to God speaking that we have in our possession?"

We don't agree *why*.

Of course I see what you are trying to do... you want to define the terms... you want me to say, "of course the Bible is God's Word and there is no authority higher than that." As if my reasons for *believing* that very statement won't affect at all how I see the question or the answer. I assure you that they do...

By the by, in your worldview... is your interpretation of God's Word the same as God's Word? If not, what's the difference? If there is a/are a difference/some differences... what are the practical implications of it/them?

IC XC
S

Spoils23m said...

Ronnie,

I realize we are spilling a lot of electronic ink here...

I will make this easier and less time consuming for both of us.

My worldview is easily falsifiable... If you can show me where the *concept* that 'the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith' is *asserted* in the Bible. I will rethink my position...

I realize that you'll be tempted to quote a passage of Scripture extolling the greatness of Scripture... or that the Scripture is God-breathed... but, remember, we both agree there, right? Heck... I am even willing to not think about the importance of the presuppositions behind our agreement on this point for this exercise.

What I am asking for is an *assertion* of the *concept* that 'the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith' from the Bible itself.

As it stands right now... I deny that such a concept is asserted in the Holy Writ. Meaning I see the concept as a self-referentially incoherent one.

I think this will save us some time. :)

IC XC
S

Ronnie said...


Ronnie:
"Spoils, I don’t know and I’m in no position to say."

Spoils:
Assuming that all of the Apostles were dead before Papias died... he would *have* to have embraced SS, no? After all you *seem* to have indicated that if Jesus and His Apostles weren't around to give it 'directly' (by which I assume that you mean something like 'orally')... that it would be 'logically necessary' in their physical absence, right?

If I had heard Jesus or the Apostles speak and they died without writing something down I’m still obligated to believe what Jesus taught, as it is divine truth. But Rome doesn’t claim infallible papal pronouncements are inspired, so why is it equal to God speaking?


Ronnie:
"However, I agree with Jason that we are in different time period now where the only extant inspired Word of God we have is found in Scripture, therefore there can be no higher authority, right? "

Spoils:
How do we know that we have "found it," Ronnie? It's as if you think that the fact that we're very different on this point should have nothing to do with how we view or answer the question?

I noticed that you didn’t answer my question, but proceeded to ask your own. I don’t mind you asking additional follow-up questions, but this is a dialog so you have to answer questions also.
I’m not making an argument for how I know we have the Word of God, because you agree with me that we do.

It seems as though you are trying to drive an ideological wedge between God and the Church. God's Word and His Body. Being a member of His Body is how I know His Word... not the other way around.

I’m not sure what your point is, but suffice it to say I’m not driving a wedge between Christ and His church.

Ronnie said...

Spoils,


Ronnie:
" ...now I see you are reasoning like an adult in that you examine the claims of your church based on historical pedigree. Well history is much more complicated to navigate then the Scriptures. So why not join us and use Scripture to validate the church?"

1. Because I'm not all that sure that the question your posing to me is biblical (i.e. I am not all that sure it's biblical for a Christian to question those in authority over him).

Well, do you expect every other group that considers itself Christian to question their authority?

2. I am not sure that I agree that history is any more complicated that the Holy Writ.

You do understand the volumes of controversy and different opinions you get from history, right? That alone should make it obvious that it is a much bigger task to get your mind around the history of Christianity for over 2000 years vs the Bible.

3. The Holy Writ has its own history, does it?
Yes, but irrelevant point to the question I posed.

Ronnie:
"My point is fairly simple. We both agree that Scripture is God speaking. Is there another source equal to God speaking that we have in our possession?"

We don't agree *why*.

We don’t have to agree *why* for you to answer the question.

Of course I see what you are trying to do... you want to define the terms... you want me to say, "of course the Bible is God's Word and there is no authority higher than that." As if my reasons for *believing* that very statement won't affect at all how I see the question or the answer. I assure you that they do...

I’m not defining any term I just asked you a simple question that you shouldn’t have any hesitation in answering. What other source of information do you know of that is God speaking/God inspired? If none, then how can you make it equal to God speaking?

By the by, in your worldview... is your interpretation of God's Word the same as God's Word? If not, what's the difference? If there is a/are a difference/some differences... what are the practical implications of it/them?

You are jumping all over the place now. Those things are important, but not part of this discussion, at least from my perspective.

Ronnie said...

Spoils,


My worldview is easily falsifiable... If you can show me where the *concept* that 'the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith' is *asserted* in the Bible. I will rethink my position...

I’ve never claim that Scripture asserts sola Scriptura. However, both of us admit Scripture is God speaking, right? Both of us confess that Scripture is infallible, right? Both of us would admit there is no higher authority than God, right? So my point is, since Scripture is the only source God speaking that we have in our possession than how can anything else be equal to it without it being God?

Spoils23m said...

Ronnie,

Thanks so much for responding. I am really enjoying the exchange.

You wrote:
“If I had heard Jesus or the Apostles speak and they died without writing something down I’m still obligated to believe what Jesus taught, as it is divine truth. But Rome doesn’t claim infallible papal pronouncements are inspired, so why is it equal to God speaking?”

But the Apostles didn’t die without writing anything, did they? Did all of the Apostles die before Papias? If so that would mean, of course, that they wrote all they were ever going to write before Papias died, no? Since they were no longer physically present, and, since they had written all they were ever going to write… is it fair to say that (utilizing your language from before) that it was “logically necessary” for Papias to subscribe to Sola Scriptura before *he* died? Even if the heard the Apostles (or an Apostle) speak… I don’t think you’d claim that his memory of what they said was infallible and inerrant. Certainly not God-breathed! So… if I were to hold to your position (as I understand it) I would think that you agree that Papias would *had* to have subscribed to SS before his death.

As to what “Rome” (and, indeed, all the historic Churches in communion with Her) *does* claim, She claims that She has been charged (by God Almighty) with the business of safeguarding the Holy Faith. And She also claims that God’s Holy Spirit keeps Her from erring in this task.

So, while “Rome” doesn’t claim to that infallible papal pronouncements are “inspired” like the “God-Breathed” Scriptures, She most certainly does teach that She is the historic Church and that Her pronouncements (which are guided by the Holy Spirit) *are* to be regarded as authoritative. Whether or not you agree with Her claims is irrelevant to whether or not they are consistent, right?

I do *not* think that the Magisterium is equal to God, no. But the Magisterium is how I know all of what God wishes to communicate to me in His good time.

You wrote:
“I noticed that you didn’t answer my question, but proceeded to ask your own. I don’t mind you asking additional follow-up questions, but this is a dialog so you have to answer questions also.”

I have now answered it (above), but to be more clear on this point… No one/nothing is equal to God.

You wrote:
“I’m not making an argument for how I know we have the Word of God, because you agree with me that we do.”

I am not as comfortable as you seem to be about separating what we claim to know from how
(foundationally) we claim to know it. I see this as vital to our discussion. You seem to see it as incidental. I assure you this will come up again and again.

You wrote:
“I’m not sure what your point is, but suffice it to say I’m not driving a wedge between Christ and His church.”

Ok, I will accept that correction, thanks.

Would it be fair to say that you *are* trying to drive an ideological wedge between my claim that God’s Word is authoritative and how I know what God’s Word is?

IC XC
Spoils

Spoils23m said...

Ronnie,

Hello again, mate!

You wrote:
“Well, do you expect every other group that considers itself Christian to question their authority?”

Whether I expect it or not doesn’t seem to address my concern about a Christian questioning (read: challenging) those in authority of him being (quite possibly) unbiblical, does it?

Perhaps we missed one another on that point?

You wrote:
“You do understand the volumes of controversy and different opinions you get from history, right? That alone should make it obvious that it is a much bigger task to get your mind around the history of Christianity for over 2000 years vs the Bible.”

You do understand the volumes of controversy and different opinions you get from interpretations of the Bible, right? That alone should make it obvious that it is a much bigger task to get me to agree (especially when I see how Sola Scriptura has played out over the past 500 years) that the Scriptures are any less complicated (to a degree that matters much) than the history of Christendom.

You wrote (concerning the history of the Holy Writ):
“Yes, but irrelevant point to the question I posed.”

I wouldn’t say it’s irrelevant at all, but your question has now been answered.

You wrote:
“We don’t have to agree *why* for you to answer the question.”

But we *do* have to agree *why* for the answer to really mean anything more than just the superficial agreement about the general wording of a foundationless proposition existing some kind of vacuum.

You wrote:
“I’m not defining any term I just asked you a simple question that you shouldn’t have any hesitation in answering. What other source of information do you know of that is God speaking/God inspired? If none, then how can you make it equal to God speaking?”

I am not in a position to “make” anything “equal” to anything else.

And, again, how I know what is “God speaking” and “God inspired” is p-r-e-t-t-y foundational to this discussion.

You seem to want to force me to adopt your view when I agree superficially with your words (your, almost, “contextless” words). I don’t see how that’s helpful.

You wrote:
“You are jumping all over the place now. Those things are important, but not part of this discussion, at least from my perspective.”

Ok, I apologize for the jumping… your question and the answer to it (which I deem as almost meaningless without regard to the foundational reasoning behind those things) has been answered.

IC XC
S

Spoils23m said...

Ronnie,

Long time no see, eh? ;)

You wrote:
“I’ve never claim that Scripture asserts Sola Scriptura.”

You are one of the first Protestants I have seen admit that. Thank you.

You ask:
“However, both of us admit Scripture is God speaking, right?”

Although I am not sure I like your wording here, for the sake of argument I will agree that we both admit that (that the writings contained in the Holy Writ are theopneustos) “the Scripture is ‘God speaking.’”

You ask:
“Both of us confess that Scripture is infallible, right?”

Again, I am not sure that I am altogether comfortable with your exact wording here. I do agree that Scripture is without error.

You ask:
“Both of us would admit there is no higher authority than God, right? So my point is, since Scripture is the only source God speaking that we have in our possession than how can anything else be equal to it without it being God?”

There is no authority higher than God. Catholics believe this too.

I am not claiming that anything is equal to God, but, I think, in some very important ways… our disagreements are more foundational than this.

Some questions to you about your perspective, for clarification….

1. Regarding what God has spoken, where did He assert the concept that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith?

2. If no one (a living human being) agreed with your understanding of Scripture would anyone (a living human being) have spiritual authority over you?

3. If yes, how could this be?

4. If no, is this a biblical position for a Christian to take?

5. How do you know that the Bible is God’s Word?

6. Does it matter how you know this?

7. Is the consistency of a worldview (on its own terms) important to evaluating it?

8. Do you claim that your interpretation of Scripture is correct? Is your ecclesial community’s? To what extent (a percentage?)? How do you know this? Is it possible you and they are wrong on some fundamental beliefs?

9. If I believe Sola Scriptura to be self-referentially incoherent should I accept it?

10. If God didn't "say" that "the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith" should I accept that position?

I hope that you're having a nice day!! Thanks for sticking around!

IC XC
S

Ronnie said...


But the Apostles didn’t die without writing anything, did they? Did all of the Apostles die before Papias? If so that would mean, of course, that they wrote all they were ever going to write before Papias died, no? Since they were no longer physically present, and, since they had written all they were ever going to write… is it fair to say that (utilizing your language from before) that it was “logically necessary” for Papias to subscribe to Sola Scriptura before *he* died? Even if the heard the Apostles (or an Apostle) speak… I don’t think you’d claim that his memory of what they said was infallible and inerrant. Certainly not God-breathed! So… if I were to hold to your position (as I understand it) I would think that you agree that Papias would *had* to have subscribed to SS before his death.

The point I was making is that if you heard Jesus,Apostles, or some other source of God speaking you are obligated to obey what they taught even if they died and didn’t write it down.


As to what “Rome” (and, indeed, all the historic Churches in communion with Her) *does* claim, She claims that She has been charged (by God Almighty) with the business of safeguarding the Holy Faith. And She also claims that God’s Holy Spirit keeps Her from erring in this task.

So, while “Rome” doesn’t claim to that infallible papal pronouncements are “inspired” like the “God-Breathed” Scriptures, She most certainly does teach that She is the historic Church and that Her pronouncements (which are guided by the Holy Spirit) *are* to be regarded as authoritative. Whether or not you agree with Her claims is irrelevant to whether or not they are consistent, right?

So if Rome’s pronouncements are not inspired, not the word of God I have two questions:
1) How does it become equal with God’s word? Isn’t the only thing that can be equal to God and His word is God?
2) Human beings by nature are not infallible. The only ones we believe are infallible are those that are inspired by the Holy Spirit. On what basis does Rome achieve infallibility?


I do *not* think that the Magisterium is equal to God, no. But the Magisterium is how I know all of what God wishes to communicate to me in His good time.

Wow! That is an amazing statement. The magisterium is how you know all what wishes to communicate to you. What role does the Holy Spirit play in your life? I thought He was the teacher?


You wrote:
“I noticed that you didn’t answer my question, but proceeded to ask your own. I don’t mind you asking additional follow-up questions, but this is a dialog so you have to answer questions also.”

I have now answered it (above), but to be more clear on this point… No one/nothing is equal to God.

So why are the words of the Pope that are not inspired by God an equal authority with God’s word? Why are the words of human that is not inspired of God infallible?



Ronnie:
“I’m not making an argument for how I know we have the Word of God, because you agree with me that we do.”

I am not as comfortable as you seem to be about separating what we claim to know from how
(foundationally) we claim to know it. I see this as vital to our discussion. You seem to see it as incidental. I assure you this will come up again and again.

If you want to discuss the Canon and how we know it then we can do that and not address sola Scriptura. If you want to discuss sola Scriptura then lets do so. The issues are closely related but distinct and bring both into one discussion will make something that is already too long and time consuming much more so.



Ronnie:
“I’m not sure what your point is, but suffice it to say I’m not driving a wedge between Christ and His church.”

Ok, I will accept that correction, thanks.

Would it be fair to say that you *are* trying to drive an ideological wedge between my claim that God’s Word is authoritative and how I know what God’s Word is?

No, I wasn’t because I wasn’t even discussing that issue.

Ronnie said...

Ronnie:
“Well, do you expect every other group that considers itself Christian to question their authority?”

Whether I expect it or not doesn’t seem to address my concern about a Christian questioning (read: challenging) those in authority of him being (quite possibly) unbiblical, does it?

Of course it does, because if you believe it is unbiblical then you shouldn’t expect anyone to do it, therefore you should not want anyone claiming to be a Christian to question their authority. So I’m asking if that is true to see if you truly believe this? BTW, I don’t think it is unbiblical to question those in authority over you, because they are not infallible in system. Only the Scriptures are infallible.


Ronnie:
“You do understand the volumes of controversy and different opinions you get from history, right? That alone should make it obvious that it is a much bigger task to get your mind around the history of Christianity for over 2000 years vs the Bible.”


You do understand the volumes of controversy and different opinions you get from interpretations of the Bible, right?

You seem to have missed the point. I’m not talking about the interpretation of history, I’m talking about history itself!! So your comparison would be the volumes of writing from history for over 2000 years against the 66 or so books of Scripture. Isn’t it obvious that there is no comparison in that regard?


Ronnie:
“I’m not defining any term I just asked you a simple question that you shouldn’t have any hesitation in answering. What other source of information do you know of that is God speaking/God inspired? If none, then how can you make it equal to God speaking?”

I am not in a position to “make” anything “equal” to anything else.

Oh c’mon. You know what I meant. Obviously I didn’t mean you literally make them equal but they are equal in authority in your belief system.


And, again, how I know what is “God speaking” and “God inspired” is p-r-e-t-t-y foundational to this discussion.

You seem to want to force me to adopt your view when I agree superficially with your words (your, almost, “contextless” words). I don’t see how that’s helpful.

It is no superficial agreement that we both believe the Scriptures are the word of God. Anyway, like I said, if you want to talk about canon we can, but I’m not going to spend hours a day chasing as you move from one related topic to another.

Ronnie said...


“I’ve never claim that Scripture asserts Sola Scriptura.”

You are one of the first Protestants I have seen admit that. Thank you.

However, I do believe it is true based on the reasons I’ve been stating.

:
“However, both of us admit Scripture is God speaking, right?”

Although I am not sure I like your wording here, for the sake of argument I will agree that we both admit that (that the writings contained in the Holy Writ are theopneustos) “the Scripture is ‘God speaking.’”

Well, this wording come from Scripture so I guess you are not sure you like the wording of Scripture?

Ronnie:
“Both of us confess that Scripture is infallible, right?”

Again, I am not sure that I am altogether comfortable with your exact wording here. I do agree that Scripture is without error.

So you deny the Scriptures are infallible, but you believe the Pope is infallible under certain situation? That is a pretty amazing admission.


Spoils:
There is no authority higher than God. Catholics believe this too.

I am not claiming that anything is equal to God, but, I think, in some very important ways… our disagreements are more foundational than this.

But you do believe the teaching of the magisterium is equal to the teaching of God, right?


Some questions to you about your perspective, for clarification….

1. Regarding what God has spoken, where did He assert the concept that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith?

Answered that above.


2. If no one (a living human being) agreed with your understanding of Scripture would anyone (a living human being) have spiritual authority over you?


Yes but authority doesn’t mean it is infallible, inerrant, or can’t be questioned.

3. If yes, how could this be?
Answered above.
4. If no, is this a biblical position for a Christian to take?
N/A

5. How do you know that the Bible is God’s Word?
Number of factors, you got all night?

6. Does it matter how you know this?
Yes.

7. Is the consistency of a worldview (on its own terms) important to evaluating it?Yes.

8. Do you claim that your interpretation of Scripture is correct? Is your ecclesial community’s? To what extent (a percentage?)? How do you know this? Is it possible you and they are wrong on some fundamental beliefs?Yes, only God is infallible.

9. If I believe Sola Scriptura to be self-referentially incoherent should I accept it?No.

10. If God didn't "say" that "the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith" should I accept that position?God didn’t say the Pope in Rome is infallible, but you accept that so it depends on the rationale you use.

Carmelite said...

If you can't support sola scriptura from the Bible then you have a self-refuting belief. You can't assumed it to be part of the Christain faith that was once deliver to the saints.

Carmelite said...

Opatatus:
In the city of Rome the Episcopal chair was given first to Peter, the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head – that is why he is also called Cephas [Rock] – of all the Apostles, the one chair is which unity is maintained by all. Neither do the Apostles proceed individually on their own, and anyone who would presume to set up another chair in opposition to that single chair would, by that very fact, be a schismatic and a sinner…Recall then the origins of your chair, those of you who wish to claim for yourselves the title of holy Church. ( Opatatus, The Schism of the Donatists, 2:2, 367 A.D. )

Spoils23m said...

Ronnie,

Thanks for hanging out.

I am sorry that you feel as though you've had to "chase" me about the place... I will try to keel this short and simple and old address the SS related stuff, deal?

Here's what I think that you are trying to show...

A. We both agree that God is the highest Authority.

(Even though you insist that it matters not that we have different, even contradictory reasons for believing such... and, a chances are, your reasons would any more convincing to me than mine are to you).

B. We both agree that the Scriptures are God-breathed (theopneustos).

C. That makes them "rule of faith worthy."

D. We both agree that nothing else is God-breathed like the Scriptures...

Therefore we must deduce that the Scriptures alone are the sole infallible rule of faith (i.e. Sola Scriptura).

Am I close?

IC XC
S

p.s.
If you want answers to the questions you posed in the posts... let me know...

Ronnie said...

I am sorry that you feel as though you've had to "chase" me about the place... I will try to keel this short and simple and old address the SS related stuff, deal?
Cool.


Here's what I think that you are trying to show...

A. We both agree that God is the highest Authority.

Yes.


(Even though you insist that it matters not that we have different, even contradictory reasons for believing such... and, a chances are, your reasons would any more convincing to me than mine are to you).

I don’t think our reasons are necessarily contradictory, but emphasis would be different. I too would argue that the church played an important role in the formation of the canon, but it would not be my only reason and not an infallibly binding reason. But that is the canon discussion.


B. We both agree that the Scriptures are God-breathed (theopneustos).

Yes.


C. That makes them "rule of faith worthy."

Maybe I wouldn’t put it exactly that way, but I think I understand what you are tyring to say.


D. We both agree that nothing else is God-breathed like the Scriptures...

Nothing else in our possession today, yes.



Therefore we must deduce that the Scriptures alone are the sole infallible rule of faith (i.e. Sola Scriptura).

Close, but let me put it his way. I deduced that Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith because only God is infallible or those that He grants the gift of infallibility. God grants the gift of infallibility through inspiration which is equivalent to God speaking. There can be no higher or equal source to God speaking. Since the only source of God speaking is found in the Scriptures it has no equal.


Am I close?

Yes.

Spoils23m said...

Ronnie,

So you are saying that if I accept the Scriptures as theopneustos that I must, logically, believe in SS?

IC XC
S

Ronnie said...


So you are saying that if I accept the Scriptures as theopneustos that I must, logically, believe in SS?


Argument 1:
There is no higher authority than God speaking.

The church has no other source of God speaking than the Scriptures.

Therefore, the Scriptures are the highest authority in the possession of the church.

Argument 2:
Only God is naturally infallible.

God grants the gift of infallibility to humans through the means of inspiration by the Holy Spirit.

The Pope and Councils are not inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore are not infallible.

Ben M said...

"Scriptures are the highest authority"??

Not so sure that these self-appointed characters would agree!

“Be not judges yourselves of your own fantastical opinions and vain expositions; and although you be permitted to read Holy Scriptures and to have the Word of God in your mother tongue, you must understand it is licensed so to do only to inform your conscience and inform your children and families, not to make Scripture a railing and taunting stock against priests and preachers. I am very sorry to know and hear how irreverently that precious jewel, the Word of God, is disputed, rimed, sung, and jangled in every alehouse and tavern, contrary to the true meaning and doctrine of the same.”

Henry VIII, Last speech to parliament, December 24, 1545.

English Church History from the Death of King Henry VII to the Death of Archbishop Parker, Rev. Alfred Plummer, 1905, Edinburg, T. & T. Clark, p. 85.

From Wikiquote.

“Luther's claim to authority as a teacher of God's Word is the common claim of every Christian who proves his belief from the Scriptures. The infallibility of the Scriptures becomes the infallibility of the teachers of Scripture. They can challenge the world as Isaiah did: "To the Law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them"; or Christ: "The Scripture cannot be broken"; or Paul: "Though an angel from heaven preached other gospel to you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed!" —

Theological quarterly (Oct., 1913), Volumes 17-18, The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, vol. xvii, No. 4, p. 288.

"They are sinning against the holy spirit when they refuse to accept the rebuke of the preachers through whom he speaks.” -- Luther

Appeal For Prayer Against the Turks, Luther’s Works, Devotional Writings II, vol. 43, ISBN 0800603435, p. 228

Again Luther (raving against Henry VIII, A.D. 1522):

"Wer Anders lehret, denn ich hierin gelchret habe, oder mich darin verdammt, der verdammt Gott und muß ein Kind der Hölle bleiben"

"He who teaches otherwise from what I have taught, condemns God, and must remain a child of hell." or “must be a child of hell” .

“Antwort Deutsch auf König Heinrichs Buch”

“German Answer to King Henry’s Book”

In the Weimar edition of Luther's Works, vol. 10, 1907, pp. 229-230.

And who could forget the humble Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498).

“Colui che scomunica me scomunica Dio” (Italian)

“Whoever excommunicates me, excommunicates God.”

From Wikiquote .

Spoils23m said...

Ronnie,

Thanks for your reply and your arguments. I am late in getting back to you because… at first I think this had been deleted, then, when I tried to post a response… I was alerted to the fact that there was some kind of error and I couldn’t post. Then… well… the topic disappeared from the front page… Anyway… here you go…

I simply don't agree with your assertion that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church today.

Just because I say, "nothing else is God-breathed like the Scriptures," doesn't mean I also think that that God hasn't, isn't, and won't protect the Church from teaching error.

Even if I don't regard the teachings of the Popes and Councils "theopneustos," I do believe (and the Church teaches) that God protects Her from teaching error... that's Catholic teaching on this matter and it's not contradictory so far as I can tell.

So God's protection of the Church in this regard, while it's not regarded as "inspired," (in the same manner as the Scriptures) if it is God doing the protecting... it's no less infallible. Different gift to the Church... same result in the end.

I see no problem believing both these concepts at once. It makes perfect sense in the Catholic worldview. You seem to want to force me to reject a piece of it that I feel is integral... and you want me to see it as the logical choice. I can't see that unless I adopt a Sola Scriptura mindset from the get go, accept alien ideas about what the Church is and what Her role is. That's not really a critique of the Catholic worldview from within the Catholic worldview.

You said earlier (about my being uneasy about agreeing to the terminology of Scripture being "God speaking"):

"Well, this wording come from Scripture so I guess you are not sure you like the wording of Scripture?"

If I were you ask you, "We both agree that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone, right?" I am assuming that you'd want to qualify an answer of "yes," correct? Especially speaking with a Catholic. I was a bit worried about how you (as a Reformed Protestant) were using that terminology... I don't want to accept alien concepts by agreeing to the ideas that *might* be behind the usages of certain words and phrases. It doesn't mean that I disagree with the usage in principle... I was just trying to be careful.

I hope that you have been well.

IC XC
S

Marylee said...

Who knows, maybe John (Reformedispy) MacArthur is right and the greatest Greek scholars (Google "Famous Rapture Watchers"), who uniformly said that Rev. 3:10 means PRESERVATION THROUGH, were wrong. But John has a conflict. On the one hand, since he knows that all Christian theology and organized churches before 1830 believed the church would be on earth during the tribulation, he would like to be seen as one who stands with the great Reformers. On the other hand, if you have a warehouse of unsold pretrib rapture material, and if you want to have "security" for your retirement years and hope that the big California quake won't louse up your plans, you have a decided conflict of interest - right, John? Maybe the Lord will have to help strip off the layers of his seared conscience which have grown for years in order to please his parents and his supporters - who knows? One thing is for sure: pretrib is truly a house of cards and is so fragile that if a person removes just one card from the TOP of the pile, the whole thing can collapse. Which is why pretrib teachers don't dare to even suggest they could be wrong on even one little subpoint! Don't you feel sorry for the straitjacket they are in? While you're mulling all this over, Google "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" for a rare behind-the-scenes look at the same 179-year-old fantasy.