Norwich Cathedral; largely completed by 1145 (current spire in 1480) [ source ]
A book review blog called Diglotting made the following short "review" (if one can call it that) of my book, The Catholic Verses. I reproduce it in its entirety:
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Worst Exegesis Ever
A while back I was reading Dave Armstrong’s The Catholic Verses. What he does is take 95 passages from the Bible and then attempts to show why these passages “confound protestants.”
One passage he tackles is 1 Timothy 3:15, which says, “…the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”
This is what Dave Armstrong says about this verse …
Catholics accept this passage at face value: the Church is the ground or foundation of truth; it is infallible; it is specially protected by the Holy Spirit so that it can be the Guardian and Preserver of apostolic tradition and truth and doctrine.
That is pure and simple eisegesis. He is merely reading back what he believes to be true into the text of Timothy. Essentially, he is saying, “Seeing as I am a Catholic, and I believe that the Catholic Church is infallible, when Paul then says that the Church is the foundation of truth, he must mean that the church is infallible.”
But what in the actual text would even begin to lead one to think that the Church is infallible and guided by the Holy Spirit from falling into doctrinal error and infallibly preserving apostolic tradition? Nothing at all.
Perhaps the reason Paul called the Church the “pillar and foundation of the truth” is because it is the Church’s job to proclaim the gospel of Jesus (who is “the Truth”).
Carl SweatmanArmstrong’s reading also assumes that Paul has in mind an institutionalised paradigm for church–i.e. a specific entity (read: building) to which all of society comes for healing. I would say that Paul’s view of ‘church’ is the opposite–i.e. the healing (read: believers) is dispersed throughout society.
Jeremy PetersonFoundations are just where things begin. It doesn’t mean they don’t have faults or cracks – sometimes so severe that the buildings themselves are destroyed because of them.
T.C. R.Yep! Downright careless and yielding to that anachronistic fallacy. I see more of that certain of thing even among evangelicals. Ha!
I see. I'm curious, then. How do you interpret the following passage?:
Ephesians 2:19-21: . . . you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;
Where in Scripture, for that matter, does "truth" ever equal less than the total truth and nothing but the truth? In my more recent book, Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths I collected 40 passages about "truth" in the NT: showing that it was synonymous with sacred tradition. I don't see where it is taught that it is anything less than pure truth, unmixed with error. That was certainly how Paul conceived his own "tradition" that he received and passed down. The same applies to the biblical synonyms "the faith" and "the commandment" and "the doctrine" and "teaching" and "the message" and (yes) "the gospel" or "good news": all essentially identical with the notion of sacred, apostolic tradition.
Yet when I make a strong Catholic statement on the Church as the "pillar and foundation of the truth" in line with all this other scriptural data, all of a sudden it is laughable and the "worst exegesis ever." But if "truth" is a very strong concept in Scripture, certainly the "pillar and foundation" of same (which the Bible describes as the Church, not Scripture) is at least equally strong, if not even more so.
Of course, you only cited one sentence of what was a nearly four-page section on the verse, so readers get no idea of the overall thrust of my argument, which was (per the modus operandi of the book) a critique of Protestant exegesis and the internal contradictions therein, not a comprehensive presentation of Catholic exegesis. Many people seem to misunderstand my aim in this book, but it is laid out very carefully in the Introduction, so there should be no mystery.
I can grant that the statement you cite is not technically exegesis, and probably should have been worded a bit differently, so that it didn't appear that I was claiming to be doing such. What I was doing there was stating Catholic dogma, which is entirely consistent or harmonious with that passage; not necessarily entirely drawn from it alone, as if every jot and tittle of Catholic ecclesiology is present in 1 Timothy 3:15. Of course it is not. But there is also doctrinal development, and there is a mountain of related scriptural data that we incorporate: some of which I have briefly recounted above.
Nowhere do I claim in the book that I am attempting to do exegesis as occurs, for example, in a Bible commentary written by a theologian or Bible scholar. It's simply not the same thing. But I think I have some valid insights in the book that need to seriously be dealt with, not just dismissed with insults. One must first thoroughly understand that which they are critiquing, and the post and comments here do not convince me at all that this is the case.
I contend, therefore, that it is not so much a matter of my reading into Scripture in one passage, something that is not there in every minute particular, as much as it is a case of non-Catholics omitting (or "reading out") literally dozens of other passages about truth, about the Church, about the rule of faith, and apostolic succession, and tradition, and bishops (and Petrine primacy and the papacy), and councils (particularly the Jerusalem Council), etc. (i.e., relevant data from from cross-referencing and systematic theology).