Clark, Frame, and the Analogy of Painting a Magisterial Target Around One’s Interpretive Arrow

Jan 14th, 2014 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Westminster Seminary professor R. Scott Clark recently wrote a post titled “Should I buy it? (1),” in reference to John Frame’s recently published systematic theology text. Frame is currently a professor of systematic theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando. In his post Clark describes “two competing approaches to Reformed theology” as it exists today. Clark takes one of those approaches, and Frame takes the other. As Clark describes it, Clark’s approach takes the Reformed tradition and confessions as a “starting point,” and then enters Scripture from the framework given by those confessions. By contrast, Frame’s approach, as described by Clark, regards “the tradition with a wary eye and seeks to revise Reformed theology in sometimes radical ways.” Clark’s post is attempting to explain why his confessionalist approach is right, and Frame’s ‘biblicist’ approach is wrong. The post reminded me of Jason Stellman’s recent comments in his interview on The Journey Home regarding painting an ecclesial-authority target around one’s interpretive arrow. I thought it might be helpful to review the recent history of that imagery and its underlying argument, and explain how it relates to the distinction between Clark’s confessionalism and Frame’s bibilicism.

PaintingBullseyeArrow
Painting the target around one’s already-embedded arrow.

On August 6, 2007, in a blog post he has not kept publicly accessible in his archives, Clark wrote the following concerning the Federal Vision (FV) controversy:

Remember, since the 16th century, revisionists and errorists have always said, “We’re just following the Bible.” That was the loudest refrain of the Socinians, who ended up denying the Trinity. They denied the deity of Jesus, the substitutionary atonement and justification by works all on the ground that, they were just following the Bible. All heretics quote Scripture. The question in this controversy is not the normativity of the Bible but who gets to interpret it. (emphasis mine)

At that time, I briefly discussed Clark’s comment. This was in the midst of the FV controversy, which included a fundamental disagreement between biblicists on the one hand, and confessionalists on the other. Frame, a key figure on the biblicist side, had argued that treating confessions as binding makes them irreformable, and thereby weakens and threatens Scripture’s authority. For example, in his book titled The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, Frame wrote the following:

Similarly, we should not seek to impose on church officers a form of creedal subscription intended to be maximally precise. We are often tempted to think that heresy in the church could be avoided if only the form of subscription were sufficiently precise. Thus in some circles there is the desire to require officers (sometimes even members) to subscribe to every proposition in the church’s confession. After all, it might be asked, why have a confession if it is not to be binding? But that kind of “strict” subscription has its problems, too. If dissent against any proposition in the confession destroys the dissenter’s good standing in the church, then the confession becomes irreformable, unamendable, and, for all practical purposes, canonical. And when a confession becomes canonical, the authority of the Bible is threatened, not protected.

In churches with looser subscription formulas than that described above, there is often pressure to define the church’s beliefs more precisely. Where officers subscribe to the confession “as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Scriptures,” there are sometimes demands made that that “system of doctrine” be defined precisely. What belongs to the system of doctrine and what does not? It seems that we must know this before we can use the confession as an instrument of discipline. But once again, if the church adopts a list of doctrines that constitute the system, and if that list becomes a test of orthodoxy, then the list becomes irreformable, unamendable, and canonical. It will not then be possible to challenge that list on the basis of the Word of God. Thus those who seek a much stronger form of subscription are, in effect, ironically asking for a weakening of Scripture’s authority in the church.” (The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, pp. 225-226, my emphases)

Frame is here claiming that if any creed or confession is made a test of orthodoxy, then that creed or confession cannot be challenged “on the basis of the Word of God.” And that implication, according to Frame, both weakens and threatens the authority of Scripture. It weakens the authority of Scripture, according to Frame, by removing that creed or confession from the possibility of correction by Scripture, thus pulling it out from under Scripture’s authoritative oversight. It threatens the authority of Scripture by placing something other than Scripture at the same functional level of authority as Scripture. No creed can be made a “test of orthodoxy,” according to Frame, because no creed has divine authority. Protestants believe that no interpretation of Scripture has divine authority, and any creed, unless it is merely a collection of verses of Scripture, is a human interpretation of Scripture, not divinely inspired or bearing divine authority.

On August 27, 2007, in a post titled “Federal Vision Questions #6″ on PCA pastor Jeff Meyer’s blog Corrigenda Denuo, no longer publicly accessible, but available here through the Wayback archive, I wrote the following in a comment to Jeff concerning the implications of the biblicist position:

If the authority of the WCF is based on the authority of those who wrote it, then that pushes back the question to the ground of their authority. And if the ground of their authority is your agreement with their interpretation of Scripture, that is the equivalent of painting the magisterial target around your interpretive arrow. Then phrases like “the Westminster Standards set the boundaries for us” and “confessionally bound” [to the WCF] are misleading, because then ultimately it is your own interpretation that is setting the boundaries, and you are picking the confession that matches your own interpretation. The Arminians have their Confession of 1621. Why do they think it is authoritative? Because they agree with the interpretation of those who wrote it. And the same can be said for Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, etc. This method of painting the magisterial target around our own interpretive arrow guarantees perpetual fragmentation and relativism. It allows there to be as many bull’s-eyes as there are arrows. And in theory there are as many arrows as there are individuals. So this raises the question: Did Christ intend us all to be painting magisterial targets around our own interpretive arrows, or did He intend us to conform our interpretations to that target offered by the sacramental magisterium? It seems to me that Tertullian and the fathers thought the latter. I don’t see any way we can strive toward that unity that Christ prays in John 17 for us to have, without considering this question.

So far as I can recall, that was the first time I used the language of painting a magisterial target around one’s interpretive arrow. The following day Jeff responded:

Anyway, with the modern reality of competing ecclesiastical authorities, I don’t see any way of avoiding some level of individual judgment when it comes to churches. You’ve made such a judgment yourself. The Roman magisterium lines up with your interpretation of the way things ought to be, so you’re with Rome. And you go around trying to convince others that Rome’s interpretation of John 17 ought to be their interpretation.

Jeff’s claim here includes what I’ve called “the tu quoque,” i.e. you too do the same thing. But he claims more than just the tu quoque. He claims here that there is no alternative. I responded to that later that same day with a post titled “The alternative to painting a magisterial target around our interpretive arrow,” in which I briefly sketched out the beginning of my reply to the tu quoque objection.

About a week later, on September 6, 2007, Jeff wrote a post (still accessible) titled “Presbyterians & Liturgy – Part X,” in which he first quoted John Calvin:

Therefore, he who would find Christ, must first of all find the Church. How would one know where Christ and his faith were, if one did not know where His believers are? And he who would know something of Christ, must not trust himself, or build his own bridges into heaven through his own reason, but he must go to the church, visit and ask of the same. . . for outside of the church is no truth, no Christ, no salvation.

Then Jeff wrote, “If this sounds odd or just plain wrong to us, it is because we have been infected with a gnostic mentality.”

Reflecting on that topic, I wrote a brief post three days later on September 9 titled “Finding the Church,” in which I examined three possible assumptions underlying the notion that painting a magisterial target around one’s interpretive arrow is the way to find the Church. I pointed out that painting “the Church” around one’s own interpretive arrow (i.e. defining the Church as those who mostly agree with one’s own interpretation of Scripture) is no less individualistic (read: solo scriptura) than painting a magisterial target around one’s own interpretive arrow, by picking out who gets to count as one’s magisterium on the basis of their broad agreement with one’s own interpretation of Scripture.

On September 23 of that year, having just completed Keith Mathison’s The Shape of Sola Scriptura, I wrote a brief response to that book, and this response later served as an initial reference point for me two years later when Neal Judisch and I wrote “Solo Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, and the Question of Interpretive Authority” in November of 2009. There we argued essentially that because painting a magisterial target around one’s interpretive arrow is not different in principle from denying that there is a magisterial target, there is no principled difference between “solo scriptura” and sola scriptura.

During the last two weeks of September of 2007, Bill Chellis, who at the time was the pastor of Rochester Reformed Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York, hosted a two week discussion/debate between proponents and opponents of the Federal Vision on his blog De Regno Christi. Darryl Hart was one figure on the confessionalist side, and Peter Leithart and Jeff Meyers (and others) represented the biblicist side. (Unfortunately that debate is also no longer publicly accessible.) In a post titled “Darryl Hart on the need for sacramental magisterial authority,” on September 24 of that year, drawing from what was written in that debate, I showed that Hart’s confessionalism reduces to biblicism, because it amounts precisely to painting one’s magisterial target around one’s interpretive arrow.

On March 3, of the following year, Michael Brown posted an article titled “Sola Scriptura or Scriptura Solo?” That article has since been removed, but it is available through the Wayback archive here. Michael is the pastor of Christ United Reformed Church, where Michael Horton is the associate pastor. In his article Michael (Brown), drawing in part from Nathan Hatch’s book The Democratization of American Christianity, argued that we should read and interpret the Bible “with the church,” not “apart from the church.” (his emphasis) He criticized American biblicism for claiming the inalienable right to read and interpret the Bible apart from any ecclesial authority, not subject “to any theological or ecclesiastical authority that might be contrary to their own interpretation.”

In that article Michael wrote:

Oddly enough, this kind of dismissal of historic theology actually does violence to Christ’s promise to his Apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (Jn 16.13) and bring to their remembrance all things (Jn 14.26) in order that Scripture would be preserved for the instruction of the church until the end of the age (Mt 24.35; 28.20).

If I remember correctly, I learned of Michael’s article that summer through the late Michael Spencer (aka IMonk). When I read the article, I remember largely agreeing with Michael’s thesis, but wondering how he did not realize that his own position collapses into biblicism, on account of the “painting a magisterial arrow around one’s interpretive arrow” problem. So on July 14, 2008, I wrote a reply titled “Michael Brown on “Sola Scriptura or Scriptura Solo,” and left a note on Michael’s blog with a link to my post. Shortly thereafter, a certain Jason Stellman raised the tu quoque objection in the combox of my post, and so two days later I posted “Tu quoque, Catholic convert,” which with further revisions and suggestions from other men of Called To Communion, later served as the starting point for “The Tu Quoque” which I posted here in May of 2010.

On August 6, 2008, Michael Brown wrote a reply titled “Finding the Bull’s Eye.” That post is no longer available, but the Wayback archive has it here. In it he argues that confessional Protestantism is not like biblicism, because while the arrow analogy applies to the biblicist, by contrast, in the case of confessional Protestantism, the arrow is already on the wall, and the interpreter must aim his arrow at that already existing target.

I responded to Michael on September 5, 2008, in a post titled “Choosing My Tradition.” There I showed that the way by which Michael (a former Calvary Chapel member) chose the Reformed tradition in the first place was by determining which tradition best matched his own interpretation of Scripture. And so he had not, after all, avoided the painting the magisterial target around one’s interpretive arrow problem.

This brings us back to Clark’s recent comments mentioned at the beginning of this post, concerning Frame’s new systematic theology book. There Clark writes:

There are presently two competing approaches to Reformed theology. One approach seeks to appreciate and appropriate the Reformed tradition and the confession of the churches and from that starting point and with those resources read the Scriptures and engage the state of the art. The other approach, however, seems to regard the tradition with a wary eye and seeks to revise Reformed theology in sometimes radical ways. The volume before us, though it has traditional elements, falls into the second category. This approach, which is more “biblicist” than confessionalist …, has produced some significant divergences from historic Reformed theology.

Clark here claims that there are two competing approaches to Reformed theology. One approach treats the Reformed tradition and Reformed confessions as its starting point, and then seeks to read Scripture from within that settled, established position, not calling any of its beliefs into question, but only building on them. The other approach, which Clark describes as “biblicist,” sees the Reformed traditions and confessions as revisable on the basis of Scripture, and is therefore willing to diverge in significant ways “from historic Reformed theology.” As I have argued in the links provided above, the biblicist approach is at least right in its recognition of the non-authoritative status of creeds or confessions given the absence of sacramental magisterial authority. Frame et al, are here quite consistent. The problem with Clark’s approach, however, is the problem I’ve been describing now for over six years. By treating the Reformed tradition and Reformed confessions as the “starting point,” this approach hides from itself the biblicist way in which this particular tradition and these particular confessions were picked out as authoritative. It thereby hides from itself its own biblicist foundation, and in this way it is able to conceive of itself as different in some principled way from the biblicist approach it explicitly rejects and criticizes. This isn’t hypocrisy, but a simple failure to “know thyself,” i.e. unawareness of its own biblicist foundation, by failing to consider the processes and methods at work in the very formation and identification (as authoritative) of the Reformed tradition and Reformed confessions.

Hence, for example, in an older post, from 2009, titled “Peace (with Evangelicalism) in Our Time,” Clark bemoans what he calls “cafeteria Calvinists,” i.e. persons who pick and choose what they like or don’t like from Calvin or the Calvinistic tradition. But if there is no sacramental magisterial authority, then there is no binding obligation to accept and submit to all that Calvin said, as though he were at some time the pope speaking ex cathedra. Calvin himself picked and chose as he pleased, in forming what became Calvinism. The notion that one ought not be a “cafeteria Calvinist” presupposes that Calvin had an authority which he himself denied to any before him but the biblical authors. But this is the problem intrinsic to Protestantism itself, because Protestantism as a tradition is built upon and justifies its existence as such by way of the alleged correctness of Luther’s act against Church authority in order to follow his own conscience regarding what he believed to be the teaching of Scripture.

In his most recent comment in his post on Frame, in response to an objection by John Bugay, Clark writes:

In every case of biblicism someone is still interpreting Scripture. That interpretation leads to some confession, whether formal or informal. In this case, it’s his [i.e. Frame’s] reading of Scripture that trumps all. There’s your pope.

When Clark claims that “in every case of biblicism someone is still interpreting Scripture,” and that “that interpretation leads to some confession, whether formal or informal,” that’s true enough. Then Clark claims that in Bugay’s case, it is Frame’s reading of Scripture that “trumps all,” and entails having a pope in Orlando. Here Clark’s conclusion does not follow. Merely agreeing with Frame’s interpretation does not entail that Frame has interpretive or ecclesial authority. But Clark’s broader argument fails on account of special pleading: According to Clark, when biblicists follow their interpretation of Scripture, they are setting themselves up as their own pope, but when Clark follows his own interpretation of Scripture in order to pick out the particular confessions he chooses to recognize as authoritative, he isn’t setting himself up as his own pope. And that’s special pleading on Clark’s part.

Clark continues:

Without a churchly confession, to whom is the biblicist accountable? No one but himself or perhaps his self-selected pope. Either way he’s back to papalism. In either case, he’s doing essentially the same kinds of things with Christian truth that Rome does with history: affirm and deny at the same time. His dialectical theology makes him infallible. Who can challenge him? It can’t be done. He says p and -p at the same time about the same thing. He’s always right. He’s never wrong. He cannot be wrong. Voilà ! you have an infallible pope.

Let’s put this in perspective. The biblicist is claiming that the confessions are not infallible, and should be subject to revision by the light of Scripture. If confessions can be corrected in light of the biblicist’s examination of Scripture, this entails that the biblicist’s interpretation of Scripture has equal or greater authority than does any confession. Clark responds by claiming that the biblicists are, in essence, returning to papalism, by making themselves (or their self-selected leader, self-selected by his agreement with their own interpretation of Scripture) their own pope, and thus making themselves both unaccountable and [as though] infallible.

Clark believes that he himself avoids this problem, because he is under the authority of the confessions. But as I have discussed above (and as Bugay points out to Clark by saying “which confessions?”), Clark has picked these confessions (and not others) because they most closely agree with his own interpretation of Scripture. So Clark is setting up a delusion of derivative authority, and decrying those who point out the delusion as persons returning to papalism. By insisting that only his confessions are authoritative, Clark is doing the very same thing he accuses the biblicists of doing, i.e. acting as pope. And he is doing so entirely on the basis of his own interpretation of Scripture, by which he picked the particular confessions he picked as ‘authoritative.’

In that same comment Clark writes:

You quite misunderstand the Reformed view of authority. We say that the church has ministerial authority. In contrast to triperspectivalism, when the church speaks as church, it does not create reality. We are simply recognizing and announcing what is and what God has said. It is God who does the binding. We do the ministering. As biblicist (of any sort) how can you appeal to [Andrew] Clarke against the unequivocal, quite non-dialectical words of our Lord?

He then cites Matthew 18:18-20, in which Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Clark claims (rightly) that when the Church “speaks as church,” “it is God who does the binding.” The problem however, lies in determining who and what count as this authoritative Church capable of speaking “as church,” such that by divine promise God “does the binding.” Anyone can arrive at his own interpretation of Scripture, then surround himself with a group of persons he calls “Church,” and then this group can elevate some of them to positions of ‘authority’ and claim that when these persons make a decision God does the binding. This way of identifying ‘church,’ however, is once again merely painting the target of ecclesial authority around one’s interpretive arrow. Such a person is constructing “church,” not locating the Church Christ founded. And biblicists, seeing that confessionalists are simply painting magisterial/confessional targets around their own interpretative arrows, do not see why they cannot do the same, without the magisterial/confessional hoopla.

Hence Clark cannot without inconsistency simultaneously stand as a Protestant on Luther’s “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason …” and decry both “cafeteria Calvinism” and the very biblicism by which Luther and Calvin justified their rebellion against and separation from the magisterium of the Church into which they both had been baptized. Clark is trying to maintain middle positions that are not available, such as the position according to which confessions formed without magisterial authority but rather as expressions of private judgments concerning the meaning of Scripture are to be treated as having such ecclesial authority, and the position in which ‘church authority’ chosen on the basis of its agreement with one’s own interpretation of Scripture is an actual binding authority, and not something that loses its ‘authority’ as soon as it fails to conform to the criterion by which one chose it as ‘authoritative.’ But when one sees the delusion of derivative authority, one sees that the solution cannot be to write another confession, or even revise a confession. And when one sees the farce of painting an ecclesial-authority target around one’s interpretive arrow, one sees that the solution cannot be to fire one’s arrow again, and paint another target. At that point, the paradigm begins to crumble, and one either consigns oneself to solo scriptura biblicism, or one begins to seek out the answer to the following question: Where is the Church Christ founded?

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  1. According to Clark, when biblicists follow their interpretation of Scripture, they are setting themselves up as their own pope, but when Clark follows his own interpretation of Scripture in order to pick out the particular confessions he chooses to recognize as authoritative, he isn’t setting himself up as his own pope. And that’s special pleading on Clark’s part.

    Exactly. I have long maintained that the functional definition of “biblicism” for many is “Any use of the Bible that leads you to the wrong conclusions.” That’s why I, as an Old School confessional Presbyterian, applauded exegesis when done by Kline or Westerholm or VanDrunen, but lamented it when done by Leithart or Jordan or Wright.

    As long as your exegetical efforts end up bolstering confessional Reformed theology, great. But when someone uses Scripture to question the WS or the 3FU, then Houston? We have a problem.

  2. Dr. Cross,

    Wonderfully done! Thank you for this article. Looking forward to a reply from the pastors you mentioned.

    Susan Vader

  3. At that point, the paradigm begins to crumble, and one either consigns oneself to solo scriptura biblicism, or one begins to seek out the answer to the following question: Where is the Church Christ founded?

    Brilliant article, Bryan.

    But how do we know, as individuals and as churches, how God answers that question? You are right, we need an interpreter. Catholics and Orthodox offer “the Church” as the interpreter at differering levels. Protestants offer confessions and ask for subscription at three levels. Biblicists, well, we all too often offer only a “this is what is means to me.”

    In effect though, we all shoot the same arrow, “Where is the Church founded?” and only afterward draw different targets. Even as a a Catholic, your argument boils down to, “we Catholics have the best answer.”

    There is an alternative, and I speak as a biblicist. Rather than submit the Bible to my autonomous choice of human authorities (a magisterium, a confession, myself), I submit my autonomy to the self-referencing Bible, as both commanded and exemplified by Jesus Christ.

    Allow me to explain. When He repeated Moses’ words in the temptation, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4 ESV) He provides us all with an alternative to a humanly mediated interpreter, including self.

    Consider Christ’s own use of his human autonomy here: it’s perfectly submitted under Scripture and displays (oh so gloriously) this remarkable truth: “I came down from heaven, not to do My will….” (John 6:38). The human will he assumed was sinless, yet in taking it He took it to not do it, but to do His Father’s will. Adore, and worship, Christian, because His autonomous human will was so submitted to the divine will that all He did was in every degree the righteousness of God. A very tested righteousness, too.

    Yet He has an equally profound lesson here in Mat. 4:4 to teach, I would submit to you.

    It is this – to show both precept and example working together to provide an inerrant interpreter: Scripture itself. It is the submissive pattern that receives the divine will, made knowable to man, in all its excellencies, called Precept and Example. I’ve written on it here.

    The alternative is unthinkable to me, that is, that I am left to shoot my arrow and hope the target I draw is the best. In the words of Scott Clark, that’s a quest for illegitimate religious certainty.

    (Hello moderator: if my link doesn’t come through, could you kindly fix?)

  4. Hello Ted, (re: #3)

    Thanks for your comment. Because you are a biblicist (by your own admission), I think you are more consistent than the confessionalist, for the reasons I explain in the post. At the same time, your objection (“we all shoot the same arrow, … and only afterward draw different targets”) is what I have called the tu quoque objection, i.e. there is no alternative to painting a magisterial target around one’s interpretive arrow. I do not agree that painting a magisterial target around one’s interpretive arrow is unavoidable. I have addressed that objection in my post titled “The Tu Quoque.”

    Biblicism was not held by Christians until Wyclif in the 14th century. So the approach you are advocating is an historical novelty. Of course you could respond by claiming that biblicism was the original belief and practice of the Apostles, and was lost immediately after their death, only to be recovered 1,300 years later. But such a claim would presuppose eccleisal deism, and all its implications. The gnostics too claimed that their beliefs originated with the Apostles, but St. Irenaeus and other early Church Fathers refuted that claim precisely on the ground that ecclesial deism is false, and that therefore the doctrine found in the particular Churches founded by the Apostles shows us what is the Apostolic doctrine, because the Apostles made known the apostolic deposit publicly and in its entirety. As I showed in “XI. The Authority of the Magisterium in Relation to Scripture,” (see especially the quotations from Tertullian there) even from the late second century the Christians believed that Scripture belonged to the Church, and therefore that the proper interpretation of Scripture belonged to the Church.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  5. I do not agree that painting a magisterial target around one’s interpretive arrow is unavoidable. I have addressed that objection in my post titled “The Tu Quoque.”

    Thanks for your prodding here, Bryan. I read your very fine article on Tu Quoque (again), but I still think you are drawing a target around your arrow, only your arrow is called, “the Church” instead of “my confession” or “my interpretation of Scripture;” and your target is what you believe Roman Catholicism exists as, in reality.

    I would argue, in response, that neither are your arrow or target “real,” but are your perceptions of “the Church” that are quite different than Jesus Christ teaches the real “church” is. Your perception are shared by many millions, I might add.

    To start, I would claim that the “real” arrow (i.e., “the Church”) is defined by Jesus Christ and not by “the Church” itself (whether “the Church” be defined as a Magisterium, the early church fathers, church councils, Popes, confessions, my say-so, etc.). Jesus gives two, and only two, definitions for “church,” which, when categorized and accepted as materially authoritative, the issue is no longer escaping the “you do it too” cycle but conformity to the teachings of Christ (Mat. 16:18 and Mat. 18:17).

    I’ve written on the task of a disciple limiting his/her definitions of “church” to Jesus’ own in my article, The Militant Dissonant Church.

    In it I assert that all who claim Christ should limit their understanding of “church” to His two definitions. Why?

    First, because He is the Lord of the Church and His definitions represent that Lordship. What “the Church” is, in reality, is what He says it is.

    Like you I can think outside that Lordship, and speak, for example, of something called “the evangelical church.” I can even get millions to nod in assent, but that doesn’t mean there really is such a thing. It is my perception of “Church,” but when judged by Christ’s definitions, is found wanting.

    Second, my article points out that all the uses of ecclesia “church” in the writings of the Scripture conform themselves to His two definitions, and only those two definitions (save the “secular uses” in Acts 19:32, 39, 40). But of course, why wouldn’t they? They are all written by inspiration of His Holy Spirit, and bear witness to the magisterial authority of Jesus Christ. How can Scripture step outside of Christ’s authority?

    Therefore, all definitions of “the Church” that do not conform themselves to His definitions have, in reality, no authority.

    Hence, your “the Church” cannot bear magisterial authority, for it is not defined by Jesus Christ; nor does your definition of ecclesial deism.

    Look forward to hearing back.

  6. Ted,

    “…every word that comes from the mouth of God” does not equal to the Bible.

  7. Ted, (re: #5)

    I read your very fine article on Tu Quoque (again), but I still think you are drawing a target around your arrow, only your arrow is called, “the Church” instead of “my confession” or “my interpretation of Scripture;” and your target is what you believe Roman Catholicism exists as, in reality.

    If you think the argument I gave there (in “The Tu Quoque” post) is not a good argument, then let’s discuss that in the combox under that post.

    To start, I would claim that the “real” arrow (i.e., “the Church”) is defined by Jesus Christ and not by “the Church” itself (whether “the Church” be defined as a Magisterium, the early church fathers, church councils, Popes, confessions, my say-so, etc.). Jesus gives two, and only two, definitions for “church,” which, when categorized and accepted as materially authoritative, the issue is no longer escaping the “you do it too” cycle but conformity to the teachings of Christ (Mat. 16:18 and Mat. 18:17). I’ve written on the task of a disciple limiting his/her definitions of “church” to Jesus’ own in my article, The Dissonant Church. In it I assert that all who claim Christ should limit their understanding of “church” to His two definitions.

    Your method here presupposes the truth of biblicism, i.e. (a) that Scripture alone is authoritative, (b) there is no authoritative Tradition by which to understand and interpret Scripture, and (c) there is no Church by which and in which these verses are to be interpreted.

    So by your method you are presupposing precisely what is in question. That’s the fallacy of begging the question, i.e. using your conclusion to demonstrate your conclusion.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  8. Bryan,

    Ok. Let’s see how it goes. I’ll ask a question in the hopes of leading you to see the Bible caries the authority of God above all authorities. When you see something you don’t like with the question, you can either raise the logical fallacy of the question, or ask for clarification.

    In Mat. 4:4 Jesus states, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

    Is Jesus referring to:

    A) The written word of God that came through Moses?
    B) The oral traditions that many rabbis back then, and today, also accepted as the word of God?

  9. Ted, (re: #8)

    I think you’re not understanding me. You are approaching this question (i.e. what is the meaning of Mt. 4:4) from the biblicist perspective, and within the biblicist paradigm. You are asking me to approach the text on biblicist terms, as a way of resolving our disagreement regarding the biblicist paradigm. The problem, however, is that your approach just begs the question between us. To debate the truth of biblicism by presupposing biblicism, is absurd and pointless. There is another way to approach passages of Scripture, a way I discussed in “The Tradition and the Lexicon,” and I exemplified in “Imputation and Infusion: A Reply to R.C. Sproul Jr.” regarding the parable in Luke 18 about the Pharisee and the publican. I’m not asking you to approach Scripture in that way. But again, presupposing the biblicist way of approaching Scripture, as the methodology by which one attempts to determine whether biblicism is true and the correct way to approach Scripture, is nothing less than futility, if not self-deception. In light of the ‘Pontificator’s’ third law, one cannot rightly judge between the method of approaching Scripture through the Fathers, and judging the Fathers on the basis of one’s own interpretation of Scripture, by appealing to one’s own interpretation of Scripture. One cannot rightly judge between two paradigms by presupposing the truth of one of them.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  10. Bryan,

    I’m sorry for your answer but it provides clarification.

    Sadly, your theology moves you away from simply reading the words of Jesus Christ. Simple questions like mine above receive philosophical answers as to the nature of interpretation and paradigm sets. You are not to be accused of false advertising though.

    CtC is clear. It is for those moving from “Reformation to Rome” and this article above is right within that framework. Reformation theology is very much like Roman Catholic Theology – its hermeneutic, and it’s theology, are one and the same. However, I do not subscribe to that, but divide hermeneutics from theology.

    For me then, it’s all about reading Scripture, and understanding the sense thereof (Neh. 8:8, Ezra 7:10). That means submitting not only my theology to Scripture alone, but all my thinking.

    When Augustine heard, “take up and read” he didn’t deliberate on various views of interpretation, but just, read. He came to understand the words, “if you will not believe, you will not understand.” Any theology that takes a poor soul away from just being able to read Jesus’ words, and draw closer to Him immediately through them, is a devil’s workshop.

    Bryan, Jesus said, “man shall live by every word of the mouth of God.” If that means a “biblicist” paradigm,” or a shmiglidist paradigm, so what? His words are life and Spirit (John 6:63). Neither your theology, nor mine, nor your “the Church,” nor my “church,” can claim to be life and Spirit without being a damnable interloper. Indeed, none of all that I just wrote died on the cross an atoning sacrifice for sinners.

    Though I know you will not hear me say, “take up and read,” perhaps you will someday, in simplicity.

  11. Ted:

    Thanks for engaging here. Full disclosure: I held your view for most of my life, but after years of research and prayer, I am currently preparing to join the Catholic Church precisely because of a high view of Scripture.

    Bryan has suggested that your approach to evaluating the merits of biblicism entails a logical fallacy (begging the question). I agree with him, but I can understand that such an objection might not be personally satisfying; like your position was rejected on a procedural technicality instead of on the merits. I want to come at it from a different angle. You asked:

    In Mat. 4:4 Jesus states, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

    Is Jesus referring to:

    A) The written word of God that came through Moses?
    B) The oral traditions that many rabbis back then, and today, also accepted as the word of God?

    Imagine that you answer that question “only A,” but your best friend answers “both A and B.” The answers are mutually exclusive: you negate B, while your best friend affirms B. This distinction is not merely academic; it has serious implications for where you each land on central matters of the faith. What do you do next, given Christ’s expectation that His followers be “perfectly one” (Matt. 17:23), which Paul defined to mean that we all agree, being of the same mind a judgment (1 Cor. 1:10)?

    You could point to Bible verses supporting your view (“only A”), but what if your best friend points to persuasive Bible verses as well? You could stand on the shoulders of a giant, enlisting the knowledge and exegetical rigor of a scholar who shares your belief, but what if your best friend stands upon the shoulders of an equally capable scholar? You could earnestly and sincerely pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and if you do not feel moved by the Spirit to recant, you could cite your prayer and lack of perceived correction as evidence that your position is right. But what if your best friend replies that he has done the same? You could propose simply agreeing to disagree, to “major on the majors” so long as you both hold to “Mere Christianity.” But what if you disagree about what the Bible teaches to be a “major” that forms a necessary component of “Mere Christianity?” You could claim that your best friend simply doesn’t get it and separate, but that option is foreclosed by the directions of Christ and Paul above.

    I have been in the situation above, with deep disagreement about fundamental issues regarding salvation. My childhood church went through two splits before I left for college. I had great frustration and grew skeptical that anyone could reach certainty. There has to be a second-order test to distinguish between rigorous-yet-mutually-exclusive interpretations of Scripture. In seeking both orthodoxy and unity with my friends, I remembered some promises directly from Christ: He did not leave “you” as orphans (John 14:18), He had much to say to “you” that He reserved for the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-13), who would teach “you” all things, bring to “your” remembrance all of Christ’s teachings, and lead “you” into all truth (John 14:26; 16:13).

    You may find the second-order test that distinguishes between rigorous-yet-mutually-exclusive interpretations of Scripture by answering these questions: To whom were the above-referenced promises issued? Who did Jesus instruct not to leave Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came (Acts 1:2), and who was present in the upper room at Pentacost (Acts 2)? If you feel that I’m focusing too much on the apostles, and too little on “the church,” consider that Christ only used the word ekklesia twice: once to identify on what/whom it is built (Matt. 16:18), and once to instruct on conflict resolution (how applicable) by referencing a singlular entity (“the church”) that one could find and communicate with (Matt. 18:17).

    Which church defines itself as both perfectly one and apostolic?

  12. Ted, (re: #10)

    I could also use “sorry” and “sadly” and other such loaded language to disparage your choices, and it would cancel out your use of such language. Any sort of sophistical techniques that could be used by both disagreeing parties and cancel each other out, should be avoided, precisely for this reason. Because they cancel each other out, and therefore do not advance us toward agreement in the truth, persons seeking agreement in the truth refrain from resorting to them in the first place. Putting aside sophistry is a prerequisite for entering into genuine dialogue.

    You seem to think that you can and have avoided the “philosophical” answer to the paradigm question I raise in #9, simply by reading the Scriptures. However, you haven’t actually avoided the philosophical question, even if you do not consciously think about the question. You’ve presupposed a particular paradigm (i.e. biblicism), and you have based that presupposition on unreflective philosophical assumptions you have made (I say ‘unreflective’ because you explicitly eschew the philosophical activity of evaluating such assumptions.) You assume, for example, that “simply reading the words of Jesus” is better than any other way of understanding the words of Jesus. That’s an a priori presupposition you are bringing to Scripture, and thereby building your theology on your own philosophy. Another of your philosophical assumptions is that philosophical questions are to be avoided, as are philosophical answers. (That philosophical assumption, however, is a philosophical answer to a philosophical question, and thus your position is self-contradictory.) This is why Aristotle said that philosophy cannot be avoided: you either philosophize well, or you philosophize poorly. But no one skips out on philosophizing. The ones who think they are skipping out on philosophy are just philosophizing poorly and don’t know it.

    Then you make some critical remarks about CTC, none of which refutes anything I said either in my post or in comment #9. Those critical remarks leave intact the truth of what I said in #9.

    Then you appeal to St. Augustine to justify your biblicism, because, when he heard the child’s voice say “take up and read,” you note that he

    “didn’t deliberate on various views of interpretation, but just, read. He came to understand the words, “if you will not believe, you will not understand.”

    There are two problems here. First, the verse he read on this occasion was not that passage, but Romans 13:13-14. Second, the fact that a person picked up a Bible, and was convicted unto repentance by a passage, isn’t a good reason to believe that biblicism is true, and that the Church has no teaching or interpretive authority. Individual persons being convicted by particular passages is fully compatible with it being true that Scripture fulfills its proper function in the Church, as interpreted within and by the Church, by the light of Tradition. Since this piece of evidence is fully compatible with both paradigms, it does not serve as evidence for either paradigm.

    Next you write:

    Any theology that takes a poor soul away from just being able to read Jesus’ words, and draw closer to Him immediately through them, is a devil’s workshop.

    That’s a philosophical assumption you are bringing to the text. And by building your theology on that philosophical assumption, you are building your theology on human doctrines. Again, by trying to avoid the philosophy, you end up unwittingly building your theology on philosophical assumptions you don’t even realize you are bringing to the interpretive/theologizing process.

    Bryan, Jesus said, “man shall live by every word of the mouth of God.” If that means a “biblicist” paradigm,” or a shmiglidist paradigm, so what? His words are life and Spirit (John 6:63). Neither your theology, nor mine, nor your “the Church,” nor my “church,” can claim to be life and Spirit without being a damnable interloper. Indeed, none of all that I just wrote died on the cross an atoning sacrifice for sinners.

    Again, this just begs the question. If Christ set up His Church so that His people know His words (and thus have His life and Spirit) through a group of men He authorized to speak and teach and interpret on His behalf, with His authority (such as might be suggested by Luke 10:16 “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me”), then these men are not “damned interlopers,” and the one who calls them such is found to be unwittingly working against Christ Himself. So your claim presupposes that Christ did no such thing, and that there is no such thing as apostolic succession. But to build one’s theology on question-begging philosophical presuppositions is to build a man-made theology, a theology made in one’s own image and likeness, making God out to be what one wants Him to be. That’s the danger of ecclesial consumerism, as I’ve explained at that link.

    Finally you write,

    Though I know you will not hear me say, “take up and read,” perhaps you will someday, in simplicity.

    For the reasons I’ve explained above, personal criticisms are not helpful, because I could respond in the same way by suggesting that you won’t hear me and that maybe someday you will hear me. And if I were to respond in that way, the personal criticisms would cancel each other out, and we’d be no closer toward agreement in the truth than we were. So, persons who are seeking to reach unity in the truth avoid that sort of sophistry. It is better, therefore, to focus on the evidence and argumentation, rather than criticizing the other *person.*

    Your working philosophical assumption, as is evident in your statement above (and your other earlier statements), is that theology and ecclesiology must all be simple. But again, that is a *philosophical* assumption you are bringing to your theological process. You are presupposing that it all must be simple, and therefore that since the Catholic paradigm involves a Magisterium and a Tradition, therefore it cannot be true, because it is not simple, or at least as simple as your biblicism. But that’s just making theology conform to your own philosophical presuppositions, rather than being open as a child to whatever level of complexity/sophistication/simplicity is to be found in God’s self-revelation. It is God’s revelation, not our creation. So if we are to be open in faith, we have to be open to whatever God reveals, rather than try to force it into our preconceived notions concerning what it must be like. So if He founded a Church with a Magisterium, and entrusted to her a rich and deep Tradition, then persons of faith should embrace it rather than reject it and replace it with something simpler. Given your simplicity principle, any person could reject your theology as too complex, and replace it with simpler theology still, and/or a simpler canon (i.e. fewer books), etc. There is always someone with a position simpler than one’s own.

    We must not let our philosophical presuppositions dictate our theology, or be the basis for perpetuating schisms that drag Christ’s Name through the mud, and cause Christians to be quarreling with each other (or at least weakened by our divisions) rather than working and praying and worshiping together to advance Christ’s Kingdom on earth.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  13. Bryan,

    Two observations and then a question:

    1) I’ve noticed in your interactions over the years that you often play the question-begging card against Protestants in their critiques of Catholicism.
    2) I’ve also noticed that the use of Kuhnian-like paradigms is a staple in your apologetic tool belt. I say Kuhnian-like because I doubt you follow Kuhn’s non-rational antirealism in denying that your paradigm is making metaphysical claims about reality or that epistemically, paradigms can be evaluated and compared against one another. Since I doubt you follow Kuhn in his non-rational antirealism, I wonder if it would be better if you adopted something akin to Imre Lakatos’ model of a “research programme” whereby you have a “hard core” theoretical assumption upon which the entire programme is predicated (in your case, a sacramentally grounded magisterium) and auxiliary hypotheses to explain phenomena that threaten the hard core (in your case, evidence, such as historical evidence, that counts against the hard core).

    A question: Can someone, such as a Protestant or EO, offer evidence that counts as evidence against a Roman Catholic claim, e.g. whether Peter was ever in Rome, or would all “evidence” just be an interpretation within one’s own paradigm and subject to your question-begging line? If question-begging, could not a Protestant and EO play the same card whenever a Catholic critiques their respective system? For example, could not a Protestant just respond that your “tu quoque argument” only works because you are already presupposing the truth of Catholicism?

    Blessings to you in Christ,
    VU

  14. Veritatis Unitas (re: #13)

    Thanks for your two observations. Regarding your question, you wrote:

    Can someone, such as a Protestant or EO, offer evidence that counts as evidence against a Roman Catholic claim, e.g. whether Peter was ever in Rome, or would all “evidence” just be an interpretation within one’s own paradigm and subject to your question-begging line?

    The question itself presupposes a false dilemma, as if those are the only two options, and thus as if there is no middle position. Of course anyone can “offer evidence” for anything. And there can be and is evidence against claims and positions. But it is also true that one’s paradigm affects one’s perception of the evidence and its evidential value, and that the same objective evidence can have different interpretations and different evidential weight in different paradigms. But that doesn’t mean that all paradigms are equal, and that we’re left with arbitrarily (i.e. non-rationally) choosing between paradigms. The philosophical mistake here would be to assume that we must choose between (a) evidence being entirely paradigm-independent such that paradigms play no role in determining what counts as evidence, what this evidence indicates, and how much evidential weight it carries, and (b) evidence being entirely paradigm-dependent such that we’re left with relativism regarding paradigms or arbitrarily or fideistically choosing between paradigms.

    For example, could not a Protestant just respond that your “tu quoque argument” only works because you are already presupposing the truth of Catholicism?

    Let’s be clear, so we’re not talking past each other. The tu quoque objection is the objection made *by the Protestant* (in response to the sort of argument I’ve made in the post at the top of this page) that the Catholic too paints a magisterial target around his interpretive arrow. My “The Tu Quoque” post (see comment #4 above) explains why it is not true that the Catholic too paints a magisterial target around his interpretive arrow. If you think that the explanation I’ve given (in that post) entails that the person finding the Catholic Church to be the Church Christ founded must presuppose the truth of Catholicism in order to do so, then please feel free to make that case. It would probably better to do that under that post. I hope that at least clears up any confusion regarding what I’m saying here. At any rate, keep in mind that for any question of the sort “Could not person A just respond by saying x?” the answer is always yes, because anything can be said. Hence the proper question is not what can be said, but what is true.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  15. Bryan,

    I agree with you that there is a middle position; sorry if my terse question made it seem that I was presenting an exclusive either-or; that was not my intent. So I am pleased to see that you reject Kuhn’s non-rational antirealism, and that it seems that you would agree, at least in principle, that evidence can be offered against Catholic claims without the Protestant/EO being clubbed with question-begging bat. Would you agree so far?

    Now, using a Lakatosian model for a minute, your hard core assumption is a sacramentally grounded magisterium that is (epistemically) found by tracing apostolic succession through the ages. Your various auxiliary hypotheses will explain phenomena that threaten the hard core (e.g. evidence suggesting that Peter was never a bishop in Rome). As an observation, I take it that the Protestant would want to focus his targets on “attacking” the hard-core to the point that the auxiliary hypotheses become increasingly ad-hoc.

    Regarding the tu quoque comment, sorry again for not being clear (still waking up!). What I meant to say was “could not Protestants respond to your response to the “tu quoque argument”…

    Now, interestingly, you responded saying:

    If you think that the explanation I’ve given (in that post) entails that the person finding the Catholic Church to be the Church Christ founded must presuppose the truth of Catholicism in order to do so.

    I think you are conflating an ontological claim vs. an epistemic claim–the order of being with the order of knowing. My question concerns not the process of finding but your response that the Catholic avoids the tu quoque objection. You wrote in that post:

    But there is an alternative. We are not limited to choosing a magisterium based on their agreement with our interpretation of Scripture. There is another possibility. That possibility is that there is such a thing as sacramental magisterial authority. (http://principiumunitatis.blogspot.com/2007/08/alternative-to-painting-magisterial.html)

    But that response only works if Christ in fact established a sacramentally grounded magisterium. Just as you tell Protestants that they are, e.g., presupposing biblicism in their response, can not the Protestant return the favor and say that you are presupposing Catholicism in your response to the tu quoque?

    Blessings to you,
    VU

  16. Veritatis Unitas (re: #15)

    it seems that you would agree, at least in principle, that evidence can be offered against Catholic claims without the Protestant/EO being clubbed with question-begging bat. Would you agree so far?

    Sure.

    But that response only works if Christ in fact established a sacramentally grounded magisterium.

    I don’t know what it means for a response to “work,” (because the with-respect-to-whatness needs to be specified, i.e. works to do what?). Propositions are rightly evaluated by whether they are true or not. So, if you mean “that claim is true only if Christ in fact established a sacramentally grounded magisterium,” then I would respond by pointing out that your claim is false. When I say “There is another possibility” I’m speaking of theoretic space, which at least includes logical possibility. And that modal truth (i.e. that there is such a possibility) does not depend on it being true that Christ established a sacramental magisterial authority. There is no logical contradiction in the conception of sacramental magisterial authority established by Christ. So my claim that “There is another possibility” does not presuppose the truth of Catholicism.

    can not the Protestant return the favor and say that you are presupposing Catholicism in your response to the tu quoque?

    Anything can be said, so that’s not the proper question. The proper question is whether what is said is true.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  17. Bryan,

    Well, sure, I never said the claim was logically impossible. But what you need is not mere logical possibility but historical plausibility. After all, it’s quite logically possible that apostolic suggestion was a novel invention to combat the heretics of the day a few centuries after the apostles. It’s logically possible that Christ did not establish a sacramental magisterium.

    You wrote:

    Anything can be said, so that’s not the proper question. The proper question is whether what is said is true.

    So, basically, Protestantism is false because Catholicism is true?

    Another question and this is serious as I am embarking on this journey right now: When is one with one’s epistemic right to claim that they have found the church by tracing the apostolic line? How many ECF’s must one read before one is right to conclude that Christ (probably) founded a magisterium? I say “probably” because this search is inductive and can only reveal a conclusion that is probable.

  18. Veritatis Unitas (re: #17)

    But what you need is not mere logical possibility but historical plausibility. After all, it’s quite logically possible that apostolic suggestion was a novel invention to combat the heretics of the day a few centuries after the apostles. It’s logically possible that Christ did not establish a sacramental magisterium.

    I agree with the second and third sentences, but the first is ambiguous. Whenever a “need” claim is made, the with-respect-to-whatness must be specified, i.e. need in order to do x. But the claim under question (i.e. my claim) is this:

    There is another possibility. That possibility is that there is such a thing as sacramental magisterial authority.

    So I’ll disambiguate your “need” claim. If when you say, “But what you need is not mere logical possibility but historical plausibility,” you are speaking of the possibility of sacramental magisterial authority, then your need claim is false, because the truth of a possibility does not depend on the truth of a historical plausibility. But if when you say, “But what you need is not mere logical possibility but historical plausibility,” you are speaking of what is needed in order to establish the truth of the claim that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded (or something akin to that), then you have changed the subject, and my point [“There is another possibility. That possibility is that there is such a thing as sacramental magisterial authority”] still stands.

    I had written, “Anything can be said, so that’s not the proper question. The proper question is whether what is said is true.” You replied:

    So, basically, Protestantism is false because Catholicism is true?

    I have no idea how you deduced that conclusion from my two statements. Such a conclusion is neither implied nor entailed by what I said.

    Another question and this is serious as I am embarking on this journey right now: When is one with one’s epistemic right to claim that they have found the church by tracing the apostolic line? How many ECF’s must one read before one is right to conclude that Christ (probably) founded a magisterium? I say “probably” because this search is inductive and can only reveal a conclusion that is probable.

    That’s two questions, not one. :-) But I don’t accept your claim that the conclusion can only be probable, or that historical searches are only inductive. As for your first question, I would have to know exactly what you mean by “epistemic right.” As for how many ECFs must one read before one is right to conclude that Christ founded a magisterium, I wouldn’t presume that there is some fixed or set number for all persons.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  19. Dear Bryan (#12),

    I respect you, and for the hard road the Lord has taken you (and your dear family) on, so I am saddened that something I said seemed to be a cheap shot, or a disparaging comment on you. All you have is my heart, and if its sophistry, then it is hidden from me. I’m just writing as I feel, and sorrow and sadness factor into that.

    And when I write “simplicity,” it is not, as you infer, a simple theology, but a simplicity of heart that I hope for you. That you can read the Bible without the paradigm you presently have, but that be removed.

    Here’s our differences in a nutshell:

    You believe that when Jesus says, “the words that I have spoken to are life and Spirit,” (John 6:63) such words are mediated and understood through “the Church” as “the Church” has come to define itself over the centuries.

    I believe that those words were mediated through the apostles and prophets in the inspired books of the canon, and were understood the instant they were written to be Christ’s words. Thus the 1st C Christians had access to the fully developed doctrine of Jesus Christ on all things, including ecclesiology, as do 21st C Christians.

    Now, I studied philosophy under Peter Kreeft as a Boston College undergraduate back in the early 1980s, so if you continue to belittle my inadequacies in this area, you’ll have to extend sympathy by letting him know what a shame it is that he has had to put up with such dolts for students.

  20. Great article. Having been a Reformed biblicist, then a confessionalist, then a biblicist again, and now a Catholic, here is my laymans eye view. My simple response to the Tu Quoque would be this: In a real sense, when I “chose” Catholicism, for the first time in my Christian life I wasn’t even taking scripture into consideration. Wow, that sounded bad. What I am saying is that for all the beauty and awesomeness of scripture, it is obviously circular to say I am going to go to scripture to get my paradigm about how to interpret… scripture. Even the simple fact of the origin of scripture can’t be found like that. So for me it was as obvious as my nose that I needed to put that book on the shelf (so to speak) while I looked for a larger paradigm… a paradigm that would enable me to pick up that book again and read it within that paradigm. Protestantism (in the main) does not offer such a paradigm that can fit even disjointedly with the facts of history of the early Church, therefore no tu quoque is possible. In all the major Protestant paradigms things always begin with interpreting scripture. This is why as a Calvinist I never bothered to ask where the Westminster Divines got their authority. Looking back this seems like a glaring omission, but when one is beginning the whole inquiry with their own interpretation as a starting point, then when one finds likeminded folks claiming authority, it is easy to forget that they may actually have no claim to authority in reality… in history.

    There are, however, a few paradigms which begin within the larger context of history and authority. Once I set the book on the shelf and looked at the actual history of the early Church, just tracing who claimed authority, when, where, why, on what basis, it was not hard to trace the authority through 2000 years of history. Yes, I had to slow down and really look closely at the Great Schism, but for purposes of a Tu Quoque refutation, I may as well be Orthodox *or* Catholic. And of course keep in mind all the claimants to authority we find through history always back up their doctrines with scripture. Even arch-heretics like Arius. Which is why it is crucial to put the book on the shelf before you try getting a paradigm from it. If all you do is duel with your interpretation, you literally are doing nothing different than every heretic ever. Not a very safe place. Not judging between exegesis and interpretations, why was Arius wrong? If I knew nothing about scripture, could I still show that Athanasius was right?
    Once I stopped shooting arrows and sloshing paint brushes around and realized that perhaps I should be looking for the target instead, and that no matter what that target looked like… (that is the key)… no matter what the target looked like to aim my arrow true and try to bulls-eye it… that was a paradigm shift.

  21. Ted (#19)

    And when I write “simplicity,” it is not, as you infer, a simple theology, but a simplicity of heart that I hope for you. That you can read the Bible without the paradigm you presently have, but that be removed.

    I could also respond by expressing sadness and mourning and weeping about your condition, and “hoping” to God that you would come around to my way of seeing things without that false biblicist paradigm that presently deceives you, etc., etc., but, again, for reasons I’ve already explained, that’s sophistry, even if when you do it it is a sincere expression of how you actually feel. CTC is a forum not for the expression of our emotions, or feelings, or sophistry, but for rational dialogue aimed at unity in the truth, and thus only for persons willing to discipline themselves to the mode of speech required for rational dialogue.

    Before we can get to discussions of content, we must first understand and embrace deeply the mode of dialogue by which we can come to unity in the truth, and firmly distance ourselves from any mode or manner of dialogue that is an obstacle to or distraction from the mutual pursuit of that goal.

    Let’s keep this thread on the topic of the post above.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  22. VU,

    I do think that Bryan correctly diagnoses the “question-begging” fallacy, despite the disproportionate frequency by which Protestants and Catholics on this site tend to fall prey to it. When Bryan and CTC authors criticize the Protestant paradigm, they typically give good reasons with respect to the constitutive elements of the Protestant interpretive paradigm itself, showing why that paradigm fails with respect to the attainment of a theological body of truths known to be imbued with divine authority. The article leading this thread, as well as Bryan and Neal’s Sola/Solo article, are excellent examples of such argumentation. Generally speaking, CTC authors do not present – or otherwise restate – some facet of the Catholic paradigm as having bearing upon the truth of the Protestant paradigm. In that way they avoid question-begging forms of argumentation.

    Conversely, there have been innumerable instances on this site wherein the Catholic paradigm has been critiqued (or more often dismissed) not in view of its own internal (paradigmatic) or historical claims; but rather, for the simple reason that it does not presuppose or function in a paradigmatically Protestant way; and that entails begging-the-question.

    Of course, it sometimes happens that a Protestant commentator will challenge the coherence or historical veracity of one or more elements of the Catholic paradigm itself. However, in those cases, I have not noticed CTC authors accusing their interlocutors of a question-begging fallacy. Catholics may attempt to counter such critiques to be sure; but they do not seek to evade such challenges through appeal to a question-begging fallacy. For instance, a challenge concerning the historical grounding of the Petrine office in Rome would not entail a question-begging-critique of Catholicism. Instead, such a dialogue would not only involve a consideration of various historical evidences, but also a careful consideration of historical criteriology. A critique of the Protestant paradigm, by contrast, does not essentially depend upon an evidential evaluation of the historical genesis or trajectory of Protestantism – even if notes about Reformation-era theological novums or post-Reformation fragmentation, provide auxiliary reasons to reject that paradigm (in fact, a Catholic would say that both of those historical notes arise from the essential internal incoherence of the Protestant paradigm).

    At a macro level, it seems to me that the Protestant interpretive paradigm involves an internal incoherence which can be highlighted more easily, since its essential paradigmatic elements (human interpreters, a sacred text, a denial of infallibility) and their combinatorial possibilities are more limited in scope. Bryan’s article above is perhaps the clearest presentation of that fact which I have read to date. The Catholic paradigm, so far as I can tell, does not obviously suffer from an internal incoherence problem, for if its historical/ontological claims are true, then it would seem able to present a body of theological truths as invested with divine authority. Instead, the Catholic paradigm, given its immersion in the concrete ebb and flow of human cultural history, would require a quite different (and I think more difficult and prolonged) critique in order to show that it is false or probably false.

    Lastly, I think the reason that Protestant commentators on this site tend to fall into the question-begging fallacy with more frequency than their Catholic counterparts is that the latter – precisely as Catholic converts – have typically traversed a personally difficult theological self-appraisal, wherein paradigmatic considerations played a central and necessary role. Protestants which have been nurtured and trained within a given Protestant tradition, have yet to think as thoroughly about the broader theological landscape. Accordingly, their manner of argumentation is more likely to remain paradigm-constrained, especially when wresting with a theological tradition as vast as Catholicism for the very first time.

    Pax Christi,

    Ray

  23. David Meyer (#20)
    What you say here matches my experience. I was not a Christian at all until I was 27, and fairly quickly became Reformed and a Van Tillian. But troubling me from early on was the assumption of the authoritative status of the Bible. I remember in 1984 – 19 years before I began thinking of becoming a Catholic – asking my Reformed pastor about it and he said, in good Van Tillian fashion, that it had to be presupposed.

    So I was never really either a Confessionalist or a Biblicist. What I eventually decided – through reading Newman, particularly – was that one had to identify the Church before one could know what the Bible was, what, indeed, any source of revelation might be.

    I remember saying to my wife, during the year I was in the throes of what ended up my becoming a Catholic, that at the end of all this process, if I did not become a Catholic, I would never be able to believe in religious authority again. I might be something like a Quaker – listening to the Inner Light, taking inspiration from the Bible and from anything else that helped – but that either the Catholic Church was Christ’s authority in the world – or there was none.

    jj

  24. Thank you, Ray. That was helpful. One concern still is that if a non-Catholic offers evidence from ECF’s against a Catholic doctrine or practice, the common reply I have seen at CtC is that only the RCC can rightly interpret the ECF’s.

  25. Veritatis Unitas (re: #24)

    the common reply I have seen at CtC is that only the RCC can rightly interpret the ECF’s.

    I’ve never seen anyone make that claim here, nor do I know anyone who contributes or comments here who believes that.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  26. Ted:

    When He repeated Moses’ words in the temptation, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4 ESV) He provides us all with an alternative to a humanly mediated interpreter, including self.

    Just a few little parallel comments along these lines:

    1. Does that passage in Matthew have to do with scriptural interpretation?
    2. Does the parallel between “bread” and the word who John calls “the bread of life” perhaps have something to do with — what I can only call — Eucharistic realism?
    3. Considering the challenge which precedes the use in Matthew — “turn these stones into bread” — this is the contextual emphasis: Jesus is hungry and wants something to eat. However, the things of this world are less substantial as food than “every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

    What Jesus is tempted to do in this passage is to use his own power to satisfy his hunger and break his fast. What he does not do is rely on his own power to feed on mere morsels of bread, and he certainly does not call upon the power of God as if God were a magic genie. He rejects that option. This fits well with the other temptations in that passage, to worldly power and to cast himself upon the stones.

    Eucharistic parallels seem to fit better as an interpretation of that passage, so long as they are tied in with rejecting things of this world.

    P.S. I have taken the liberty on commenting on your post about the use of the word “Church.” Disgust with denominationalism is something biblicists like yourself and Catholics can agree on. Catholics merely point out that the Church Militant requires the sacred order of bishops and priests, that non-Catholic Christians, though members of the Body by virtue of their baptism, have no Church at all. To repeat my comment, and to quote someone famous a second time, they are sheep without a shepherd.

  27. Bryan,

    Does CtC have any resources on how you adjudicate the competing claims among religious bodies to apostolic succession? Thanks.

  28. Veritatis Unitas (re: #27)

    What “competing claims” do you have in mind?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  29. Start with competing claims to the papal throne, antipopes, which religious body is the rightful heir of the apostles, and so on.

  30. Veritatis Unitas (re: #29)

    There is a difference between Holy Orders and Ecumenical Primacy. What you are asking about, it seems, is not apostolic succession per se (which has to do with Holy Orders), but Ecumenical Primacy. Even when there is a schism, the bishops in both separated communities can retain Holy Orders. In the third century, the Novatians retained Holy Orders, even while in schism from the Catholic Church. And in the fourth century, the Donatists retained Holy Orders, even while in schism. If the bishops in both communities retain Holy Orders, then obviously Holy Orders is not the criterion by which to determine which community is the continuation of the Church Christ founded, and which is the schism from the Church. Hence the need for Ecumenical Primacy, and hence the definition of ‘schism‘ found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Church Fathers taught that this primacy belonged to St. Peter, and to his episcopal successors in Rome. We can see this in the second-century writings of St. Ireneaus, who says, “It is necessary that all should depend on the Roman Church as their head and fountain; all Churches should agree with this Church on account of her priority of principality, for there the traditions delivered by the Apostles have always been preserved” (Against Heresies Bk 3, chpt 3.2). And St. Cyprian makes the same claim in the third century. And St. Optatus makes the same claim in the fourth century. Later in the fourth century, St. Augustine writes:

    You know what the Catholic Church is, and what that is cut off from the Vine; if there are any among you cautious, let them come; let them find life in the Root. Come, brethren, if you wish to be engrafted in the Vine: a grief it is when we see you lying thus cut off. Number the Bishops even from the very seat of Peter: and see every succession in that line of Fathers: that is the Rock against which the proud Gates of Hell prevail not. (PL 43.30)

    These all refer to the unique role of the Pope, in occupying the “Chair [i.e. office] of St. Peter.”

    As for anti-popes, these are persons who were not duly elected to the papal office, or were proclaimed pope while another pope retained the papal office. In either case they were ipso facto an anti-pope. What is necessary for being duly elected to the papal office is specified in the canon law at the time.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  31. Bryan Cross (or any Ctc commentators)

    Could you please complete the analogy from the RC perspective? If the reformed shoot an arrow and then draw a target around wherever it lands…. do RCs give their entire bow and arrow over to the magesterium? Is the Church shooting our arrow? Didn’t we first have to decide (through some means) to trust said infallible archer? I know all analogies break down at some point…. but I am struggling to see how the RC position is ultimately any different and was hoping you may be able to help me?

  32. Kenneth, (re: #31)

    That’s roughly what I’ve called the tu quoque objection, and I’ve addressed that in the post titled (unsurprisingly) “The Tu Quoque.” See also the post titled “Lawrence Feingold: The Motives of Credibility for Faith.”

    If I were to “complete the analogy” as you put it, in describing the Catholic approach, I would describe it as discovering the World Archery Federation, which has the authority to determine where the [interpretive] targets are, and to judge where and when [interpretations] hit or miss those targets.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  33. Bryan,

    The World Archery Federation!!!!! Very nice. Thank you so much for your time and the links.

  34. Ted Bigelow: #3 “But how do we know, as individuals and as churches, how God answers that question? You are right, we need an interpreter. Catholics and Orthodox offer “the Church” as the interpreter at differering levels. Protestants offer confessions and ask for subscription at three levels. Biblicists, well, we all too often offer only a “this is what is means to me.””

    Writing as a former evangelical Pentecostal, I found your “this is what it means to me” revealing. Coming from a Biblicist background, and not a creedal background, I understood what you were writing. Of note, my earliest course of apologetics was with the Baptists. Because the apostle wrote that the gifts would come to an end, the Baptists decided that the gifts had ended with the death of the last apostle. (I had not yet read about secessionism and don’t know if that played a part in the Baptist position.)

    We Pentecostals were using the gifts of the Holy Spirit, charismata, and wondering how anyone could miss that fact. We knew about the apostle’s statement about the end of these gifts, but assumed, based on our experience, that such time had not yet come.

    Based on Bryan’s description, we were painting the target around the arrow based on “our” position, whether we were Baptists or Pentecostals.

    After a time I was finding that difficulty in my own denomination, and it was problematic because it involved Jesus’ statements in the gospels. Jesus notes in John’s gospel that He is the Bread of Life and He must be eaten. This statement comes from the Lamb of God. There is a series of items in the Old and New Testaments, beginning with Abraham’s answer to Isaac, that involve a lamb. With regard to Abraham and Isaac, Isaac asks about the sacrifice to be made, not knowing that he is to be the sacrifice. Abraham answers by noting that God Himself will provide the lamb. Note that when Abraham’s hand was stayed with regard to Isaac, a ram was found and sacrificed. No lamb there.

    Next is the unblemished Passover lamb of the Exodus which must be killed and eaten.

    Then the lamb facing its slaughters described by Isaiah in one of the suffering servant prophecies.

    The Baptist with some of his followers points to Jesus and says, “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.”

    Paul writes, “Christ our Passover.”

    I was finding Jesus credible in the face of the positions taken by my church. I actually had to choose. Either He was right and I was wrong, or the opposite. Honestly, I found I wanted that He be right even if I was damned. It was that important.

    It was not only the Eucharist that I found lacking in evangelicalism, it was the forgiveness of sins. If Jesus was right about “whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you retain, they are retained” then standing in my backyard confessing my sins directly to heaven was not sufficient.

    I was finding the same kind of impetus for Peter and for Mary that I was finding for believing Jesus and scripture at large to be correct, no matter what I wanted or was willing to deny.

    I worked backwards through the Reformation, and found the same problems based on questionable interpretations of scripture. I also found a distinct lack of appreciation in me for the early reformers, their biographies, and the histories of their times and locales.

    They took up the solas offered by Luther and used them to justify their own positions. Luther exchanged Jesus’ statement about “be perfect” for seeing humanity as dung wrapped in snow. That immediately sounded like Jesus’ statement about those who were clean on the outside but full of corruption on the inside. No “be perfect” there.

    Calvin held to a real lack of moral sense, encapsulated by his followers in the Tulip T: total depravity. When I read him he delivered the idea that God made some men for hell. In such a case, God would not be love for those men, and Jesus would not be the savior of the world for those made for damnation. However the apostles told us that God is love and the God came to save the world, not for its condemnation.

    When I hit the early Church fathers I found men who agreed with the gospels. They were saying what Jesus was saying, what Peter was saying, what Paul was saying, what John was saying. Everyone there was on the same page to a great extent. Some were a bit early given the history of the Church councils and the explanations that issued from them, but they were convinced that they were carrying on the work of the apostles because, for the earliest of them, the apostles had directly taught them and they were passing on the Tradition as it was given to them.

    In this they were unlike those of us who held the solas. They were all pulling in the same direction. It was not chaotic, which is a real plus for someone as simple as me who saw the discrepancy between the Baptist and the Pentecostal positions, and then saw the discrepancies between innumerable churches and sects in my reading.

    The Yellow Pages under Church is not a charitable description of how to arrive at the truth. It credits God with chaos, and puts Him in the position of being responsible for enlightening people on an individual basis with incompatible truths, when in fact He established a Church through which He operates, and through which the Holy Spirit leads humankind to all truth. Of note, Peter in Acts is given the revelation that God can save the Gentiles. That is a clear depiction of the Holy Spirit leading the Church to all truth, in this case through the chief apostle.

    How compelling is it? Peter explains himself and the Church falls into line. When this issue reappears, Paul turns it over to the Church and in the Council of Jerusalem, it is Peter who speaks first upholding the position given him by God and, of note, maintained by Paul and Barnabas. James speaks last, agreeing with Peter and Paul.

    I found the Church Jesus established, way back in Palestine, and operating continuously since then. It was never dependent on the goodness of its sons and daughters, and never in danger of collapse because of its sons and daughters. Its Founder and Head maintains it. Peter and Peter’s successors are His servants.

    I am no longer a Biblicist, I am a son of the Church. Scripture enabled me to see the horizon I had to travel toward, but then given where scripture came from, it was supposed to do exactly that.

    The end of John 6 notes that people grumbled, then people left. Jesus asks the apostles if they are leaving as well. Peter states that Jesus has the words of everlasting life and that there is no place else to go. I found myself standing next to Peter. It is continuously a wonderful place to stand.

  35. You also need to consider the possibility that:

    (1) Frame has an opinion

    (2) Clark has an opinion

    (3) The Pope has an opinion

    and none of them is authoritative.

    You confuse the notions of “it would be helpful to have a final authority” with “we must have a final authority” and “I’ve found a final authority!”

    One might conclude that they’ve found a final authority by the presence of good fruit, maybe even predominately or exclusively good fruit. After all, Jesus said, “By your fruit you may know them.”

    When people look at history and the Roman Catholic Church the fruit is decidedly mixed, up to and including the article I read in the paper today about the opening of the priest sexual abuse files in Chicago.

    I need consistent evidence, not just a leap of faith, to identify what you think you’ve identified.

    The problem is you guys have taken a leap of faith and then painted a target of evidence around it to support your leap.

  36. Erik, (re: #35)

    You also need to consider the possibility that:
    (1) Frame has an opinion
    (2) Clark has an opinion
    (3) The Pope has an opinion
    and none of them is authoritative.

    You are assuming falsely that I didn’t already consider that possibility. Of course that is a logical possibility. But first, that logical possibility is fully compatible with the argument in the post above. And second, the motives of credibility show that there is an actual magisterial authority.

    You confuse the notions of “it would be helpful to have a final authority” with “we must have a final authority” and “I’ve found a final authority!”

    No, I don’t. The argument I’ve given above does not infer from “it would be helpful to have a final authority” to “there must be one” or “I’ve find one.” So you’re criticizing a straw man.

    One might conclude that they’ve found a final authority by the presence of good fruit, maybe even predominately or exclusively good fruit. After all, Jesus said, “By your fruit you may know them.”

    Of course people can do that. Some of them become Mormons.

    When people look at history and the Roman Catholic Church the fruit is decidedly mixed, up to and including the article I read in the paper today about the opening of the priest sexual abuse files in Chicago.

    That abuse is of course horrific, and inexcusable. But if one wants to examine the fruit of the Catholic Church, one has to look at her in her entirety, over the last 2,000 years, and look especially at those who live in conformity with the Church’s teachings, and make frequent use of her sacraments. The fruit of the Church is not best found in those who reject her teachings, or in one relatively short time span, but in the whole of Church history, and particularly in those who are deeply devoted to her teachings, as is explained in “The Holiness of the Church.”

    I need consistent evidence, not just a leap of faith, to identify what you think you’ve identified.

    Of course. That’s why fideism is false (see the “Wilson vs. Hitchens” post), and we rightly find the Church through the motives of credibility, and not by some leap of blind faith.

    The problem is you guys have taken a leap of faith and then painted a target of evidence around it to support your leap.

    No, that’s not only false, but it is a mere unsubstantiated assertion attacking a straw man. We have not taken a blind “leap of faith.” In becoming Catholic we followed the motives of credibility, which are accessible to reason, to find the Church Christ founded, and the Magisterium He endowed with divine authority.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  37. Bryan – the motives of credibility show that there is an actual magisterial authority.

    Erik – Prove to me that they “show” that.

    How do I know that you just don’t find them credible because you want to because you have a need for “an actual magisterial authority”

    Mormons find the testimony of Joseph Smith to be credible. They rely on the veracity of his historical accounts in asserting that their faith is rational. Why are they any less justified in that belief than you?

    Mormons have no widespread clergy abuse scandal that I know of. Roman Catholics do. Why should I not consider this in evaluating the relative truth of your two contradictory claims regarding the truth of your religions?

    Bryan – In becoming Catholic we followed the motives of credibility, which are accessible to reason, to find the Church Christ founded, and the Magisterium He endowed with divine authority.

    Erik – How was your “following” not the exercise of private judgment?

    If it is private judgment, why is it superior to the private judgment of Protestants?

    If the best way to judge Catholicism is to look at those who are deeply devoted to her teachings, why does the church not do more to discipline those who are Roman Catholic, but give the church a bad name? In other words, why is there so little church discipline of wayward baptized members in the Roman Catholic Church?

    Why should I as an outsider have to make the difficult distinction of who is faithful and who is not if your church is “one” as you claim?

    If Clark believes that Confessions can’t be revised, what is he doing as a minister in the United Reformed Churches in North America, which uses a revised version of the original Belgic Confession?

    His acceptance of the Revised Belgic seems to refute your statement about what he believes, unless I’ve misunderstood you.

    One thing I do agree with in your post – the label of “biblicist”, used in a pejorative way, should not be thrown around casually. If someone has a belief that runs counter to a Confession they should be given a chance to show why their interpretation is correct and the interpretation of the Confession is not. There are proper channels in which to do that.

    Do similar channels exist within Catholicism? If Popes and Councils can and do err, what opportunity do the laity have to correct them?

  38. Erik, (re: #37)

    Prove to me that they “show” that.

    I don’t attempt to prove anything to a person who issues me an imperative that I do so.

    How do I know that you just don’t find them credible because you want to because you have a need for “an actual magisterial authority.”

    I think you don’t mean “How do I know that x?” because, by your own admission, you don’t actually know x. (If you knew it, you could simply reflect on how you know it.) Instead, I think you mean “How would I come to know x?” And because x is about both the motives of credibility and myself, my answer to that latter question would be, “In order to come to know the answer to your question you would have to study the motives of credibility and come to know me such that you know whether I am the sort of person who would do that.”

    Mormons find the testimony of Joseph Smith to be credible. They rely on the veracity of his historical accounts in asserting that their faith is rational. Why are they any less justified in that belief than you?

    My short answer would be: because Smith didn’t perform any miracles; the Apostles did.

    Mormons have no widespread clergy abuse scandal that I know of. Roman Catholics do. Why should I not consider this in evaluating the relative truth of your two contradictory claims regarding the truth of your religions?

    No one said you shouldn’t consider x.

    How was your “following” not the exercise of private judgment?

    It was.

    If it is private judgment, why is it superior to the private judgment of Protestants?

    It is not superior. But the answer to the question you are trying to ask is explained in “The Tu Quoque” post.

    If the best way to judge Catholicism is to look at those who are deeply devoted to her teachings, why does the church not do more to discipline those who are Roman Catholic, but give the church a bad name? In other words, why is there so little church discipline of wayward baptized members in the Roman Catholic Church? Why should I as an outsider have to make the difficult distinction of who is faithful and who is not if your church is “one” as you claim?

    Your very question shows that you already know its answer. If you couldn’t already distinguish between “who is faithful and who is not,” you wouldn’t know which persons are “wayward.” But since you already recognize who is wayward (and wonder why they are not disciplined) you show that you have already made that oh-so-“difficult” distinction between who is faithful and who is not.

    If Clark believes that Confessions can’t be revised, what is he doing as a minister in the United Reformed Churches in North America, which uses a revised version of the original Belgic Confession? His acceptance of the Revised Belgic seems to refute your statement about what he believes, unless I’ve misunderstood you.

    I never claimed that Clark believes that confessions cannot be revised.

    Do similar channels exist within Catholicism? If Popes and Councils can and do err, what opportunity do the laity have to correct them?

    Neal and I have addressed that in section “V. B. Sola Ecclesia: The Church Is Autonomous, a Law unto Itself, and Unaccountable” in our article “Solo Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, and the Question of Interpretive Authority.”

    For future notice, please do not post multiple comments in a series. Your comment above was a series of six separate comments. Recall the following from our posting guidelines page:

    Please refrain from posting multiple comments in succession; take the time to think through carefully what you want to say, then say it in one comment, and then wait for replies.

    Lastly, with Tom, I’m not approving any more comments until the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, so that we can give time to prayer for Christian unity.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  39. Bryan – don’t attempt to prove anything to a person who issues me an imperative that I do so.

    Erik – Why not? I would think you would want to show me clearly that the Motives of Credibility are valid as they appear to be the foundation of your Christian faith. As an apologist I would think you would be glad to talk about them, since you obviously believe them to be true beyond a reasonable doubt. Once you get out of your prayer closet, lets dig into them.

    After we get through that we can go onto my other points that you responded to, one at a time. I have years, God willing, so there is no hurry.

    Please give me an example of a Motive of Credibility that you find especially persuasive.

  40. Erik, (re: #39)

    If you would like to discuss the motives of credibility, please do so “Lawrence Feingold: The Motives of Credibility for Faith,” so that we can keep this thread on-topic. Thank you.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  41. as Bugay points out to Clark by saying “which confessions?”

    Wow, John Bugay really pulled the rug out from under Clark with this one. It’s so elegant and yet so powerful.

    How does Clark even address the discrepancy of content (and revisions*) among the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort, and Westminster Confession? Clark is big on promoting his book “Recovering the Reformed Confession” (which I haven’t read), but I wouldn’t be surprised if he begins to take liberties on which parts of the Confessions are essential and which can be dispensed with.

    Surprisingly, Clark recently wrote a blog post (January 28, 2014) called “When Subscription Isn’t,” and it contains some noteworthy information. Clark begins by saying:

    One of the chapters in RRC is about how we relate to our confession(s). Well, the whole book is about how we relate to our confession(s) but this chapter is devoted specifically to how we subscribe them. This is a big issue. By etymology, “to subscribe” means to write one’s name beneath a document. We still do this with certain legal documents. We do it with credit card receipts daily.

    How can Clark speak of subscribing to “our confessions(s),” and yet indicate a true Christian is free to only subscribe to one, the other, or both? This would suggest a Christian doesn’t have to go along with, e.g., the Westminster’s teaching on divorce, “covenant of works,” musical instruments, etc (vs the Three Form’s silence on these matters).

    For as highly as Clark speaks about the role and status of Confessions, there is absolutely zero Biblical precedent for Confessions (aside from maybe Acts 15, but I doubt he wants to go there).

    And then in the comment box, Clark says this on 2-3-2014:

    The American revisions [to the Confessions] were done ecclesiastically. I support the 18th-century revisions. As I argued, in RRC, however, I think the best thing to do is to write a new one to which we can subscribe quia.

    So the Church can “revise” (including scrap) what was previously taught? And Clark says he votes for drafting a new Confession for our modern times? How is this not a textbook case of painting your arrow around a target?

    *Doing some searching around, I found this gem on Clark’s Blog, titled “The Revision of Belgic Confession Article 36” and in that post Clark says at the very end:

    Finally, in 1958, Synod declared the Constantinian language of the original article “unbiblical” (see below) and adopted a substantial revision of Article 36

    So a Reformed synod in 1958 declared a prior edition of the Beligic Confession to have “unbiblical” teaching in it. I honestly don’t see how Clark can let this ‘revision’ slide as acceptable remain consistent with his claim that we’re bound to the Confessions.

  42. Nick,

    ” I honestly don’t see how Clark can let this ‘revision’ slide as acceptable remain consistent with his claim that we’re bound to the Confessions.”

    Here’s BC:

    “Therefore we must not consider human writings—no matter how holy their authors may have been—equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of times or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else. For all human beings are liars by nature and more vain than vanity itself.”

    Similar language is in all the confessions – writings and councils where confessions came from can always be in error – hence semper reformanda. All the confessions seem to shoot themselves in the foot when proposed as authoritative. So I agree with you on Clark – I don’t know how he can be adamant about being bound to the confessions when they themselves can only propose a paper tiger authority by their own principles.

  43. In a brief blog article on Credo Magazine yesterday (2-19-14), popular Reformed Pastor & Professor Fred Zaspel has come out in defense of Frame against those Reformed who insist that the Confessions have some sort of divine regulative status. The key quotes from Zaspel are as follows:

    According to Chantry, Frame’s treatment of the Regulative Principle of Worship is dangerous and “intentionally deceptive.” It seems, according to Chantry, that through “logic-bending rhetoric” Frame twists and warps the Regulative Principle to make it fit his own preferences and personal tastes.

    From here Chantry goes on to extol the necessity of his application of the Regulative Principle and the virtues of his brand of confessionalism. The Confessions come to us with the wisdom of the church through the ages and thus should rule. Scripture is the rule, Chantry tells us. Yet it is the Confessions that must set the boundaries for our interpretation of Scripture.

    I have to say that I do find that logic mind-bending — Scripture rules, yet it is the Confession that sets the boundaries for understanding it. So Scripture or the Confession — which is normative after all? And at this point one might wonder who is the situationalist. We might ask specifically, if the Confession is written to defend infant baptism and Presbyterian order, which is authoritative, Scripture or the Confession? As a Baptist of course Chantry would want to say that the boundaries of the Westminster Confession are incorrect. What about the boundaries of the Baptist Confession of 1644-1646? Were they binding? Or suppose others do not like the boundaries of the 1689 Baptist Confession? Who decides? Chantry says that his Confession has set the boundaries for how he reads the Bible. Is this allowing a normative role to Scripture?

    Zaspel clearly sees the hypocrisy and incoherence of ‘Confessionalism’, just as Frame saw it.

  44. Oh my, I just found out this Chantry fellow is responding to Zaspel by writing a blog post for today (2-20-14) in which he defends ‘Confessionalism’ on this basis:

    Confessions state the conclusions of an ecclesiastical body on a variety of doctrines. They do not represent the end of theology, but instead act as a brake on personal interpretations.

    Consider, prior to Nicea a great many preachers were all reading the same Bible and describing different Christs. At Nicea the churches recognized the orthodox truth regarding the nature of Christ and formulated that teaching in a creed. The result was to put an end to personal interpretations within the church – to distinguish between what was inside and what was outside the boundaries. Anyone who wished to pursue a private interpretation would have to do so outside the boundaries of the communion defined at Nicea. In other words, the church recognized early on that sinful tendency drives theology away from biblical truth – even where the Bible is quoted. Corporate recognition of right interpretations put a brake on individual error. The Eccumenical creeds did this for the entire church; in a more recent era the confessions have accomplished the same task for various segments of the church.

    One wonders how Chantry’s claims square with the explicit Confessional teaching that Ecumenical Councils have taught error and that no council or magisterium is infallible. One also wonders how Chantry can make this claim in light of Luther’s “Here I stand”. I’m sure that Chantry would freely reject much of what Nicaea taught, including Canon 6 and the explicit three-fold Deacon-Priest-Bishop distinction in Holy Orders. And one needs not go much further than the succeeding Ecumenical Councils to see more freely rejecting what is taught by “the church” and received “corporate recognition”. Sadly, Chantry and company don’t stop to ask just how authoritative was Nicaea and just who were these Bishops at Nicaea (hint: they weren’t Protestant!).

    I cannot get over the sheer incoherence of Chantry’s bouncing between “the church” (in the singular) and “various segments of the church” in the same line of thought. On one hand, he wants “the church” to be speaking and ruling as an individual whole, while on the other hand he wants denominations to be free to do as they please. It almost seems as if Chantry’s (and Clark’s?) argument is that as long as enough people agree with some interpretation, then it’s good enough to make it into a Confessional statement, while the ‘only thing wrong’ is a person doing this on their own initiative. Weird.

    As one Catholic theologian once said, “Scratch a relativist and you’ll find a moralist every time,” I think this can be equally applied to this situation, “Scratch a Confessionalist and you’ll find a Biblicist every time.”

  45. Nick (44),

    “Scratch a Confessionalist and you’ll find a Biblicist every time.”

    If they were biblicist, like me, they would not be confessional. Nor do they want to be known as biblicist.

    Better to say, “scratch a confessionalist, and you’ll find a closet Roman Catholic” since they, like you, find religious authority outside the Word of God.

  46. they, like you, find religious authority outside the Word of God.

    Can we all agree to stop using the phrase, “the Word of God,” in such a presumptive way?

    Yes, adherents to sola scriptura believe that the infallible “Word of God” refers to written Scripture, to the exlusion of everything else. But, you know that many others hold that the “Word of God” has been revealed both orally and in writing. It simply doesn’t move the ball forward when any person assumes one definition of the phrase, then makes conclusory statements that the other is adding/subtracting to “the Word of God.” That is the very question at issue.

  47. Mark (re: #46),

    Here, when Ted says “they,” he is referring to “confessional Protestants.” Confessional Protestants deny that the revealed Word of God exists “outside” Scripture, except, in some sense, as preached or taught. In other words, though they affirm the “subordinate authority” of tradition, they treat tradition as subordinate precisely because in their opinion tradition is *not* the Word of God, is not divine revelation and is thus not infallible. So the debate to which Ted refers is not the debate between Catholics and Protestants regarding the divine authority of oral Apostolic Tradition, and thus concerning the scope of the revealed Word of God (whether it is found in Scripture alone, or in Scripture and Tradition). Rather, the debate to which Ted refers is between confessional Protestants and biblicist Protestants, and concerns whether Protestant confessions (or any confessions for that matter) are authoritative. The confessionalists say yes; the biblicists say no.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  48. Mark (46),

    Can we all agree to stop using the phrase, “the Word of God,” in such a presumptive way?… It simply doesn’t move the ball forward when any person assumes one definition of the phrase, then makes conclusory statements that the other is adding/subtracting to “the Word of God.” That is the very question at issue.

    It isn’t presumptuous, but discipleship under Jesus and the apostles:

    Jesus wasn’t presumptive: John 10:35
    Luke wasn’t: Acts 4:31.
    Paul wasn’t: Acts 9:6. He also distanced himself from those who “adulterate the word of God” (2 Cor. 4:2).
    The writer of Hebrews wasn’t, even ascribing to it supernatural power (Heb. 4:12).
    Peter credited the word of God with giving a new birth (1 Pet. 1:23). I don’t believe he was being presumptive.
    John was exiled for it (Rev. 1:9) and I don’t think he was being presumptive.

    Neither Jesus nor the apostles pointed to an oral tradition as the word of God, nor taught there would be an oral tradition delivered though the church age. You may track this rejection of oral tradition by Jesus’ denunciation of the Rabbinic oral tradition in the sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5:21-48): “You have heard…. but I say to you…”

    When Paul did speak of traditions (1 Cor. 11:2, 2 Th. 2:15, 3:6), he always linked them in their entirety to an apostolic source, nor did he teach churches to expect ongoing tradition. He always uses an aorist verb to describe his traditions as fully delivered, not a present indicative, or better, a future tense verb, which is what your position would require.

    So he can say to the generally disobedient Corinthian Church, “Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2).

    So to allow that the word of God has an on-going oral component is to go outside of what Jesus and the apostles taught.

    And that Mark, is presumptive.

  49. Dear Ted (re #48)

    Luke wasn’t: Acts 4:31.

    Acts 4:31: When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

    You have undermined your own case here.

    Pax Christi,
    Frank La Rocca

  50. Re: Ted (#48)

    I don’t see how your quotes from scripture prove what you’re trying to assert.

    First of all, Catholics can agree that the authoritative traditions have an apostolic source, and we can agree that these traditions were “fully delivered” to the churches.

    What we don’t agree is that everything the apostles taught was put down in writing in a way that avoids misinterpretation by future generations. Otherwise, there would have been no need for Paul and the apostles to ordain bishops (Timothy, Titus, Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement, etc.) to oversee what was taught in the churches. Otherwise, Paul wouldn’t have needed to tell the Thessalonians to adhere to what he taught by written word and by word of mouth.

  51. Frank (49),

    Are you unfamiliar with the gift of prophecy in the apostolic age (Acts 11:27, 1 Cor. 12:10, 12:28, 14:1, etc.)?

  52. Ted, (re: #51)

    Please, let’s be charitable to one another. Instead of asking the loaded question whether your interlocutor is ignorant of x, simply explain x.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  53. Bryan (52),

    Good call, Bryan.

    I should have asked Frank if he is familiar, not unfamiliar, with the gift.

  54. Jonathan (50),

    Catholics can agree that the authoritative traditions have an apostolic source, and we can agree that these traditions were “fully delivered” to the churches.

    Yes, but the source of that belief is not from anything written by the apostles, but from men writings many centuries later, in some cases, such as the immaculate conception. So your faith rests on men other than apostles, does it not?

    What we don’t agree is that everything the apostles taught was put down in writing in a way that avoids misinterpretation by future generations.

    Nor does anyone, and perhaps what you meant to say was that your tradition provides the true interpretation of their writings. Am I right?

    Otherwise, there would have been no need for Paul and the apostles to ordain bishops (Timothy, Titus, Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement, etc.) to oversee what was taught in the churches. Otherwise, Paul wouldn’t have needed to tell the Thessalonians to adhere to what he taught by written word and by word of mouth.

    I think you are reading an episcopal framework into the apostolic church, here. All of the writers you cite speak to churches with a plurality of elders, and no distinct office of a single bishop apart from the elders. Let me know if you want citations.

  55. Ted (re: #53),

    No, that doesn’t address the problem. In this sort of dialogue, never ask whether your interlocutor knows x (or doesn’t know x), because the question itself (a) implicitly presupposes that the person doesn’t know it, (b) turns attention to the level of knowledge of the person rather than the position in question, and (c) sets up the interlocutor for public discrediting if he or she does not know it, something a charitable interlocutor would never ever do. Always simply go ahead and explain x.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  56. Bryan (55) and Frank (49),

    Hi Frank,

    I’ve been asked by Bryan to explain the gift of prophecy that is evident in Luke’s descriptor, “word of God” in Acts 4:31.

    Here’s an attempt.

    Some males (and females, Acts 21:9) in the New Testament possessed the gift of prophecy. This means primarily they shared with apostles the privilege and responsibility of being channels of direct divine revelation. They had insights into the “mysteries” of God (cf. I Cor. 13:2; Eph. 2:20; 3:3, 5) as did the apostles. All apostles then, possessed the prophetic gift, but not all prophets were apostles.

    Most prophets could not fulfil the three natural criteria of the office of apostleship [personal contact with the earthly ministry of Christ (Acts 1:21-23), a personal witness of His resurrection (1 Cor. 9:1-2), and having received appointment by Him to be such]. Consequently, prophets did not possess the same authority in the body of Christ as the apostles did (1 Cor. 12:28-29). Paul did not fulfill the first, but received his call to apostleship super-naturally.

    Prophets did not self-generate prophetic words, but rather, prophecies were divine revelation as their name implies, some of which passed into written form and was included in Scripture. To the degree that their prophecy was valid, being based on divine revelation (cf. 1 Cor. 14:29), their very words were inspired and therefore absolutely authoritative (Acts 11:27-30).

    A prophet’s unique contribution was to provide regular edification to the local body of Christ by exhorting and comforting the saints through the revelations granted to them (cf. 1 Cor. 14:3, 29, 30). Most of these revelations were temporary in application and were not preserved. Those which were of permanent value were put in written form and preserved as part of the New Testament canon.

    Another facet of the prophetic ministry was the ability to predict future happenings (cf. Acts 11:27-28; 21:10-11; 1 Tim 1:18; Rev. 1:3) and thus the prophetic gift is among the “confirmatory” gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:10, which is to say, the fulfillment of his prophecy provided the prophet with credentials among those with whom he sought an audience. It was this way with Paul on his Acts 27 voyage to Rome. In the midst of a terrible storm and against overwhelming odds, he predicted that there would be no loss of life among the 276 people on board the ship (Acts 27:22-24,34). When they were all delivered to safety later (Acts 27:28), Paul’s credibility among the others was greatly enhanced. The fulfillment of his prophecy was God’s visible vindication of Paul as His prophetic spokesman.

    There were female prophetesses, as proven by the four virgin daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9). Presumably these functioned in roles within the guidelines set by Paul for the conduct of Christian worship (cf. I Cor. 11:5-6; 14:34-35).

    With the completion of the last book of the New Testament, the gift of prophecy was rendered obsolete. A severe penalty is pronounced upon anyone who attempts to add to the prophecies of the Apocalypse (Rev. 22:18). Since Revelation covers the entire period from the time John the Apostle wrote it until the eternal state, any alleged prophecy subsequent to that is counterfeit.

    Thus, the completed canon of the New Testament is God’s completed revelation for the body of Christ.

  57. Dear Ted (#53)

    Yes, I am familiar with the gift of prophecy in the Apostolic age. Would you care to elaborate on the connection between your question and what I pointed out about the spoken “Word of God” in Acts 4:31?

    Pax Christi,
    Frank

  58. Hi Frank (57),

    Would you care to elaborate on the connection between your question and what I pointed out about the spoken “Word of God” in Acts 4:31?

    Sure. Acts 4:31 is spoken prophecy – the “word of God” – that is, direct revelation from God with no error (1 Cor. 14:3, 2 Peter 1:20-21).

    Scripture is written prophecy – the “word of God” – that is, direct revelation from God with no error (John 10:35).

  59. A false dilemma proposes the necessity of choosing between two alternatives, when at least one other alternative is available. But the inverse error is a false distinction, which proposes a middle position between two alternatives when no middle position is possible. For example, when Jesus says, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Mt. 12:30; Lk. 11:23), He rules out a middle position between being with Jesus, and against Him.

    In our “Solo Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, and the Question of Interpretive Authority” article (linked at the post at the top of this page), Neal and I have argued that there is no middle position between sacramental magisterial authority through apostolic succession, and the biblicism of “solo scriptura.” Sola scriptura, we have argued, is in essence “solo scriptura,” even though it differs in certain attributes from the naked expression of “solo scriptura.” And in the post above I’m pointing out the same false distinction regarding both affirming and denying the authority of Tradition.

    Recently also I have pointed to another false distinction. That is the false distinction between affirming and denying the necessity of the Church. Persons and traditions which deny the necessity of the Church when it suits them, cannot then affirm the necessity of the Church when it doesn’t suit others. (See, for example, comments #34 – #36 here, in response to the Donald Miller’s announcement that he no longer attends church.) Chris Castaldo also addressed that recently in his post “We Are One.”

    There is third false distinction also worth discussing, and that is the proposed middle position between affirming and denying Holy Orders. One of the three primary doctrines of Protestantism is “the general priesthood of believers” which here means the denial of the ministerial priesthood as something distinct from the baptismal priesthood of all believers. So this alleged middle position attempts to deny the authority obtained through Holy Orders, while at the same time retaining hierarchical authority so as to avoid ecclesial chaos. This position thus attempts to affirm hierarchical authority while at the same time in a position of having denied hierarchical authority.

    The problematic character of this position arises when, for example, a Protestant like Kevin DeYoung claims that only “ordained” men can baptize, and the combox erupts with charges of “sacerdotalism” from other Protestants. If there is no such thing as Holy Orders, then claiming that only “ordained” men can baptize is entirely ad hoc. (Yes, Scripture shows us only ordained men baptizing, but that’s because there to be ordained meant receiving Holy Orders. Denying Holy Orders, while attempting to use the example of only ordained men baptizing, leaves one in an ad hoc position stipulating as normative what one has no reason to believe was not merely per accidens.) Michael Horton then attempts to calm the waters. He first notes that the Protestant office of elder is not sacerdotal because the Protestant elder does not offer propitiatory sacrifices (unlike the priests of the New Covenant described by the Church Fathers). But this simply sidesteps the problem. If because of the Protestant denial of Holy Orders Protestant elders do not have authority from the Apostles over the laity, then whether or not Protestant elders offer propitiatory sacrifices, because Protestant elders and laypersons have equal authority, the lay person has no less authority to baptize than does the Protestant elder.

    Likewise, just because Christ “gave gifts” to men, and each member of the Body (including elders) has his or her unique gift by which to build up the Body, it does not follow that there is a disparity in authority between believers. Horton rejects Holy Orders while attempting to retain a difference in authority between elders and laity. But Holy Orders is the only means by which there would be a real difference in authority between elders and laity; otherwise the man-made rules by which only elders can baptize are rules made by those with no more authority than the laity, thus nullifying the authority of those rules. Even if, as Horton says, elders are “special gifts to the whole church,” it does not follow that they have more authority than the laity. Even if their calling is not to “lord it over the sheep but to shepherd them,” it does not follow that they have more authority than the laity. And so on. Then Horton writes:

    When pastors preach and teach and elders govern, there is no autocratic leadership. It is hardly “clericalism” when the governors of the church are elders rather than pastors. The New Testament teaches a mutual accountability with checks and balances. Ironically, movements and churches that downplay or even denounce biblical teaching and advertise themselves as freewheeling and egalitarian, with an every-member-a-minister philosophy, usually end up being far more totalitarian.

    Here Horton attempts to have a middle position, by claiming that leadership by elders is not autocratic, and has “checks and balances.” He makes a pragmatic argument when he claims that congregations that affirm egalitarianism “end up being far more totalitarian.” All this ignores the fundamental problem, by papering over it with comments about the style and mode by which elders govern. The problem is not fundamentally that Protestant leaders are sometimes authoritarian, or that when egalitarianism is explicitly affirmed the result is usually totalitarian. The problem is that there is no middle position between Holy Orders (which Horton rejects), and egalitarianism (which Horton also rejects). Assuring his readers that these authority-lacking leaders are not autocrats does not solve that problem. Warning his readers that embracing egalitarianism leaders to totalitarianism also does not solve that problem. When ordination is reduced to permission by a community to work in a community, and there is no basis for claiming that this community *is* the Church Christ founded, then there is no basis for asserting that non-ordained persons outside of one’s community cannot baptize, or teach, or administer communion. Doing so is merely foisting one’s own interpretation of Scripture on everyone else, as if one has authority over the whole Church, while, paradoxically, denying that anyone has such authority.

    What happens to ‘ordination’ when Holy Orders are denied? Just google “how to be ordained,” and see how meaningless the term has become, precisely because without the authority received through Holy Orders, anyone can ordain, and anyone can determine for him or herself what is or isn’t needed for ordination. When a false middle position is proposed, then just as in the other two cases above, the middle position eventually collapses into what it is in essence. And that’s what’s happening to the pseudo-authorities attempting to hold a middle position between affirming and denying Holy Orders. They are in an analogous position to that of William Saletan in his 2012 Slate article titled “What’s Wrong With “After-birth Abortion”?.” There Saletan is trying (and failing) to hold a middle position between the moral permissibility of both abortion and infanticide, and the moral impermissibility of both abortion and infanticide. Why is there no middle position? Because, as he observes, “there’s nothing magical about passing through the birth canal.” False distinctions eventually collapse, as Saletan’s position must collapse either into the immorality of abortion or the moral permissibility of infanticide.

  60. Dear Ted, (#58)

    I am going to have to go back and review the entire thread that prompted your #48, to which I responded in #49. Your #58 seems almost a non sequitur to my #48 and #57 and so I have to check to see if I missed something. My wife and I are hosting a visiting author for our church this weekend, so I may need a couple of days to get to this.

    Pax Christi,
    Frank

  61. If because of the Protestant denial of Holy Orders Protestant elders do not have authority from the Apostles over the laity, then whether or not Protestant elders offer propitiatory sacrifices, because Protestant elders and laypersons have equal authority, the lay person has no less authority to baptize than does the Protestant elder.

    Certainly not from the biblical position which only features qualified elders in authority (a qualified elder is an individual who meets all 25 character qualities and ministry skills listed in 1 Tim. 3 and Tit. 1). In fact, both the Catholic and Protestant positions on ordination are the same in that both derive authority from their respective communions. But biblically, elder authority is attained by conformity to the apostles’ qualifications which are really from Christ. Thus the real two opposites are egalitarianism (individualism) and eldership (biblicism), with RCC and Protestant ordination practices (communionism) taking the middle position. The answer to the question, “who may baptize” is “any whom the elders may authorize.

    Yes, Scripture shows us only ordained men baptizing, but that’s because there to be ordained meant receiving Holy Orders.

    Saul was not baptized by a presbyter (since there were none yet, and certainly none in Damascus) nor an apostle (Acts 9:18).

    But Holy Orders is the only means by which there would be a real difference in authority between elders and laity; otherwise the man-made rules by which only elders can baptize are rules made by those with no more authority than the laity, thus nullifying the authority of those rules.

    Bryan, this might be your own false dilemma. Scripture defines a difference in terms of qualification and hence authority between elders and laity; therefore Scripture grants a different authority to elders and calls the church to submit to and love the elders (1 Thess. 5:12-13).

    The problem is that there is no middle position between Holy Orders (which Horton rejects), and egalitarianism (which Horton also rejects).

    That may be, but neither are explicitly found in the teaching of the apostles.

    without the authority received through Holy Orders, anyone can ordain, and anyone can determine for him or herself what is or isn’t needed for ordination.

    Not so from an eldership perspective. As those granted authority over the church by the apostolic conditions, none but qualified elders can obediently ordain in line with the apostolic teaching (1 Tim. 5:17-25).

  62. Ted (re: #61)

    As I pointed out in comments #7, #9 and #12 above, until you’re willing to discuss the second order claims presupposed by your biblicist approach, there is no point attempting to dialogue, because your biblicist approach begs the question. Let’s not pretend that there are no second order disagreements, when the second order disagreements have already been shown. And let’s not pretend that we can resolve our second order disagreements by table-pounding with first order claims that presuppose second order assumptions disputed between us.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  63. Bryan (62),

    Or, to simplify the matter,

    In line with your tradition, you already believe Jesus promised to provide the RCC an ongoing development of doctrine to safeguard the ecclesiastical institution.

    I don’t.

    So unless we interpret the words of Jesus by exegesis, written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, how can we evaluate the truthfulness or falsity of our belief as professing Christians?

  64. Ted, (re: #63)

    I’ve discussed this in the second paragraph of comment #15 in the “Overcoming the Scandal of Division” thread, the first paragraph of comment #69 of the “Pope Francis, Atheists, …” thread, and the last part of comment #434 in the “I Fought the Church” thread. We have to compare paradigms, rather than attempt to resolve the disagreement by presupposing only one of them.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  65. Bryan (64),

    Here’s the problem. Your stance on comparing paradigms is in line with your view of how you hope to arrive at religious agreement, but not mine.

    And here’s why.

    When Jesus and the apostles challenged the rabbinic and pagan religious paradigms of their day and their claims on Scripture, they did not debate the merits of their particular paradigms. They declared what was actually written and expounded it.

    So as I mentioned in to Mark in #48, when Jesus exposed the rabbinic traditions that obscured and even denied Scripture, He didn’t engage the rabbis in a paradigm comparison. He exposed what their erroneous interpretation of Scripture: (“You have heard….”) and replaced it with a correct interpretation of Scripture (“but I say to you”).

    As you know, the rabbis relied on an alleged oral tradition as being likewise inspired alongside Scripture, based on a curious interpretation of Joshua 1:8. But Jesus never debated paradigms, nor did his disciples. In principle it isn’t different than RCC or Orthodoxy claiming there exists a tradition alongside Scripture that is likewise inspired

    That’s why in comment 5 (to you) and again, in comment 48 to Mark, I made the point that discipleship to Jesus Christ in the matter of religious disagreement imitates Christ’s own method, and that method exposes not only corrupt teachings on Scripture and shows forth that which is correct, but exposes the methodologies that attempt to justify the obscuring of Scripture.

    What you are asking me to do is to consider the merits of RCC claims apart from the exegesis of Scripture. I can’t.

  66. Ted, (re: #65)

    When Jesus and the apostles challenged the rabbinic and pagan religious paradigms of their day and their claims on Scripture, they did not debate the merits of their particular paradigms. They declared what was actually written and expounded it.

    So as I mentioned in to Mark in #48, when Jesus exposed the rabbinic traditions that obscured and even denied Scripture, He didn’t engage the rabbis in a paradigm comparison. He exposed what their erroneous interpretation of Scripture: (“You have heard….”) and replaced it with a correct interpretation of Scripture (“but I say to you”).

    As you know, the rabbis relied on an alleged oral tradition as being likewise inspired alongside Scripture, based on a curious interpretation of Joshua 1:8. But Jesus never debated paradigms, nor did his disciples. In principle it isn’t different than RCC or Orthodoxy claiming there exists a tradition alongside Scripture that is likewise inspired

    Again, as I pointed out above in #7, #9, and #12, this approach (i.e. In the gospels, Jesus didn’t debate paradigms, therefore we ought not compare paradigms) presupposes biblicism, because it presupposes (a) that the whole of divine revelation is contained explicitly in Scripture and (b) that reason (by which paradigms are compared) is not to be used in determining whether the absence of a Scriptural account of Jesus doing x is a good or sufficient reason for us also not to do x, or whether as in logic the argument from silence is a fallacy. In this way, your approach presupposes precisely *your* biblicist paradigm, and thus begs the question, by presupposing precisely what is question between us regarding our respective paradigms. The Scripture never indicates that Jesus went to the doctor, but unless you agree with these parents, you don’t use your [if Scripture doesn’t record Jesus doing x, therefore we shouldn’t do x] criterion regarding making use of doctors, which implies that you use this criterion in an ad hoc manner.

    That’s why in comment 5 (to you) and again, in comment 48 to Mark, I made the point that discipleship to Jesus Christ in the matter of religious disagreement imitates Christ’s own method, and that method exposes not only corrupt teachings on Scripture and shows forth that which is correct, but exposes the methodologies that attempt to justify the obscuring of Scripture.

    Here too, what you mean by “imitates Christ’s own method” presupposes your biblicist methodology in approaching Scripture, by presupposing the (a) and (b) I mentioned in the previous paragraph. And what you mean by “attempt to justify the obscuring of Scripture” also presupposes the truth of your biblicist methodology, by presupposing that the claim that Tradition is needed to interpret Scripture rightly “obscures” Scripture. So, once again, as I’ve pointed in #7, #9, #12, you are begging the question.

    What you are asking me to do is to consider the merits of RCC claims apart from the exegesis of Scripture. I can’t.

    Actually, if you look carefully, I never asked you to do that, nor am I asking you to do that. My paradigm doesn’t exclude exegesis. The question (between the two paradigms) is the authority of Tradition in guiding and informing the interpretation of Scripture; the question is not the permissibility or profitability of exegesis.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  67. What you are asking me to do is to consider the merits of RCC claims apart from the exegesis of Scripture. I can’t.

    Earlier …

    When Jesus and the apostles challenged the rabbinic and pagan religious paradigms of their day and their claims on Scripture, they did not debate the merits of their particular paradigms. They declared what was actually written and expounded it.

    Keep in mind: To hold any kind of exegetical argument between two parties, you’re going to have to appeal to shared principles of exegesis to be persuasive. This is in fact what Jesus does with the “You have heard it said” passages, for Jesus does not reject that scripture. Likewise, Jesus, when refuting the Sadducees, refers only to the Torah. Here’s where it gets tricky: Should an inconsistency get pointed out, the aggrieved party can fall back on a principle not shared by the other party. It works as an argument when Jesus does it because he finds incontrovertible examples. However, you aren’t going to find an incontrovertible example against arguments over 1 Cor 11. There are no immediate contextual clues there to say Paul is not appealing to a universal principle. In reply, CARM and others create a framework which can explain this away, paying so much attention to the text that they narrow it down only to the absolute minimum it must mean, dodging that way the apparent reading of the text.

    What with all those methods to deal with alleged inconsistencies, I’m having a hard time figuring out how “presuppositional” exegetical wars don’t devolve into lobbing prooftexts, hoping you catch the other guy without a principle to compensate.

    Suppose, though, after all that you did catch a guy with his pants down. You’ve made an attack he was neither prepared for nor capable of repelling. What’s to prevent him from making up a principle on the spot, rationalizing it away by, say, adding words to the Bible? You can’t complain that he’s being ad hoc, after all, because even if you did appeal to the Bible to rebut the “ad hocness” of his reply, he could create a similar principle “from” the Bible dodging that “ad hocness”, too.

    In short: “All that dodging makes you look ridiculous,” you would say to him, and he replies, with a pious smile: “1 Corinthians 1:25.”

    Therefore, to get anywhere when disupting unshared principles, there should be a way to set aside the disputed principles. Likewise, when disputing a set of disputed principles — a paradigm, which is itself a kind of principle — there should be a way to set it aside and apply a shared paradigm.

  68. Suppose, though, after all that you did catch a guy with his pants down. You’ve made an attack he was neither prepared for nor capable of repelling. What’s to prevent him from making up a principle on the spot, rationalizing it away by, say, adding words to the Bible? You can’t complain that he’s being ad hoc, after all, because even if you did appeal to the Bible to rebut the “ad hocness” of his reply, he could create a similar principle “from” the Bible dodging that “ad hocness”, too.

    Right! And the exact same thing happens when comparing paradigms, too.

    Asking fallen man to judge divine revelation is like asking a tribesmen from Papua New Guinea to work the potato factory conveyer belts in Maine, keeping the good ones and tossing the bad ones. He is unable to do that since he doesn’t have a basis to distinguish between good potatos and bad potatos.

    Its like asking the fallen Nicodemus to judge Jesus’ teaching:

    “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.” (John 3:10-13)

    Fallen man is by nature is a revelation suppressor – “for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). When man suppresses God’s revelation, he doesn’t do so neutrally, but “in unrighteousness” – or “by means of unrighteousness.” He actively sins when confronted with divine revelation in both the natural and super-natural realm. Worse yet, the verb tense of “suppress” is present active indicative – thus fallen man is a truth suppressor 24/7.

    So the one who enters into debate on revelation ought understand he fights an impossible fight – the only win is when a man repents from his natural wisdom and embraces what the Scripture does say about his sinfulness and God’s full cure in Christ’s death and resurrection. And no matter how purely a man exercises reason – even as purely as Jesus Himself – yet it takes the Holy Spirit to grant understanding in connection to repentance. Many heard Jesus use of pure reason in his preaching but remained completely unconvinced.

    Being by nature a truth suppressor, human reason always in need of repentance and divine rescue, something the “let’s compare paradigms” doesn’t take into account (or actively suppresses). As sinners, it is always our desire to hold revelation in the place of submission to our understanding of it – to treat is as a paradigm, as Bryan suggests. As if we are better than Nicodemus and actually have the power to judge divine revelation as divine enough.

    That’s why adopting your “paradigm comparing” strategy is to presupposes that the pattern of Christ and his ministry, especially vis-a-vis his confrontation of rabbinic tradition, is likewise to be held at a mental distance and scrutinized as one possible paradigm. It is defection from Christ as Lord.

    Therefore, to get anywhere when disputing unshared principles, there should be a way to set aside the disputed principles. Likewise, when disputing a set of disputed principles — a paradigm, which is itself a kind of principle — there should be a way to set it aside and apply a shared paradigm.

    Again, as I wrote to Bryan, such an approach presupposes His paradigm. Further, it is Thomistic in that it presupposes Adam in the garden did not fall in the use of his reason. In Thomistic anthropology created man prior to the Fall was still not “good enough” and required a moment-by-moment “donum superadditum” (“a superadded grace”) to be able to maintain his innocence. Adam’s reason then survived the Fall intact.

    As an aside, this is why Thomas went to incredible lengths to prove the reasonableness of Christianity to the Mohammedans using reason, not revelation, as his chosen tool of conversion. Did it work? His work on the proofs was uber-brilliant, but left the Mohammedan in the place of judging whether Christ was God-enough for him. You judge that for yourself as Thomas’ success.

    Back to the point, the insistence to compare paradigms presupposes an agreement with Thomistic hamartiology, that we are all able to compare paradigms – you Scripture and me Scripture and Tradition.

    But was Thomas correct? This just pushes the ball back up the field another 10 yards. On this one matter I see divine revelation squarely set against him, as in, Rom. 1:18 above, and Rom. 3:10-12. Further, God says we are all dead spiritually by nature, and children of wrath (Eph. 2).

    Therefore, if i believe you and Bryan to be spiritually dead, why would i take my paradigm of “Scripture alone” and your paradigm of “Scripture plus tradition” and treat them as if they were equal? You see, I view your insistence on Tradition as a prime example of an unwillingness to accept Scriptures own judgment on you as a 24/7 truth suppressor with completely corrupted mental faculties, desperately in need of repentance as you submit to what Scripture says about your reason.

    Hence, for me to adopt as “let’s compare paradigms” approach is for me to regard what Scripture teaches about man, and how man comes to know the truth as untruthful.

  69. Ted (re: #68)

    Asking fallen man to judge divine revelation is like asking a tribesmen from Papua New Guinea to work the potato factory conveyer belts in Maine, keeping the good ones and tossing the bad ones. He is unable to do that since he doesn’t have a basis to distinguish between good potatos and bad potatos. … Fallen man is by nature is a revelation suppressor – …He actively sins when confronted with divine revelation in both the natural and super-natural realm.

    Except, by your practice you presuppose that this fallenness does not nullify your capacity to judge rightly between false interpretations of Scripture and the true interpretation of Scripture. In your view, your interpretation of Scripture, arrived at through your fallen, corrupted, depraved, truth-hating, truth-hiding, truth-perverting, truth-damning faculties, is the one we should all accept. You make this broad sweeping claim about not trusting reason, and then make a giant exception for yourself. And that’s what all cult leaders do. No one else is to be trusted, except themselves.

    Being by nature a truth suppressor, human reason always in need of repentance and divine rescue, something the “let’s compare paradigms” doesn’t take into account (or actively suppresses). As sinners, it is always our desire to hold revelation in the place of submission to our understanding of it – to treat is as a paradigm, as Bryan suggests. As if we are better than Nicodemus and actually have the power to judge divine revelation as divine enough.

    You haven’t ruled out the possibility that it is on account of your sinful, fallen, selfish, distorting and unreliable cognitive faculties that you’ve adopted your biblicist position that makes you unwilling to submit to the rightful ecclesial authorities in succession from the Apostles. Once again, you’re trying to use the “reason is fallen” premise against my claim that we should compare paradigms, while making an exception for yourself (regarding the unreliability of your own reason) with respect to the process by which you reasoned to the biblicist paradigm, and reasoned to the wrongfulness of comparing paradigms.

    That’s why adopting your “paradigm comparing” strategy is to presupposes that the pattern of Christ and his ministry, especially vis-a-vis his confrontation of rabbinic tradition, is likewise to be held at a mental distance and scrutinized as one possible paradigm. It is defection from Christ as Lord.

    Again, the claim that “it is [a] defection from Christ as Lord” presupposes the truth of the biblicist paradigm, and thus begs the question, i.e. presupposes precisely what is in question between us, and is thus futile with respect to resolving the disagreement between us.

    Further, it is Thomistic in that it presupposes Adam in the garden did not fall in the use of his reason. In Thomistic anthropology created man prior to the Fall was still not “good enough” and required a moment-by-moment “donum superadditum” (“a superadded grace”) to be able to maintain his innocence. Adam’s reason then survived the Fall intact.

    If you’d like to discuss the condition of man before the fall, please do so under the thread titled “Protestant Objections to the Catholic Doctrines of Original Justice and Original Sin.”

    As an aside, this is why Thomas went to incredible lengths to prove the reasonableness of Christianity to the Mohammedans using reason, not revelation, as his chosen tool of conversion. Did it work? His work on the proofs was uber-brilliant, but left the Mohammedan in the place of judging whether Christ was God-enough for him. You judge that for yourself as Thomas’ success.

    Presumably your use here of the pragmatist conception of truth (i.e. if it ‘works’ it is true, if it doesn’t ‘work’ it is not true) is due only to the fallenness of your reason into the darkness of sin-spawned confusion and irrationality.

    Back to the point, the insistence to compare paradigms presupposes an agreement with Thomistic hamartiology, that we are all able to compare paradigms – you Scripture and me Scripture and Tradition.

    According to you we can’t compare paradigms, but you can interpret Scripture reliably. And for you, we can interpret Scripture reliably too, so long as we arrive at your interpretation. That same truth-hating, truth-twisting, truth-perverting cognitive faculty that is incapable of comparing paradigms becomes perfectly reliable when you use it to arrive at your interpretation (but is unreliable when anyone uses it to arrive at a different interpretation). “Heads you win, tails I lose” is a convenient set up.

    But was Thomas correct? This just pushes the ball back up the field another 10 yards. On this one matter I see divine revelation squarely set against him, as in, Rom. 1:18 above, and Rom. 3:10-12. Further, God says we are all dead spiritually by nature, and children of wrath (Eph. 2).

    Of course your truth-hating faculty ‘sees’ divine revelation squarely set against St. Thomas’s conclusion. What else do you expect from a perverted, depraved, unreliable, truth-twisting cognitive faculty such as your own? That’s precisely why it doesn’t bother you when you contradict yourself by using your reason to arrive at and publicly declare the unreliability of reason. Reaching the conclusion that St. Thomas was wrong is precisely what you should expect, given the truth-distorting, truth-perverting character of your fallen, debauchery-loving intellectual faculty, if, in fact, he were right. And justifying and rationalizing the ad hoc character of your position is precisely what you would expect from a truth-distorting, truth-hating corrupted intellect such as yours.

    Therefore, if i believe you and Bryan to be spiritually dead, why would i take my paradigm of “Scripture alone” and your paradigm of “Scripture plus tradition” and treat them as if they were equal?

    No one suggested that you should treat them as equal. The question is discovering which is true.

    You see, I view your insistence on Tradition as a prime example of an unwillingness to accept Scriptures own judgment on you as a 24/7 truth suppressor with completely corrupted mental faculties, desperately in need of repentance as you submit to what Scripture says about your reason.

    Two can play that game. I could say that your insistence on denying Tradition’s authority is an example of your unwillingness to accept the Apostles’ teaching, on account of your fallen nature’s completely corrupted mental faculties desperately in need of repentance …. Once again, as I’ve pointed out above, ad hominems simply cancel each other out. That’s why we should avoid them, because they prevent us from discussing the basis for our underlying disagreement.

    Hence, for me to adopt as “let’s compare paradigms” approach is for me to regard what Scripture teaches about man, and how man comes to know the truth as untruthful.

    Unless your paradigm is false, and Scripture doesn’t actually teach that. So once again you’re presupposing your own paradigm in order to justify not even considering any other paradigm. And that position makes it impossible for you to engage in ecumenical dialogue, because a precondition for ecumenical dialogue is learning the other person’s paradigm. But for you, even considering the other persons’ paradigm is disallowed by your own, because although you believe your reason is fallen and untrustworthy, you believe that its judgment concerning the interpretation of Scripture is so reliable as to be infallible, such that you are not even allowed to consider the possibility that it might be mistaken. (Irony of ironies, that such a sin-smitten intellect can make infallible judgments that must not be questioned!) Perhaps the best you can do, given that limitation, is attempt to point out perceived contradictions or incoherencies in other people’s paradigms (as judged by the standards of your own paradigm). That’s about all you will be capable of doing here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  70. Ted (#68)

    Asking fallen man to judge divine revelation is like asking a tribesmen from Papua New Guinea to work the potato factory conveyer belts in Maine, keeping the good ones and tossing the bad ones. He is unable to do that since he doesn’t have a basis to distinguish between good potatos and bad potatos.

    Ted, I think this is precisely the point of this business of paradigms. Under your paradigm, you have no way of distinguishing between a true and a false interpretation of Scripture. You must either rely on your own judgement – the judgement of a fallen human being – or retreat into a kind of epistemic solipsism – “I know good interpretations from bad because I have the Spirit of God – and if you disagree with my interpretation, I know you are wrong – because I have the Spirit of God.”

    jj

  71. Bryan (69),

    Except, by your practice you presuppose that this fallenness does not nullify your capacity to judge rightly between false interpretations of Scripture and the true interpretation of Scripture. In your view, your interpretation of Scripture, arrived at through your fallen, corrupted, depraved, truth-hating, truth-hiding, truth-perverting, truth-damning faculties, is the one we should all accept. You make this broad sweeping claim about not trusting reason, and then make a giant exception for yourself. And that’s what all cult leaders do. No one else is to be trusted, except themselves.

    Oh no, not at all. Please, use your reason, submitted to searching out the meaning of that which reproves and builds me – Scripture – to show me where I err.

    For if you are a new man in Christ, with full regenerative capacities and have been “renewed in the spirit of your mind, and [have] put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:23-24), then you will no doubt recognize that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

  72. Ted (re: #71),

    If you think that you and I are renewed, no longer depraved in our cognitive faculties, then we *can* compare paradigms.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  73. JJ (7o),

    Ted, I think this is precisely the point of this business of paradigms. Under your paradigm, you have no way of distinguishing between a true and a false interpretation of Scripture. You must either rely on your own judgement – the judgement of a fallen human being – or retreat into a kind of epistemic solipsism – “I know good interpretations from bad because I have the Spirit of God – and if you disagree with my interpretation, I know you are wrong – because I have the Spirit of God.”

    I live in the church and have available to me so many teachers. They teach Scripture, and I am indebted to all. Thus when I err (and that is an all too common thing) I have many godly guides who have worked from the same 66 books for 2000 years and been enabled by the Lord to “accurately handle the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). That said, their words are also testable by the Scripture, being the works of men.

    So rather than retreat, it is press on to know the Lord by His own words and His own witnesses. Where I am wrong, I alone must bear the blame and guilt. Where I am right I must thank the Lord for Him helping my sinful faculties to discern a measure, however small, of His light.

    When Jesus pointed out the falsity of the scribes and chief priests, He did it by pointing out what had been written by a prophet, rigidly holding those men accountable for a right interpretation but not one right according to their paradigm.

    When Apollos (for example) “refuted the Jews in public,” he “demonstrated by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18:28).

    Peter said Paul spoke some things in his letters “which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Pe. 3:16). Peter said this under inspiration of the Holy Spirit – while writing a further letter to the churches. Peter didn’t recommend an oral tradition by which to understand Paul’s letters, but rather patience and godliness.

  74. Ted (re: #73)

    I live in the church and have available to me so many teachers. They teach Scripture, and I am indebted to all. Thus when I err (and that is an all too common thing) I have many godly guides who have worked from the same 66 books for 2000 years and been enabled by the Lord to “accurately handle the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). That said, their words are also testable by the Scripture, being the works of men.

    By surrounding yourself as ‘teachers’ with men who also hold your biblicist position, and thus painting the target around your biblicist presupposition, you prevent yourself from being taught and/or discovering whether biblicism itself is erroneous.

    Again, as I said above, there is no point continuing to argue here from a biblicist point of view, when biblicism is itself the point in question. Such an activity is futile and pointless.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  75. Ted (#73)
    I don’t think you have understood my point. When you disagree with any of those ‘many teachers’ – which you must do with many of them, since they don’t all have the same interpretation of any particular Scripture – you must either assume that your own Spirit-led understanding is right, which I call a kind of epistemic solipsism, or you must be able to choose one of them as trustworthy because ordained by God.

    What Bryan means by your ‘paradigm’ is precisely the question of which of these approaches do you take in case of disagreement. In your paradigm, you must take the first; the Catholic paradigm is the second. And unless you know which paradigm is right, you are talking past one another.

    jj

  76. Ted (#58, 60)

    I have re-read the thread that led you to write this to me in #58:

    A prophet’s unique contribution was to provide regular edification to the local body of Christ by exhorting and comforting the saints through the revelations granted to them (cf. 1 Cor. 14:3, 29, 30). Most of these revelations were temporary in application and were not preserved. Those which were of permanent value were put in written form and preserved as part of the New Testament canon.

    This statement begs the question regarding the relationship of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. You assume, as a biblicist, that only oral statements of “permanent value” were written down and those that were “temporary in application” were not preserved in writing in virtue of the fact that they were not written down. You assume biblicism (only the written Word is “of permanent value”) to be true when that is the very question before us. How can you possibly know other statements not recorded in writing, but passed on through oral Sacred Tradition, were not of “permanent value”?

    You can’t respond, “because they were not written down” because, again, that begs the question regarding biblicism.

    Pax Christi,
    Frank

  77. Bryan – I’m back after a few days away,

    (72)

    If you think that you and I are renewed, no longer depraved in our cognitive faculties, then we *can* compare paradigms.

    Perhaps I’m not being clear. We are already comparing paradigms. Mine is Sola Scripture – just more consistently than the Prot position which is muchc. Yours is abundantly clear (an inspired Tradition), and indeed, I was trained in it briefly but rejected it because it cannot co-exist with Scripture’s statements concerning Scripture itself. Not only does Scripture attest to its own superiority over all other epistemological paradigms, it demands man accept it own its own terms. That excludes the RCC assertion of an inspired Tradition.

    (74)

    By surrounding yourself as ‘teachers’ with men who also hold your biblicist position, and thus painting the target around your biblicist presupposition, you prevent yourself from being taught and/or discovering whether biblicism itself is erroneous.

    Whoa, friend. I study under anyone willing to make claims on the biblical text, of whatever ecclesiology or bibliology. Sometimes I learn new insights on biblical text from professing non-Christians, especially in the areas of 1st C culture. I’ve studied Scripture and doctrine under RCC and Orthodox priests. – and passed too ;).

  78. JJ (75),

    I don’t think you have understood my point. When you disagree with any of those ‘many teachers’ – which you must do with many of them, since they don’t all have the same interpretation of any particular Scripture – you must either assume that your own Spirit-led understanding is right, which I call a kind of epistemic solipsism, or you must be able to choose one of them as trustworthy because ordained by God.

    Good point, but in my faith, God will judge me based on how I obeyed His Word (Scripture) – which obedience depends upon interpretation. In your faith, God judges you for how not for how obedient you are to Scripture, but to RCC Tradition. What do you do when two church fathers disagree on the meaning of a text?

  79. Ted (re: #77)

    We are already comparing paradigms.

    I haven’t seen that from you anywhere here at CTC. Everything I’ve seen from you presupposes your paradigm.

    Mine is Sola Scripture – just more consistently than the Prot position which is muchc. Yours is abundantly clear (an inspired Tradition),

    Statements like this suggest that you’re not even in a position yet to compare paradigms, because you don’t yet understand mine. We do not believe in “an inspired Tradition” outside of Scripture. What we refer to as the unwritten Tradition has divine authority (because it comes from the Apostles), but is not divinely inspired. Only Scripture is divinely inspired.

    and indeed, I was trained in it briefly but rejected it because it cannot co-exist with Scripture’s statements concerning Scripture itself.

    Which statements within Scripture do you think “cannot co-exist” with the Catholic paradigm?

    Not only does Scripture attest to its own superiority over all other epistemological paradigms, it demands man accept it own its own terms.

    The problem with that last claim is that one must presuppose the biblicist paradigm in order to reach it.

    That excludes the RCC assertion of an inspired Tradition.

    If you think the Catholic Church believes that unwritten Tradition is inspired, then you should ask for your money back for whatever Catholic education you received.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  80. Frank (76),

    How can you possibly know other statements not recorded in writing, but passed on through oral Sacred Tradition, were not of “permanent value”? You can’t respond, “because they were not written down” because, again, that begs the question regarding biblicism.

    Because those that were written down never referred to anything such as an oral sacred Tradition. But they sure did to false prophecy – that is – men claiming to speak from God but being false.

    The only judge for oral sacred Tradition is the written prophecy in Scripture, and it (Tradition) falls short when judged by it.

  81. Ted (#78)

    Good point, but in my faith, God will judge me based on how I obeyed His Word (Scripture) – which obedience depends upon interpretation.

    Correct – the point I was making was that, when push comes to shove, you must revert to your interpretation. That’s all I was saying.

    In your faith, God judges you for how not for how obedient you are to Scripture, but to RCC Tradition.

    Well, I don’t think that is correct, first of all. God will judge me on how faithful I have been to Him and His Son. But regarding this:

    What do you do when two church fathers disagree on the meaning of a text?

    I seek to know what the Church teaches.

    jj

  82. Ted #86

    Because those that were written down never referred to anything such as an oral sacred Tradition.

    Praise to those who followed tradition: “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2)

    Oral tradition as authoritative as written letter: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess. 2:15)

    Importance of what was passed on to them orally: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6)

    Pass on the tradition to successive generations: “[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2)

  83. Ted (#80),

    Your claim is easily refuted.

    St. Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition which is handed down by word of mouth (2 Tim. 2:2). He instructs us to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess. 2:15).

    And John 21:25: “But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

    Frank

  84. Bryan (79),

    Everything I’ve seen from you presupposes your paradigm.

    Thank you, and ditto.

    We do not believe in “an inspired Tradition” outside of Scripture. What we refer to as the unwritten Tradition has divine authority (because it comes from the Apostles)…

    Prove it from the words of the apostles that are written and accepted by all Christians at all times and in all places.

    Which statements within Scripture do you think “cannot co-exist” with the Catholic paradigm?

    Wow. Let’s start with soteriology: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” This rules out infusion and necessitates imputation.

    Then we move to ecclesiology: “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Jesus never defines an ecclesiastical organization of hierarchy beyond the local expression (Mat. 16:18) is the universal church of all the saved and is not institutional). The same is seen repeatedly in Rev. 2-3 – one church per city – Jesus never speaks to a hierarchy of bishops.

    Then we move to Bibliology: “It stands written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” For Jesus, the words of God are written prophecy, and in no sense whatsoever oral tradition.

    We could go further – hamartiology is an especially fruitful topic for showing people who believe in a Traditional hamartiology the true state of their enmity against God. We sort of covered it above.

    Then Pneumatology as connect to Christology. The baptism that saves is not water baptism at the hands of a human intermediary but a supernatural work done by the Spirit apart from human hands (Mat. 3:11, Rom. 6:4, 1 Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:27, Eph. 4:5, Col. 2:11).

    The problem with that last claim is that one must presuppose the biblicist paradigm in order to reach it.

    I disagree. Instead, one must exert unbelief in Christ’s own words to reject it (see Bibliology above).

    If you think the Catholic Church believes that unwritten Tradition is inspired, then you should ask for your money back for whatever Catholic education you received.

    I would argue committed Roman Catholics treat it as if were inspired by the Holy Spirit, granting it authority over their beliefs.

  85. Rick (82),

    Notice the words in bold – they show the tradition an apostle speaks of always came from an apostle:

    Praise to those who followed tradition: “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2)

    Oral tradition as authoritative as written letter: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess. 2:15)

    Importance of what was passed on to them orally: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6)

    2 Tim. 2:2 does not mention tradition (paradosis)

    So the only way to know what Paul passed along is to read what he wrote.

  86. Frank (83),

    Who says all that Christ did and said is recorded in Scripture?

    But since you brought up John 20:31, notice how John himself emphasizes the written – he wishes all Jesus did and said could be written down. John’s words, if you will heed them, limit your search for Jesus to the written Scripture, not Tradition.

    This would have been the perfect place for John to tell the Christians at the end of the 1st C to search out an oral tradition for more on what Jesus said and did, yet he gives no evidence of an oral history alongside written Scripture.

    Does your RCC oral Tradition claim to have more on the works and words of Jesus of Nazareth than is written in Scripture? That is the claim you are making, you know.

  87. Ted, (re: #84)

    Thank you, and ditto.

    Well then, we need to compare paradigms, rather than presuppose them.

    Prove it from the words of the apostles that are written and accepted by all Christians at all times and in all places.

    The idea that the authority of the unwritten Tradition must be proved from Scripture presupposes that Scripture alone has authority, and thus begs the question, by presupposing precisely what is in question between the two paradigms.

    Let’s start with soteriology: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

    I, and all Catholics, affirm the truth of that verse.

    This rules out infusion and necessitates imputation.

    It says nothing about “infusion,” nor does it “rule out” infusion nor does anything it says entail that infusion is ruled out. In order to get it to rule out infusion, one would have to presuppose that the “crediting” in question was extrinsic, and not based on what was infused into the heart by the Holy Spirit. And that presupposition would simply beg the question, i.e. presuppose precisely what is in question between the paradigms. As for imputation, Catholics affirm it (see the paragraph that begins “First, Catholics believe in imputation” in comment #140 of the “Imputations and Paradigms” thread.)

    Then we move to ecclesiology: “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

    I, and all Catholics, affirm the truth of that verse too.

    Jesus never defines an ecclesiastical organization of hierarchy beyond the local expression (Mat. 16:18) is the universal church of all the saved and is not institutional).

    Here you are claiming that if Jesus never defines the Church as hierarchical beyond the local expression, then Mt 16:18 cannot be about a universal institutional church, and Catholics cannot affirm it. But not only is that a non sequitur, that inference presupposes that there is no Tradition by which the nature of the Church can be known, and thus begs the question. I and all Catholics fully embrace the truth of Mt. 16:18. We don’t embrace your interpretation of it, arrived through your question-begging assumption regarding the non-existence of unwritten Apostolic Tradition. But we affirm the verse itself, and understood in the light of that Tradition, it fits the Catholic paradigm perfectly.

    The same is seen repeatedly in Rev. 2-3 – one church per city – Jesus never speaks to a hierarchy of bishops.

    The argument from silence is a fallacy. So from the fact that Jesus never speaks there to a hierarchy of bishops, nothing follows. I and all Catholics fully embrace every verse in Rev. 2-3. I’ve explained and addressed your objection here in more detail in comments #291 through #355 in the “Ecclesial Deism” thread.

    Then we move to Bibliology: “It stands written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

    I and every Catholic affirm the truth of this verse as well.

    For Jesus, the words of God are written prophecy, and in no sense whatsoever oral tradition.

    I don’t affirm that statement, but those are your words, not God’s. (Let’s not mix them up.) You are treating your interpretations of Scripture as if they are God’s word, such that in order to affirm the verse, we must also affirm *your* interpretation. That’s dangerous.

    We could go further – hamartiology is an especially fruitful topic for showing people who believe in a Traditional hamartiology the true state of their enmity against God. We sort of covered it above.

    Every verse of Scripture you have presented I have shown *can* “co-exist” with Catholic doctrine.

    Then Pneumatology as connect to Christology. The baptism that saves is not water baptism at the hands of a human intermediary but a supernatural work done by the Spirit apart from human hands (Mat. 3:11, Rom. 6:4, 1 Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:27, Eph. 4:5, Col. 2:11).

    Let’s list them out:

    Matt 3:11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

    Rom 6:4 “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

    1 Cor 12:13 ” For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

    Gal 3:27 “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

    Eph 4:5 “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,”

    Col. 2:11 “and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ”

    I and all Catholics affirm each of those verses. And each of those verses fits perfectly with Catholic doctrine.

    In #77 you had written, “Not only does Scripture attest to its own superiority over all other epistemological paradigms, it demands man accept it own its own terms.” In #79 I responded, “The problem with that last claim is that one must presuppose the biblicist paradigm in order to reach it.” Then you replied:

    Instead, one must exert unbelief in Christ’s own words to reject it (see Bibliology above).

    The problem for your thesis is that I believe that all of Christ’s own words are true. So I don’t have to “exert unbelief” in Christ’s own words in order to reject your claim that Scripture “demands man accept it on its own terms.” Scripture no where says that people must “accept it on its own terms,” or that it is not to be understood by the light of Apostolic Tradition.

    I would argue committed Roman Catholics treat it as if were inspired by the Holy Spirit, granting it authority over their beliefs.

    So instead of admitting that you were mistaken in your claim that according to Catholicism unwritten Tradition is inspired, you jump to another criticism. That’s not good faith dialogue. In good faith dialogue the person would respond by saying, “Thanks for correcting my misunderstanding” or something like that. But in addition, in order to make the argument you claim you “would” make (but don’t actually provide), you would need first to establish how the divine revelation that comes to us as unwritten Apostolic Tradition should be treated, and how inspired divine revelation that comes to us through Scripture should be treated. Because you haven’t done that, you have not established that Catholics treat the unwritten Tradition as though it were inspired, rather than as though it were uninspired yet still divine revelation.

    re: #85:

    So the only way to know what Paul passed along is to read what he wrote.

    That conclusion does not follow from your premise that “the tradition an apostle speaks of always came from an apostle.” If God faithfully preserved the oral Tradition within the Church, then we can know this oral Tradition from what has been passed down within the community of faith.

    re: #86:

    But since you brought up John 20:31, notice how John himself emphasizes the written – he wishes all Jesus did and said could be written down. John’s words, if you will heed them, limit your search for Jesus to the written Scripture, not Tradition.

    Neither of those two statements (“he wishes …” and “John’s words … limit your search”) follow from John 20:31. They are ideas you are bringing to the text, but treat as if they were found in the text. Again, that’s extremely dangerous, when you treat your own words and ideas as if they are the words and ideas of God.

    This would have been the perfect place for John to tell the Christians at the end of the 1st C to search out an oral tradition for more on what Jesus said and did, yet he gives no evidence of an oral history alongside written Scripture.

    Again, the argument from silence is a fallacy. And Kreeft would thank me for completing what he failed to pass on to you regarding this fallacy. :-)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  88. Ted (#86),

    I can add nothing to what Bryan has already said regarding John 20:31.

    You skipped over my quotes from 2Tim and 2Thess to comment on John. Does that mean you do not challenge what they say about oral tradition? Even in the biblicist paradigm, it seems impossible to deny the plain meaning of those verses.

    Frank

  89. According the Church, why is unwritten Tradition not considered to be inspired?

  90. Bryan (87),

    The idea that the authority of the unwritten Tradition must be proved from Scripture presupposes that Scripture alone has authority, and thus begs the question, by presupposing precisely what is in question between the two paradigms.

    That would be true except that Scripture claims for itself the very power to judge all else, by enabling the man of God to fully equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Hence it isn’t merely the norming norm but the defining definition of all that claims to be religious authority.

    You assume it does not have this power, and hence you beg the question by continually assuming Scripture does not rule out all other forms of religious authority except those explicitly delineated in it (i.e., elders, qualified by 1 Ti. 3 and Titus 1).

    You see. We’re comparing paradigms all the time, and there is no common ground. One of us must yield to the other. For me to assume Scripture alone does not have authority to judge all things – me, my thoughts, my heart, my beliefs, and all things in you and all things in Roman Catholicism, is to leave what Scripture affirms for itself.

    Why would I abandon the unique character and supreme authority of word of God for the word of Ted Bigelow, Bryan Cross, or the words of RC Tradition?

    Bry – if i can skip down to one of our theological disputes on ecclesiology here (and just focus here),

    your question-begging assumption regarding the non-existence of unwritten Apostolic Tradition. But we affirm the verse itself, and understood in the light of that Tradition, it fits the Catholic paradigm perfectly.

    Here’s your circularity: “understanding in light of that tradition.”

    The only way to understand Mat. 16:18 (and 19) as being compatible with RCC hierarchy is to first assume RCC tradition is a valid interpretation of Scripture. Yet that verse does not assume human hierarchy beyond the apostles, and furthermore, is the revelation of the eternal God. So here, where the eternal God speaks of the universal church, He does not speak of an unwritten oral Tradition that affirms it as other than how He teaches it there.

    Further, His chosen apostles teach precisely this kind of universal church, and not the kind of universal church RC Tradition assumes (i.e. Eph. 1:22-23). Which, to advance the ball further, is one reason why the RCC hierarchical organization does not reflect the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, church.

    So if i can draw what is to me the ultimate distinction between our 2 paradigms, it is this. Scripture rests upon itself, and the RCC rests upon itself.

    So instead of admitting that you were mistaken in your claim that according to Catholicism unwritten Tradition is inspired, you jump to another criticism. That’s not good faith dialogue. In good faith dialogue the person would respond by saying, “Thanks for correcting my misunderstanding” or something like that. But in addition, in order to make the argument you claim you “would” make (but don’t actually provide), you would need first to establish how the divine revelation that comes to us as unwritten Apostolic Tradition should be treated, and how inspired divine revelation that comes to us through Scripture should be treated. Because you haven’t done that, you have not established that Catholics treat the unwritten Tradition as though it were inspired, rather than as though it were uninspired yet still divine revelation.

    Thanks Bryan – good point. I apologize. Thanks for correcting my misunderstanding.

    Still, the mental gymnastics to believe in divine revelation that isn’t inspired is dizzying. It’s sounds like evangelical Wayne Grudem’s two types of prophecy hypothesis, except that when he speaks of errant prophecy, he doesn’t believe it’s inspired. If I understand you right, you have an infallible authority in addition to inspired Scripture that is non-inspired.

    So, how did it get infallible? Thanks.

  91. Frank (88),

    I addressed your Scripture citations in 85. Thanks.

  92. Jason (1),

    Exactly. I have long maintained that the functional definition of “biblicism” for many is “Any use of the Bible that leads you to the wrong conclusions.” That’s why I, as an Old School confessional Presbyterian, applauded exegesis when done by Kline or Westerholm or VanDrunen, but lamented it when done by Leithart or Jordan or Wright.

    As long as your exegetical efforts end up bolstering confessional Reformed theology, great. But when someone uses Scripture to question the WS or the 3FU, then Houston? We have a problem.

    Exactly! I tried posting to Clark’s web site several months ago, after he made a snarky post about dispensationalism. I cited a Scripture that I thought disagreed with what he wrote, and I expressed personal disagreement with 3FU.

    Did he respond, or try to show why the Scripture was being illegitimately cited? No. Any comments that disagree with 3FU don’t get posted.

    Now, it isn’t just the ugly religiosity of being snarky against other’s positions and then not being willing to let those who hold those positions attempt a defense. It’s the threat to the religious authority from the outside. Whether I’m right or wrong, I’m a threat to the additional authority of Clark – 3FU.

    This is why I see great similarity between Clark and Cross – but please, I respect both men – brilliant and articulate.

    Any interpretation of Scripture that leads you away from _______________ gets the same response from Houston. Fill in the blank with what you choose: 3FU, RCC magisterial Tradition, Orthodox tradition, Confession x, etc.

    I view it as unbelief in Scripture, and it’s more obvious among the confessionally reformed because they claim to believe in sola scriptura, but only see Scripture as the norming norm when applied from those on the inside. They do not see Scripture – as do not RCs, as the defining definition.

    For instance, applied to “church” – that means the NT sufficiently defines “church.” This gets back to my post to Bryan above (84) where I argue against RC hierarchy – it being neither taught, nor implied in Jesus’ two definitions of “church” (Mat. 16:18, 18:17). The same is true of Protestantism and is supported in 3FU.

    So both groups, Jason, the one you did belong to, and the one you now commune with, are unable to allow Scripture to be the defining definition. It is, by itself, insufficient.

    Of course, that is not what Scripture claims for itself and requires men to believe. The Scripture, itself, is in fact able to make the man of God sufficient for every good work – quite a claim (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

  93. Ted (re: #90),

    Consider two statements:

    1. All dogs are to be considered mammals.
    2. Only dogs are to be considered mammals.

    In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the first word is not ‘only’, but ‘all’. ‘All scripture’ is presented as a necessary condition for being ‘thoroughly equipped’. It is not presented as a sufficient condition. So it does not follow [from 2 Tim 3:16-17] that scripture on its own functions as ‘the defining definition of all that claims to be religious authority’.

    In the grace of Christ,

    -Chad

  94. Ted,

    “I view it as unbelief in Scripture . . . So both groups . . are unable to allow Scripture to be the defining definition”

    There is no such thing as scripture – by itself – being the “defining definition”. What does that mean? In every case – every single case – always – unavoidably – inevitably – without exception – what is presented for human belief is an *interpretation* of scripture. By itself, scripture (the 66 books of the Protestant bible) is a collection of words and symbols on paper, bound together in a codex. Its meaning, the doctrines it is said to contain, always involve some agency extracting from those words, sentences, paragraphs and books, a series of concepts proposed as doctrines for belief. And that extraction process is done by some human agency, perhaps with or without divine assistance and protection; but by some instrumental human agency nonetheless. The act of human interpretation prior to acquisition of scripture’s meaning is literally unavoidable.

    Even if you never communicated “Ted’s interpretation of scripture” to anyone else, but simply retained it within your own mind, your interior beliefs about the doctrines which scripture contains will have been filtered through your own set of background assumption, expertise (or lack) in the biblical languages, etc., etc. Every claim you have made on this site about “what scripture teaches” (as if it just leapt off the page without filtering through your mind or someone else’s before becoming communicable concepts) is nothing less than Ted Bigelow’s personal *interpretation* of the words, sentences, paragraphs and books of scripture. There is no getting around that fact. The question is not whether we receive the truths of scripture through the lens of some human (perhaps divinely assisted) interpretation thereof. We do and we must – full stop. The only question is *whose* interpretation?

    For this reason, you cannot credibly suggest that you alone, unlike confessional Reformed and Catholic Christians (and however other many communions you wish to name), are exempt from necessarily operating within an interpretive tradition/paradigm, so that you alone imbibe the pure, un-interpreted, sap of scripture acting as its own “defining definition” (whatever that would mean). Until someone reads and interprets the words, no concepts, propositions, doctrines, emerge for belief. A book just sits on a table – inert. Only when the words in a book are interpreted by a person(s) does an object of belief or assent become re-cognizable. No, you most definitely operate within an interpretive tradition – your own.

    Therefore:

    Any interpretation of Scripture that leads Ted Bigelow away from Ted Bigelow’s personal interpretive doctrines gets the same response from Houston. Fill in the blank with what you choose: *Ted Bigelow-ism*, 3FU, RCC magisterial Tradition, Orthodox tradition, Confession x, etc.

    You are not exempt, nor is any biblicist, from this situation.

    -Pax

  95. Ray (94)

    Any interpretation of Scripture that leads Ted Bigelow away from Ted Bigelow’s personal interpretive doctrines gets the same response from Houston. Fill in the blank with what you choose: *Ted Bigelow-ism*, 3FU, RCC magisterial Tradition, Orthodox tradition, Confession x, etc.

    You are not exempt, nor is any biblicist, from this situation.

    Not so. My inner Houston gets overcome by human teachers as they help me understand Scripture better. Could even be you. Unlike Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, I don’t have an alternative religious authority other than Scripture, i.e, 3FU, oral Tradition. Those things can and do teach, but don’t define. And why would I want them to when Jesus promised to lead the apostles into all the truth?

    “Defining definition” – see my article titled, Jesus Defines His Church (http://www.churchsonefoundation.com/jesus-defines-his-church/).

  96. Chad, (93)

    In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the first word is not ‘only’, but ‘all’. ‘All scripture’ is presented as a necessary condition for being ‘thoroughly equipped’. It is not presented as a sufficient condition. So it does not follow [from 2 Tim 3:16-17] that scripture on its own functions as ‘the defining definition of all that claims to be religious authority’.

    I would agree, Chad. I would get that from John 16:12-15 (http://www.churchsonefoundation.com/jesus-builds-the-apostolic-foundation/).

    But, 2 Tim. 3:17 teaches Scripture is sufficient to equip the man of God for ministry, and ministry is the application of the meaning of all Scripture to all of life – Mat. 4:4.

  97. Hi Ted,

    I think that the context of 2 Timothy 3:17 makes this interpretation unlikely. Consider:
    2 Timothy 3:16-17 and the other pastoral epistles are all about the authoritative transmission of the faith through ordained officers.

    In this larger context, we find Paul exhorting Timothy and Titus to their Episcopal duty – which includes ordaining men to pass on the deposit of faith; as well as using their office to refute false doctrine. To do this, Paul mentions a number of tools at their disposal.

    • 1st – in 2 Tim. 1:6 – Paul points to Timothy’s episcopal consecration – the laying on of hands by Paul as an essential component in his episcopal ministry.
    • 2nd Paul also points to the reliability of the oral tradition Timothy received.- “Continue, writes Paul, in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.” (2 Timothy 3:14). You’ll note that the ground of assurance, here, is not the inspiration of Scripture or the witness of the Spirit – but the reliability of its human messengers.
    • Third, Paul points Timothy to the usefulness of the Septuagint – the Greek Translation of the OT (which included Deuterocanonicals) for the task and hand. This is the passage in question: 2 Tim. 3:16. Paul says they are inspired and sufficent for teaching, rebuke, and training in righteousness, in order to prepare the servant of God for every ergon agathon – every good work.
    • It should be obvious from context what Paul is referring to here: The Scriptures, he says in vs. 14, which Timothy has known since Childhood – with his Greek speaking, Jewish Mother, that can only refer to to the LXX.
    • Next, Paul says they are sufficient with respect to the ergon agathon – every good work. Parallel passages in the New Testament are clear about what ergon agathon are – every use in new testament refers to acts of charity – like alms giving.
    • So, there is just nothing in this passage that assumes or necessitates even raising the question of the canon and its authority in the way Protestants assert – and in fact, quite a lot in the context that militates against this. The Pastoral Epistles as a whole constitute one of the most glaring contradictions to the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura, and to the Protestant Canon of Scripture.

    Acts 14:23 tells us that it was the apostles who appointed presbyters in each of the Churches they founded. They didn’t hold a vote. Even Paul and Barnabass received a special consecration in their apostolic work through the laying on of hands. (Acts 13:3). We know from the Old Testament that Laying on Hands was a cultic gesture – usually reserved to sacrificial victims – indicating consecration to a sacred use.

    This is what Paul did to Timothy – 2 Tim. 1:6 – and which Paul associates with the charge to keep the deposit of faith entrusted (paratheke) to Timothy by the Holy Spirit. If that is not a clear case of passing on the deposit of faith through personal means by conferring a sacral office – I don’t know what is.

    But there is more: in 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul tells Timothy to entrust what he’s received (parathou) to faithful men, who will be able to teach others. What is entrusted by Paul to Timothy by episcopal consecration and through the Holy Spirit is to be entrused (Paratheke; parathou) to others. We find the same dynamics in the book of Titus chapter 1.

    Now, isn’t it curious that here, of all places, when Paul specifically addresses the integrity of the deposit of faith and its transmission – that he makes no mention of the Corpus of his letters? Biblical scholars assign a late date to the Pastorals – and yet Paul says nothing about Referencing his earlier letters as the touchstone of orthodoxy. Instead – he mentions episcopal consecration, sacred tradition, and the Catholic Canon of the Old Testament.

  98. Ted,

    First, I note that you have neither denied nor refuted my claim that you *necessarily* access the meaning of scripture through some human interpretation – your own and/or others.

    Not so. My inner Houston gets overcome by human teachers as they help me understand, Scripture better.

    [bold emphasis mine]

    Which shows:

    (a) that the meaning of scripture, before you are able to cognize it, must pass though your own intellect/understanding (as I argued above) and . . .

    (b) that your understanding of scripture’s meaning is not perfect upon first reading, but is in need of improving, or becoming “better” through the teaching of other human beings.

    Those things can and do teach, but don’t define.

    [bold emphasis mine]

    This claim can be shown as false by disambiguating the meaning of ‘to define”.

    A definition (by definition), is formed within the human intellect concerning the meaning of a term (word). Propositions (such as doctrines) are composed of terms, such that the meaning of a proposition is dependent upon the meaning of the terms. Definitions of terms do not hang in the air like Platonic ideas, nor do they exist as physical objects within the physical pages of a book. Since propositions are composed of terms, a fortiori propositions (of which doctrines area a type) are also formed within the intellect. Accordingly, your remarks show that whatever definitions/propositions you judge to be embedded within scripture:

    (a) first pass through your own human intellect/understanding, which is capable of (and according to you in need of) moving from a less perfect to a more perfect understanding. Which is why you:

    (b) seek to have your understanding modified, informed, or adjusted in the direction of a “better” or more perfect understanding, by teachers whose teaching *you* choose to allow as modifying your own judgments about what definitions/propositions are embedded within the words and pages of scripture.

    It is evident, then, that “scripture” (the symbols, words, paragraphs, books, pages, codex) is not in the business of ‘defining” anything (nor can it be, given its ontological status as an inert thing). Books do not define, persons alone, upon having read a book, may define and form propositions. The “definitions” (and propositions/doctrines) which you claim to find in scripture are the product of your own human understanding of scripture in conjunction with whatever modifications you choose to allow your understanding to undergo through the teaching of others. And this is so for every Christian.

    I don’t have an alternative religious authority other than Scripture, i.e, 3FU, oral Tradition.

    From the above it follows that it is *yourself*, along with “those things” which “can and do teach”, which are, in fact, doing all the “defining” – not scripture. Therefore, you do – in fact – have a religious authority; namely, your own intellectual understanding of the words of scripture in conjunction with whatever teachers and teaching *you allow* to modify your own understanding of what is defined and/or proposed within the pages of scripture.

    -Pax

  99. Frank (83), Bryan (87), Frank (88),

    I made a citation mistake responding to Frank in #86 – Frank, you had cited John 20:25 correctly:

    “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25)

    but used the verse as support of oral Tradition.

    I then disagreed with you, Frank, in #86, except I cited the verse as John 21:31:

    “But since you brought up John 20:31, notice how John himself emphasizes the written – he wishes all Jesus did and said could be written down. John’s words, if you will heed them, limit your search for Jesus to the written Scripture, not Tradition.”

    I should have written John 20:25.

    Bryan (88) took my words as referring to 20:31 and warned me:

    “Neither of those two statements (“he wishes …” and “John’s words … limit your search”) follow from John 20:31. They are ideas you are bringing to the text, but treat as if they were found in the text. Again, that’s extremely dangerous, when you treat your own words and ideas as if they are the words and ideas of God.”

    Indeed!

    So, my mistake in a bad citation, and I appreciate the warning and hope to heed it with fear! Thanks.

  100. Ray (98),

    From the above it follows that it is *yourself*, along with “those things” which “can and do teach”, which are, in fact, doing all the “defining” – not scripture. Therefore, you do – in fact – have a religious authority; namely, your own intellectual understanding of the words of scripture in conjunction with whatever teachers and teaching *you allow* to modify your own understanding of what is defined and/or proposed within the pages of scripture.

    Simply, not so, Ray. My knowledge is not a religious authority. Scripture alone is.

    That all interpretation happens between the ears, no one should doubt. Interpretation is the elemental part of the imago Dei. And every time you assent to RCC doctrine, you interpret as much as the Muslim does his Koran. You like he can’t help it.

    I, being likewise created, am only capable of derivative knowledge and so limited in what I can receive in both quantity and quality. I need God, who knows all, to accommodate Himself to my frailty and teach me in this condition.. This He does, perfectly, in Scripture.

    Take the Person of Christ, for an instance. I can only know Him in part since I am a creature, but I can know Him in part truthfully, for He has given an accurate and truthful explanation of Himself in Scripture, and nowhere else, for the men who wrote Scripture lived with Him in His incarnation.

    I trust, by the obedience of a rational faith, their words. And because I believe Jesus’ words in John 16:12-15, I also believe the RCC cannot give a truthful and accurate explanation of Him apart from RC adherents likewise going back to Scripture. Epistemologically, you are just as source-dependent as I am. And if you had read the article I recommend to you, you might have understood the integrity of this position.

    So, if you want to argue epistemology, go for it, but I’m not intimidated. Why should I be? I don’t rest in my epistemology but in the inScripturated Christ, the eternal Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.

    And you have something superior to offer? Really?

  101. David (97),

    Thanks for interacting, but your explanation of “good works” neglects that Paul is not speaking to Timothy about acts of common charity but about a Scripture-centered ministry – hence the title, “man of God,” and Paul’s own explanation of the good work:

    4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
    2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
    3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
    4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2Ti 4:1-4).

    I claim again what I gave you in #96,

    “But, 2 Tim. 3:17 teaches Scripture is sufficient to equip the man of God for ministry, and ministry is the application of the meaning of all Scripture to all of life – Mat. 4:4.”

  102. Hi Ted,

    There is no doubt that Paul views the LXX here as necessary to equip the man of God for ministry. But is there anything in the context to suggest that Paul views the “sacred writings” as the sufficient source of the doctrine about Christ that Timothy is charged to transmit?

    On the contrary, in the immediate context Paul identifies two helps in Timothy’s ministry:
    1. The things you have learned, being assured because you know those from whom you learned them. (which is to say, an oral tradition)
    2. The LXX (the scriptures he knew from Childhood), that are useful for correction, reproof, and training in righteousness.

    In vs. 17 Paul says that the Scriptures equip the man of God for “good work,” (and we can continue to discuss what that means), but in what way is he equipped? Namely, through correction, reproof and training in righteousness. There is just nothing in the context to suggest that Paul viewed the LXX as a sufficient repository of dogmatic content concerning the life, ministry, and teaching of Jesus.

    To read “sufficient’ and “fully equipped” as referring to dogmatic teaching would also make no sense, given that Paul says elsewhere that the mystery of Christ was not fully revealed in the OT (Eph. 3:5) as it has now been revealed to apostles and prophets.

    So to get that complete picture, you need to the two sources of authority Paul references. The LXX, which is particularly useful for parenesis, and the oral tradition Timothy received from trustworthy witnesses.

    -David

  103. Ted,

    Two words: Pasa Graphe. Those are the two Greek words for “All Scripture” that starts off 2 Timothy 3:16.

    Here are two quotes from two trustworthy Protestant sources (both available online) on what these Greek words mean:

    3. graphe for a Single book. There are no NT instances except perhaps 2 Tim. 3:16, though contemporary parallels suggest that this means “every passage.” (Source: Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume 1, Page 30)

    And,

    There is very little difference in sense between every scripture (emphasizing the individual portions) and “all scripture” (emphasizing the composite whole). The former option is preferred, because it fits the normal use of the word “all/every” in Greek (πᾶς, pas) as well as Paul’s normal sense for the word “scripture” in the singular without the article, as here. So every scripture means “every individual portion of scripture.” (New English Translation, footnote to 2 Timothy 3:16, edited by scholars such as Dr Daniel Wallace)

    Thus, the Greek here isn’t speaking of “all Scripture as a whole” or “all 66 books,” but rather with Graphe (Scripture) in the singular and with Pasa (all) being more accurately rendered “every,” the way you should be reading 2 Timothy 3:16 being more precise with the Greek would be: “Every individual book/passage of Scripture is inspired by God . . .”

    But if Paul is talking about sufficiency here, then what he’s saying is that every individual book or individual passage is sufficient, which certainly cannot be right. (Is Obadiah alone or Jude alone or any portion of any book alone sufficient?)

    So the Greek itself defeats the Protestant appeal to 2 Timothy 3:16f.

    To add to that, logically speaking, Paul says Scripture is sufficient/profitable towards Four Ends, training, rebuke, etc, but it is these Four Ends that ‘fully equip’ the Man of God, not Scripture directly. Consider this example: Water is profitable towards muscle growth, good metabolism, and healthy blood, so that the athlete will be fully quipped for every sport. To take this as saying “water fully equips the athlete” is not only false scientifically, it’s misreading the passage. It is a good metabolism, strong muscles, and healthy blood that equip the athlete, and water is “profitable” towards those three factors. It’s false to say water is sufficient for muscle growth, good metabolism, and healthy blood, just as it’s false to read the text as saying Scripture is sufficient towards those Four Ends.

  104. David (102),

    On the contrary, in the immediate context Paul identifies two helps in Timothy’s ministry:
    1. The things you have learned, being assured because you know those from whom you learned them. (which is to say, an oral tradition)
    2. The LXX (the scriptures he knew from Childhood), that are useful for correction, reproof, and training in righteousness.

    You are inserting your particular ideas in here, but they aren’t in Paul’s words, David. Indeed, the likelihood is that Paul is referring, at least in some part, to his own ministry to Timothy that has worked a convincing value in Timothy (3:14) – similar to the convincing value of the OT he learned as child.

    Then, in 3:16, Paul draws the two together – his apostolic teaching to Timothy, and the OT – collecting both as “all Scripture.”

    Tradition? Never shows up.

    Paul’s follow-on command is to “preach the word” (4:2) – which would include the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – not “Preach the word and the Tradition.” Timothy will be held to account before God the Judge to preach the Word, and nothing else. Not only, then, is Timothy not to teach a tradition, but if he does in addition to the Word, he will be severely judged for it.

  105. Hi Ted,

    I agree with your inference that Paul is likely referring the content of his own teaching ministry. That’s what I mean by tradition. Tradition simply means “that which is handed on.” The same body of teaching he references in 2 Tim. 1:6 when he charges Timothy to pass on what was entrusted to him, or in 2 Tim. 2:2 – when he is to entrust it to others.

    Paul doesn’t use the term “paradosis” here, but what he does say is precisely what catholics mean by tradition. Elsewhere, of course, Paul doesn’t hesitate to refer to this oral and liturgical tradition by the word “paradosis.”

    [strong’s concordance: “objectively, what is delivered, the substance of the teaching: so of Paul’s teaching, 2 Thessalonians 3:6; in plural of the particular injunctions of Paul’s instruction, 1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15.]

    So I am at a loss to understand your objection. Paul references his teaching to Timothy (not in Scripture) in a number of passages throughout the letter. This, together with the LXX, is to inform Timothy’s ministry. Paul nowhere references the 27 book canonical New Testament as an authority for Timothy. (Obviously). But perhaps we are equivocating over the word “Tradition.” What exactly are you denying when you say Paul doesn’t mention tradition? Surely, you are not simply making a semantic objection about the use of the word paradosis? What, then, do you take to be the content of tradition that Paul somehow fails to endorse?

    Thanks,

    David

  106. Hi David (105),

    So I am at a loss to understand your objection. Paul references his teaching to Timothy (not in Scripture) in a number of passages throughout the letter. This, together with the LXX, is to inform Timothy’s ministry. Paul nowhere references the 27 book canonical New Testament as an authority for Timothy. (Obviously). But perhaps we are equivocating over the word “Tradition.” What exactly are you denying when you say Paul doesn’t mention tradition? Surely, you are not simply making a semantic objection about the use of the word paradosis? What, then, do you take to be the content of tradition that Paul somehow fails to endorse?

    We’re back to #85 – the only way to know the Tradition Paul passed on to Timothy or to whole churches is to read what he wrote. That’s why I agree with your first sentences, “Paul is likely referring the content of his own teaching ministry. That’s what I mean by tradition.”

    But that’s not what the RCC claims, at least, as far as I know.

  107. Ted, you said:

    Paul’s follow-on command is to “preach the word” (4:2)

    1. The greek word here is “logos” (logon in this tense), i.e. the same “Word” which refers to Jesus Christ in John 1:1.
    2. Many other translations say “Preach the message”.

    So we can’t infer from this text that Paul means “Preach exclusively what is written in the scriptures”. He doesn’t use the word “graphe” at all.

  108. Ted, you said, “the only way to know the Tradition Paul passed on to Timothy or to whole churches is to read what he wrote.”

    That just does not follow. What if we have an independent, non-scriptural source for such tradition? (And we’ve got plenty.)
    The only way you can say we have no access to this tradition is if you reject all such claims apriori.

    In fact, We’ve got reams of apostolic doctrine not recorded in Scripture. Take, for one example, the apostolic origin of the Gospel of Mark.
    There are liturgical norms that the early church also considered to be apostolic – the epiclesis, for example, or the addition of water to the wine in the chalice.
    We could go on.

    So, how can you say we have only Scriptural access to Paul’s tradition without begging the question against the Patristic tradition?

    -David

  109. Ted (#106)

    …the only way to know the Tradition Paul passed on to Timothy or to whole churches is to read what he wrote.

    This statement presupposes that Christ did not in fact establish a Church that had authority to guard the tradition. If He did, then there is another way of knowing the Tradition Paul passed on to Timothy: ask the Church.

    And if He did not, then there is no way of being certain that what (we think) Paul wrote is, in fact, the Word of God.

    jj

  110. Jonathan (107),

    So we can’t infer from this text that Paul means “Preach exclusively what is written in the scriptures”.

    Jonathan, that is exactly what Paul is commanding Timothy to do, in the strongest possible terms.

  111. David (108),

    The only way you can say we have no access to this tradition is if you reject all such claims apriori

    That’s one way, but not a Christian way. The Christian way is to compare all that is written by men against Scripture, which has it’s authorial source in Jesus Christ. That which agrees with “all the truth” He gave to the apostles is honored, but not inspired. That which disagrees is to be rejected.

    So the doctrine of the Christ in His hupostasis, as developed in the early creeds, is correct, for it openly accords to Scripture. Therefore it is to be accepted. The later development on Mary, however, is not in accord with what Scripture says about Mary in particular and with what Scripture says about all human flesh collectively. Therefore, it is to be rejected.

  112. JJ (109)

    This statement presupposes that Christ did not in fact establish a Church that had authority to guard the tradition. If He did, then there is another way of knowing the Tradition Paul passed on to Timothy: ask the Church.

    Indeed, but not without reason. It also presupposes that if Christ intended to establish such an institution on earth, it would be clear in both precept and example.

    Instead, the evidence in Scripture is so contrary for just such an institution that it is impossible to derive such a “Church” out of it.

  113. Hi Ted,

    Your initial claim was that we could have no knowledge of any tradition but that contained in Scripture.
    Now you are making an argument about how to evaluate that tradition – namely by comparing it to the texts that were canonized by the Church as Scripture. I don’t see that this is on point.
    Indeed, evaluating a tradition would seem to presuppose knowledge of a tradition.
    So, are you saying we cannot know any tradition not derived immediately from Scripture, or are you saying that we should only accept those traditions that accord with your interpretation of Scripture? These seem like two different arguments to me.

    In either event, how would you apply your criterion to evaluating a tradition such as “the Gospel of Mark is of apostolic origin?” Is it enough (for you) that a tradition not conflict with your interpretation of Scripture, or must it also receive positive corroboration in Scripture?

    Thanks,

    David

  114. Hi Ted,

    JJ posits that Christ established a Church that had authority to guard apostolic tradition.
    You say that the evidence in Scripture is impossibly contrary to this assertion.

    I am wondering if we are reading the same Bible:
    “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.” 2 Timothy 1:14
    “Teach everything I have commanded you.” Matt. 28.
    “Do this in Memory of Me.”
    “I found my Church.”
    “What you bind on earth is bound in heaven.”
    “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2)
    “Pillar and foundation of the Truth.”
    Even the Protestant Reformers would not have made such a bald assertion as – “The evidence of Scripture militates against Christ founding a Church with authority to guard tradition.”

  115. Hi David (113, 114),

    Now you are making an argument about how to evaluate that tradition – namely by comparing it to the texts that were canonized by the Church as Scripture.

    David, you are making two mistakes here. One is assuming that the group of Christians that recognized the canon was “the Church.” Yet no meaning of ecclesia given by Jesus Christ would recognize them as a/the Church. And since He is Lord of the Church, any who propose to define what the church is and is not, should submit to His definitions, lest they idolatrize what He creates.

    And as always, His definitions are in Scripture.

    Second, the group you call “church” didn’t canonize anything. The Holy Spirit produced the books and they were recognized as Scripture immediately – see 1 Tim. 5:18. The process was recognition, not establishment.

    how would you apply your criterion to evaluating a tradition such as “the Gospel of Mark is of apostolic origin?”

    There were false gospels in the early days, including the gospel of Peter. How do you think the early Christians recognized Mark was prophetic, while Peter was not? Dice?

  116. Hi Ted,

    We’re getting really far afield here from the initial point under discussion: does Paul, in 2 Tim. 3,endorse any source of doctrinal authority other than the LXX?
    As I read it, we both agree that he does – at least, he endorses the content of his own teaching ministry that he transmitted orally to Timothy.
    From here, you claimed that we can have no access to that tradition except through what Paul wrote.
    I have asked you to justify that statement, and I am still waiting on an answer.
    I also challenged your assertion that Jesus did not found a Church and entrust her with the task of handing on the deposit of faith.
    You responded that the late antique group of Christians that canonized the Scriptures were in no sense “the Church.”
    But this does nothing to support your contention that Christ founded no Church. It merely establishes that you don’ think such a church continued in continuity with the episcopal office.

    So, I’ll repeat myself. How do you know that Christ did not found a Church with authority, when he clearly says otherwise?
    How do you know that we have no access to Paul’s tradition, but through Scripture?
    And, finally, how do you know that the Gospel of Mark is of apostolic authority? Your reference to “the early Christians” would suggest an appeal to tradition, but maybe I misunderstand you.

    And, finally-finally – please consider this proposition: “The Gospel of Mark is inspired Scripture.”
    Does this proposition belong to the deposit of faith? Is it an article of faith in the Christian religion that Mark is inspired Scripture?

    Thanks,

    David

  117. Ted (#112)

    JJ (109)

    This statement presupposes that Christ did not in fact establish a Church that had authority to guard the tradition. If He did, then there is another way of knowing the Tradition Paul passed on to Timothy: ask the Church.

    Indeed, but not without reason. It also presupposes that if Christ intended to establish such an institution on earth, it would be clear in both precept and example.

    Instead, the evidence in Scripture is so contrary for just such an institution that it is impossible to derive such a “Church” out of it.

    But don’t you have to have some evidence that Christ did not intend to establish such a Church? If you just presuppose it, that is what is called ‘begging the question.’

    jj

  118. JJ (117),

    My evidence, and yours, is Mat. 16:18 – the universal church of all who will overcome the gates of hades – that is, those who will ever be saved and consists of 3 groups: those presently in heaven, those presently living, and those yet unborn but who shall by God’s mercy be saved; these three groups shall ever be “in Christ” – and thus the Mat. 16:18 is NOT the RCC,

    and Mat. 18:17, which requires local church for obedient fulfilment, and thus, is not the RCC;

    furthermore, all NT references to the word ecclesia fit these, and only these, two definitions of “church” given directly by Jesus Christ and recorded by an apostle. He was there. You and I weren’t, nor were the Fathers.

    What’s begging the question is going outside His words and His definitions for church, and then claiming that definition(s) comes from Him.

  119. Ted (#118)

    JJ (117),

    My evidence, and yours

    No, because I don’t start with the assumption that the Bible is inspired and inerrant.

    jj

  120. Hi Ted,

    Your response in 118 seems like a non-sequitur to me. Why does a local referent in Matt 18: 17 rule out the Catholic church? Aren’t Catholic Churches local? And why does a universal referent (as in Matt. 16:18, or Ephesians) also rule out the Catholic church?

    Christ either founded a Church, or he didn’t.
    The Church is either called to visible unity or it isn’t. (Locally or translocally.)
    That Church exists in continuity with the episcopal office or it doesn’t.

    I don’t see how you’ve addressed any of those issues directly. You’ve just asserted “The Church founded by Christ cannot possible be the Catholic Church” but I don’t actually see any argument to that effect.

    Also, I’d still really like a response to my questions in 116.

    -David

  121. I might also pose a question about your theological methodology.

    You seem to imply that ecclesiology should be limited to exegesis of Scripture texts that employ the word “ecclesia.” Is that your position?

    -David

  122. Jonathan, that is exactly what Paul is commanding Timothy to do, in the strongest possible terms.

    Ted, since you have re-asserted your initial assertion rather than engage the argument against it, then you and I will have to disagree on this point. I’ll continue to follow your discussion with JJ and David.

    In that discussion, I would appreciate more precise arguments and fewer bald assertions.

    Thanks
    Jonathan

  123. Ted,

    Did you get a chance to look over my claim in Post #103? If you’re not busy/tired and have the energy, I’d like to see how you address the pasa graphe issue.

  124. JJ (119),

    Regarding Mat. 16 and Mat. 18, I wrote,

    “My evidence, and yours…”

    You wrote,

    “No, because I don’t start with the assumption that the Bible is inspired and inerrant.”

    I agree. Your Jesus is defined by the RCC, that’s your paradigm, and your Jesus. The Jesus you believe in has been defined by men who did not know Jesus in His incarnation.

    Otoh, my Jesus is the Jesus of Scripture who’s words are recorded in Matthew’s gospel. Hence, my Jesus is defined by the apostle’s writing, for they knew Him in His incarnation.

    We worship two different Christ’s, you and me. Comparing paradigms is fruitless. Comparing Christ’s is not.

  125. David (120),

    Your response in 118 seems like a non-sequitur to me. Why does a local referent in Matt 18: 17 rule out the Catholic church? Aren’t Catholic Churches local? And why does a universal referent (as in Matt. 16:18, or Ephesians) also rule out the Catholic church?

    Some of the answers are in 118. For further answers please read my article here: http://www.churchsonefoundation.com/jesus-defines-his-church/.

  126. David (121),

    The words Jesus are on the ecclesia are definitional for followers of Jesus. The article I just referenced supports that.

  127. Nick (123),

    From #103:

    “But if Paul is talking about sufficiency here, then what he’s saying is that every individual book or individual passage is sufficient, which certainly cannot be right. (Is Obadiah alone or Jude alone or any portion of any book alone sufficient?)”

    You’ve drawn a false conclusion from your premise – certainly not at all what Paul was saying. And Kittel has never been regarded as trustworthy except by Barthians, and even they demur.

  128. David (116)

    you claimed that we can have no access to that tradition except through what Paul wrote.
    I have asked you to justify that statement, and I am still waiting on an answer.

    I have answered this at least two times above, my friend. It is because neither Paul nor any apostle taught Christians to expect an oral tradition.

    For example, when Jude, a prophet, writes to Christians, he doesn’t say anything about him passing along a sacred Tradition. Instead, he told Christians to remember some words that (all) the apostles spoke beforehand (Jude 17), and which he, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes down (Jude 18). He says nothing about remembering an apostolic Tradition other than what is written.

  129. Hi Ted,

    “Go read my article” isn’t really a conversation. I’ve already read a great deal of Protestant theology in my day, and I don’t engage comboxes in order to get new reading lists. If you don’t want to dialogue, that’s ok. Just say so. Initially, I thought that we were having a conversation about the exegesis of 2 Tim. 3:16. At root, we were discussing the sources of authority that the author references. I think we both agreed that Paul references both the LXX and the unwritten content of his own teaching ministry. Your continual assertion since has been that we have no access to anything but the content preserved in canonized Scripture. I’m still waiting to know why that is? I know a lot of things in life that I didn’t learn from Sacred Scripture. Facts about my grandparents, for example, that I only know from oral tradition. I don’t understand why, in principle, such knowledge about the apostolic era is unavailable to me. Your claim “The Church Fathers weren’t there” would render all historical knowledge impossible because, of course, I wasn’t there even to verify that Paul wrote 2 Timothy. (A contentious claim in the critical literature, as I’m sure you know.) Just because a source is written doesn’t make it, in principle, more reliable as an historical witness. It could always be a very old lie.

    So – again – how can you know, in principle, that the tradition Paul references is unavailable to us?
    To assert “Because it’s not written” is to beg the question.

    Thanks,

    David

  130. David (129),

    If your great great great grandchildren told my great great great grandchildren that you left an oral tradition in addition to your writings in order to claim the inheritance, but that you never mentioned in your writings you would leave an oral tradition, they would be justly suspicion and accuse those grandchildren of making up a story to get the inheritance.

    If you want to understand me in order to have a discussion, read my article. Or, just accuse me of begging the question all day long. But I have real work to do.

  131. Ted, (re: #90)

    That would be true except that Scripture claims for itself the very power to judge all else, by enabling the man of God to fully equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

    The problem with that claim is that that passage does not state that Scripture “claims for itself the very power to judge all else.” Once again, that’s your interpretation of the passage, but treated as if it is Scripture itself.

    You assume it does not have this power,

    No, I do not. Comparing two paradigms does not allow presupposing the falsehood of one of the two.

    you beg the question by continually assuming Scripture does not rule out all other forms of religious authority except those explicitly delineated in it (i.e., elders, qualified by 1 Ti. 3 and Titus 1).

    Not assuming that it does, is not the same as assuming that it doesn’t. You’re conflating the two, which is a basic logical blunder.

    You see. We’re comparing paradigms all the time, and there is no common ground.

    If there is no common ground, then you would not be able to reason with me. And if you believe that there is no common ground, then you are contradicting yourself by continually attempting to reason with me both on this thread and on this site. So you’ll need to choose: either (a) you can reason with me, in which case there is common ground, or (b) there is no common ground, and you’ll have to stop attempting to reason with me.

    One of us must yield to the other. For me to assume Scripture alone does not have authority to judge all things – me, my thoughts, my heart, my beliefs, and all things in you and all things in Roman Catholicism, is to leave what Scripture affirms for itself.

    I’m aware that you believe this. But, as I’ve explained above, this position presupposes the truth of a particular theology, namely biblicism. And if biblicism is wrong, then presupposing biblicism will never allow you to discover the falsehood of biblicism.

    Here’s your circularity: “understanding in light of that tradition.”

    Merely asserting circularity does not show circularity. If I had presupposed the authority of Tradition, in order to compare paradigms, then my approach would have been circular. But I didn’t.

    The only way to understand Mat. 16:18 (and 19) as being compatible with RCC hierarchy is to first assume RCC tradition is a valid interpretation of Scripture.

    That’s simply false. The compatibility of the Catholic doctrine concerning ecclesial hierarchy with Mt 16:18 does not require first believing in the authority of Catholic Tradition. And merely asserting the contrary does not establish the contrary.

    Yet that verse does not assume human hierarchy beyond the apostles, and furthermore, is the revelation of the eternal God.

    Verses don’t “assume” anything. Only persons assume things. The fact that these verses do not mention a succession from St. Peter does not entail that there is no succession, or that such a succession is incompatible with these verses. To assert otherwise would, once again, be to commit the fallacy of arguing from silence.

    So here, where the eternal God speaks of the universal church, He does not speak of an unwritten oral Tradition that affirms it as other than how He teaches it there.

    Indeed, but nothing follows from that. The argument from silence is a fallacy.

    Further, His chosen apostles teach precisely this kind of universal church, and not the kind of universal church RC Tradition assumes (i.e. Eph. 1:22-23).

    The problem with that statement is that not only do Catholics believe and embrace Eph 1:22-23, but Eph 1:22-23 is fully compatible with all Catholic doctrine.

    Which, to advance the ball further, is one reason why the RCC hierarchical organization does not reflect the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, church.

    As I have just shown, that conclusion is based on (a) the fallacy of the argument from silence and (b) an unsubstantiated assertion regarding Eph. 1:22-23.

    So if i can draw what is to me the ultimate distinction between our 2 paradigms, it is this. Scripture rests upon itself, and the RCC rests upon itself.

    The only way you arrive at the notion that “Scripture rests upon itself” is by using some sloppy reasoning (e.g. fallacies such as the argument from silence), and presupposing biblicism. And that *is* circular reasoning.

    Thanks Bryan – good point. I apologize. Thanks for correcting my misunderstanding. Still, the mental gymnastics to believe in divine revelation that isn’t inspired is dizzying.

    The Transfiguration was also dizzying, undoubtedly, as was the Resurrection. The standard for whether we should accept something as from God is not “is it not dizzying.” Making “non-dizzying” a criterion by which we accept or reject revelation or theological truth or a theological paradigm is just making theology in our own image, as I explained already in comment #12.

    If I understand you right, you have an infallible authority in addition to inspired Scripture that is non-inspired. So, how did it get infallible?

    By the protection of the Holy Spirit.

    What is clear through your comments here, as I pointed out in the first comments in this thread, and has been made clearer still in all your subsequent and numerous comments on this thread, is that it is futile to attempt to resolve theological disagreements with non-biblicists while presupposing biblicism. It is not just that repeating a futile action is imprudent. A more serious problem is that repeatedly (over, and over, and over) engaging in question-begging in a dialogue is not reasoning together (because reasoning together requires sincerely attempting to find common ground). Repeated, unapologetic, unremorseful question-begging is table-pounding, which is resorting to sheer verbal force. And that’s not welcome here. If you want to dialogue here, you have to be willing at least to seek to avoid begging the question. If you’re not willing to do that, then you’re not ready to enter into dialogue here, and you should stop commenting both on this thread and on CTC.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  132. Hi Ted,
    Of course I can be suspicious of any claim to theological authority. I’m suspicious of most such claims. That suspicion could even extend to texts of canonized Scripture. Indeed, many critical scholars are highly suspicious of 2 Timothy, and believe it to be pseudopigraphical. But my ability to question such claims and even the probability that many such claims are spurious does not make the claims untrue. It doesn’t justify the assertion that “we can have no access to such tradition.” Wouldn’t it simply be more accurate to say, “I don’t believe such claims?”
    and, if that is the case, would you also apply your hermeneutic of suspicion to the text of 2 Timothy? Why not say, “The claim that 2 Timothy is of apostolic origin is likely a power grab by unscrupulous churchmen, so I don’t believe it?”

    Finally, I’m sorry if I came across snarky in the last post. Would it be too much to ask for your to summarize the thesis of your article, and the main line of argument? Otherwise, we can just quote reading lists at each other: “Go read my dissertation if you want to understand me!” At that point, it seems to me, the conversation has broken down.

    -David

  133. Bryan (131),

    I’ll step away, but first, a question.

    You want to compare paradigms, and claim that all along I’ve been unwilling to do so (or words to that effect). I’ve been saying, “no, we’ve been comparing paradigms all along.” And I’ve also been clear that my presupposition all along has been the sufficiency of Scripture – and I’ve received alot of questions tying to get me to see how absurd that sounds, epistemologically.

    But I’ve been wrong, I think. Not about what Scripture claims for itself, but what I presumed on you.

    As you point out in #131, when I wrote to you, “Here’s your circularity: “understanding in light of that tradition.”

    You replied,

    Merely asserting circularity does not show circularity. If I had presupposed the authority of Tradition, in order to compare paradigms, then my approach would have been circular. But I didn’t.”

    Of course, I was speaking of ‘now that you’re a Catholic you presuppose this,’ and you went to your past experience of before you were a Catholic.

    But no matter. You are right, you did not presuppose the validity and authority of Tradition in investigating the RC claims. (Nor did I presume the sufficiency of Scripture before trusting in Christ. In fact, at that time, I could have cared less what the Bible said about itself.)

    What then did you presuppose that brought you to the place of accepting RC Tradition, and if it isn’t too cheeky, what is it you presuppose now that keeps you a RC?

  134. Ted (#120)

    JJ (119),

    Regarding Mat. 16 and Mat. 18, I wrote,

    “My evidence, and yours…”

    You wrote,

    “No, because I don’t start with the assumption that the Bible is inspired and inerrant.”

    I agree. Your Jesus is defined by the RCC, that’s your paradigm, and your Jesus. The Jesus you believe in has been defined by men who did not know Jesus in His incarnation.

    No. Jesus is not defined by the Church; Jesus created the Church. There is no meaning to ‘my’ Jesus. Jesus is Who He is. He created the Church and speaks through it.

    Otoh, my Jesus is the Jesus of Scripture who’s words are recorded in Matthew’s gospel. Hence, my Jesus is defined by the apostle’s writing, for they knew Him in His incarnation.

    We worship two different Christ’s, you and me. Comparing paradigms is fruitless. Comparing Christ’s is not.

    There is only one Christ. Comparing paradigms is essential if we want to know whether our understanding of Christ is correct or not. I understand the Jesus from Scripture, as do you. However, I think it essential to know why Scripture is Scripture and not the uninspired and possibly erring words of men.

    jj

  135. Ted, (re: #133)

    I’ve been saying, “no, we’ve been comparing paradigms all along.”

    I would respond by asking you to point me to even one place where you compared the paradigms without begging the question, i.e. without presupposing biblicism. You can’t point me to any such place, because no such place exists (at least on this thread). And there is no sense pretending that one is ‘comparing’ paradigms when one is presupposing the truth of one of them and the falsity of the others. In such a case, one is engaged in precisely what I said in comment #9, namely, self-deception.

    And I’ve also been clear that my presupposition all along has been the sufficiency of Scripture

    Exactly, which is why you haven’t been comparing paradigms, but rather only presupposing one of them.

    But I’ve been wrong, I think. Not about what Scripture claims for itself, but what I presumed on you. As you point out in #131, when I wrote to you, “Here’s your circularity: “understanding in light of that tradition.” You replied, “Merely asserting circularity does not show circularity. If I had presupposed the authority of Tradition, in order to compare paradigms, then my approach would have been circular. But I didn’t.” Of course, I was speaking of ‘now that you’re a Catholic you presuppose this,’ and you went to your past experience of before you were a Catholic. But no matter. You are right, you did not presuppose the validity and authority of Tradition in investigating the RC claims.

    Ok, thanks.

    Nor did I presume the sufficiency of Scripture before trusting in Christ. In fact, at that time, I could have cared less what the Bible said about itself.

    Ok.

    What then did you presuppose that brought you to the place of accepting RC Tradition, and if it isn’t too cheeky, what is it you presuppose now that keeps you a RC?

    Nothing and nothing.

    The purpose of this combox is not to debate biblicists (especially biblicists who have no intention of avoiding begging the question). The purpose of this combox is to discuss the article at the top of this page.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  136. Bryan (135),

    Nothing and nothing.

    Not possible. All thinking requires presupposition.

    You presupposed,

    A) the ability of your mind to distinguish truth and falsity in the matter of revelation, i.e., heaven’s own interaction with earth,

    and

    B) you presupposed the falsity of the biblicist position, that the Christ of Scripture calls you, just like Nicodemus, to repent of A (John 3:11).

  137. Ted (re: #136)

    Not possible. All thinking requires presupposition.

    Assertions are easy, but establish nothing. You would need an argument to establish that assertion. You’re attempting to make fideism the foundation of thought, and I do not share that fideistic epistemology, for reasons I’ve explained in the Wilson vs. Hitchens thread, and in the “Faith and Reason” podcast I did with Tim.

    You presupposed, A) the ability of your mind to distinguish truth and falsity in the matter of revelation, i.e., heaven’s own interaction with earth,

    No, I didn’t. I remained open to the possibility of the contrary.

    B) you presupposed the falsity of the biblicist position, that the Christ of Scripture calls you, just like Nicodemus, to repent of A (John 3:11).

    No, I didn’t. I was raised believing the truth of the biblicist position. I never presupposed its falsity. I only eventually came to the *conclusion* that it is false.

    But please lay aside the attempt at mind-reading, which isn’t a fruitful approach to ecumenical dialogue, and which is highly unreliable, as shown here. I’ve tried to make it as clear as possible, as graciously as possible, that this combox is not for debating persons who explicitly affirm biblicism, and therefore not the proper forum for you to participate in here. So please let that be your last comment in this thread. Thank you.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  138. Hi Bryan,

    How do you come to the conclusion that Roman Catholic remains faithful to the true faith that for once was delivered to the saints? I’ve read Irenaeus, Cyprian, and Augustine on communion with the church in Rome. But isn’t that because apostolic succession and apostolic faith are being kept in the church of Rome back then? I’m also familiar with Scott Hahn analogy between communion with the house of David in Jerusalem and communion with the see of Peter in Rome. That the church of Rome does have bad popes just like kingdom of Judah had bad kings. But if the church of Rome unilaterally alter the Nicene faith isn’t that shows she has been unfaithful? How can the Frankish Carolingian Pope Benedict VIII allowed to unilaterally change conciliar faith which even Popes Leo IV and John VIII agreed?

    http://orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org/2012/08/02/why-i-did-not-become-roman-catholic-a-sort-of-response-to-jason-stellman/

    Thank you,

  139. Adithia, (re: #138)

    How do you come to the conclusion that Roman Catholic remains faithful to the true faith that for once was delivered to the saints?

    One approach to the disunity problem is going to the Bible, doing my best to interpret it, and then looking around and seeing which group of persons most closely conforms to that interpretation. According to that approach, determining which group most closely conforms to my interpretation of Scripture is the way to determine which group has remained most faithful to “the true faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” But there is another approach. And that involves first finding the Church that Christ founded, and then allowing its teaching concerning the faith to tell me what is “the true faith that for once was delivered to the saints.” These are two different approaches, and it is no good using one to judge the other. Here we have to compare the respective paradigms in which these two approaches are situated. I’ve described these two approaches as “comparing form” and “tracing matter;” see, for example, “On Starting Points and Reconciliation.” So the question is not as simple as comparing one’s own interpretation of Scripture to present Church doctrine. It requires looking at the Catholic paradigm *as* a paradigm, which includes looking at what (in the Catholic paradigm) is considered development as development. If development of doctrine occurs, and one’s approach to the question presupposes that development does not occur, then the criterion one brings to the question will produce a false negative (i.e. rule out a position that is true). So my very short answer to your question is to compare paradigms, and ask which better fits with and explains all the data.

    But isn’t that because apostolic succession and apostolic faith are being kept in the church of Rome back then?

    Of course that’s one possible answer. But the patristic and theological evidence also indicates that there is some unique stewardship relation between Christ and Peter, and between Peter and his successors in Rome, and between his successors in Rome, and the rest of the Church Catholic. Christ did not leave His Church without a principium unitatis. See, for example, my post on St. Optatus. It was not just an accident that Rome preserved the doctrine of the Apostles; it was because of this unique charism Christ gave to St. Peter, and he to his successors, that the Church at Rome was divinely protected from teaching error, and that the other particular Churches looked to Rome, while maintaining the principle of collegiality and subsidiarity.

    But if the church of Rome unilaterally alter the Nicene faith isn’t that shows she has been unfaithful?

    “Alter” is a term that needs to be disambiguated. If it here means ‘developed,’ then no, that does not show that she has been unfaithful. If it here means ‘corrupted,’ then yes, that would show she has been unfaithful. But, whether the alteration is a corruption would first have to be established, not assumed. The critics typically assume that (a) the “alteration” is a corruption, and that assumption presupposes what is in question, and (b) that the Pope does not have authority to do so unilaterally, and that also presupposes what is in question regarding the teaching authority of the bishop of Rome. The prudential question regarding the collegial manner of developing doctrine is not the same as the authority question, for which reason unilateral teaching actions, even when imprudent with respect to their unilateral character, are not thereby shown to be corruptions of the faith or demonstrations of unfaithfulness.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  140. Bryan, (re: #139)

    I’m considering between Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. So yes, I agree that it’s a matter of paradigm. I grew up in a Dutch Reformed Church back in Indonesia with traditional heritage from Kuyper, Bavinck, and Van Til (hence presuppositional approach). But what I haven’t been able to resolve is about the faithfulness of church of Rome in theological developments. Even Eastern Orthodox agree that there are theological developments in the Fathers for example Essence/Energies distinction from Athanasius, Basil, Maximos, Photius, Palamas, and Lossky. I’ve read your article on Optatus, and I agree that there is a special ordinance because Christ give His body principium unitatis.

    But still, how can the Frankish Carolingian Pope Benedict VIII be allowed to unilaterally change conciliar faith which even Popes Leo IV and John VIII agreed? Even when Maximos did defend the Latin usage of filioque both Popes Leo IV and John VIII acknowledged that it’s better to keep the creed in original form both in Latin and Greek. Wouldn’t it sounds like altering Nicene creed by adding further theological description that He is the Lord and Giver of life prior to Constantinople I even though it’s acceptable theologically and later was added in another Ecumenical council, but conciliary Pope can’t alter Ecumenical creeds without conciliar acknowledgement. Yes, Pope is the principium unitatis but he is not the only one with the Holy Spirit, isn’t Peter after he spoke received affirmation and attestation from James the brother of the Lord? Principium unitatis and conciliar agreement I think come hand in hands together. Isn’t it would be better if Pope Benedict back then ask for Ecumenical Council to be convened to further elaborate filioque rather than unilaterally ignored his two predecessors?

    This is an article from Constantinople Patriarchate about Papal primacy and later the application of Canon 28 of Chalcedon in light after great schism. http://www.patriarchate.org/documents/first-without-equals-elpidophoros-lambriniadis

    Sincerely,

  141. Adithia (re: #140)

    I would prefer not to turn this thread into a debate about the Filioque, because doing so would take us off the topic of the post at the top of this page.

    Regarding your question, “how can the Frankish Carolingian Pope Benedict VIII be allowed to unilaterally change conciliar faith which even Popes Leo IV and John VIII agreed?,” it should be made clear that the previous papal decisions were not about the doctrine per se, but were prudential judgments based on the circumstances of the time, regarding whether to include the phrase liturgically. And a pope has the authority to reverse previous papal decisions of that sort (i.e. prudential judgments). The Filioque had already been included in the liturgy in the West for quite some time, roughly five centuries.

    but conciliary Pope can’t alter Ecumenical creeds without conciliar acknowledgement.

    The pope cannot contradict the Creed, but he can develop the faith expressed in the Creed, and a fortiori he can do so in judgments that pertain only to the Latin Church. And as I said in a previous comment, even when it is imprudent for a pope to make a unilateral decision, that does not entail that the decision is not a development. The decision by Pope Benedict VIII did not dogmatize the Filioque. The dogmatic definition of the Filioque came later, in the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), and in subsequent ecumenical councils.

    Yes, Pope is the principium unitatis but he is not the only one with the Holy Spirit, isn’t Peter after he spoke received affirmation and attestation from James the brother of the Lord?

    Yes, that is true. But that doesn’t mean that the pope cannot make unilateral judgments, or that unilateral papal judgments have no authority unless approved by a council. That would be the error of conciliarism. The prudence of conciliar magisterial collaboration, and the truth of the principle of subsidiarity, are neither the same thing as nor entail the ecclesiological error of conciliarism.

    Principium unitatis and conciliar agreement I think come hand in hands together. Isn’t it would be better if Pope Benedict back then ask for Ecumenical Council to be convened to further elaborate filioque rather than unilaterally ignored his two predecessors?

    I think the answer to your question is quite possibly yes. But that doesn’t entail anything either about the identity of the Church, or the fidelity of the Church to the Apostolic Tradition.

    This is an article from Constantinople Patriarchate about Papal primacy and later the application of Canon 28 of Chalcedon in light after great schism. http://www.patriarchate.org/documents/first-without-equals-elpidophoros-lambriniadis

    See my response to that article in comment #285 of the “Kallistos Ware: Orthodox & Catholic Union” thread. Perhaps you might put any further questions you have about Orthodox / Catholic relations under that thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  142. Bryan (re: #141)

    Thanks for your comment #285 on “Kallistos Ware: Orthodox & Catholic Union” thread, I think that’s a solid argument. But as you might already noticed in First Nicene the last part of the creed condemns anyone who says the Son is of different hypostasis than the Father. We know it happens because Nicene fathers at that time did not distinguish ousia from hypostasis (cf. Hebrews 1:3) but later after Nicene council Athanasius began to distinguish ousia and hypostasis in order to combat Pneumatochoi which later was added to Constantinople creed even though canon 7 of Ephesus forbid any alteration to the original Nicene creed. So like the addition of the Lordship of the Holy Spirit to Nicene creed in Constantinople was later established in Chalcedon. Similarly the addition of filioque to Constantinople creed was later established in Fourth Lateran council. I myself have been using this argument to justify the addition of Filioque since 2006.

    But I still have one unresolved issue about tu quoque, because Orthodox can claim that back then before schism Pope Honorius was condemned at the Third Constantinople council while after schism no one could condemn any Pope if he commits similar mistake because no one has power to dispose the Universal Primate? It sounds that (using your illustration) if I appeal to World Archery Federation I found myself seeing two federations claiming to be founded by the first grand Archer which later split. Even if you might appeal to the uniqueness of one Federation who holds the original longbow of the first grand Archer and claim to hold fast to his teaching of archery. There is no way to correct that federation. While back then before schism heads of regional branches could file disputations in board meeting to replace the CEO of WAF . I know it sounds more like Sedevacantists argument but nevertheless tu quoque remains applicable between Catholic and Orthodox.

    Sincerely,

  143. Adithia, (re: #142)

    I have addressed that objection in the first paragraph of comment #39 of the “St. Ignatius of Antioch on the Church” thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  144. Bryan, (re: #143)

    But what about the fact that during Maximos lifetime church of Rome prior to Pope Martin was open to monothelitism as explained by Perry Robinson’s comment on “What would Mr. Newman do?” I’m familiar with the Catholic explanation that Pope Honorius wasn’t espousing monothelitism, he just safeguarding Christ from having concupiscence which in line with Maximos rejection that Christ having gnomic will. Perry argued about church of Rome local council which sounds espousing monothelitism. How then this not escaping tu quoque?

    Sincerely,

  145. Adithia (re: #144),

    That objection has been addressed here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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