Friday, October 26, 2007

Dave's Debate Challenge

I wonder whether Dave would be willing to stipulate for the purposes of the debate that Catholicism includes:

- the dogmatic denial that the impious man is justified by faith alone (Based on Trent);

- the dogmatic denial that Scripture is of greater authority than any council or pope (Based on Trent and Vatican I); and

- the dogmatic affirmation that the god of the Muslims is the one true God (Based on Vatican II).

-Turretinfan

18 comments:

Dave Armstrong said...

- the dogmatic denial that the impious man is justified by faith alone (Based on Trent);

This is true, but must be rightly understood, and that is always the issue with anti-Catholics (and even many ecumenical Protestants), because they automatically falsely assume that denial of faith alone means denial of grace alone (and amounts to Pelagianism). This doesn't follow, and one tires of explaining it over and over and over.

- the dogmatic denial that Scripture is of greater authority than any council or pope (Based on Trent and Vatican I);

This is an inaccurate description of the Catholic conception of authority. But it is a complex discussion, and again, anti-Catholics rarely comprehend our perspective on these matters.

- the dogmatic affirmation that the god of the Muslims is the one true God (Based on Vatican II).

Vatican II did not assert that Allah is the equivalent of Yahweh. It must be rightly understood. It is basically saying in so many words that "Christians and Muslims have in common the belief in monotheism." The same would hold for the Jews. Obviously, this doesn't presuppose that the three beliefs about God are absolutely identical, since Muslims and Jews are not trinitarians. Nor does it presuppose that there are no differences other than trinitarianism vs. unitarianism. Ecumenical language is often diplomatic, which is often vague and general, and deliberately avoids particulars that will get into differences.

Dave Armstrong said...

I should clarify my reply concerning Scripture. One must distinguish between intrinsic ("ontological") authority and delegated (practical) authority; also between inspiration and infallibility.

Only Scripture is inspired revelation. That is a greater characteristic than infallibility, which is a negative protection against error ("x will not fail to do y"), rather than a positive trait of being "God-breathed" ("Scripture consists of God's words which are intrinsically true and infallible and error-free"). In that sense it has an intrinsic authority that can be said to be "higher" than popes and councils (of course).

In a practical sense of having to interpret Scripture (and any Christian view requires that no matter what their view of authority is), Church, tradition, and Scripture are on the same plane insofar as all have authority that is binding on the faithful.

But that immediately gets back to the distinction between infallibility and inspiration. The former is far more limited, and so is inferior in that sense.

That said, we do believe that popes and councils are possessed of infallibility, whereas Protestants deny this and so hold that the only infallible authority in Christianity is Holy Scripture (sola Scriptura).

Saint and Sinner said...

I say that if you debate at all, then debate the meaning of justification. The debate over authority is getting tiring.

Saint and Sinner said...

"...they automatically falsely assume that denial of faith alone means denial of grace alone (and amounts to Pelagianism). This doesn't follow, and one tires of explaining it over and over and over."

How many times do WE have to explain this to YOU "over and over?"

To equate the Reformation's definition of sola gratia with Rome's definition is to commit the fallacy of equivocation.

Protestants define grace as the unmerited favor of God, and in the case of justification, it means the unmerited expiation of sin and the unmerited imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer's account.

In Rome's view, grace is an infused substance which allows someone to merit the expiation of sin through good works.

BIG difference.

TheoJunkie said...

- the dogmatic denial that Scripture is of greater authority than any council or pope (Based on Trent and Vatican I);

This is an inaccurate description of the Catholic conception of authority.


Trent and Vatican I are inaccurate descriptions of the Catholic conception of authority?

But it is a complex discussion,

Might be tough to defend "live"...

and again, anti-Catholics rarely comprehend our perspective on these matters.

... on the other hand, this makes it sounds like the perfect debate for a pro-Catholic to win.

I should clarify my reply concerning Scripture.

Are you starting the debate now? Does this count towards your 60 minutes?

Dave Armstrong said...

Tyhe debate ain't about justification, but about why anti-Catholics think Catholicism ain't Christian.

Dave Armstrong said...

Sola Gratia is the larger soteriological category, under which are the opposing views of imputation (faith alone) and infused righteousness (a denial of faith alone).

S&S simply collapsed or reduced sola gratia into sola fide, which is precisely what is under dispute, and exactly as I protested: that there is an inability of anti-Catholic Protestants (not ALL Protestants) to comprehend the differences and how these categories work and relate to each other.

Thanks for illustrating my point, S&S. It's a textbook display of the presuppositionalist Calvinist vicious logical circle.

Carrie said...

I say that if you debate at all, then debate the meaning of justification. The debate over authority is getting tiring.

The problem is, without an agreement on authority, debating doctrine never ends because both parties cannot agree on the “final authority” to settle matters.

Dave Armstrong said...

All further "negotiations" for a possible debate with Turretinfan (the only one of the four challenged even considering it, far as I can tell; Gene Bridges is comparing me to the dictators of North Korea and Iran LOL) will be discussed privately. Thanks. My e-mail address is at the bottom of my blog sidebar.

I reserve the right to later make such correspondence public, for documentation purposes, per the standard procedure of, e.g., James White (many examples of correspondence related thereto, on his blog). Please be aware of that.

Thanks for letting me speak publicly here, but further discussion on this is best done privately, minus the unhelpful peanut gallery remarks.

Turretinfan said...

Dave wrote: "Sola Gratia is the larger soteriological category, under which are the opposing views of imputation (faith alone) and infused righteousness (a denial of faith alone)."

No, Dave, it's not a "larger category." That's why Grace is Grace - if it were a larger category it would not be grace.

-Turretinfan

Dave Armstrong said...

Couldn't resist one more:

The problem is, without an agreement on authority, debating doctrine never ends because both parties cannot agree on the “final authority” to settle matters.

That's irrelevant with regard to my own cross-ex because I aim to prove that the anti-Catholic position is profoundly internally inconsistent, and that is a consideration wholly distinct from matters of authority, agreed-upon or no. It's a question of logic and coherence.

Technically speaking, the debate won't be directly about doctrine, but about the definition of "Christian" and why "Catholicism" supposedly is excluded from that category. Doctrine will surely be discussed as a part of that large discussion, but no particular doctrine would be the main thing in focus, or to be debated.

But, of course, whoever I debate will try to talk about doctrines, because that is what Protestants almost always do. They get inside the self-contained circle of their own thought and fire away, never dreaming that there might be something outside the circle that is also Christian.

Therefore, as I see it, the debate I want to do will not be debating any particular doctrine at length, but rather, simply understanding the anti-Catholic rationale for exclusion of Catholicism from the circle of those who are theologically Christian.

Lastly, if I were to debate justification (some other time) I would do it solely from Scripture. I've already done that in my first book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, at length (38 pages).

GeneMBridges said...


S&S simply collapsed or reduced sola gratia into sola fide, which is precisely what is under dispute, and exactly as I protested: that there is an inability of anti-Catholic Protestants (not ALL Protestants) to comprehend the differences and how these categories work and relate to each other.

Thanks for illustrating my point, S&S. It's a textbook display of the presuppositionalist Calvinist vicious logical circle.


No, the only thing that is illustrated here is your incompetence.

In Reformed theology, Sola Fide is not separate from Sola Gratia. Rather it is a species of Sola Gratia. What you say is true only if they can be severed. That would apply to the Arminian position.

Sola Gratia also refers to the efficient cause. Sola Fide is the instrumental cause of our salvation. The latter is the means by which the former is worked out.
Both are sufficient in and of themselves to save apart from works of merit. The former is a necessary albeit insufficient condition of justification. The latter is the sufficient condition and contingent upon the former.

And you don't seem to know the difference between virtuous and vicious circularity - yet another reason you are utterly unworthy of debating.

Your objection, if true, is self-defeating, for your replaced one allegedly question begging statement with your own.

Gene Bridges is comparing me to the dictators of North Korea and Iran

And Barney Fife, don't forget Barney Fife.

EgoMakarios said...

Did the debate start already? BTW, Dave, your resolution in out debate will be "Resolved: Inherited guilt is explicitly taught in the Scriptures." I'll take negative.

GeneMBridges said...

the only one of the four challenged even considering it, far as I can tell;

Wow, and to think that yesterday I was informed by His Majesty that I and two others had turned it down, and that before I actually refused.

It's amazing how frequently the stories change.

Turretinfan said...

All, thanks for your contributions to this thread. I have finally read and published all of the comments (at least I think all) that have been made - but some were delayed and consequently the system inserts them when they were submitted, not when they were approved - so comments you haven't read may be above comments you have read.

-Turretinfan

Saint and Sinner said...

"S&S simply collapsed or reduced sola gratia into sola fide, which is precisely what is under dispute"

Are you really this ignorant, Dave?

Are you asserting that Protestants believe that grace is an infused substance?

Protestants have always asserted that sola gratia, sola fide, and solus Christus are inseparable. Under Protestant theology, to affirm sola gratia is to affirm sola fide.

Saint and Sinner said...

Carrie,

"The problem is, without an agreement on authority, debating doctrine never ends because both parties cannot agree on the “final authority” to settle matters."

I don't think that anyone is going to change their mind on either side by just discussing this issue. However, preaching the gospel of the grace of God is the means used by God to affect regeneration in man's heart. So, by discussing the issue of justification, God may soften the hearts of some and open their eyes to see the truth.

I say that (if TF really wants to debate in the first place,) they should debate the meaning of the phrase "works of Law" in Paul.

If it can be shown that "works of Law" includes the moral Law, then the debate is over; Luther was right.

Kyl said...

Turretinfan,

Some of your commentators don’t seem to be teaching their views with an artful method and an attractive manner. However, I want to emphasize that you have responded to Dave’s debate challenge in an attractive manner. I think that STR teaches some wisdom in regards to this. Although people are going to disagree on various topics, it would be beneficial if we tried to display an artful method and an attractive manner, etc. I disagree with Koukl on some topics, but he still teaches a lot of wisdom. Here is information that is copied from Greg Koukl’s Stand to Reason:

Vision for Stand to Reason
KWC

Stand to Reason equips Christian ambassadors with knowledge, wisdom, and character. An effective ambassador has three essential skills:
Knowledge - an accurate grasp of the foundational precepts of the Kingdom
Wisdom - skillful, tactical, fair, and diplomatic use of knowledge
Character - a mature expression of virtue, warmth, and personal depth