Now, Mr. Mike Burgess has responded to my response to Mr. Greco. Mr. Burgess states,
If I might draw some conclusions from your response, it seems that the role you acknowledge for teachers in the "sola scriptura" system includes determining which passages are more clear and which passages are less clear. That is, to say the least, convenient. The result is an admittedly ingenious system of rigorous logic with faulty premises.I'm not sure why Mr. Burgess concludes what he concludes, but he's mistaken.
As with other posts yo[u]'ve made, TF, you never seem to get around to saying why those who instigated and those who continue to propagate the Reformation (it is still going on, right?) can do what they do, or, in other words, where is their source of authority?
A little background is perhaps in order:
Among the various components that make up the Reformed view of Scripture is the position of the perspecuity of Scripture. This position was enunciated by, for example, Chrysostom, who explained:
For not, like the Gentiles, for vain glory, but for the salvation of their hearers, did they whom God from the beginning deemed worthy of the grace of the Holy Spirit, compose all their works. The philosophers indeed, who are strangers to God, the masters of speech, the orators and writers of books, seeking not the common good, but aiming only at gaining admiration for themselves,even when they said something useful, yet even this an obscurity which they ever affected involved as in a certain cloud of wisdom. But the apostles and prophets took the contrary way, and exposed to all the clear and open declarations which they made as the common teachers of the world, so as that every one, by the mere perusal, might be enabled to understand what was said.Of course that is not to deny that there are some parts of Scripture that are more difficult to understand than others. Anyone reading can see that God claims to have created the world in six days, but understanding the relation between the existence of evil and God's sovereignty over history is something that is more challenging - something not as plainly stated.
Thus, as Chrysostom says, responding not only to this issue but to similar objection to that of Mr. Burgess:
What do I come in for, you say, if I do not hear some one discoursing? This is the ruin and destruction of all. For what need of a person to discourse? This necessity arises from our sloth. Wherefore any necessity for a homily? All things are clear and open that are in the divine Scriptures; the necessary things are all plain. But because ye are hearers for pleasure's sake, for that reason also you seek these things. For tell me with what pomp of words did Paul speak? and yet he converted the world. Or with what the unlettered Peter? But I know not you say the things that are contained in the Scriptures. Why? For are they spoken in Hebrew? Are they in Latin, or in foreign tongues? Are they not in Greek? But they are expressed obscurely, you say. What is it that is obscure? Tell me. Are there not histories? For (of course) you know the plain parts, in that you enquire about the obscure. There are numberless histories in the Scriptures. Tell me one of these. But you cannot. These things are an excuse and mere words.With that background in mind, we can more easily address Mr. Burgess' comments:
I. Mr. Burgess stated: "[I]t seems that the role you acknowledge for teachers in the "sola scriptura" system includes determining which passages are more clear and which passages are less clear." This is only partly correct. It is correct in that teachers (and learners) can determine that some passages are more clear than others. It is not correct to say that the teachers have a special role of infallibly stating that passage X is in the "clear" category while passage "Y" is in the "less clear" category, or that teachers have the role of identifying clear vs. less clear passages to the exclusion of others in the church.
II. Mr. Burgess stated: "The result is an admittedly ingenious system of rigorous logic with faulty premises." While I appreciate Mr. Burgess' compliment, I think the faulty premise here is mostly due to his misunderstanding of what I had written. Hopefully this post clears that up. But in case Mr. Burgess feels that this post does not address his concerns, it is worth pointing out to Mr. Burgess that he should identify what he thinks those faulty premises are.
III. Mr. Burgess stated: "[Y]ou never seem to get around to saying why those who instigated and those who continue to propagate the Reformation (it is still going on, right?) can do what they do, or, in other words, where is their source of authority" There are really two parts here.
a) The Reformation is an historical label. This label is usually applied to the period of time from about the time of Luther until the widespread establishment of Reformed churches. Thus, a convenient measure would be from October 31, 1517, until perhaps as late as writing of the London Baptist Confession of 1689. The doctrines of the Reformation, especially the "five solas" continue to be taught, but the period of reformation would seem to have been accomplished already.
b) There is a late Reformation maxim (perhaps no earlier than the end of the 17th century that speaks of the Reformed churches "Semper Reformata" (always reforming). The sense in which is this is true is largely that the Reformed churches continue to acknowledge the critical role of the rule of faith, Sola Scriptura, in the doctrine of the church. Accordingly, Reformed churches continue to submit even their highest creedal and confessional standards to the supreme authority of the Word of God itself.
c) The source of authority for the Reformed churches to do what they do is found in the Scriptures themselves. I'm confident I've said this before, but in case it was not clear, let me make it so. Scriptures command the elders to teach, so they do. Scriptures also command that all Christians study the Scriptures and use the Scriptures to provide a check on teachers. Indeed, Scriptures warn that there will be false teachers, necessitating a higher standard than the teachers themselves by which the believer can judge the teacher's teachings. For the sake of brevity I don't provide the exhaustive Scriptural proof here, but it could be provided if someone doubted that Scripture taught such things.