Monday, March 16, 2009

Further Response to Dyer

Dyer has produced a further response (link) and my response to him is below.

Dyer wrote: "1. Turretinfan is at it again, in an audio response to my audio response, found here. To begin with, he says I mischaracterize the reformed position according to Charles Hodge about Jesus suffering the wrath of God, which is not true. Charles Hodge most definitely held to this awful, anti-Trinitarian view. Turretinfan says I misquoted, because Hodge was simply laying out various views. On the contrary--it is most certainly his view."

a) My objection was to the idea that Hodge held that Jesus had to spend an eternity in hell. That was not Hodge's view, though Mr. Dyer made it sound like that.

b) Hodge, of course, held the perfectly orthodox view that Jesus suffered the wrath of God.

c) Mr. Dyer has not shown that this orthodox view is anti-trinitarian, nor (apparently) can he do so. We've given him several tries to do so, and all we can do is ask him again to try to set forth his demonstration.

Dyer wrote: "Hodge clearly says that the Father turned His favor from the Son for a period."

I answer: ok

Dyer continued: "That is an undeniable division in the Trinity, if one accepts the orthodox view that Jesus is a divine Person."

I answer: Why on earth should that be? Mr. Dyer just asserts this, but he in no way substantiates this.

Dyer continued: "Note that Hodge doesn't want to go there, as its "vain to enquire." Yes, it is, because its heretical."

I answer: That's just a silly argument from Hodge's unwillingness to speculate.

Dyer continued: "For more examples of this heresy, Nick of Nick's Catholic Blog has listed several quotes here."

I answer: I'm actively debating "Nick" on the topic of the atonement, and so (in fairness to Nick) I'll decline to address Nick's quotations using this mechanism, as that might be viewed as trying to circumvent the word limits imposed on that debate. The debate will be over in a month or two, at which point I will be free to respond at greater length if need be.

Dyer again: "2. Turretinfan goes on to remark that St. Augustine had some things in common with Rome, but others in common with Protestantism. He implies its the same with St. Athanasius. This is not the case. I showed last year in this article that St. Augustine is thoroughly a Roman Catholic, and its not just "monasticism" as Turretinfan tries to say. St. Augustine was a Catholic Bishop. Consider his view of the papacy, as shown here."

I answer:

a) I don't know why it is so difficult for Mr. Dyer to accept that Athanasius and Augustine both had points of agreement with the Reformed church as well as points of agreement with his (Dyer's) church. It's like he wants to exclusively "own" the early church.

b) But, the early church cannot be "owned" by anyone. They are who they are, which was neither "Protestant" nor "Roman Catholic." That's why I continue to insist that it is improper to pick a few doctrines where a particular father is not "X" (whether "X" is Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Reformed) and then conclude that a particular father is consequently "Y" (where "Y" is whatever the person making the claim himself is). This is not only an absurd anachronism, it is a display of one's ignorance of the full range of any particular father's beliefs as expressed in writing.

c) Certainly, on particular doctrines, we can say that a particular father held to "the Roman position" or "the Reformed position," but what I'm objecting to here is therefore concluding that they were "thoroughly" this or that, based on one or a few points of agreement.

d) Augustine's view of the papacy was not the same as post-Vatican I Roman Catholicism's view. This is the sort of undeniable historical truth that everyone who has seriously explored the topic has to agree. If Dyer is suggesting otherwise, and it sounds like he is, then he is either ignorant of the definition of papal infallibility in Vatican I, or ignorant of Augustine's mode of thought.

Dyer continued: "Turretinfan says St. Athanasius had no view of papal authority as we do, yet he hasn't read much of St. Athanasius, since had he done so, he would know St. Athanasius, an Eastern Patriarch, appealed to Rome to Pope St. Julius. for condemnation of Arius. All one has to do is read his Apologia Contra Arianos, which I have."

I answer: The idea that Athanasius appealed to a bishop of Rome is an example of Athanasius not acting like a modern Reformed person. There is no doubt about that. But why has Dyer conveniently forgotten about Athanasius' opposition to Pope Liberius, Julius' successor? If one wants to deal honestly with Athanasius, one has to recognize that parts of Athanasius not only that agree with one's theology, but that disagree with it as well. It seems that Dyer would prefer to remember only a part of Athanasius' life and writings, but not the remainder of it.

Dyer wrote: "Yes, I am quoting a second-hand work, but I've read Contra Arioanos. Within, St. Athanasius reproduces the entire Arian contrversy, including the papal appeals. It can be read here. I'm willing to bet, however, Turretinfan has not read it. He's sure, nevertheless, about the Christianity of Augustine and Athanasius' day."(errors in original)

I answer: The entire Arian controvery would span many volumes (with Athanasius' "Against the Arians" providing a partial summary). If, however, Mr. Dyer can find one time where Athanasius claims that the doctrine of the Arians is wrong using the reasoning that (a) the pope says it is wrong, and (b) the pope is infallible, then I'll be happy to revise my view of Athanasius. I'm sure I can give plain statements where Athanasius appealled to the infallibility of Scripture - does Dyer think that Athanasius appealed in as clear terms to anything else as infallible besides Scripture alone?

Dyer wrote: "3. Inregards to Jaroslav Pelikan, with whom Turretinfan is obviously unfamiliar, since he didn't know he was the chief editor of Luther's works and became Serbian Orthodox, I admit to not knowing the Serbian pronunciations of names (as he made fun of me for doing). And yes, Pelikan if of Serbian descent. However, Pelikan is world renowned as both a patristics scholar and asa textual scholar. I've read several of his books, and I highly recommend them, including others beyond his 5 volume set, such as his work on the Cappadocians, his book on textual traditions, and his book on Mary in history. I mean, seriously--we used Pelikan at Bahnsen Seminary."

I answer: As with so many things, Dyer is wrong in assuming that I'm unfamiliar with Jaroslav Pelikan. There's no doubt that he's a famous historian - and it is for that he is known, not for being a great theologian. If you recall, however, Mr. Dyer cited him as a theologian in his original audio clip, and I took him to task for that. He may well have edited/translated one edition of Luther's works (actually, an impressive 22-volume edition in English, if I recall correctly), but (of course) the primary editions of Luther's works came out long before Pelikan was a twinkle in his father's eye.

Dyer continued: "Turretinfan continues to say I do't understand Nestorianism when what I mentioned was various possibilities for Nestorian outcomes. "

I answer: I think in his attempts to be polemical against Calvinism, Mr. Dyer brings a lot into the definition of Nestorianism beyond what Nestorianism actually is.

Dyer further stated: "There are different ways of being Nestorian, since Nestorius was not always clear, and even admitted a "hypostatic union," yet always denied a single subject, as McGuckin explains."

I answer: As I've pointed out numerous times already, Nestorius did not define Nestorianism, his theological opponents did. Trying to get Dyer to recognize this difference between Nestorius and Nestorianism seems to be as difficult as getting Amyraldians to recognize the difference between Calvin and Calvinism.

Dyer continued: "St. Cyril did not misunderstand Nestorius, and I have read selections of actual writings of Nestorius at"

I answer: It's hard to say whether Cyril misunderstood Nestorius or whether Cyril knowingly misrepresented Nestorius. Nevertheless, it does not appear, on the historical record that we have before us, that Cyril accurately represented Nestorius in his characterization's of Nestorius' views. I'm not sure why Dyer is so set on defending Cyril on this point. Why not just admit that Cyril was fallible, and may have misunderstood Nestorius for a variety of reasons? Nestorius' own words can be found (to a limited extent) on-line here (link).

Dyer continued: "I mentioned Pelikan on this because he quotes from Nestorian works."

I answer: I only addressed the Pelikan issue because it seemed that Mr. Dyer wanted to consider him a theologian rather than an historian.


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