Friday, December 25, 2009

Aquinas and the Formal Sufficiency of Scripture

I've previously noted Aquinas' apparent [FN1] view of the primacy of Scripture (link) as well as other comments from Aquinas on themes generally related to Sola Scriptura (link). The following quotation, however, comes close to expressing not only the material sufficiency of Scripture, but also the formal sufficiency of Scripture.

Thus in Holy Writ no confusion results, for all the senses are founded on one — the literal — from which alone can any argument be drawn, and not from those intended in allegory, as Augustine says (Epis. 48). Nevertheless, nothing of Holy Scripture perishes on account of this, since nothing necessary to faith is contained under the spiritual sense which is not elsewhere put forward by the Scripture in its literal sense.
- Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part, Question 1, Article 10

I suspect that Aquinas' reference is to:
For what else is it than superlative impudence for one to interpret in his own favour any allegorical statements, unless he has also plain testimonies, by the light of which the obscure meaning of the former may be made manifest.
- Augustine, Letter 93, Chapter 8, Section 24 (This letter is numbered 48 in some of the older collections, for example, this one)

That's a slightly less strong wording than Aquinas uses. In any event, there are two interesting things that Aquinas says: (1) it is improper to argue from an alleged spiritual sense, rather than from the literal sense; and (2) everything necessary for salvation cannot only be found in Scripture but it can be found in the relatively clear, literal parts (not simply in the less clear allegorical parts).


[FN1] There is reason to think that some of the analysis in the Primacy post may be mistaken. For now, we'll leave it at simply apparent, until we have more time to review the evidence behind the objections.

A Reformed Baptist Response to the Manhattan Declaration

It's a bit long, but an enjoyable 45 minutes of Reformed Baptist response to the Manhattan Declaration:

- TurretinFan

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Did Mohammed Recognize that the Messiah was God?

Here's an interesting question, was there ever a time when Mohammed recognized that the Jesus was the Messiah, God incarnate? Someone recently suggested to me that the following is evidence for this position.

Sahih Bukhari Hadith, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 649:
Narrated Abdullah:

The Prophet mentioned the Massiah Ad-Dajjal in front of the people saying, Allah is not one eyed while Messsiah, Ad-Dajjal is blind in the right eye and his eye looks like a bulging out grape. While sleeping near the Ka'ba last night, I saw in my dream a man of brown color the best one can see amongst brown color and his hair was long that it fell between his shoulders. His hair was lank and water was dribbling from his head and he was placing his hands on the shoulders of two men while circumambulating the Kaba. I asked, 'Who is this?' They replied, 'This is Jesus, son of Mary.' Behind him I saw a man who had very curly hair and was blind in the right eye, resembling Ibn Qatan (i.e. an infidel) in appearance. He was placing his hands on the shoulders of a person while performing Tawaf around the Ka'ba. I asked, 'Who is this?' They replied, 'The Masih, Ad-Dajjal.'

Notice that Mohammed is saying that Masih, Ad-Dajjal is not Jesus, the son of Mary. But notice that the argument he makes for it, initially, is that "Allah is not one eyed ..." whereas Masih, Ad-Dajjal is. I realize that a Muslim is not going to be persuaded by the uncorroborated testimony of a single report in the Hadith, but it is at least a puzzling way for Mohammed to describe the matter, if he did not recognize that Jesus, as Messiah, is God in the Flesh.


Because Morality Changes over 800 Years ...

That must be why we see responses like this (link to response) from Roman Catholic human being Mark Shea. Of course! How could we be so dim! Christifideles Laici overrules 800 years of tradition, and the moral basis underlying the canonical provisions we previously identified (link).

But wait, does Christifideles Laici actually contradict those earlier documents in any way?

Does it permit any lay person to "engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith" contrary to Pope Alexander IV's decree? Does it permit any lay person "publicly make a speech or teach, thus investing himself with the dignity of a teacher" contrary to the degree of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council? Perhaps you have to read between the lines with special golden spectacles.

So let's see, when a really old document matches what Mr. Shea believes, it's those evil Calvinists trying to throw off tradition, but when the 800 year old document disagrees with Mr. Shea, it's so much out-dated rubbish.

Got it.


P.S. For those who haven't yet become accustomed to my style, I think it is absolutely absurd to think that it was immoral of laity to teach 800 years ago, but perfectly fine, in fact their duty, to do so today. Morality doesn't change, because God (the God of the Bible) doesn't change.

The Bronx Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration got bogged down with a bunch of irrelevant stuff. Here's an alternative, the Bronx (another part of New York City, for those wondering what Bronx has to do with anything) Declaration:

(1) Two men can't marry one another, no matter how strongly they wish otherwise. That's because marriage is between a man and a woman, not between two men or between two women. Fornication between two men doesn't marry them in the eyes of God, and shouldn't be recognized as marriage in the eyes of the state.

(2) A child in his mother's womb is a child no matter how strongly his mother may wish otherwise. It's a biological fact, folks. The fact that the child's placenta feeds off the mother's womb wall doesn't make him a part of her, any more than him nursing after birth makes him a part of her. He has his own human genome, and ought to be protected and nurtured, not killed, by his mother. The state ought also protect unborn children, even from their mothers.

(3) We will continue to point out (1) and (2) no matter how strongly you may wish otherwise. Yes, that may lead to negative consequences for us, but we're willing to speak out for the objective immorality of calling fornication marriage or refusing to outlaw murder of the most helpless human denizens of a state. We point these things out not because we have decided that fornication and murder are wrong, but because the God who created all flesh and who defined marriage in the Garden of Eden has declared this to be the case.



Monday, December 21, 2009

Lay Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Apologists - Care to Explain?

If you are a lay Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox apologist, perhaps you'd care to explain why the following are not relevant to you:

Pope Alexander IV (1254-1261) in “Sextus Decretalium”, Lib. V, c. ii:
We furthermore forbid any lay person to engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith. Whosoever shall act contrary to this decree, let him be bound in the fetters of excommunication.
(Source)(courtesy of blogger Coram Deo)

Quinisext Ecumenical Council, Canon 64:
That a layman must not publicly make a speech or teach, thus investing himself with the dignity of a teacher, but, instead, must submit to the ordinance handed down by the Lord, and to open his ear wide to them who have received the grace of teaching ability, and to be taught by them the divine facts thoroughly. For in the one Church God created different members, according to the utterance of the Apostle, in interpreting which St. Gregory the Theologian clearly presents the right procedure in these matters by saying:[198] “Let us have respect for this procedure, brethren, and let us observe it. First, let one man be a listener, as the hearing recipient; another, the tongue; another, a hand; another, something else; let one man teach, and let another man learn; and after short periods, as touching one who learns in a state of obedience, and one who leads the chorus in hilarity, and one who renders service in cheerfulness and willingness, let us not all be a tongue, heeding the most apt saying: “Let us not all be Apostles; let us not all be Prophets; let us not all be Interpreters” (1 Cor. 12:29), and after somewhat: “Why are you making out that you are a shepherd, when you are a sheep? Why are you becoming a head, when you happen to be a foot? Why are you attempting to be a general, when you are placed in the ranks of (ordinary) soldiers? And from another quarter Wisdom bids: “Be not hasty in words; vie not with a rich man when thou art indigent” (Prov. 23:4); nor seek to be wiser than the wise. If anyone be caught disobeying the present Canon, let him be excommunicated for forty days.

Any responses from the lay Roman Catholic apologists/debaters who read this blog?


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mahershalalhashbaz and Immanuel

Mahershalalhashbaz has a name that is quite a handful. Recently, my attention was brought to a claim that Mahershalalhashbaz was the one and only fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, "... a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel ... ." The claim that Mahershalalhashbaz is the one and only fulfillment is plainly mistaken, since Matthew's gospel connects the prophecy to Jesus:

Matthew 1:22-23
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

One might ask why Mahershalalhashbaz is even brought into the matter. The reason is the following flow of the passage (keep in mind that the chapter divisions are not original):

Isaiah 7:10-8:4
(10) Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, (11) "Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above."

(12) But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD."

(13) And he said, "Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? (14) Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (15) Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. (16) For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. (17) The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria. (18) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. (19) And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes. (20) In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard. (21) And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep; (22) And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land. (23) And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns. (24) With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns. (25) And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle."

(8:1) Moreover the LORD said unto me, "Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz."

(2) And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. (3) And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son.

Then said the LORD to me, "Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz. (4) For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

Notice that the child of the prophetess (or wife of the prophet) is described as being young at the critical point ("For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother") and there are also two kingdoms (Damascus and Samaria) who are being conquered by Assyria.

This link suggests that Mahershalalhashbaz is a primary fulfillment of the prophecy, though not the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy. What's interesting though, is that in being the primary fulfillment, Mahershalalhashbaz also serves as a type (i.e. foreshadow) of Christ.

I noticed this in a particularly striking way when reading Cyril of Alexandria's commentary on Isaiah. In that commentary he practically ignores the historical person Mahershalalhashbaz. One reason is that apparently his version of the Old Testament in Greek did not transliterate the Hebrew name, Mahershalalhashbaz, but rather translated it. The English translation of the Greek translation that Cyril had was "Quickly plunder, rapidly pillage" which is similar to Strong's proposed translation of "hasting (as he (the enemy) to the) booty, swift (to the) prey."

It may be that Cyril was way off, and he himself views the passage as difficult, but he makes an interesting observation. The wise men from the east who came to Jesus brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Jesus received this booty, prey, or plunder at time when he was quite young, before he could speak.

I'm not totally convinced by Cyril's explanation, as you can probably tell. Yet, it is an interesting idea. Those who are fond of the redemptive-historical hermeneutic should especially enjoy it.