Saturday, January 23, 2010

Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 14/35

Steve Ray has a list of 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). This is number 14/35. I'm trying to provide the answers in a common format, for easy reference.

14) Most of the books of the New Testament were written to address very specific problems in the early Church, and none of them are a systematic presentation of Christian faith and theology. On what biblical basis do Protestants think that everything that the apostles taught is captured in the New Testament writings?

Simple Answer(s):

We don't necessarily think that everything that the apostles taught is captured in the New Testament writings.

Important Qualification(s):

1) But everything that we know the apostles taught, we know from Scripture.

2) The apostles, being human beings, may have sometimes taught something that was an error. They were not guaranteed always to be infallible whenever they taught.

3) Furthermore, the gospels do present the Christian faith in an orderly way (though not arranged like a textbook).

4) And the point of the gospels being written is told to us, and it is so that we might believe and be saved:

John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

5) The characterization "[m]ost of the books of the New Testament were written to address very specific problems in the early Church," is very misleading at best. While the books do sometimes correct specific problems (sometimes very specific problems), virtually the entire body of Christian writings from the earliest generations through the Reformation era understood that point of Scripture was not simply to correct specific problems at the time.

6) Indeed, Scripture itself explains:

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

- TurretinFan

7 comments:

Shfengoli said...

It seems to me that Romans and Hebrews are deliberately "systematic presentation[s] of Christian faith and theology."

Anonymous said...

Shfengoli, I was about to make exactly the same comment. You beat me to it.

Turretinfan said...

Good point!

natamllc said...

We are like minded!

Amazing how the Spirit of Grace and Truth does that!

I don't suppose I have ever met any of you personally?

Good presentation in this series, again!

john said...

“14) Most of the books of the New Testament were written to address very specific problems in the early Church, and none of them are a systematic presentation of Christian faith and theology. On what biblical basis do Protestants think that everything that the apostles taught is captured in the New Testament writings? “

Steve is probably talking about the letters/epistles and not so much the gospels. However the gospels do not contain everything that is stated in other NT letters such as Hebrews discussion on Jesus as the high priest in the order of Melchizedeck, the new creation in Paul and Peters letters and the anti Christ/rapture in the Thessalonian letters.

“1) But everything that we know the apostles taught, we know from Scripture.”

Yet scriptures refer to the word of God as orally transmitted and last forever in 1 Peter 1:25, so that means we should be able to find oral traditions in the early church that are consistent with the scriptures, such as baptismal regeneration and the real presence in the Eucharist and Mariology.

"2) The apostles, being human beings, may have sometimes taught something that was an error. They were not guaranteed always to be infallible whenever they taught."

But if we extend this to the scriptures, this means that the scriptures probably also contain errors. And this concludes to God has possibly been the author of errors. We know this is not possible so TF’s comment should be clarified to resolve this problem.

On what basis do we know the apostles taught error what orally preaching the gospel? If we don’t have any evidence then the statement that the Apostles “may have sometimes taught something that was an error” is without historical support. We know from Eph 2 the apostles are the foundation stones of the church, and they have the authority to preach and teach from Jesus himself. Therefore the Apostles would mostly have had a special protection from the holy spirit regarding doctrines to be believed.

"3) Furthermore, the gospels do present the Christian faith in an orderly way (though not arranged like a textbook)."

The gospels do contain much that is revenant to the gospel message, yet they do not contain some information contained in other NT documents and they do not provide enough information to be clear on all points of doctrine. Therefore it is necessary to go outside the NT documents to confirm what they mean by comparing them to the early church practice and later council decrees.

"4) And the point of the gospels being written is told to us, and it is so that we might believe and be saved:

John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

“Might” is not a definite and it doesn’t mean that there are no other sources to complete what has been presented in the gospels. We know the other NT documents complement the gospels and also early church belief does the same thing by putting belief into practice.

JM

john said...

“5) The characterization "[m]ost of the books of the New Testament were written to address very specific problems in the early Church," is very misleading at best. While the books do sometimes correct specific problems (sometimes very specific problems), virtually the entire body of Christian writings from the earliest generations through the Reformation era understood that point of Scripture was not simply to correct specific problems at the time.”

Steve probably was referring to the NT documents other than the gospels, which are most of the NT documents (23 of 27). Take Romans for example, it has an underdeveloped Christology the concentrates mostly on the death and resurrection of Christ and a tendency to move quickly through issues by citing many OT texts that are assumed to have the reader know an in depth knowledge of the OT and OT traditions/history. Comparing Romans to Hebrews and Revelation, we see Hebrews and Revelation have high and well developed Christologies, concentrating on Christs intercessory action and His influence in church history after his death and resurrection.

If these letters were not written on occasions or reasons other than those of the Gospels, then we would have missed some very important points relevant to the Christian life.

The question posed by Steve – “On what biblical basis do Protestants think that everything that the apostles taught is captured in the New Testament writings?”, has not yet been answered with an argument that is consistent with what we find in the NT and early church beliefs. Evidently scripture does not contain everything that is to be believed by the Christian.

JM

louis said...

"But if we extend this to the scriptures, this means that the scriptures probably also contain errors."

There is no reason why it has to be extended to scripture.

"On what basis do we know the apostles taught error what orally preaching the gospel?"

Gal. 2:11-14 for one.

"The question posed by Steve – “On what biblical basis do Protestants think that everything that the apostles taught is captured in the New Testament writings?”, has not yet been answered"

Of course it's an old trick to frame the question in favor of your position, and I think that is what Steve has done. Nevertheless, TF answered it directly with this: "We don't necessarily think that everything that the apostles taught is captured in the New Testament writings."