Saturday, October 30, 2010

An Aside to the Formal Sufficiency Series - Partim-Partim Sufficiency?

Pastor King brought to my attention the writings of my favorite Reformed theologian, the real Francis Turretin, on the topic of formal sufficiency. Well, the topic that comes the closest to that particular issue, since - of course - Turretin does not use the phrase "formal sufficiency."

Turretin poses the sixteenth question of the second topic this way:
Do the Scriptures so perfectly contain all things necessary to salvation that there is no need of unwritten (agraphois) traditions after it? We affirm against the papists.
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., Vol. 1 (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1992), II.xvi, p. 134.

This section of Turretin deals with what he calls the "perfection" of Scripture, which is closely tied to the issue perspicuity. He addresses perspicuity in the seventeenth question, thus:
Are the Scriptures so perspicuous in things necessary to salvation that they can be understood by believers without the external help of oral (agraphou) tradition or ecclesiastical authority? We affirm against the papists.
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., Vol. 1 (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1992), II.xvii, p. 134.

Notice the careful wording of both questions. Turretin is not saying that there is no place for other aids. For example, in the 6th point under the 17th question, Turretin states:
The question does not concern the perspicuity which does not exclude the means necessary for interpretation (i.e., the internal light of the Spirit, attention of mind, the voice and ministry of the church, sermons and commentaries, prayer and watchfulness). For we hold these means not only to be useful, but also necessary ordinarily. We only wish to proscribe the darkness which would prevent the people from reading the Scriptures as hurtful and perilous and compel them to have recourse to tradition when they might rest in the Scriptures alone.
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., Vol. 1 (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1992), II.xvii.vi, p. 144.

In the course of his discussion, however, Turretin pointed out some Roman counter-positions:
In order to clear themselves of the charge of attributing insufficiency to the Scriptures in this way, some of them distinguish between explicit and an implicit sufficiency (as Stapleton and Serarius) or mediate and an immediate (as Perronius). And they confess that the Scripture is not indeed sufficient immediately and explicitly, but yet it can be called so mediately and implicitly because it refers to the church and to tradition what is not contained in itself.
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., Vol. 1 (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1992), II.xvi.xi, p. 136.

In my view (though I do not claim to speak for Pastor King here), Turretin is here dealing with a kind of partim-partim sufficiency view. In other words, at least some of the Roman opponents of Turretin were saying that Scripture's sufficiency came through pointing readers to the church and tradition. That particular sense of sufficiency isn't quite the same as Yves Congar's material sufficiency, but it's also certainly not the Reformed view.

Turretin provided an excellent response to this partim-partim sufficiency view:
A false distinction is made by Perronius between mediate and immediate sufficiency, so that the Scriptures may be called sufficient not in the second but in the first sense because they refer us to the church to supply their defects. This would imply a true insufficiency in the Scriptures, for by appealing to the church as having that sufficiency, it would declare its own insufficiency. (2) Then the law might be called perfect for salvation because it refers us to Christ in whom is salvation. (3) The Scriptures do not refer us to the church that she may propose new doctrines, but explain and apply the truths already contained in them. Nor ought the reply to be made here that we hold mediate sufficiency when we maintain that the Scriptures (if not expressly, at least by consequence) contain all things necessary to salvation. When the Scriptures teach anything by consequence, they do not refer us to another for instruction, but give forth from themselves what was virtually latent. Nor can the simile adduced by Perronius of credential letters (literarum credentiae, which are called sufficient although they do not contain all the instructions given to the ambassador) apply here. The Scriptures are not only a credential letter, but also the edict of a king, containing so fully all the things to be believed and done that nothing can be added.

The perfection of Scripture asserted by us does not exclude either the ecclesiastical ministry (established by God for the setting forth and application of the word) or the internal power of the Holy Spirit necessary for conversion. It only excludes the necessity of another rule for external direction added to the Scriptures to make them perfect. A rule is not therefore imperfect because it requires the hand of the architect for its application.
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr., Vol. 1 (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1992), II.xvi.xxvii-xxviii, pp. 140-141.

Rome has not definitely answered the martial sufficiency vs. the partim-partim view, although seemingly virtually all the Tridentine fathers held to a partim-partim view and virtually all modern Roman apologists hold to a material sufficiency view.

- TurretinFan

15 comments:

Coram Deo said...

LOL!

The self-proclaimed "universal, infallible, unchanging one true church" doesn't seem so unified on this exceedingly important point of doctrine, does it?

Tsk, tsk, Romanist...

In Him,
CD

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Turretin: "When the Scriptures teach anything by consequence, they do not refer us to another for instruction, but give forth from themselves what was virtually latent."

Spoken truly. Truth is beautiful.

natamllc said...

I do not think you can find a higher genius than this expression by Francis Turretin but from God and the Words of His Grace:

(3) The Scriptures do not refer us to the church that she may propose new doctrines, but explain and apply the truths already contained in them. Nor ought the reply to be made here that we hold mediate sufficiency when we maintain that the Scriptures (if not expressly, at least by consequence) contain all things necessary to salvation. When the Scriptures teach anything by consequence, they do not refer us to another for instruction, but give forth from themselves what was virtually latent.

Paul's genius would be a consideration, Light for Light for Light, God's, Paul's to:::> Turretin's.

Some things learned, from Scripture, require a consequence and not merely expressly!

How many father's have expressed to their learning child, "do not touch the hot frying pan" and after they suffer the consequence of their error in the expression, they then learn obedience?

Jesus first! :)

Heb 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

And the Church second:

Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Rom 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
Rom 8:21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Rom 8:23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.


And this being so, I tremble!

1Pe 4:16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
1Pe 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
1Pe 4:18 And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

Lucian said...

Because neither one is really true. The words of the Scripture have meaning, but you can't single out that meaning from the bare Text. And there are more possible ways of interpretting various passages. But which one is true? -- This is the primary purpose of Holy Tradition.

Turretinfan said...

LOL Lucian. The primary purpose of Holy Tradition is to remove ambiguity from Scripture? You sure you want to take that position?

Lvka said...

Yep.

Turretinfan said...

Don't you think that at least one writer in the first 1,000 years from Christ's birth would say so, if any of them agreed with you?

Lucian said...

Like Irenaeus of Lyon and Vincent of Lerins?

Turretinfan said...

Yes, like them. Neither of them say that the purpose of "Holy Tradition" has as its primary purpose the removal of ambiguities in the text of Scripture.

Lucian said...

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon speaks of the "apostolic hypothesis": he likens apostolic tradition to knowing the image of the King, and he says that the members of the church have seen it: this then enables the catholic faithful to reconstruct His image from the pieces of a mozaic.. as opposed to the heretics of his time, the Gnostics, who reconstructed it wrongly, arranging the pieces of the puzzle so as to fit the image of a dog or fox. [The image of the King is the way in which the true faith presents God, and the mozaic pieces are the various passages of Scripture which are arranged and re-arranged so as to support that view or interpretation].

Vincent of Lerins also tells us how to deduce the true faith, the one according to which (or in whose light) the Holy Scriptures are to be read or interpreted. (everywhere, always, and by all).

Turretinfan said...

You're talking about the passage in Irenaeus where criticizes the heretics because "They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures ..." - that's the chapter you have in mind, right? (check here)

And Vincent ... ah Vincent ... what a lovely Western father. But does he say that "Holy Tradition" has as its primary purpose to remove ambiguities in the text of Scripture?

He's the same guy who admits that "Scripture is sufficient, and more than sufficient ..." yes?

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

Gaining some insights, not much, as if you haven't figured that out already, TF?; but gaining some insights nevertheless, when I read this response I have a Biblical response to Lucian along with it:

TF:

Yes, like them. Neither of them say that the purpose of "Holy Tradition" has as its primary purpose the removal of ambiguities in the text of Scripture.


I will say it like this. The problem is not going away until the Church rises up into the places Christ has prepared for each member to rise into.

Why?

Deuteronomy has a clue and points those under Moses' leadership to it, here:

Deu 17:14 "When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, 'I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,'
Deu 17:15 you may indeed set a king over you
whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.
Deu 17:16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never return that way again.'
Deu 17:17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.
Deu 17:18 "And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom,
he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests.
Deu 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them,
Deu 17:20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.



Deu 33:5 Thus the LORD became king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together.

Somehow Satan has blinded the eyes of those who do not believe! Some of these are truly called to commune with the Saints, all Elected, Adopted and Chosen to unite to Christ as King of all by the Hand of God. So, for those "yet" to believe, I tarry and wait and with every opportunity opened to me, I proclaim:

Luk 24:46 ..., "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
Luk 24:47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Luk 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.


And as in the Old Testament, Christ is King. He has always been God's Eternal King of all creations, because everything is always created through Him; creations before this present created heavens and earth, this present created heavens and earth and all things created after and once this present heavens and earth are no more and a new heavens and earth exists wherein dwells righteousness.

As for Christ, after His resurrection, as we have seen done and hopefully all realize by historical records, the Lord had written up a New Testament set of Scriptures and then by a series of historical events caused them to be perfected to the Old Testament Scriptures by the Will of God through men.

It is this fact, Deuteronomy 33:5 that seems to escape those who oppose the doctrine of Formal Sufficiency and Sola Scriptura.

Not much more can be done than to continue doing what has already been historically proven done to all nations, that is, we are to lift up the Gospel of the Kingdom in the Name of Jesus Christ, both Lord and King of all creations, whether any creature accepts this Truth or not!

Lucian said...

1. The meaning of Scripture is not something added to Scripture. Text and meaning form a whole.

2. Since we interpret Scripture in light of the catholic faith, which is one, the number of possible or alternative meanings will also be reduced (if not to a single one, than at least to a few that do not contradict the one faith).

ChaferDTS said...

" Since we interpret Scripture in light of the catholic faith, which is one, the number of possible or alternative meanings will also be reduced (if not to a single one, than at least to a few that do not contradict the one faith)."

Problem is Roman Catholicism has never infallibly or dogmatically provided an interpretation of every verse in Scripture. It does not have what it claims . Vatican I dropped the ball on it's interpretation of Matthew 16:18 which was never the unanimous consent of the early church fathers.

Turretinfan said...

"Since we interpret Scripture in light of the catholic faith, which is one, the number of possible or alternative meanings will also be reduced (if not to a single one, than at least to a few that do not contradict the one faith)."

Maybe it won't be reduced at all. It depends on what is entailed in "the catholic faith."

It sounds very nice, but I think it's just hollow to make that sort of claim.

-TurretinFan