Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Formal Sufficiency of Scripture: Early Christian Writers (Guest Series)

Formal Sufficiency of Scripture
Stated and Examined from Scripture and the Fathers, with scholarly confirmation regarding the Fathers' views.

In an introduction section (link), we discussed the nature of formal sufficiency that we, the Reformed, affirm. In the next section (link), we saw Scripture's own testimony to its own sufficiency. If we were simply establishing the Reformed position, that would be completely sufficient. It would not be necessary to add anything to that.

Nevertheless, our challenger from the Roman side has requested some patristic confirmation. Frankly, we are not sanguine about the possibility that he'll actually carefully read and consider the evidence that we present, yet perhaps these evidences will be sufficient to help establish that our insight into Scripture is not a novel insight.

Thus, in this section, we will focus on some early Christian writers and identify what they had to say about the Scriptures. One logical place to start is with Justin Martyr.

Justin Martyr (wrote after 151)(ANF 1):
And I replied, “I would not bring forward these proofs, Trypho, by which I am aware those who worship these [idols] and such like are condemned, but such [proofs] as no one could find any objection to. They will appear strange to you, although you read them every day; so that even from this fact we understand that, because of your wickedness, God has withheld from you the ability to discern the wisdom of His Scriptures; yet [there are] some exceptions, to whom, according to the grace of His long-suffering, as Isaiah said, He has left a seed of salvation, lest your race be utterly destroyed, like Sodom and Gomorrah. Pay attention, therefore, to what I shall record out of the holy Scriptures, which do not need to be expounded, but only listened to.
ANF: Vol. I, Dialogue of Justin, Chapter 55.

There are a couple of key points to notice in this quotation from Justin. First, Justin recognizes the need for God to enlighten the mind of the hearer. He suggests that God withheld wisdom from Trypho, but Justin still insists that the testimony of Scripture is so clear that it can simply be listened to. When you compare that to our presentation in the introduction section, and when you look at the Scriptural testimony, you see that Justin's words seem to be consistent with both.

Moving on from Justin, we can consider Irenaeus. Irenaeus offers the following testimony to the perspicuity of Holy Scripture.

Irenaeus (130 - c. 200)(ANF 1):
A sound mind, and one which does not expose its possessor to danger, and is devoted to piety and the love of truth, will eagerly meditate upon those things which God has placed within the power of mankind, and has subjected to our knowledge, and will make advancement in [acquaintance with] them, rendering the knowledge of them easy to him by means of daily study. These things are such as fall [plainly] under our observation, and are clearly and unambiguously in express terms set forth in the Sacred Scriptures. And therefore the parables ought not to be adapted to ambiguous expressions. For, if this be not done, both he who explains them will do so without danger, and the parables will receive a like interpretation from all, and the body of truth remains entire, with a harmonious adaptation of its members, and without any collision [of its several parts]. But to apply expressions which are not clear or evident to interpretations of the parables, such as every one discovers for himself as inclination leads him, [is absurd.] For in this way no one will possess the rule of truth; but in accordance with the number of persons who explain the parables will be found the various systems of truth, in mutual opposition to each other, and setting forth antagonistic doctrines, like the questions current among the Gentile philosophers.
ANF: Vol. I, Against Heresies, 2:27:1.

Like Justin, Irenaeus acknowledges that a sound mind is a gift from God, and Irenaeus further explains that there are clear and unambiguous teachings in Scripture. He similarly places understanding of these Scriptures within the provenance of individual men who daily study the Word.

Here's another example from Irenaeus:

Irenaeus (130 - c. 200)(ANF 1):
According to this course of procedure, therefore, man would always be inquiring but never finding, because he has rejected the very method of discovery. And when the Bridegroom comes, he who has his lamp untrimmed, and not burning with the brightness of a steady light, is classed among those who obscure the interpretations of the parables, forsaking Him who by His plain announcements freely imparts gifts to all who come to Him, and is excluded from His marriage-chamber. Since, therefore, the entire Scriptures, the prophets, and the Gospels, can be clearly, unambiguously, and harmoniously understood by all, although all do not believe them; and since they proclaim that one only God, to the exclusion of all others, formed all things by His word, whether visible or invisible, heavenly or earthly, in the water or under the earth, as I have shown from the very words of Scripture; and since the very system of creation to which we belong testifies, by what falls under our notice, that one Being made and governs it,—those persons will seem truly foolish who blind their eyes to such a clear demonstration, and will not behold the light of the announcement [made to them]; but they put fetters upon themselves, and every one of them imagines, by means of their obscure interpretations of the parables, that he has found out a God of his own. For that there is nothing whatever openly, expressly, and without controversy said in any part of Scripture respecting the Father conceived of by those who hold a contrary opinion, they themselves testify, when they maintain that the Saviour privately taught these same things not to all, but to certain only of His disciples who could comprehend them, and who understood what was intended by Him through means of arguments, enigmas, and parables.
ANF: Vol. I, Against Heresies, 2:27:2.

This is similar to the last two quotations. It also shows that Irenaeus believed that the Scriptures could be understood by everyone, although some people handcuff themselves.

Moreover, Irenaeus informs us that the notion of a “living voice” being needed to the interpretation of Holy Scripture originated with Gnostic heretics.

Irenaeus (130 - c. 200)(ANF 1):
When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared, “But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.” And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.
ANF: Vol. I, Against Heresies, Book 3:2:1.

What's interesting about this point that Irenaeus raises is that he is directly addressing the error of those who try to argue that although Scripture may have the teachings, they are too ambiguous to be extracted simply by reading the Scripture, and that consequently tradition is needed.

This provides a good chance to turn to the testimonies of the ancients regarding the perspicuity of Holy Scripture.

Irenaeus (130 - c. 200)(ANF 1):
And in every Epistle the apostle [i.e. Paul] plainly testifies, that through the flesh of our Lord, and through His blood, we have been saved.
ANF: Vol. I, Against Heresies, Book 5:14:3.

Irenaeus' comments are pretty self-explanatory. We see a similar idea in Theophilus of Antioch.

Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 115–168 or 181)(ANF 2):
Therefore, do not be skeptical, but believe; for I myself also used to disbelieve that this would take place, but now, having taken these things into consideration, I believe. At the same time, I met with the sacred Scriptures of the holy prophets, who also by the Spirit of God foretold the things that have already happened, just as they came to pass, and the things now occurring as they are now happening, and things future in the order in which they shall be accomplished. Admitting, therefore, the proof which events happening as predicted afford, I do not disbelieve, but I believe, obedient to God, whom, if you please, do you also submit to, believing Him, lest if now you continue unbelieving, you be convinced hereafter, when you are tormented with eternal punishments; which punishments, when they had been foretold by the prophets, the later-born poets and philosophers stole from the holy Scriptures, to make their doctrines worthy of credit. Yet these also have spoken beforehand of the punishments that are to light upon the profane and unbelieving, in order that none be left without a witness, or be able to say, “We have not heard, neither have we known.” But do you also, if you please, give reverential attention to the prophetic Scriptures, and they will make your way plainer for escaping the eternal punishments, and obtaining the eternal prizes of God. For He who gave the mouth for speech, and formed the ear to hear, and made the eye to see, will examine all things, and will judge righteous judgment, rendering merited awards to each. To those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek immortality, He will give life everlasting, joy, peace, rest, and abundance of good things, which neither hath eye seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. But to the unbelieving and despisers, who obey not the truth, but are obedient to unrighteousness, when they shall have been filled with adulteries and fornications, and filthiness, and covetousness, and unlawful idolatries, there shall be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish, and at the last everlasting fire shall possess such men. Since you said, “Show me thy God,” this is my God, and I counsel you to fear Him and to trust Him.
ANF: Vol. II, Theophilus to Autolycus, Book I, Chapter 14.

Notice how Theophilus not only explains his own personal story about coming to faith through reading the Scriptures, but also claims that the Scriptures will make things plain for others. This is the same role of illumination we discussed in the previous sections of this series.

And that's not all Theophilus has to say:

Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 115–168 or 181) (ANF 2):
Likewise spoke the other prophets of the truth. And why should I recount the multitude of prophets, who are numerous, and said ten thousand things consistently and harmoniously? For those who desire it, can, by reading what they uttered, accurately understand the truth, and no longer be carried away by opinion and profitless labour. These, then, whom we have already mentioned, were prophets among the Hebrews,—illiterate, and shepherds, and uneducated.

Original Greek:
ὁμοίως εἶπον καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ τῆς ἀληθείας προφῆται. Καὶ τί μοι τὸ πλῆθος καταλέγειν τῶν προφητῶν, πολλῶν ὄντων καὶ μυρία φίλα καὶ σύμφωνα εἰρηκότων; οἱ γὰρ βουλόμενοι δύνανται ἐντυχόντες τοῖς διʼ αὐτῶν εἰρημένοις ἀκριβῶς γνῶναι τὸ ἀληθὲς καὶ μὴ παράγεσθαι ὑπὸ διανοίας καὶ ματαιοπονίας. οὗτοι οὖν οὓς προειρήκαμεν προφῆται ἐγένοντο ἐν Ἑβραίοις, ἀγράμματοι καὶ ποιμένες καὶ ἰδιῶται.
Ad Autolycum, Liber II, §35, PG 6:1109; ANF: Vol. II, Theophilus to Autolycus, Book II, Chapter 35.

Notice again how Theophilus views the Scriptures as something that can readily be understood through simply reading them.

Other early Christian writings that have sometimes been dated as early as the 1st or 2nd century also give a similar picture.

1 Clement has been dated by some as early as the the late 90's and as late as A.D. 140 or later. Also, the authorship of the book is uncertain. Thus, this is not necessarily the writing of a church father, but it is an early Christian writing.

1 Clement 45:1-3
(Lightfoot Translation)
Be ye contentious, brethren, and jealous about the things that pertain unto salvation. Ye have searched the scriptures, which are true, which were given through the Holy Ghost; and ye know that nothing unrighteous or counterfeit is written in them.

Alternative translation (Roberts Translation): Ye are fond of contention, brethren, and full of zeal about things which do not pertain to salvation. Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. Observe that nothing of an unjust or counterfeit character is written in them.

Greek: Φιλόνεικοί ἐστε, ἀδελφοί, καὶ ζηλωταὶ περὶ τῶν ἀνηκόντων εἰς συτηρίαν ἐγκεκύφατε εἰς τὰς γραηάς, ρὰς γραγάς, τὰς ἀληθεῖς, τὰς [διὰ] τοῦ ὰγίου ἐπίστασθε ὅτι οὐδὲν ἄδικον οὐδὲ παραπεποιημένον γέγραπται ἐν αὐταῖς.
This is less explicit than some of the passages above, but it is clear that the author of 1 Clement thinks that his readers will be familiar with Scripture and that they will obtain their information about salvation from those entirely trustworthy books.

1 Clement 53:1
(Lightfoot Translation)
For ye know, and know well, the sacred scriptures, dearly beloved, and ye have searched into the oracles of God. We write these things therefore to put you in remembrance.

Alternative translation (Roberts Translation): Ye understand, beloved, you understand well the Sacred Scriptures, and you have looked very earnestly into the oracles of God. Call then these things to your remembrance.

Greek: Ἐπίστασθε γὰρ καὶ καλῶς ἐπίσταθε τὰς ὶερὰς γραφὰς, καὶ ἐγκεκύφατε εἰς τὰ λόγια τοῦ Θεοῦ πρὸς ἀνάμνησιν αῧν ταῦτα γράφομεν.
Similarly, as in the previous instance, the author of 1 Clement assumes familiarity with Scripture and does not claim to write so much to instruct as simply to remind.

A similar remark can be found in a letter ascribed to Polycarp (whether it is actually Polycarp's work is probably less certain, but it is a fairly early Christian writing):

Polycarp to the Philippians, Chapter 12:
(Roberts Translation - ANF 1)
For I trust that ye are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures, and that nothing is hid from you; but to me this privilege is not yet granted.

(Lightfoot Translation)
For I am persuaded that ye are well trained in the sacred writings, and nothing is hidden from you. But to myself this is not granted.

(Lake Translation)
For I am persuaded that ye are well trained in the sacred writings, and nothing is hidden from you. But to myself this is not granted.

Latin (the original Greek was not preserved, to my knowledge):
Confido enim vos bene exercitatos esse in sacris literis, et nihil vos latet; mihi autem non est concessum.
And there is more from Polycarp:

Polycarp to the Philippians, Chapter 3
(Roberts Translation - ANF 1)
These things, brethren, I write to you concerning righteousness, not because I take anything upon myself, but because ye have invited me to do so. For neither I, nor any other such one, can come up to the wisdom of the blessed and glorified Paul. He, when among you, accurately and stedfastly taught the word of truth in the presence of those who were then alive. And when absent from you, he wrote you a letter, which, if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith which has been given you, and which, being followed by hope, and preceded by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbour, " is the mother of us all." For if any one be inwardly possessed of these graces, he hath fulfilled ths command of righteousness, since he that hath love is far from all sin.

(Lightfoot Translation)
These things, brethren, I write unto you concerning righteousness, not because I laid this charge upon myself, but because ye invited me. For neither am I, nor is any other like unto me, able to follow the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he came among you taught face to face with the men of that day the word which concerneth truth carefully and surely; who also, when he was absent, wrote a letter unto you, into the which if ye look diligently, ye shall be able to be builded up unto the faith given to you, which is the mother of us all, while hope followeth after and love goeth before--love toward God and Christ and toward our neighbor. For if any man be occupied with these, he hath fulfilled the commandment of righteousness; for he that hath love is far from all sin.

(Lake Translation)
These things, brethren, I write to you concerning righteousness, not at my own instance, but because you first invited me. For neither am I, nor is any other like me, able to follow the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he was among you in the presence of the men of that time taught accurately and stedfastly the word of truth, and also when he was absent wrote letters to you, from the study of which you will be able to build yourselves up into the faith given you; "which is the mother of us all" when faith follows, and love of God and Christ and neighbour goes before. For if one be in this company he has fulfilled the command of righteousness, for he who has love is far from all sin.

Greek:
Ταῦτα, ἀδελφοί, οὐκ ἐμαυτῷ ἐπιτρέψας γράφω ὑμῖν περὶ τῆς δικαιοσύνης, ἀλλ' ἐπεὶ ὑμεῖς προεπεκαλέσασθέ με. Oὔτε γὰρ ἐγὼ οὔτε ἄλλος ὅμοιος ἐμοὶ δύναται κατακολουθῆσαι τῇ σοφίᾳ τοῦ μακαρίου καὶ ἐνδόξου Παύλου, ὃς γενόμενος ἐν ὑμῖν κατὰ πρόσωπον τῶν τότε ἀνθρώπων ἐδίδαξεν ἀκριβῶς καὶ βεβαίως τὸν περὶ ἀληθείας λόγον, ὃς καὶ ἀπὼν ὑμῖν ἔγραψεν ἐπιστολάς, εἰς ἃς ἐὰν ἐγκύπτητε, δυνηθήσεσθε οἰκοδομεῖσθαι εἰς τὴν δοθεῖσαν ὑμῖν πίστιν. ἥτις ἐστὶν μήτηρ πάντων ἡμῶν, ἐπακολουθούσης τῆς ἐλπίδος, προαγούσης τῆς ἀγάπης τῆς εἰς θεὸν καὶ Χριστὸν καὶ εἰς τὸν πλησίον. ἐὰν γάρ τις τούτων ἐντὸς ᾖ, πεπλήρωκεν ἐντολὴν δικαιοσύνης· ὁ γὰρ ἔχων ἀγάπην μακράν ἐστιν πάσης ἁμαρτίας.
Notice that he not only praises the wisdom of Paul, but he affirms that Paul's letter to the Philippians is "the means of building up in" the faith that Paul had delivered to them by preaching to them.

The following selections are taken from Ignatius letters. These letters are thought to be authentic, and quite early, but their existence in long and short forms suggests significant tampering. The date of the tampering is not very clear. So, I would not suggest that we should assume that these letters can be definitively dated to the first two centuries, but many folks certainly would date them that early. In general, the short recension is what we would expect to be more likely the authentic original where the long and short differ.

Ignatius to Philadelphians (Long recension only), Chapter IV (ANF 1):
Fathers, "bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; "31 and teach them the holy Scriptures, and also trades, that they may not indulge in idleness. Now [the Scripture] says, "A righteous father educates [his children] well; his heart shall rejoice in a wise son."
The interesting thing about the preceding quotation is that Ignatius expects parents to be teaching their children the Scriptures. That may not say much directly to the topic of perspicuity, but it does suggest that the Scriptures are something that a child is capable of understanding - and that parents are competent to teach their children from the Scriptures.

Ignatius to Philadelphians, Chapter VIII (ANF 1):
(short) And I exhort you to do nothing out of strife, but according to the doctrine of Christ. When I heard some saying, If I do not find it in the ancient Scriptures, I will not believe the Gospel; on my saying to them, It is written, they answered me, That remains to be proved. But to me Jesus Christ is in the place of all that is ancient: His cross, and death, and resurrection, and the faith which is by Him, are undefiled monuments of antiquity; by which I desire, through your prayers, to be justified.

(long) I therefore exhort you that ye do nothing out of strife, but according to the doctrine of Christ. For I have heard some saying, If I do not find the Gospel in the archives, I will not believe it. To such persons I say that my archives are Jesus Christ, to disobey whom is manifest destruction. My authentic archives are His cross, and death, and resurrection, and the faith which bears on these things, by which I desire, through your prayers, to be justified. He who disbelieves the Gospel disbelieves everything along with it. For the archives ought not to be preferred to the Spirit. "It is hard to kick against the pricks;" it is hard to disbelieve Christ; it is hard to reject the preaching of the apostles.
The main point to observe here is that Ignatius seems to be addressing folks who are challenging the Gospel on the basis that it is not fully supported by the Old Testament Scriptures. Ignatius doesn't correct this essentially sola Scriptura view, but instead insists on the equal authority of the New Testament. I realize, of course, that Ignatius' words above can be explained differently. I'm simply showing that they can be reasonably understood within the milieu of other early writings and, of course, the Scriptures themselves.

Ignatius to Magnesians (long only) Chapter IX (Roberts translation):
If, then, those who were conversant with the ancient Scriptures came to newness of hope, expecting the coming of Christ, as the Lord teaches us when He says, "If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me;" and again, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad; for before Abraham was, I am;" how shall we be able to live without Him? The prophets were His servants, and foresaw Him by the Spirit, and waited for Him as their Teacher, and expected Him as their Lord and Saviour, saying, "He will come and save us."
Again, this testimony only touches quite obliquely on the issue of the perspicuity of Scripture. I really only have included it for the sake of completeness. It does show that Ignatius (or the author of this long version, if not Ignatius himself) viewed Christianity as an extension of the same book-taught religion as existed before the Incarnation. This then has implications for perspicuity, for the Old Testament Scriptures were less clear than the New, and yet people who were conversant with the Old Testament Scriptures expected Christ's coming with hope.

Tatian (c. 160) Chapter 29 - Account Of Tatian’s Conversion:
Wherefore, having seen these things, and moreover also having been admitted to the mysteries, and having everywhere examined the religious rites performed by the effeminate and the pathic, and having found among the Romans their Latiarian Jupiter delighting in human gore and the blood of slaughtered men, and Artemis not far from the great city sanctioning acts of the same kind, and one demon here and another there instigating to the perpetration of evil, — retiring by myself, I sought how I might be able to discover the truth. And, while I was giving my most earnest attention to the matter, I happened to meet with certain barbaric writings, too old to be compared with the opinions of the Greeks, and too divine to be compared with their errors; and I was led to put faith in these [i.e. the Scriptures] by the unpretending cast of the language, the inartificial character of the writers, the foreknowledge displayed of future events, the excellent quality of the precepts, and the declaration of the government of the universe as centered in one Being. And, my soul being taught of God, I discern that the former class of writings lead to condemnation, but that these put an end to the slavery that is in the world, and rescue us from a multiplicity of rulers and ten thousand tyrants, while they give us, not indeed what we had not before received, but what we had received but were prevented by error from retaining.

Greek:
Ταῦτʼ οὖν ἰδών, ἔτι δὲ καὶ μυστηρίων μεταλαβὼν καὶ τὰς παρὰ πᾶσι θρησκείας δοκιμάσας διὰ θηλυδριῶν καὶ ἀνδρογύνων συνισταμένας, εὑρὼν δὲ παρὰ μὲν Ῥωμαίοις τὸν κατʼ αὐτοὺς Λατιάριον Δία λύθροις ἀνθρώπων καὶ τοῖς ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνδροκτασιῶν αἵμασι τερπόμενον, Ἄρτεμιν δὲ οὐ μακρὰν τῆς Μεγάλης πόλεως τῶν αὐτῶν πράξεων ἐπανῃρημένην τὸ εἶδος ἄλλον τε ἀλλαχῆ δαίμονα κακοπραγίας ἐπαναστάσεις πραγματευόμενον, κατʼ ἐμαυτὸν γενόμενος ἐζήτουν ὅτῳ τρόπῳ τἀληθὲς ἐξευρεῖν δύνωμαι. περινοοῦντι δέ μοι τὰ σπουδαῖα συνέβη γραφαῖς τισιν ἐντυχεῖν βαρβαρικαῖς, πρεσβυτέραις μὲν ὡς πρὸς τὰ Ἑλλήνων δόγματα, θειοτέραις δὲ ὡς πρὸς τὴν ἐκείνων πλάνην· Καί μοι πεισθῆναι ταύταις συνέβη διά τε τῶν λέξεων τὸ ἄτυφον καὶ τῶν εἰπόντων τὸ ἀνεπιτήδευτον καὶ τῆς τοῦ παντὸς ποιήσεως τὸ εὐκατάληπτον καὶ τῶν μελλόντων τὸ προγνωστικὸν καὶ τῶν παραγγελμάτων τὸ ἐξαίσιον καὶ τῶν ὅλων τὸ μοναρχικόν. θεοδιδάκτου δέ μου γενομένης τῆς ψυχῆς συνῆκα ὅτι τὰ μὲν καταδίκης ἔχει τρόπον, τὰ δὲ ὅτι λύει τὴν ἐν κόσμῳ δουλείαν καὶ ἀρχόντων μὲν πολλῶν καὶ μυρίων ἡμᾶς ἀποσπᾷ τυράννων, δίδωσι δὲ ἡμῖν οὐχ ὅπερ μὴ ἐλάβομεν, ἀλλʼ ὅπερ λαβόντες ὑπὸ τῆς πλάνης ἔχειν ἐκωλύθημεν.
Oratio Adversus Graecos, Caput 29, PG 6:865, 868; translation in ANF: Vol. II, Tatian’s Address to the Greeks, Chapter 29.

Notice that Tatian attributes clarity to Scripture but simultaneously attributes his conversion to the direct work of the Holy Spirit in his heart, teaching him.

This look at the earliest period shows us some of the views of some of the earliest Christian writers, but in the coming segment or segments, we will look at some of the next generation of Christian writers, as we enter the 3rd century and beyond.

36 comments:

Blogahon said...

Mr. Fan.

Just like you have in the past, you are missing the mark in the whole discussion.

The discussion is about the role of the Church in teaching what is recorded in the Scripture.

For formal sufficiency you have to prove that these fathers did not believe that the Church had the authority to dogmatically declare and teach the faith. You also have to prove that tradition plays no role in teaching and understanding the faith. This is what 'formal sufficiency' requires and this is what you continue to ignore.

A basic example is Irenaeus, whom you quote in your post. You leave out what Irenaeus believed about the church which is paramount to the question of whether Irenaeus would have argued that scripture is formally sufficient.

Here is some of what Irenaeus said about the church:

"But it has, on the other hand, been shown, that the preaching of the Church is everywhere consistent, and continues in an even course, and receives testimony from the prophets, the apostles, and all the disciples…For in the Church," it is said, "God hath set apostles, prophets, teachers,' and all the other means through which the Spirit works; of which all those are not partakers who do not join themselves to the Church, but defraud themselves of life through their perverse opinions and infamous behaviour. For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church, and every kind of grace; but the Spirit is truth."
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:24 (A.D. 180)

“Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters…It behooves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord's Scriptures. For the Church has been planted as a garden (paradisus) in this world; therefore says the Spirit of God, 'Thou mayest freely eat from every tree of the garden,' that is, Eat ye from every Scripture of the Lord; but ye shall not eat with an uplifted mind, nor touch any heretical discord."
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5:20 (A.D. 180)

He goes on:

"True knowledge is that which consists in the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4:33:8 (A.D. 180)

"Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church...those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth..."
Irenaeus, Against Heresies 26:2

The above and in fact the entire corpus of Irenaeus demonstrates beyond any doubt that Irenaeus would not argue that scripture is formally sufficient.

You cannot talk about formal sufficiency without talking about the Church as I plainly laid out previously here. If you are going to continue to overlook this than I really don't see how we are going to get anywhere.

Turretinfan said...

Actually, Sean, you should re-read the first section (link to first section) where we framed the issues. You're the one missing the mark.

I don't have to prove negatives, but nice try!

And the portions you quote from Irenaeus - I can provide a more detailed response, but the short answer is that he's not denying the formal sufficiency of Scripture in those quotations.

-TurretinFan

Blogahon said...

T - Fan.

I am not asking you to prove a negative. I am asking you to prove that that the fathers believed that Scripture is formally sufficient.

I think you need to read my entry on Called to Communion and the ensuing 100+ comments to see my point.

I did read your original entries. If I have time I'll answer those specifically however since all along I simply asked for a list of fathers that taught that Scripture is formally sufficient than I'll continue to wait for that.

I predict that we'lll get several more posts of various fathers affirming that Scripture is God breathed, useful, perfect etc. In other words, we'll get a lot of fathers affirming Catholic teaching on Scripture.

I then predict that you or David T King will conflate all of that to conclude that the fathers taught that Scripture was formally sufficient while giving no regard whatsoever to those fathers and their belief about the Church.

So - at the end of the day I'll just have to stand behind my brief comment on Called to Communion.

Turretinfan said...

Sean:

You write: "I am not asking you to prove a negative."

Your first comment stated: "you have to prove that these fathers did not believe that the Church had the authority to dogmatically declare and teach the faith" and "You also have to prove that tradition plays no role in teaching and understanding the faith."

Is your problem that you don't understand how those things you are asking me to prove are negatives, or what?

-TurretinFan

Blogahon said...

Your first comment stated: "you have to prove that these fathers did not believe that the Church had the authority to dogmatically declare and teach the faith" and "You also have to prove that tradition plays no role in teaching and understanding the faith."

...This is what formal sufficiency means!

You are claiming that Scripture is formally sufficient. So far your only 'proof' is to show that various fathers had a high view of scripture but this does not go far enough to prove formal sufficiency.

Am I making no sense here? Why is it that on Called to Communion the vast majority of the 100+ comments got my point immediately but here I am treated like I don't know my right hand from my left?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Am I making no sense here?

Blogahon, it's more that you don't accept how TFan and Pastor DT King have defined and framed the definition and issue of "Formal Sufficiency."

Blogahon said...

Blogahon, it's more that you don't accept how TFan and Pastor DT King have defined and framed the definition and issue of "Formal Sufficiency."

In the original discussion with David T King way back and then on GB more recently he flatly refused to define 'formal sufficiency' and instead insisted that I define it.

If you go back and look, I defined it in several different places and was clear that this is the definition that with which I was working. You can see that definition in my Called to Communion thread that I've already linked.

Now - in the first part of this 'series' T Fan and/or David T King defined 'formal sufficiency' somewhat differently than I defined it but at the end of the day both definitions put the Church at odds with Scripture in such a way as to state that the Church does not have the authority to define biblical doctrine - full stop. The WCOF will say that the Church has this authority and that tradition is useful but only if the Church and tradition teach what Scripture teaches which really means 'I think the Church has authority but only if I agree with what the Church is teaching.'

This view is not the view of the fathers. The fathers viewed the Church and Scripture as equal sources of the apostolic faith. They did not divorce Scripture from the Church which is exactly what 'formal sufficiency' means.

Don't take my word for it. Read the fathers for yourself.

dtking said...

Am I making no sense here? Why is it that on Called to Communion the vast majority of the 100+ comments got my point immediately but here I am treated like I don't know my right hand from my left?

No, you are not making any sense. Because no matter how many people affirm you in your error, the addition of them all do not make you right. But we are very content for you to ride your hobby horse that misses the point, because we agree that the Scriptures, as Irenaeus affirms, can only be understood by members of the church because they have the Spirit of God. This is what we mean by formal sufficiency, the Scriptures are sufficiently perspicuous to the members of Christ's body, regardless of whether you understand it or not.

I'm not sure why you think we should be interested in anything the folk at CTC have to say on these matters.

You have not interacted with the meaning of what the fathers cited here actually said. You've only posted a few quotes that you think contradict what Irenaeus said, and you haven't even proved that, as I indicated above. In short, we do not let the Romanist define the perspicuity of Holy Scripture for us, and if you bothered to read the first blogs in this series sufficiently, you would know that. Thus, your objection causes us no pause, because it only underscores the absurdity and the silliness of your inability to interact meaningfully with the patristic evidence that has been presented.

dtking said...

In the original discussion with David T King way back and then on GB more recently he flatly refused to define 'formal sufficiency' and instead insisted that I define it.

No, again, you demonstrate your misunderstanding. I only asked you to define formal sufficiency in order to see *how* you define it, not because we agree with it.

Again, we informed the readers in this series that we do not agree with your definition, so you are welcome to operate in your closed Roman system, and ride your hobby horse there.

Blogahon said...

But we are very content for you to ride your hobby horse that misses the point, because we agree that the Scriptures, as Irenaeus affirms, can only be understood by members of the church because they have the Spirit of God.

And you don't seem to even care how Irenaeus defines the Church. You import your 16th century conception of the church which was foreign to Irenaues and thus miss the mark.

Irenaues speaks in plain terms about the succession of bishops by the sacrament of Holy Orders - something you reject.

This is why I can so confidently assert to you in public that you are wrong. It's easy.

dtking said...

Don't take my word for it. Read the fathers for yourself.

We haven't, that's why we read them for ourselves. I can promise you, young man, that we will never take your word for anything. :)

dtking said...

And you don't seem to even care how Irenaeus defines the Church. You import your 16th century conception of the church which was foreign to Irenaues and thus miss the mark.

Thanks for sharing your hobby horse again. No one has imported anything back into Irenaeus but you and your conception of what he says about the church.

But again, you refuse to deal with the quotes themselves that we cited.

This is why I can so confidently assert to you in public that you are wrong. It's easy.

Thanks for sharing your confidence in your ignorance. I'm sure we're all impressed. You are most welcome to keep sharing it.

Turretinfan said...

Sean:

"Am I making no sense here? Why is it that on Called to Communion the vast majority of the 100+ comments got my point immediately but here I am treated like I don't know my right hand from my left?"

One explanation is this:

Proverbs 18:17 He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.

You come in, demand that I prove a negative, deny you're asking me to prove a negative, and when confronted by your self-contradiction you simply revert back to your original demand that I prove the negative.

You also provide us with a variety of assertions - like this gem: "The fathers viewed the Church and Scripture as equal sources of the apostolic faith." See, now that's something you could attempt to prove, not merely assert.

But while we can prove our doctrine from Scripture and establish its absence of novelty from the fathers, you can neither prove your doctrine from Scripture nor can you establish your claims about what the fathers believed.

Instead, you simply come here and run in circles. The issue of what formal sufficiency means was addressed in the first post. If you have a problem with the definition we provided - that's the comment box in which to express your disagreement. If you don't have a problem with the way we defined it, then you should refer your objections to our definition, not to your own definition.

-TurretinFan

Blogahon said...

You guys are amazing. David T King goes around proclaiming something and I ask for proof and then I am accused of being unfair for asking him to prove it.

In the previous thread you quoted Yves Congar whom I then quoted demonstrating that our definitions of 'formal sufficiency' are exactly the same. You then accuse me of having the wrong definition.

What a waste of time - at least I am not the one spinning my wheels inventing these posts but I am surely not going to waste anymore time answering them.

Turretinfan said...

As for seeming not to care about what Irenaeus said about the church, the real question is whether what he said about the church is relevant to the question. Irenaeus having a high view of the church doesn't necessarily prevent him from viewing the Scriptures as formally sufficient.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hello Blogahon,

Do you think that you could say from now on something like the following:

"Protestant apologists have advanced the argument of the "Formal Sufficiency of Scripture" and have proven it, yet it's a definition of "Formal Sufficiency" that I and other Roman Catholics don't agree with."

In other words, please don't ever fallaciously assert that Protestants haven't established and proven the Formal Sufficiency of Scripture.

Protestants have. It's just that its not on your terms. Protestants simply don't accept how you've slanted the field to favor Roman Catholics and to disfavor Protestants.

Make sense?

dtking said...

What a waste of time - at least I am not the one spinning my wheels inventing these posts but I am surely not going to waste anymore time answering them.

Thanks for sharing. Is this a promise?

Lucian said...

The Gnostics brought unknown and unheard teachings to the text of Scripture (eg, "seeing" the Twelve Aeons "taught" in passages like those about Jesus going to the Temple at age twelve, or the woman who was cured of her illness after twelve years of suffering, etc). -- obviously, this is not how the ancient Churches view the role of Holy Tradition..


I've been meaning to tell you this for a few years already: if I'd had a nickel each time a priest said that the Bible is "clear" and that Protestants "distort" its ``obvious" meaning, I would have very many nickels by now. -- But, that again, I also believed that Christ lacked a human soul/spirit, or that predestination might be true, etc. -- so I can't deny the value of Holy Tradition or Church Tradition either... and to be forced to accuse one's opponents (or those that disagree with one's views) of either blatant stupidity or sheer malice [ie, calling them either dumb or evil] doesn't fit me; and I also like that certain kind of meekness that comes from knowing you're not smarter or better than others, but only blessed by being given truth as a free gift by the mercy and love of God.

dtking said...

You guys are amazing. David T King goes around proclaiming something and I ask for proof and then I am accused of being unfair for asking him to prove it.

Yes, the evidence for our position is overwhelming, and it will only become stronger in subsequent posts in this series. You see, a Romanist cannot embrace the perspicuity of Scripture, as defined by the Reformed, because your communion has told you a priori that it's not true. So, you are simply being true to the dictates of your apostate communion.

The Romanist simply cannot deal meaningfully with the actual evidence being presented. You have shown us that already, and you're simply operating in denial mode by necessity. You see, we understand your need to deny it, but we are under no such constraints. Unlike your communion, we are content to let the Bible and the ECFs to speak for themselves.

ChaferDTS said...

"Irenaues speaks in plain terms about the succession of bishops by the sacrament of Holy Orders - something you reject. "

Ireaenus list Linus as the very first Bishop of Rome and not the apostle Peter. Yet that does not stop Roman Catholic apologist from trying to use him to prove apostolic succession through the episcopate in the line of Peter. You are using double standards. Please try and remain objective in your argumentations. You did demand that TF and DTKing to prove a negative. That is dead wrong in you doing that. Then to top it off you misdefined what the formal sufficient nature of Scripture teaches. TF and DTKing are Presbyterians and their views are well stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The same view is found in all the creds of Protestants during and after the reformation. Confessional Lutherns, Presbyterians, Anglicans ( low church ones who follow the 39 articles ) , Methodist and others teach the same thing with regard to Sola Scriptura. Interact with what they believe rather than misdefine their beliefs and attack a strawman. Just like you would not want anyone to misrepresent RCC beliefs and attack a strawman. If unsure of what they believe read their post or ask them for clarification and accept what they say they believe. That would help you out alot.

ChaferDTS said...

"You see, a Romanist cannot embrace the perspicuity of Scripture, as defined by the Reformed, because your communion has told you a priori that it's not true. So, you are simply being true to the dictates of your apostate communion. "

That is exactly how it is. I experienced this first hand having grown up since birth in the RCC and leaving it as an adult when I was 19. This was a core issue for me on needing to reject Roman Catholicism. The other issue was Sola Fida. At that time I looked in to Luther, Calvin and other reformers to see what they believed and how they supported it both biblically and historically. I saw for myself that they were correct on Sola Scripture and Sola Fide. They had the clear support of the church fathers on the issue of Sola Scripture having seen this in the church father writings themselves as I read them for myself. Great job TF and youself . Just post the correct information out there as you have done. Some will come to see it and come to reject Roman Catholicism and embrace the five Solas as I have done over 18 years ago. Keep up the good work. I know it does get frustrating in dealing with Roman Catholics but it is worth it in the end when in heaven you will see how God used you in getting people out of Roman Catholicism due to it's doctrinal errors.

natamllc said...

Sean,

here we go again! grrrrr

You just wrote, for the umpteenth time something like this here, again, responding to TF and Pastor King's work hereon:

The discussion is about the role of the Church in teaching what is recorded in the Scripture.

Geeesh!

Moving onto my other comments then.

First then, to Justin Martyr:

Pay attention, therefore, to what I shall record out of the holy Scriptures, which do not need to be expounded, but only listened to.

Could it be Justin Martyr was knowledgeable of this verse from Proverbs?

Pro 16:20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

Now moving onto several parts of the citations from Irenaeus:

... and the love of truth, will eagerly meditate upon those things which God has placed within the power of mankind, and has subjected to our knowledge,

... and the body of truth remains entire,

... and without controversy said in any part of Scripture respecting the Father conceived of by those who hold a contrary opinion, they themselves testify, when they maintain that the Saviour privately taught these same things not to all, but to certain only of His disciples who could comprehend them, and who understood what was intended by Him through means of arguments, enigmas, and parables.

... and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents,

... the truth properly resides at one time in ... depraving the
system of truth,

The system of Truth, the truth, the truth, the truth and nothing but the truth Irenaeus focuses on, is "inescapable" even in our day so much so that the straight line trajectory of Truth that runs through every generation from Adam until now seemed to be enough for him, too, to know those, who, by some force, moved away from Him, Truth, It, Them. It's clear to me by his writings, that he had in mind individuals who were actively at work to deceive the unsuspecting with their writings of poetry and philosophy?

Onto Theophilus of Antioch; he writes:

the later-born poets and philosophers stole from the holy Scriptures, to make their doctrines worthy of credit.

It was apparent to him, (Theophilus), that the Devil was hard at work in his day as a thief in chief inspiring poets and philosophers to steal from the Holy Scriptures to make their doctrines worthy of credit! Hmmmmm! It is a kind of bait and switch approach, similar to the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Sounds familiar to me that, just as the Apostle Paul wrote, warning night and day for about three years the Ephesian Church about the wolves and false brethren with the ability to rise up among them to draw away the brethren to themselves, so it is even in these days today later-born poets and philosophers stole from the holy Scriptures, to make their doctrines worthy of credit.

One of you, TF, or Pastor King, writes this comment about Theophilus:

Notice how Theophilus not only explains his own personal story about coming to faith through reading the Scriptures, but also claims that the Scriptures will make things plain for others. This is the same role of illumination we discussed in the previous sections of this series.

Yes, I did notice it too! :)

Maybe this admonition from the Apostle Paul was as important to him as it was Paul and is to us as well?

Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

I will pause here and publish these remarks and then continue reading to the end of this very good article. Maybe I will have more to comment on afterwards?

natamllc said...

TF, can you release my comments from the blog filter?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

ChaferDTS: "At that time I looked in to Luther, Calvin and other reformers to see what they believed and how they supported it both biblically and historically. I saw for myself that they were correct on Sola Scripture and Sola Fide. They had the clear support of the church fathers on the issue of Sola Scripture having seen this in the church father writings themselves as I read them for myself."

Hi ChaferDTS,

You might enjoy this comment by John who writes:

"I have to admit that I was suckered into returning to the RCC by these internet Catholic Apologists about ten years ago. At that time I read very little Early Church History (as a Historian my focus was "Modern History" about 1700 to the present. After I returned I layed low from the internet for a bit just reading RC stuff online. After a while after an illness that left me hospitalised and then in physical therapy (3 years altogether) I decided to be a Catholic Apologist so I studied, I came came back online feet first defending Rome, but as I started doing more research, I mean REAL History written by peer reviewed academic Historians, reading some Church Fathers from what they actually wrote, and serious Biblical study and hermeneutics, I saw that ALL of Rome's claims are absolutely false, Rome has invented Dogmas that are not only not found in the Bible but are contrary to what the Bible says, Rome has built Dogmas on hearsay and legends (Marian Dogmas), invented Purgatory based on Pagan Mythology, Neo-Platonist Philosophy, and the "visions" of people who were Biblical illiterates (Pope Gregory) and individuals who were still half Pagan and were ignorant of the Bible. I coin my own "cutesy saying" in Parody of John Newman:

"To be Deep in History is to cease being an Evangelical, to be deeper in History still and know the real facts is to cease to be Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox"."

His comment from yesterday can be found HERE.

natamllc said...

While I wait for my initial response to be released from the blog filter, ChaferDTS, I would comment on this comment you made above:

"TF and DTKing are Presbyterians and their views are well stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The same view is found in all the creds of Protestants during and after the reformation."

While I respect and appreciate both TF and Pastor King, that they are Presbyterians and hold carefully to the WCoF, I would want to say, basis some Scriptures, that there is a broader issue at stake and being attacked here.

Consider these verses:

Act 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,
Act 3:20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,
Act 3:21 whom heaven must receive until
the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
Act 3:22 Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.
Act 3:23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.'



Heb 9:6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties,
Heb 9:7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.
Heb 9:8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing
Heb 9:9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper,
Heb 9:10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until
the time of reformation.

The Truth of God's Word and Faith are being attacked.

Is God overwhelmed by this revelation?

No, not in the least!

We, His children, who also share in flesh and blood, at times are overwhelmed by this revelation!

Consider the phrase, "as in the natural, so it is in the spiritual" when coming to terms with this message from God He gave Moses to give to the Children confined to live under the Law of Righteousness:

Exo 13:17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt."
Exo 13:18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.


Where does this leave True Brethren, even though they are outside the WCoF and are not Presbyterians? Just where God wants them to be, as are the True Brethren within the Presbyterian movement of the present day reformation.

Jeremiah wrote it best, in my view, here:

Jer 33:15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
Jer 33:16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.'


God is well able, from every True Biblical disciple from every nation to bring His Children out of the world and into the Faith once delivered to the Saints!

dtking said...

The Truth of God's Word and Faith are being attacked.

Yes, I think we understand this more than you think we do.

natamllc said...

Here's my second response to the thread.

It is written:

The interesting thing about the preceding quotation is that Ignatius expects parents to be teaching their children the Scriptures. That may not say much directly to the topic of perspicuity, but it does suggest that the Scriptures are something that a child is capable of understanding - and that parents are competent to teach their children from the Scriptures.

One thing that comes to my mind after reading that there is this assumption that the Sacred Scriptures were readily available to parents so as to fulfill the admonition to teach their children from the Scriptures.

Apparently parents could read or at a minimum could learn the Sacred Scriptures well enough by listening to them read to them to be able to then teach them to their children afterwards!

With regard to this citation:

If, then, those who were conversant with the ancient Scriptures came to newness of hope, expecting the coming of Christ, as the Lord teaches us when He says, "If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me;" and again, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad; for before Abraham was, I am;" how shall we be able to live without Him? The prophets were His servants, and foresaw Him by the Spirit, and waited for Him as their Teacher, and expected Him as their Lord and Saviour, saying, "He will come and save us."

I would only note some verses from the Book of Colossians that establishes that "True Faith" comes to God's Children by hearing the Word of God. And one can come to fruition by hearing it read to them or by reading the Scriptures themselves, either from the writings of the Old; or, from both the Old and the New. Weigh carefully the ministerial work of Epaphras herein that Paul addresses:

Col 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
Col 1:4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,
Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
Col 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing--as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
Col 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf
Col 1:8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
Col 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Col 1:10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Turretinfan said...

"You guys are amazing. David T King goes around proclaiming something and I ask for proof and then I am accused of being unfair for asking him to prove it."

That's not true, Sean. You want him to defend something he hasn't asserted.

"In the previous thread you quoted Yves Congar whom I then quoted demonstrating that our definitions of 'formal sufficiency' are exactly the same. You then accuse me of having the wrong definition."

Actually, that's not what went down. People should check out that prior thread to see for themselves (the first link in the post above is the one to follow).

"What a waste of time - at least I am not the one spinning my wheels inventing these posts but I am surely not going to waste anymore time answering them."

It doesn't look to me like you spent much time thinking about the posts in the first place, much less wasted time in answering them. You don't seem to listen to what we say our position is, and you seem to simply want to insist that we prove a negative (or more than one negative) to you.

As such, the time-wasting shoe is really on the other foot. But we've spent time on these posts so that they will be of benefit to those who take the time to read them.

- TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Lucian:

You wrote: "The Gnostics brought unknown and unheard teachings to the text of Scripture (eg, "seeing" the Twelve Aeons "taught" in passages like those about Jesus going to the Temple at age twelve, or the woman who was cured of her illness after twelve years of suffering, etc). -- obviously, this is not how the ancient Churches view the role of Holy Tradition.."

Obviously. Yet one gets similar arguments from false typology from Roman Catholics - particularly on the topic of Mary.

You wrote: "I've been meaning to tell you this for a few years already: if I'd had a nickel each time a priest said that the Bible is "clear" and that Protestants "distort" its ``obvious" meaning, I would have very many nickels by now."

Indeed! I think it is almost self-evident that Scripture is often clear.

You wrote: "-- But, that again, I also believed that Christ lacked a human soul/spirit, or that predestination might be true, etc. -- so I can't deny the value of Holy Tradition or Church Tradition either..."

I don't deny the value of tradition, I just don't elevate it to the rank of Scripture.

You wrote: "and to be forced to accuse one's opponents (or those that disagree with one's views) of either blatant stupidity or sheer malice [ie, calling them either dumb or evil] doesn't fit me;"

:D

You wrote: "and I also like that certain kind of meekness that comes from knowing you're not smarter or better than others, but only blessed by being given truth as a free gift by the mercy and love of God."

That is a good attitude.

-TurretinFan

David Meyer said...

I am interested in this article and just need a point clarified. I have looked and I can't seem to find an exact definition of Formal Sufficiency in the article. Could I get that definition? This will help me as I read the article.
While your at it, a definition of material sufficiency would help also.
Also, a definition of what exactly the article is attempting to show concerning these two definitions with regard to the ECFs. I am very interested in seeing what the fathers have to say on this topic.

Ive only got through the Irenaus part, but it seems as if the article might go deeper than the standard one or two Athinasius quotes commonly used to show sola Scriptura belief by the fathers. But some succinct definitions would help me to see where you are comming from.

Thank you.

David Meyer said...

OK missed the link to the intro article. I read it, But more succinct clarification would still be helpful. It still seems as if material sufficiency is what is being described. You seem to grant that there is a distinction between material and formal, but I am having trouble seeing that in the definitions of the two.

Coram Deo said...

Really enjoying this series, Pastor King. Praise be to the Lord for your committment to His glory.

TF,

One quick housekeeping item on spelling; the sentence below needs a quick typo correction; "two" should be "too":

What's interesting about this point that Irenaeus raises is that he is directly addressing the error of those who try to argue that although Scripture may have the teachings, they are two ambiguous to be extracted simply by reading the Scripture, and that consequently tradition is needed.

In Him,
CD

Turretinfan said...

Good catch. That was indeed my own typo. I have corrected it. We have also updated this post to include an additional quotation from Polycarp.

Coram Deo said...

Thanks TF,

Sorry, one more in the Ignatius section; "reasonable" should be "reasonably":

I'm simply showing that they can be reasonable understood within the milieu of other early writings and, of course, the Scriptures themselves.

In Him,
CD

Turretinfan said...

Thanks again!

ChaferDTS said...

"While I respect and appreciate both TF and Pastor King, that they are Presbyterians and hold carefully to the WCoF, I would want to say, basis some Scriptures, that there is a broader issue at stake and being attacked here."

I think we all agree that the Scripture as the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church is what is being attacked by Roman Catholicism. And this is what TF and King are defending from a Biblical and historical stand point.

I have no problem with your quote of Acts 3:19-23 or Heb 9:6-10 at all. The New Covenant is the basis of salvation for God's elect people due to the merits of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the important issue here in the contrast of Reformed Theology and Roman Catholicism on His saving work which He completed for the basis of eternal life. We have an all sufficient Savior while Roman Catholicism does not.

"The Truth of God's Word and Faith are being attacked."

We agree with that.

"Where does this leave True Brethren, even though they are outside the WCoF and are not Presbyterians? Just where God wants them to be, as are the True Brethren within the Presbyterian movement of the present day reformation."

I dont hold only Presbyterians are the only true church at all. I view any local church or denomination which affirms the five Solas as sister churches. I dont hold to " apostolic succession " through the episcopate. But rather view true apostolic succesion as doctrinal such as teaching and preaching the Gospel of the grace of God that is in Scripture.

"God is well able, from every True Biblical disciple from every nation to bring His Children out of the world and into the Faith once delivered to the Saints!"

I have no problem with that at all nor have I denied that.