Sunday, February 20, 2011

I Can't Do it Perfectly, So I Won't Even Try!

One of the obstacles to becoming free from Rome's power is a refusal to think critically about Rome's claims. This refusal to think critically can be dressed up in pious clothes. What it amounts to is the adoption of a sola ecclesia position in which the person hands over their judgment to their church, or at least does so whenever it matters. The following provides an example of this anti-intellectualism in pious garb.

"Deacon Bryan," in the comment box at Called to Communion, quoted this from a commenter named "Brent" (source):
The beauty of the Church is that Truth is not subject to my weak intellect, sinfulness and pride. So, even when my “gut” or “head” or “heart” tells me birth control is “a-ok”, I’m wrong. Ah, I’m free! (Jn 8:32). Free from my weak intellect, sinfulness, and pride to reject my “gut, head, or heart” from telling me that Jesus is 50% God, baptism is a symbol, or Mary sinned.
The problem, of course, is that implicit faith in the Roman church also "frees" one to reject Scripture from telling one that Christ is the only head of the church and that Mary was a sinner in need of a savior.

Deacon Bryan then added:
Excellent! In matters of doctrine, God truly has set us free from our darkened intellect by using the Bible and and His Church to preach the truth to the poor. It strikes me as interesting that it is those involved in this discussion who believe our intellect has been destroyed, as I understand the reformers to have taught, who are the ones who think that the human mind is capable of formulating true doctrine on its own and without the need of God's continued work in the Church. Of course, many protestants might label that a straw man, however until it is proven that there is a principled difference between solo scriptura and sola scriptura that is simply going to be the way I will continue to see it.
Except, of course, whenever one sees a difference between what the Bible says and what Rome says, the person with implicit faith in Rome accepts Rome and rejects the Bible. So, it's not really "the Bible and [Rome]" but rather "Rome and the Bible, as long is it doesn't contradict Rome."

Moreover, Calvin and the Reformers didn't teach that the intellect of regenerate man is "destroyed." Calvin actually wrote: "To charge the intellect with perpetual blindness, so as to leave it no intelligence of any description whatever, is repugnant not only to the Word of God, but to common experience." Institutes, Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 12. So yes, it is a straw man.

Furthermore, the Reformed position is not so much that "the human mind is capable of formulating true doctrine on its own and without the need of God's continued work in the Church," but rather that God can communicate true doctrine to his people using the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, as well as a fallible church.

Conclusion

It may sound pious to say that one recognizes the weakness of one's own intellect. Moreover, there is truth in the fact that one's intellect is weak. The solution, however, is not implicit trust in men. If a man said that because his arms are weak, he plans not to use them, we'd either laugh at him, or criticize him as a sluggard.

When a Christian says that his intellect is weak, and therefore he will simply hand over his reasoning power to the elders of his church (whether he is an apostate church or a sound church), we ought to have a similar reaction.

The solution instead is continued study of Scripture (listening to what God says) and prayer to God for wisdom (speaking to God), as well as qualified reliance on the fallible means at our disposal, including our own intellect and the counsel of the church. Through this God-appointed means, we can seek the truth. There is no guarantee that we will get all of our doctrines perfectly correct. After all, God does not promise to remove the weakness of our intellect fully in this life.

Nevertheless, we can and should make use of the intellect that God has given us in pursuit of the truth. The Scripture commends the Bereans for this, and commends no one for implicit faith in the church - for refusing to investigate teachings and to compare them to Scripture.

A man who refuses to wash himself because he knows he can't get himself perfectly clean is a lazy slob who is making an excuse. The man who refuses to search the Scriptures because he realizes his own fallibility is much more abominable.

-TurretinFan

59 comments:

Kim said...

Amen to that, TF! I watched a video about John Hus last night. His desire merely for people to come directly to Christ and to read the Scriptures got him burned at the stake by the Church. What's wrong with that picture? The "beauty of the Church", indeed.

Ryan said...

"What it amounts to is the adoption of a sola ecclesia position..."

I wonder if RC's think there is no principled difference between sola ecclesia and solo ecclesia. After all, Bryan Cross did write:

//So if a particular bishop were to teach contrary to what the magisterium of the Church has infallibly defined, the Catholic faithful should in that case remain true to the magisterium, and not follow the heretical bishop. That is not making oneself a higher authority than the bishop; it is remaining faithful to the still more authoritative visible magisterium of the universal Church.//

Mathison's claims of an over-realized eschatology are all too true. RC epologists seem to reject fallible authorities can be authoritative.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Moreover, Calvin and the Reformers didn't teach that the intellect of regenerate man is "destroyed."

I find this kind of thing to be quite common. Few Roman Catholic commenters seem to really understand what the Reformers taught in a number of areas including the sin nature and human intellect and reason. Certainly they don't understand Luther's teaching on the bondage of the will. I regularly have to explain to some of them, over and over again, that the Reformers didn't teach "utter" depravity.

Stephanie said...

FYI - since you hosted the original response...

Here is an initial response which engages in Mathison's response.

natamllc said...

I don't know much about all that.

I do know that the Truth is the gift that keeps on giving when one comes into Him.

It is by revelation that one comes into Truth and this by reading the Word directly or by listening to the preached and proclaimed Word, or by both.

"...who are the ones who think that the human mind is capable of formulating true doctrine on its own and without the need of God's continued work in the Church."

I like the very end of Jesus' prayer, the one recorded by John in his Gospel record, as it is translated in the English Standard Version:

Joh 17:25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.
Joh 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."


The thing is, as we go onto maturity, the reality is Jesus continues revealing to us the things of God when we are in fellowship with Him and those who are the True Church in our generations like what the Apostle Paul opened up and shared with the Corinthian Church that were then and now amazing, especially when it gets into one's spiritual mind:

"... 1Co 1:30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, ..."

I guess I have a fairly decent mind. However, when I wrap my head around those Truths by the gift of Faith so that I have the thoughts of Christ by His Mind and not mine, I see clearly just how dim my own carnal and spiritual mind really is when thinking through to the Light of His Glorious Mind!

And, besides all that, no one, that is, no one, comes to Christ on their own. One must be drawn to Him by the sanctification work of the Spirit anyway!

Jesus Himself said it, "you must be born again".

otrmin said...

Excellent Post, TurretinFan!

I have actually written about this here, if anyone is interested:

http://otrmin.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/contra-anti-sola-scriptura-arguments-i/

The disconcerting thing about these arguments is that they are eerily similar to the arguments of Derrida. For example, Derrida would argue that, if you cannot know that you have the proper interpretation of a passage because of your own fallibility, then how do you know that language even refers to something outside of itself.

We are reading Kevin Vanhoozer's book Is There a Meaning in this Text?, and it is well worth the read for those who are interested in this topic. He points out that what is at issue here really is authority. However, as Turretinfan pointed out, what traditionalist Roman Catholics are trying to do is to strip the scriptures of their authority, and to replace it with the authority of the Catholic magesterium.

The problem is that we as protestants do the same thing when we refuse to test our traditions, confessions, and church practices up against scripture. We then have to read the text of scripture in the very same way that Roman Catholics read it when they try to find the Marian dogmas in the text. If we do this, then we are the ones who are stripping the scriptures of their authority, and replacing it with *our* own traditions.

God Bless,
Adam

otrmin said...

Excellent Post, TurretinFan!

I have actually written about this here, if anyone is interested:

http://otrmin.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/contra-anti-sola-scriptura-arguments-i/

The disconcerting thing about these arguments is that they are eerily similar to the arguments of Derrida. For example, Derrida would argue that, if you cannot know that you have the proper interpretation of a passage because of your own fallibility, then how do you know that language even refers to something outside of itself.

We are reading Kevin Vanhoozer's book Is There a Meaning in this Text?, and it is well worth the read for those who are interested in this topic. He points out that what is at issue here really is authority. However, as Turretinfan pointed out, what traditionalist Roman Catholics are trying to do is to strip the scriptures of their authority, and to replace it with the authority of the Catholic magesterium.

The problem is that we as protestants do the same thing when we refuse to test our traditions, confessions, and church practices up against scripture. We then have to read the text of scripture in the very same way that Roman Catholics read it when they try to find the Marian dogmas in the text. If we do this, then we are the ones who are stripping the scriptures of their authority, and replacing it with *our* own traditions.

God Bless,
Adam

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Except, of course, whenever one sees a difference between what the Bible says and what Rome says, the person with implicit faith in Rome accepts Rome and rejects the Bible. So, it's not really "the Bible and [Rome]" but rather "Rome and the Bible, as long is it doesn't contradict Rome.""

Wow! I have never seen this stated quite so starkly and quite so succinctly.

Youch!

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Stephanie writes:

Here is an initial response which engages in Mathison's response.

Well, that was a waste of time.

John Bugay said...

Well, that was a waste of time.

Matthew, LOL.

Nick said...

TF:"One of the obstacles to becoming free from Rome's power is a refusal to think critically about Rome's claims."

This is simply unfair and false - in fact I'd say this more accurately applies to Protestantism. I am Catholic precisely because I've thought critical about Rome's claims. But that's not all, I've thought critically about Protestant claims as well.
This means - unlike most people - I've made an attempt to see the best arguments both sides can make.

In my experience in both interacting with Protestants and reading their work is that they are more concerned with not being found wrong (which is a concern everyone has) than letting their learning and conscience guide them to the truly better argument.

Take the issue of Imputation of Christ's Righteousness as an example. I'm open and honest about considering the Biblical data on the subject, while most Protestants are not (and most Catholics don't know enough to even comment about). One example of this is simply analyzing the very word the Bible uses for "impute" (logizomai), which I've done yet have not seen a single Protestant apologist in print or on the web analyze. Even folks like Dr White gloss over such critical terminology in his major published work on Justification. In my open and honest evaluation of the raw Biblical data, I see no strong support whatsoever for the Protestant concept of "Imputation." Yet I'm met by Protestants with a conspiracy of silence when I raise the issue to them - the very folks encouraging me to "think for myself" rather than the mind-control of Rome. But this just solidifies in my heart and mind that Imputation isn't really Biblical at all, and thus I cannot in good conscience accept Protestantism. I even challenge Protestants to debate on the subject (including folks like Ryan), yet no takers. It wouldn't be a leap to conclusions to suggest the reason why Protestant apologists don't examine logizomai is because the few who peeked beyond Gen 15:6 didn't like what they were seeing.

A very similar claim can be made for the doctrine of Sola Scriptura as defined by the Westminter Confession. I've done what most Catholics nor Protestants have done and read Chapter 1 and compared it to the footnotes it quotes to see if they match up. I found they didn't come anywhere close to matching up. Not surprisingly, I've yet to see any Protestants compare Ch1 with the footnotes either.

Despite my findings, simply examining the evidence, doctrines such as those remain "golden calves" of Protestantism that are beyond question to Protestant apologists - which is the epitome of "refusal to think critically about" Protestant claims.

Now I'm not saying everything in Catholicism or Protestantism is easy to explain or defend - and anyone hoping for such a high level of proof and certainty is not going to find it. But that doesn't mean there isn't a serious discrepancy in the quality and quantity of difficulties in the two camps, and in my experience the Protestant side has, by far, the lion's share of doctrinal difficulties.

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

I wrote:"One of the obstacles to becoming free from Rome's power is a refusal to think critically about Rome's claims."

You replied: "This is simply unfair and false - in fact I'd say this more accurately applies to Protestantism. I am Catholic precisely because I've thought critical about Rome's claims. But that's not all, I've thought critically about Protestant claims as well."

If you read more carefully, you'll see that your comments don't render mine as either "unfair" or "false." After all, all it means is that you don't have the obstacle I've identified.

You wrote: "This means - unlike most people - I've made an attempt to see the best arguments both sides can make."

I don't see how this supports your claim that my description of one obstacle is either "unfair" or "false."

You wrote: "In my experience in both interacting with Protestants and reading their work is that they are more concerned with not being found wrong (which is a concern everyone has) than letting their learning and conscience guide them to the truly better argument."

That sounds like a very similar obstacle to the one I identified. I wonder why your identified obstacle is not "false" and "unfair"?

You wrote: "Take the issue of Imputation of Christ's Righteousness as an example ..."

That's off topic here, but enough of your comment is on topic, and I assume you just meant this as an example of something that you think you've thought carefully about.

You wrote: "A very similar claim can be made for the doctrine of Sola Scriptura as defined by the Westminter Confession. I've done what most Catholics nor Protestants have done and read Chapter 1 and compared it to the footnotes it quotes to see if they match up. I found they didn't come anywhere close to matching up. Not surprisingly, I've yet to see any Protestants compare Ch1 with the footnotes either."

Possibly you are unaware that the Americans don't view the footnotes as having the authority of the main text. That explains why they don't give much attention to them.

But again, I suppose you just bring this up to support that idea that you've given some careful thought to the matter.

You wrote: "Despite my findings, simply examining the evidence, doctrines such as those remain "golden calves" of Protestantism that are beyond question to Protestant apologists - which is the epitome of "refusal to think critically about" Protestant claims."

That seems false and unfair. The doctrines of the atonement and sola scriptura are widely and ably defended from Scripture.

If you mean that few people defend the footnotes or discuss the specific word issue you have in mind ... saying that the "doctrines" are not examined is odd (to say the least).

You wrote: "Now I'm not saying everything in Catholicism or Protestantism is easy to explain or defend - and anyone hoping for such a high level of proof and certainty is not going to find it. But that doesn't mean there isn't a serious discrepancy in the quality and quantity of difficulties in the two camps, and in my experience the Protestant side has, by far, the lion's share of doctrinal difficulties."

My experience is nearly exactly the opposite.

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

TFan,

I originally said: "This means - unlike most people - I've made an attempt to see the best arguments both sides can make."

You replied:I don't see how this supports your claim that my description of one obstacle is either "unfair" or "false."

My comment goes against your claim Catholics refuse to critically examine Rome's claims, with the overall theme that Catholics check their brain at the door when approaching Catholic doctrines. You called it: "anti-intellectualism." If I've examined both sides, that means I've not only examined Rome, but Protestantism as well.


TF: That sounds like a very similar obstacle to the one I identified. I wonder why your identified obstacle is not "false" and "unfair"?

It's the same obstacle, just as I said - the difference was that in *my* experience the *informed* Protestant end is far more guilty than the *informed* Catholic end of that "anti-intellectualism in pious garb".

You said: [examining the term logizomai] is as an example of something that you think you've thought carefully about.

Yes, it is. It's a critical doctrinal point I have thought carefully about, thus there's no "anti-intellectualism" going on.


TF: Possibly you are unaware that the Americans don't view the footnotes as having the authority of the main text. That explains why they don't give much attention to them.

I'm talking about well informed Protestants. I've not seen any defend the Westminster Confession's definition of Sola Scriptura using the Scriptural references it gave.

TF: But again, I suppose you just bring this up to support that idea that you've given some careful thought to the matter.

Correct; no anti-intellectualism here; no Roman-bondage-of-the-will.

TF: That seems false and unfair. The doctrines of the atonement and sola scriptura are widely and ably defended from Scripture.

Please show me just one Protestant who's examined the term "logizomai" in depth and then proceeded to defend Christ's Righteousness Imputed as a valid use of the word. I've searched for them, but never found any. If you can't think of any, I'd say that supports my claim.

TF: If you mean that few people defend the footnotes or discuss the specific word issue you have in mind ... saying that the "doctrines" are not examined is odd (to say the least).

It's "odd" because many would often blindly take Westminster or any other teachers word for it rather than examine the issue. Trust me, just look at how Scripture uses logizomai - the very term supporting Imputation - and you'll see how much Protestants accept the *concept* blindly (as bad if not worse than a Catholic who's ignorant of Scripture).

TF: My experience is nearly exactly the opposite.

Well then, we've both must have come to some pretty definitive points for our 'sides'. I've seen Catholics defend or explain just about every issue out there, but I can't say the same when examining certain Protestant claims (e.g. logizomai).

John Bugay said...

Nick, when you say "I've seen Catholics defend or explain just about every issue out there," the explanation with respect to the mono-episcopacy in the second century is to say "Conservative Protestants are inconsistent to accept the work of "liberal" scholars."

That is a very, very weak position upon which to rest the certainty of the Roman Church.

On the other hand, when you treat the word "logizomai," you fall into what Carson described as "the word concept fallacy," (and that is why we pretty much laugh at you and your wrong-headed zeal behind the scenes, and we feel very safe to ignore what you say).

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

You wrote: "My comment goes against your claim Catholics refuse to critically examine Rome's claims, with the overall theme that Catholics check their brain at the door when approaching Catholic doctrines. You called it: "anti-intellectualism." If I've examined both sides, that means I've not only examined Rome, but Protestantism as well."

Actually, I criticized "Deacon Bryan" and "Brent" for that. You seem to have the problem that you don't carefully read what I write. So, instead of taking my criticism as a criticism of the position I'm critiquing, you've mistakenly taken it as a general criticism of every person in your religion. That's just bad reasoning or reading on your part.

You wrote: "It's the same obstacle, just as I said - the difference was that in *my* experience the *informed* Protestant end is far more guilty than the *informed* Catholic end of that "anti-intellectualism in pious garb"."

That's not an objection to what I wrote, since I didn't claim that people automatically become critical thinkers simply because they don't hold to the errors of Rome.

I wrote: "Possibly you are unaware that the Americans don't view the footnotes as having the authority of the main text. That explains why they don't give much attention to them."

You replied: "I'm talking about well informed Protestants. I've not seen any defend the Westminster Confession's definition of Sola Scriptura using the Scriptural references it gave."

Perhaps you've missed the point. The Americans (which make up a large segment of those who support the WCF on-line) don't view the footnotes as part of the Confessional standard. Some denominations have altered the footnotes, others simply publish the WCF without any footnotes. That's why they feel no need to defend a position they haven't adopted (namely the position that the footnotes fully prove the doctrines for which they are provided).

I wrote: "That seems false and unfair. The doctrines of the atonement and sola scriptura are widely and ably defended from Scripture."

[cont'd in part 2]

Turretinfan said...

[cont'd from part 1]


You responded: "Please show me just one Protestant who's examined the term "logizomai" in depth and then proceeded to defend Christ's Righteousness Imputed as a valid use of the word. I've searched for them, but never found any. If you can't think of any, I'd say that supports my claim."

One claim would be that the doctrine of imputation hasn't been defended (which would be totally untrue). Another claim would be that imputation hasn't been defended against one particular argument based on one particular Greek word. But that too is not the case. See:

Richard D. Phillips, "A Justification of Imputed Righteousness" in By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification (Crossway: 2007), pp. 77 and following.

See also, D.A. Carson, "The Vindication of Imputation: On Fields of Discourse and Semantic Fields," in Justification: What's at Stake in the Current Debates, at pp. 50 and following.

And those are just two examples.

I wrote: If you mean that few people defend the footnotes or discuss the specific word issue you have in mind ... saying that the "doctrines" are not examined is odd (to say the least).

You wrote: "It's "odd" because many would often blindly take Westminster or any other teachers word for it rather than examine the issue. Trust me, just look at how Scripture uses logizomai - the very term supporting Imputation - and you'll see how much Protestants accept the *concept* blindly (as bad if not worse than a Catholic who's ignorant of Scripture)."

a) Failure to examine your particular pet argument doesn't mean that people accept the doctrine "blindly" as a general matter.

b) In fact, people have examined your pet argument and have answered it already.

You wrote: "Well then, we've both must have come to some pretty definitive points for our 'sides'. I've seen Catholics defend or explain just about every issue out there, but I can't say the same when examining certain Protestant claims (e.g. logizomai)."

Perhaps that's just because you're not very well read.

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

John,

I haven't studied in depth the sources claiming the mono-episcopacy arose in the latter half of the second century - but I doubt such claims were made by generally credible folks like Schaff. If a liberal wants to make the claim, and a (conservative) Protestant wants to latch on, I'd say the real problem the Protestant must explain is how a heresy/error as grave as mono-episcoppacy snuck in less than 75 years after the Apostolic Age, became the clear norm in eccelsiology for centuries, and yet was never noticed as the error it was until the Reformers. The Protestant would be in the dubious position of admitting the 'historically visible' early church was strangled by grave grave errors all the while managing to forge the Nicene Creed and such.


You later said:
"On the other hand, when you treat the word "logizomai," you fall into what Carson described as "the word concept fallacy," (and that is why we pretty much laugh at you and your wrong-headed zeal behind the scenes, and we feel very safe to ignore what you say)."

I consider that a cop-out and back door escape since (a) it isn't an excuse for the Protestant side to not defend their usage of logizomai, and (b) a false application of the word-concept fallacy. A word-concept fallacy is thinking whenever a word appears, it must mean X, irrespective of other data. My approach is examining all the times the word appears, categorizing the word according to how it's used in the verse, and drawing an conclusion IN LIGHT OF all the data. The Protestant side doesn't do that when it comes to logizomai, at least none that I've seen. Ironically, I don't even see the Protestant use of logizomai as a valid Scriptural usage for there to even be a possible word-concept fallacy in that regard.

And I'm going to keep beating this logizomai drum on my blog and elsewhere until Protestants wake up. I don't think it's an accident how you and others spend hours of time on less important theological questions but wont even give my claim a hour of your time.

John Bugay said...

Nick, I'm you'd be surprised about what Schaff has to say about the early papacy. And that was before some of these things that have come out in the last century.

And regarding logizomai "not being defended", I'd refer you to Turretinfan's links above.

Nick said...

TFan,

Well, if you were simply categorizing a subset of Catholics, you didn't make that clear in your opening article. Further, good apologetics isn't about going after the arguments of the "lazy slobs" of an opposing religion, but of the best the opposing side has to offer.

As for the WCF's footnotes, my point isn't confined to "Americans" but to any Reformed Christian in the world who holds to the WCF a reasonable standard of Faith and has the intellectual rigor and integrity to "examine to see whether these [WCF] things are so". In other words, just as the Bereans checked Paul's words with Scripture, an educated Reformed Christian should check the WCFs claims against Scripture (especially when the WCF appeals to specific texts via footnotes).


You gave two links claiming:
"imputation hasn't been defended against one particular argument based on one particular Greek word. But that too is not the case. See:"

The first link is a typical 'top level' treatment where bold claims are affirmed/denied, but little in-depth analysis is done. Notice this quote on page 80 which sets the tone: "the passages from which Reformed theology deduces the doctrine of imputed righteousness do not rely on a particular use of logizomai." But Romans 4 is the cardinal text of Scripture for this doctrine, and logizomai is the cardinal term via Gn15:6, so it's false to suggest you don't rely on a particular use of logizomai. And when he turns to Romans 4 to address this, particularly 4:4-5, he pulls a very popular sleight-of-hand of reading sola fide theology into the verse as he's exegetical it. This causes Carson's brief exegesis to misread 4:4, which I'll quote:
"Romans 4:4 establishes that there is a crediting, an imputing, that is nothing more than getting your desert; there is also a crediting, an imputing, that means something is credited to your account that you do not deserve."
Here the common mistake is very clear: the concept of "impute" is read into and assumed rather than proven. Here Carson falsely concludes "logizomai" means "credit to your account" in the sense of a balance-transfer. This sets up the (false) conclusion 'faith acts as an *instrument* to credit Christ's righteousness to your account'. That's NOT a valid meaning for logizomai.

Rather, reading 4:4 properly, it says the '(workers) WAGE is logizomai as debt'. This doesn't mean the wage is 'transferred to his account', it means the wage itself is “identified as equivalent to” debt. THIS is a case-in-point that Protestants fail to see, and it's because they fail to analyze how Scripture (consistently) uses logizomai. After that short look at Rom 4:4, the author of the book never went onto examine logizomai as Scripture uses it, just gloss over it and project Reformed assumptions onto Rom 4:3-5.
(cont)

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick said...

My part 1 of my last response must have been caught in the spam filter.

Here I'll try again:
TFan,

Well, if you were simply categorizing a subset of Catholics, you didn't make that clear in your opening article. Further, good apologetics isn't about going after the arguments of the "lazy slobs" of an opposing religion, but of the best the opposing side has to offer.

As for the WCF's footnotes, my point isn't confined to "Americans" but to any Reformed Christian in the world who holds to the WCF a reasonable standard of Faith and has the intellectual rigor and integrity to "examine to see whether these [WCF] things are so". In other words, just as the Bereans checked Paul's words with Scripture, an educated Reformed Christian should check the WCFs claims against Scripture (especially when the WCF appeals to specific texts via footnotes).


You gave two links claiming:
"imputation hasn't been defended against one particular argument based on one particular Greek word. But that too is not the case. See:"

The first link is a typical 'top level' treatment where bold claims are affirmed/denied, but little in-depth analysis is done. Notice this quote on page 80 which sets the tone: "the passages from which Reformed theology deduces the doctrine of imputed righteousness do not rely on a particular use of logizomai." But Romans 4 is the cardinal text of Scripture for this doctrine, and logizomai is the cardinal term via Gn15:6, so it's false to suggest you don't rely on a particular use of logizomai. And when he turns to Romans 4 to address this, particularly 4:4-5, he pulls a very popular sleight-of-hand of reading sola fide theology into the verse as he's exegetical it. This causes Carson's brief exegesis to misread 4:4, which I'll quote:
"Romans 4:4 establishes that there is a crediting, an imputing, that is nothing more than getting your desert; there is also a crediting, an imputing, that means something is credited to your account that you do not deserve."
Here the common mistake is very clear: the concept of "impute" is read into and assumed rather than proven. Here Carson falsely concludes "logizomai" means "credit to your account" in the sense of a balance-transfer. This sets up the (false) conclusion 'faith acts as an *instrument* to credit Christ's righteousness to your account'. That's NOT a valid meaning for logizomai.

Rather, reading 4:4 properly, it says the '(workers) WAGE is logizomai as debt'. This doesn't mean the wage is 'transferred to his account', it means the wage itself is “identified as equivalent to” debt. THIS is a case-in-point that Protestants fail to see, and it's because they fail to analyze how Scripture (consistently) uses logizomai. After that short look at Rom 4:4, the author of the book never went onto examine logizomai as Scripture uses it, just gloss over it and project Reformed assumptions onto Rom 4:3-5.

Nick said...

(2 of 2)

The second book, this by Carson, only looked at a SLIVER of the evidence. He largely failed to analyze logizomai as well, except for some typical 'pre-staged', non scholarly examples. For example, he briefly mentions Psalm 106:30f only to set up a false premise why the same meaning cannot apply to Gn15:6.
(Also, the Footnote 28 on p57 was interesting in that it suggests Paul and his readers didn't take into consideration the way the term was used in the OT!!)

Then he proceeds to Gen 31:15 and Num 18:27 and Lev 7:18 as alleged "examples" of how logizomai is to be understood hiding the facts that (a) the term is used over 100 times in the OT and thus it's false scholarship to 'pre-select' a mere 3 "examples" and (b) he didn't even properly read the examples he gave.

The most astonishing thing is that Protestant scholars NEVER ask "How does Paul use the term logizomai throughout his own work?" when doing their analysis, which is as bad as not examining how the OT uses it. Again, my theory is that this is no accident.

Paul uses the term logizomai about 35 of the 40 times it appears in the NT (11 times in Rom 4 alone). What is so hard about citing a mere 30 unique verses that contain "logizomai" to try to understand how SCRIPTURE uses the term? I assure you that if big names like Carson saw slam-dunk proof with Paul's 25 unique uses of logizomai, he'd have quoted them. Instead, we have what is popularly termed a 'conspiracy of silence', refusing to bring the issue to light. How can they look at all the times the NT uses dikaioo but not logizomai? something is wrong with this picture! .

Nick said...

Spam filter ate my first half of my response to TF.

natamllc said...

In "light" of Nick's comments and the exchanges between him and others in here, I will get to that later, I wanted to underscore this portion of your comment above, TF, with some verses from the Book of the Revelation; ironically, it is revelation to John's intellect that opens it up:

"... and commends no one for implicit faith in the church - for refusing to investigate teachings and to compare them to Scripture."

From that comment to John's intellect then:

Rev 2:15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

When you search out this word to the roots, you end up with someone who conquers another.

What stands as the signal to His People is Himself, not a pope, a papacy, a magisterium, Mariology or any institution of men.

Here are some harsh words from God through the intellect of the Prophet Isaiah about this sort of religious piety:

Isa 10:1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression,
Isa 10:2 to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!
Isa 10:3 What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth?
Isa 10:4 Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

natamllc said...

Nick:

"... This means - unlike most people - I've made an attempt to see the best arguments both sides can make."

Hmmmm, well how nice Nick that you are relying upon your own intellect to arrive at the Will and Way of God!

I would say, from afar, that is dubious; especially in light of a couple of Words from the intellects of two Prophets, Prophets I hope you dearly embrace?

Here's Isaiah:

Isa 2:20 In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats,
Isa 2:21 to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.
Isa 2:22 Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?


Here's Jeremiah:

Jer 17:5 Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.
Jer 17:6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
Jer 17:7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.
Jer 17:8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit."
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Jer 17:10 "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."


Is there something more you could add to those two Prophets about the error of our ways when once we have been recovered by God Himself from our error filled ways?

Here is what brings me to His rest:

Psa 67:1 To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
Psa 67:2 that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.


Now, granted, you do have a choice to either accept your own conclusions based in your reason or you simply can humble yourself under the Mighty Hand of God so that He would be gracious to you and bless you and let His Face shine upon you so the Will of God is understood by you, too?

natamllc said...

And Nick, so we are clear on Who's presupposition I am commenting from on your words above, here's an example of Who I trust. Here's how Jesus went at this and seeing He is the One Sent to be the Savior, I accept His representations about Who He is being guided by. Consider Our Lord set His own intellect aside for that of His Father's:

Joh 4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, "Rabbi, eat."
Joh 4:32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."
Joh 4:33 So the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought him something to eat?"
Joh 4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

Joh 5:16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.
Joh 5:17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working."
Joh 5:18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Joh 5:19 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
Joh 5:20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.
Joh 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
Joh 5:22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
Joh 5:23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
Joh 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.


Later on in history the Apostle Paul wrote something similar, here:

2Co 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;
2Co 5:15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
2Co 5:16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2Co 5:18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Co 5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.


Nick, it's either your way or the "High" Way. It cannot be both!

I believe it just might be your time to repent and seek the forgiveness that God intends for all who call upon His Name?

Jono Waldburger said...

Comments like natamllc's on this thread (and on your post above about the filioque) really speak volumes to the readers of this blog. Contrast the charitable dialogue at CTC with the kind of comments on this site... Even the sarcasm of the title of this post demonstrates that your chief concern is your own correctness rather than a genuinely charitable desire for others to come to what you believe the truth to be. Granted, the purpose of this blog might not be to evangelize Catholics as much as it is to protect 'real' Christians from Roman 'heresy', but you're not doing yourself any favours when you quote Catholic and engage Catholic apologists with such arrogance.

John Bugay said...

Of course the Roman Catholic Church has never, ever exhibited arrogance.

Turretinfan said...

Thanks for the lesson in humility, Jono. :D

natamllc said...

Jono:

Even the sarcasm of the title of this post demonstrates that your chief concern is your own correctness rather than a genuinely charitable desire for others to come to what you believe the truth to be.

That's ironic that you would charge TF as having concern for himself or not being charitable.

Just because he won't toot his horn, I will toot toot it for him.

You must be describing someone other than TurrentinFan.

I have found him to be shy when it comes to himself and I have found the charity that comes out of him is True Charity indeed.

Reflect more deeply the responses to you and to Nick in here to consider just how charitable he is with God's Grace and Mercy, unless of course you do not have the intellect to comprehend when a person is being forthright, gracious, merciful and charitable with another when it comes to the Truth, that is, defending Him, the Truth Himself, over such charges as you just made against him.

As for the comments indirectly made towards myself, go ahead, make then directly towards me, I am listening to whatever you have to say to me. You can be charitable and more forthright towards me.

I don't bite. I do stand for the Grace of God in Truth though. And because of that and what little God has imparted to my soul, I like to argue from the Scriptures mostly instead of from other extra human reasonings after.

I do like to read the patristics. I do like even to read those presently publishing works to be read. But mostly, I like to argue from Scripture. Maybe that's the exception you are taking with me to my responses and comments made to Nick in here?

Jono Waldburger said...

Is that more sarcasm? I visit this site because I find genuine value in it. Many of the comments on this page are insightful and worthy of further reflection and discussion. I'm just pointing out how the irony of this post (given comments on this site like those of natamllc) is heightened by the sarcasm. I'm surprized Nick even engages with you here. For example, Matthew (and John reiterating 'LOL') calling another person's hard work (Mike Liccione's resonse to Mathison) a 'waste of time' is hardly likely to be construed as a genuine concern for those whom you believe to be in error. By your response I take it these sentiments of mine might be out of place. Please forgive me for being presumptuous in any way - the last thing I intend to do is give you a 'lesson in humilty'. I'm just giving an outsider's perspective.

Natamllc: I'm sorry for not addressing you directly, I don't think you're a bad person. I appreciate your defence of turretinfan and your high regard for scripture. However, you questioned whether I 'have the intellect to comprehend when a person is being forthright, gracious, merciful and charitable with another when it comes to the Truth, that is, defending Him, the Truth Himself, over such charges as you just made against him.' Based on the sarcastic responses I got from both Turretinfan and John, I guess my answer must be, 'No.'

John: Yes Rome has been arrogant. So what?

John Bugay said...

John: Yes Rome has been arrogant. So what?

Nice of you to hold us to a higher standard than "the One True Church".

As to the rest of your comments, we're a bunch of folks here who know each other in this environment, and we enjoy hanging out with each other and cutting up.

Turretinfan said...

Jono:

It was just a little light teasing, not sarcasm.

-TurretinFan

Kate Waldburger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jono Waldburger said...

John:
"As to the rest of your comments, we're a bunch of folks here who know each other in this environment, and we enjoy hanging out with each other and cutting up."

Ah, I have mistaken the purpose of this site for one that attempts to actively engage Catholics (out of a love for them and the truth), when it really is just a space for Reformed folk to encourage one another by means of a common disdain for Catholicism. My apologies, I should have noticed the lack of serious Catholic engagement (except for Nick).

John Bugay said...

Kate: I should have noticed the lack of serious Catholic engagement (except for Nick).

Surely you can't be serious.

Did you notice the opening line of this post: One of the obstacles to becoming free from Rome's power is a refusal to think critically about Rome's claims.

Nick has predicted that one of his articles would convert James White to Roman Catholicism instantly.

We view Nick as young and bright and enthusiastic, but highly misguided in his zeal. Yes, Nick is here and we love him with a love that's analgous to Christ weeping over Jerusalem, but Nick does not engage at any serious level.

"Serious Catholic engagement" is actually provided by individuals like the late Raymond Brown, S.S., and Francis Sullivan, S.J., and Klaus Schatz, S.J., and Joseph Fitzmyer, S.J., S.T.L., S.S.L., PhD., Professor Emeritus Catholic... among others.

These are Catholics who actually engage with actual Biblical Studies and Patristic studies.

Nick is more appropriately described as a person who engages in wishful thinking.

Turretinfan said...

Jono:

You haven't provided an exception to your comment regarding absence of serious engagement.

You've come here and criticized us, but you haven't seriously engaged the article.

In contrast, the article engages the comments quoted.

-TurretinFan

Jono Waldburger said...

John: Perhaps Nick isn't a formidle Catholic apologist. But that just further confirms my observation: that this is obviously not a site that attracts any serious Catholic engagement. And I can easily see why, given the sarcasm and discourtesy of comments such as yours. Off the bat you went on the offensive when I first commented about the lack of charity on this site, calling my Church arrogant. I admitted it was arrogant and responded with even another snide sarcastic remark. I mean how can you honestly tell me that you 'love [Nick] with a love that's analgous to Christ weeping over Jerusalem' when in one of your comments you tell him that you 'laugh at [him]' and 'feel very safe to ignore what [he] say[s]'? Did Jesus love Jerusalem by ignoring its people and laughing at them? (I see why you would want to use that analogy - of loving someone even though you're opposed to them - but it sure is bold to compare your love for anyone to the love Christ has for his people.)

Reading the courtesy shown to Turretinfan on CTC I visited this site expecting some more courteous debate. Obviously I'm in the wrong neighbourhood.

Turretinfan: I'm sorry for not engaging directly with the article. The only point I made was how if you look at the depth of some of the Reformed folks' comments here your argument takes on a rather ironic meaning. If you can't see it, don't worry. I'm not here to win arguments. I only commented on the lack of love I see on this site, especially in the comments. I've got nothing to gain by pointing this out. Please ignore me if you think I'm out of line.

Turretinfan said...

Jono:

It may be somewhat "tough love," but it is love for the lost that motivates us.

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

John,

The reason why you lost credibility in my book and that of many others is because your work is based on a total double standard. You pick dubious quotes from dubious scholars as the basis for a thesis, then hide behind these scholars as if they're gods because they have a PhD.

Your work contains little to no apologetics properly understood, since you never deal with presenting the better and more fair argument and rather prefer the 'trump card' approach to shut down any objections.

And as for that article that I said would lead to White's conversion, that was conditioned on him actually addressing the arguments I put forward. (White is very big on challenging Catholicism on the exegetical level, so I stepped up to the challenge.) As you can see from this post, where I addressed his response directly, his responses either didn't answer the charges I made or in other cases actually put him in a worse position theologically. And while in the Catholic realm you'd see numerous folks jumping at the chance to address an article like this if it were posed to say Beckwith, the Protestant apologists on Whites apologetics team wouldn't touch these claims and pretend this never happened even today. So please, John, don't pretend like you're some 'standard' in the apologetics blogosphere. Address the article I liked to, and then we'll see who's not only serious about these subjects but who's in fact able to address them.

John Bugay said...

Jono Waldburger: Ah, I have mistaken the purpose of this site for one that attempts to actively engage Catholics (out of a love for them and the truth),

Jono, I'll let Turretinfan speak for himself; this is his site and he knows his purposes. But I'm really not sure what your purpose is in being here.

Are you genuinely in search of "active engagement" between Protestants and Catholics? If so, I'm happy to talk with you, and I'm sure that Turretenfan would be as well, and Matthew Schultz, and in fact any of the other Protestants represented here.


But really, there is a culture and an ethos that exists surrounding this topic, and it has been around for a long time. And for Protestants who interact with Roman Catholicism at any level, it really is easy to see (a) what the official response of the Roman Church is (i.e., it is condescending at best -- that is, after they figured out that they were no longer permitted to perseucte and kill Protestants; the Jesuitical form of lying rather became the norm, until Vatican II made condescension the preferred method of dialogue); and (b) among the "unofficial" kinds of responses, which Nick represents, there is a broad, broad range of responses, including much that is truly nonsensical (though among Roman Catholics, there is much head-nodding and high-fiving).

And so, when Turretinfan makes an observation like the one he does at the top of this post, we really, all here, know exactly what he's talking about.


If you are truly interested in serious engagement, would you agree with me to say that, if Rome's claims about itself are not true in themselves, then no amount of weakness among Protestant arguments validates those claims.

After all, in 1516, before there was one Protestant, there already was a certain amount of weakness evident in Roman claims for its own authority.

Would you agree with this statement? And if not, why not?

John Bugay said...

Nick: The reason why you lost credibility in my book and that of many others ...

I do not ask for your approval, I do not seek your approval, and nor do I seek the approval of any Roman Catholic. My hope, as one who has thought through these issues at a very personal level, is to share the results of my efforts with others who have considered or are considering Roman Catholicism as a live option, but who consider that something's not quite right there.


Roman Catholicism is not a "neutral" entity. It doesn't stand back out of your life and say, "Consider our evidence, we are a reasonable way to conduct your life."

Instead, it wants to swallow and immerse you in itself. It makes claims on your entire life: baptism at birth, first confession/communion, confirmation, marriage, (all those things for your children), and last rites.

Some people don't mind to live their lives without questioning the ultimate meaning of things. I am not one of those persons. Too much is at stake.


You pick dubious quotes from dubious scholars as the basis for a thesis, then hide behind these scholars as if they're gods because they have a PhD

Dubious scholars? Lampe is not "dubious" in any way. He's a conservative Lutheran, from what I can tell. He's not an inerrantist, but then again, that doesn't make him "dubious". I don't respond to David Waltz and especially not Sean Patrick on this because their protests against his work are genuinely not worth spending time on.


I realize there are Garry Wills types of "scholars" out there -- who want the trappings of "church" and yet who want to free up people to be homosexual and have abortions. In case you hadn't noticed, I shun those types of writers.

But [for example] I've talked on the phone with a living Biblical Scholar who knew Raymond Brown personally. Brown worked within the constraints of both the Roman Catholic Magisterium and the demands of modern historical method. You guys are the ones who call him "dubious". Nobody in his "official chain of command" ever chastised him for anything. They actively supported his work.

I could have a serious discussion with Raymond Brown. But you, and your rejection of Brown (and his type of scholar) for no good reason other than your own, automatically disqualifies you from discussion as a serious Roman Catholic.

Nick said...

John,

Here is really what this comes down to:

You said: "Dubious scholars? Lampe is not "dubious" in any way. He's a conservative Lutheran, from what I can tell. He's not an inerrantist, but then again, that doesn't make him "dubious". I don't respond to David Waltz and especially not Sean Patrick on this because their protests against his work are genuinely not worth spending time on. "

The fact is, none of your fellow bloggers around here will agree with your main point that Lampe isn't dubious (and even conservative). This is one of those 'conspiracy of silence' type moments, where as long as you're getting in some Jabs, the it's all cool - but that's why Beggars has gone down hill.

People like David had pointed out Lampe clearly rejects Biblical inerrancy, meaning he believes the Bible contains errors - there is nothing "conservative" about a scholar who embraces this.

I've found one example David quoted in the Google Books version of Lampe's Book "From Paul to Valentinus" on pages 158-159.

Starting at the end of 158, Lampe says:
"The pastoral letters presuppose Aquila and Pricila still to be in Ephesus (2 Tim 4:19) while Paul is already in Rome. This is one of the historical inconsistencies found in the Pastorals.
For example, when Paul moved from Ephesus to Macedonia, by no means did Timothy remain behind as 1 Tim 1:3 supposes."

Here are two examples (among others) where Lampe says the Bible has historical errors (and even doubts Paul even wrote the Pastorals). There is nothing "conservative" about this, and if a Catholic theologian spoke like this you'd be trashing him for his desecration of Scripture. But not Lampe, he gets a pass because of his "valuable" claims against Rome.

Your hero is someone who's already dispensed with Biblical inerrancy - and everyone else here knows how poisonous that error is and what kinds of abominable "conclusions" it causes it's adherents to come to regarding all kinds of Christian doctrine.

But here's where you've done yourself in, because if you admit Lampe is garbage and no genuine conservative Christian should respect him, you've admittedly lost your "credibility" at attacking Catholics.

This is ALL I will say right now since I don't want to derail the thread.

John Bugay said...

Nick: Your work contains little to no apologetics properly understood,

Just what is "apologetics properly understood"?

Rome's "apologetic" response to the Reformation, properly understood, was to dig up Wycliffe's dead body at its first opportunity and to burn it; to burn Huss; to seek to kill Luther; to commission Jesuitical casuistry; the council of Trent.

What a great track record.


you never deal with presenting the better and more fair argument and rather prefer the 'trump card' approach to shut down any objections.

What do you consider "a better and more fair argument"?

I do not seek a "trump card". Here's what my argument is:

p1: "Rome's claims to authority are unfounded in Scripture"

p2: "Rome's claims to authority are unfounded in history"

c: therefore the Roman Church's claims to authority are to be rejected."


And I support these premises in every way possible. Sometimes, just simply reporting Roman Catholic history is enough to seem like a "trump card" to you maybe.



please, John, don't pretend like you're some 'standard' in the apologetics blogosphere.

I never did.

John Bugay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Bugay said...

Schreiner and Moo, in their commentaries on Romans -- leading conservative commentaries on Romans, cite Lampe's argument on Romans 16, extensively.

In case you hadn't noticed, Mathison cites him a number of times, and not only that, but he gives him a "must-read" endorsement.

Not being an "inerrantist" does not mean, by any stretch, that one does not have a very high regard for the Scriptures. They would characterize that "highest regard" in other ways.

Look at your leap here:

...if you admit Lampe is garbage and no genuine conservative Christian should respect him...

I have admitted no such thing, and your statement here has no warrant whatsoever. In fact, it shows you to be precisely the abominable, excuse-making straw-man-toting, anti-intellectual that this post is all about.

Turretinfan said...

a) Peter Lampe's work, "From Paul to Valentinus," seems to get plenty of citations in other works. It's not just Mr. Bugay who likes him. If referring people to Lampe destroys your credibility, than there are hundreds of published authors whose credibility must be shot. That's a little hard to believe.

b) Whether Peter Lampe is a good Christian or not isn't especially relevant to his historical claims. It may inform the reader as to how discerningly to read his material, but you don't get to throw out a historical work on the moral failings of the man.

c) Labeling scholars as "liberal," is pretty popular in Roman apologetic circles. It's how you dismiss their work without addressing their work. Nick - you're not being consistent in dismissing Lampe on this basis. That's not how you normally argue - don't do so on this point.

-TurretinFan

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Jono said:

For example, Matthew (and John reiterating 'LOL') calling another person's hard work (Mike Liccione's resonse to Mathison) a 'waste of time' is hardly likely to be construed as a genuine concern for those whom you believe to be in error.

Sometimes reading someone's "hard work" is genuinely not profitable, even if you care overall for a person. Though it would be wonderful for him to come to embrace the truth of the Gospel, I haven't found Liccione's material to be all that productive to read, given as it is to lengthy cogitations that aren't always articulate or helpful (and simply produce the appearance of a sufficient "response" for those lay Catholics who probably don't otherwise understand the issues involved). Sometimes not taking the error of someone else seriously is a way of following wisdom (Proverbs 26:4), and it could help the person in error realize he does not have something spiritually edifying to say. The last thing someone in deep error needs is for his ego and confidence in his own reasoning powers and religious conclusions to be inflated by unmerited attention.

My comment was also a counter to the cheerleading that has occurred over his most recent material; the subsequent comment thread at CTC came across as triumphalist. Life is preciously short, and it is a waste of time to sift through congratulatory rhetoric to try and locate whatever intelligible arguments or counter-points might be present in the "discussion" afterward.

It also confirmed my experience with Called to Communion as a place for "dialogue"; rather, it's a place where unofficial, unauthoritative lay Catholics can engage in self-justifying and self-reinforcing celebrations of their apostasy. Jettisoning the Gospel becomes much more manageable in an energized and organized faction of rebellion, and although such rebellion can involve enormous amounts of "hard work", that's not the kind of productive behavior I'm interested in consistently engaging.

(Sean Patrick, blog editor at CTC, so delightfully demonstrated this attitude with his recent boast over at Beggars All that their "project" has been a "huge success." This kind of alpha male, chest-beating hubris is completely unattractive and uninteresting, which is probably why Proverbs 27:2 condemns such behavior.)

Btw. If Turretinfan thinks my two comments here have been inappropriate, he is welcome to delete them. I would not be offended. (And if he has the time to send me an e-mail, I would certainly benefit from his thoughts on dialogue in general; he has a good deal of patience, wisdom and experience on which to draw.)

Nick said...

It all depends on what capacity someone's work is being endorsed. The sad truth of the last few decades is that "scholars" of the liberal and historical-critical camp generate lots of endorsements because they're part of a ring of elites in academia and publishing. (It's a fallacy to think that because someone is a scholar that they're automatically right or should be given consideration.) If someone like Lampe denies the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals and even says they contain blatant historical errors, then he's not a "conservative." He could be right in other departments or with other arguments, but that's case by case, and doesn't change the fact a rejection of Biblical inerrancy can never place a person in the "conservative" category.

From a Scriptural point of view, I don't see how I can trust someone who already admits the historical events in some parts of Scripture are wrong, because that just raises the question: how do you know these other historical events are right?

This is one reason why I don't rush to endorse or appeal to that many scholars, and why I almost always subordinate the opinions of scholars to that of Scripture and primary historical sources.

John Bugay said...

From what I've seen, the worst historical errors involve travel plans given for Priscilla and Aquila. Is that really such a major error? Compared, say, to Pseudo Dionysius? Donation of Constantine and the false decretals?

You're such a Scripture sleuth, what was the "correct" travel itinerary for Priscilla and Aquila?

Case by case, what other errors have you found?

natamllc said...

John

in light of your most recent comments, Nick's reference to Peter Lampe's work, "From Paul to Valentinus, Lampe, I thought of this verse apropos?

Mat 23:24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

In fact, in "real" life scenarios, such as this one with Priscilla and Aquila, (which just goes to make the Scriptures more "human" so we have a place to rest our own minds when something comes across as an error in Scripture), one gets a sense that just maybe in the ordinary course of those days of Priscilla and Aquila, with the speed of travel they had to work with, making plans public and then having something come up derailing those stated intents, we have what happened?

This of course is just conjecture and speculation.

Why is it such a big deal anyway? Does the apparent contradiction alter the major work of the Gospel or the Gospel narrative that we have to work with?

I am just asking you since it seems you have looked into this controversy about Priscilla and Aquila. I certainly have not.

Who is making this a big deal? Why?

John Bugay said...

Hi Natamllc, I have not studied the Aquila and Priscilla travel itinerary in the utmost detail, but I fail to see how it affects Lampe's larger work.

Nick refuses to trust Lampe, not knowing, the extent to which this issue affects the historical reliability of his other work.

I'd feel quite confident to say that you are right on the mark, suggesting he is straining at a gnat, while accepting a religious system that has, wholesale, swallowed many blatantly false and unhistorical hoaxes.

That is, if Nick is concerned about accepting things that are "historically unreliability," Lampe is the least of his worries.

Nick said...

John you said:
"From what I've seen, the worst historical errors involve travel plans given for Priscilla and Aquila. Is that really such a major error?"

You're downplaying the actual claims he makes. It is a major error when the scholar is doing his research with the view that blatant historical errors are in Scripture. In other words, his scholarship does not seek to harmonize Scripture when he sees problems, but rather sees this as the result of genuine historical error in the NT. As noted earlier, Lampe says:

1) Texts like 2 Tim 4:19 say Aquila & Pricila were in Ephesus while Paul was in Rome, yet Lampe says this is historically false.

2) Though Paul tells Timothy in 1 Tim 1:3 to remain in Ephesus, Lampe says this is a flat out historical error.

Some other similar claims I found as I searched the google book version:

3) On page 159, Lampe says:
"In no way did Trophimus 'remain ill at Miletus' ([as stated explicitly in] 2 Tim 4:24); rather, he accompanied Paul heartily to Jerusalem"
Which is another charge of blatant historical error in the text itself.

4) Lampe "concludes" by saying the Pastoral Epistles sought to create a "literary fiction" of historical events and that the Pastoral Epistles are "deutero-Pauline" (i.e. not authored by Paul).

5) On Page 156, Lampe calls Colossians "deutero-Pauline" as well, even putting "Paul" in quotes to indicate dubious authorship.

6) On Page 2, Lampe seems to say he doesn't trust the accuracy of the Pastorals, 1 Peter, Luke-Acts, and Mark in his overall research.

7) On Page 14, Lampe suggests Acts 18:2 was "redactionally exaggerated" when it says "all Jews" were forced to leave, rather than Lampe's belief that only some had to leave Rome. This is a poor choice of words if someone believes Luke-Acts is inerrant.

Since the Google book had limited preview and my time is limited as well, that's all I've found so far, but this evidence is clear that Lampe denies Biblical inerrancy and Pauline authorship for many Pauline epistles. Overall, he fits the liberal scholar MO which is to be quick to downplay and discredit the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture in favor of secular works.

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

Let's say, for the sake of the argument, that Lampe treats the NT historical records as having no more or less accuracy than uninspired historical records.

That's a serious theological error.

However, how does that have anything to do with his discussion of early 2nd century and late 1st century Rome? How does his theological error convert into an historiographic error?

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

Rejecting the inspiration of Scripture does not automatically entail one is incompetent in historical subjects or timeframes in the post-apostolic age.

But in the case when one is transitioning from the apostolic to post-apostolic, one can run into error if they reject the inerrancy of Scripture. If Scripture teaches real history, and someone like Lampe calls some of it erroneous, then his work in that timeframe will contain error. That's how historiographical error is possible to at least some degree. And if he's building from an erroneous foundation, then by the time he transitions outside the Biblical record, he'll also have errors to some degree.

In his specific case, he's embraced a liberal hermeutic by definition, and thus cannot be a "conservative". In some of David Waltz's work, he's given quotes where Lampe says there was theological diversity at that time, with "orthodoxy" (which Lampe puts in quotes) eventually coming to become imposed. Thus, that would entail Lampe denies unity of doctrine in regards to the Trinity and such.

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

I think my concern is that you seem to be simply applying a "liberal scholarship" sticker to him, rather than interacting with the specific claims he's making.

That sticker approach will work with some folks, but it won't necessarily work with us.

In other words, let's assume you are right and that he should be labeled as a "liberal." What's the specific error that his "liberal" presuppositions or worldview produces?

Is it his "liberal" tendencies that lead him to conclude that Rome was too big and persecution was too intense for there to be any one single church at Rome? I don't see how those two would be linked (to take one example).

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

When someone repudiates Scripture's inerrancy and inspiration, all their exegetical claims from then on are automatically suspect to me. They've lost credibility as a Bible scholar in my book. At most, all they can do is a secular-exegesis, which isn't how Scripture is to be interpreted.

If their claims are purely secular and outside the range of Biblical Apostolic history, then such can be examined case by case. You mentioned the example of "Rome was too big and persecution was too intense for there to be any one single church at Rome," which touches upon Biblical exegesis (esp Paul's Epistle to Romans). So the option at that point is whether Lampe's atheistic exegesis of Romans is to be preferred over a conservative Protestant or Catholic exegesis, to determine whether a single church at Rome is plausible.

What folks like John are doing is using Lampe's PHD to strong arm the Catholic into submission, which doesn't work since it's a fallacious appeal to authority and as I'm pointing out a blatant double standard since Lampe's PHD can be used against John & Co to strip the Bible of inerrancy.

Turretinfan said...

Not all appeals to authority are fallacious appeals, Nick.

But in view of your comments, I encourage you to apply this same principle you are applying to Lampe to another theologian: (here).

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Re: "You mentioned the example of "Rome was too big and persecution was too intense for there to be any one single church at Rome," which touches upon Biblical exegesis (esp Paul's Epistle to Romans)."

LOL

I'd love to hear a short explanation of how Paul's Epistle to the Romans contradicts the claim that there were multiple house churches in Rome at that time.

-TurretinFan