Friday, May 25, 2012

Post-Modern Roman Catholicism - Guest Post by Adam Blauser

Recently, in the comment box on this blog, a member of the Roman communion provided the following comment:
Again and again. Who has the authority in Protestantism to determine the correct interpretation of the Bible?. No one.
Adam Blauser has provided a thorough response, namely:

Again and again, why does Roman Catholicism pull out the arguments of Jacques Derrida and Stanley Fish, when postmodernism destroys Roman Catholicism too? What is the assumption behind this statement: that the only thing that factors into the interpretation of a text is the interpreter. If I allow for the author and his intention to play a role in interpretation, then it is easy to see who has the authority to determine the correct interpretation of the Bible-the authors of the Bible. Correct interpretation, then, is more of an ethical issue. The interpreter has an obligation to "not bear false witness" against the author of the text, and accurately represent what he is saying. If that is the case, then the issue of interpretation is actually an argument against Roman Catholicism, because, once you impose traditions upon the text, you are changing the world of the author, and thus, not accurately representing the world he has constructed accurately.

More than that, destroying the author as a reference point leads to total and complete postmodernism. For example, why do you accept Rome as the infallible interpreter of scripture and history? Eastern Orthodoxy also makes the same claim, as does Syrian Orthodoxy. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses make the same claim. Before you go running off to history, let us also remember that these groups claim the right to infallibly interpret history too, just like Rome does. So, who has the authority to decide which group has the authority to infallibly interpret history and scripture? It becomes totally dependent upon which group you are a part of as to what the correct interpretation of both history and scripture is. Hence, it is relative to community. That is utter and complete postmodernism.

Not only that, but if you need an "infallible interpreter" to know which interpretations of a text are correct, then how do we know what the correct interpretations of the Egyptian Book of the Dead are? Scholars disagree. How do we know what the correct interpretation of the Baal epic is? Scholars disagree. How do we know what the correct interpretation of the Epic of Gilgamesh is? Scholars disagree. The point is, there is no text upon which there is not disagreement as to the correct interpretation. However, where is the infallible magisterium of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Apparently, because it doesn't exist, that must mean we cannot correctly interpret what the Book of the Dead says. Where is the infallible magisterium of the Baal epic? Apparently, because it doesn't exist, that must mean we cannot correctly interpret what the Baal epic says. Where is the infallible magisterium of the Gilgamesh Epic? Apparently, because it doesn't exist, that must mean we cannot correctly interpret what the Epic of Gilgamesh says. Such results in utter destruction of all of our knowledge of what written texts say.

The real problem here is that the church is finite. Not only can other groups claim the authority to infallibly interpret both history and tradition, but, because of the finitude of all of these groups including Rome, the issue can never be settled. Not only that, Rome cannot explain why, in the instance of other texts, we can come to the correct interpretation despite differences of opinion. All of these things relate to the limited and finite nature of the church. I really wish Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox would consider these things before they go making this argument again and again. A limited, finite church is a poor base for meaning in language.

Confirmation of Ancient Bethlehem

The Scriptures preserve ancient history for us. If we had to go with just the extent documents from the ancient near east, there are a lot of things we wouldn't know about. For example, apparently until recently there was a complete absence of mention of the city of Bethlehem before the Babylonian exile (outside the Bible).

Of course, we have always believed that Bethlehem was a real historical city, despite the absence of archaeological evidence, but now there appears to be some archaeological evidence in the form of a clay seal found in the "city of David" in Jerusalem.

But don't worry, atheists. The Bible's supernatural claims still have no predictive power, aside from things like the afterlife and the final judgment, which you can't experience yet. You'll get to experience them some day, but for now you'll have to be content with the predictive power of the Bible with respect to archaeology.

- TurretinFan

Jason Sabalow Partially Affirms Perspicuity

It's always nice to hear one of Rome's apologists confessing the perspicuity of Scripture on matters that are necessary for salvation: "the Gospels testify and testify clearly to who Jesus is, and who he is is God." Jason Sabalow is correct about that, and the post-modernistic folks within Rome's communion who try to suggest that the Scriptures are not clear about this or any other item necessary for salvation are wrong.

So that Mr. Sabalow does not get in trouble with his colleagues, I will note that he has not completely affirmed perspicuity, as he has not stated that all things necessary for salvation are found clearly in Scripture, nevertheless, he has affirmed a point that I have seen others in his communion attempt to deny, namely that the divinity of the Son is clearly taught in Scripture.

- TurretinFan

Thursday, May 24, 2012

E2k or L2k?

Vocal E2k advocate, Zrim, posted a bizarre recent piece in which he attempted to criticize Pastor Scott's stand for the gospel and against the false gospel of Dayna Muldoon. Of course, he didn't take a manly approach and accuse Pastor Scott of sin and suggest that Pastor Scott seek repentance, instead he was "just asking" about whether Pastor Scott's motives and methods.

Zrim's real problem with what Pastor Scott did seems to be that Zrim thinks that Christians have some kind of moral obligation not to disrupt the worship of idolators. Zrim writes:
I couldn’t help but have a few questions. There are plenty of religious outfits and organizations that tout themselves as channels of Christian and religious orthodoxy even here in Little Geneva that are also far removed from Reformed orthodoxy, from your usual Roman Catholic churches to your Mormon and Jewish Temples, to name just several. Would anyone think of showing up in the middle of their public services and disrupting them in such a bold way? Is there anything unbecoming about what Rodriguez did? Does it matter? Is it possible that Rodriquez is just as given to wanting to be the center of attention as Muldoon might be? Is there a difference between vigorously opposing that which opposes the gospel and singling out certain kinds of opposers as deserving especially forward and blunt criticism? Is this really only about preserving the true gospel and protecting people from being sucked into the cultish maneuvers of wily profiteer and religious wing nut? Is there a biblical justification for this kind of confrontation?
First of all, Zrim should enlighten himself about the particular circumstances surrounding the clip. It was not about ego, but about protecting the flock against the suggestion from Muldoon that Pastor Scott approved of what was going on.

Second, he was invited to speak. He spoke. If I were invited to speak at a Jewish service, Roman Catholic service, or Mormon service, I hope I would be as bold as he was. When we get opportunities to debate these folks, we take that opportunity.

Third, there is Biblical justification. Not only do we have the example of Jehu, but look at Paul the apostle not only at Areopagus but many times in the Jewish synagogues.

Acts 14:1
And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
Acts 17:10
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Acts 17:17
Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
Acts 18:4
And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
Acts 18:19
And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
Acts 18:26
And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

What we really see in E2k is liberalism. The E2kers of Zrim's stripe would be as scandalized by Paul as they are by Pastor Scott. Of course, they wouldn't be so manly as to actually state that Paul is wrong to go into the synagogues and reason with them there, but they would question his motives. It's not very post-modern of Paul to assume that it's ok for him to go into those synagogues and disrupt them in such a bold way. Look at Paul's epistle to the Galatians! Talk about "singling out certain kinds of opposers as deserving especially forward and blunt criticism!"

And forget about Jehu. Is there anything "unbecoming" about his elimination of Baal-worship from the land?

I can see why E2k appeals to post-modern liberals, who think all religions are the same and that there is some kind of "right" to hold religious services, no matter how evil and blasphemous they are. But why would it appeal to any person who has a 66 book canon of Scripture and actually believes what it says? Maybe we should call it "Liberal 2k" instead of "Escondido 2k," since surely there are folks in the faculty at Escondido who would be unwilling to go where Zrim is going here.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Bede vs. the Shroud

Jason, a shroud of Turin advocate, wrote:
There's a vast amount of material in the Shroud literature about references to objects resembling the Shroud and possible depictions of the Shroud in artwork prior to the fourteenth century.
In point of fact, as best we can tell from the scientific and historical evidence, the shroud is not an ancient hoax, but a medieval hoax, probably dating to the 14th century - possibly later than that. But what about these claims that there is older historical evidence?

Unfortunately for shroud advocates, these claims are not very reliable. I happened to be reading the Venerable Bede's, "On Holy Places," in "Bede: A Biblical Miscellany," trans. Foley and Holder. In that work, chapter IV is titled: "Concerning the Lord's head-cloth and Another Great Shroud made by St. Mary." This naturally got my attention, given that I had recently seen Jason's comment.

Is this a possible historical reference to the shroud of Turin? Alas for Jason, it is not. After describing the allegedly miraculous eight foot long head cloth, Bede reports:
Another somewhat bigger shroud is also venerated in a church. Said to have been woven by St. Mary, it contains images of the twelve apostles and the Lord. It is red on one side and green on the other.
("On the Holy Places," Chapter IV, Section 3, p. 11) The italics is material taken by Bede from Adamnan's "Of Holy Places," and the parts used here can be found at Adamnan De loc. sanc. 1, 10 (CCSL 175: 194, 1-9).

While this is a shroud, and one that allegedly comes from the 1st century, and even one very loosely associated with the burial of Christ, it is pretty clearly not the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud of Turin is not red on one side and green on the other, and does not have images of the twelve apostles on it.

Adamnan's and Bede's silence regarding the Shroud of Turin at this point is fully expected by those of us who recognize that the Shroud of Turin is a later creation. Had such a shroud been known to exist in Bede's time, he could hardly be expected not to discuss it at this point in his work. So, while silence cannot prove the non-existence of the shroud, it certainly suggests that the most prominent historian of the age was not aware of it.

So, yes, strictly speaking there were references to objects resembling the Shroud before the 14th century (Bede and Adamnan are 7th-8th century writers). However, these references are not references to the Shroud of Turin. Moreover, the references that are clearly not to the shroud of Turin, but to other shrouds and supposed burial clothing, demonstrate that vague references to a shroud should not be assumed to be the shroud of Turin, but can instead be related to the objects that were actually known in the earlier ages.


N.B. In fairness to Jason, after he threw out this assertion about the historical evidence, he immediately followed it by: "It's a subject I don't know much about. I don't affirm any of the theories circulating about the Shroud's transmission prior to the fourteenth century, but I wouldn't want to reject all of them either at this point." In criticism, though, he really shouldn't be throwing this out as an argument, unless he's prepared to defend the argument.