Monday, October 26, 2009

When the Moon Hits Your Eye ...

(for those too young to remember Dean Martin or who otherwise miss my allusion)

My pizza illustration (which you can find here) seems to have caught the eye of Mr. Bellisario, though he could hardly be said to be in love with it (you can catch his comments here).

Mr. Bellisario seems to have difficulty handling the argument, though. Let's examine what he does:

1. Insults

Just read his post, you'll agree that's not amore.

2. Straw man

The first time Mr. Bellisario tries to characterize my position he gets it wrong. He states:
Turretin Fan however has another solution to the Biblical Canon. He says since it exists, then we know what it is. The only problem with his arguments is, he doesn't know what it is.
This argument may seem to shine like it had too much wine, but that's largely because it's not the argument I presented. What I actually said was:
If you have "the Bible" you can deduce the canon. To say that "The Bible doesn't tell you what the Canon is," is rather like saying that the Pizza doesn't tell you what its ingredients are. Well, there may not be a list of ingredients on the side, but if you have the pizza you can write your own list of ingredients.
(of course that's not all I said, that's one short paragraph out of the post)

That argument is not logically or practically equivalent to saying that since the canon exists, we know what it is. Frankly put, I cannot imagine where Bellisario got that idea.

The pizza illustration may have distracted him a bit, so perhaps he'll try, now, to understand the argument with a different illustration. Suppose you buy a copy of Moby Dick, only you discover that the printer didn't include a table of contents. Could you write out a table of contents yourself from the book? Of course you could! It would be a little annoying, since one expects the convenience of a table of contents these days, but it would be easily done.

If you have the book, writing out the table of contents is a trivial task.

The problem is not writing out the table of contents: the problem is getting the book. After all, the Bible didn't fall out of heaven bound in leather with gilt edges and a pair of lovely ribbons to serve as bookmarks. It was given to us piece by piece.

Of course, in the case of many believers, it does come to them so bound and gilt. It doesn't fall from heaven, but their parents or an evangelist comes to them and says "this is the Word of God" and they either believe this claim or they do not. Later they may discover that the way the Bible came was in much smaller pieces originally, and this may spur them on to investigate whether the bundle has the correct number of sticks.

But again - the same kind of question takes place, simply on a smaller scale. The question is whether this book of Genesis is God's word or not, and Exodus, and so on. They may believe in each case, or they may doubt.

And the same holds true of parts of books, and even individual words. We have critical, majority, and received texts of New Testament that each bring to the reader's attention the need to consider whether a particular word is the inspired word or not.

In Roman Catholicism, there is "canon" (a listing) of books that Rome says are inspired (provided by Trent). Additionally, Rome has clearly taken the position that the extraneous portions of Esther, Daniel, and Jeremiah are inspired. Originally (i.e. in the days of Trent and shortly thereafter), Rome tried to promote the Sistine and then the Clementine Vulgates as being absolutely correct down to the correct words. Now, the Nova Vulgata has come out with significant numbers of wording changes, suggesting that any claim to any word-for-word guarantee is off the table. Until Rome speaks again, there is no inspired table of contents for the book of Matthew in Roman Catholicism - nor of Mark, etc., though no one seems to think this is a problem.

More amusingly, the copies of the decrees of the council of Trent that I have seen have not included a table of contents. Perhaps there was one made. That table of contents, however, was not something that was dogmatically defined by Trent, and consequently would not be (if it existed) deemed an infallible table.

Does this create an insoluable problem for those who wish to rely on the council of Trent in Roman Catholicism? Surely not - just as the absence of "an infallible canon of Scripture" does not create problems for the Reformed churches.

3. Mixed Metaphor / Straw man

Mr. Bellisario wrote:
[TurretinFan] doesn't realize the the Bible he is using doesn't contain all of the books that the Church has recognized as being Scripture. So now he compares the Scriptures to a pizza. Just when you think you have seen it all. So I guess if anyone walks up to you and hands you a "Bible" you should just take their word for it that it is God's Written Word, right? So I guess if the pizza guy were to walk up to Turretin Fan's house with a pizza box that only contained a half of pizza in it, he would be perfectly happy. Hey, its a pizza, its not a whole one, but who cares, its a pizza.
We know that the Bible has 73 books in it because Christ tells us so through His Church. If [TurretinFan] comes up to you telling you that it has only 66 books, then it obviously isn't a complete Bible, or if we want to use this guy's analogy, it isn't a whole pizza, despite what the box says.
You'll recall that the original metaphor had to do with ingredients. Now Mr. Bellisario has mixed the metaphor and referred us to the number of slices in the pizza. That's ok. We'll address his argument.

The straw man portion of his argument is his statement: "I guess if anyone walks up to you and hands you a 'Bible' you should just take their word for it that it is God's Written Word, right?" One wonders if even Mr. Bellisario thinks this is what we have been arguing. Does Mr. Bellisario really think that the Reformed position is that if anyone walks up to you and hands you a "Bible" you should just take their word for it that it is God's written Word? After all, we already explained to him previously that the Holy Spirit persuades men of the authenticity of Scripture. We don't simply take someone's word for it, although (of course) one of the instruments by which we may be persuaded is through the testimony of a person.

What about his analogy? His analogy simply begs the question. Let's alter his analogy a bit further. Suppose that a pizza shows up in its box, but Mr. Bellisario notices that there are no breadsticks. Suppose further that Mr. Bellisario insists that it is not really a pizza without breadsticks. That would be a more fitting analogy. After all, the Apocrypha may have a lot of value for various purposes, and it may even be nice to put them in the same box with the pizza, but they are not quite the same thing.

Of course, the counter-illustration begs the same question from the opposite side. The question is really over whether the breadsticks should be considered part of the pizza. Is it a true pizza without the breadsticks? Mr. Bellisario may adamantly say, "no," and we may adamantly say, "yes," but the question becomes how reach agreement. After all, the pizza itself (or pizza portion of the pizza from Bellisario's perspective) isn't it dispute. We both agree that it is pizza - the only question is whether the breadsticks are also part of the pizza.

The problem for Mr. Bellisario is that there just aren't many good arguments to be made for the idea that the breadsticks are really part of the pizza.

He appeals to the idea that "Christ ... through the Church" tells us that there are 73 books. The problem, however, is that Trent wasn't speaking for Christ. Mr. Bellisario has asserted that, but we have no good reason to think that his statement is true: quite to the contrary, we have many good reasons to believe that his claim is false.

But I hear the bells ringing "ting-a-ling-a-ling" so perhaps I should move on to other topics. Mr. Bellisario's pizza post has done nothing to revitalize his fallacious appeals to the absence of an infallible canon. He thinks that we have a canon problem, but what he doesn't realize is that he has an even bigger canon problem (if canons are a problem). We told him before that his church is misleading him, but he won't listen to us. He cannot establish why his position is right beyond simply claiming that Christ speaks through his church. He doesn't understand the absurdity of insisting that the Bible has to provide its own table of contents, nor does he address the myriad of other arguments laid out in the post.

So, we continue to sing "Vita Bella!"



Anonymous said...

In the linked to response by Mr. Bellisario to the pizza illustration one can hear the audio or just read it or listen to it and read along, (by the way, it seemed to me the audio was a computerization of his voice supposing to mask the actual sound of his voice, if you have actually heard his real voice, you would know?), you come to these words:::>

Mr. Bellisario: "....We know that the Bible has 73 books in it because Christ tells us so through His Church....".

Hmmmmm, that's an amazing assertion. Upon that basis of reasoning I would be so bold as to quote a "member" of the Church in "good" standing with the RCC, [presumably because in their canon, his words are found] and "make" an even larger claim to just how many books there are that make up the Bible, 66, 73 or an infinite number of books more, make up the Bible?:

Joh 21:24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
Joh 21:25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

And since Mr. Bellisario makes reference to the Holy Ghost, I suppose he can't argue his way around those Words of Sacred Writ penned by John so long ago?

Just what's the issue then with the number of books of the Bible there are, except that one is trying to establish themself over another's claim?

The Scriptures are as God is and they are not breakable, not one Word of Them is breakable.

Why then are there just the 66 books for True Believers? Better minds than mine, by the Spirit of Grace, came up this "set" of 66 Books.

What makes these 66 Books of Scripture the Sacred Writ is the Fruit of the Spirit of God that comes with them.

It is the Spirit of God that manifests His Own Fruit by His Spiritual Presence upon the hearts of His Children. And it is this Self same Presence and Anointing that rests upon these 66 Books too.

I have a St. Joseph's Bible which has the additional writings. For me, I just find my spirit going cold reading it. I wonder why?

I can make this assertion as to why with the Words of the 66th Book of the Bible, which itself bears out the "Fruit" of the Sacredness and completeness of the Writings:::>

Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Since God is Living and Active and and has Emotion and He manifests His Own Fruit Sovereignly and since I am continually eating and drinking the Fruit of His Living and Active Word, daily, I find His intimate Presence is not with me when reading the St. Joseph texts of 73 books though His intimate Presence is always with me when reading any number of Translations of the Bible containing only the texts of the 66 Books, I have to conclude He is expressing His Emotions by His Presence making it clear which Bible He wants me reading.

You shall know them by their fruit.

Turretinfan said...

Yes, I have heard his voice. I think that the audio is computer-generated.