Thursday, May 29, 2008

Clearing up a HUGE misunderstanding.

Last night before heading for bed I dropped by James White’s chatroom (#proapologian) to see if the gentleman I had met back on the 23rd was there. I am referring to Kenneth R. Guindon. Ken was brought to my attention by a lady in the chatroom named Ann (for her very interesting story see HERE). Ann brought up Ken due to the fact that I had been giving her a brief history of my journey into the Catholic Church. During that process, I told Ann that I am still, in a very real sense, a “seeker of truth”, and that I have been having some doubts about my entrance into the RCC. It turns out Ken’s story is quite similar to my own (thought certainly more interesting!). Ken’s name ‘rang-a-bell’ in my head, for I had a book in my library written by a Kenneth R. Guindon; the book, The King’s Highway (Igantius Press, 1996), is the story of a Catholic who became a dedicated Jehovah’s Witness for 17 years (serving at the headquarters in Brooklyn, and then as a fulltime missionary to Africa), who later had a born-again experience, and became a Baptist missionary. He then relates the experiences that led to his reentry back to the RCC on 09/10/87. But his story does not end here, Ken then became Eastern Orthodox, and just recently Plymouth Brethren! Anyway, I have had the pleasure of communicating with Ken via email and phone; he is truly a very fascinating man.

Back to last night. Ken was not in the chatroom, but James White and Ann were. Ann out of nowhere told me that she thought that I had deceived her with the story I had related back on the 23rd. Truth be known, that came as a real shock, for I had in all sincerity opened my heart up to her with my story, and doubts. (Keep in mind the room was full of individuals who have spent a lot of time defending Reformed theology against Catholicism, including David King who is extremely bitter towards me, though I still don’t fully understand why.) The basic tone of the room became that I was being dishonest (no actual example given), and that I should probably leave the room. But, I was there for sincere reasons, not only did I want to chat with Ken again, I also wanted to discuss some of the things I had been reading in Bavinck’s newly released 4th volume of his Reformed Dogmatics.

After leaving the chatroom, I went to Ann’s blog and typed up what I was feeling/thinking at the time (HERE). The following are my exact words:


I looked for your email, but could not find it on your blog, so thought that this thread, “Trust”, would be appropriate, and the next best option, to express my thoughts to you.

I was deeply, and sincerely troubled by your comments earlier today in the #prosapologian chatroom. I say this because I meant EVERYTHING from the depths of my soul that I communicated to you the first time we chatted.

My only intent at this point is to make it very clear to you that one can be open to the possibility that their paradigm/worldview choice may have been wrong, while at the same time, asking tough questions of those who differ with that choice.

If I have offended you, I apologize, and ask you as a brother in Christ to forgive me. In return, all I ask for is that you step into my shoes but for a brief moment and reflect on what I conveyed to you in our first chat session. I meant everything I said in that chat session, and at the same time, I stand behind everything I have written in my blog; in my heart of hearts, I do not believe that there is any conflict here, for if I become convinced by charitable, reasoned dialogue that anything I have written is false, I will immediately, without reservation, recant.Anyway, need to get some rest; will type up that thread I promised to you tomorrow.

God bless,

David (Auggie)

I sincerely hope that this post clears up any misunderstandings. If any interested parties have any questions, please feel free to ask away.

Grace and peace,



bgeorge77 said...

You mention that you are having misgivings or second thoughts about your entry into the RCC. Are there any particular doctrines or historical situations that you have misgivings about?

Christopher Smith said...

Interesting post, David. I, too, am curious about the specifics of your misgivings.

David Waltz said...

Hello Ben and Chris,

A few months ago, I came a across work by Darby (HERE), critiquing Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua, while researching the Oxford Movement. Newman’s arguments in his Apologia (with, of course, his Development), was very influential in my decision to enter the RCC. Darby’s book, however, raised some serious questions in my mind, especially concerning the issue of infallibility (both conciliar and papal). Darby’s somewhat brief (184 pages) analysis led me into some deep, reflective thought concerning my own personal journey, especially the thought process that led to my conversion. I came to realize that I was perhaps to eager/willing to place certain difficulties on the ‘back-burner’ while accepting broader principles.

Yet with that said, the alternatives set before me have their own peculiar set of difficulties; such that at the present, it would seem to be shear folly to abandon one paradigm which has unanswered questions in my mind, for another paradigm with its own unanswered questions.

To make matters even worse, very few individuals are willing and/or able to discuss their respective paradigm difficulties in an open, charitable manner—frustrating, to say the least…

But, my trust in God remains firm and unshakable, as is my trust in Him to lead me in the right direction.

Grace and peace,


bgeorge77 said...

Hi David,

Could you double-check that link to the Darby piece? Either their server is down or it's a bad link. I'd like to take a look at it, if only to throw in my two cents about it.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ben,

The link worked for me just moments ago; but I too have had some problems with the Internet Archive site this morning. Here is the address to Darby’s book:

The title of the book is:

Analysis of Dr. Newman's Apologia pro vita sua : with a glance at the history of popes, councils, and the church (1866)

It you cannot get the above link to work, try searching for the book at GoogleBooks.

Grace and peace,


Steve said...

Speaking of paradigms, I just listened to this talk that seems at least somewhat relevant to your concerns.

Anonymous said...

You may enjoy John Piper's little piece on G. K. Chesterton's book, Orthodoxy; and how it helped him hold on to both mystery and logic and faith in being a "happy-Calvinist".

"the chief end of man is to Glorify God by enjoying Him forever."
(Piper's way of understanding the Westminister Confession, because "and" did not make sense, because it said, "chief end", not "chief ends". So, he changed that word to "by". It is by finding our joy and happiness and enjoyment in God Himself and His glory; not in His gifts, that glorify God the most.)

Another famous Piper saying, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." (all through his books)

You may also want to read, Desiring God, by John Piper.

Here is his article on Chesterton:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your honesty here; and the link to Darby's book; I have some of it, but the wording is difficult; I will keep trying to read through it; very helpful and interesting!

Do you think Darby's analysis of Newman is better than Whitaker, Salmon, and Goode ?

(I assume you have read these books, being a book lover as you are and surely are familiar with their arguments in your journey.)

Ken Temple

Christopher Smith said...

Interesting, David. I appreciate your willingness to share. I have paradigm difficulties of my own, as I'm sure you're aware. Probably we all do. Some of us are just in more denial than others. ;)

In the words of F. D. Maurice, "There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me than in half the creeds." (By the way, Maurice wrote a rebuttal of Newman's Development, as well. You've probably read it, but I thought I'd bring it to your attention anyway, just in case.)

Good luck figuring things out.


Christopher Smith said...

Hmm... as I reread my last comment, I noticed it sounds a little insensitive. No insensitivity intended, I assure you. I'm just not sure what to say that won't sound hollow. (Except that I still have JSTOR/EBSCO access and am always willing to share should it prove useful in your ruminations!) I wish you well,


Anonymous said...

Darby's analysis is very good and interesting. I have made it to page 36. There is much to say, but I will post the main point so far that he makes.

Newman wrote in the Apologia -- talking about probabilities and doubt and the search for assurance -
“. . . I believe in a God because I believe in myself.”

Quoted on P. 32, Darby’s critique, Newman’s Apologia, p. 199.

Newman asserts that there is no middle ground between Catholicism and atheism. But if that is true; then he did not have the truth in his heart or the person of Christ as his Savior and Lord before he became a Roman Catholic. His doubts and skepticism and lack of assurance drove him to get some kind of feeling of comfort in an external system of authority and history, and that system is all here on planet earth in the external, visible church, the Roman Catholic Church, with its priesthood and ex opera operato and Marian dogmas and practices and mediators and statues and icons, etc. The drive is wanting something to feel, touch; like the same drive that causes people to want icons, ceremonies, structure, Latin masses; holy water; relics, statues, prayers to mediators between Jesus and oneself.

Darby: “Either before joining Rome, he possessed Christian truth, or did not. If he did, his position is false; if he did not; anyone can understand why he turned catholic. He had nothing. Nor indeed did he arrive at anything. He came to authority, not faith in any truth.” P. 32

p. 31 “no medium between atheism and Catholicity” --

Thanks, David, for your honesty, and sharing this book by Darby; very helpful in analyzing Newman.

Christopher Smith said...


Thanks for the comments. My reading of Newman is very similar to Darby's. Like other 19th century Romantics, Newman was positively driven to arrive at religious certainty. I can't help but think that he inherited this drive from his Protestant upbringing. Luther claimed, in effect, that doubt is the root of all sin; this notion was carried over into other Protestant theologies like the Reformed tradition, as well. That's probably why 19th-century evangelicals so obsessively sought and fought about the assurance of salvation. Newman had a brief liberal phase near the beginning of his career when, under the influence of Richard Whately, certainty was less important to him. But I think his reading of Erskine (an evangelical) convinced him of the "dogmatic principle": i.e. that certainty is necessary, after all. Most of his work over the remainder of his life flowed, IMO, from this basic presupposition. It's a presupposition with which I happen to disagree, so I find Newman's reasoning unpersuasive.

David Waltz said...

Hello Steve, Ken and Chris,

I have had DSL problems all weekend and was informed that the problem was “local”, which meant that the resolution had to wait till Monday. Anyway, DSL is back, as is the Beachbum. Before getting to each specific post, I want to thank all of you for you participation in this thread; and especially the charity that is being exhibited. Lot’s of catching up to do, so please be patient with me…

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hi Steve,

Thank you for the link. I have downloaded the MP3 to my harddrive, and plan to listen to it later today.

BTW, for those who also would like to download the lecture, go to this address:

Gallatin’s talk is the third one down…

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

You posted:

>>You may enjoy John Piper's little piece on G. K. Chesterton's book, Orthodoxy; and how it helped him hold on to both mystery and logic and faith in being a "happy-Calvinist".>>

Me: Thanks for the link, will read the essay later today.

>>You may also want to read, Desiring God, by John Piper.>>

Me: Have that one; read awhile back. Will try to get to it again, but my list of things to read is all ready quite daunting.

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

You asked the following:

>> Do you think Darby's analysis of Newman is better than Whitaker, Salmon, and Goode ?>>

Me: I had read Whitaker’s A Disputation On Holy Scripture, and Salmon’s Infallibility of The Church – a Refutation before my conversion to the RCC; Goode came afterwards.

As you know, Whitaker’s treatise was written long before Newman’s day, Goode’s first edition prior to the publication of Newman’s Development, and his second edition prior to his Apologia. As for the Salmon work, it is the compilation of a series of lectures that he delivered;in the preface of the first edition of the book he wrote:

“The majority of the lectures in this volume were written about the year 1870…”.

I own the 1959 Baker Book House reprint of the third edition which I have just now pulled down off of the shelf. Briefly looking through the book again, and notice but two brief sections on “The Theory of Development”; pages 31-46. and 273-280. Looking at my notes, I pointed out Salmon’s theory “has as many historical difficulties” as that of Newman’s. If you would like to discuss Salmon, I am certainly willing to do so. But I see that you have in a later post taking up a discussion of Darby’s work, so perhaps we can concentrate on that for now, and take up Salmon when we feel it is appropriate/needed.

Grace and peace,


Anonymous said...

You are right about the dates of Whitaker and Goode -- I realized this only after I had already posted them.

I grouped them all together, along with Salmon; as good and older apologetic works against the RCC apologetic against Protestantism.

Good idea to stick to Darby for now; though, at the outset, while I find so far, I agree with his assessment on Newman and the RCC; I disagree with Darby on Dispensationalism (the way they handle the OT, their take on Prophesy, Israel, and Pre-trib. rapture); but that is another issue.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your interaction. There seems to be some Scriptural teaching on assurance and knowing that one is saved (I John 5:13) and plenty of verses about assurance (I John 3:19-21; Hebrews 6:11; 10:22; Romans 8:28-39).

The problem with RCC apologetics and Newman's influence on this modern movement (Hahn, Matatics, Steve Ray, Rod Bennett, Dave Armstrong, Tim Staples, etc.) of former evangelicals is the demand for "infallible assurance and certainty" and the insane driving method of always asking, "how do you know?" (that you are in the right church; that your interpretation is right, etc.) The skepticism is maddening.

So, there does seem to be some truth to having some level of certainty and assurance; but not the demand for infallible certainty; as the RCCs claim the external, visible church and infallible pope gives them that certainty.

Anonymous said...

I don't really know if Luther can be completely honed down to "doubt is the root of all sin"; but Romans 14:23 may speak to that or point to that. Unbelief certainly is; that is, not trusting God; not trusting Christ; those are the root of all other sins.

I cannot put my hand on it; but I remember reading a little book on Doubt and Assurance by R. C. Sproul where he quotes from Luther as saying something like, "believe in the blessing of doubt". Trying to find it in my library.

David Waltz said...

Hi Chris,

I remember F. D. Maurice being mentioned in Frank M. Turner’s John Henry Newman. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any of Maurice’s books online. However, just moments ago, I tried Google again, and found the following article:

“Newman and Maurice on the Via Media of the Anglican Church: Contrasts and Affinities” (HERE).

Have you read this yet?

Grace and peace,


P.S. If you can get a PDF copy of this article, I would sure like a copy (wink).

Anonymous said...

Took me all day (almost 2:00pm now; starting at 10:00am; with interruptions and other work) to read through Tony Lane's article.

I had to look up some Latin words - why don't they just put the Enlgish in parentheses?

on p. 18 -- what is the meaning of "aggiornamento"?? something about "ornaments" (decoration, embellishment? is aggio related to "aggregate" ? Otherwise I don't understand that word or point.

Maybe later I will get into details of the article with quotes, etc.

Overall, Lane's article was very helpful and a good over-view for me. I am not an expert; nor do I have a great handle of the details of church history or historical theology; I wish they had had another class on that and Patristics in seminary.

But I have read White and Webster and David Kings books; along with some J.N.D. Kelly and Salmon and Oberman; -- and they still have provided a valuable rebuttal and balance to the Newman/Dave Armstrong apologetics.

I think that the ancillary view of tradition is correct; (it is a help but not infallible and subordinate to Scripture) and Irenaeus, Tertullian, (rule of faith) and Athanasius (preaching, teaching, the faith, the tradition) articulated their view against Gnostics, and other anti-Trinitarian heresies. (Arians and tropici and others). Since Evanglical Protestants agree with that; using them as somehow against Sola Scriptura or Protestantism, to me; seems like a wrong use of them. That is to quote them on "the tradition" doesn't give them any points.

I am not sure that coincidence view can be taken beyond those Trinitarian doctrinal formulations. the problem comes when the RCC apologists start claiming other things like indulgences, the treasury of merit, perpetual virginity of Mary, sinlessness of Mary, bodily assumption, papal dogmas, priesthood, ex opere operato sacerdotal powers and trans. as part of the "rule of faith" and "teaching/the faith/the tradition" as part of what Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athansius included.

To me, to claim that; which is what RCC apologetics does, is anachronistic and mis-leading and just has no evidence for it.

Augustine and Origen just assumed infant baptism was part of the apostolic tradition; and that was their great mistake; assuming it with no evidence from Scripture.

Basil and Gregory of Nyssa and Chrysostom sometimes say things that are close to sola Scritpura; but other times add things to the tradition that are not even in the bible -- and even RCC doesn't follow all of those practices anymore. I sincerely believe Basil was wrong to elevate those unwritten things to level of Scripture, if that is what he was doing. but RCC apologists are wrong to claim him as saying doctrines like Mary and Papal dogmas are included in Basil's "unwritten tradition". (baptism three times immersion; facing east when praying, holy oil, sign of the cross, etc.) It is wrong for them to claim transub. (8th century - 1215); 1854, 1870; and 1950 as part of the original deposit and read those things back into Basil, or Irenaeus, Tertullian, or Athanasius, which is what is seems that they do; by Newman and development and lots of mental gymnastics.

Two things that the Early church did to start to drift from the deposit, the God-breathed Scriptures; the tradition, the faith once for all delivered to the saints:

1. Ignatius clearly takes the "bishop" out of the plurality of leadership of presbyters; (Titus, Acts, I Timothy, Peter, and Clement show the earliest church government was a plurality of elders) and this seems to be one of the first steps in the early church of stepping outside of the bounds of Scripture; although as a practical matter, one of the elders who is gifted at teaching and leading usually rises to the top and a church can get things done faster without having to always have the consensus of all the elders on every little issue.

2. Baptismal regeneration and infant baptism together based on the doctrine of original sin; seems to the other great move away from Scripture in the Early Church.

Some of the footnotes of Lane are frustrating because of abbreviations that I can make heads nor tails of; and one of them asserts something like tradition is the right interpretation of Scripture, but refers to Fleissman's (sp ?) article; and I don't have that.

Anyway, all issues of conflict between RCC and Evangelical Protestants do indeed seem to get back to local church authority -- Matthew 18, I Tim. 3:15, etc. -- the modern evangelicals lack of actually following, teaching about, or doing any church discipline has resulted in people who are historically minded to question the whole Protestant paradigm more and more.

The attractiveness of the RCC and the modern Newman-Hahn-Matatics-Dave Armstrong-Rod Bennett-Francis Beckwith types (former evangelicals converting to Rome) seems to come from a lack of history and unity and church authority in their experiences and the modern church; and wanting some one on this earth to go to as a higher authority - a priest, or Pope or cardinal or mediators in heaven.

more later

Anonymous said...

More on Lane's article:

The statement and footnote that frustrated me the most:
“Apostolic tradition does not add to Scripture but is evidence of how it is to be corrected interpreted.” (footnote 26)
References E. Flesseman-van Leer;. . . Lampe, . . . Hanson – this is the footnote that was frustrating to me; because I don’t have those works. I have seen that claim a lot; but it does not seem to be fully articulated that way until Vincent of Lerins states it in his Commonitorium. Irenaeus and Tertullian or Athanasius don’t seem to be saying that, exactly. They just seem to be saying that the apostolic deposit was the Trinitarian outline, the Deity of Christ, and that the God of the Old Testament was creator of all, Father, and not a demiurge, “evil god” of creating matter. They were fighting Gnositicism mostly (Tertullian and Irenaeus) and Athanasius against mostly the Arians and the Tropici (To Serapion, Four letters on the Holy Spirit, Shapland’s version.)

Since Protestantism agrees with all of that, we are also deep in history and nothing in those contexts teaches anything against or contradictory to Sola Scriptura, since all of their points are derived from Scripture.

Footnote 18; also reference to Hanson, with all a list of the notorious unwritten traditions – I want to read that; but cannot now.

If I had a working knowledge of the references, it would be even better for my comprehension.

Footnote 20 is also very frustrating, what does it mean at the end? – “Others are just named. (D.T.C. 7. 2416, 2512-6)” ??

Anonymous said...

More on Anthony Lane's Scripture, Tradition, and Church

“Those Protestant accounts of the Reformation which treat it just as a rejection of supplementary tradition and not as a rejection of the authority of the leaders of the church seriously distort the picture for just this reason.” (Lane, page 1, last sentence)

This seems to be one of his main points. But usually, in the accounts that I have read; for what I can remember, the Reformers rejected the authorities of the church because they had made the supplementary tradition equal with Scripture; and these supplements added so much to the Scripture, that it actually overshadowed and obscured and corrupted the truth of the gospel, which is clearly taught in the Scriptures.

As a result, the church leaders and their claims of following tradition actually make them higher than Scripture, ruling over it and molding it to their own unbiblical interpretations. So, yes, there is a relationship to the rejection of additional tradition to the rejection of the church leaders; as Lane pointed out earlier, “Scripture and tradition cannot be studied in isolation.” (p. 1, paragraph 2)

Anonymous said...

what is the meaning of "aggiornamento"??

OOOOPPPS -- I wrongly assumed that this word is Latin; and it just now occurred to me to look it up in English and sure enough, it is there.

It says it means "the act of bringing up to date the principles, methods, ideas, doctrines of an institution."

Interesting; that is the RCC claim - that Vatican 2 is not a contradiction of Trent or Vatican 1 or the counsel of Florence, but an "updating" into modern language.

But it seems like a change from "no salvation outside the church" and even works to get Muslims, Jews, atheists, pagans into the kingdom if they never trusting in Christ. Seems like a good works salvation and Pelagianism for them. Why go and preach to them if this is true? That would make them more accountable.

Seems to water down most motivation for evangelism; if it is true.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

So glad you were able to finish Lane’s essay. You wrote:

KT:>> on p. 18 -- what is the meaning of "aggiornamento"?? something about "ornaments" (decoration, embellishment? is aggio related to "aggregate" ? Otherwise I don't understand that word or point.>>

Me: “aggiornamento” is Italian, and means a ‘renewal’ or ‘updating’.

KT:>> But I have read White and Webster and David Kings books; along with some J.N.D. Kelly and Salmon and Oberman; -- and they still have provided a valuable rebuttal and balance to the Newman/Dave Armstrong apologetics.>>

Me: Agreed. And for the record, I believe both sides of the modern controversialists have problems. The White, Webster, King camp pretty much ignores the host of Evangelical patristic scholars who take issue with their major premise (that the ECF’s espoused sola scriptura); and the Armstrong, Madrid, Sungenis camp brush aside post-Vatican II patristic scholarship. (Notice I did not include Newman.)

For a much more balanced and up-to-date approach (from both sides) I would like to suggest Your Word Is Truth (2002). (For pricing options GO HERE.) The esteemed authors of the 6 essays in this book interact in a concise and charitable manner.

KT:>> I think that the ancillary view of tradition is correct…>>

Me: This is the form of sola scriptura that is embraced by Evangelicals who hold a to a majesterial view of the church. As you well know, there is a significant number of EVs who want nothing to do with creeds, confessions, and/or cathechisms. For Lane’s concise delineation of the difference between the ancillary and coincidence views see page 43 (p. 9 in pdf) of his essay. I full concur with Lane’s assessment here.

KT:>> I am not sure that coincidence view can be taken beyond those Trinitarian doctrinal formulations. the problem comes when the RCC apologists start claiming other things like indulgences, the treasury of merit, perpetual virginity of Mary, sinlessness of Mary, bodily assumption, papal dogmas, priesthood, ex opere operato sacerdotal powers and trans. as part of the "rule of faith" and "teaching/the faith/the tradition" as part of what Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athansius included.

To me, to claim that; which is what RCC apologetics does, is anachronistic and mis-leading and just has no evidence for it.>>

Me: If by “what RCC apologetics does” you mean the popular, lay RCC apologists, then I agree. However, post-VII Catholic patristic scholars cannot be included in that group, and some important non-Catholic patristic scholars have made note of this. Note the following:

“The principle of sola Scriptura, too, can no longer be considered divisive in the same way that it once was. Many Roman Catholics concede that the post-biblical tradition of the Church is not to be regarded as a second source of revelation alongside Scripture, but only as the process by which a revelation contained completely in Scripture is being made explicit; and they are trying to prove that the Tridentine decrees at least did not exclude this position.” (Jaroslav Pelikan, Development of Christian Doctrine – Some Historical Prolegomena, p, 10.)

More later, the Lord willing.

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

On to your next post; you wrote:

KT:>> The statement and footnote that frustrated me the most:
“Apostolic tradition does not add to Scripture but is evidence of how it is to be corrected interpreted.” (footnote 26)
References E. Flesseman-van Leer;. . . Lampe, . . . Hanson – this is the footnote that was frustrating to me; because I don’t have those works.>>

Me: I have all three (in fact, I probably have at least 80% of the works listed in the King - Webster trilogy).

Flesseman-Van Leer –

“From the foregoing chapters it has become clear that the one real authority for Irenaeus is the teaching of the apostles, or going still further back, the revelation of Jesus Christ which the apostles made known to the world. The proclamation of the apostles is preserved in both tradition, i.e. the teaching of the living church, and in scripture. In content, the two coincide for Irenaeus; it is his view that the apostles transmitted orally all they knew, and they also wrote down the message…

In discussing the problem of right exegesis, we came to the conclusion that scripture has to be explained according to the regula.” (Tradition and Scripture in the Early Church, pp. 140, 180.)

G.W.H. Lampe –

“Tradition safeguards Scripture from corruption and interprets in it the apostolic sense. It is bound up with the ministerial succession…

In the fourth century we find on the one hand very many pronouncements on the supreme authority of Scripture. ‘The holy and inspired Scriptures are self-sufficient,’ says Athanasius, ‘for the proclamation of the truth,’ though its interpretation must be learned from theologians.” (“The Early Church”, in Scripture and Tradtion, pp. 44, 46.)

R.P.C. Hanson –

“Certainly there is evidence in abundance that the very fathers of the second and third centuries who wrote most frequently of the rule of faith as interpreting Scripture regarded the content of the Scriptures as materially identical with the content of the rule of faith, or professed to draw al their doctrine from Scripture” (Tradition In the Early Church, (p. 110.)

In summation, all three authors concur with Lane’s “coincidence view” of scripture and tradition in the early Church.

Hope this helps,


P.S. Put up my last post before noticing your additional comments on “aggiornamento”.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Waltz,

If you recall, I, too, am a Protestant convert to the Catholic Church who is now doubting his faith. The development of doctrine issue is a big issue for me. Over at Dr. Michael Liccione's blog we are having a pretty good discussion of the development of doctrine in Eastern and Western Christianity. You might want to check it out:

Unknown said...

It pains me to see people doubting the faith based on these issues.

Moving from RCC to Orthodoxy or vice versa makes sense to me, but I don't see how anyone can think that Protestantism (in any of its many many forms) is closer to the faith delivered to the apostles.

I've been on the sidelines of this discussion because it has for the most part ranged in unmapped territories (to me, anyway), but I wanted to let David and Kepha know that I am praying that you remain in the Eucharistic faith, whether that be Catholic (I hope), or Orthodox.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your prayers, Marie.

David Waltz said...

Good morning kepha and Marie,

First off, I would like to welcome both of you to AF. Next, I would like to thank kepha for the link to Dr. Michael Liccione's blog. Michael’s thread on development is nothing short of excellent (and, btw, providential, for my next planned thread is going to address DD).

And finally, to Marie; I too would like to thank you for your prayers and concerns. Just last night I was reading the 1864 edition of Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua (my first two readings had been in the 1865 edition), and in Part VII (which, btw is not in the 1865 edition that I own) Newman wrote:

“From the time that I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opinions to narrate. In saying this, I do not mean to say that my mind has been idle, or that I have given up thinking on theological subjects; but that I have had no changes to record, and have had no anxiety of heart whatever. I have been in perfect peace and contentment. I never have had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any difference of thought or of temper from what I had before. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervour; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption.

Nor had I any trouble about receiving those additional articles, which are not found in the Anglican Creed. Some of them I believed already, but not any one of them was a trial to me. I made a profession of them upon my reception with the greatest ease, and I have the same ease in believing them now. I am far of course from denying that every article of the Christian Creed, whether as held by Catholics or by Protestants, is beset with intellectual difficulties; and it is simple fact, that, for myself, I cannot answer those difficulties. Many persons are very sensitive of the difficulties of religion; I am as sensitive as any one; but I have never been able to see a connexion between apprehending those difficulties, however keenly, and multiplying them to any extent, and doubting the doctrines to which they are attached. Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, as I understand the subject; difficulty and doubt are incommensurate. There of course may be difficulties in the evidence; but I am speaking of difficulties intrinsic to the doctrines, or to their compatibility with each other. A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, of which the answer is or is not given to him, without doubting that it admits of an answer, or that a particular answer is the true one. Of all points of faith, the being of a God is, to my own apprehension, encompassed with most difficulty, and borne in upon our minds with most power.”

I now sense that what I had termed “doubts”, should perhaps be called “difficulties” as I reflect upon the above words of Newman.

God bless,


Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,

I have been following everything.

And may I say how glad I am of all these souls of good will, both new and old, who are participating on these threads. As some have offered prayers, I assure you that I covet the least of your intercessions and thank you for your charity toward me. I know someone has been praying for me. Maybe it was you (whoever is reading this). Heh. I say some difficult things below about those who oppose Christ's Church. As there is a Christ, there is an enemy of Christ, and both have their soldiers. I trust that all of us here are searching for the best way to avoid inadvertently, let alone deliberately aiding the enemy. God help us.

I am making meticulous notes on almost every page of the 125 or so I have so far covered of Darby. Following are some preliminary thoughts though:

I already knew about how things went into the pot before the beginning of the second millenium. I don't see any biblical precedent for judging that the Catholic Church is without a head if perhaps only 19 out of 20 popes have been chaste. Read the Old Testament. Beginning with Eli, barely out of the times of the Judges, we have moral depravity in the highest places without anyone called to start over again. No! Reform came from within in the pre-Christian ecclesiology.

What about when the high priest tore up and desecrated God's altars so he could replace it with a pagan replica taken from the Syrians? Why doesn't Darby explain to us about how that surely meant that the Levitical priesthood extending back to Moses had been corrupted beyond remedy? Why doesn't Darby tell us how God raised up someone wholly unconnected with the Mosaic priesthood to prepare the way for Christ?

Answer: Because reform always comes from within God's covenant people, just when things are at the bleakest. And because John the Baptist was the son of a man whose priesthood extended uninterruptedly over a thousand years to Aaron, regardless of fornication, pagan worship, blood stained hands, two captivities, and three Temples.

I confess that Mr. Darby articulately and for the most part accurately examines disproportionately the evillest 5% of the successors of Peter. He can't but be hoping that his poor readers will forget biblical precedent. Taken without perspective, this work seems as able as any to cause dismay and disturbance in faithful Catholics while stirring the malevolent indignation of the enemies of the Church.

Few from any of the branches of Christianity have found any comfort from the bird's eye view of the Tenth Century popes to which we are treated by Mr. Darby. But there are a few. I think I have found one who can see the breaking of the day. A great man, hated and vilified by several small men in his lifetime. They could not be silent about his opinions and beliefs and went about to smear his good name.

I trust he would acknowledge as I do, how Mr. Darby is correct in quoting Catholic sources who saw corruption prevail within the Church, even at Rome, bemoaning and grieving and wondering if this was the times of the Antichrist, speculating that Our Lord's Second Coming could not be long due:

"Had we lived in such deplorable times as have been above described, when Satan seemed to have been let loose at the end of his thousand years, and had we been blessed with any portion of divine light to understand, and of love to desire better things, we might have asked whether it was conceivable that the Church should ever recover itself from the abyss into which it had sunk.

Where was the motive principle--where the fulcrum, by which it was to be righted? What was left but for matters to become worse and worse, till the last ray of truth and righteousness died away, and the last saint was gathered in, and the end of all things came, and the Judge with it?"

Judge for yourself whose voice, whether the man I quote, one charged with immoderate "sensuousness" by Mr. Darby, is the immoderate of the two. I suppose it is for his sensuousness that John Henry Cardinal Newman's cause for beatification is underway? In any case, he gives us the answer to why we who are happily aboard the Barque of Peter, should, if the old ship ever seem to be leaking and listing and sinking, lash ourselves to the decks, waiting if we must for an Invisible Hand to appear, that will save us from sinking utterly beneath the waters. God helping us we will not imagine a more safe vessel for our salvation than the Holy Catholic Church.

But let us to the less excitable, soothing words of Cardinal Newman, who knew well enough how Pope Gregory VII reversed and unsnared the Church from the usurping power of the State which had in truth, been the evil which had forced nearly a century of mediocre popes.

"In truth, taking the corruptions of the day at their worst, they were principally on the surface of the Church. Scandals are petulant and press into view, and they are exaggerated from the shock they communicate. Friends exaggerate through indignation, foes through malevolence. In the worst of times there is always a remnant of holy men, out of sight, scanty perhaps in numbers, but great in moral strength, and there is always in the multitude an acknowledgment of truths which they do not themselves practise...Such there were in Hildebrand's day (the future Gregory VII)."

"Gregory thought he had failed. So it is: often a cause seems to decline as its champion grows in years, and to die in his death. But this is to judge hastily; others are destined to complete what he began. No man is given to see his work through. Man goes forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening, but the evening falls before it is done. There was One alone who began and finished and died."

And so it was. And so it continues as Christ's brothers and sisters take up their crosses. Having seen and believed what our Fathers have passed down to us, how can we ever despair of Christ's Church? We of the Catholic faith have no better example than our Blessed Mother, Magdalene, and the disciple who leaned on Jesus' breast who seemingly against all hope, stood with Jesus at his crucifixion.

As Jesus Himself, so will His enemies mock and deride Him in His Bride and our Mother. If they would crucify His Most Beloved, I believe. May I stand, mute and dumb if needs be, without returning malice for malice, before those many poor souls who not knowing what they do, hate and vilify Christ's most lovely Bride, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

---Quotes from the Reformation of the Eleventh Century, by John Henry Newman in Select Essays of John Henry Newman.


Christopher Smith said...

Oh, my. A lot has been said since I last popped in. Ken, you're right that the themes of faith, doubt, and assurance are discussed in the Bible. But as I'm sure you're aware, biblical themes have received varying degrees of emphasis over the course of Christian history. Resurrection is a biblical theme, but if you walk into a church today and ask what happens after death, resurrection will not be on most people's short list. The preaching, teaching, writing and hymnody employed by the church in any particular time and place will over-emphasize some biblical themes and under-emphasize others. What I am suggesting in Newman's case is that evangelical culture in 19th-century Britain was particularly obsessed with the themes of assurance and religious certainty-- moreso, I think, than either the biblical writers or those of us who live in the early twenty-first century. The obsession with religious certainty was only intensified by what many saw as a liberal/atheist assault on the foundations of the faith. Conservatives feared that a breakdown in Christian certainty could only lead to the unraveling of Britain's Christian society. Newman was part of a reactionary movement that sought to insulate the church from these developments by placing its truth claims on a foundation unassailable by modern criticism and rationality.

To correct my earlier comments, it was actually Thomas Scott rather than Erskine from whom Newman inherited the "dogmatic principle".

On Luther: yes, he sometimes spoke of doubt as a blessing. But his view of doubt was much like his view of sin. The Law was a blessing in that it drove us to sin, broke us down, and made us aware of our depravity. But it did so not that sin might increase, but that we must be driven to full reliance upon God. The situation with doubt/unbelief is much the same. Luther himself admitted to being both an incurable sinner and a chronic doubter, yet he could affirm that Christ came to conquer sin and to give us certainty.

David, you can read Maurice's critique of Newman in his preface to Epistle to the Hebrews, here.

Anonymous said...

Chris says:
The preaching, teaching, writing and hymnody employed by the church in any particular time and place will over-emphasize some biblical themes and under-emphasize others. What I am suggesting in Newman's case is that evangelical culture in 19th-century Britain was particularly obsessed with the themes of assurance and religious certainty-- moreso, I think, than either the biblical writers or those of us who live in the early twenty-first century.

Rory replies:
People don't want to give to doubtful causes in any century. The Scriptures admonish us to "take up our crosses", "offer up our bodies a living sacrifice", and "Christ therefore having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought."

I don't know that it is rightly termed an "obsession" that wants to have no little assurance before making such radical sacrifices as the Christian faith recommends to us.

I somehow don't see it as an obsession that St. Paul takes comfort in his suffering through his religious certainty: "For which cause (the preaching of the faith), I also suffer these things: but I am not ashamed. For I KNOW whom I have believed and I am CERTAIN that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day."

A religion that offers eternal rewards for temporal sacrifices has no business suggesting that certainty is an "obsession", and I don't find any evidence to support your contention that the biblical writers were somehow less concerned with religious certainty than Cardinal Newman in his 19th Century milieu. Note St. Peter, (or whoever you think wrote the book) who appeals to having seen personally the miraculous events recorded in Scripture as historical events:

"For we have not by following artificial fables made known to you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ: but we were eyewitnesses of his greatness: For he received from God the Father honor and glory: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him. And this voice, we heard brought from heaven when we were with him in the holy mount. And we have the more firm (certain) prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend..."

Does this sound like one who thinks religious uncertainty is a good motive for what he is admonishing the faithful to do here?

"For this is thankworthy: if for conscience toward God, a man endure sorrows, sufferling wrongfully...For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps."

While you suggest that Christian religious certainty is a passe theme of 19th Century Britain, I suggest that it is a particularly human theme not particular to any time or place that people have insisted on knowing why they should sacrifice even unto the death for any cause be it religious or not.

The obsession with religious certainty was only intensified by what many saw as a liberal/atheist assault on the foundations of the faith. Conservatives feared that a breakdown in Christian certainty could only lead to the unraveling of Britain's Christian society.

Were they wrong? Is Britain's Christian society not unravelled in the aftermath?

Newman was part of a reactionary movement that sought to insulate the church from these developments by placing its truth claims on a foundation unassailable by modern criticism and rationality.

I agree except for your association of modern criticism with "rationality". I consider that he and others sought to expose the irrationality of naturalistic analyses of supernatural claims.

I am unfamiliar with the 21st Century churches that don't think of resurrection as one of the comforts of the faithful who are approaching their deaths. I don't doubt they can be found. But I sure wouldn't die for a faith that I was doubtful about. But even more, I wouldn't even spend a gallon of gas to hear some pastor talk about it while people sing about it. Who cares, who sacrifices anything for a faith that congratulates itself for its own uncertainty? Such a "Christian church", if it is even worthy of the name, is on the way to a well-deserved death that will not be resurrected.

Chris, you have always been more than gentlemanly to me. I could almost wish it were otherwise. It is always with regret that I am compelled to express my vehement opposition to your views which seem nearly as distant as possible from my own. Repulsed though I am by your well articulated views, I have undoubted confidence in your admirable desire to develop an integral religious faith compatible with contemporary fads. I expect that you find my views equally noxious. I can only hope that I have somehow shown my desire to count you among those with whom I can look in the eye and disagree with a snort, but count among those I personally respect.



Anonymous said...

Britian's Christian society seems to have almost completely unraveled.

But so has Holland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Belgium.

Both Protestant and R.Catholic state church cultures.

What happened to them?

Islam is taking over. Secularism and political correctness and relativism, coupled with abortions, no commitment to marriage, less marriages, less children, homosexuality, same sex marriages, materialism, selfishness; how long before we have

Londonistan and Fran-morocco or Span-aljazia ?

Christopher Smith said...


It's fairly commonplace to worry about the explosion of Islam in Britain (due to immigration). It is less often mentioned that Hinduism and African Pentecostalism are also exploding there (for the same reason). The causes you cited for decline actually are not far wide of the mark. In The Death of Christian Britain, Callum Brown demonstrates that Enlightenment rationalism was not responsible for Christianity's decline there (as some have assumed). In fact, Britain remained a Christian and even a puritan nation well into the 1950's. It was the sexual revolution that killed Christianity, starting in 1963.


I realize that Paul took religious certainty for granted and that it is a theme that can be found-- especially implicitly-- throughout the New Testament. But I still think that the 19th century battles over assurance, epistemology, and the basis of faith constitute a significantly more intense preoccupation with religious certainty than we find in Paul. In the end this must be a subjective judgment, so I see no reason to press the issue.

The bottom line, for me, is that I have found no satisfactory foundation for religious certainty. My own quest for certainty began in high school, at which time I seriously considered making apologetics a career path. But I found that my quest for religious certainty required so much rationalization and obfuscation that to continue as an apologist would be to compromise my intellectual integrity. Nor could I bring myself to place faith on an anti-rational foundation. In short, I would love to have a sure faith, and am not interested in blindly following what you called the "contemporary fad" of postmodernism. But I have found certainty impossible in light of what I consider fairly overwhelming evidence against several of Christianity's unique claims.

>>I consider that he and others sought to expose the irrationality of naturalistic analyses of supernatural claims.

I disagree. Newman was more interested in attacking Protestantism than naturalism or atheism, quite frankly. He wasn't even willing to consider, the possibility that the Bible might contain major errors or that the Trinity might be incorrect. Biblical infallibility and Trinitarian orthodoxy, in fact, were two of the chief assumptions upon which he built his development hypothesis. His argument that the development of doctrine has been infallibly superintended was essentially an a priori claim. It's purpose is not to expose anyone else's irrationality so much as to find an unfalsifiable foundation for Christian faith-- any unfalsifiable foundation, however arbitrary.

Thank you for the sentiment about disagreeing vehemently but respectfully. It is one that I share. The reason I continue to visit David's blog is that he is a deep thinker with very interesting things to say, and no matter how much I disagree I always respect and am interested in his opinion. I could say much the same about yourself. You are clearly articulate and thoughtful, and I hope that at the end of the day we can still be friends (in a virtual, pixellated sort of way). Best,


Anonymous said...

The causes you cited for decline actually are not far wide of the mark.

Thanks for that affirmation!

In The Death of Christian Britain, Callum Brown demonstrates that Enlightenment rationalism was not responsible for Christianity's decline there (as some have assumed). In fact, Britain remained a Christian and even a puritan nation well into the 1950's. It was the sexual revolution that killed Christianity, starting in 1963.

And what gave the "sexual revolution" its power, intellectual basis, strength, and social mechanisms to have such a deep impact, beginning in 1963?

It has to be more than the Beatles! (laugh)

Darwin's theory of Macro-evolution and materialistic/atheistic assumptions and developments from that basic theory - making its way into dogma in Public education and more pervasive in people's assumptions?

(ie. if there is no creation by a personal creator God; then there is no judge, no judgement day; no right or wrong ultimately; and no accountability.)

Huxley's famous statements:
"we had motives for wanting evolution to be true; to free us from certain political and sexual mores". ( I paraphrase from memory)

Aftermath of World War 2 and
baby boomers (children of those who fought in WW II) becoming 16-20 years old? (rebellion, questioning of authority; questioning of duty for duties sake; search for existential meaning; disllusionment with wars, politics, authority, lies, propoganda)?

Birth control pill and more available methods of contraception?

Movies, automobiles, clothes, music, popular culture driven by economics of younger aged adults?

combination of all these things?

Anonymous said...

The Death of Christian Britain, Callum Brown

Thanks for mentioning that book; sounds interesting.

What unique claims of Christianity do you think don't have enough evidence?

Christopher Smith said...


Brown suggests that British Christianity up till the 1950's was overwhelmingly female-driven. Piety was seen as a feminine virtue, and by extension as un-masculine. This means that "women were the bulwark to popular support for Christianity between 1800 and 1963, and [...] it was they who broke their relationship to Christian piety in the 1960s and thereby caused secularization." The seismic shift that occurred in the fifties was the recrafting of feminine identity and women's roles in society. Funny you should mention the Beatles; Brown cites "Beatlemania" as a significant factor in what he calls the "discursive death of pious femininity."

(I think that to really grasp the full force of Brown's argument, you'd probably have to read the book. It's complicated. But it's a great book.)

As far as your question about the unique claims of Christianity, basically what it comes down to is the Bible. I see no reason to posit that the Bible is an infallible book (and several reasons not to posit as much), which opens quite the can of worms with respect to other foundational claims. I also have significant objections to a range of other Christian beliefs, including substitutionary atonement, hell, the proscription of homosexuality, exclusive salvation, and the Second Coming.



Ken said...

Interesting on 1963 and female piety and Christian culture. Yes, the Beatles were a definite factor in social upheaval, that's why I mentioned them.

It rings pretty true. In the pendulum has swung from male chauvinism/patriarchal culture to now radical feminism.

As for the other big issue - your rejection of the Bible and those doctrines you name; that is a very big rejection.

I strongly disagree with you on all those points; but you have the right to hold your own views, and I appreciate the spirit with which we can discuss; and it is interesting to get your thoughts.

In one of the other posts you mentioned somewhere that you had a process of loosing faith or questioning.

How did it start?

What was your religious background and experience?

What do you think was the key factor?

Do you think Jesus was historical?

Have you read C. S. Lewis' books?

Have you read any of Lee Strobel's
The Case for Christ
The Case for Faith
The Case for a Creator
The Case for the Real Jesus ??

J. P. Moreland or William Lane Craig's books? Habermas?

If Jesus was historical, are the NT documents true of His historicity and statements?

Have you read, F. F. Bruce's Are the NT documents reliable?

If He is true and His character is upright; then He could not have been a liar or lunatic; (C. S. Lewis) because He claimed to the Son of God; God incarnate; the Logos (The Word of God from all eternity). If He was lying, then He was not of upright character.

If He affirmed the difficult stuff in the OT (marriage between one woman and one man, Noah and the ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jonah in the belly of the big fish; etc.; then that gives lots of credibility to all of the Scriptures as true and authoritative.

But you sound as if you may have read arguments like this before. I thought I read that you are a graduate student at Wheaton college.

Why did you doubt the Scriptures? Was it Bart Ehrman or the Crossan type scholars?


Ken said...

Oopps -- Should have been:

In the west, the pendulum has swung from male chauvinism/patriarchal culture to now radical feminism.

Christopher Smith said...

Hi Ken,

You ask a lot of big questions that would require more time to answer than I really have. But I'll try to give a brief rundown of my story. I was raised Pentecostal, and have served in a couple ministry positions. In fact, until just last year I was still youth pastor at my evangelical church. (Only because I couldn't find a replacement, really.) I've been on multiple short-term mission trips. I've read a number of evangelical authors, including Lewis and Strobel. I've seen Craig in a live debate, and read some of his essays. I've listened to Hugh Ross speak and read his essays, as well. My faith, in short, was never skin-deep. On the other hand, I was not raised to believe in six-day creation or strict biblical inerrancy. So I already had a bit of a headstart in my liberalization.

A major turning point came when I began researching Mormonism in high school. I began to be aware that other religious traditions have the same kinds of faith-confirming miracles and evidences that my faith had always been built on. And I began to see that their apologists employed obfuscating, ad hoc arguments that were remarkably similar to the kinds of arguments I had employed in defense of my own tradition. The way that I approached faith-questions underwent a fairly radical transformation. I took a step back and asked myself, "If I were an outsider, what would I think of my faith tradition? Why should my faith tradition get the benefit of doubt while other faith traditions are held to such a high evidentiary standard?" I never fancied myself "objective", but I did start to try to be fair to all perspectives. In short, I became a seeker rather than an apologist.

Another major turning point came during my study of the Book of Daniel, which I undertook in order to decide what my eschatological views were. After reading a number of commentaries as well as studying the book on my own, I found myself asking questions that were far removed from the ones I had set out to answer. Was the Book of Daniel really even historical at all? I concluded that it was not. That was when I went from being someone who believed in the Bible but not inerrancy to being someone who believed the Bible contained very major errors. It was not long before I found myself arriving at similar conclusions concerning 1 Timothy, which as I'm sure you know contains the verse that is so commonly adduced in support of inerrancy!

In short, my faith struggles have been a long, complicated process and have mostly resulted from thinking about issues on my own. I've not read Ehrman, Dawkins, Histchens, or other anti-religion polemicists. I currently consider myself a Christian pluralist.

I do believe that Jesus was historical, and I think that the New Testament contains much information about him that is accurate (though it probably also contains some that is inaccurate). I think that David and Solomon were historical and that most of the records from their time through the post-exilic period are historically useful, with the exceptions of Daniel, Esther, Job, Jonah, and maybe a couple others. I think there was probably a historical Moses (though the information we have about him may be largely mythical), and the narratives in Judges are at least based in history. Joshua, in my opinion, is an almost entirely fanciful reimagining of the Conquest. The biblical narratives about events prior to the time of Moses I think are pretty uniformly mythological.

I have of course heard the argument that Jesus was either the Son of God or a liar/lunatic, and that there is no middle ground between the two. I think there is middle ground, and in fact I occupy it, though I have no illusions that apologists for either Christianity or secularism would have any interest in the sort of postmodern tripe upon which my middle ground is founded.

I should emphasize that at the end of the day I can only speak for myself, and I do not go crusading trying to get people to see everything the way I do. Where I see blatant folly or injustice I usually say as much, and I'm not afraid to argue for my views in a non-threatening context of mutual exchange with someone who shows an interest. But I don't go looking for ways to undermine the faith of friends or neighbors. Christianity has a lot of advantages even from a strictly functionalist perspective, and that's good enough reason not to go around trying to destroy it. Moreover, I am still engaged in a search of my own, so it would be presumptuous of me to try to cram all my conclusions down other people's throats.

That's enough for now. I, too, appreciate the irenic spirit of our interactions, despite our obvious disagreements. I take it from your John Piper plugs that you are Reformed, yourself? I went and listened to John Piper speak about suffering earlier this year. An interesting fellow. Anyway, best,


Ken said...

Thanks for sharing your story; and thanks for the spirit in which you do this. Your story is very interesting.

I went to your blog and read some stuff; fascinating.

What basis or criteria or principle do you use to determine which parts of Christianity and the Bible you accept and which parts you don't accept?

A Pentecostal church did not believe in inerrancy? Sometimes, people have a wrong idea of exactly what the doctrine of inerrancy is. (I am not saying you do; but could you give a definition of it; according to what you think it is; and what your church taught?)

I think you meant 2 Timothy (for 2 Timothy 3:16 -- "all Scripture is God-breathed") (one of the main verses for inerrancy) rather than I Timothy. right?

Yes, I am a Reformed baptist like John Piper and he represents the best of a warm, joyful, evangelistic, missionary Calvinism.
I encourage you to listen to more of him at his websight,

every sermon is free to listen to.

Thanks for interesting conversation.

Christopher Smith said...


Yes, you're right: 2 Timothy.

The Pentecostal churches in which I was raised did believe in inerrancy. It is only my parents who did not. They are both well-educated. My dad was a geologist for forty years (thus why 6-day creationism was never on the menu) and my mom is currently getting a Ph.D in Old Testament. Pentecostals, as you probably know, tend to be under-educated. So my parents were always a bit of an oddity, though the sincerity of their Pentecostal faith was (and still is) unimpeachable.

I don't have a single, clear methodological principle for which parts of the Bible I accept and which I don't. Basically my approach is that if it is reasonable, edifying, and/or inspiring then it is worth keeping in mind. If not, then it is better left in the first century (or whenever it was written).

Anyway, thanks for reading.


Ken said...

Thanks for the discussion.

The issue of young earth creationism (6 days, 24 hour) vs. Old earth creationism does not affect the doctrine of inerrancy. There are plenty of Christians and scholars who hold to an "day age" view, or progressive view, or "literary framework view" or John Sailhamer's view (see Genesis Unbound, (Multnomah, 1996) that all also believe in inerrancy.

Conservative Christians who believe in Inerrancy are unified that naturalistic (materialism, no transcendent reality), random, "no creator God" Darwinism is wrong; but one can believe in inerrancy and understand the Hebrew word yom in different ways. However, there are also plenty of 6 day, 24 hour scientists, like your dad, in Geology and Biology and other fields who actually do hold to the 6 day, young earth position.

Pretty cool that your mom is getting a degree in OT. Good for them. You are right about "Pentecostals tend to be under-educated". I wish more were like your parents and as a result, completely empty the Word of Faith/properity "name it, claim it" movement (Hagin, Copeland, Benny Hinn, etc.) of their followings within the greater Charismatic/Pentecostal movement. (and other emotionalistic claims of healings and over-emphasis on tongues, etc.)

I will comment on other stuff later.
thanks again.

Ken said...

sorry David that discussion now has nothing to do with your original post. I hope you don't mind.

Christopher Smith said...

Hey Ken,

I'm aware of the day-age, local flood, and other reinterpretations of the early OT narratives. I'm also aware that inerrancy a la the Chicago statement only applies to the original autographs, and some would even suggest that it only applies to matters of faith and morals. But I am unable to affirm even this limited kind of inerrancy, and am well past the stage in my liberalization when I considered the day-age theory sufficient to resolve the issues confronting the historicity of Genesis.

Yeah, my parents are great. The church they attend here in Sacramento is much better for having them. My dad is an elder and my mom teaches a bible study. My dad also believes he has been called to start a Christian research university in the area here. He's currently getting a Ph.D in education to start working on that.