Wednesday, May 28, 2008

TurretinFan to the rescue…


After typing up three quick posts this morning in response to comments made in a couple of different threads (including an older one on Islam), I had to drive my wife to the hospital for some tests (all were negative—in the good sense). When I finally got back home I checked the comboxes to see if there had been any further communication and noticed that I had missed that there was a link at the end of the comments section of the May 27th, 2008 thread, which takes one to THIS THREAD at TurretinFan’s blog.

I would make my comments to TurretinFan’s new thread (hereafter TF) in his blog’s combox, but my submitted musings rarely get posted; so, rather than waste time, I am going to respond here at AF.

TF provides his readers the Khaled Anatolis English translation of the Athanansius quote that I typed up in my previous thread, introducing it with:

Recently, David Waltz provided the following alleged quotation from Athanasius, which immediately caught my attention…”

Now, I have NO idea why TF thinks that it is an “alleged quotation from Athanasius”. I am not aware of any scholar who doubts that the quotation is from Athanasius himself; and curiously enough, even William (Bill) Webster, who TF later invokes, does not challenge the quote’s authenticity.

TF then proceeds to state the obvious, that Antolis used Migne’s Patrologiæ Græca (26.593, 594) as the source for his English translation, providing a snippet from Google Books (with the appropriate links).

TF then remarks:

I'm not saying that Anatolis' translation is bad - just not strictly literal. Taken within the broader context of what is being said, the translation is not necessarily bad. Taken out of context, though the translation is misleading. For the word "Scripture" - which is emphasized in Waltz's argument - is not a word emphasized by Athanasius. Instead, it has been supplied to help the flow of the text by the translator. It's really aimed at distinguishing the previous Scriptural statements about the Holy Spirit himself from the following about the Trinity. For within the same section (28) Athanasius immediately turns to Ephesians 4:6, Exodus 3:14, and Romans 9:5 - and concludes by establishing what the faith of the Church is by quoting the Lord's words from Matthew 28:19. It is the baptismal formula and Ephesians 4:6 (over all, through all, in [you] all) that Athanasius calls the foundation of the Church's faith (see the first part of section 29).Thus, I think we have to conclude that Waltz's tag line for the above quotation from Athanasius ("BTW, in the many citations that James provided in his essay from the corpus of Athanasius, he conviently [sic] left out this one") was a bit misleading at best - for Athanasius not only was saying nothing contrary to Scripture - he was simply turning from one set of Scriptural doctrines to another.
TF is correct on two points: first, Anatolis’ English is not “literal”; and second, taken “within the broader context of what is being said, the translation is not necessarily bad.” As for the rest, IMHO, TF has misread Athanasius (as has Bill Webster), by reading post-Reformation doctrine back into his writings.

Here is some of the “broader context”:

Taken even by themselves, these [scriptural] sayings about the Holy Spirit demonstrate that it has nothing in common with or proper (idom) to the nature or essence of creatures, but that it is other than originated beings and belongs to (idom) and is not foreign to the being and divinity of the Son, through which it belongs to the Holy Trinity. This puts their senselessness to same.

Moreover, aside from these scriptural utterances, let us also consider the tradition and teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, that which the Lord has given, the apostles preached, and the fathers [596A] guarded. This is the foundation on which the Church is established, and the one who strays form it is not a Christian and should no longer be called so: The Trinity is holy perfect, confessed as God in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, having nothing foreign or extrinsic mingled with it , nor compounded of creator and created, but is wholly Creator and Maker. It is identical with itself and indivisible in nature, and its activity (energia) is one. For the Father does all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit. Thus the oneness of the Holy Trinity is preserved and thus is the one God “who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6) preached in the Church – “over all,” as Father, who is beginning (archē) and fountain; “through all,” through the Son; and “in all” in the Holy Spirit. It is Trinity [596B] not only in name and linguistic expression, but Trinity in reality and truth. Just as the Father is the “One who is” (Ex. 3:14), so likewise is his Word the “One who is, God over all” (Rom. 9:5). Nor is the Holy Spirit non-existent, but truly exists and subsists
.” (Athanasius, Epistola I Ad Serapion – English trans. by Khaled Anatolis, Athanasius, Routledge: London, 2004, p. 227.)

Anatolis could have put brackets around the second usage of “scriptural” in 1.28 as he did in its first use towards the end of 1.27; however, Anatolis wanted to make it clear that a distinction was being made between “these scriptural utterances” (numerous citations from the OT, NT and the book of Wisdom!!!), and “the tradition and teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning.”

Now, what TF and Bill Webster want their readers to believe is that Athanasius was instead saying this: “aside from these scriptural utterances, let us also consider some more scriptural utterances”.
Sorry guys, that just will not fly. Though Athanasius’ regula fidei (i.e. “the tradition and teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning”) was certainly based on Sacred Scripture, and supported by Scripture texts, the regula fidei itself was not Scripture.

The patristic scholars I quoted (in my previous thread), prior to the citation from Athanasius, clearly understand this fact, but TF, Bill Webster, James White, and a few other Protestant polemicists completely miss it (I will let my readers ponder the why for themselves.)

And further, many of the scholars that Bill Webster selectively quotes from in the book referenced by TF (Holy Scripture - The Ground and Pillar of our Faith – Vol. 2), actually concur with scholars I quoted, contra Bill. Tomorrow, the Lord willing, I will provide numerous citations to support this, but for now R.P.C. Hanson will suffice:

Perhaps the most important aspect of the rule of faith is that it gives us what the Church conceived to be ‘the main body of truth’ (to use Irenaeus’ phrase). The Scriptures are, after all, a body of documents testifying to God’s activity towards men in Christ. They are not a rule of faith, nor a list of doctrines, nor a manual of the articles of a Christian man’s belief. In the rule of faith we have a key to what the Church thought the Scriptures came to, where it was, so to speak, that their weight fell, what was their drift. This interpretation of their drift was itself tradition, a way of handling the Scriptures, a way of living in them and being exposed to their effect, which, while not an original part of the Christian Gospel, not itself the paradosis par excellence, had been developed from the Gospel itself, from its heart, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as an essential part of the existence of the Christian faith in history

We cannot recognize the rule of faith as original tradition, going back by oral continuity independently of Scripture to Christ and his apostles. But we can recognize it as the tradition in which the Church was interpreting Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and as such claim it as an essential ingredient of historical Christianity
.” (Tradition In The Early Church, pp. 128, 129.)


Grace and peace,

David


P.S. Want to thank TF once again for catching my typos.

13 comments:

Ken Temple said...

Good and interesting discussion.

Where does Bill Webster say what you claim he says?
Please give page number so I can find it in the 3 volumes, Holy Scripture.

Also, what does C.R.B. Shapland's translation of Athanasius say?
Shapland's is a better translation; it seems.

Those letter of Athanasius "concerning the Holy Spirit" "to Serapion" are not in the standard ECF sets. Niether Schaff,nor the Eerdmans' set, nor New Advent.org

That is probably why Dr. White did not include it in his article/chapter (Sola Scriptua and the Early Church) in Sola Scriptura, edited by Don Kistler.

Khaled is an Arab name - interesting - It would be interesting to know the author's background, etc. Muslim, Coptic, or Maronite Catholic in Lebanon?

Anonymous said...

Ken Temple said,

"Also, what does C.R.B. Shapland's translation of Athanasius say?
Shapland's is a better translation; it seems."

Hi Ken,

Can you see why the owner of the blog has difficulty imagining that Athanasius was a proponent of sola scriptura, based on the bad translation? I sure can. Athanasius doesn't come off in those Catholic translations sounding like anyone a protestant could accept.

In your opinion, is there some reason why it appears that White, King, Webster, and others seem determined to adopt Catholics into their own camp? Could it be time for Reformed Christians to stop pleading Athanasius as their spiritual grandpa? Anyway, it will be interesting to see what another translation says.

Anonymous said...

Ken Temple said,

"Also, what does C.R.B. Shapland's translation of Athanasius say?
Shapland's is a better translation; it seems."

Hi Ken,

Can you see why the owner of the blog has difficulty imagining that Athanasius was a proponent of sola scriptura, based on the bad translation? I sure can. Athanasius doesn't come off in those Catholic translations sounding like anyone a protestant could accept.

In your opinion, is there some reason why it appears that White, King, Webster, and others seem determined to adopt Catholics into their own camp? Could it be time for Reformed Christians to stop pleading Athanasius as their spiritual grandpa? Anyway, it will be interesting to see what another translation says.

Anonymous said...

Oh...sorry for doing it twice...Also, I should have signed my name. Maybe one of them could be deleted?

Rory

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

I just moments ago sent you my response to your email, was heading to the Islamic thread you mentioned, but thought I would respond to the comments in this thread first; you posted:

KT:>>Where does Bill Webster say what you claim he says?
Please give page number so I can find it in the 3 volumes, Holy Scripture.>>

Me: Don’t know exactly what you mean with your question. I shall assume it is this comment you are referring to: “As for the rest, IMHO, TF has misread Athanasius (as has Bill Webster), by reading post-Reformation doctrine back into his writings.”

Bill Webster believes that many of the early Church Fathers held to the principle of sola scriptura; the major premise of the 2nd and 3rd volumes of the set you mentioned is to prove just that. However, my readings of the early Fathers yields a picture; in my PREVIOUS THREAD I wrote:

In his essay, James argues that: “Sola scriptura has long been the rule of believing Christian people, even before it became necessary to use the specific terminology against later innovators who would usurp the Scriptures supremacy in the church.” (Page 53.)

Here James is making the claim that early Church Fathers (such as Irenaeus, Augustine and Athanasius) believed in, and taught the doctrine of sola scriptura. This by default means that according to James’ assessment, the above mentioned Church Fathers believed and taught that: 1.) the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith; 2.) the Scriptures are not only materially sufficient, but also formally sufficient (i.e. the doctrine of perspicuity); 3.) the doctrine many of the early Church Fathers on the relationship between Scripture and tradition was essentially the same as the Reformers doctrine.

Me: There is no question that the early Fathers believed in the supremacy and material sufficiency of the Scriptures; however, they one added ingredient to their position that has caused the vast majority of patristic scholars to maintain that they did not hold to the doctrine of sola scriptura: the necessity of interpretive tradition (regula fidei) in order to properly understand the Scritpures. As I said in the same thread, the best introduction to the complex issues of scripture and tradition in the early Church Fathers is A.N.S. Lane’s ESSAY.

KT>>Also, what does C.R.B. Shapland's translation of Athanasius say?
Shapland's is a better translation; it seems.>>

Me: I do not have Shapland’s translation (have tried to get a copy for years now, but no success), but Bill Webster in the 2nd volume provides Shapland’s translation of 1.27b-1.28 on page 59. Sounds like you have the set; however, if you do not, I will type it up for you.

KT:>>Those letter of Athanasius "concerning the Holy Spirit" "to Serapion" are not in the standard ECF sets. Niether Schaff,nor the Eerdmans' set, nor New Advent.org

That is probably why Dr. White did not include it in his article/chapter (Sola Scriptua and the Early Church) in Sola Scriptura, edited by Don Kistler.>>

Me: James did not rely solely on volume 4 of the NPNF2 series (which, as you mentioned, does exclude the important letter). It is in Migne’s PG which he cites on more than one occasion.

KT:>>Khaled is an Arab name - interesting - It would be interesting to know the author's background, etc. Muslim, Coptic, or Maronite Catholic in Lebanon?>>

Me: He sounds like an American Catholic. You can read his faculty bio HERE.

Heading over to the other thread to check out your comments there…

Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hey Rory,

Delelte a post? The Beachbum does not delete (except foul language) (GRIN).

Ken Temple said...

Dave, (and Rory)
I have checked out Shapland's book at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Ga., several times over the past 10 years; but I don't have my own copy.

I only copied a few pages so I can be able to look at it for this very purpose. ( I was too lazy at the time earlier to dig it out of my files.)

And, yes, I finally found where Webster quotes it. (yes I have that series).

From what I can tell, Athanasius, in the first phrase, "But these sayings concerning the Holy Spirit . . . " is quoting Scriptural sayings specifically on the Holy Spirit; and in the second phrase, "but, beyond these sayings . . . " he is pointing to Scriptural texts specifically on the Trinity, Matthew 28:19 and uses Ephesians 4:6 in a Trinitarian way; over all - the Father, through all - the Word or the Son; and "in all" - the Holy Spirit.

So, it does not appear that Athanasius is arguing for some extra church authority to interpret Scripture however they want; but rather; "the tradition", "the faith" and "the teaching" are the outlines of the doctrines of the Trinity; which also Irenaeus and Tertullian expound in their "rule of faith"; and which are all basic proto-Nicean, Apostles Creed kind of doctrinal statements. All of this is fully compatible and consistent with historic Protestantism and the Reformers. In fact Luther and Calvin constantly referred to the early church of the first 500 years, the Trinity, and the first four Ecumenical councils. And they criticized the Radical reformers and Anabaptists and others for taking Sola Scriptura too far with a license to interpret anything however one wanted to. They never argued for that; and the right to interpret the Scriptures was never meant to vitiate the responsibility to interpret them correctly.

It may be going overboard to assert that Athansius articulated the Sola Scriptura formula in all its fullness (that would be anachronistic); but he did believe in something very close to it and to the reformers and fought false doctrine on the basis of Scripture-- and the tradition of the content of the teaching of the Trinity, which became the outline of all the basic creeds. This shows that the disciples left a strong teaching on the Trinity when they baptized in accordance with Matthew 28:19 which was passed on in the early church.

Nowhere do the ECF call other developed things of the much later Roman Catholic Church as "tradition" or part of the "apostolic deposit"; nor do they give blanket permission or authority for the church later in history to add and corrupt interpretations; and nowhere is there any hint of any kind of infallibility to a future office of Pope.

Ken Temple said...

Rory,

Can you see why the owner of the blog has difficulty imagining that Athanasius was a proponent of sola scriptura, based on the bad translation?

yes; but, as you note, (a bad translation) - it is taking lots of liberty in the translation to be biased toward a later understanding of tradition;

And, since I had Shapland's translation, I thought it was a stretch. See above comments on what Athanasius means by the two phrases, "by these sayings concerning the Holy Spirit" and "Beyond these sayings".

Ken Temple said...

Rory,
Historically, "catholics" (with a little “c”) (early church to around 451 (Chalcedon/ 500-600 ?; 529 Counsel or Orange); are the root of all three other branches of Christendom; so the catholics of the early centuries are already in the camp of all of us to some degree or another.

Eastern Orthodox

Protestants

Roman Catholics (development of the Papacy from the city of Rome)

It is not that they are “determined to adopt them into their camp”; as if we Reformed Protestants have no connection to history; rather the early church writers and history and experience are all the property of all three strands that were later developments. Development is there in all three; the question is which one is the closest to the God-breathed Scriptures. They have every right to quote and point out statements from the fathers and early Christians that give weight to the Scriptures and a position that is closer to the spirit of Protestantism, because we all came from the same roots. The Roman Catholics are the ones who added the most and developed the most, especially over the centuries from 600 and beyond; adding to interpretations that have actually corrupted the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”.
We especially have the right to quote statements that are left out or neglected from the apologetic quote books and web-sites that are trying to convince sincere evangelicals to convert to Roman Catholicism.
I am glad that they have written these books and provide these quotes; it gives balance to the whole “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant” apologetic of Newman/Hahn/Mattatics/D. Armstrong/Steve Ray, etc. movement that tries to say that the early church was Roman Catholic, when it was not either. Catholic, yes; Roman Catholic, no.

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken,

Forgive my tardiness in responding; but as I mention in the comments section of my most recent thread, had some DSL problems. Anyway, you wrote:

>>From what I can tell, Athanasius, in the first phrase, "But these sayings concerning the Holy Spirit . . . " is quoting Scriptural sayings specifically on the Holy Spirit; and in the second phrase, "but, beyond these sayings . . . " he is pointing to Scriptural texts specifically on the Trinity, Matthew 28:19 and uses Ephesians 4:6 in a Trinitarian way; over all - the Father, through all - the Word or the Son; and "in all" - the Holy Spirit.

So, it does not appear that Athanasius is arguing for some extra church authority to interpret Scripture however they want; but rather; "the tradition", "the faith" and "the teaching" are the outlines of the doctrines of the Trinity; which also Irenaeus and Tertullian expound in their "rule of faith"; and which are all basic proto-Nicean, Apostles Creed kind of doctrinal statements.>>

Me: Excellent summation. We agree on everything except possibly this: that the Regula Fidei was produced under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and is in a real sense “infallible”. I think what I said earlier in the comments section of this thread is worth repeating:

Me: There is no question that the early Fathers believed in the supremacy and material sufficiency of the Scriptures; however, they one added ingredient to their position that has caused the vast majority of patristic scholars to maintain that they did not hold to the doctrine of sola scriptura: the necessity of interpretive tradition (regula fidei) in order to properly understand the Scritpures. As I said in the same thread, the best introduction to the complex issues of scripture and tradition in the early Church Fathers is A.N.S. Lane’s ESSAY.

BTW, have you had a chance to the essay yet? If so, what are your thoughts?



Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

No problem; we all have these computer issues nowadays.

I did download Anthony Lane's article but I have not read the whole thing yet.

I will try to read it and get back on that.

He is usually very good; I have read other books of his checked out from the library.

Before reading it; so far my thoughts on this issue is:

Athanasius, Tertullian, and Irenaeus show that what they called "the tradition" , "the preaching", "the faith", "the rule of faith"; as the content and outline of the doctrine of the Trinity and a few other essentials ( I believe in the catholic (universal) church, the forgiveness of sins, the judgment to come; the resurrection of the flesh; etc.) which became the creeds and first four counsels of Church history.

(both Calvin and Luther affirmed this and the first four creeds, and early Church history, etc.)

Since the regulei fidei reflects the content of Scripture; and does not add to it and does not corrupt the meaning of it; I think they can be considered providentially guided by the Holy Spirit; but they are not infallible. The mistake was that the church after that point started actually adding to the apostolic deposit; ie, Marian doctrines, the saints, ex opere operato, icons, statues, baptismal regeneration; indulgences, purgatory, Apocrypha, treasury of merit, Papal doctrines.

But I will read Lane's article and come back later; but it may take a few days.

Interlocutor said...

Hi Ken,
"Athanasius, Tertullian, and Irenaeus show that what they called "the tradition" , "the preaching", "the faith", "the rule of faith"; as the content and outline of the doctrine of the Trinity and a few other essentials ( I believe in the catholic (universal) church, the forgiveness of sins, the judgment to come; the resurrection of the flesh; etc.) which became the creeds and first four counsels of Church history."

"few other essentials" - presumably you mean the 1st 4 ecumenical councils defined some of the essentials, but not all, as they did not define sola fide/sola scriptura. What is your view of the development of those (now) essentials in Protestantism?

Ken Temple said...

Interlocutor,
Greetings! I see your name at Dave Armstrong's cite every now and then; so I assume you are the same person. Good question!

They (Sola Fide; Sola Scriptura) are there in the Scriptures clearly; but were left undefined and undeveloped in the early church. Sola Scriptura is there in the ECF (Webster, White, King, Svensen, Enweger) in principle; Sola Fide is less talked about --

Once Ignatius brought the bishop out of the plurality of elders, and seemed to exalt his position, as a one man, one leader (mono-episcopate) type of local church leadership; the development of church government, priesthood, baptism, etc. church authority and emphasis on baptism as "being saved and in the church" (safe) took precedent over Sola Scriptura as the final infallible authority; and overshadowed expounding the Scriptures in Galatians and Romans especially, as related to justification. Penance and indulgences and mediators and treasury of merit and purgatory over-shadowed Sola Fide until Luther.

Some statements of sola Fide are there in Clement, Epistle to Diognetes, Ambrosiaster, and others; but it was overshadowed by the externals of the development of the all the other stuff, mentioned above.

Sola Scripture is more clear in early church; but they did not put it all together in a codified system as Luther and Calvin and other Refomers did.