Friday, July 18, 2008

Presuppositions and Doctrinal Development


I have finally finished the reading list concerning doctrinal development (hereafter DD) that I imposed upon myself (though I am quite sure that there shall be further additions to the list in the near future).

My introduction for this thread will be a recommended bibliography (abbreviated and English only) on DD, with brief notes. [Please note: if a referenced work is available online in either a ‘full view’ or ‘limited preview’, a link (or links) in brackets shall immediately follow the citation.]

The second portion of this thread shall summarize the fundamental assessments of my readings on DD.

First, and foremost, on my abbreviated list of essential readings concerning DD is John Henry Newman’s, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine [1845 ed./pdf HERE; 1878 ed./html HERE]. This book is the “classic” work on DD in English. Though other DD treatments preceded this tome, none were as comprehensive, and/or focused. To my knowledge, virtually all subsequent books on DD reference Newman’s Essay, as do the vast majority of essays and articles. (Note: I highly recommend that the reading of Newman’s autobiography, An Apologia Pro Vita Sua [1864 ed,/pdf HERE; 1865 ed./pdf HERE; 1864-1865 ed./html HERE], immediately follow the reading of his Essay.)

My second recommendation is Peter Toon’s, The Development of Doctrine in the Church [full view/html HERE]. Dr. Toon’s book includes summaries of Newman’s Essay, critiques of Newman, Roberty Rainy’s and James Orr’s DD contributions, recent (but prior to 1979) Protestant and Catholic DD views, and his own theory of DD. This work is the most comprehensive, single treatment of the theory and history of DD from Newman through 1979 I have read. What the book lacks in depth of the particulars, it more than makes up for in its breadth.

Next are three essays by ecumenically minded Catholic theologians: Karl Rahner’s “The Development Of Dogma” (in Theological Investigations – Volume I, pp. 39-77; his “Considerations On The Development Of Dogma” (in Theological Investigations – Volume IV, pp. 3- 35; and Nicholas Lash’s “Dogmas and doctrinal progress” (in Doctrinal Development and Christian Unity, pp. 3 – 33). These three essays, while remaining faithful to Newman’s theory, are sensitive to Protestant concerns.

James Orr’s, The Progress of Dogma [limited preview HERE; unfortunately, the most important chapter/lecture (I) is not in the preview]. In many respects, this work is a Protestant version of Newman’s Essay.

R.P.C. Hanson’s, The Continuity of Christian Doctrine. This work is an interesting one; it written by an Anglican patristic scholar, who upholds the Bible as “authoritative” and “a norm for development”, while denying inerrancy; I would describe him as a “moderate”.

D. H. Williams, Retrieving The Tradition & Renewing Evangelicalism [limited preview HERE]. This book is a must read for Evangelicals who see little need to reflect on importance of tradition in its relationship to the Scriptures, and the fact of DD in history.

Johan Adam Möhler’s, Unity in the Church or The Principle of Catholicism. The book is perhaps the most important Catholic treatment of DD concerning the pre-Nicene Church period.

Jaroslav Pelikan’s, Development of Doctrine – Some Historical Prolegmena [limited preview HERE]. This book presents some of the author’s explorations into nature and history of DD. IMHO, this book should probably be read before his magnum opus, The Christian Tradition – A History of the Development of Doctrine (5 vols.).

Philip Schaff’s, The Principle of Protestantism [full view/pdf HERE]. Though a bit too polemical at times, it still remains as a substantial Protestant contribution to DD readings, and includes an important “Introduction” by John W. Nevin.

Maurice Wiles’, The Making of Christian Doctrine. Presents some excellent assessments concerning the “motives for development” in the early Church. His interaction with the historical examples he provides is also useful.

Aidan Nichols’, From Newman To Congar. Provides excellent summations and assessments of important DD scholars from Newman to Yves Congar.

Owen Chadwick’s, From Bossuet To Newman [limited preview HERE]. Excellent summation of DD precursors to Newman, and a good treatment of Newman’s theory, plus some of the shortly following critiques.

The above is my “short” list of DD reading materials. I have purposely left out treatments that lie at the extreme “right” and “left” ends of DD (see Joseph F. Kelley’s cited comments provided at the beginning of my last THREAD), for both personal and intellectual reasons. And as one who adheres to the dictum, “you can’t beat something with nothing”, I have also chosen not to list works that are strictly critical in nature (e.g. Brownson, Cunningham, Faber, Moberly, Mozley, et al.).

So, what have I gleaned from my recent DD readings? First, DD is a historical fact; second, one’s presuppositions have a tremendous impact on one’s accepted theory of DD; and third, the theory of DD is still developing!

Moving beyond my above general assessments, I would like to reproduce my responses to questions posed by Ken Temple in the combox of the last thread here at AF:

what are the main presuppositions of the John Henry Newman DD and Roman Catholicism?

Me: 1.) the Scriptures are “God breathed”, and as such inerrant, and materially sufficient; and 2.) the Church is the “pillar and ground of truth”, is the “body of Christ” and indwelt by the HS, and as such is guarded from error in doctrine and morals.

What are the main presuppositions of Darby, Calvin, and Cunningham?

Me: The Scriptures are “God breathed”, and as such inerrant, and materially and FORMALLY sufficient.

What are the main presuppositions of the liberals?

Me: The Scriptures are human accounts of God’s revelation, and as such, are not inerrant.

Anyone who attempts to build a comprehensive view of DD will do so by beginning with one of the three above presuppositions/positions (the first embraces two components). At this stage of my studies, I have come to the understanding it is the first position that leads one to the most consistent theory of DD (though it certainly still retains its own set of difficulties). This conclusion is essentially reached by default, for the second position (P2) borrows from the third (P3) to refute the second component (C2) of the first (P1), while borrowing from P1 to build its theory of DD; and P3 offers no serious objective reasons to combat Harnack’s assault on any theory of DD, claiming all DD constitutes a corruption of the “pure Gospel” (which has been adopted with slight variations by those who lean towards Kelley’s far “left”).

By way of illustration, James Orr and Peter Toon whole-heartedly embrace modern historical critical methods to attack the C2 of P1, yet then refuse to apply the same methods to P2. They also borrow Newman’s general principles to determine “true” developments from “false” ones. James Orr wrote: “Dr. J.H. Newman, e.g., in his famous essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, laid down what we must recognize as sound general principles—the very soundest—however much we may differ from him in the application of them” (The Progress of Dogma, p. 20).

In ending, I find that when I apply the same methods I use to defend the C1 of P1 to the C2 of P1, I end up with the same results; and on the flip side, if I apply the methods of P3, used by proponents of P2 to confute the C2 of P1, to P2, P2 does not hold up any better than P1. (All this is not to say that P1 is without ‘difficulties”, but rather, once again, that P1 appears to be the most consistent position of the three.)


Grace and peace,

David

16 comments:

Iohannes said...

Thanks for the recommendations and the reflections. It will take time to digest both.

My initial thought is that the difference between P1 and P2 is not clear cut. I am doubtful, for example, about whether formal as opposed to material sufficiency is really the classic Protestant position. Also, I think there is a range of perspectives on the indefectibility of the Church, and on the implications thereof for infallibility. Just my two cents.

Iohannes said...

One other thing is that Mozley's perspective on Newman (whom he knew personally, being in effect his brother-in-law) was that Newman tried to turn the "ultra-liberal" theory of the origins of Christianity into an apology for Rome. That is, the form of interpretation that allows the facts of liberal critical scholarship authentically to yield the Christological and Trinitarian orthodoxy affirmed by all traditional Christians is the same form of interpretation that leads inevitably to the Church of Rome, i.e. you can have both Athanaius and Trent, or you can reject both Athanasius and Trent, but you can't consistently pick the one and reject the other.

Kepha said...

I agree with Iohannes, David, you are presupposing a particular ecclesiology not only regarding Catholicism but Reformation Christianity.

I wonder about the presuppositions as well. I wouldn't say that I, for instance, start with the presupposition of Scripture as God-breathed. My presupposition, in other words, is not theological. I would say it is historical. I start with the Apostles being eyewitnesses, and then I move out from there. I also take the New Testament writings, not as Scripture, but as the earliest Christian writings that we posses. (I believe Christianity not because Scripture is inerrant, but because the Apostles are trustworthy eyewitnesses). Just from this historical perspective, I think one can see that the nascent Church looked to the Apostles, some more than others (e.g. Peter and Paul), as their definitive leaders. Fortunately, we have some writings from a handful of Apostles and early leaders of the Church. From these we can get a sense of how they understood themselves and "the Faith" or "tradition" that was being passed on.

I look forward to you other reflections.

TOmNossor said...

David said:
In ending, I find that when I apply the same methods I use to defend the C1 of P1 to the C2 of P1, I end up with the same results; and on the flip side, if I apply the methods of P3, used by proponents P2 to confute the C2 of P1, to P2, P2 does not hold up any better than P1. (All this is not to say that P1 is without ‘difficulties”, but rather, once again, that P1 appears to be the most consistent position of the three.)

TOm:
I think I understood that and I think that I very much agree.
I have a couple of other thoughts as well concerning the folks that formed the canon and the conservative theology present for both P1 and P2 folks. These folks claimed authority, developed authority as they developed (perfectly) theology, and claimed that it was their authority that enabled them to develop theology correctly. The canon was defined in an inerrant fashion and the theology was virtually perfect for 4+ centuries and 4 councils (5 if you count Jerusalem); yet everything else these folks defined (authority) and even the reason they claimed they could accomplish such a feat as P1 and P2 folks believe they did (again authority) was in error. This is an extraordinary charism that works perfectly for some things and is radically flawed for others.

David said:
P3 offers no serious objective reasons to combat Harnack’s assault on any theory DD, claiming all DD constitutes a corruption of the “pure Gospel” (which has been adopted with slight variations by those lean towards Kelley’s far “left”).

TOm:
I am not sure I understand exactly what you have said here. I think you are suggesting that P3 embraces doctrinal development, but there is no consistent way from P3 to respond to someone like Harnack that says all doctrinal development is corruption. I am not sure that P3 really has something definitive to say about this, but I am probably wrong.

David said:
Johan Adam Möhler’s, Unity in the Church or The Principle of Catholicism. The book is perhaps the most important Catholic treatment of DD concerning the pre-Nicene Church period.

Jaroslav Pelikan’s, Development of Doctrine – Some Historical Prolegmena [limited preview HERE]. This book presents some of the author’s explorations into nature and history of DD. IMHO, this book should probably be read before his magnum opus, The Christian Tradition – A History of the Development of Doctrine (5 vols.).

Maurice Wiles’, The Making of Christian Doctrine. Presents some excellent assessments concerning the “motives for development” in the early Church. His interaction with the historical examples he provides is also useful.



Owen Chadwick’s, From Bossuet To Newman [limited preview HERE]. Excellent summation of DD precursors to Newman, and a good treatment of Newman’s theory, plus some of the shortly following critiques.


TOm:
Having read Bronson and being exposed to various ultra-trad Catholics (most notably my Sedavacantist friend), I still question if there is good reason to suppose that Newman’s theory of doctrinal development is a development in Catholic theology that abides by Newman’s 7 characteristics of a valid development. There are numerous references before Newman to the preservation of Tradition and to things like a very simple read of the Maxim of St. Vincent De Lerins. If Bronson is correct, (or Darby), and Newman’s theory does not work within the Catholic Church (or history), then his inability to provide another way of course cuts his legs out from under him, but it still would damage Newman’s theory.
Do any of the above post-Newman works speak to the question of pre-19th century development theories or advocates? If Newman were to stand in the Council of Nicea or any of the first 7+ EC’s and claim that what is happening is doctrinal development would there be anyone who actually agreed with him, or would everyone claim that they are actually just defining in accordance with a simple read of the Maxim of St. Vincent De Lerins.



One more thing. The EOs have a perspective and it may be covered by Pelikan (but it was not in his first volume of the 5 which is all I have read from him). There is a group of EOs who claim that Catholicism’s big error is that they try to apply logic and reason to revelations concerning God. To draw dogmatic conclusions about such things as the nature of God is to utilize human reason in inappropriate ways. There are things reason can be applied to, but in response to being shown contradictions or problems with two nature Christology these folks would claim that this type of use of reason is inappropriate. (This is a slightly different response than to say this is a mystery, but it is similar). If you have been to energeticprocessions blog this was were I first discovered this POV.

Charity, TOm

David Waltz said...

Hello Iohannes,

You wrote:

>>My initial thought is that the difference between P1 and P2 is not clear cut. I am doubtful, for example, about whether formal as opposed to material sufficiency is really the classic Protestant position.>>

Me: I agree. I think A.N.S. Lane’s comments on this issue are worth repeating:

“The Reformers unequivocally rejected the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church. This left open the question of who should interpret Scripture. The Reformation was not a struggle for the right of private judgement. The Reformers feared private judgement almost as much as did the Catholics and were not slow to attack it in its Anabaptist manifestation. The Reformation principle was not private judgement but the perspicuity of the Scriptures. Scripture was ‘sui ipsius interpres’ and the simple principle of interpreting individual passages by the whole was to lead to unanimity in understanding. This came close to creating anew the infallible church…” (See blog sidebar for the reference and link to full article.)

>>Also, I think there is a range of perspectives on the indefectibility of the Church, and on the implications thereof for infallibility.>>

Me: Amen. There is no question that much ambiguity exists among modern Catholic theologians concerning the nature and content of infallibility. An excellent book on this topic is, Teaching Authority & Infallibility in the Church – Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VI.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Tom,

Thanks for responding to my musings. You posted:

>> I am not sure I understand exactly what you have said here. I think you are suggesting that P3 embraces doctrinal development, but there is no consistent way from P3 to respond to someone like Harnack that says all doctrinal development is corruption. I am not sure that P3 really has something definitive to say about this, but I am probably wrong.>>

Me: Harnack is one representative of P3, and his view of DD has significantly influenced pretty much every other subsequent representative of P3 in, of course, varying degrees. (BTW, one of these days I would like to explore whether or not Edwin Hatch’s ideas influenced Harnack. I know that Harnack translated Hatch’s The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages on the Christian Church into German—FYI, this a very popular book among Latter-day Saints.)

>> I still question if there is good reason to suppose that Newman’s theory of doctrinal development is a development in Catholic theology that abides by Newman’s 7 characteristics of a valid development. There are numerous references before Newman to the preservation of Tradition and to things like a very simple read of the Maxim of St. Vincent De Lerins.>>

Me: As you know, Newman did not jettison Vincent’s dictum, but rather, gave it a much more nuanced interpretation. Brownson’s view, IMHO, is impossible to support, if one takes history seriously. I would be interested in your thoughts concerning which of Newman’s 7 characteristics his theory of DD would violate.

As for the EOs and DD, I highly recommend Dr. Liccione’s recent exchange with a couple of EO scholars: HERE. His threads on development and Vincent’s rule are also worth looking into: HERE and HERE.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

I will repeat an earlier post I made, because I think it bears repeating:

Anyway, the only way to solve it is not to try and find a theory of history that is the most ideal; but rather to open the Scriptures up and interpret them by the rules of the historical context, paragraph context, rules of grammar and literature and genres, and the rule of non-contradiction from a God who is perfect and does not lie and cannot contradict himself. (analogy of faith)

We know Scripture is infallible, but history is not. History is history, warts and all.

The problem with this P1, P2 and P3 and Ci and C2 ,designation, etc. is that it takes the discussion away from specific exegesis and attempts to fit all of history into some kind of "ideal" or "utopian" or "infallible" or "indefectable" box; it is trying to make some kind of big picture view of all of history that says the church in history will always be infallible and uncorrupt; and in a way that makes sense to the human mind; (the doctrine of God's sovereignty in allowing sin and problems does that much better than the RCC DD view of Newman and the infallibility of the Pope, etc.) but God never requires us to do what you are doing; approaching everything from "history must makes sense (must be perfect as far a the infallibility of the church is concerned, etc.)

Once you do this, and avoid the details of Scriptural exegesis in context of specific verses, paragraphs, backgrounds, grammar; then you loose the whole focus of what God calls us to keep doing, to "continually devote themselves to the apostles teaching" (Acts 2:42)

to "earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3)

to "guard the deposit" (I Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:14)

"remember the words of the prophets and . . . the apostles . . " 2 Peter 3:1-2; Jude 17

It just does not follow that the liberal criticisms using historical critical methods (I am not totally sure of what you mean by this; do you for example, the exposure of the Transitus literature after the fact and the condemnation of it by Galatius, and then that the BA of Mary comes from that literature that was exposed later as false? Nothing that comes to close to that has ever been found of the Scriptures, in fact archeology has confirmed the Scriptures as time goes by; for example scoffing at the Bible because of the Hittites; yet years later discovery of a massive Hittite civilization in Turkey and museums today in Ankara proving it; Amazing.) of the Roman Catholic claim to infallibility can be applied in the same way to the Scriptures; and so it does not follow that the Protestant case falls, and that the RCC view is the more consistent view.

P2 is actually the most consistent position.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

You entire post presupposes Sola Scriptura... you have never shown it to be a concept that is asserted in the Holy Writ...

I don't know how to help you see why I see such a glaring hole in your presentation of this integral part of your worldview... maybe someone else can do a better job than I...

All I can say for sure is that you have not shown it...

Blessings,
BC

Ken Temple said...

Basically, because Jesus was who He says He is; (His character, claims, miracles, resurrection)

and He affirmed the OT
(Matthew 5:17-19; John 5:39-40; John 10:33-38; John 22:29-31 (reading the Scriptures is God speaking to the one reading); John 22:43-45 (Jesus says the Holy Spirit inspired David to write what he wrote.)

and the new; (John 16:13, 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21, John 17:8 (the words of the Father were given to Jesus and Jesus gave those words to the apostles) and His view of His word is a good rule -- He believed the word of God; the word of God was written down in the NT through the Apostles. Finished.

The fact that we know and have the canon in its present form took a process of collecting them all under one cover does not prove that the church in other areas was not right; nor does it mean that they are infallible. History is history; it took a while for all the churches to accept all of them; they were not written under one cover; like the Quran asserts to be, through one person; rather they are different authors at different times; and originally separate books written to different areas in the Roman Empire. The Persecution for 300 years and the burning that the Romans did and the illegal status of Christianity also accounts for this. This is not that hard that you are making it out to be. That process of discovering them does not take away from them as "canon" the minute the ink dried.

Ken Temple said...

John 22:29-31 (reading the Scriptures is God speaking to the one reading); John 22:43-45 (Jesus says the Holy Spirit inspired David to write what he wrote.)

OOOPPPPSS !
Should have been:

Matthew 22:29-31 (reading the Scriptures is God speaking to the one reading); Matthew 22:43-45 (Jesus says the Holy Spirit inspired David to write what he wrote.)

Ken Temple said...

Beyond that, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of Christ"
Romans 10:17

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks for responding. You wrote:

Ken:>>Anyway, the only way to solve it is not to try and find a theory of history that is the most ideal; but rather to open the Scriptures up and interpret them by the rules of the historical context, paragraph context, rules of grammar and literature and genres, and the rule of non-contradiction from a God who is perfect and does not lie and cannot contradict himself. (analogy of faith)

We know Scripture is infallible, but history is not. History is history, warts and all.>>

Me: I guess I need to be clear on this: history is what it is—history. Man’s recording of it, and interpretation, is not infallible. Yet with that said, the recording of history can be quite reliable, and we can learn much from it.

Ken:>>The problem with this P1, P2 and P3 and Ci and C2 ,designation, etc. is that it takes the discussion away from specific exegesis and attempts to fit all of history into some kind of "ideal" or "utopian" or "infallible" or "indefectable" box; it is trying to make some kind of big picture view of all of history that says the church in history will always be infallible and uncorrupt;>>

Me: Actually, my view of P1 comes via Scriptural exegesis.

Ken:>>and in a way that makes sense to the human mind; (the doctrine of God's sovereignty in allowing sin and problems does that much better than the RCC DD view of Newman and the infallibility of the Pope, etc.) but God never requires us to do what you are doing; approaching everything from "history must makes sense (must be perfect as far a the infallibility of the church is concerned, etc.)>>

Me: The Bible is full of history, and gives us a blueprint of how God deals with His covenant people. “Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11 – RSV.)

Ken:>>Once you do this, and avoid the details of Scriptural exegesis in context of specific verses, paragraphs, backgrounds, grammar; then you loose the whole focus of what God calls us to keep doing, to "continually devote themselves to the apostles teaching" (Acts 2:42)>>

Me: Once again, it is my exegesis of the Scriptures that moves me to lean towards P1.

Ken:>>P2 is actually the most consistent position.>>

Me: As we have discussed in the past, it is the belief in FORMAL sufficiency which creates so many problems for P2. The fact that one can demonstrate substantive divisions among pious Christians who affirm P2 should raise ‘red flags’ for all who embrace the paradigm.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

oh yeah, we already went through this before!

It is "asserted" implicitly by theological deduction, putting all the Scriptural content together on what Scripture teaches about Scripture; it exegetically and reasonably comes out to "Sola Scritpura"; that the Scriptures are the only infallible rule for doctrine of the faith and practice for the church.

Ken Temple said...

But the exegesis of P1 (the RCC) is just "goofy" on things like Mary, Papal infallibility, and transubstantiation. They indicted themselves on this by the superstition of relics, and bowing before a stature of Mary and praying to it, and talking to it and praising it and bowing down before bread and wine. (no matter how much one tries to justify all that stuff; dulia vs. latria; accidents vs. essence; infallible in doctrine only; that we ask each other to pray for one another, etc.)


I Timothy 2:5 is enough to speak to their minds back in 200, 300, 1200, 1500 and today to show that all of that was wrong from the start.

Exodus 20:1-5 is enough, sufficient to take the whole externalistic RCC down. These in themselves just completely rule out these guys abilities (whoever they are, Radhbertus, Ignatius Loyola, Aquinas on some things , Jerome on the Perpetual Virginity; Clement of Alexandria and Augustine on sex in marriage, Origen on Matthew 19:12 (castrating himself); Augustine and Origen on assuming infant baptism with no evidence, etc.

Mind you, my respect for Irenaeus is great on most things; but his mind went to Mars on Jesus' age and baptismal regeneration. Jerome is wonderful on the Apocrypha, but he is just goofy on the Perpetual Virginity. Aquinas is great on classical proofs for God and predestination and most things, but goofy on transubstantiation. They just are not infallible, and their interpretations just do not hold up under the scrutiny of Scripture.

Ken Temple said...

The fact that one can demonstrate substantive divisions among pious Christians who affirm P2 should raise ‘red flags’ for all who embrace the paradigm.

not if you get into the details of what each groups accepts and rejects. The Anglicans anathemitize themselves by their justification for homosexuality.

On some issues, there should be grace, and others "no compromise". I think the official Anglicans have anathemitized themselves and apostacized.

But on the issue of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, that is a lesser grave matter, and certainly I would not say it rises to the level of the Deity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the cross, the resurrection, justification by faith and apart from works, etc.

It is important, but for me personally, it took me about 20 years of study and struggle to finally see that Reformed theology was the correct way to understand Scripture. So, I can have compassion and patience on those that don't like Calvinism and preach hard against it.

Urgun Caner showed that he is just not willing to accept Romans 9:11 because he said just the opposite of it in his rejection of Calvinism. (in the presentation at www.aomin.org) see at end.

I am Reformed and I am "hot" for missions and evangelism and God's love and that God cannot sin; so he presents a straw man argument, a very zealous and spirited one.

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2784

Anonymous said...

Ken,

It is not at all clear that Sola Scriptura necessarily follows from anything you have posted...

It seems clear to me that, while we agree that the Bible is God-breathed... we don't have the same reasons for believing so...

Without having read all of the works that David has read on the subject of DD... I would have to say that his conclusion seems to be the most obvious one to me... though I admit my bias.

I hope you are well.

Blessings,
BC