Tuesday, May 19, 2009

James White’s 1995 essay returns


This week’s first thread was to be on Calvin and his take on Michael the Archangel as the pre-incarnate Christ; however, a post I have recently read from the ‘pen’ of James White has lead me to create a thread in response to his musings. In his 05/16/2009 BLOG POST James wrote:

Years ago in a written debate on the claims of Roman Catholicism I pointed out the bankruptcy of the constantly repeated slogan that states that Rome is the church of the past 2,000 years. The fact that Newman had to create his development hypothesis proves that the claim is empty: the early centuries did not embrace, as part of their faith, so much that defines modern Roman Catholic dogma. I have often pointed to Nicea as a convenient and important date in church history and asked which of the bishops there embraced, as part of the Christian faith, such concepts as transubstantiation, purgatory, the thesaurus meritorum, Papal Infallibility, the Marian dogmas, etc. and etc. Now, we do not have an exhaustive record of every sermon preached by every bishop who was at the Council of Nicea. In fact, we don't even have an exhaustive list of their names, for that matter. But remember, it is Rome's claim that she is the church, the same church, that has existed since Pentecost. She, uniquely, bears Christ's authority. Is this not the claim? So, if it is, then it should follow that this claim could garner positive documentation, correct? We should be able to discern these beliefs in the surviving sermons and records of that period, should we not?

The actual claim is that the same Church our Lord established in the first century, is the same Church we find in communion with the Bishop of Rome today. This does not deny that doctrine develops, for ALL must admit that it does. The doctrine of the Trinity clearly took centuries to develop; the Evangelical “Gospel” took nearly 1500 years to develop! To state that every doctrine that the Catholic Church now embraces was not ‘developed’ by the time of Nicea is a fact all knowledgeable Catholics affirm—the issue that is being avoided is that NONE of the unique doctrines embraced by Evangelicalism can be found prior to Nicea; and in reality, prior to Luther (Wycliffe may be a possible exception), including sola scriptura which James attempts to defend via a selection from an old treatment published back in 1995; James continues his post with:

How can a challenge that notes the evolutionary nature of Roman dogma over time, which stands at complete odds with the claim that Rome is the same church over 2000 years of history, be based upon sola scriptura? We are not told. But we are told that those bishops would have rejected sola scriptura! Really? So when I quote Athanasius not only asserting the sufficiency of Scripture, but demonstrate that he consistently argued for the deity of Christ upon that bedrock of truth, and point out that his actions in opposing the entire ecclesiastical structure of his day (including the bishop of Rome) are utterly incompatible with the modern Roman understanding of scripture and tradition and magisterium, what will be the response? "He's just one theologian" possibly, as Gerry Matatics was want to do in such situations? It is hard to say. But compare the shallow sounding mockery of the sufficiency of the Scriptures found in the last lines with the words of Psalm 119. Compare such Roman-inspired error with Jesus' own view of Scripture. Such empty mockery rings very hollow when compared with the biblical testimonies to the Word's sufficiency.
But let us allow Athanasius, himself at Nicea (though not yet a bishop), to refute this cavil against divine truth. I am grateful to announce that the work on scriptural sufficiency that originally came out in 1995 is coming out again! This work, with chapters by R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, and Sinclair Ferguson, addresses many facets of this vitally important topic. I contributed a lengthy chapter on the early church's view, and I focused a good bit on Athanasius, starting with the best Rome has to offer in citations from him, then, having provided the relevant context, moving to the positive testimonies he provided. In celebration of the re-release of that book in the near future, I provide that material. Let the reader compare the shallow triumphalism of Rome with a sober discussion of what this early writer actually said, and what he actually meant.

James then provides a somewhat lengthy quote from the 1995 work, but did not give the title: Sola Scriptura! – The Protestant Position on the Bible (James’ essay in the book is, “Sola Scriptura and the early Church”, pp. 27-62).
I have previously dealt with this essay in two older threads here at Articuli Fidei: The 05-22-08 Dividing Line webcast and The 05/22/08 Dividing Line webcast - part 2. James’ DL program seems to have been prompted by a quote from the Baptist patristic scholar D.H. Williams, that I had provided in THIS PRECEEDING POST.

One will notice from the comments sections of the above threads that virtually no response has been given to my reflections; I sincerely wonder if the silence will continue…

Grace and peace,

David

50 comments:

Voces said...

Bravo, David!

I wonder, if using the same logic employed by Herr White, if any of the Christian clergy of the 1st to 3rd Century early church espoused a very similar conception of the Trinity as ultimately conceived at Nicaea.

Try a more rather subordinationist understanding of the Trinity; though not the actual ultimately full-blown Trinitarian kind that developed and came about at Nicaea.

Mark said...

Unfortunately, Dr. White's view of Catholicism comes mostly from popular Catholic apologists who don't help themselves with some of their arguments. Educated Catholics will not claim that the Catholic Church is identical to the apostolic Church. It is the Church of Christ, the Bride of Christ, but with 2,000 years of reflection under our belt some of our understandings have changed, and rightly so. All Christians, Protestant or Catholic, would have to admit this (with regard to the Trinity, at least). The problem is that some Catholic apologists give the impression that the Church is the same today as it was then; as if the doctrines contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church have just been handed down through the centuries from the Apostles to today! While that is true in a sense, it is not nearly nuanced enough. Catholics still need to explain the Marian dogmas, purgatory, Papal infallibility, etc. None of which have explicit reference in the earliest Christian texts. As White says, Newman had to come up with a way to explain this development of doctrine.

In the end, White's argument is meaningless because it is based on an understanding of the Church that Catholics do not hold. Unfortunately, my guess is that some of the Catholic apologists he has to deal with have not helped to clarify this misunderstanding very well. If you're making arguments for the continuity of the early Church from the writings of Eusibeus, you better think again.

All that said, you are completely right. What is ignored in some of these Protestant apologetics is the novelty of some of their own doctrines. Dr. White is a very educated man. He knows better. It seems he is just trying to make a point to win an argument. His beef with Rome is that the locus of authority is placed within the Church. His beef is not with a developing doctrine. Protestants even have to admit to developing doctrines.... or they ought to. Trying to say that "Rome claims to be the one true Church for the last 2,000 years, yet Catholics admit that their doctrines have developed, therefore Rome's claim is false," is just a bad argument. Being the one, true Church, established by Christ, is not antithetical to a Church with developed doctrines. Protestants would have to claim as much about their own churches or confessions.

David Waltz said...

Hi Mark,

An excellent summation of the numerous posts here at AF on the development of doctrine. The following you wrote is the very essence of my view:

>>Educated Catholics will not claim that the Catholic Church is identical to the apostolic Church. It is the Church of Christ, the Bride of Christ, but with 2,000 years of reflection under our belt some of our understandings have changed, and rightly so. All Christians, Protestant or Catholic, would have to admit this (with regard to the Trinity, at least).>>

You have also discerned another important aspect of ‘popular’ apologetics (Catholic and Protestant); James White and other ‘popular’ anti-Catholic apologists (e.g. James Swan, TurretinFan, Steve Hays, et al.) tend to focus their Catholic counterparts who are not keeping up with incredible amount of solid Catholic scholarship produced during the last couple of decades.

One of the goals of this blog is to shed some light on the poor methodologies that are being used by so many contemporary apologists.


Grace and peace,

David

Anonymous said...

James White remarks:

I have often pointed to Nicea as a convenient and important date in church history and asked which of the bishops there embraced, as part of the Christian faith, such concepts as transubstantiation...Canon 13 from the Council of Nicea:

Concerning the departing, the ancient canon law is still to be maintained namely that those who are departing are not to be deprived of their last, most necessary viaticum. But if one whose life has been despaired of has been admitted to communion and has shared in the offering and is found to be numbered again among the living, he shall be among those who take part in prayer only [here a variant reading in Les canons des conciles oecumeniques adds "until the term fixed by this great ecumenical synod has been completed"]. But as a general rule, in the case of anyone whatsoever who is departing and seeks to share in the eucharist, the bishop upon examining the matter shall give him a share in the offering.-Ancient,necessary viaticum(food for the journey) for the dying.
-Share in the offeringSeems to me that the Real Presence was believed by the bishops at the council and they indicated that is was an ancient belief.

Peter P

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the first post was not formatted well.

James White remarks:

I have often pointed to Nicea as a convenient and important date in church history and asked which of the bishops there embraced, as part of the Christian faith, such concepts such as transubstantiation...

Canon 13 from the Council of Nicea reads:

Concerning the departing, the ancient canon law is still to be maintained namely that those who are departing are not to be deprived of their last, most necessary viaticum. But if one whose life has been despaired of has been admitted to communion and has shared in the offering and is found to be numbered again among the living, he shall be among those who take part in prayer only. But as a general rule, in the case of anyone whatsoever who is departing and seeks to share in the eucharist, the bishop upon examining the matter shall give him a share in the offering.-Ancient, most necessary viaticum for the dying.

-Share in the offeringThese words indicate to me that the Real Presence was believed by the bishops at the council and they indicated that is was an ancient belief.

Peter P

Anonymous said...

I give up. Sorry for the confusion people, but my posts are not formatted the same way after I hit publish. I hope you will be able to understand my point.

Peter P

David Waltz said...

Nice quote Peter. Many anti-Catholics love to quibble over the “difference” between ‘real presence’ and transubstantiation. Two points seem appropriate: first, once one accepts ‘real presence’, the next step to transubstantiation is not only an ‘easy’ one, it makes the most theological sense (IMHO); and second, most (almost all?) Reformed types reject ‘real presence’ (in its historical form).


Grace and peace,

David


P.S. I too have experienced formatting problems in the combox; hopefully the folks at Blogger on working on this.

Nick Norelli said...

If you moved to WordPress you wouldn't have the comment formatting problems. You should consider it.

Ken Temple said...

To state that every doctrine that the Catholic Church now embraces was not ‘developed’ by the time of Nicea is a fact all knowledgeable Catholics affirm—the issue that is being avoided is that NONE of the unique doctrines embraced by Evangelicalism can be found prior to Nicea;

The formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity was a development - 3, triad, Father, son and Spirit (matthew 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14); Tri - unitas (three in one); homo-ousias (same substance/essence/nature); 3 hypostasis or persona

development yes; but a legitimate development because it is based on sound content and exegesis from the Inspired Scriptures.

But the RC dogmas really don't have good content or exegesis to back them up.

Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide were not articulated exactly as the Reformers more fully developed them; Sola Scriptura, based on those quotes that Dr. White provides, plus others; seems to really be there in the early church fathers in seed form; and Sola Fide is less; but can certainly be found.

The point is that the doctrines of the Trinity and Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide have Scripture and sound exegesis behind them; whereas the doctrines of transubstantiation, the Papal dogmas, Marian dogmas and practices; the treasury of merit, purgatory, indulgences, grace as a substance, penance, etc. - these things don't have sound Scriptural support nor do they have reasonable and excellent exegesis behind them.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Welcome back to AF; if is always a pleasure to dialogue with you. You wrote:

>>The formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity was a development - 3, triad, Father, son and Spirit (matthew 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14); Tri - unitas (three in one); homo-ousias (same substance/essence/nature); 3 hypostasis or persona>>

Me: I think Raymond Brown’s comments on the “triad” passages is worth noting:

“Three different figures, Father, Son, and Spirit, are brought into conjunction in the NT. Some NT formulas join the three; other references unite the Father and the Son; and still other references relate the Spirit to the Father and/or Son. Nevertheless, in no NT passage, not even in Matt. 28:19, is there precision about three divine Persons, co-equal but distinct, and one divine Nature—the core of the dogma of the Trintiy. Greek philosophy, sharpened by continuing theological disputes in the church from the 2nd to the 5th centuries, contributed to the classical formulation of the dogma. On the one hand one may say, the, that the precise Trinitarian dogma is not detectable in the literal sense of the NT, i.e., was not observably understood by first-century authors and audiences. On the other hand, reflection on NT texts played a crucial role in leading the church to the dogma to the dogma of three divine Persons and one divine Nature, a dogma that employed new terminology and embodied new insights as a response to new questions. There is no need to posit new revelation to account for the truth ultimately phrased in the trinitarian dogma, since that truth was already revealed when God sent Jesus Christ and when the risen Christ communicated his Spirit. Yet the development was not simply a matter of logic. In faith, one can claim that the Spirit guided the church as it moved from the NT triadic passages to perceiving and proclaiming the trinitarian dogma. Christians should not be embarrassed to affirm that they depend upon the Spirit’s guidance in such an essential dogma., for that guidance is really an application of Christ’s promise to be with his community and to send the Paraclete to guide them along the way of all truth…If ‘tradition’ implies that first-century Christianity already understood three coequal but distinct divine Persons and one divine Nature but had not developed the precise terminology, I would dissent. Neither the terminology nor the basic ideas had reached clarity in the first century; problems and disputes were required before the clarity came…Precisely because the ‘trinitarian’ line of development was not the only line of thought detectable in the NT, one must posit the guidance of the Spirit and intuition of faith as the church came to its decision.” (Raymond E. Brown, Biblical Exegesis & Church Doctrine, 1985, pp. 31-33.)

>>development yes; but a legitimate development because it is based on sound content and exegesis from the Inspired Scriptures.>>

Me: Unfortunately, competent Biblical scholars disagree over what actually constitutes “sound content and exegesis from the Inspired Scriptures”.

>>But the RC dogmas really don't have good content or exegesis to back them up.>>

Me: I am quite sure that Catholic, Biblical scholars will differ with you on this.


[Note: My response is cont'd in the next post.]

David Waltz said...

Response to Ken cont'd...

>>Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide were not articulated exactly as the Reformers more fully developed them; Sola Scriptura, based on those quotes that Dr. White provides, plus others; seems to really be there in the early church fathers in seed form; and Sola Fide is less; but can certainly be found.>>

Me: I have quoted at length many Protestant scholars who disagree with James White on the issue sola scriptura in the early Church (including Athanasius)—one excellent example is Lane’s essay (see snippet and link on the right side bar)—my posts under the “Sola Scriptura” label provide many more examples, which include the following assessment from the pen of the Baptist, patristic scholar, D. H. Williams:


==Several publications by evangelicals have argued that the doctrine of sola scriptura was practiced, though implicitly, in the hermeneutical thinking of the early church. Such an argument is using a very specific agenda for the reappropriation of the early church: reading the ancient Fathers through the leans of post-Reformational Protestantism…Witness the recent attempts to find a “patristic principle of sola scriptura” in Irenaeus[3] or in Athanasius, from which the conclusion is reached, “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.”[4]

…Scripture can never stand completely independent of the ancient consensus of the church’s teaching without serious hermeneutical difficulties…The issue, then, is not whether we believe the Bible or whether we will use the Tradition—the real question, as the patristic age discovered, is, Which tradition will we use to interpret the Bible? (D. H. Williams, Retrieving the Tradition & Renewing Evangelicalism, pp. 229, 234.)

Notes:

[3] J. Armstrong ed., Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us, (Chicago: Moody, 1995), 40. In his essay, Tom Nettles seems oblivious to the crucial distinction between written and oral authority in Irenaeus when he says, “The Scripture is that which is ‘handed down,’ that is, tradition.” W. Robert Godfrey also poses the problem of the “divide” between Roman Catholics and Protestants as the “Word of God” versus “church traditions.”

[4] In Sola Scriptura! The Protestant Position on the Bible, ed. D. Kistler (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1996), 53. The essay entitled “Sola scriptura and the Early Church,” exhibits very limited familiarity with patristic doctrinal history such that it claims Athanasius stood against Liberius’, bishop of Rome (p. 42), whereas in fact, Athanasius sought the protection of Liberius’ successor, Julius, during his exile, and he, of all the Greek fathers, remained the most intimate with Rome after Julius’ death in 352. There is hardly a case for a proto-opposition between “Protestants” and “Roman Catholics.” Moreover, it is striking White argues that Athanasius makes no appeal to unwritten tradition, and yet in the very citation offered as proof of this point (Oration Against the Arians III.29) Athanasius refers to Mary as Theotokos, bearer of God; an Alexandrian tradition which few Protestants would espouse!==


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

Nevertheless, in no NT passage, not even in Matt. 28:19, is there precision about three divine Persons, co-equal but distinct, and one divine Nature—the core of the dogma of the Trintiy.

Agreed, the terminology of “three divine persons, co-equal, but distinct, and one divine nature” was not there in Matthew 28:19 or 2 Cor. 13:14 or I Cor. 12:4-6; or Matthew 3:16-17 (and parallels); or Luke 1:34-35; but all three persons of the Triad, or Trinity are there – Father, Son, and Spirit. The label as “person” comes more from the Bible than Greek philosophy; from the fact that all three have personal relations with one another in mind, will, and emotions. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father, the Son prays to the Father, the Father sends the Son, the Spirit testifies to the Son; the Father and the Son sent the Spirit in Acts 2:33-36. The Spirit speaks, prays, has a will, and can be grieved, and is called God, etc. (Ephesians 4:30, similar to God the Father in Genesis 6:6; Acts 5:3-4). The theology of the Trinity is putting together verses about the Oneness of God, with verses about the “threeness” of the personal relationships, along with the verses that say each one is God by nature. The distinction between person ( hypostasis and persona) and substance/nature/being/essence was a good one that is there, can I say, hidden, in the text, but not explicitly stated.

It does not bother me at all to not be a scholar on the level of Raymond Brown or D. H. Williams and yet disagree with them. I admit I don’t have the training or breadth or depth of knowledge that they do about the early church fathers or church history. Both Ireneaus and Athanasius seemed to articulate Sola Scriptura in a simple way; but not realizing the implications for some of the other things they write in other places. The “tradition” that Ireneaus writes about in several places was a doctrinal formula, all Biblical, which later became the Nicean and Apostles Creeds. Tertullian and Origen had the same basic creed, they called “the tradition” or “the preaching” or “the faith”. This was biblical and this is what Luther and Calvin meant to get back to, the faith of the early centuries. It was much closer to Protestant faith in the sense of Scripture as the final authority, than the Roman Catholic over-developed things after the first four-five centuries.

Ken Temple said...

In his essay, Tom Nettles seems oblivious to the crucial distinction between written and oral authority in Irenaeus when he says, “The Scripture is that which is ‘handed down,’ that is, tradition.”

I respectfully disagree with this point, based on the following:

What is “the tradition”?
The tradition that Irenaeus is talking about, is the right Biblical tradition, he defines it, in context (belief in One God, who created all things, Jesus as Son of God, the same God in OT as NT, against Gnosticism, etc.)
(See, Against Heresies, 1:10:1 and 1:10:2; 3:4:2)

Against Heresies, 3:4:1 (last part)

"For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?"

In 3:4:2, I included that earlier, and explained that

And 3:4:1 should be understood also in the context of 3:5:1:

Just let the quote keep going – to 3:5:1 --

1. Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel,
in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth,17 and that no lie is in Him. . . .”

This gets to the bottom of line of what Irenaeus has said, that the tradition is that basic doctrinal statement taught by the apostles and the successors of the apostles (the presbyters, teachers, bishops, missionaries) and they taught that Trinitarian doctrine, and even the barbarian peoples have that same tradition. And then the kicker, “since the tradition does exit in the church, let us revert to the Scriptural proof by those apostles who did write the Gospel.” Now he is teaching Sola Scriptura, which is that each point of the tradition must be proved by Scripture in order for it to be valid, apostolic tradition.

Ireneaus said, “since we do have the tradition from the apostles in the churches, let us resort to the Scriptural proof”. These is understood by Reformed Protestants as a clear indication of a simple form of Sola Scriptura, despite the fact that Irenaeus himself was inconsistent with it in other contexts; such as the comment about Jesus living to be 50 years old or more and the difficult passage about the importance of the tradition in the church of Rome, as the capital of the Empire, exists as a reflection of the whole body of Christians spread throughout the empire; because so many Christians from all over the Roman world came to Rome for commerce and jobs and other social and political issues.

Ken Temple said...

Moreover, it is striking White argues that Athanasius makes no appeal to unwritten tradition, and yet in the very citation offered as proof of this point (Oration Against the Arians III.29) Athanasius refers to Mary as Theotokos, bearer of God; an Alexandrian tradition which few Protestants would espouse!

Not a problem, as originally understood,it was more about Jesus than about Mary; that Mary was carrying Jesus Christ, who was God before He took on flesh in the conception and while she was carrying Him in the womb. The problem that Protestants have with it, was the later developments that made Mary too big and exalted her too much.

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken,

Thanks for responding; you wrote:

>>It does not bother me at all to not be a scholar on the level of Raymond Brown or D. H. Williams and yet disagree with them. I admit I don’t have the training or breadth or depth of knowledge that they do about the early church fathers or church history. Both Ireneaus and Athanasius seemed to articulate Sola Scriptura in a simple way; but not realizing the implications for some of the other things they write in other places. The “tradition” that Ireneaus writes about in several places was a doctrinal formula, all Biblical, which later became the Nicean and Apostles Creeds. Tertullian and Origen had the same basic creed, they called “the tradition” or “the preaching” or “the faith”. This was biblical and this is what Luther and Calvin meant to get back to, the faith of the early centuries. It was much closer to Protestant faith in the sense of Scripture as the final authority, than the Roman Catholic over-developed things after the first four-five centuries.>>

Me: If sola scriptura equals Scripture plus the interpretive principal established by the regula fidei (i.e. “the tradition”, “the preaching”, ‘the canon of truth’, et al.) then I would agree that the majority of the ECFs held to SS. However, as Lane so clearly points out in his masterful essay, the SS of the ECFs was not the SS of the magisterial Reformers; and further, the SS of modern Evangelicalism is not the SS of either the magisterial Reformers or the ECFs. (Also, as I have pointed out in other threads, Catholic scholars like Rahner are more than willing to speak of a Catholic SS.)

As for “the tradition” held by Irenaeus, I maintain (with many respected patristic scholars from varying denominational backgrounds) that he was a subordinationist, not a post-Nicene Trinitarian. THIS THREAD ON IRENAEUS is primer of sorts on this issue.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

Thanks David,

You wrote:
If sola scriptura equals Scripture plus the interpretive principal established by the regula fidei (i.e. “the tradition”, “the preaching”, ‘the canon of truth’, et al.) then I would agree that the majority of the ECFs held to SS.


Good. Do you also agree that all of the points of the regula fidei in Tertullian, Ireneaus, and Origen (D. H. Williams lists these in one of his books, I will have to come back when I find the exact page and book as I checked it out from a library) are from the written Scriptures and derived from them and that the Scriptures existed (48-70 AD; or 48-96 AD) before Tertullian ( d. around 200 AD), Irenaeus ( 180-200 AD); and Origen ( around 255 AD ?) I understand your point, but the Scriptures were written before the ECFs and their understanding of "the regula fidei" - that basic doctrinal statement similar to the apostles creed and Nicean Creed. Oral preaching was before that until the Scriptures were written down; but the Scriptures, being written from about 48 AD - 69 AD; ( I believe that, that Revelation was written before 70 AD) maybe Jude was the last - 80 AD. I agree with some that John and his letters were also before 70 AD. If not, then only they are in the 80s-96 AD. These are all way before Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Origin ( who have the clearest pre-Nicean fleshed out doctrinal statements).

So, they are not only an interpretative principle on how to interpret the NT, but doctrinal summaries that derive from the source of the written Scriptures. They also served as discipleship tools for missionaries to barbarian tribes until they got the Scriptures in their languages.
However, as Lane so clearly points out in his masterful essay, the SS of the ECFs was not the SS of the magisterial Reformers;

In seed form, it is; as you have basically admitted by your first sentence; but not in explicit fullness. The false doctrines of the Medieval RCC forced more full and explicit development of the formulation and understanding of it.

I may comment further and/or on the other stuff you wrote later if I have time.

Ken Temple said...

"Rule of Faith" (or "the faith", "the preaching", "the tradition", etc.) lists that D. H. Williams lists, on page 16 of The Free Church and the Early Church . Eerdman's, 2002.

1. Irenaeus, Against Heresies. 1:10:1 - 1:11:1;
1:22:1;
3:4:2

2. Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics.
13:1-6
Against Praxeas 2:1-2

3. Origen, On First Principles
1. preface.2-8

Irenaeus and Tertullian's are all Biblical doctrinal statements. (I have not looked at Origen's, so don't hold me to that. I am trusting Williams at this point; little time.) there is nothing in them that allows for some kind of method of then centuries later adding false doctrines like the Marian dogmas and practices, indulgences, treasury of merit, Papal dogmas, etc.

Ken Temple said...

David,
I am very surprised that you have not responded to this yet.

Are you stumped?

Then, it seems that Sola Scriptura is indeed the belief of the early church; and the regula fide ( or tradition, or preaching, or "the faith") was merely a pre-Nicean doctrinal statement, that all originally came from the truth of the Scriptures; because the individual books were written first, from 49-69 AD or 49-96 AD. That it took a while to collect all the inspired books under one cover does not in any way go against Sola Scriptura.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

I thought we had pretty much covered the topic; but at your request, I will attempt to explain a bit further. You wrote:

>>Irenaeus and Tertullian's are all Biblical doctrinal statements. (I have not looked at Origen's, so don't hold me to that. I am trusting Williams at this point; little time.) there is nothing in them that allows for some kind of method of then centuries later adding false doctrines like the Marian dogmas and practices, indulgences, treasury of merit, Papal dogmas, etc.>>

Me: What you say concerning, “the Marian dogmas and practices, indulgences, treasury of merit, Papal dogmas, etc”, is said by the Anabaptists and Eastern Orthodox concerning justification by faith alone via the imputation of Christ’s righteousness alone; and by Arians and Socinians concerning the doctrine of the Trinity. You believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is the logical outworking of the Biblical data; Catholic who hold to the material sufficiency of the Scriptures believe that the doctrines you mentioned are also logical outworkings of the Biblical data.

>> Then, it seems that Sola Scriptura is indeed the belief of the early church; and the regula fide (or tradition, or preaching, or "the faith") was merely a pre-Nicean doctrinal statement, that all originally came from the truth of the Scriptures; because the individual books were written first, from 49-69 AD or 49-96 AD. That it took a while to collect all the inspired books under one cover does not in any way go against Sola Scriptura.>>

Me: If one defines sola scriptura as I did earlier, then yes. But it is very important to note that the doctrine of sola scriptura has developed, and now has at least 4 differing conceptions (Magisterial Reformers, Anabaptist/Socinian/Arian, modern Evangelical, and Catholic).

Hope this helps clarify; if not, let me know.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

David,
Thanks.
You did not answer the question on the existence of the NT books, having all been written from 49-96 AD; and that every doctrinal point and content of the regula fide or "preaching" or "the faith" or "the tradition" in Irenaeus, Tertullian, and ( others ?; Origen? - he had some goofy views of other things, but D. H. Williams seemed to indicate it was the same thing as Irenaeus and Tertullian.)

If every doctrinal point of the regula fide is in the Scriptures and they were written in the first century; then the regula fide is just a biblical doctrinal summary of main doctrines of early Christianity and Sola Scriptura is biblical. That is, it is not necessary to add to Scripture alone, plus the regula fide, because that is just a summary coming from the Scriptures themselves.

Your other answer by jumping to the Arians and Socinians and Anabaptists and Orthodox is actually not answering the question directly; it seems to me.

As it is, your admitting at least Scripture + regula fide is a great breakthrough.

David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

Thanks for responding; you wrote:

>>You did not answer the question on the existence of the NT books, having all been written from 49-96 AD; and that every doctrinal point and content of the regula fide or "preaching" or "the faith" or "the tradition" in Irenaeus, Tertullian, and ( others ?; Origen? - he had some goofy views of other things, but D. H. Williams seemed to indicate it was the same thing as Irenaeus and Tertullian.)>>

Me: Scripture was completed by 100 AD (and perhaps earlier).

>>If every doctrinal point of the regula fide is in the Scriptures and they were written in the first century; then the regula fide is just a biblical doctrinal summary of main doctrines of early Christianity and Sola Scriptura is biblical. That is, it is not necessary to add to Scripture alone, plus the regula fide, because that is just a summary coming from the Scriptures themselves.>>

Me: The regula fidei was a summary of one possible interpretation of the Scriptural data. The Catholic Church accepted a canon of Scripture that was at odds with many of the early heresies; as was the regula fidei that it adopted. And further, this regula fidei was enlarged after each major battle with heresy.

>>Your other answer by jumping to the Arians and Socinians and Anabaptists and Orthodox is actually not answering the question directly; it seems to me.>>

Me: It sheds light on two important issues: first, that different forms of sola scriptura exist; and second, that many denominations/sects who embrace sola scriptura are at odds with each other over interpretation/exegesis.

>>As it is, your admitting at least Scripture + regula fide is a great breakthrough.>>

Me: Can you explain your thoughts on this a bit further?


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

The regula fidei was a summary of one possible interpretation of the Scriptural data.


it is not just a possible interpretation; but simple doctrinal content and is clearly in Scripture. So the Early Church believed in Sola Scriptura, a form of it at that time.

The Catholic Church accepted a canon of Scripture that was at odds with many of the early heresies; as was the regula fidei that it adopted. And further, this regula fidei was enlarged after each major battle with heresy.

It was enlarged later; but at the time of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and even Athatanius' tradition and quoting of Matthew 28:19 ( Four discourses on the Holy Spirit, to Serapion; in the next post I will give the reference.); they are all Biblical; so therefore, boom, the Early Church believed in Sola Scriptura, period. Since the regula fide at the time was just those doctrines that a pre-Nicean creed kind of summary; and they all come from Scripture, Sola Scriptura is affirmed by the early church. You have made an incredible confession - that is what I mean by "breakthough" - the Protestant apologetic stands and the RCC one falls.

Ken Temple said...

Athanasius also agrees with Tertullian and Irenaeus in this, and calls “the teaching”, “tradition”, and “faith” of the Catholic Church from the beginning, are doctrines such as the Deity of the Holy Spirit and bases this on Matthew 28:18-20.

Athanasius, Concerning the Holy Spirit (To Serapion), [four books), book 1, last part of verse 27, all of 28, and the beginning of 29. He is arguing for the Deity of the Holy Spirit against the Tropici, who were teaching that the God-head was a dyad, only the Fahter and the Son, and were teaching that the Holy Spirit was a creature. So, Athanasius calls the doctrine of the Trinity, based on Matthew 28:19, and Ephesians 4:6 (and he may be using I Cor. 8:6 and Romans 11:36), he calls this “the tradition”, “the teaching”, “the faith”. This is also fully consistent with historic evangelical conservative Protestantism; so again, we are “catholic”, apostolic, early, and “deep in history”.

“These sayings concerning the Holy Spirit, by themselves alone, show that in nature and essence he has nothing in common with or proper to creatures, but is distinct from things originate, proper to, and not alien from, the Godhead and essence of the Son; in virtue of which essence and nature he is of the Holy Triad, and puts their stupidity to shame.

But, beyond these sayings, let us look at the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, the Apostles preached, and the fathers kept. Upon this church is founded, and he who should fall away from it would not be a Christian, and would no longer be called. There is, then, a Triad, holy and complete, confessed to be God in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, having nothing foreign or external mixed with it, not composes of one that creates and one that is originated, but all creative; and it is consistent and in nature indivisible, and its activity is one. The Father does all things through the Word in the Holy Spirit. Thus the unity of the holy Triad is preserved. Thus one God is preached in the Church, who is over all, and through all, and in all (Ephesians 4:6) – over all, as Father, as beginning, as fountain; ‘through all’, through the Word; ‘in all’, in the Holy Spirit. It is a Triad not only in name and form of speech, but in truth and actuality. For as the Father is he that is, so also His Word is one that is and God over all. And the Holy Spirit is not without actual existence, but exists and has true being. Less than three persons the Catholic Church does not hold, lest she sink to the level of Sabellius. Nor does she add to them by speculation, lest she be carried into the polytheism of the heathen. And that they may know this to be the faith of the Church, let them learn how the Lord, when sending forth the apostles, ordered them to lay this foundation for the Church saying: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19) The Apostles went, and thus they taught; and this is the preaching that extends to the whole church under heaven.

Since then the Church has this foundation of faith, let these men tell us once again and let them make answer, Is God a triad or dyad? . . .

Athanasius, Concerning the Holy Spirit (To Serapion), [four books), book 1, last part of verse 27, all of 28, and the beginning of 29.

Usually, Roman Catholic apologists do not quote the whole quote, trying to show that Athanasius means something else by “tradition”, something the way the Roman Catholic Church at Trent or beyond defined what tradition is.

This shows that the regula fide or tradition, from 180 AD (Irenaeus) to 200 AD (Tertullian) to 250 AD (Origen) to 373 AD (Athanasius) was basically the same; all Scriptural, "proto-Protestant" in spirit; and evangelical; the Early church was closer to Evangelical Protestantism than modern Roman Catholicism.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

I would like to respond to the following you posted (parts are from a previous post of mine):

>> The regula fidei was a summary of one possible interpretation of the Scriptural data.

it is not just a possible interpretation; but simple doctrinal content and is clearly in Scripture. So the Early Church believed in Sola Scriptura, a form of it at that time.

The Catholic Church accepted a canon of Scripture that was at odds with many of the early heresies; as was the regula fidei that it adopted. And further, this regula fidei was enlarged after each major battle with heresy.

It was enlarged later; but at the time of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and even Athatanius' tradition and quoting of Matthew 28:19 ( Four discourses on the Holy Spirit, to Serapion; in the next post I will give the reference.); they are all Biblical; so therefore, boom, the Early Church believed in Sola Scriptura, period. Since the regula fide at the time was just those doctrines that a pre-Nicean creed kind of summary; and they all come from Scripture, Sola Scriptura is affirmed by the early church. You have made an incredible confession - that is what I mean by "breakthough" - the Protestant apologetic stands and the RCC one falls.

Me: One of the difficulties with your assessment seems to be you ignore that Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen (as well as ALL the other pre-Nicene CFs) were subordinationists. Philip Schaff, in the second volume of his The Creeds of Christendom, provides the most complete list of the “Ante-Nicene and Nicene Rules of Faith”, I am aware of. A summation of the material clearly indicates (as my series on “subordinationism in the Ante-Nicene Fathers” supports), that the “one God” of the regula fidei was reserved for God the Father alone.

The second difficulty is that you seem to ignore that significant differences that exist among those who affirm a doctrine of sola scriptura. As I pointed out earlier, the SS of the ECFs, is not the SS of Evangelicalism (and I would argue that it is much closer to a Catholic SS, than an EV SS).

That I affirm SS in much the same sense as Karl Rahner should suggest that I do not believe that, “the Protestant apologetic stands and the RCC one falls” on this issue.


It is late, so I will try to get to your other post tomorrow—the Lord willing.


Grace and peace,

David

Anonymous said...

David,

Do you really mean "SS" as *that specific terminology* has been defined at some time point in the history of the Church or do you mean something more like "prima scriptura?"

Apart from that... I have never seen any reason to believe that SS (at least as I have seen it defined by Reformed Protestants over the years) is a doctrinal concept asserted in the Holy Writ.

Or are you redefining SS in a way that is similar to how, let's say, James Akin redefined sola fide as few years back?

http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/faith_al.htm

Can you clarify??

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

David,

I am sorry about the double posting... my browser got hung up and it appeared as though I was not going to be able to post so I did it again... can you delete one of them?

I wanted to clarify what I meant earlier vis a vis the terminology of SS and SF being co-opted by Catholic apologists in discussions like the one you are having with Ken currently.

I referred to Jimmy Akin's article about a "Catholic version," or a sort of redefining of SF as Reformed Protestants understand it, in my previous comment... do you think any Reformed person (of Ken's ilk or James White's) would accept Jimmy's definition of SF? I do not. Why even try to embrace that terminology? It's loaded down with centuries of polemics-related baggage.

I feel the same about SS... for the Reformed Protestant (like Ken, like James White) I understand the doctrine to mean that the Scriptures alone are *the* infallible rule of faith and practice for the Christian Church (as they define the Church, of course). Is this close to the definition you are advocating? If so... I have to reject it as self-referentially incoherent anyway...

You see... I *deny* that the Bible asserts the concept that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith. I have seen no reason (based on *any* of the exegesis offered over the years to substantiate the claim) to change my mind about this.

What I am saying is... I would like you to explain further what you mean by SS... and... even if you could come up with a formulation of the doctrine that I could agree with... what's the point of using terminology with such heavy historical baggage?

Blessings,
BC

p.s.
I am sorry if I am coming off as being rude... I am just getting to work and have not had enough coffee... :)

Ken Temple said...

A summation of the material clearly indicates (as my series on “subordinationism in the Ante-Nicene Fathers” supports), that the “one God” of the regula fidei was reserved for God the Father alone.

They didn't believe in the Deity of Christ? What about all of Ignatius' statements, "of Jesus Christ, our God" in Ephesians 1? see also Ephesians 18, 18; Romans 1, 3; Smyrneans 1; letter to Polycarp 3, Ephesians 7 ??

As I understand "subordinationism", it does not necessarily deny the Deity of Christ, but reserves "God the Father" as a higher role or status; and obviously they had not worked out all details on how they are going to put all the information together. Tertullian used the two latin words, Tri + Unitas, so he had to have some idea of the Deity of the Son and the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

That argument does not vitiate the point that they all believed the Scriptures were the only and final infallible source for faith and practice. That is an issue of interpretation, not of what they thought was the final authority.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I think you are missing David's point... it wasn't a question about the deity of Christ if not the level of of that designation. And having "some idea" doesn't NECESSARILY LEAD to "3 co-eternal, co-substantial persons in ONE Godhead" even if they saw the saw the Bible as you do (your version of SS).

I will never how someone can consistently assert a version of SS that is anything like the one you seem to hold without violating that very principle somehow, but... oh well...

Blessings,
BC

Ken Temple said...

The second difficulty is that you seem to ignore that significant differences that exist among those who affirm a doctrine of sola scriptura. As I pointed out earlier, the SS of the ECFs, is not the SS of Evangelicalism (and I would argue that it is much closer to a Catholic SS, than an EV SS).

King and Webster's three volume work, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, gives ample and persuasive evidence that the ECF's understanding of Scripture as the final authority was closer to what the Reformers will articulate later; than what the Roman Catholic Church developed after the 5th century because of the growing split with Eastern Orthodoxy, the Barbarian Invasions and then later, Islam in the east, and the growing power of the papacy.

So, yes, the RCC development of political power and ecclesiastical power in the bishop of Rome was an addition and corruption and eventually lead to the Infallibility Dogma of 1870. Along with the Marian Dogmas and practices and the development of indulgences and treasury of merit (and sacerdotal ex opere operato powers, penance) and pilgrimmages (the motivations behind the Crusades)in the middle ages, it forced and caused Hus, Wycliff, Luther and others to realize that the Bible was the final infallible source, not popes or bishops or councils, and that the NT, which was given and written from 49-96 AD, taught justification by faith alone, and that the RCC had drifted from the Scriptures; so it forced the true doctrine to come out in history in the Reformation.

Athanasius, De Synodis 6

writes,
"Vainly do they run about with the pretext that they demanded Counsils for the faith's sake; for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things. . . "

And then there is --

Augustine, “On the Unity of the Church”

Let us not hear: This I say, this you say; but, thus says the Lord. Surely it is the books of the Lord on whose authority we both agree and which we both believe. There let us seek the church, there let us discuss our case . . . Let those things be removed from out midst which we quote against each other not from divine canonical books but from elsewhere. Someone may perhaps ask: Why do you want to remove these things from the midst? Because I do not want the holy church proved by human documents but by divine oracles . . . Whatever they may adduce, and wherever they may quote from, let us hear, if we are His sheep, hear the voice of our Shepherd. Therefore let us search for the church in the sacred canonical Scriptures . . . Neither dare one agree with catholic bishops if by chance they err in anything, with the result that their opinion is against the canonical Scriptures of God.”

De Unitate Ecclesiae, 10 (On the Unity of the Church, 10)

And again:

“I must not press the authority of Nicea against you, nor you that of Arminum against me; I do not acknowledge the one, as you do not the other; but let us come to ground that is common to both – the testimony of the Holy Scriptures.”

Augustine, To Maximin the Arian

And again:

“What more shall I teach you than what we read in the apostle? For Holy Scripture fixes the rule for our doctrine, lest we dare to be wiser than we ought. Therefore, I should not teach you anything else except to expound to you the words of the Teacher.”

Augustine, “De bono viduitatis”, 2 (“On the Good of widow-hood”, 2)

Ken Temple said...

And having "some idea" doesn't NECESSARILY LEAD to "3 co-eternal, co-substantial persons in ONE Godhead" even if they saw the saw the Bible as you do (your version of SS).

But it did indeed lead to that; because that is what the Scriptures meant in the text; when they had time to put all the texts together after persecution stopped. The text of Scripture did necessarily lead them to those conclusions, forced by all the different heresies.

So, my point still stands.

Ken Temple said...

I will never how someone can consistently assert a version of SS that is anything like the one you seem to hold without violating that very principle somehow, but... oh well...


Because it does not violate the principle, as you claim. I understand your point; (explicit exact words of the formula vs. sound theological deduction based on proper exegesis) and we beat that "dead horse" before.

We both agree that history and heresies and questions and conflict over interpretations force theological development. One has to be closer to grammatical, historical, sound exegesis. The Reformers and ECFs on Sola Scriptura are closer to the text and sound exegesis than the RCC edifice and centuries of additions and corruptions to the faith. SS is taught by the fact that God inspired the written words and stopped when the apostles died. (49-96 AD) 2 Tim. 3:16-17; John 13-17; Hebrews 1:1-3; Jude 3 "once for all delivered to the saints" ("the faith" is equivalent to "the truth"; and Thy word is truth ( John 17:17) and there is nothing extra orally that was not written down; Revelation 22:18 (I know it is specifically about the book of Rev.; but since it may have the last one written, along with Jude; it is a valid principle) in principle with Deut. 4:2 and Proverbs 30:5-6.

Anyway, the main thing that motivated me to even start commenting on this thread was David's challenge that there was silence from the Evangelical perspective and the idea that no one was willing to challenge him.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I disagree... I don't know exactly how best to articulate my disagreement, but it's not at all obvious to me that the Scriptures assert the concept that God is 3 co-eternal co-equal persons in one Godhead... and certainly not all early Christians came to that conclusion... David seems to be showing that none did in the earliest period... you seem to be doing the same things with their words on the subject that you do with their words on the Holy Writ... whatever they say about Scripture that doesn't directly conflict with your definition of SS means that they subscribed to your definition of SS... which you seem to have no problem with when the Reformed do it, but hurl accusations of reading the Fathers anachronistically when you understand (ala Webster/King) "Romanists" to be doing it.

Your point can't stand if it has no legs... you haven't shown me the legs...

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

Ken,

My friend you are *really* glossing over some fine and necessary distinctions to "make" your point...

If you really understood my point you wouldn't have said what you said about the dead horse... I am not even asking for the specific words "sole infallible rule of faith" being asserted as a doctrinal principle (THE doctrinal principle) from the pages of the Holy Writ... I am asked for the assertion of the CONCEPT. YOUR assertion of the doctrine of SS as I understand it (see the definition that I provided earlier on in the discussion) goes BEYOND what Scripture asserts about it self... not just beyond the mere words but the CONCEPT. The Bible (as we know it) asserts lots of wonderful things about the written word of God... but it never asserts the concept that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith. I don't see how exegesis gets you there... and THAT is why I see it as problematic for your in the sense that it is self-referentially incoherent...

"There is nothing extra orally that is not written down?" How do you get that out of Rev. 22:18... your extrapolation here is not supported in the text of that verse... so I don't see how that can be considered "valid."

Just because things don't exist in a vacuum doesn't mean you have such amazing warrant to extrapolate to whatever level you see fit, my friend.

Blessings,
BC

Anonymous said...

Ken,

You state:
"Anyway, the main thing that motivated me to even start commenting on this thread was David's challenge that there was silence from the Evangelical perspective and the idea that no one was willing to challenge him."

I am glad you are posting... I think David is very pleased too, but... I don't see how you have actually dealt with David's main point yet...

I appreciate your commitment to the Scriptures though... and I am glad that you are posting.

Blessings,

Ken Temple said...

BC,
Thanks for those final comments -
very good.

And I just disagree with you; and you have shown me no legs for the basis of RCC either, to substantiate the centuries of additions and corruptions of the RCC to the faith.

RCC apologists do the same thing that you are accusing me of doing (although I don't see that I am doing it); of reading Marian dogmas back into clear texts that go against those very dogmas.

Perpetual Virginity - goes against Matthew 1:18 and 25 and 12:46; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21

Immaculate Conception - reading too much into Luke 1:28

Co-Mediator - a clear contradiction of I Timothy 2:5

And
Papal dogmas are reading too much into Matthew 16 and John 21 and Luke 22:32

and ignoring I Peter 5:1 "fellow elder" and ignoring 2 Peter 1:11-21 - if Papacy or even apostolic succession beyond scriptural doctrine is true, he would have said it there; not point them back to Scripture. He describes his writing of his second letter as being diligent before he dies so that the churches and believers he is writing to will have the Scriptures to look and meditate on so that they can "stir up their sincere minds and remind themselves of the truth".

If the RCC doctrine was meant at that time; Peter himself would have written it. As it is, nowhere in Scripture is the RCC understanding taught.

So, you have much less leg (basis) to stand on that I do; in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I would like to (re)post a part of the quote that David gave from D.H. Williams that I think you are missing as an important part of where I am coming from...

"Even if one argues that a biblicism that approximates sola scriptura can be detected within the patristic age, it in no way guarantees a Christian doctrine of God or salvation. On the contrary, a scripture-only principle was found to create greater problems which have plagued Christianity ever since."

You seem to be doing (just like Webster, White, and King) exactly what D.H. Williams sees as (from what I can tell), at BEST, wrong-headed. And you have yet to show that he was wrong in his assessment of this.

Also... you keep talking about these deductions... you act as if they are the only ones that are logically valid based on the words of the text of Scripture alone... you haven't shown this to be the case, but... a larger problem I see.. is that you are admitting the development of the deductions... coming to a consensus after encountering contradictory interpretations that were vying to be proclaimed as true... that the proclamation had some kind of authority that defined what being a Christian entailed... I don't see how your version of SS gets you to all of these places... I see clearly how a Catholic can get there though...

I realize I am probably not being as precise in my language as I could be, but I think I am stating what I mean in a way that makes sense enough for you to see where it is I am coming from...

Blessings!!

Ken Temple said...

David,
Thanks for pointing to the Creeds of Christendom by Philip Schaff - I found it at the www.ccel.org site and that is very helpful.

I wish that we had this resource and the internet when I was in seminary - I resisted buying these books because I did not have the money at the time.

I can see more and more why studying church history is difficult and why many protestants and evangelicals are weak in it; because it is very expensive and very time consuming.

one scholar told me that only about 1/3 of Migne is translated into English because of the lack of funds. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

Thanks for taking the time to continue the discussion...

You wrote:
"And I just disagree with you; and you have shown me no legs for the basis of RCC either, to substantiate the centuries of additions and corruptions of the RCC to the faith."

I am not defending those beliefs... I am telling you why I can't accept your doctrinal principle over-and-against the one to which I currently hold... I certainly can't be expected to abide to your doctrinal principle in providing legs for such things if I find it to be self-referentially incoherent, can I?

You list of Romish "corruptions" are based on interpretations of those passages of Scripture that I don't agree with. I don't think that I am reading too much into Luke 1:28... or "going against" this here or "clearly contradicting" that there... and, besides, I am not abiding by your principle(s) of interpretation to begin with... I am not expecting more out of Scripture as a rule of faith than I can see as warranted... I think that is where your position (as I understand it) is coming up short.

Looking at things from YOUR side of the road I think, for instance, you are reading more into II Tim. 3:16,17 (re: SS) than is actually there... I don't see how you can justify this and consistently hold to SS.

We are disputing interpretations here, friend... there is recourse built into my system that can address this... and it's consistent within the context of my system... I don't see that consistency in your system...

Blessings!

Anonymous said...

David,

If you have a chance can you read what I have said and make it clearer? I feel like there is something to what I am saying, but that I am not expressing it clearly enough to have the impact that I want it to have on the discussion...

Blessings,
BC

David Waltz said...

Hi BC,

So good to see you entering into the renewed dialogue; you posted:

>>Do you really mean "SS" as *that specific terminology* has been defined at some time point in the history of the Church or do you mean something more like "prima scriptura?">>

Me: I think Karl Rahner said it best; he wrote:

“I would like, however, to try in the last part of our reflections to bring forward certain reasons for our not needing to accept – not even from a Catholic point of view – a constitutive material function of tradition which goes beyond the testimony of the nature of scripture; that we can say conversely, therefore, that it is entirely possible to formulate a Catholic sola scriptura principle with regard to the Church’s deposit of faith, provided that we understand this in a Catholic sense and therefore understand it to involve also an authoritative attestation and interpretation of holy scripture by the living word of the Church and her magisterium, and an attestation of scripture itself and its authoritative interpretation which cannot be replaced by scripture itself.” (Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations vol. 6, p. 107.)

IMHO, this is very close to what the ECFs believed.

>>Apart from that... I have never seen any reason to believe that SS (at least as I have seen it defined by Reformed Protestants over the years) is a doctrinal concept asserted in the Holy Writ.>>

Me: A.N.S. Lane in Scripture, Tradition, and Church (I provide a quote from the essay on the right side-bar), argues that the SS of the Reformers is not a return to the SS of the ECFs. And further, Mathison argues that the SS of modern Evangelicalism is not the SS of the Reformers (nor the ECFs):

==Unlike modern Evangelicalism, the classical Protestant Reformers held to a high view of the Church. When the Reformers confessed extra ecclesiam nulla salus, which means “there is no salvation outside the Church,” they were not referring to the invisible Church of all the elect. Such a statement would be tantamount to saying that outside of salvation there is no salvation. It would be a truism. The Reformers were referring to the visible Church…The Church is the pillar and ground, the interpreter, teacher, and proclaimer of God’s Word…The Church has authority because Christ gave the Church authority. The Christian who rejects the authority of the Church rejects the authority of the One who sent her (Luke 10:16). (Keith A. Mathison, The Shape of Sola Scriptura, pp. 268, 269.)==

More in my next post…

Grace and peace,

David Waltz said...

Hello again BC,

You posted:

>> I referred to Jimmy Akin's article about a "Catholic version," or a sort of redefining of SF as Reformed Protestants understand it, in my previous comment... do you think any Reformed person (of Ken's ilk or James White's) would accept Jimmy's definition of SF? I do not. Why even try to embrace that terminology? It's loaded down with centuries of polemics-related baggage.>>

Me: The following from Akin’s essay is important:

“…if the term "faith" is being used to refer to faith formed by charity then the Catholic does not have to condemn the idea of justification by faith alone. In fact, in traditional works of Catholic theology, one regularly encounters the statement that formed faith is justifying faith. If one has formed faith, one is justified. Period.”

Me: I think it is important to point out that the “Annex” to the “Joint Declaration” states:

==Justification takes place "by grace alone" (JD 15 and 16), by faith alone, the person is justified "apart from works" (Rom 3:28, cf. JD 25). "Grace creates faith not only when faith begins in a person but as long as faith lasts" (Thomas Aquinas, S. Th.II/II 4, 4 ad 3).== [HERE].

Me: One of the slogans to come out of the Reformation was “ever reforming”; but, interestingly enough, Reformed folk like James White seem quite opposed to the concept. I don’t know if you have heard of the “Norman Shepherd controversy” [GO HERE FOR INTRO], but the reaction of many in the Reformed camp, probably sets the stage for a similar reaction to Akin’s (and the JD/Annex) take on the issue.

>>I feel the same about SS... for the Reformed Protestant (like Ken, like James White) I understand the doctrine to mean that the Scriptures alone are *the* infallible rule of faith and practice for the Christian Church (as they define the Church, of course). Is this close to the definition you are advocating? If so... I have to reject it as self-referentially incoherent anyway...>>

Me: My take is pretty much the same as Rahner’s (which I quoted in my previous post)—i.e. Catholic SS = the material sufficiency of Scripture, and defines Sacred Tradition as interpretation of original deposit of faith (which at times is infallibly protected by the Holy Spirit). Yves Congar is yet another Catholic theologian who supports this view:

“…we can admit Scriptura sola in the sense of a material sufficiency of canonical Scripture. This means that Scripture contains, in one way or another, all truths necessary for salvation. This position can claim the support of many Fathers and early theologians. It has been, and still is, held by many modern theologians. The decree of the Council of Trent, they hold, does not prevent one’s still holding this position, for it merely affirms that the revealed truths and the principles of Christian living which are wholly contained in the Gospel are conveyed by the traditions and by Scripture.” (Yves Congar, Tradition & Traditions, p. 410.)


Hope this helps to clarify my position on this issue, if not, please feel free to ask more questions.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Wow, when I got back from my shopping trip to Astoria this afternoon, I found that the combox has been very busy! As you can see, I have responded to BC’s questions; I would now like to comment on the following you posted:

>>As I understand "subordinationism", it does not necessarily deny the Deity of Christ, but reserves "God the Father" as a higher role or status; and obviously they had not worked out all details on how they are going to put all the information together. Tertullian used the two latin words, Tri + Unitas, so he had to have some idea of the Deity of the Son and the Deity of the Holy Spirit.>>

Me: The subordinationism of the ECFs does not deny the Deity/Divinity of the Son of God; however, what it does teach is that His Deity/Divinity is derived from the Father; as such, they also speak of a “beginning” and/or “cause” of the Son. God the Father alone was/is “absolute” Deity/Divinity, which why they reserved the term “the one God” for Him only.

>>That argument does not vitiate the point that they all believed the Scriptures were the only and final infallible source for faith and practice. That is an issue of interpretation, not of what they thought was the final authority.>>

Me: The SS of the ECFs was one of material sufficiency. The regula fidei of the Catholic Church served as a handmaid to Scripture, establishing governing principals by which the original deposit was to be interpreted.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi BC,

In your last post you wrote:

>> David,

If you have a chance can you read what I have said and make it clearer? I feel like there is something to what I am saying, but that I am not expressing it clearly enough to have the impact that I want it to have on the discussion...>>

Me: I have been reading through the new posts, and got a bit side-tracked with some of the links that have been provided (especially the one to “Heart Issues for LDS”). Guests have shown up, so I have to postpone further reading (and comments) until tomorrow…


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Don’t know if you are still checking in on this thread; but it is the weekend, and you are probably quite busy. You posted:

>>Thanks for pointing to the Creeds of Christendom by Philip Schaff - I found it at the www.ccel.org site and that is very helpful.>>

Me: My pleasure Ken. The ccel.org site is great, and so is Google Books and the Internet Archive. (You can download pdf versions of Schaff’s great work HERE.)

>>I wish that we had this resource and the internet when I was in seminary - I resisted buying these books because I did not have the money at the time.>>

Me: Amen! I would have saved a lot of money if the internet had been around since the mid-70s.

>>I can see more and more why studying church history is difficult and why many protestants and evangelicals are weak in it; because it is very expensive and very time consuming.>>

Me: Not just prots and evs—Catholics too! Since the early 1800s, it has been Anglican scholars who have dominated the field of patristics—the rest of us are still playing ‘catch-up’.

>>one scholar told me that only about 1/3 of Migne is translated into English because of the lack of funds. Wow.>>

Me: And not just a lack of funds—a lack of interest too.


BTW, I am thinking of creating a new thread in an attempt to sum up my thoughts on the recent comments in this combox…stay tuned (grin).


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

The regula fidei of the Catholic Church served as a handmaid to Scripture, establishing governing principals by which the original deposit was to be interpreted.

In early church history, it just seemed to be a summary of major doctrines that all Christians must hold to; and they are all in Scripture; so this is proving that Scripture alone is the final authority, because the regula fidei actually came from Scripture. Where in Irenaeus, Tertullian, Ignatius, Origen, and Athanasius teach that the "tradition" or "regula fidei" or "the faith" is a method of "establishing governing principles"? And there certainly seems no indication of the additions of the indulgences/treasury of merit or papal doctrines or Marian practices and dogmas that were added on centuries later.

They just give content and propositions and doctrines, not principles of interpretation or how theology will keep developing, etc. I don't see it.

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken,

It response to your last post I would like to provide Zahn’s article in New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (available at CCEL) in its entirety:

==REGULA FIDEI (" RULE OF FAITH "): A term used so frequently in early Christian literature from the last quarter of the second century that an understanding of it is necessary to a correct idea of the religious conceptions of that period. Different forms with more or less the same meaning occur. Ho kanon tes aletheias ("canon of truth "), regula veratatis (rule of truth), probably the oldest form, was used apparently by Dionysius of Corinth (c. 160), then by Irenseus, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Novatian; ho kanon tes pisteos, regula fidei, by Polyerates of Ephesus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and by the later Latin writers. The equivalent use of these two expressions is important for the determination of the original significance attached to them. The truth itself is the standard by which teaching and practise are to be judged (cf. Ireneeus, Her, II., xxviii. 1; ANP, i. 399). It is presupposed that this truth takes for the Christian community a definite, tangible form, such as the law was for the Jews (Rom. ii. 20), in a body of doctrine not merely held and taught by the Church, but clearly formulated. Besides the expressions already discussed, another is worth mentioning, found only in Greek writers and the versions from them ho ekklesiastikos kanon or ho kanon tes ekklesias (Clement of Alexandria and Origen).

The ante-Nicene church never considered as the Rule of Faith the Bible or any part of it. Certain expressions of recent writers show that it is not unnecessary to point out that the word kanon, with or without qualifying additions, is never used until after Eusebius to designate the Bible, and that even after the word had begun to be applied to the collection of Scriptural books, the sense mentioned above is never given to it by the Greeks. This is explained by the fact that the early Church used this word for something else-the baptismal formula. It is quite evident that in the oldest and most explicit witnesses for the use of the word, Irenæus and Tertullian, this was known primarily as the rule of faith. When the former (I., ix. 4) says "he who retains unchangeable in his heart the rule of the truth which he received by means of baptism," the expression "rule of truth" can not mean any sum total of truths as to which instruction has been conveyed before or after baptism, but only a formula which the neophyte has made his own by a profession of faith made at the time of baptism. This was "the faith," which the convert received from the teaching Church and was to keep as the standard for his subsequent life and for the testing of all doctrines presented to him. With Tertullian the regula fidei is identical with the sacramentum fidei, the rule of faith with that which he so often designates as the oath of allegiance of the soldiers of Christ (Ad martyras, iii.). The prevalent view in both these authors is the same as that expressed by Augustine when he says to the catechumens at the traditio symboli, "receive, sons, the rule of faith which is called `the symbol' " (Serm., ccxiii.; Serm. i., ad catechumenos de symbolo.

Cont’d in next post…

David Waltz said...

Cont'd from previous post...

That similar expressions are occasionally used of the Nicene creed shows at least that the Rule of Faith was a formulated confession, and thus that in the ante-Nicene period it could not refer to anything but the baptismal creed, the only one then existing. In a word, the early Fathers considered Christ himself as the giver of the Rule, though they admitted freely that its actual words were an expansion of the nucleus recorded in the Gospels, regarding it as only a development of the baptismal formula; and, on the other hand, the whole body of teaching current in the undisputed Catholic Church was to them but an expansion of the creed, and thus the term " Rule of Faith " could be, as it is occasionally found, applied to this whole body.

(T. ZAHN.)==


Me: Though I would quibble with Zahn on minor details, the essence of his article is basically my view. Note that he understands the RF as an “expansion” and “development” of the NT baptismal formula. I believe that this “expansion” and “development” occurred to offset three of the earliest heresies: Gnosticism, adoptionsim, and modalism. With the advent of the much more sophisticated heresy of Arianism, the simple RF underwent significant expansion via the Nicene Creed.

Sincerely hope that this helps to clarify my thoughts on this issue.


Grace and peace,

David

Jamie Donald said...

David,

Excellent piece and wonderful comments from all! I would like to add my own observations. They pertain a little to the twists the conversation and a little to the original topic. I hope I don't stray too far off topic!

First, my comments on a twist this conversation has taken.

Ken wrote, ignoring I Peter 5:1 "fellow elder." This is used as an attempt to show that Peter had no autority over others, much less no authority over the universal Church, thus proving the papacy incorrect and unscriptural. However, such an argument is a red herring. Peter obviously had the Spirit's authority to write scripture! This authority is so weighty that even though we are not Peter's "fellow elders," we are bound by the teaching in 1 & 2 Peter. As a pastor/minister, perhaps Ken (and our friend Rhology?) could claim the position of "fellow elder," but the congregation in the pews of his church cannot. Yet, every time Ken reads and preaches on passages from 1 & 2 Peter, he is asserting Peter's authority through the ages.

Second, Ken also writes, ignoring 2 Peter 1:11-21 - if Papacy or even apostolic succession beyond scriptural doctrine is true, he would have said it there; not point them back to Scripture. He describes his writing of his second letter as being diligent before he dies so that the churches and believers he is writing to will have the Scriptures to look and meditate on so that they can "stir up their sincere minds and remind themselves of the truth".

If the RCC doctrine was meant at that time; Peter himself would have written it. As it is, nowhere in Scripture is the RCC understanding taught
.

This is both an argument from silence and an incorrect paraphrase of the passage. While Peter does use the word "Scripture" in v20, he does not define it. Context would indicate that the usage means the Old Testament. And nowhere in the passage does Peter suggest that the purpose behind his writing is to leave Scriptures to look and meditate on. Instead, he is saying that he knows the OT prophecies (concerning the Messiah) are true because he, Peter, was an eye-witness to the Transfiguration of Jesus.

But Ken's paraphrase is not entirely incorrect. Peter does indicate that he will soon die (be martyred) and that he knows of this. Therefore, he wants to do everything possible to help them remember after he has departed from this world. A couple of salient points; 1) Peter is reminding the faithful of things they already know (v12), 2) nothing says that Scripture is the only form for remembering, and 3) reminders don't generally contain the entire corpus of what is to be remembered -- they are often only hints.

So Ken posits that the papacy must be false because one man (Peter) says nothing about the papacy in this one letter. Of course, the one letter also contains nothing about the Crucifiction, the Nativity, any of Jesus' miracles performed, or the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Using Ken's logic, I must assume that none of these are important because they aren't mentioned in the reminder that this single letter represents. Additionally, since the casting out of angels (from Heaven) and the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah are mentioned, these events must be significantly more important than the other events not mentioned.

(cont below)

Jamie Donald said...

(cont)

I don't think that Ken would find the Crucifiction unimportant because it is not mentioned in this one letter. So the lack of mention of the papacy in this same letter does not render it unimportant nor incorrect. I could go further into what 2 Peter does not say about church governance (e.g. plurality of elders in a single community), but that is truly another topic.

Now for my observation from a very early patristic source: Ignatius of Antioch. The NewAdvent website lists him as living from 50 - 107 AD (possibly 116 AD). Schaff (comments as recorded at ccel.org) gives 30 - 107 AD (possibly 116 AD). Popular legend has Ignatius being the child Jesus took into His lap when He said, "Suffer the little children come to me ...." He was of the age of Polycarp and corresponded with Polycarp. Suffice it to say that he is one of the very first commentators after the apostles and who lived while the apostles were still alive.

Ignatius' epistles to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Philadelphians, Smyrnaeans, and to Polycarp are considered to be authentic. Additionally, each letter was written after his arrest and while he was on his way to his martyrdom. This would make each of these letters after 96 AD - the latest date which scholars claim the last of the New Testament books was penned. (Like Ken, I subscribe to an earlier date for Revelation. But who am I to argue with these dating scholars?)
According to Ken, the Bible -- in its entirety -- exists at this point and is now the sole rule of faith. But where does Ignatius point believers so that they may receive the true Christian doctrine? In each of these letters, Ignatius points them to the bishop first, then to the presbyters and deacons after the bishop. He equates submission to the bishop and presbytery as a form of sanctification and unity with Christ (Eph 2, Eph 4, Mag 2). He states that by submitting to and obeying the bishop, the Christian is honoring and obeying "the Father of Jesus Christ, the bishop of us all." (Mag 3).

Ignatius gives even stronger statements by stating that the bishop presides in the place of God, and that the presbyters and deacons stand for the assembly of the Apostles (Eph 6, Mag 6, Tral 3, Smyr 8). In his letter to Polycarp, he says that in his martyrdom, he will be offering his soul for those who remain in unity with and in submission to the bishop, presbyters, and deacons (6). Ignatius says that believers should do nothing (religious) without the bishop, telling us that those who do not honor the bishop and who work in opposition to the bishop are people who mock God and serve the devil (Mag 3, Mag 7, Smyr 9).

In addition to telling us that the bishop presides in the place of God and the presbyters in the place of the assembly of Apostles, Ignatius claims that apart from these there is no Church (Tral 3) and that they are the institution of God (Smyr 8). In Trallians 6 & 7, Ignatius identifies false teachings and heresies as coming from those who separate themselves from the bishop.

What is truly interesting is that even thought Ignatius quotes from NT epistles, he does not direct his readers to these letters as their source of learning and interpretation of faith -- as Ken tries to show that all of the ECFs do for their rule of faith. Instead, Ignatius claims the clergy receive an appointment from God and with this appointment, the leadership receives a special grace from the Lord to preach the correct doctrine. While this is also not the full magesterial concept we enjoy today, I tend to think that Ignatius would be very comfortable with the Bishop of Rome holding primacy over a college of bishops who both lead and serve the faithful. That acorn has already been planted and is growing circa 105AD!

-- Jamie

David Waltz said...

Hi Jamie,

So good to see you back at AF, and thanks much for your kind words. As for your “observations”, they are certainly germane to issues that have been raised in the ongoing dialogue, and cogently address some of Ken’s concerns.

I do not have much to add, for your comments truly speak for themselves; as such, my additional remarks shall be confined to the general nature of the development of doctrine. As I have said so many times, “doctrine develops”—this fact pertains not only to such important doctrines as the Trinity, Christology, soteriology, et al., but also the doctrines that pertain to ecclesiology—including the Papacy. One should not expect to find 21st century ecclesiology in the early Church, anymore than full blown Trinitarianism—I can thank John Henry Newman for ‘opening my eyes’ to this important insight. What I continue find quite interesting is what the differing theological traditions are able to identify as implicit teachings/doctrines in the NT and ECFs—JWs find implict JW doctrines; Mormons implicit Mormon doctrines; Baptists implicit Baptist doctrines; Evangelicals implicit Evangelical doctrines; and Catholics implicit Catholic doctrines—to me, this in and of itself, speaks volumes…

Thanks much for your comments; I will be looking forward to your continued participation.


Grace and peace,

David