Monday, June 22, 2009

Scripture and Tradition in the early Church Fathers


Certain comments made in the last post (#37) of the PREVIOUS THREAD have prompted me to explore in a bit more depth the relationship between Scripture and Tradition in the writings of early Church Fathers. Those who have read the initial post and subsequent comments of the previous thread should now be cognizant of the reflections of at least two prominent Protestant scholars (A.N.S. Lane and D. H. Williams) who subscribe to the position that the ECFs held to the “coincidence view” of Scripture and Tradition—i.e. that Scripture and Tradition do not differ in content, and that both are equally authoritative. This position differs from the magisterial Reformers’ take (Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, et al.) which is labeled the “ancillary view”. Lane articulates the differences between the two positions:

The essence of the coincidence view is the assumption not just that Scripture and tradition have the same content but also that this content is found in the teaching of the church. The error in attributing the coincidence view to the Reformers lies in the neglect of their ecclesiology. They did allow for an interpretative tradition not adding to Scripture but did not see either this tradition or ecclesiastical teaching as infallible…The Reformers’ attitude to tradition was neither the coincidence nor the supplementary view but the ancillary view. They viewed tradition not as a normative interpretation of Scripture nor as a necessary supplement to it but rather as a tool to be used to help the church to understand it. (A.N.S. Lane, “Scripture, Tradition and Church: An Historical Survey”, Vox Evangelica, Volume IX – 1975, p. 43.)

Herein lies (IMHO), the most important distinctions between the coincidence and ancillary views—though each of the two allow for “interpretive tradition”, the latter position denies that this tradition both is “normative” and “infallible”.

Now, I do not believe that the current understanding of Scripture and Tradition by many important Catholic scholars is identical with the ECFs (for as with all doctrines, there have been important developments), but I do believe that the current Catholic position is much closer to the ECFs than most (all?) Protestant views.


Grace and peace,

David

64 comments:

Chris said...

David,

Do you think the ECFs would have defined tradition in terms of mere transmission of original ideas? Or would they have allowed for development? And if they allowed for development, would they have defined it as mere logical outworkings of the original deposit? Or would they have agreed with RC theologians that Providence and revelation are guiding the process even when it seems illogical?

Thanks,

-Chris

Mike L said...

David:

I'm interested in hearing whether you believe that Dei Verbum §10 is compatible with a two-source view and/or the view that Scripture is "materially sufficient" for conveying the full content of the deposit of faith.

Best,
Mike

Randy said...

Do you think the ECFs would have defined tradition in terms of mere transmission of original ideas? Or would they have allowed for development? And if they allowed for development, would they have defined it as mere logical outworkings of the original deposit? Or would they have agreed with RC theologians that Providence and revelation are guiding the process even when it seems illogical?

I am not sure who disagrees that providence and revelation are guiding the church's way. As far as it seeming illogical? Who judges that? The church never embraced anything that seemed illogical to the pope and bishops of the time. Even today, there is a logic to everything. Somebody might say a Catholi doctrine does not flow logically but that is purely subjective.

That is the key. When logic can flow in multiple directions can we ever be certain which one is right? The Arian controversy is a good example. It was not a matter of logic versus illogic. It was a matter of one logical analysis differing from another.

What did the early church do? They did not just tell every Christian to read the bible and prayerfully come to the truth. They called together the bishops. There was no debate about who should be invited. They knew who the leaders were. Then they let them decide it.

Chris said...

Randy,

I disagree that providence and revelation are guiding the church's way, if by "guiding the church's way" you mean somehow preventing error and corruption. The entirety of Christian history is ample rebuttal of that claim.

I'm curious-- and this is a serious question. Do you believe the Protestant Reformation was provided providentially so that reactionary councils would be called to begin codifying folk doctrines and solidifying authoritarian leadership structures? Was that really God's master plan in the sixteenth century?

As for logic, you need to understand that there was much more than simply logic driving many of the doctrinal developments in church history. Things like politics, nationalism, greed, linguistic and cultural differences, and many other factors also played major roles.

Still, I agree that developments usually seemed logical "to the pope and [some of the] bishops of the time." But of course, we today have far more resources at our disposal than most of those people did. Why bind ourselves to what a medieval person thought was reasonable, if when we look back today it appears illogical?

You're right that the early church did not tell every Christian to read their Bible and prayerfully come to the truth. But of course, literacy and the availability of texts in the early church was so low that that would have been impossible anyway. And the early church had the good fortune of being close enough to the events of the New Testament that oral transmission might still have had some effectiveness. So the early church made do with what it had.

Who's to say that with the advent of the printing press, we couldn't do better?

You know what else the Apostolic fathers didn't do? They didn't secure their orthodoxy by committing genocide against gnostic heretics the way the medieval Catholics did with the Cathars. How do you feel about accepting developments that were "providentially" secured by shedding rivers of blood?

Anyway, that's just food for thought. I don't want to turn this into a major rabbit trail. I'm genuinely interested in hearing what David thinks the CFs would have thought about the nature of tradition.

-Chris

David Waltz said...

Hi Chris,

Nice to see you back! You posted:

>>Do you think the ECFs would have defined tradition in terms of mere transmission of original ideas? Or would they have allowed for development? And if they allowed for development, would they have defined it as mere logical outworkings of the original deposit? Or would they have agreed with RC theologians that Providence and revelation are guiding the process even when it seems illogical?>>

Me: IMHO, the ECFs were not entirely consistent—on one hand, in their apologia against the Gnostics, they speak of tradition as the “mere transmission” of the “original” apostolic deposit of the faith; but on the other hand, they talk of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in guiding the Church into all truth. Yet with that said, if one were able to question, say Irenaeus, I think he would clarify the latter as the interpretation of the former.

Hope this helps; if not, please feel free to ask more questions.


Grace and peace,

David

Randy said...

I disagree that providence and revelation are guiding the church's way, if by "guiding the church's way" you mean somehow preventing error and corruption. The entirety of Christian history is ample rebuttal of that claim.

I was not talking about infallibility. I was just trying to start with common ground. Everyone believes the church is being led by the Holy Spirit into truth. Everyone believes there are false teachers. Protestants don't disagree with these notions but rather with how to find the church (answer - you can't) and how you identify false teachers (answer- you can't).

I'm curious-- and this is a serious question. Do you believe the Protestant Reformation was provided providentially so that reactionary councils would be called to begin codifying folk doctrines and solidifying authoritarian leadership structures? Was that really God's master plan in the sixteenth century?

This is a hard question. Is sin ever part of God's plan? The reformation was the consequence of sin. Both the sin of the reformers and the sin of the church leaders. God did bring some good things out of it. I think He will bring more good out of it as He re-unites believers. We have dug into many more questions about how to live with Christian heretics than we would have had the reformation not happened. God bring good out of our sin but he can always do even more food with our obedience. The what if game has a lot of angles.

David Waltz said...

Hi Dr. Liccione,

You asked:

>> I'm interested in hearing whether you believe that Dei Verbum §10 is compatible with a two-source view and/or the view that Scripture is "materially sufficient" for conveying the full content of the deposit of faith.>>

Me: The latter view—for sure. With Geiselmann, I believe Trent was misunderstood by the vast majority of Catholic theologians until the mid-20th century. Since the 50’s there has been a growing number of Catholic theologians who believe that Trent is compatible with the “materially sufficient” view, and IMHO, Dei Verbum reflects this growing consensus (though ‘traditionalists’ are fighting this interpretation).

Gerald O’Collins in his essay “Revelation Past and Present” (chapter 4 in Vatican II – Assessment and Prespectives, vol. 1 pp. 125-137) wrote:

==To sum up the sketch of recent Church teaching, both the documents of the Second Vatican Council and in important postconciliar statements, revelation is understood to have been complete, definitive, and unrepeatable self-communication of God through Jesus Christ. Almost in the same breath, however, this official Church teaching also calls revelation a present reality that is repeatedly actualized here and now…One could sum up this magisterial teaching on revelation as follows. Present revelation actualizes the living event of the divine self-manifestation, but it does not add to the “content” of what was completely and fully revealed through Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and sending of the Holy Spirit. Revelation continues to be an actual encounter, but this living dialogue adds nothing to the “divinely revealed realities” (which essentially amount to Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead.)== (Pages 127, 129, 130.)


Grace and peace,

David

Randy said...

As for logic, you need to understand that there was much more than simply logic driving many of the doctrinal developments in church history. Things like politics, nationalism, greed, linguistic and cultural differences, and many other factors also played major roles.

Yes, I would say that about protestant tradition especially. It is true about Catholic tradition but God gave the Catholic church the grace to transcend culture. So doctrine was influenced but ultimately protected from culture.

Still, I agree that developments usually seemed logical "to the pope and [some of the] bishops of the time." But of course, we today have far more resources at our disposal than most of those people did. Why bind ourselves to what a medieval person thought was reasonable, if when we look back today it appears illogical?

This is the classic liberal position. We know more about homosexuality than St Paul did so we can discard what the bible says on the subject. I don't think you would agree with that but it is where this thinking goes. We are not smarter than the Christians who went before us. In fact we are influenced by our culture in a way they were not so we are more prone to error than they are.

Previous generations can make errors so we can't just accept everything they said. But we need to have some way of putting some of those teachings on solid ground. Otherwise we will tend to declare everything the church gives us to be illogical. We will lose a lot more good stuff than bad stuff.

Randy said...

You're right that the early church did not tell every Christian to read their Bible and prayerfully come to the truth. But of course, literacy and the availability of texts in the early church was so low that that would have been impossible anyway. And the early church had the good fortune of being close enough to the events of the New Testament that oral transmission might still have had some effectiveness. So the early church made do with what it had. Who's to say that with the advent of the printing press, we couldn't do better?

But should the fundamental rule of faith change? I agree that Sola Scriptura was nonsense before the printing press. But we didn't get a new covenant when it was invented. The way our realtionship with God revolved around priests, bishops, and the pope should not change because of a technological advancment.

Chris said...

Randy,

First of all, I need to ask your forgiveness if I have left you with the impression that I am an evangelical. I am quite theologically liberal, on the order of a Hick, Troeltsch, or Schleiermacher.

I do not think we are "smarter" than previous generations. But I do think we are far, far, far better equipped to draw reasonable conclusions about most things than medieval people were. In fact, I find it very surprising that anyone should deny this.

As for your question about whether sin is ever part of God's plan, allow me to point out that sin has been as much a brute fact of church history as it has been of the history of the world. Entire books have been written on "papal sin," alone. If sin isn't part of God's plan, then surely by now we've shot God's plan all to hell. I understand the idea that God can bring good even out of sin, but surely he's limited in the extent to which he can do that. And frankly, we tend to sin so fast and hard that I wonder if even He can keep up.

I also have to object to the notion that our relationship with God ever "revolved around priests, bishops, and the pope." These offices play an important role in the institution that has long called itself "the church", it's true. They have taught, mediated, and nurtured billions of people's relationships with God, it's true. But I know of no Christian "covenant" of which they are an intrinsic part, and they most are most certainly not the gravitational center around which anyone's religion should orbit.

Thanks and best wishes,

-Chris

Chris said...

David,

Thanks for your response. I think you're probably right.

I'm wondering what you think Irenaeus would have said if he could see the institutional Catholic Church and its dogmas today. Would he recognize these as legitimate "interpretations" of the transmitted deposit? Or would he conclude that they are beyond the pale of the meaning of the word tradition as he understood it?

Thanks,

-Chris

Randy said...

Chris,

I didn't think you were a liberal. What I said was that line of thinking led to liberalism. To say that anything the church has done previously can be reviewed based on pure reason and the fact that historically almost all Christians have agreed on a certain opinion on it should not be taken too seriously. Most protestants only think this way when justifying chuirch splits. They have no appetite for ignoring church history on marriage or abortion. So I was pointing out an inconsistency and not acusing you of liberalism.

I would agree we are better equiped than medieval generations. But we also have some more serious temptations. So we should not assume we are going to get better results unless we build on what they have done that is good. That starts from being able to tell the good from the bad. You are right about sin. It had produced a lot of bad fruit over the years. Can we discard it and not discard everything?

Heaven and earth is passing away but Jesus' word will not pass away. Jesus is building His church, His body, His Kingdom. So that is the place to look for something that has not been corrupted by sin.

As far as the role of the priests, bishops, and pope in church history. All I can suggest is to read church history. The "Jesus and me" individualism was not what they believed.

I would say Sola Scriptura is a fundamental change to the faith. It is more important than any doctrine because it is the rule that tells us how to think about doctrine. So to say it didn't operate from the beginning means either it is false or God made a huge shift in the way He works. Really comparable to the shift He made with Moses or Abraham.

David Waltz said...

Hello again Chris,

You posted the following:

>> I'm wondering what you think Irenaeus would have said if he could see the institutional Catholic Church and its dogmas today. Would he recognize these as legitimate "interpretations" of the transmitted deposit? Or would he conclude that they are beyond the pale of the meaning of the word tradition as he understood it?>>

Me: If the Irenaeus of the second century were to get a glimpse of the Catholic Church today (institutionally, geographically, and theologically), I think he would be in for a major shock! I sincerely doubt he would recognize many of the current dogmas as “legitimate ‘interpretations’ of the transmitted deposit”—that is, without crash courses on the 1800 years of history his missed and on the development of doctrine(s).

By way of analogy, if my great grandmother was shown a current picture of this 50-something year old beacbum back in the 1950’s, there is no way she would have recognized it as me—however, if she had been shown a yearly progression of photos up to the present, that is a different story all together.


Grace and peace,

David

Mike L said...

David:

I'm inclined to agree with you that Trent has been misinterpreted. Although they said that revelation is transmitted from the Christ and the Apostles "by written books and unwritten traditions," that is logically compatible with either affirming or denying that Scripture is materially sufficient for conveying the entire content of the deposit of faith. My own position is that Scripture alone is not materially sufficient, but that Tradition is materially sufficient if Scripture be viewed properly: as the most normative record of Tradition. That's compatible with both Trent and Vatican II, which are usually seen as being in mutual tension on the question of the sources of revelation.

Nevertheless, your quotation from O'Collins does not address the question of material sufficiency. It merely points out, rightly, that the content of revelation was complete in the apostolic age, while its actualization in the life and thought of the Church is ongoing.

Best,
Mike

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Dave, in regards to whether St. Irenaeus would be shocked at today's Church, I think he would get over that shock quickly if he got to see the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at Mass. I have no doubt he would recognize most of what is going on there.

Ken Temple said...

I am still waiting for a response from my last post on the previous blog article: You are still quoting the scholars rather than acutually showing where Irenaeus and Tertullian call "the rule of faith" a system of interpreting Scripture and that the decisions of the presbuteros/episcopais are infallible.


Dave wrote:

and second, the entirety of the Christian faith/gospel—Tertullian or Irenaeus use both senses.

Ken Temple wrote:
You quoted from D. H. Williams and Tony Lane, with is fine; that is their opinion, and they are very good scholars; and certainly more knowledgeable than me; but I don't see any specific statements from Irenaeus or Tertullian where they specifically say that; and/or use the term "rule of faith" and "the faith" or "the preaching" or "the teaching" and define it as "a system or method of interpreting Scripture". Where are those references?, -- as in the clear references from "sense no. 1" of "the rule of faith".

Ken Temple said...

Chris,
I could not help but comment on this and point to our debate we had last year at your own website about homosexuality.

Randy wrote:
This is the classic liberal position. We know more about homosexuality than St Paul did so we can discard what the bible says on the subject. I don't think you would agree with that but it is where this thinking goes. We are not smarter than the Christians who went before us. In fact we are influenced by our culture in a way they were not so we are more prone to error than they are.

Randy - Chris admits that he is indeed liberal - a universalist - like John Hicks - I had a debate with him on homosexuality at his web -site and you nailed his presuppositions exactly; and you saw where his thinking leads.

You were right – that is exactly where his kind of thinking leads to.

http://chriscarrollsmith.blogspot.com/2008/04/on-homosexuality-and-sin.html

There were 97 comments on this article, lasting several months. You will see my comments in the middle of the 97 and we debated rather vigorously.

I hope that others will have time to read our exchange and see his liberal and unbiblical thinking.

“First of all, I need to ask your forgiveness if I have left you with the impression that I am an evangelical. I am quite theologically liberal, on the order of a Hick, Troeltsch, or Schleiermacher.” Chris

So, we have an interesting discussion/debate here with several Roman Catholics, an Eastern Orthodox, a Reformed Evangelical, and a liberal Universalist; all about the "rule of faith" and the Early Church Fathers. Interesting indeed.

And other times in the past, we had a Mormon heavily debating on this issue.

David Waltz said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for responding; you wrote:

>> My own position is that Scripture alone is not materially sufficient, but that Tradition is materially sufficient if Scripture be viewed properly: as the most normative record of Tradition. That's compatible with both Trent and Vatican II, which are usually seen as being in mutual tension on the question of the sources of revelation.>>

Me: Interesting take—what teachings do you think were in tradition in the first couple of centuries that were not materially (at least implicitly) in Scripture?

>> Nevertheless, your quotation from O'Collins does not address the question of material sufficiency. It merely points out, rightly, that the content of revelation was complete in the apostolic age, while its actualization in the life and thought of the Church is ongoing.>>

Me: Not directly—the purpose of the selection was to demonstrate that NO CONTENT was being added to the Faith after the original apostolic deposit. For some selections from Catholic scholars on the material sufficiency of Scripture SEE PREVIOUS THIS THREAD.

Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

>>I am still waiting for a response from my last post on the previous blog article: You are still quoting the scholars rather than acutually showing where Irenaeus and Tertullian call "the rule of faith" a system of interpreting Scripture and that the decisions of the presbuteros/episcopais are infallible.>>

Me: Sorry, about that—note the following selection:

==Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? 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?== (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.4.1 – ANF 1.416, 417.)

Grace and peace,

David

Chris said...

Ken,

Good to see you again. I should point out that the "kind of thinking" that Randy suggested leads to liberalism is the Protestant kind of thinking, according to which the Medieval church was off base and we more modern people with our humanistic textual scholarship can arrive at more accurate conclusions. That is your kind of thinking, too, is it not?

Of course, I absolutely agree with you that the Protestant/evangelical kind of thinking leads to liberalism if followed to its logical conclusion. That, in fact, is exactly why I am here discussing the rule of faith: because ultimately, the roots of my liberalization lie in my thinking about this very issue. John Henry Newman lampooned evangelicals as more or less Socinians who didn't yet know it yet. Although I think he should have been less offensive and more sensitive to their actual beliefs, IMO he was right at least about the eventual logical implications of an evangelical position.

Best,

-Chris

Randy said...

Ken and Chris,

Sorry I didn't clue in about Chris' position. Most protestants I run into discussing theology are pretty conservative. I guess I just asssumed.

Chris is right. Protestantism does lead to liberalism. Many protestants, like Ken, deny that. But even liberal Catholics are liberal because they have bought into protestant thinking. So some want to keep the pope and the mass and ditch sexual morality. Some want to ditch the pope and the mass and keep the morality. Both are picking and choosing. The only way to truly make Jesus Lord of your life is to embrace the whole faith.

Ken Temple said...

Chris and Randy:
thanks for the interaction.

I understand what you are saying, but I disagree with both of you.

Chris, your position is especially grievous, because of your acceptance that homosexuality is ok and not a sin; and that all will be saved (Hick, Universalism), etc. - ignoring Jesus Christ's own statements about the eternal fires of hell and judgment - "where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" - Mark 9:48

As for Randy's point, we have debated alot over the past several years over at his web-site, "Purify Your Bride".

There just was no Pope or "bishop of bishops" or Newman anachronistic reading back into Scripture and the ECFs that lead to his Roman version of "development of doctrine" theory. There is no good evidence of any of the Marian practices or dogmas in the Scriptures, nor in the early centuries. (those that give little "acorns" for something were just wrong on those issues, they are not infallible.)

The ancient rule of faith, the infallible and inerrant Scriptures, with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, keeps His own from going liberal and rejecting the very Scriptures that He Himself "breathed out" ( 2 Timothy 3:16) Even the quote that David W. offers from Irenaeus, when put in the context of several paragraphs later, to me, seems to affirm the Ancillary view. ( I will flesh that out in a different post.) Later, Irenaeus says, "since we do have the tradition in the churches, let us resort to the proof in the Scriptures" . This is ancillary, once one keeps reading, because it shows that the "faith" that is in the churches, came from the Scriptural proof, not from "oral secret tradition" that survived and can be developed out later in Papal and Marian and indulgence oriented doctrines.

Ken Temple said...

Good to see you again. I should point out that the "kind of thinking" that Randy suggested leads to liberalism is the Protestant kind of thinking,

Chris, I understand what you are saying; but I don't think that is true. Protestantism never said, "you can throw off faith itself, the Scriptures and God Himself and the miracles in Scripture also; not just the authority of the Pope and additions that were added onto the Scriptures and the faith - these additions started slowly and glued to the ship of Christendom like barnacles later. (notwithstanding Chesterton's quote that that is what ships actually do in the harbor.) The Reformation was a cleaning off of the barnacles that had encrusted on over the centuries, a needed overhaul on the hull of the Ship.

Your view puts holes in the ship itself and causes it to sink. Ours is merely reform and repair and cleaning.

Randy's view wants to keep the barnacles and let them grown into massive coral reefs, which is what RCC is.


according to which the Medieval church was off base and we more modern people with our humanistic textual scholarship can arrive at more accurate conclusions.

No, getting back to the sources (Greek and Hebrew and honestly with textual variants) with faith and holding onto to faith, while being honest about textual critical matters is possible.

James White, Dan Wallace, D. A. Carson, and many other fine scholars see the textual issues, without giving into the presuppositions of liberalism and skepticism of Bart Erhman and John Dominic Crossan, Robert Funk, Schleirmacker, Bultmann, and John Shelby Spong, to name a few. Please watch all of James White's debates with Ehrman, Spong, and Crossan; and Dan Wallace's debate with Erhman.

White's debates are at www.aomin.org


That is your kind of thinking, too, is it not?

No, I don't jettison faith or the Scriptures or that God actually breathed them, like Erhman did when he went deep into textual critical matters.

There is a vast difference between accepting liberal scholars skepticism and presuppositions and anti-supernatural bias; vs. rejecting the Roman Catholic doctrines, practices and dogmas that were added on slowly over the centuries.

Ken Temple said...

David quoted Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:4:1

If you keep reading, following his argument, all the way down to
3:5:1, you get the ancillary view. By itself, 3:4:1 seems like the coincidence view; but when he fleshes his thinking all the way out; he says, "since we do have the faith in the churches, let us resort to that Scriptural proof, which the apostles wrote down for us":

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, (John xiv. 6. ) and that no lie is in Him. As also David says, prophesying His birth from a virgin, and the resurrection from the dead, “Truth has sprung out of the earth.” (Ps. lxxxv. 11.) The apostles, likewise, being disciples of the truth, are above all falsehood; for a lie has no fellowship with the truth, just as darkness has none with light, but the presence of the one shuts out that of the other. Our Lord, therefore, being the truth, did not speak lies; and whom He knew to have taken origin from a defect, He never would have acknowledged as God, even the God of all, the Supreme King, too, and His own Father, an imperfect being as a perfect one, an animal one as a spiritual, Him who was without the Pleroma as Him who was within it. 418 Neither did His disciples make mention of any other God, or term any other Lord, except Him, who was truly the God and Lord of all, as these most vain sophists affirm that the apostles did with hypocrisy frame their doctrine according to the capacity of their hearers, and gave answers after the opinions of their questioners,—fabling blind things for the blind, according to their blindness; for the dull according to their dulness; for those in error according to their error. And to those who imagined that the Demiurge alone was God, they preached him; but to those who are capable of comprehending the unnameable Father, they did declare the unspeakable mystery through parables and enigmas: so that the Lord and the apostles exercised the office of teacher not to further the cause of truth, but even in hypocrisy, and as each individual was able to receive it!

This shows that the Gnostics were wrong about their interpretation of the Scriptures, and their claim to have secret knowledge to secret oral tradition left by the apostles (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1:8:1 ) This is the method the RCC apologists employ claiming that the apostles taught orally on Mary and transubstantiation, but it did not come out until centuries later; it was secret and oral, but not written down in the Scriptures. No evidence or proof of any such thing.

Ken Temple said...

Irenaeus asserts that the Gnostics:
a. gather their knowledge from other sources other than the Scriptures. (Against Heresies, 1:8:1)
b. claim that the Jesus gave the apostles a secret, oral tradition. (3:2:1)
c. accuse the Scriptures of being unclear and ambiguous. (3:2:1)

Ken Temple said...

Chris is right.

No, Chris is wrong.

Protestantism does lead to liberalism.

No, it does not.

Many protestants, like Ken, deny that. But even liberal Catholics are liberal because they have bought into protestant thinking.

No, they accepted anti-supernatural bias and higher critical German presuppositions. (e.g. Raymond Brown and his views on the birth Narratives of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2.

So some want to keep the pope and the mass and ditch sexual morality.

How they keep the pope and go against what the Pope says about sexual morality? There is a big contradiction here.

Some want to ditch the pope and the mass and keep the morality.

Because Scripture is against the Pope and the transubstantiation and appearance of idolatry at the mass; but Scripture keeps the morality that homosexuality is wrong and abortion is wrong.

Both are picking and choosing.

But the liberal view is the right to pick and choose everything and anything. (relativism, subjectivity; autonomy of the individual; unbelief; rejection of all authority whatsoever); but Protestantism is holding to the faith once for all delivered to the saints ( Scripture, and the rule of faith content in Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athanasius) and rejecting the "traditions of man" that RCC has added slowly over the centuries.

The only way to truly make Jesus Lord of your life is to embrace the whole faith.

Yes, the whole faith is in the Scriptures; not the RCC additions/corruptions.

Randy said...

Ken,

You are simply elaborating on your inconsistency. You are not eliminating it. You don't like the church's teaching on the papacy but you do like the church's teaching on homosexuality. You have subjective reasons for these position. Nobody doubts that. The point is they are you reasons and yours alone. If you want to say this is the mind of God rather than just the mind of Ken Temple then you have a problem. It depends on assertions you have made that a large number of pretty intelligent people would disagree with. Why do you understand the mind of God better than them?

Chris said...

Hi Ken,

I disagree that I became liberal because I bought into anti-supernatural bias and higher-critical presuppositions. I still today believe that miracles may indeed be possible. I was a Pentecostal until really the last stages of my liberalization. Anti-supernatural bias didn't have a damn thing to do with it. My views of the Bible, moreover, came first and foremost from Prostestantism and from the Bible itself rather than from higher criticism. Long before I had any real exposure to the higher critics, I read and believed Jeremiah 8:8:

"How can you say, 'We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,' when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?"

I also knew that Martin Luther had drawn the line at the doctrine of the Real Presence, and considered those who rejected that doctrine to have gone too far and ejected the faith itself. The evangelicals, too, had failed to go far enough in rejecting the modern work of the Holy Spirit and in limiting the roles of women. When I looked at Protestant history, what I saw was progression. More and more things that had been off limits came under review as that history proceeded. I simply carried the process farther.

Well before I accepted any of the higher critics' views of biblical authorship, I found parts of the scriptures deeply troubling based simply on my own reading. Why did Jesus' prophecy of his own return within a generation fail so miserably? Why had God commanded Israel to commit genocide? Why had Paul made such incomprehensible statements about women and homosexuals?

Ironically, the church fathers also played a role in my liberalization. I read Origen and found his liberal theology appealing. I discovered that Gregory was a universalist. I explored the writings of the mystics. I read how Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and many others believed animal sacrifice had been a divine accommodation to human weakness. This made me wonder even as to the meaning of the atonement. Was it for the forgiveness of sins? Or was it a great divine gambit to end sacrifice and priesthood and temples and to refocus our attention on the things that really matter?

Anyway, I don't want to bore you. I'm just trying to point out that I came to liberalism as a Protestant and a Pentecostal, not as a liberal-in-waiting. Thanks,

-Chris

Ken Temple said...

If you want to say this is the mind of God rather than just the mind of Ken Temple then you have a problem.

No, Randy, it is not a problem, because the truth that homosexuality is sin and always will be is very clear in the Scriptures (the mind of God); but the papacy is not even in any way in the Scriptures, not even in seed form; even Matthew 16 and your RCC other proof-texts don't even come close to teaching anything on the papacy at all. So, I have no problem; but I understand your process of how you come to your idea.

Ken Temple said...

Chris wrote:
I disagree that I became liberal because I bought into anti-supernatural bias and higher-critical presuppositions. . . I was a Pentecostal until really the last stages of my liberalization. . . . My views of the Bible, moreover, came first and foremost from Prostestantism and from the Bible itself rather than from higher criticism. Long before I had any real exposure to the higher critics, . . . "

Chris,
Ok, I can accept your process; but still disagreeing that it is Protestantism per se (Sola Scriptura, priesthood of the believer, perspecuity of Scripture, and Sola Gratia and Sola Fide) that caused you to go toward liberalism and universalism; and no, you are not boring me; actually that was very interesting.

Ken Temple said...

Well before I accepted any of the higher critics' views of biblical authorship, I found parts of the scriptures deeply troubling based simply on my own reading. Why did Jesus' prophecy of his own return within a generation fail so miserably?

Properly understood, His prediction was true in His "coming" in judgement on Israel and the temple in 70 AD. Read
R.C. Sproul's The Last Days According to Jesus and Kenneth Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell and Gary DeMar
End Times Fiction and Last Days Madness

But there still awaits a final second coming - I Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Peter 3:8-18; Acts 1:11; I Cor. 15:23-25 and 15:50-54. Matthew 23:36-24:34 is about 70 AD (judgment on that generation); and 24:36- chapter 25 is about the physical bodily second coming.


Why had God commanded Israel to commit genocide?

Everyone admits that is a hard issue; but in the end, it was God's justice against evil and He saved some out of them before the destruction ( Joshua 2, Rahab and her family). Only Israel was given that command and it is no more. Jesus took the kingdom away from Israel. Matthew 21:43-45 No one has that authority to do since that time.

Why had Paul made such incomprehensible statements about women and homosexuals?

They are not incomprehensible, but fully understandable and true.

Ken Temple said...

Ironically, the church fathers also played a role in my liberalization. I read Origen and found his liberal theology appealing.

This is probably the root; you found someone to back up your trouble with those hard texts and issues you pointed out; and other issues like hell and God's wrath and justice. Origen was a heretic on many issues. They are not appealing to those who believe the Scriptures.

I discovered that Gregory was a universalist.

Which Gregory? Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory the bishop of Rome, Gregory the Illuminator ? I am surprised about that, probably you mean one of the first two. Does the Orthodox and RCC recognize that he was a universalist also?


. . .
Anyway, I don't want to bore you.

not at all; quite interesting!

I'm just trying to point out that I came to liberalism as a Protestant and a Pentecostal, not as a liberal-in-waiting.

Which Probably points to some inherent weaknesses in the Pentecostal doctrines of continuing revelation, tendencies on subjective experiences, lack of good exegesis of many passages; and the whole "over-realized eschatology" of "healing and prosperity in the atonement" ( I got to have it now on this earth; not in heaven" - kind of thinking.

Ken Temple said...

Chris,
Do you think the Prosperity Health and Wealth gospel comes from the over-realized eschatology of the "healing in the atonement" idea of classic Pentecostalism?

or

Is it from metaphysical cultic "mind over matter" thinking?

Ken Temple said...

Another problem with Pentecostalism - subjectivism in me, myself and "the Holy Spirit told me" kind of thinking. Not saying all are like that but many are.

Randy said...

No, Randy, it is not a problem, because the truth that homosexuality is sin and always will be is very clear in the Scriptures (the mind of God); but the papacy is not even in any way in the Scriptures, not even in seed form; even Matthew 16 and your RCC other proof-texts don't even come close to teaching anything on the papacy at all. So, I have no problem; but I understand your process of how you come to your idea.

I don't think you understand. The problem of something being subjective cannot be solved simply by you declaring "It is the truth". You say it is clear in scripture but you don't deal with the many who say the opposite position is clear in scripture. Again you have trouble imagining a God who's ways are higher than yours. A God so wise that His wisdom is foolish to man. You simply assume that what is clear to you must be the mind of God.

Randy said...

Chris,

I wonder about your wonderings. We cannot judge the bible according to whether it seems true to us or not. It is either the word of God or it is not. It starts with Jesus. Do you believe he is the Son of God? If you do then you have to ask yourself what kind of word would he leave behind? What kind of church and what kind of bible? Would he allow us to mess up the gospel? He died to give us this grace. Would he allow Paul to put a bunch of falsehoods in the New Testament? Would he allow the papacy to run His church unopposed for over 1000 years?

Chris said...

Ken,

I never bought into the prosperity gospel, and neither did all but a couple of the Pentecostals I knew personally. I am not sure where it comes from, as I've not studied it in detail, but it's an ancient error, isn't it? The rich and powerful believe they are rich and powerful because they are blessed, and they tell the poor they are poor because of sin. It's a classic way of keeping oneself at the top of the pyramid. Meanwhile, the televangelists who promote it are motivated by greed. They have gotten filthy stinking rich on the faith of their followers.

As for subjectivism, I suppose I should point out that all the prophets of ancient Israel claimed "the Holy Spirit told me" to challenge the religious establishment of their day. It was as chaotic and unsettling then as it is now. The doctrine of cessation was invented out of fear of this potential chaos, but of course that doctrine has no genuinely defensible biblical basis.

Gregory of Nyssa and Origen are pretty widely recognized as universalists. I have read less about Clement of Alexandria, Macrina, and Theodore of Mopsuestia, but they are also frequently cited as universalists. A little more controversially, Jerome is also considered by many to have held that doctrine. We also have statements from non-universalists like Augustine and Basil that suggest that "very many" or the "great mass" of Christians of their day agreed with Gregory and Origen.

Origen was denounced as a heretic well after his time, but in his day he was a well-respected luminary.

As for your reading of the Olivet discourse, I can only say that the delineation you make between the 70 AD portion and the future portion simply doesn't exist in the text.

Best,

-Chris

Chris said...

Randy,

In my opinion, the Bible absolutely must be judged "according to whether it seems true to us or not," since that is the only criterion available to us. All appeals to authority to certify the Bible are finally circular. Ultimately only I can decide whether I find the messages of the Bible convincing enough to believe them.

As for whether God would allow us to mess up his gospel, I have to wonder whether God would allow us to kill and torture each other, or to pollute his creation, or to sin against his will. Intuitively, my first guess would be "no". But apparently God does not work the way I think he should. The fact is that he has allowed us to do all of these things.

Best,

-Chris

Ken Temple said...

Meanwhile, the televangelists who promote it are motivated by greed. They have gotten filthy stinking rich on the faith of their followers.

Yes, we can agree that that part of the greater Pentecostal/Charismatic TV evangelism is "crap" and heresy and garbage.


As for subjectivism, I suppose I should point out that all the prophets of ancient Israel claimed "the Holy Spirit told me" to challenge the religious establishment of their day.

But we who beleive the Bible, know that that was good and from God; whereas the modern Benny Hinn/Oral Roberts/K. Copeland/Creflo Dollar/Todd Bentley/Toronto blessing/Pensecola outpouring type stuff is obvious fraud and/or emotionalism run wild.

Ken Temple said...

As for your reading of the Olivet discourse, I can only say that the delineation you make between the 70 AD portion and the future portion simply doesn't exist in the text.

The disciples seem to throw in three different issues in verse 3, mixing them together.
when will these things happen? ( the destruction of the temple)
sign of your coming
and the end of the age

Jesus answers the first question about the temple and then says in verse 36, "But of that day" -- that day -- a change from "these things" (70 AD) -that day - the second coming. But he also seems to mix it in with verses 29-30.

I admit this one is hard; but it makes sense to me, if you read all those books. Too involved to get into eschatology in this combox.

The point is, there is a credible answer, a reasonable and Scriptural one for the question of the soon prediction; and a good apologetic for Bertrand Russell and Albert Schweitzer and your issue on that question.

Randy said...

In my opinion, the Bible absolutely must be judged "according to whether it seems true to us or not," since that is the only criterion available to us. All appeals to authority to certify the Bible are finally circular. Ultimately only I can decide whether I find the messages of the Bible convincing enough to believe them.

What is circular is your idea of sitting in judgement on the bible and then letting the bible inform you about God. How does the bible differ from any other book? It has to convince you. What book won't you believe if you find it convncing?

As for whether God would allow us to mess up his gospel, I have to wonder whether God would allow us to kill and torture each other, or to pollute his creation, or to sin against his will. Intuitively, my first guess would be "no". But apparently God does not work the way I think he should. The fact is that he has allowed us to do all of these things.

You are not talking about the nature of God but the limits of man. God must overcome our limits or we are just out of luck. If Jesus revealed amazing truths about God and they are not accurately recorded and passed on to us then he really failed to accomplish the "God is with us" thing.

Chris said...

Randy,

Since to some degree I sit in judgment on every book I read, why do I let Reza Aslan inform me about Islam? The answer, of course, is that Aslan possesses knowledge and experience I do not possess, and compiles them in a format in which I would not have thought to compile them. That Aslan successfully convinces me of his ideas does not mean that I necessarily agreed with those ideas before I started.

The same holds true for the Bible. The biblical authors share their experiences, their theologies, and their histories. Sitting on judgment on their writings and learning from their writings are not mutually exclusive activities. As it happens, I believe both are valuable.

You're right, though, that I don't necessarily treat the Bible differently from other books. I believe we should be equally open to learning about God from all sources. His activity obviously was not limited to ancient Israel, so it would be odd indeed if that were the only source of information about him.

>>You are not talking about the nature of God but the limits of man. God must overcome our limits or we are just out of luck.

You're right that man is limited and that presumably God wants those limitations to be transcended. But my point is that rather than intervening to stop the killing, he gives us commandments to love our neighbors. Rather than magically overcoming our limits by his own power, he persuades us to transcend them. Why would he treat the preservation of Church and scripture any differently than our sin and suffering? Why would he persuade in the one case, but use some sort of providential coercion in the other? All I'm asking is that we be consistent, folks.

Best,

-Chris

Ken Temple said...

Chris,
Interesting you mention Reza Aslan - he almost seems to deny that there is a "good vs. evil" and "right vs. wrong" - I haven't read his books, but listened and watched two hour long interviews/lectures with him on "flora TV".

He says the whole framework of "the clash of civilizations" ( Huntington) is wrong.

Is he saying there is no "good vs. evil" or "right vs. wrong", etc.?

Does he believe in any kind of absolute truth?

He was very young when he left Iran; very westernized and secularized, it seemed to me; but very interesting.

Ken Temple said...

Randy wrote:
You say it is clear in scripture but you don't deal with the many who say the opposite position is clear in scripture.

So, numbers of people who think something is true makes it true? When I see the masses that follow Joel Osteen and Copeland and Hinn on one side; and the masses of RCs who have statures of Mary and Mary parades in Latin American and the Philippines and some who crucify themselves literally; and the thousands who gather at every little water spill or pizza that claims to have a vision of Mary; you point has no merit whatsoever.

Besides, there are thousands over the last 500 years of Protestants who broke free from the Papal ideas and the Protestant scholars do a better job of exegeting Matthew 16 and what it means.


Again you have trouble imagining a God who's ways are higher than yours.

Absolutely not; Biblical Christianity; the mystery of the Tri-une God who is one God, one in substance and three in person and eternal and the incarnation are incredible mind-blowing mystery-truths. Also, the sovereignty of God and that God holds us all responsible for our sin are truths that require faith and trust. Even faith itself; that I cannot explain it or understand exactly how I believe or trust; that it is a gift; cannot be fully explained by mere intellectual statements.

Read Joni Eareckson's Tada's When God Weeps. (with Steve Estes, Zondervan)

No my friend; there is enough Mystery and God's ways are higher than our ways in the Word itself; I don't need a "tradition of man" added to that in order to deliberately prove that I have enough mystery in life and faith.

Chris said...

Ken,

Don't want to spend too much text on thus, but suffice to say I don't think Aslan denies there is good and evil. The reason he rejects the clash of civilizations framework is that he sees the present conflict not as a clash between Islam and Christianity or Islam and the West, but as an internal conflict between competing visions of Islam. He believes that Islam has entered a period of violent reformation comparable to Christianity's sixteenth century. He argues that militant Islamic fundamentalism is a relatively recent phenomenon-- aggravated, among other things, by American and British meddling in the Middle East-- and that if Islam returned to its roots it would be a democratic and egalitarian faith.

He doesn't get everything right, but his book is a compelling counterpoint to those who believe Islam and pluralistic democracy are incompatible. Catch his great recent interview on the Daily Show here.

Ken Temple said...

I already saw that interview on the Daily Show. It was very general compared to the longer lectures on FloraTV.com

"The Meddling" came as a result of the Ottoman Empire joining with Germany in World War I; -they were the aggressors first; later the Arabs wanted to be free from the Turks; Islam has never had real unity; and of course, the other big "meddling" was the oil fields in Iran and Iran and other places, that the British first discovered, developed, ruled over.

But, as you say, he doesn't get everything right; because he is really naive to think that the first 300 years of Islam was a peaceful and egalitarian faith.

That is massively ignorant. The bloodiest wars were the civil wars of Muslims killing each other - Sunni vs. Shiite in S. Iraq and conquering Iran and taking 300 years to force Iran to become Muslim. I am very surprised at this part of his assertion. Also, Islam aggressively attacked the Byzantine Empire and conquered the Levant (Lebanon/Syria/Palestine) and Egypt and N. Africa and Spain. The modern Jihadist Islam is seeking to return to the same kind of Islam of Muhammad's Islam - aggressive war to subjugate infidels and Christians and Jews as part of the Dar Al Islam.

I am glad peaceful Muslims want to free it from Jihadists tendencies, but they are naive and dishonest if they think that was not Muhammad's Islam and the Khalifa's Islam of the first several hundred years.

Chris said...

>>he is really naive to think that the first 300 years of Islam was a peaceful and egalitarian faith.

There may be some scholars who make that claim, but if Aslan has made it somewhere then he is contradicting himself. In No God but God he deals quite even-handedly with the violence of the early years, contextualizing it but not denying that it happened. He does believe that Muhammad himself was an unusually peaceful and merciful man for his time.

Chris said...

To clarify, Aslan does believe that the Islam of Muhammad was egalitarian. It's the "peaceful" part of the claim that I don't think he would agree with. He discusses the violent subjugation of the pagans in Arabia, and acknowledges the expansionistic tendencies of the caliphs. But he sees this violent expansion less as a function of Islam than of the imperial ambitions typical of political leaders of the day. He would point out that the Muslim conquerors did not force Iran to become Muslim, as you assert. In fact, the Muslims were far less inclined to force conversion than the Christians of that time were.

As for egalitarianism, he basically says that Islamic egalitarianism ended with Umar, and it was all downhill from there.

Randy said...

You say it is clear in scripture but you don't deal with the many who say the opposite position is clear in scripture.

So, numbers of people who think something is true makes it true?

The point is you say something is clear when many people say it isn't. That means it is only clear to someone who as made the same assumptions you have. Others who come from a different place read the scriptures very differently. That is a huge problem for your position and you once again chosen to reply without actually addressing it. The reason of course is that there is no reply. The only rational answer is to abandon Sola Scriptura. But you don't want to go there so you change the subject.

When I see the masses that follow Joel Osteen and Copeland and Hinn on one side; and the masses of RCs who have statures of Mary and Mary parades in Latin American and the Philippines and some who crucify themselves literally; and the thousands who gather at every little water spill or pizza that claims to have a vision of Mary; you point has no merit whatsoever.

No merit in your mind? Or are you just trying to convince yourself. Oosteen, Copeland and Hinn are in the same boat as you. They just declare their own position to be THE biblical position. That line is open to every heretic.

Besides, there are thousands over the last 500 years of Protestants who broke free from the Papal ideas and the Protestant scholars do a better job of exegeting Matthew 16 and what it means.

Actually protestants disagree about what Mat 16 means just like they do about everything else. Many do feel Jesus was declaring Peter to be the leader of the early church. Many go for the petra /petros line even though no serious scholar buys it anymore. So protestant exegesis of Matt 16 is objectively weak. Only very biased judges like you would call it better.

Randy said...

Again you have trouble imagining a God who's ways are higher than yours.

Absolutely not; Biblical Christianity; the mystery of the Tri-une God who is one God, one in substance and three in person and eternal and the incarnation are incredible mind-blowing mystery-truths. Also, the sovereignty of God and that God holds us all responsible for our sin are truths that require faith and trust. Even faith itself; that I cannot explain it or understand exactly how I believe or trust; that it is a gift; cannot be fully explained by mere intellectual statements.

I don't doubt any of that. But you still can't get your mind around how you could be wrong about the Pope and about Mary. There are many things about which you think you know God's mind infallibly. In almost every case God has more to give you and you are refusing delivery. That is because you are sure God does not do stuff like that. But you are very sure and very wrong. Just because you can't imagine God doing something is no reason to suppose he doesn't. You say God's truth can blow your mind but you don't really open yourself up to that type of truth.

Ken Temple said...

He would point out that the Muslim conquerors did not force Iran to become Muslim, as you assert. In fact, the Muslims were far less inclined to force conversion than the Christians of that time were.

They certainly did force Iran and many other places to become Muslims (Egypt, Morocco, Spain, Syria, later the Ottomans in Turkey; come on, that is historical fact. This is historical revisionism; like leaving out any and all of the Christian roots and principles and influences of United States History.

Ken Temple said...

Historical evidence from the Qur'an and Hadith of Muhammad's Islam - war on both Persia and Byzantine, recorded in the Hadith of Al Bukhari, after he sent letters to them inviting them to Islam.

The Khalifs were just carrying out what Muhammad taught and practiced.

A summary of some of these verses and issues:
Surah 9:5 The verse of the sword
"slay the unbelievers wherever you find them"

Surah 9:29 “Fight against the people of the book, . . . Until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.”

Hadith: Al Bukhari :
Law of apostacy: If anyone turns from Islam, kill him.(9:84:57)

War is deceit – repeated often. (4:52:267, 268, 269)

“If you embrace Islam, you will be safe.” (4:53:392)

Muhammed wrote letters to Khosrow, king of Iran and Hericlius, Byzantine Emperor, “If you become a Muslim, you will be safe.” (1:1:6) (also, 4:52:190-191)


Volume 4, Book 52, Number 190:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas:
Allah's Apostle sent his letter to Khusrau and ordered his messenger to hand it over to the Governor of Bahrain who was to hand it over to Khusrau. So, when Khusrau read the letter he tore it. Said bin Al-Musaiyab said, "The Prophet then invoked Allah to disperse them with full dispersion, (destroy them (i.e. Khusrau and his followers) severely)".

Because both the Byzantine emperor and the Persian Shah rejected Mohammad's "da'wa" (invitaition); the Muslims attacked both the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire in holy war, which is what the ultimate application of Jihad (striving, exertion, effort) is in Islam. You cannot separate the Quran from the Hadith, as the Hadith shows us the historical context of most of the verses in the Quran.

We have no right to re-interpret verses in the Qur'an out of their context and according to our understanding.

We don't like this when Muslim debaters like Ahmad Deedat did this to the Bible (eisegesis) and we should not be doing that to the Qur'an.

See the Hadith, Al Bukhari, the letter and context of Muhammad's invitation to Byzantine and Persia to embrace Islam:

http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/052.sbt.html#004.052.191

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 191:
Narrated Abdullah bin Abbas:
Allah's Apostle wrote to Caesar and invited him to Islam . . .
"In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful (This letter is) from Muhammad, the slave of Allah, and His Apostle, to Heraculius, the Ruler of the Byzantine. Peace be upon the followers of guidance. Now then, I invite you to Islam (i.e. surrender to Allah), embrace Islam and you will be safe; embrace Islam and Allah will bestow on you a double reward. But if you reject this invitation of Islam, you shall be responsible for misguiding the peasants (i.e. your nation). O people of the Scriptures! Come to a word common to you and us and you, that we worship. None but Allah, and that we associate nothing in worship with Him; and that none of us shall take others as Lords besides Allah. Then if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are (they who have surrendered (unto Him)..(Quran, Surah 3.64)

No, Muhammad was not egalitarian nor peaceful.

Ken Temple said...

That is a huge problem for your position and you once again chosen to reply without actually addressing it.

Doesn't seem like a problem to me; but I understand how you could think that, given your RCC presupposition of an infallible interpreter on earth and the Newman doctrine of development theory; as we talked about this before on your own web-site; you even admitted the RCC has seemingly changed all the rules so that they are the final authority and it is bottom like, "whatever we say is the truth and tough toenails if you disagree, you are in rebellion".

The reason of course is that there is no reply. The only rational answer is to abandon Sola Scriptura. But you don't want to go there so you change the subject.

Doesn't make sense. You are good at summarizing and keeping things short; ( the opposite of Dave Armstrong, another RCC apologist); but sometimes your statements and argumentation is so short, I cannot understand it. Maybe I am not just as smart as you.

Ken Temple said...

But you still can't get your mind around how you could be wrong about the Pope and about Mary.

Why do you say that? "can't get my mind around it" ?

I can get my mind around about the fact that I don't think I am wrong.

"could be wrong"?
Why would I want to doubt that?; those are the easiest of the RCC doctrines to prove both unbiblical and unhistorical in early centuries.

"Let everyone be convinced in his own mind." Romans 14:5

Ken Temple said...

Oosteen, Copeland and Hinn are in the same boat as you.

Now you are getting insulting.

They just declare their own position to be THE biblical position. That line is open to every heretic.

Randy,
that is the same thing the RCC does; just declares it, (ipsit dixit ?) "The Church dogmatically declares it.", etc.

RCC also claims to be the most biblical; same boat; as far as we all have to use our minds to make our decisions; Chris was right on that; except for judging the
Scriptures as wrong and not inspired. The point is we all use our minds in the end to decide which way seems best to us. You had to use your mind to decide the RCC was the true Biblical and historical church. You have no more surety or confidence or assurance or certainty; the main thing that drove Newman and drives Evangelicals to cross the Tiber.

Chris said...

Ken,

Aslan discusses several of the verses you mention, but places them in their historical context. Of course, a verse like "slay the unbelievers wherever you find them" is horrible if taken as a general principle. But Aslan's point is that when this verse was given, the Muslims were embroiled in a war against the Quraysh in which the Quraysh were the persistent aggressors. "The unbelievers" referred to are the Quraysh and their allies.

As for the hadith, Aslan points out that they were not recorded until a few centuries after the prophet's death, and then were collected and "authenticated" by leaders in whose interest it was to promote violent jihad and to subjugate women. So while the hadith can provide historical context, they can also be misleading.

I think there is truth in your portrait of the prophet, but I also think it is the most negative possible reading. There is a great deal in the Quran and the hadith that tends in exactly the opposite direction, as I imagine you well know. I recently picked up Reconciliation by Benazir Bhutto (peace be upon her), which is a wonderful apologetic for a peaceful interpretation of Islam. Such interpretations should be promoted by the West, not opposed. It is in our best interest to support them. The elephants seem determined to keep Islam militant.

Anyway, you should really read the book for yourself. I think Aslan does a very good job of providing some context, nuance, and counterpoints to the polemical view of early Islam. Don't bash something that you haven't given a chance, eh? Anyway, I'm going to stop hijacking poor David's blog, and bow out of this discussion. (I seem to be a frequent offender in this regard. So sorry, David!)

-Chris

Ken Temple said...

David,
Getting back to the issue of your post; Irenaeus 3:5:1 shows the meaning of 3:4:1, they are connected and in context. It is the same for us today, since we have the written Scriptural proof of what the tradition was in the churches (even those that did not possess the full canon yet, yet like Barbarian Germanic tribes, they had the "rule of faith" which we agree is all fully compatble with the apostles creed and Nicene creed and Protestantism and Matthew 28:19, etc.; so today, also; we must "resort to the Scriptural proof" to see what the "rule of faith was". This, Irenaeus affirms essentially, "Sola Scriptura". Also, with these other 3 points that Irenaeus makes, he affirms a basic form of Sola Scriptura at that time:


Irenaeus asserts that the Gnostics:
a. gather their knowledge from other sources other than the Scriptures. (Against Heresies, 1:8:1)
b. claim that the Jesus gave the apostles a secret, oral tradition. (3:2:1)
c. accuse the Scriptures of being unclear and ambiguous. (3:2:1)

David quoted Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:4:1

If you keep reading, following his argument, all the way down to
3:5:1, you get the ancillary view. By itself, 3:4:1 seems like the coincidence view; but when he fleshes his thinking all the way out; he says, "since we do have the faith in the churches, let us resort to that Scriptural proof, which the apostles wrote down for us":

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, (John xiv. 6. ) and that no lie is in Him. As also David says, prophesying His birth from a virgin, and the resurrection from the dead, “Truth has sprung out of the earth.” (Ps. lxxxv. 11.) The apostles, likewise, being disciples of the truth, are above all falsehood; for a lie has no fellowship with the truth, just as darkness has none with light, but the presence of the one shuts out that of the other. Our Lord, therefore, being the truth, did not speak lies; and whom He knew to have taken origin from a defect, He never would have acknowledged as God, even the God of all, the Supreme King, too, and His own Father, an imperfect being as a perfect one, an animal one as a spiritual, Him who was without the Pleroma as Him who was within it. 418 Neither did His disciples make mention of any other God, or term any other Lord, except Him, who was truly the God and Lord of all, as these most vain sophists affirm that the apostles did with hypocrisy frame their doctrine according to the capacity of their hearers, and gave answers after the opinions of their questioners,—fabling blind things for the blind, according to their blindness; for the dull according to their dulness; for those in error according to their error. And to those who imagined that the Demiurge alone was God, they preached him; but to those who are capable of comprehending the unnameable Father, they did declare the unspeakable mystery through parables and enigmas: so that the Lord and the apostles exercised the office of teacher not to further the cause of truth, but even in hypocrisy, and as each individual was able to receive it!

This shows that the Gnostics were wrong about their interpretation of the Scriptures, and their claim to have secret knowledge to secret oral tradition left by the apostles (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1:8:1 ) This is the method the RCC apologists employ claiming that the apostles taught orally on Mary and transubstantiation, but it did not come out until centuries later; it was secret and oral, but not written down in the Scriptures. No evidence or proof of any such thing."

Ireaeus, Against Heresies, 3:5:1

Ken Temple said...

Chris,
Thanks for that discussion on Islam and Reza Aslan. I am familiar with that kind of argument. Many peaceful Muslims are attempting to make that argument and I understand it.

I am very happy that some Muslims are trying to free the Quran and Islam from the wars and violence and Jihadists like Al Qaida and Wahabis and Taliban (Hamas and Hezbollah make the same arguments, but they are fighting against Israel, mostly.)

I can accept that version only for the purpose of peaceful co-existence in this world.

The problem is that Muslims do not allow investigation into historical critical matters of the Quran, etc. and the Quran denies the crucifixion ( 4:157) and the Deity of Christ (4:171), yet beleives in the virgin birth and that Jesus is the Kalamat'allah (the word of God) and that He was a "spirit from Allah" and that He was sinless. (Surah 19:19)

My point is, they cannot have their "cake" and eat it too"; they must allow free expression of ideas and evangelism and debate and discussion and apologetics without getting anger and causing riots and saying "you insult my prophet and my book".

Although it is true that the Hadith and Ibn Ishaq's biography of Muhammad and Al Tabari's history and other Tafsirs (commentaries on the Quran) come 150 - 250 years after Muhammad; we just have no other evidence available to us; except for very deep textual critical historical things that German scholars and others are even afraid for their lives to bring out into the open. Some of them have fatwas against them to be killed, because they have found material that contradicts Islam and the Quran.

the Quran affirms taht the Torah and the Injeel (the Gospel) are the word of God at the time of Muhammad and that it was not corrupted. This is the biggest problem for Islam.

Quran, Surah 5:42-48

Quran, Surah 10:95

Please watch "Islamic Dilemma" by Sam Shamoun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAkcQhQNsaE&feature=related


Also,
www.answering-islam.org

and

www.answeringmuslims.com

Many of them want to be peaceful and have this version of Islam; but then object when we try to evangelize and share the Gospel with them. Reza Aslan seemed to me to have an equal disdain for Evangelical Christianity; when it is not violent at all and does not promote violence as a way to evangelize.

The first 3-4 centuries of the Christian faith was under persecution and there was no state to enforce any kind of cultural conversion to Christianity.

That is one of the good things that the Reformation freed western culture from the force and evil practices of the Roman Catholic Church - the punishments for heresies and non-conformity with RCC practice and dogma.

Sincerely,
Ken Temple

Randy said...

Doesn't seem like a problem to me;
So if I say the Patriots are CLEARLY the best team in the NFL. Then you say the Steelers are CLEARLY the best team. Suppose we can both poin to smart football people who agree with us. Does that mean we are both right? To me that means the best team in the NFL is unclear. But that is fatal to Sola Scriptura. It is not fatal to the Word of God seen as scripture, tradition and the magisterium. So what is the response? It does not "seem like a problem"? Is that supposed to address the issue?

but I understand how you could think that, given your RCC presupposition of an infallible interpreter on earth and the Newman doctrine of development theory;
Actually my presupposition was Sola Scriptura, same as yours. I abandoned it because it was not an accurate way to determine God's word. I was not able to look at this problem and simply tell myself it wasn't there.

as we talked about this before on your own web-site; you even admitted the RCC has seemingly changed all the rules so that they are the final authority and it is bottom like, "whatever we say is the truth and tough toenails if you disagree, you are in rebellion".

At the end of the day this is what God's revelation should look like. This comes from God and anyone whoever disagrees is in sin. So the fact that RCC dogma is that way is not a reason to doubt it. So coming from Sopla Scriptura it does seem like the RCC changes the rules. Historically that is not the case. They were first and then doctrine developed.

So a proper understanding of development of doctrine does turn 99% of protestant objections into nonsense. Often they are just shocked the doctrine was once undeveloped. That it isn't in scripture except for a few indirect references. That it didn't get clearly defined until much later. So what?

Newman's point was that this is not illogical that God's revelation should work that way. It is even explicitly stated in the ECF's and implicitly in scripture. What was really amazing was that he could fit all of Catholic doctrinal history into this model and convince himself there had never been a corruption. Something that was unthinkable for any branch of protestantism.

Ken Temple said...

OOPs - I put the quotation marks and reference of Irenaeus in the wrong place.
Please forgive.


"Neither did His disciples make mention of any other God, or term any other Lord, except Him, who was truly the God and Lord of all, as these most vain sophists affirm that the apostles did with hypocrisy frame their doctrine according to the capacity of their hearers, and gave answers after the opinions of their questioners,—fabling blind things for the blind, according to their blindness; for the dull according to their dulness; for those in error according to their error. And to those who imagined that the Demiurge alone was God, they preached him; but to those who are capable of comprehending the unnameable Father, they did declare the unspeakable mystery through parables and enigmas: so that the Lord and the apostles exercised the office of teacher not to further the cause of truth, but even in hypocrisy, and as each individual was able to receive it!"

Ireaeus, Against Heresies, 3:5:1

The last paragraph was my own argumentation:

This shows that the Gnostics were wrong about their interpretation of the Scriptures, and their claim to have secret knowledge to secret oral tradition left by the apostles (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1:8:1 ) This is the method the RCC apologists employ claiming that the apostles taught orally on Mary and transubstantiation, but it did not come out until centuries later; it was secret and oral, but not written down in the Scriptures. No evidence or proof of any such thing.

Ken Temple said...

Actually my presupposition was Sola Scriptura, same as yours. I abandoned it because it was not an accurate way to determine God's word.

That is not what Irenaeus said in 3:5:1 - he said, "since we have the tradition in the churches", (at that time) let us turn to that Scriptural proof".

You cannot use that centuries later to claim that extra traditions were included in Irenaeus' rule of faith, when he clearly lays out what the rule of faith was, it was the pre-Nicean/apostles/athanasian Creed truths; which Protestantism affirms.

again:

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, (John xiv. 6. ) and that no lie is in Him. . . "

Ken Temple said...

Randy wrote:
So if I say the Patriots are CLEARLY the best team in the NFL. Then you say the Steelers are CLEARLY the best team. Suppose we can both poin(t) to smart football people who agree with us. Does that mean we are both right?

The problems of your argument are:
a. The analogy doesn't work because you are comparing football skills and teams over several decades; and that cannot be compared to historical theology and the disagreements that Protestants and RCCs have.

Whichever football teams wins the Superbowl is the best for that year. (this year it was Steelers and Arizona Cardinals; not the Patriots) You are expanding it to include the Steelers or Patriots over a long period of time; several decades. The analogy of football comparing it to historical theology is a illogical comparison.

It does not work that way, since their skills and teams are very different over 2-3 decades; they are completely different teasm.

the implication, because football teams "force" and "compete" and the mightiest and best wins; you imply that the might and power and dogmatism of RCC makes it right in itself; for the Protestant/RCC issue this illustration says that might and force will prove which one is right - RCCs forced and punished heretics until Protestantism began the process of freeing western culture from those sins.

b. whoever has the most expertise and scholarship and control over the texts and history. Former Evangelicals like you (and Scott Hahn, Beckwith, Matatics, Dave Armstrong, and my friend Rod Bennett) get convinced because they were caught off guard because of the depth of trying to read and understand all of the church history. They make the same arguments that you do.


To me that means the best team in the NFL is unclear. But that is fatal to Sola Scriptura.

no, not at all.

It is not fatal to the Word of God seen as scripture, tradition and the magisterium. So what is the response? It does not "seem like a problem"? Is that supposed to address the issue?

The magisterium is a self proclaimed authority within itself that cannot be trusted, because of the character of the history of the Popes, what they did; and the goofy doctrines and practices that they continue to allow and affirm and promote. They say, "whatever say goes", "submit", "if it appears black, but we say it is white; you must believe that is is white, what we say." (Ignatius Loyola's famous statement.)

Randy said...

They just declare their own position to be THE biblical position. That line is open to every heretic.

Randy,
that is the same thing the RCC does; just declares it, (ipsit dixit ?) "The Church dogmatically declares it.", etc.


No. The RCC claims that God has given us more than scripture. So they claim to be special based on God's choice. The same way the nation of Isreal was chosen by God. Other nations were trying to find God in their own way but Isreal had better revelation. Now the RCC has better revelation. Not because we are smarter or holier. Just because God made it so.

RCC also claims to be the most biblical; same boat; as far as we all have to use our minds to make our decisions; Chris was right on that; except for judging the
Scriptures as wrong and not inspired. The point is we all use our minds in the end to decide which way seems best to us. You had to use your mind to decide the RCC was the true Biblical and historical church.


No. That is not the question. The question is whether it is the true Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God, the Household of Faith. Sure we expect it to be consistent with history and scripture. Sure there is an element of logic to it. But it is much more parallel with accepting Jesus for the first time as saviour. It is personal. It is an act of faith.

You have no more surety or confidence or assurance or certainty; the main thing that drove Newman and drives Evangelicals to cross the Tiber.

It is not so much certainty as it is truth. Protestant thinking does not have the character of truth. It is a mish-mash of many truths of which you pick one pretty arbitrarily. So their are strong logical reasons why that must be rejected. Catholicism is embraced mostly becuase we are not losing faith in Jesus. We realize that Jesus needs to do more for Christianity to work. We are ready to believe He does it.

Chris said...

Ken,

Aslan would agree with you that the Protestant Reformation was ultimately a good thing and that the proscriptions against historical and text-critical Quran study are illegitimate. He wants to free Islam from the tyranny of the Ulama, and sees himself and those like him as the Muslim counterparts to the Protestants. Thanks so much for the good discussion,

-Chris