Monday, July 13, 2009

When Sola Scriptura paradigms collide.

In the combox of our last thread, Tom (Mormon) posted (HERE) a well-written response to Ken (Reformed), on some important issues pertaining to doctrinal development and Scriptural exegesis. That response brought to memory an insightful essay in the Spring 2008 issue of the prestigious Reformed periodical, The Westminster Theological Journal, with the title, “Some Observations On The Theological Method of Faustus Socinus”, written by Alan W. Gomes (a professor at the Talbot School of Theology). The following are some selections from that essay:


There is hardly any insight of the magisterial Protestant Reformation stated with more vigor than Scripture as the sole principium for dogmatics; it is Scripture and Scripture alone that furnishes the material for theological system. However, when one examines the Socinian doctrine as articulated by Faustus himself, one finds little to distinguish it from the classic Protestant position.

In one of his letters Socinus repels the charge of being a vicious heresiarch who teaches doctrines contrary to Scripture, claiming that he “advances nothing” apart from an accurate and careful examination of the Scriptures, “with which [his] writings are filled.”
(Page 52)

Commenting, albeit adversely, on the primacy of Scripture in Socinianism, Harnack states, “The New Testament as the sole regulative authority, source, and norm of religion cannot be declared more positively and dryly than by Socinianism.” McGiffert makes the same point with comparable derision, stating, “Christianity became in their hands more completely than ever before a book religion.”

Now, perhaps one may attempt to argue that that glowing Socinian statements about the efficacy and authority of Scripture are insincere, and offered for rhetorical effect. To state the matter bluntly, talk is cheap. Yet, when one actually examines the use that is made of Scripture in the early Socinian system, the claims of Faustus and of the Socinian generations in close proximity to him fundamentally ring true. For one thing, the Socinians produced voluminous commentaries on Scripture…and perhaps most importantly, the Socinians do not merely comment on the Bible, but use the fruits of their exegesis in their doctrinal formulations.
(Page 53)


Certainly some thought provoking reflections from an Evangelical scholar who is willing to present the facts in an objective, non-polemical, manner.


Grace and peace,

David

65 comments:

Ken Temple said...

bringing this up so that is on the front burner.

Again, MacArthur may have gone to Talbot, but it is not "his" seminary. He leads "The Master's Seminary"; which is completely separate.

Gomes needs to read and listen to John Piper's essay on Athanasius' right?

Also,
I think you wrong that saying

"For Newman, true doctrinal development, in its fullest sense, is found within the Catholic community; for James in is up to individual."

Reformed Protestants are not "individualistic"; "just me and my Bible" types. We are also relying upon the good development of the Trinity in the early church, till 451, etc. (The real catholic church, little c; not Roman Catholic) and in community with all the good protestant material from 1517 on; Luther, Calvin, Puritans, Spurgeon, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, B. B. Warfield, Hodge, Murray, Machen, Sproul, Piper.

It is really unfair to make it seem like we believe that it "up to the individual". No, that is Chris, not us. And Tom is just wrong about us.

Ken Temple said...

Tom, the Mormon, wrote:

Ken’s method produces JWs, Chris, me, Armenians, and many others who I think Ken would not believe should be viewed as “on the right path.”

This is a ridiculous statement.

What has allowed the flourishing of modern heresies like Chris' Universalism/liberalism and Mormons and JWs is the separation of church and state in the USA and getting rid of ideas of punishing heresies by force and execution, which was historically inherited from the Roman system of politics and culture and carrying out by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries.

The thing that stopped the heresies and stopped the "individual" from deciding what he wanted to was the force and heresy trials, persecutions, burnings at the stake of the Roman Catholic Church. (Beginning with the Arian use of the state to persecute Athanasius, then taking root under Theodosius, on through to Justinian, Charlemagne, Inquisition, Crusades,etc.

The persecution of the Arminian Anabaptists and incidents like Servetus (though the criticisms of Calvin of that are most of the time unbalanced; as it was the RCs that were going to execute him; he just escaped; and Calvin objected to the state's method, he wanted a more merciful method.) were inherited from the Roman concepts of power and politics in the Roman Catholic Church. Thank God that we broke free from all that!

It was not until the separation of church and state and the outworkings of the Protestant Reformation affected that through the Puritans, Pilgrims and others who founded the USA that gave rise to things like Chris' liberal/skeptic/unitarian/universalist view and JWs and Mormons.

Ken Temple said...

Yes, MacArthur got his M.Div. from Talbot.

(I don't think he was ever on staff or President of that seminary).

Randy said...

I don't think it is fair to say punishing heresy by force was such a big factor. The church always had heretics. They were not always punished by force.

I think it is fairer to say that the printing press made a difference. Prior to the 16 century it was very hard for a group to push a heresy against the church. Being able to print literature in large quantities allowed anyone with access to some money to get his ideas into many heads.

I do think all heretics require Sola Scriptura. What else are they going to say? I made this up? If the church past and present condemns their teaching they can only claim scripture as being on their side. So they all do. So Sola Scriptura does not produce heretics but it makes them immune from critique.

TOm said...

Ken quoted me, TOm said:
Ken’s method produces JWs, Chris, me, Armenians, and many others who I think Ken would not believe should be viewed as “on the right path.”

Ken responded (italics for Ken’s words)
This is a ridiculous statement.

The thing that stopped the heresies and stopped the "individual" from deciding what he wanted to was the force and heresy trials, persecutions, burnings at the stake of the Roman Catholic Church. (Beginning with the Arian use of the state to persecute Athanasius, then taking root under Theodosius, on through to Justinian, Charlemagne, Inquisition, Crusades,etc.

The persecution of the Arminian Anabaptists and incidents like Servetus were inherited from the Roman concepts of power and politics in the Roman Catholic Church. Thank God that we broke free from all that!

It was not until the separation of church and state and the outworkings of the Protestant Reformation affected that through the Puritans, Pilgrims and others who founded the USA that gave rise to things like Chris' liberal/skeptic/unitarian/universalist view and JWs and Mormons.

TOm responds:
I am a little confused as to what direction you are attempting to point.
You say my suggestion that your methodology results in huge diversity in very important theological directions is “a ridiculous statement.”
You then explain how the Roman Catholic Church did a lot of (presumably) horrible things to crush folks who believed that they were the ones who using your methodology correctly (all but your admittedly circular first point which relies on the aforementioned horrible things). You speak of “separation of church and state and the outworkings of the Protestant Reformation” that then give freedom to folks so they come up with various heresies (using your methodology I might add) and don’t get crushed.
So, are you for “heresy trials, persecutions, burnings at the stake” to ensure orthodoxy and against “separation of church and state and the outworkings of the Protestant Reformation?” Or, are you against such things.

It would seem that you admit that without these things, heresies will be widespread using your methodology for sola scriptura. I would certainly agree that without your starting point (that reads into your method a doctrinal statement), then sola scriptura will produce wildly divergent theologies (and even with your starting point there will be numerous other points of contention).

I would also suggest that Catholics have persecuted Protestants, Protestants have persecuted Catholics (and Mormons), and Mormons have persecuted Protestants. Arians persecuted Trinitarians and Trinitarians persecuted Arians. I assume that you do not think we can use who persecuted who to determine truth.
Charity, TOm

TOm said...

Randy said:
I do think all heretics require Sola Scriptura. What else are they going to say? I made this up? If the church past and present condemns their teaching they can only claim scripture as being on their side. So they all do. So Sola Scriptura does not produce heretics but it makes them immune from critique.

TOm says:
I think Sola Scriptura as a foundational for theology produces wildly different theologies. I do not think the CCC is a perfect document that shines a light upon all theological questions such that readers of the CCC cannot disagree upon what is theological truth according to the CCC. However, the CCC is far superior to the Bible for answering theological questions. If God meant for Sola Scriptura and the Bible to produce Catholic orthodoxy, Reformed orthodoxy, Mormon orthodoxy (not that such a thing exists), or ??? then I think He failed.
Charity, TOm

Ken Temple said...

I think it is fairer to say that the printing press made a difference.

Good point about the printing press; but the "force" and persecution and executions of heretics is still a major reality for church history.

I do think all heretics require Sola Scriptura. What else are they going to say?

Most of the heretics have an infallible interpretative body, even if they don't admit it; like the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society; the Mormon prophet and President and whatever the leadership is called ( I admit I don't know much about all that); the Jesus Seminar Scholars and Bart Ehrman types and Chris who will quote Bultmann or Schliermacher or John Dominic Crossan or some other liberal.

I made this up? If the church past and present condemns their teaching they can only claim scripture as being on their side. So they all do.

Mormonism does not, it has added 3 more books to its sources of revelation; and says the JKV of the Bible has to be rightly interpreted by their infallible magisterium that can get new revelation (ie; change from not allowing blacks to the priesthood; and change from polygamy to monogamy). JWs had to play with the Greek and produce their own "official" bible, the New World translation, etc.

These are all "Sola Ecclesia" systems, like the Roman Catholic Church.

Ken Temple said...

Tom,
I was only pointing out the historical realities of the "force" and executions and punishments of heretics that church history had; until the Reformation formed the basis for the separation of church and state and its outworking in the USA. JWs and Mormonism are uniquely American cults/heresies that have flourished under our freedom and that blessing.

Randy made a good point about the printing press; yes.

I don't how to put it all together beyond that.

Except that I think that the Arians started using the state power and force under Constantine and his sons against Athanasius and the Trinitarians. Later, the Trinitarians and the Chalcedonians did the same thing against others, especially the Nestorians and Monophysites, and Donatists in N. Africa.

All the arguments for the RCC has being the infallible church in history looses its force, when it's use of force is remembered.

Protestants did that too; but they mostly inherited the thinking and practice from the RCC Medieval Synthesis; but later Protestants fought for separation of church and state and freedom.

Ken Temple said...

"You say my suggestion that your methodology results in huge diversity in very important theological directions is “a ridiculous statement.”
Tom

I don't think my methodology is the cause of things like Chris' liberalism or any liberalism or JWs or Mormonism, etc. but freedom to do and think whatever you want and interpret anything anyway you want does.

My methodology does not allow the individual to interpret anything anyway you want. My methodology condemns (but no force or physical persecution) liberalism, unitarianism, universalism, JWs doctrine and Mormon doctrines as cults and heresies.

There are clear boundaries and limits, by the diligent study of grammar, historical background, syntax, context, sound exegesis, Monotheism, The Trinity, which was the outworking of good exegesis of all the texts.

TOm said...

Ken said:
I don't think my methodology is the cause of things like Chris' liberalism or any liberalism or JWs or Mormonism, etc. but freedom to do and think whatever you want and interpret anything anyway you want does.
TOm says:
With the exception of the fact that you claim as part of your methodology an assumption of Monotheism and the Trinity I guess I disagree with you. I would suggest that before the printing press affected Christianity; Luther, Calvin, and the Anabaptist were diverging theologically. I think your methodology produces folks who reject your form of monotheism, who reject your form of the Trinity, who reject your form of “faith alone,” and who reject things like “double predestination” and “limited atonement.” And I think Chris is a reasoned response (more reasonable than doggedly denying that such occurs) to the theological diversity created by sola scriptura.

Ken said:
There are clear boundaries and limits, by the diligent study of grammar, historical background, syntax, context, sound exegesis, Monotheism, The Trinity, which was the outworking of good exegesis of all the texts.
So, are you saying that Greg Stafford lacks the ability to utilize “grammar, historical background, syntax, context, sound exegesis?” I would again disagree with you. Are you saying that LDS scholars who along with most Biblical scholars (folks who try to understand what the Bible says using the tools you mention, but not trying to follow the Church to 451AD or …) who believe the Bible does not teach Creation ex Nihilo lack the ability to utilize “grammar, historical background, syntax, context, sound exegesis?”
If so those are bold claims and I disagree with them.

What about places were R.C. Spoul and James White disagree. Who is the ninny who did it wrong?

Since I reject any form of infallibility Catholic, Mormon, or scriptural; I think you are far closer to following the infallibility of Ken than I am to following the infallibility of the LDS prophet.
You seem to suggest that your view of what scripture says is infallibility correct and that those who disagree with you are defective in their methodology. It seems to me that you are no less susceptible to the vague charge of “defect in methodology” than Greg Stafford or Blake Ostler or David Waltz. Ken and these three folks do not believe the theology of the Bible is the same thing. Blake and David would acknowledge that Greg and you are not necessarily reading scripture defectively, but you cannot acknowledge that David and Blake might read scripture non-defectively and come to different conclusion than you do.

History IMO supports my position.
Charity, TOm


P.S. I am a Biblical Monotheist. You are a Metaphysical Monotheist. My position is the better read of the Bible IMO and numerous Protestant and Catholic scholars offer support to my view. Your position imports much into the text of the Bible.

Randy said...

Most of the heretics have an infallible interpretative body, even if they don't admit it; like the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society; the Mormon prophet and President and whatever the leadership is called ( I admit I don't know much about all that); the Jesus Seminar Scholars and Bart Ehrman types and Chris who will quote Bultmann or Schliermacher or John Dominic Crossan or some other liberal.

So orthodox protestants don't? De facto infallibility is required for any church to work. You have to define yourself as a community. But you want to do it in relation to absolute truth. At some point you have to make a statements that you hold are absolutely true. Humans cannot function when they are questioning everything. They either need to be given infallibility by grace or they need to imagine they have it.

Ken Temple said...

So orthodox protestants don't?

We have sufficient knowledge without claiming infallible knowledge or living under the burden that RCC apologetic Newman style seeks to create, "how do you know you have the right interpretation or canon or church, without an infallible magisterium here on earth to finally tell you, the buck stops here??"

We have doctrinal statements and standards that are sufficient, always leaning on the Scriptures as the final authority; and always reforming, in our understanding, if it can be shown we are wrong.

God never intended us to live under that burden of uncertainty that the RCC apologetic method creates; e.g. "How do you know your knowledge of something is an infallible knowledge?"

When Dr. White and R.C. Sproul disagree, (Reformed Baptists vs. Reformed Presbyterians) we agree to disagree and love each other, but have separate local churches, but that does not affect fellowship or the main doctrines of the Trinity, salvation by grace alone, justification by faith alone; etc. We have perfect unity on the main things. those issues of infant baptism and church government are minor and secondary.

again,
www.t4g.org
Together for the Gospel, a coalition of Evangelicals who have great unity on the main things.

Ken Temple said...

P.S. I am a Biblical Monotheist. You are a Metaphysical Monotheist. My position is the better read of the Bible IMO and numerous Protestant and Catholic scholars offer support to my view. Your position imports much into the text of the Bible.

Tom,
I just respectfully disagree.

Mormonism is polytheism; men evolving into gods and procreating on other planets; "Elohim" having sex with Mary; Jesus and Lucifer as "spirit brothers"; these are some of the goofiest and weirdest ideas, clearly spoken by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young; (and other Mormon leaders after them) ever articulated by human beings.

Sorry to be so blunt.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

You posted:

>>Most of the heretics have an infallible interpretative body, even if they don't admit it; like the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society; the Mormon prophet and President and whatever the leadership is called ( I admit I don't know much about all that)>>

I must disagree with the above on two points (the first is more of a quibble, but the second is substantial): first, neither the JWs nor the “Mormon prophet and President” claim infallibility, though they do claim exclusive authority; and second, the vast majority of non-Trinitarians throughout history were/are strict adherents of sola scriptura.


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. Later this week, the Lord willing, I plan on creating a new thread on “eternal generation”; I have done a lot of research into this teaching, and think that you (and others) will find it interesting.

Ken Temple said...

I look forward to your research on "the eternal generation" of the Son (from eternity past)

Ok, the JWs and Mormons do claim ultimate authority to interpret, even though they don't the use the word, infallible, like RCC does.

Your second point, Mormons are not Sola Scriptura, because they have 3 other sources of Scriptures; and JWs have mis-translated Greek when their doctrine or tradition forces it; ie, "a god" in John 1:1 and adding the word "other" in Col. 1:15. and "worship" as "abiesence" (spelling ?? I forgot the word) in many texts that say "they worshipped Jesus". (proskunew) that does not fit with Luther and Calvin's definition of Sola Scriptura.

Ken Temple said...

obeisance

Anonymous said...

Ken Temple says:

Mormonism is polytheism; men evolving into gods and procreating on other planets;

Rory says:
I don't think so. That's just speculation. It's not in their Scripture that I know of. Do you have source? Tom for instance is probably as Trinitarian as a lot of Baptists.

Ken Temple says:

"Elohim" having sex with Mary; Jesus and Lucifer as "spirit brothers";

Rorys says:

Again, I don't think you can prove either of those. There are some Mormons who probably believe it, but most I have communicated with so they don't know. You should respect that. Their Scripture is silent so maybe yes maybe no. Its just like your position on the Assumption of Mary.

Ken Temple says:

these are some of the goofiest and weirdest ideas, clearly spoken by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young; (and other Mormon leaders after them) ever articulated by human beings.

Rory says:

I tend to think you give too much weight to that which to you seems weird. You are always mentioning that a particular teaching is weird or goofy regarding someone else's belief. I do not dismiss these LDS speculations because I judge them to have crossed some line that takes them into the realm of the bizarre. I have said many times that the wierdest thing is that I am conscious and there is a world that I seem to understand. That is wackiness to me. I firmly believe in wacky.

The unfamiliar is always perceived to be strange. That doesn't undo the reality of it. What common standard is there by which I may know that a belief is so goofy that I don't have to consider it? So far in watching what you have to say, everything that you don't believe is also goofy. Where do I find in Scripture that a belief that Ken finds to be goofy is never going to be true?

Rory

Randy said...

My comment didn't post so I put it on my own blog. I shall try it one more time here:

We have sufficient knowledge without claiming infallible knowledge or living under the burden that RCC apologetic Newman style seeks to create, "how do you know you have the right interpretation or canon or church, without an infallible magisterium here on earth to finally tell you, the buck stops here??"

You have sufficient knowledge when you claim de facto infallibility. But the claim is double talk because you won't deal with the hard long-term questions that come with it. There are times when you don't have sufficient knowledge. For example on abortion and gay marriage. Saying it is wrong and unlikely to change is good enough until you have to make major life choices based on the teaching. Then you need to be very sure you have God's voice right. But so many protestants disagree over these issues. Other protestants churches could change their position. How sure can one be?

We have doctrinal statements and standards that are sufficient, always leaning on the Scriptures as the final authority; and always reforming, in our understanding, if it can be shown we are wrong.

Does it need to be shown or do you just need to win a vote? For most protestants reform of doctrine depends on a vote in a synod or some such body. That means the political winds have changed. It rarely means we have a new understanding of the bible.

God never intended us to live under that burden of uncertainty that the RCC apologetic method creates; e.g. "How do you know your knowledge of something is an infallible knowledge?"

So how do you solve the problem? By not asking the question? We know what we believe. The gospel went from Jesus to the apostles to the church where it developed. It all flows coherently. The equivalent protestant story is incoherent. That is our fault?

When Dr. White and R.C. Sproul disagree, (Reformed Baptists vs. Reformed Presbyterians) we agree to disagree and love each other, but have separate local churches, but that does not affect fellowship

This is just sinful. Having different local churches is evil. No matter how much you ignore the problem it is not the way God has called us to live. We are to be one body with one faith. This is not an optional part of being a Christian.

or the main doctrines of the Trinity, salvation by grace alone, justification by faith alone; etc. We have perfect unity on the main things. those issues of infant baptism and church government are minor and secondary.

This is just a word game. You demote doctrines based on lack of agreement. There is nothing in scripture saying the eucharist or baptism are unimportant. You need them to be unimportant so you can keep you delusion about unity in the main things.

You are constantly choosing between truth and unity. Do we fellowship with this group that disagrees on doctrine x or is doctrine x too important? This is not Christian. We must have truth and unity. We cannot trade one for the other.

So you system is not working. It is feeding your pride. It is allowing you to keep all your pet doctrines. But it is completely disfunctional once you get outside yourself. You cannot know when your pet doctrines are not the truth of God. You cannot resolve noraml differences of opinion among Christians and still function as the body of Christ. Sola Scriptura is a failed experiment. It needs to be discarded.

Ken Temple said...

You have sufficient knowledge when you claim de facto infallibility. But the claim is double talk because you won't deal with the hard long-term questions that come with it. There are times when you don't have sufficient knowledge. For example on abortion and gay marriage.

No; anyone with a brain and faith in Christ can see clearly in Scripture that there is sufficient knowledge and certainty to know those two issues are sin and will never change. Those are too easy; they are clearly wrong in the Bible and I can dogmatically say they will never change, based on the Bible. Those examples are silly to bring up with believing Evangelicals/Protestants. The Scriptures are too clear on those two issues. (again liberals don't count; they don't believe the Scriptures, therefore they are not Christians; Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice". Yours is a ridiculous charge.

Ken Temple said...

Saying it is wrong and unlikely to change is good enough until you have to make major life choices based on the teaching. Then you need to be very sure you have God's voice right.

not a problem.

But so many protestants disagree over these issues.


Liberals and emergents; dont' count; they don't even believe in the Jesus of the Bible.



God never intended us to live under that burden of uncertainty that the RCC apologetic method creates; e.g. "How do you know your knowledge of something is an infallible knowledge?"

So how do you solve the problem?

Easy; it is just not as hard as you make it out to be.

By not asking the question? We know what we believe. The gospel went from Jesus to the apostles to the church where it developed. It all flows coherently. The equivalent protestant story is incoherent.

No, we are built and standing on the same "faith of Peter" that is the foundation of the church, "you are the Christ, the son of the Living God"; as the apostles, Cyprian, Athanasius, and the early church. The foundation is Christ Himself and all the truth about Him, the cross, His Deity, the Trinity, grace alone, faith alone, etc. Ours is more coherent than yours, yours being a corruption of the truths of Scripture.

That is our fault?

For the division; yes. As Peter Kreeft wrote and laid the blame at the RCCs feet. Your churches failure to preach the gospel and even know what the gospel was is to blame for the schism. Truth does win over unity in this case; for there can be no unity with Baals and false worship and darkness.


This is just sinful.

No, your position is just sinful.

Ken Temple said...

Having different local churches is evil.

Well, then your churches are evil, worshiping bread and denying the heart of the gospel.

We are to be one body with one faith.

Then repent and return to Christ alone. Get rid of a wrong Unbiblical Mary and the Pope and false unbiblical doctrines and practices.

This is not an optional part of being a Christian.

Since you speak in these extreme terms; I can also - your embracing of false doctrines and false practices is not optional.

This is just a word game.

Newman's development theory is an anachronistic word game.

There is nothing in scripture saying the eucharist or baptism are unimportant.

Never wrote they were unimportant; so you make a false accusation here. We have a biblical version of the eucharist and baptism and they are very, very important. It is your RCC that has distorted them and mangled them and insulted them by the way you interpret them and apply them. We have the true eucharist and baptism, compared to your version.

We must have truth and unity. We cannot trade one for the other.

the RCC also has its issues within itself that are not decided yet and are secondary; so don't play that game with me; when your church has to do the same thing. We do not trade; we have both; and a better version of both, the Biblical version.

So you system is not working. It is feeding your pride. . . .

Yours does not work either, it is the height of pride; many of your leaders in history stated some of the most prideful statements ever uttered by human beings. Boniface VIII's "every creature must submit to the Roman Pontif for salvation" and the Pope that thundered, "I am the tradition"; just like Darth Sideous in Star Wars 3, "I am the senate", etc.


Sola Scriptura is a failed experiment. It needs to be discarded.

No, your sola Ecclesia is a failed experiment and it needs to be discarded.

Ken Temple said...

Pius IX exerted as much pressure as he could to secure the definition of papal infallibility, proclaiming famously to one cardinal, “I am the church! I am the tradition!”

http://www.catholicleague.org/printer.php?p=rer&id=99

Von Dollinger and Acton were correct on their objections to the dogma of Papal infallibility.

Jamie Donald said...

David,

My comments really belong with the thread on St Irenaeus and whether or not he would have been a proponent of Sola Scriptura. But that discussion seems to be continued here, so I'm posting here. If I'm too far off topic (and what I'm about to write does represent a backwards step), then I'll be happy to delete it and post under the correct article.

I'm wanting to take a step backwards because the entire discussion misses a very fundamental question: Why? Now I know why you posted the article on St Irenaeus. It's because our friend, Ken, insisted on seeing some very specific formulation from either St Irenaeus or Tertullian. But again, I ask - with further clarity - why something from these two specific writers?

Ken seems to use Against Heresies 3.4.1 - 3.5.1 as the lens to interpret corpus Irenaeus, while you use corpus Irenaeus as a lens to interpret AH 3.4.1-3.5.1. As a Catholic, I accuse Ken of the error of transference. His own personal interpretive lens is Sola Scriptura, so when he sees anything remotely resembling it in the Church Fathers, he assumes they use the same interpretive lens and that it must be applied to the remainder of writing. I'm certain that Ken accuses me of the same error, but with a Catholic bias. In fact, when either side accuses the other of being anachronistic, they are making this basic assertion.

But which means is best to determine what these ancient authors truly meant?

To force a single, highly formulated, dogmatic statement from just one or two of these writers is a good debate tactic, but it is poor exegesis of their works and of the Early Church Fathers as a whole. It assumes that these authors worked in a vacuum so to speak. But they did not. Let me illustrate.

St Irenaeus writes (positively) of Polycarp and Clement. Ignatius writes of Polycarp. Polycarp writes of Ignatius and forwards his letters with an endorsement. In addition to Polycarp distributing others' letters, Eusebius records that the several churches would pass around letters and read them at their liturgies alongside Scripture. In other words, these guys knew what the others were writing and were influence by them. Furthermore, the Early Church Fathers would cite specific objections when they disagreed with someone else. They named names when arguing against heresies.

Their positive endorsements of each other combined with an absolute silence when it comes to disagreement with each other, must be taken as agreement.

With that in mind, let's see what these other Fathers had to say which undoubtably influenced St Irenaeus and Tertullian (at least during his orthodox period). (cont)

Jamie Donald said...

(cont)
In Clement of Rome's Letter to the Corinthians, he chastises those who have broken with their bishops. Why does he chastise them? Not because whatever doctrine the schismatics espoused was biblically wanting. In fact, Clement really doesn't even address the reason for the schism. They are to adhere themselves to the bishop because bishops are appointed in a line of succession from God to Christ to Apostles to Bishops to newer Bishops. He paraphrases Is 60:17 to illustrate his point that these are appointments from God. (chapts 42-44) Clement goes even further and asserts that those who oppose him on this, and who do not return from the schism, are sinning by opposing him. He does this by claiming that he is speaking for Christ in his letter. (chapt 59) With no discussion on the scriptural merits of the doctrine espoused by either side of this argument (schismatics vs the bishop), one can hardly claim anything resembling a Sola Scriptura approach. However, when claiming to be the voice of Christ and declaring what the repentant and sinful responses to his letter would be, Clement is definitely asserting a binding authority of some form.

I brought up Clement of Rome first because his letter is most likely the oldest witness we have from the Early Church Fathers. St Irenaeus acknowledges this letter (in fact, in the very chapter prior to Ken's "lens" of interpretation). His positive acclaim of Clement's most powerful letter indicates that Irenaeus was both aware of the content and agreed with it. So now let us see what a couple of other extremely ancient Fathers had to say.

St Ignatius of Antioch wrote 7 letters to various churches and 1 letter to Polycarp while he was being transferred to Rome for trial and martyrdom. In these letters he consistently exhorted his readers to maintain unity with their bishops. And in a manner similar to Clement, he does not command this unity because the bishops hold the Scriptures alone. Rather he commands it because of their unity. He frequently compares the bishop to Christ or God in the context of being His voice on earth. And the presbyters and deacons are similarly compared to the Apostles. To Ignatius, the bishop has an authoritative voice by nature of his appointment which comes from God.

In a different combox, Ken acknowledged St Ignatius' view and then summarily dismissed it as "going too far." But Ignatius is not substantially different from Clement. Both claim the bishop has an authoritative voice and is appointed by God; that when the faithful separate themselves from the bishop, they are no longer faithful, but are in sin.

Let us look at a third ancient witness to see if the earliest of the ECFs agree with Ken and assert that St Ignatius "went too far." In his Letter to the Philippians, St Polycarp forwards and endorses all of Ignatius' epistles; by them you may be greatly profited; for they treat of faith and patience, and all things that tend to edification in our Lord. In this case, Polycarp is decidedly opposed to Ken. (cont)

Jamie Donald said...

(cont)
Irenaeus discusses Polycarp - in a positive light - at least 4 times. We've already seen that he endorsed Clement's letter. Each of these three ancient witnesses wrote prior to Irenaeus, and from St Irenaeus' own pen we see that he was familiar with their material. He voices no disagreement with these men (and in Against Heresies Irenaeus is anything but shy about disagreeing). The only logical conclusion is that the authority of the bishopric had to be a part of Irenaeus' training and reading, and became a part of the corpus of his understanding of what Christianity was. This is not a Sola Scriptura corpus. And while Irenaeus did highly regard Scripture as the Word of God, there is no way he can be called a proto-Sola Scripturist. It simply isn't a part of the corpus of his knowledge and understanding. (David has done an outstanding job at showing how Irenaeus melds Scripture and Tradtion. I simply provide some background)

Tertullian. I freely grant Ken that in On Modesty, Tertullian rebuked Pope Callistus. That he definitely stated Callistus was a man who tried to forgive what only God can forgive, and that the authority to "bind and loosen" did not extend from Peter to the Pope. But in a (very bad) paraphrase of The Princes Bride, I don't think Tertullian means what you think he means, Ken.

It's important to remember that On Modesty was written c220 AD. This is after Tertullian had fallen completly into the heresy of Montanism. He is heretical and has broken from the orthodoxy of the Church. Additionally, On Modesty is written specifically against the orthodox Church - not for the purpose of trying to guide unbelievers to some generalize (albeit misguided) form of Christianity. Thus, Tertullian's opponents in this case are the orthodoxy of the Church and no other. In other words, the positions that Tertullian argues against are the actual orthodox positions and doctrines held by the Church when On Modesty was written. Tertullian was the one with the novel approach.

But assume for a moment that Tertullian did have some element where he was correct in On Modesty. Perhaps Callistus was also introducing an invalid novelty. Just what does Tertullian believe? To be certain, Tertullian believes that the Church does have the authority to forgive sins on God's behalf. His difference with Callistus is that Tertullian believes that church to exist in Montanism, not the Church of Callistus. But, you [the orthodoxy] say, the Church has the power of forgiving sins. This I acknowledge and adjudge more (than you; I) who have the Paraclete Himself in the persons of the new prophets, saying, The Church has the power to forgive sins ... So the question here is "which church has this authority?" Tertullian claims for himself the personal knowledge of the Holy Spirit in an on-going revelation (a basic tennent of Montanism). Clearly, Tertullian is claiming it's his church with this authority which he will exercise. But even he knows the weakness of his position of claiming to be the Paraclete's voice - that anyone could make this claim. He continues, ... but I will not do it, lest they commit others withal. What if a pseudo-prophetic spirit has made that declaration?

It is only after this statement that Tertullian feels he must assail the keys and loosing/binding authority. Why? Because if he doesn't, he is unable to contest the physical succession which joins Pope Callistus to Peter. But if he can show the "keys" to be a spiritual form, then Tertullian can assume those keys for himself because he is a spiritual man with his church being the oracle of the Paraclete. The difference being that where Callistus chooses to loosen, Tertullian chooses to bind. Both claim the same authority. (cont)

Jamie Donald said...

(cont)
Tertullian writes, What, now, (has this to do) with the Church, and your (church), indeed, Psychic? For, in accordance with the person of Peter, it is to spiritual men that this power will correspondently appertain, either to an apostle or else to a prophet.

And, And accordingly the Church, it is true, will forgive sins: but (it will be) the Church of the Spirit, by means of a spiritual man; not the Church which consists of a number of bishops.

He even claims that this exercise is the voice of God Himself by stating in the very next sentence (after saying that the spiritual men will forgive sins), For the right and arbitrament is the Lord's, not the servant's; God's Himself, not the priest's.

So the summary of On Modesty is that Tertullian excoriates Callistus. But the only reason for the censure is because Tertullian is really claiming the exact same authority for himself. If Ken agrees with Tertullian on this point, then Ken is actually agreeing to a continuing loosing/binding of sins authority of an earthly church, continuing divine revelation from the Holy Spirit, and an infallible church led by the Paraclete. That is Tertullian's position. I would have to ask Ken where such a church exists. However, if Ken no longer agrees that Tertullian is correct, then I ask Ken to cease using him as a witness against the Catholic Church.

My comments are already lengthy, but I ask for some indulgence in a few more quick notes. In On Modesty, Tertullian states that he used to be in agreement with the orthodoxy of the Church, but has now changed his mind. Let's see what the orthodox Tertullian wrote.

In Prescription Against Heretics he makes an argument which sounds very familiar to modern Catholics. He states that where there is a diversity of doctrine coming from the same Scripture, then there is a perverted interpretation which has lost connection with tradition. (chapt 38). He also asks that if the Holy Spirit is not guiding the (corporate) Church, then how do the heretics explain that all of the individual churches have "erred" in the exact same direction? (chapt 28). He also makes a case for apostolic succession in the form of an office (chapt 32) and a very initial outline for development of doctrine (chapt 35). These last two are not the full-formed modern Catholic doctrine, but they contain enough that it is obvious they are from the same DNA.

So in conclusion, St Irenaeus must be seen as adhering to a very strong concept of episcopal authority. It's a part of his upbringing in the faith. It's a part of him. His statements which state that all churches must agree with the Church of Rome show the beginnings of an episcopal monarchy. Tertullian is a bad witness. While he understands and knows the orthodox position within the Church, his fall into the heresy of Montanism makes it difficult to determine when he is arguing for or against the the orthodox position. When he argues against it, he is usually not denying anything the Church claims. Instead, he is hijacking that claim for himself and then accuzing the Church to be a false claimant. Anyone who would use Tertullian as a witness must be careful of the dates of his writings, and must read in a large region around any proof-text they would want to use.

David, again, thank you for allowing me to post here.

In His Name,

Jamie Donald

PS Does anyone else, when seeing the name "Polycarp" think "many large goldfish"?? (smile)

Ken Temple said...

Tom, the Mormon, wrote:
P.S. I am a Biblical Monotheist. You are a Metaphysical Monotheist.

"Biblical Monotheist" = in Mormon theology, "one god" for every planet; and males evolve into gods and get other planets; etc. you seem to be saying that since the Bible deals only with one planet, namely earth, then you are Biblical Monotheist.

"Metaphysical Monotheist" = Only One creator God who created all things ex nihilo; and is Sovereign and is a Tri-Unitas (three persons in one nature) God. If that is what you mean by "Metaphysical", I guess that is right.

Ken Temple said...

Rory says:
I don't think so. That's just speculation. It's not in their Scripture that I know of. Do you have source?

I have read enough of Walter Martin, James White, Richard Abanes, the Tanners, Bill McKeever, Ravi Zacharias, and others to know enough, and not have to go tracking down all of these things and using up a lot of my time; but they are out there in the apologetic evangelical books.

Tom says they are not balanced nor fair. Ok, but they seem fair to me, when I look at it all.

http://www.mrm.org/

Dr. White, in his books, quotes from all the Mormon sources, sermons and writings of the Mormons, "King Follet's Discourse", and many other books, etc.

Since these Mormon ideas - gods of other planets, males involving into gods, polytheism, (which polygamy was based on); Elohim coming from the planet Koliob ( or Kolob ?) and having sex with Mary; Adam as god theory, Jesus and Lucifer as spirit brothers; these are things that the Mormon leaders spoke, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, E. Snow, others, it does not matter if they are not written out in the Scriptures, since when they were founded, and in the early years, they treated all of those things as teachings and they were the prophets and "living voices" for their religion. It is only recently, that they are trying to clean up their act so that they can get rid of all of those embarrassing things about Mormonism.

Ken Temple said...

Jamie wrote:
Why? Now I know why you posted the article on St Irenaeus. It's because our friend, Ken, insisted on seeing some very specific formulation from either St Irenaeus or Tertullian. But again, I ask - with further clarity - why something from these two specific writers?

Because going back to earlier posts, I was showing that the "rule of faith" is most clearly fleshed out by Irenaeus, Tertullian, (and also Origen); and they are doctrinal content statements, pre-Nicean, pre-Apostles creed - kind of statements that Protestants agree with. So Protestant Evangelicals are also catholic, with a little c; of the early church.

I will have to try and read the other stuff later, got to go now.

Ken Temple said...

oops; should have had Mormon in there:

Since these Mormon ideas - gods of other planets, males involving into gods, polytheism, (which polygamy was based on); Elohim coming from the planet Koliob ( or Kolob ?) and having sex with Mary; Adam as god theory, Jesus and Lucifer as spirit brothers; these are things that the Mormon leaders spoke, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, E. Snow, others, it does not matter if they are not written out in the Mormon Scriptures, since when they were founded, and in the early years, they treated all of those things as teachings and they were the prophets and "living voices" for their religion. It is only recently, that they are trying to clean up their act so that they can get rid of all of those embarrassing things about Mormonism.

Jamie Donald said...

Ken,

I appreciate your time constraint and the fact that I wrote a lot of material. So I will await your later reply. However, your above response demonstrates that you completely miss my point.

It doesn't matter how well Irenaeus may have something "fleshed out" in either of our opinions if one does not go to the underlying assumptions (which are often unvoiced).

For example, you claim a "real presence" in your eucharist as I do in the one which I receive. Yet, there is a huge assumption behind the words in both of our cases. This unvoiced assumption gives us both a different meaning to "real presence" in the eucharist. Once one knows that I am Catholic and your tradition is Reformed Baptist, he or she also knows the unvoiced assumption behind each of our phrases; and now the phrases have a true definition for both of us.

In my opinion, you go to Irenaeus (and the others) at a superficial level. Just as you and I voice concepts which are supported by unvoiced assumptions, so do the ECFs. I am simply giving illumination to the supporting structure.

If Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp go too far, then so must Irenaeus. He agrees with them! He cites them! So whatever his rule of faith may be, it includes a major supporting plank which is not Sola Scriptura. Please note that none of this takes away from his extremely high regard of Scripture! But it does not make him a proto-Sola Scripturist.

As far as Tertullian goes, I cited On Modesty because you seem to most frequently approve of his rebuke of Callistus - not his formulation of a rule of faith. However, in On Modesty Tertullian doesn't truly deny the authority. Rather, he gives the somewhat childish response, "It's mine! Not yours!"

So it doesn't really matter whether you go to his orthodox or heterodox phase. Either way he espouses a belief in an authoritative church which exercises that authority along side Scripture. Not Sola Scriptura. So, as with Irenaeus, his rule of faith, no matter how well it is "fleshed out" contains a major plank which is not Sola Scriptura.

Jamie

David Waltz said...

Hi Jamie,

Wanted to thank you for your excellent series of posts—well done! In your opening post your wrote:

>>Ken seems to use Against Heresies 3.4.1 - 3.5.1 as the lens to interpret corpus Irenaeus, while you use corpus Irenaeus as a lens to interpret AH 3.4.1-3.5.1. As a Catholic, I accuse Ken of the error of transference. His own personal interpretive lens is Sola Scriptura, so when he sees anything remotely resembling it in the Church Fathers, he assumes they use the same interpretive lens and that it must be applied to the remainder of writing. I'm certain that Ken accuses me of the same error, but with a Catholic bias. In fact, when either side accuses the other of being anachronistic, they are making this basic assertion.>>

Your assessment is, perhaps, the best I have read concerning the fundamental area of disagreement between those who would invoke Irenaeus as an early proponent of an Evangelical form of sola scriptura and those would reject such a view (e.g. Lane, Kelly, Pelikan, Schaff, Williams…see THIS THREAD for further examples and documentation). Simply put, Ken believes that AH 3.4.1 - 3.5.1 teaches the formal sufficiency of Scripture, while most believe it teaches the material sufficiency of Scripture.

In the previous thread, I provided one of the lengthier examples of Irenaeus’ “rule”, which included, as Ken has conceded, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. This, IMHO, is quite telling, for Ken has told us numerous times that Irenaeus’ “rule” is merely a concise summary of core Biblical doctrines which Evangelicals embrace—yet, Ken rejects baptismal regeneration; this, in essence, constitutes a rejection of one of the elements of Irenaeus’ “rule”. Such elements of the “rule” led a 19th century Reformed scholar to conclude:

==Protestants believe, as a matter of unquestionable historical certainty, that at a very early period error and corruption i.e., deviations from the scriptural standard in matters of doctrine, government, worship, and discipline manifested themselves in the visible church gradually, but rapidly; that this corruption deepened and increased, till it issued at length in a grand apostasy—in a widely extended and well-digested system of heresy, idolatry, and tyranny, which involved in gross darkness nearly the whole of the visible church for almost a thousand years, until it was to some extent dispelled by the light of the Reformation. (William Cunningham, Historical Theology,1.34.)==

He pushes back this “apostasy/corruption” to even an earlier period:

==Protestants in general have freely conceded that the doctrine and practice of the church in regard to the sacraments was at an early period, and even during the first three centuries, considerably corrupted…(Ibid., 1.202 – bold emphasis mine.)==

Now, if Evangelicals feel ‘free’ to dissect and remove elements of the “rule” of the early Church, how can they legitimately criticize Arians and Socinians for embracing the same method?


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

A small section of an article from Probe Ministries. Anyone can read this and look up the footnotes at the site, and see the heresy and strange doctrines.

http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4217667/k.C2E8/The_Mormon_Doctrine_of_Jesus.htm


"The Mormon doctrine of Jesus deviates from biblical teaching regarding the preincarnate life of Christ. It also deviates in its teaching on the incarnation of Jesus. Mormonism teaches that Jesus' incarnation was the result of sexual relations between the flesh and bone Heavenly Father and Mary. Jesus is the only earthly offspring so conceived. Mormon theologian Bruce McConkie states, "Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers."{12}

He also writes, "God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; He was born in the same personal, real and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about this paternity; He was begotten, conceived, and born in the normal and natural course of events, for He is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says."{13}

James Talmage wrote, "Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh."{14}

Mormon theology teaches that the Father was the main person involved in Mary's conception, not the Holy Spirit. Joseph Fielding Smith wrote, "Christ is not the Son of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father."{15} Mormon Historian Stephen Robinson states, "Mary was in some unspecified manner made pregnant by God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit."{16} Dr. Robinson attempts to remain faithful to Mormon theology and the Bible, but his attempt falls short.

The Bible makes it clear: Jesus was conceived as the result of a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, not a physical union with the Father. John 4:24 says that God is spirit. He is not a resurrected man.

Luke 1:35 states, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." The Holy Spirit's supernatural work in Mary's body enabled Christ--eternal God--to take on human nature. Jesus thus had a dual nature. He was fully God and fully man. Mormons reject this teaching.

Stephen Robinson writes, the "unbiblical doctrine of the two natures in Christ was added to historic Christianity by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D."{17} This might be a consistent conclusion for Mormonism, but it is contrary to the Bible. Throughout the Gospels Jesus showed His humanity: He was hungry, He got tired, and His human body experienced death. However, He also revealed His divinity, demonstrating omnipotence (Colossians 1:17), omniscience (John 2:25), eternity (John 1:1), and omnipresence (Matthew 28:20).

There is a wide separation between the Mormon doctrine of the incarnation of Christ and what the Bible teaches."

TOm said...

Ken,
I do not know exactly how best to respond to your posts. Your trying to tell me what I believe has had little affect upon how weak I think your position is.
I still see numerous reasons Sola Scriptura fails and importantly fails to produce Ken’s orthodoxy.
I still see numerous areas were you import your presuppositions into your positions and seem to call everyone who disagrees with you flawed in their methodology.

Now, I see that you do not know as much about Mormonism as I do (I would expect that you would not since I am a LDS) and yet this is somehow going to improve the defects in the rest of your thinking.

I agree with C.S. Lewis that total depravity is obviously not true. I think double predestinations ultimately makes God into some type of monster. I find much wrong with your theology. But, we have generally been discussing methodology for arriving at theology rather than theology. Attacking LDS theology as “ridiculous” is often an effective way of devaluing the arguments of a LDS, but only among those who are susceptible to influence from ad hominem.

I am here as one who does not embrace the Catholic truth claims, but is regularly hit with just how necessary the Catholic Church is to dogmatic orthodox Christianity. I doubt very seriously you have any clue how LDS thinkers believe LDS theology is defined methodologically, but since I have made it clear that it is not via sola scriptura I do not see how your declaring (and attempted demonstration of) “ridiculous” has much bearing on supporting your methodology. It is true that I think SOME LDS doctrines are more Biblically based than the counterparts you offer, but I only offer this point to further demonstrate why I think Sola Scriptura will not work.


Next, to me it is ridiculous to base your opinion on Mormonism from your reading of non-LDS. If the CoJCoLDS is God’s church you will never know if you focus on non-LDS authors to determine what LDS believe. In my short conversation with James White I was struck by how little he had to offer me. I told him that I believe XYZ and his primary (only as I recall) response was no you believe ABC. Can you not see how I would walk away from such a conversation thinking that either Dr. White’s position is so weak he cannot deal with what I actually believe OR he is so mentally defective he actually believes he knows more about what I believe than I do?

Cont …

TOm said...

Since the Trinity has been a focal point for our critic of Sola Scriptura, let me offer you two excellent discussions by LDS on the Trinity. I am generally in agreement with both of these folks (who are generally in agreement with one another).
Blake Ostler:
http://www.smpt.org/docs/ostler_element1-1.html
David Paulsen:
http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=236&var3=issuedisplay&var4=IssRead&var5=24
The Ostler article is a little more thorough and technical (he deals with some of the statements non-LDS seem to think are all that is necessary to dismiss LDS as polytheistic). The Paulsen article is actually contained within the journal Modern Reformation so perhaps you might enjoy what you co-religionists published.

So, I do not think the oneness of God is a metaphysical one-being-ness. There are clearly distinctions among the persons of the Godhead. Why I should create such fuzziness within “one being” to account for these distinctions has never been clear to me. Here are Paulsen’s words on LDS theology and how God is one:

"We believe in God the Eternal Father, in his son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost." We reject the traditional, but extra-biblical, idea that these three persons constitute one metaphysical substance, affirming rather that they constitute one perfectly united, and mutually indwelling, divine community. We use the word "God" to designate the divine community as well as to designate each individual divine person. Thus our understanding of the Godhead coincides closely with what is known in contemporary Christian theology as "social trinitarianism." This, we believe, is the model of the Godhead portrayed in the New Testament.

Given the plurality of divine persons, how can there be but one God? In at least at least three ways: there is only one perfectly united, mutually indwelling, divine community. We call that community "God" and there is only one such. There is only one God the Father or fount of divinity. There is only one divine nature or set of properties severally necessary and jointly sufficient for divinity.


Back to the topic of this thread however, I have not moved closer to believe Sola Scriptura can possibly produced Protestant or Catholic orthodoxy. You and I likely share some of the same concerns associated with Catholic truth claims (though I cannot bring myself to quite the certainty that you seem to have achieved), but IMO without Catholic truth claims you cannot get orthodox Christianity. Dialogues like this one especially when they degenerate into “your beliefs are ridiculous” continue to reinforce this opinion of mine.
The liberality I possess as a LDS leads me to have great hope for your salvation. I suspect your commitment to Christ is sincere and wonderful. But, I have less and less hope for the idea that Sola Scriptura can provide an alternative to LDS belief structures or Catholic orthodoxy. While I recognize problems with both LDS and Catholic truth claims, neither of these truth claims are as difficult to defend (or hold) as would a be Sola Scriptura based truth claim.

Charity, TOm

Ken Temple said...

Tom,
Thanks for your patience and explanations. Thanks for the links, especially the Modern Reformation Journal link. I will look at that; and if I have time, the others.

I readily confess I got my information on Mormonism from those sources. But can't you see that when an Evangelical reads the quotes from your leaders, from Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Snow, etc. and the history of polygamy and its relationship to men evolving into gods and the secret temple services, etc. - surely you can see how we can look straight at the sentences, and see that Mormonism is polytheistic?

and then, it follows that we dismiss it and make statements like "that is ridiculous" ?

If it is polytheistic, then it is wrong.

Also, give those statements by so many leaders, and that your church has always had a kind of "Magisterium" ( prophets and council, whatever you call it) and that you have changed revelations, (decided polygamy was wrong for living in the USA; blacks being admitted to the priesthood, etc.)/ surely you can see why we have these ideas, even though we are not experts in the details and technical, metaphysical language of substances and "becoming gods-talk"?

So, do you believe there are other gods of other planets?

Do you believe males evolve into gods in the after life?

Is "Biblical Monotheism" (in LDS and your view) meaning "only one god for this planet"??

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Would like to bring a couple of items to your attention: first, Tom is in the process of moving to the Portland area for work—I think he will arrive this coming Sunday, so he may be delayed in responding; and second, there are a couple of essays on monotheism that I have on my hard-drive that I think you may find interesting—if there is interest, email me, and I will get them to you.


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. My thread on “eternal generation” is going to have to wait until Monday; my ‘plate’ has filled up way to rapidly for a beachbum (grin).

Ken Temple said...

I hope this will summarize the main issue of Jamie and David Waltz' challenge to me about all this. Not enough time to go back and find everything. sorry for my rush.

Irenaeus, Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, 3

3. Now, that we may not suffer ought of this kind, we must needs hold the rule of the faith without deviation, and do the commandments of God, believing in God and fearing Him as Lord and loving Him as Father. Now this doing is produced by faith: for Isaiah says: If ye believe not, neither shall ye understand. And faith is produced by the truth; for faith rests on things that truly are. For in things that are, as they are, we believe; and believing in things that are, as they ever are, we keep firm our confidence in them. Since then faith is the perpetuation of our salvation, we must needs bestow much pains on the maintenance thereof, in order that we may have a true comprehension of the things that are. Now faith occasions this for us; even as the Elders, the disciples of the Apostles, have handed down to us. First of all it bids us bear in mind that we have received baptism for the remission of sins, in the name of God the Father, and in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was incarnate and died and rose again, and in the Holy Spirit of God. And that this baptism is the seal of eternal life, and is the new birth unto God, that we should no longer be the sons of mortal men, but of the eternal and perpetual God; and that what is everlasting and continuing is made God; and is over all things that are made, and all things are put under Him; and all the things that are put under Him are made His own; for God is not ruler and Lord over the things of another, but over His own; and all things are God’s; and therefore God is Almighty, and all things are of God."

The early church writers seem to believe in baptism regeneration, but the bare words, "baptism for the forgiveness of sins" are based on Acts 2:38, "repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins".

This was not in the list of doctrinal content in Against Heresies, so I when we began this discussion, I was mostly referring to Irenaeus in Against Heresies.

Protestants believe baptism is important, and the Lord's supper; but we obviously interpret the Scriptural texts different that EO and RCs. (and Church of Christ, etc.)

Anyway, this is maybe the earliest example of where the early church starting drifting from the original meaning of the apostolic deposit. I don't believe John 3:3-5, Titus 3:3-7; I Peter 3:21; or Acts 2:38 teaches or taught baptismal regeneration at the time of the apostles. I think the baptist understanding of the Scriptures on this issue is the correct one.

Presbyterians are good to separate their infant baptism as a 'sign of the covenant" and entry into the covenant community meaning and not as regenerative.

Regeneration only comes by the Holy Spirit working on those who have repentance and faith in Christ. Infants cannot understand their sin yet, so they cannot repent yet, and they cannot believe; therefore infant baptism is wrong. But Presbyterians do a go job of explaining the meaning of this; and that, it seems to me is a secondary issue that should not cause considering each other not brothers in Christ.

Anyway, your quote from William Cunningham, would ( I am guessing) show a view that is closest to mine; but I still don't think everything was completely lost. That is, just because they got some aspects of baptism and the Lord's supper wrong; and just because they changed from a plurality of elders for each church to the mono-espiscopacy does not mean that we view the early church as a totally false church; that did not actually happen until Trent officially anathematized "justification by faith alone".

Ken Temple said...

We still have a very close affinity with the early church, becuase of the Trinity, the creeds, the first four councils, the process of the canon, Cyprian and the N. Africans and Asia Minor disputes with Stephen, some of Tertullian was very good; and Athanasius, his basing his arguments on Scripture alone; and much of Augustine and his doctrine of grace and election and predestination.

We don't "pick and choose" from the Bible; but we do "pick and choose" from the early fathers, because the Bible is infallible, but the fathers/writers were not. They got some things right and some things wrong.

TOm said...

Hello!
You said:
I readily confess I got my information on Mormonism from those sources. But can't you see that when an Evangelical reads the quotes from your leaders, from Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Snow, etc. and the history of polygamy and its relationship to men evolving into gods and the secret temple services, etc. - surely you can see how we can look straight at the sentences, and see that Mormonism is polytheistic?

I respond:
Can I attempt to understand and then understand why you and so many Evangelicals consider Mormonism to be ridiculous? Certainly. In fact that perspective adoption is pretty easy. However, when I adopt your perspective so I can understand why you say “ridiculous,” I exercise an important tool that anyone involved in these discussion should possess. My problem with your assessment of Mormonism is not that I do not understand they “whys” of your assessment. Instead my problem is that you don’t understand Mormonism AND you do not choose to try to understand why I (and numerous others) do not find Mormonism dismissible by the word “ridiculous.”

If you have not encountered Atheist who key on any one of numerous “Christian” doctrines and claim Christianity is ridiculous, you could. These doctrines may be that “the sun and stars revolve around the earth” or that “the earth was created in 6 days about 6000 years ago.” Perhaps you do not hold these “ridiculous” ideas. Alternatively these doctrines could be that “a sinless man could satisfy justice by dieing for sinful men.” This “ridiculous” idea is a little harder to distance oneself from. I would also suggest that if you have not encountered Moslems who find it just ridiculous that God could have a Son, you could. These Moslems (and many modern Jews) might actually say, “We can see that Christianity ‘is polytheistic.’”
As Rory pointed out, perhaps “ridiculous” is not an argument at all. And as I suspect David’s essays may highlight, “polytheistic” is a relative term. You ARE more polytheistic than a modern Jew or a Moslem.

You said:
If it is polytheistic, then it is wrong.

I respond:
If it is truth, it is not wrong. Jews and Moslems IMO have more cause to condemn Christian polytheism than do non-LDS Christians have to condemn LDS polytheism. Once you admit that there are multiple “persons” who are God, you have left the simple monotheistic world of Moslems and modern Jews. Your version of monotheism may excuse or ignore the polytheistic statements within the Bible in ways that my monotheism does not, but for you to call me polytheistic because I am farther from the Moslem than you are is a pretty thin line for you to walk.

You asked:
So, do you believe there are other gods of other planets?

I respond:
I do not know. What I believe is that God the Father is uniquely the ONE God.
God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are uniquely eternally in communion with God the Father such that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit form the ONE God communion from all eternity.

Cont…

TOm said...

Cont…
The previous post was supposed to begin “Hello Ken.”
You asked:
Do you believe males evolve into gods in the after life?

I respond:
I believe that the eternal God communion is open to new members (male and female). That those who are follow the Holy Spirit and accept the atonement offered by the Son may be lifted into communion with the Father and thus be rightly called gods. Any form of Christianity that cannot tolerate the statement, “men can become gods” is a defective form of Christianity and is not well founded in the Bible.

You asked:
Is "Biblical Monotheism" (in LDS and your view) meaning "only one god for this planet"??

I respond:
Not really. The quote I already provided from Dr. Paulsen is not advocating a view that can be criticized as only meaning “only one god for this planet.” Here is what he said and I previously quoted:
“We believe in God the Eternal Father, in his son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost." We reject the traditional, but extra-biblical, idea that these three persons constitute one metaphysical substance, affirming rather that they constitute one perfectly united, and mutually indwelling, divine community. We use the word "God" to designate the divine community as well as to designate each individual divine person. Thus our understanding of the Godhead coincides closely with what is known in contemporary Christian theology as "social trinitarianism." This, we believe, is the model of the Godhead portrayed in the New Testament.

Given the plurality of divine persons, how can there be but one God? In at least at least three ways: there is only one perfectly united, mutually indwelling, divine community. We call that community "God" and there is only one such. There is only one God the Father or fount of divinity. There is only one divine nature or set of properties severally necessary and jointly sufficient for divinity.


I do not find it “ridiculous” that you find my views “ridiculous.” Instead, I think that your view evidences an unfamiliarity with LDS thought AND a negligence in seeing how the charge of “ridiculous” from the outside denigrates in a way that does not illuminate. All beliefs we do not hold can be labeled “ridiculous,” but you have not understood your theological opponent sufficiently if all you can see is ridiculousness.
Charity, TOm

TOm said...

David,
I actually fly on Sunday. My main move will come 2 weeks later. I will try to post a little until then.

Rory,
I wrote but forgot to post this:
P.S. Rory, thanks for chiming in. I should be in your neck of the woods in less than 1 week for most of the next 4 months.

Thanks!
Charity, TOm

Ken Temple said...

Thanks Tom
very interesting. Thanks for answering so thoroughly and so well.

You are explaining LDS modern views very well; and it certainly challenging to have to seek to understand these ideas.

I confess there is just not enough time for me at this point to look that deeply into the whole corpus of development of LDS doctrine and history and for outsiders to decide when or if your modern explanations actually reflect what Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and others meant at the time of their "ridiculous" statements.

Just as there is not enough time for me to even digest all of the English translated Early Church Fathers, let alone having to learn Patristic Latin and master a lot more Greek than Seminary in order to get a handle on all the untranslated stuff. (Migne's Patrologies) I would be 99 years old as far as time; and broke and on the streets for lack of working and only studying all the time.

I just can't do what David Waltz has seemingly done with his massive library and learning.

Anyway, the whole issue is very interesting; and I just respond to what I can, what my feeble mind can handle and what God in His sovereignty and providence has given in the sense of time and responsibility.

Peace to you also.

Ken Temple said...

Tom wrote:
What I believe is that God the Father is uniquely the ONE God.


The One God for planet earth ?, or the one God over all the Universe who created it all ex nihilo ?; and is outside of His creation and above and outside of time?

Mike L said...

Jamie and David:

I found Jamie's account of Irenaeus and the early Church fathers on episcopal authority quite illuminating. Well done!

I'd like to quote this material extensively in an upcoming post of my own. But supplying an attribution by linking to a pseudonym in another blog's combox seems hardly sufficient. So I wonder if Jamie would be willing to get in touch with me and suggest a better way.

Best,
Mike

Jamie Donald said...

Ken,

Thanks for posting again. I don't know if I will have time in the near future to provide a meaningful response. Little crisis at home going on. If the opportunity presents itself, I'll take a closer look at what you write.

Mike L,

Thank you for your kind words. I looked on your blogger profile, but do not see an e-mail. You may contact me at james.donald@yahoo.com

BTW, I like your PJs with duckies. With a the last name of "Donald" (DUCK just fits), I do have a minor affinity for ducks!

May God bless all who participate here with the Grace which only comes from Him. And may we all come to the best understanding of His Truth that is possible.

-- Jamie

TOm said...

Hello Ken,
I sympathize with your lack of time to delve into Mormonism or many other things that are likely higher on your priority list. Perhaps after we convince you that Sola Scriptura just will not work you will feel the need for such a time expenditure {grin}. I know of at least one Evangelical critic of Mormonism who credits the inability to respond to Mormonism truth claims from an Evangelical perspective with part of leading him closer to Catholicism (he calls himself a Reformed Catholic now – it is Paul Owen or Carl Mosser I cannot remember at the moment).

You wrote the following- Ken’s 17Jul 0906 post:
Tom wrote:
What I believe is that God the Father is uniquely the ONE God.

The One God for planet earth ?, or the one God over all the Universe who created it all ex nihilo ?; and is outside of His creation and above and outside of time?


Are you reading what I have been posting? I think I answered most of this in my 17Jul 0836 post. However, no, I am not saying the “One God for planet earth.” I am saying the “One God for the Universe.” I think this is your main question and was your main question that I answered in my 17Jul 0836 post. However …

I do not believe the Bible teaches Creation ex Nihilo (and most non-LDS Biblical scholars agree with me). I do not believe in the doctrine of Creation ex Nihilo (and lean toward the view that the Bible teaches creation ex materia, though this is more in debate among non-LDS Biblical scholars).
I also generally reject the idea that God is outside of time because I do not think it works for many aspects of Christianity that I find far more important. Ostler’s Exploring Mormon Thought actually pulled me from the view that God was outside of time. I would definitely say that I am in the minority of LDS who have considered God’s timelessness in that I reject it. Most LDS have not considered it much though. The Bible however, I believe most clear teaches that God’s time is not our time, but that God is not outside of time. The Bible most clear reads IMO that God acts in time and responds to actions performed by other in time. The incarnation is also quite difficult for a timeless God.
All that being said, the above are quite complex topics. I hope your fears (for me and my LDS theology) are assuaged by the fact that I consider God the Father to be uniquely the ONE God of the universe.
Charity, TOm

Ken Temple said...

Thanks Tom,
that was much clearer than the earlier post.

So, if God did not create all things ex nihilo, that means He had to have used "pre-existent materials and/or matter" or "some other kind of eternal matter or substance", right?

What do you do with Hebrews 11:3?; which definitely teaches creation ex nihilo.

TOm said...

Ken,
I would generally hope that Creation ex Nihilo is not too rapped up in your definition of Monotheism. The reasons that the majority of non-LDS Biblical scholars do not believe that the Bible teaches Creation ex Nihilo are more complex than your interest in Mormonism warrants. However, since this is a very important topic for Mormonism much ink has been spilled so there is much available for you to read.
The New Mormon Challenge contains a fairly thorough presentation of the non-LDS position from Copan and Craig (William Lane Craig).
Blake Ostler’s three books (the Exploring Mormon Thought series) have throughout apologetics and scriptural arguments for the LDS position.
Ostler also provided direct responses to the NMC. I would agree with Ostler that Hebrews 11:3 specifically speaks of creation from SOMETHING not creation from NOTHING and thus is a positive for the LDS side. The LDS position is not that there is some volume of uncreated stuff that we might bump into one day. All that has proper existence is created by God AND God is the only one who can create (bara – which is to create / form). The cartoon where the scientist declares he has created life from dirt and … and God retorts something like, “now start without the dirt,” still has applicability within a LDS framework IMO because those who are not God cannot “bara” because they cannot work with (or even experience) “the chaos.” (BTW, I would not dogmatically demand that deified humans can “bara,” but I would generally believe they could since they will share His power). The scriptural response which contains discussion of Hebrews 11:3 is here:
http://www.fairlds.org/New_Mormon_Challenge/TNMC04.html

I claimed I would get around to talking about Hebrews 11:3 here:
http://www.defensorveritatis.net/?p=861
But I never did.
Charity, TOm

Ken Temple said...

I finally had time to re-read Jamie's long, but good substance; on Irenaeus, Clement. (I may get to Tertullian later; takes lots of time.)

Jamie Donald wrote:
I'm wanting to take a step backwards because the entire discussion misses a very fundamental question: Why? Now I know why you posted the article on St Irenaeus. It's because our friend, Ken, insisted on seeing some very specific formulation from either St Irenaeus or Tertullian. But again, I ask - with further clarity - why something from these two specific writers?

Why? Because they are the earliest and clearest of writing about what the “rule of faith” is and defining it; and they seem to unified on it. The discussion began as about “the rule of faith”; and the book that D. H. Williams edited, and the footnote that shows the clearest definitions and delineations of what the “rule of faith” is; namely in Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen. They are all Trinitarian structured doctrinal statements similar to the apostles creed, and the Nicean Creed.

Ken seems to use Against Heresies 3.4.1 - 3.5.1 as the lens to interpret corpus Irenaeus, while you use corpus Irenaeus as a lens to interpret AH 3.4.1-3.5.1.


Actually, I don’t really try to “use AH 3.4.1 – 3.5.1 as a lens to interpret corpus Irenaeus”. I just take 3.4.1 – 3.5.1 in its own context first, without jumping to other contexts in other places in Irenaeus. I will admit that Irenaeus is hard to read; much of Book 1, describing the Gnostic heresies is hard to understand and did not hold my attention. But book 3 does, and honestly seems to hold to something very close to Sola Scriptura.

Non-inspired writers are not infallible, and may not be consistent; and may change their views in other works written later, etc. so exegesis of human writings is different than exegesis of Scripture, for Scripture comes from one mind, God’s mind, and it cannot contradict and is infallible, perfect. Therefore, that principle that we use with the Scriptures has certain limitations with applying the principle to human writers. (ie, “using corpus Irenaeus to interpret 3.4.1 to 3.5.1”

Ken Temple said...

Jamie Donald again:
St Irenaeus writes (positively) of Polycarp and Clement. Ignatius writes of Polycarp. Polycarp writes of Ignatius and forwards his letters with an endorsement. In addition to Polycarp distributing others' letters, Eusebius records that the several churches would pass around letters and read them at their liturgies alongside Scripture.

Where is that in Eusebius? Even so, that is much later, so we don’t know for sure that everything he (Eusebius) writes is absolutely true or provable. Some traditions are legends and exaggerations. But generally speaking, Protestants love Ignatius, Clement, Polycarp, and Irenaeus. They are some of the best and earliest evidences for Christianity. The only big issue is the obvious change from the plurality of elders in the Scriptures (Timothy, Titus, Acts :20-17-28) (61-67 AD) and Clement (96 AD) to the mono-episcopate in Ignatius. (107-110 AD) This is a real, discernible transition in church history.

Ken Temple said...

Jamie Donald again:

In Clement of Rome's Letter to the Corinthians, he chastises those who have broken with their bishops.

They had a plurality of presbyters/episcopoi (elders/overseers (bishops), not the mono-episcopate (one bishop over all with higher authority over the presbyters).

Why does he chastise them? Not because whatever doctrine the schismatics espoused was biblically wanting. In fact, Clement really doesn't even address the reason for the schism.

Yes he does, he says the younger group has arrogance (chapter 1-2, and jealousy (chapter 3); and chapter 4-5 is an extended message on many examples of jealousy in the Scriptures; and they have wrongly gotten rid of the presbyters who were serving in their church office faithfully. 1:3 and other passages imply that these are younger men who have risen up against the older men and leaders..

They are to adhere themselves to the bishop because bishops are appointed in a line of succession from God to Christ to Apostles to Bishops to newer Bishops. He paraphrases Is 60:17 to illustrate his point that these are appointments from God. (chapts 42-44) Clement goes even further and asserts that those who oppose him on this, and who do not return from the schism, are sinning by opposing him.


Yes, chapters 42-44 are strong support for the plurality of elders ( presbyters), as he uses the word for bishop and presbyter interchangeably, as did Paul in Titus 1:5-7ff and I Timothy 3 and Acts 20:17-28; and Peter does in I Peter 5:-5. If they are qualified, and godly, and did not teach any heresy or false doctrine, served faithfully, there is no reason that they should be removed. There is nothing here that teaches that those appointments go on into the future infallibly, as the modern RCC apologetic methods seem to assert. 44:3 says their appointment is “with the consent of the whole church” and several times he mentions their holy and blameless character. The RCC teaches that even if the Pope goes into gross sin; he cannot be removed from office. This is a contradiction to Clement and to I Timothy 5:19-20.

There is nothing in I Clement that contradicts Protestantism. Yes, the apostles appointed elders for each church ( Acts 14:21-23; Titus 1:5-7ff) That is the biblical pattern, and we believe that; subsequent to that, the presbyters should train godly men (2 Tim. 2:2, chapter 3) and continue to do that. But that is no guarantee that in the future, they cannot go off and teach false doctrine or go into gross sin – those things would require their removal. That is the great mistake of the RCC claims; it anachronistically reads the 1870 dogma back into Clement and Ignatius and Irenaeus (regarding the nice things he says about the church in Rome, where Paul and Peter were martyred).

Ken Temple said...

Jamie Donald again:
He does this by claiming that he is speaking for Christ in his letter. (chapt 59)

In Chapter 57, he is quoting from Proverbs 1:23-33; calling it “Wisdom”, which it is; and he bases his exhortation to repent and submit and obey from the word, a sola Scriptura principle. In chapter 59, “by him through us”, is based on Scriptural authority and the working of the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures in the church. (quoting of Proverbs and telling them to read I Corinthians) Church leadership has that derived authority; nothing contradicts proper Evangelical/Protestant church government or methods here.

With no discussion on the scriptural merits of the doctrine espoused by either side of this argument (schismatics vs the bishop), one can hardly claim anything resembling a Sola Scriptura approach.

Actually, Clement does use a Sola Scriptura approach in chapter 47 where he says, “Take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the apostle. What did he first write to you in the “beginning of the gospel”?. Truly he wrote to you in the Spirit about himself and Cephas and Apollos, because even then you had split into factions.”
He is obviously talking about the letter of I Corinthians, especially chapters 1-4. In 4:6, the apostles says, “do not go beyond what is written”. This was the apostle Paul’s answer to the schisms and disunity at Corinth, among other principles he lays out in chapters 1-4. In I Cor. 11:19 he says, “It is necessary that heresies (factions, disunity) are among you, so that the ones who are approved may become manifest among you.” So, Clement is actually using a very Protestant principle here, “look at the Scriptures”, and “it is written”; along with the long quote from Proverbs 1:23-33 and other passages in his epistle, he is certainly close to application of Sola Scriptura in solving the problem at Corinth.

Ken Temple said...

Interaction with Jamie Donald continued:
Jamie wrote:
I brought up Clement of Rome first because his letter is most likely the oldest witness we have from the Early Church Fathers.


Yes, this is why this document is so powerful for the plurality of elders as the correct form of church government. To be deep in history, and the Bible (Titus 1:5-7ff; Acts 20:17-28; I Timothy 3; I Peter 5:1-5) is to follow this one, not the RCC Pope.

St Irenaeus acknowledges this letter (in fact, in the very chapter prior to Ken's "lens" of interpretation). His positive acclaim of Clement's most powerful letter indicates that Irenaeus was both aware of the content and agreed with it.

If we are right about the plurality of elders in the Bible and Clement, which I believe we are; then Irenaeus’ statement is more in favor of our view than yours.

So now let us see what a couple of other extremely ancient Fathers had to say.

St Ignatius of Antioch wrote 7 letters to various churches and 1 letter to Polycarp while he was being transferred to Rome for trial and martyrdom. In these letters he consistently exhorted his readers to maintain unity with their bishops. And in a manner similar to Clement, he does not command this unity because the bishops hold the Scriptures alone. Rather he commands it because of their unity. He frequently compares the bishop to Christ or God in the context of being His voice on earth. And the presbyters and deacons are similarly compared to the Apostles. To Ignatius, the bishop has an authoritative voice by nature of his appointment which comes from God.

Here is where Ignatius goes too far and goes beyond Scripture. Later Roman Catholics took that too far and exalted the bishop of Rome over all other bishops; that was sin and wrong. Cyprian, Firmillian and the EOs prove that. Von Dollinger was right that the 1870 dogma was not historical at all. Acton was right. Honorius was a heretic. Sorry, your church is taken down by these facts; it is not infallible at all.

That it(the transition from plurality of elders to mono-episcopate) happened in history does mean it was Biblical or correct.


In a different combox, Ken acknowledged St Ignatius' view and then summarily dismissed it as "going too far." But Ignatius is not substantially different from Clement.

Yes they are very different, as I have shown in the above discussions.

Both claim the bishop has an authoritative voice and is appointed by God; that when the faithful separate themselves from the bishop, they are no longer faithful, but are in sin.

No, Clement uses the plurality of elders, not a single mono-episcopate (bishop over the presbyters). Ignatius is claiming much more for the single bishop; whereas Clement uses Scripture (I Corinthians, Proverbs, etc.) as the churches ultimate authority. They are different.

Ken Temple said...

More interaction with Jamie Donald, about Tertullian:

Jamie summarizes:
So the summary of On Modesty is that Tertullian excoriates Callistus. But the only reason for the censure is because Tertullian is really claiming the exact same authority for himself. If Ken agrees with Tertullian on this point, then Ken is actually agreeing to a continuing loosing/binding of sins authority of an earthly church, continuing divine revelation from the Holy Spirit, and an infallible church led by the Paraclete. That is Tertullian's position. I would have to ask Ken where such a church exists. However, if Ken no longer agrees that Tertullian is correct, then I ask Ken to cease using him as a witness against the Catholic Church.

My main point about Tertullian was about his earlier work, The Prescription Against Heretics and that his “rule of faith”, as far as doctrinal content, agrees with Irenaeus and Protestantism; a pre-Nicean Creed, Trinitarian kind of doctrinal statement. I do not agree with Montanism and all the other things you are pointing about Tertullian’s context and claiming the Paraclete and spirit of prophesy.

Except all the apostles (Matthew 18:15-20; John 20:21-23) and all Biblical churches today who stand on the confession of Peter, and the truth of God’s word ( John 17:17) have the authority to do church discipline and bind and loose, based on Scriptural principles and preaching the gospel. We are more firmly built on the rock of Matthew 16 as any of your RCC claims. (which are not Biblical and therefore untrue.)

The only point by noting that Tertullian rebuked Callistus is to show that historically (being deep in history); other early writers rebuked the bishop of Rome. (along with 86 others at the 7th Council of Carthage in 256 AD; Cyprian, Firmillian) This was later than Irenaeus, which shows that your “papal” understanding was not there in 200 AD. Callistus was not “Pope” then, in the sense of the modern “Pope”. All the bishops and even priests (right ?) were called “papa”, so Cyrpian and Chrysostom and Athanasius and Augustine were probably called “papa”, but that is not the modern RCC “Pope”. So, no; we are free to use that as an example of historically disagreeing with a bishop of Rome and his authority, which shows that Roman church authority was not universally understood or known.

Ken Temple said...

Jamie Donald again:

So in conclusion, St Irenaeus must be seen as adhering to a very strong concept of episcopal authority. It's a part of his upbringing in the faith. It's a part of him. His statements which state that all churches must agree with the Church of Rome show the beginnings of an episcopal monarchy.


There is lots of scholarly debate over what the Latin phrase in Irenaeus means, “must agree with” or “resort to” or “reflect” (because the other churches all over the empire have people who come to Rome, the capital of the Empire). The other apostolic churches have people who come to Rome, so they agree with the apostolic tradition because it reflects Christians from all over the Roman Empire.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.iv.html

in a footnote on that famous passage in Irenaeus, AH 3.3.2, there is debate over what the Latin “convenire” means “agree with” or “resort to” ( or reflect).

"It would be hard to find a worse; but take the following from a candid Roman Catholic, which is better and more literal: “For to this Church, on account of more potent principality, it is necessary that every Church (that is, those who are on every side faithful) resort; in which Church ever, by those who are on every side, has been preserved that tradition which is from the apostles.” (Berington and Kirk, vol. i. p. 252.) Here it is obvious that the faith was kept at Rome, by those who resort there from all quarters. She was a mirror of the Catholic World, owing here orthodoxy to them; not the Sun, dispensing her own light to others, but the glass bringing their rays into a focus. See note at end of book iii.] A discussion of the subject may be seen in chap. xii. of Dr. Wordsworth’s St. Hippolytus and the Church of Rome."

J.N.D. Kelly also discusses this and on page 193 of Early Christian Doctrines, says, "There is therefore no allusion to the later Petrine claims of the Roman see."

Ken Temple said...

Jamie wrote regarding Tertullian in Prescription Against the Heretics:

He also makes a case for apostolic succession in the form of an office (chapt 32) . . .

If I were living at that time in 180- 220 AD; I would do the same thing in battle against the Gnostics and other heresies. Protestants also beleive in the God of the OT and we are not like Marcion or Basiledes, or Valentinus -- Since the apostolic churches passed down the Scriptures and apostolic doctrinal summaries from the churches that apostles started, and all the heresies are Gnostic heresies that the apostolic churches were teaching against, it was a good method that both he and Irenaeus used; in order to say, "Look at all the apostolic churches and see that no one ever held the interpretation that Marcion and Valentinus and others are teaching; and all those line of bishops agree with this."

There is no problem with this whatsoever. There is nothing about future infallibility of a line of succession into the future that will keep future bishops or future churches from "so quickly departing from Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel" (Galatians 1:6)

Jamie Donald said...

Ken,

Greetings and thank you for your time to reply. I feel that in many cases, your several answers

cause you to contradict yourself. In other areas, you still do not seem to completely grasp my

position. The areas of disagreement cannot be more distinct, and each of these areas lends itself

to so many multiple avenues of address that it is hard to determine where to begin. I shall

endeavor to tie all the pieces together in a coherent thread. However, as I believe you do

contradict yourself, I may “hop around” within your own comments.

Before we begin, however, I must object to the following statement, We are more firmly built on

the rock of Matthew 16 as any of your RCC claims. (which are not Biblical and therefore

untrue.)
I can, and do, trace my belief and understanding of the Papacy to Scripture. By

definition, that makes it “Biblical.” Your disagreement in interpretation does not change the

source of my belief. From previous experience, you know that I do not shy away from giving reason

for my beliefs. You also know that I take the time to interact with your beliefs while avoiding

the creation of a strawman. I maintain an open mind to your thoughts and ideas with the hope that

through you, God may pass on a better understanding of His Truth – in spite of any arrogance which

one may find within me.

However, the summary dismissal [Ken Temple thinks] it’s unbiblical! truly does not interact

with my thoughts and positions. It is not a dialog of ideas. It is a close-minded attitude which

hinders spiritual growth.

I could easily apply the reverse to you. I could quote your approval of Clement’s Letter and tell

you that you are in envious sedition and schism. This is sinful, and you should return to the

Church. But such a reply on my part would not address the true reasons for your separation (even

though, ironically enough, you believe it does address the reasons for the situation in Corinth!).

If I were to reply this way, it would be a summary statement which closes down dialog. It would be

closed-minded.

So I do not employ this method with you. Since I already know that you derive a different

understanding from the Scripture than I do, I ask that you dialog with my ideas rather than issuing

summary statements. Thank you.

You also wrote, Non-inspired writers are not infallible, and may not be consistent; and may

change their views in other works written later, etc. so exegesis of human writings is different

than exegesis of Scripture, for Scripture comes from one mind, God’s mind, and it cannot contradict

and is infallible, perfect. Therefore, that principle that we use with the Scriptures has certain

limitations with applying the principle to human writers. (ie, “using corpus Irenaeus to interpret

3.4.1 to 3.5.1”


I never said that the method for exegesis of human authors was identical to that used for the

Scripture. I fully expect people to develop, modify, and sometimes completely change their

thoughts over time. In fact, I pointed out that Tertullian did this exact same thing! However,

you do not demonstrate this with respect to Irenaeus.

I maintain that the best method to draw out the true meaning of an author is to 1) look at the

immediate context which caused the work to be generated in the first place, 2) look at the

remainder of the author’s works, and 3) understand any cultural and/or training

(education/learning) constraints which the author is operating under. “2” is the equivalent to

using the author’s corpus of work to interpret a specific passage. It means that you find where

along the spectrum of his beliefs this particular thought resides. When did he derive it? What

has he not learned yet that (we know) he will later learn? Does he make a statement or claim which

modifies or makes a complete break with a previous thought?

Jamie Donald said...

(Continued response to Ken [2])
You seem to agree with this principal when you state that you do not use Against Heresies

3.4.1 – 3.4.1 to interpret the rest of Irenaeus. But then you criticize the method I’m describing in your very next paragraph (quoted above).

In response to David Waltz’ I must disagree with Ken on this for a couple of reasons: first, an important aspect of the “coincidence view” is the appeal to Scripture; and second, Irenaeus’ also invokes apostolic tradition. you responded, But nothing beyond Scripture, as Against Heresies, 3:4:1 to 3:5:1 shows. (29 Jun 09) Since David is referencing other portions of Irenaeus and you demand that this one specific passage must be used to understand these other passages, I think I am justified in calling that your “interpretive lens” for Irenaeus. Since you now deny this, I will assume that you did not express yourself as well as you had wanted.

That you continue to answer my rhetorical question Why? shows you’re not quite understanding

what I’m trying to convey. I use the rhetorical question to springboard into a discussion on the best method of understanding Irenaeus and later Tertullian – the authors you chose. I’m not
questioning your choice of the authors. I’m just trying to understand them as best I can.

I maintain that Irenaeus, like the rest of us, was a product of his environment – including the
training he received. He speaks favorably of tradition and Church authority. And his education
included studying the works of others who held a high view of Church authority and tradition. This background means that both tradition and Church authority must be considered as factors in anything that Irenaeus writes. In effect, it makes a relatively weak affirmation of tradition into a strong one. In other words, the need becomes one for a specific, highly formulated, dogmatic statement about Sola Scriptura, since tradition is already implied.

Instead of producing such a statement, which would of necessity exclude tradition as a normative function, or showing that Irenaeus changed his position on tradition; you chose to refute my demonstration that Irenaeus’ training and education in the faith had to include teachings of a strong tradition and Church authority alongside Scriptural proofs.

This is a fair tactic. After all, if you can show that Irenaeus was never taught these things, then a large part of my argument fails. But you fail for a few reasons. First, this approach still leaves in place Irenaeus’ strong and positive statements concerning Church authority and tradition. Second, your summary dismissal of Ignatius as having “gone too far” is a tacit acknowledgement that the teachings existed. Since Irenaeus references this body of teaching in his own writing, it is demonstrated that these teachings were a part of his training and education.

The fact that none of your replies showed Irenaeus as distancing himself from these teachings
leaves me unrefuted by you. (You simply re-iterated that you feel Ignatius went too far). I could
stop here and say that I’m still demonstrating that these things are indeed a part of Irenaeus’
background and thoughts. But instead, I will now engage you on your replies concerning Clement.

However, before going to Clement, I must discuss the Scriptures you quoted to support your claim of
a “plurality of elders” church structure. The only thing these verses actually say is that any
given locality may have more than one presbyter, and that some localities do have multiple
presbyters. As a Catholic, it’s easy for me to acknowledge this. After all, my own parish has 2
deacons and 3 priests, and is a part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with a Cardinal Rigali (a bishop) and 7 auxiliary bishops. We certainly believe that localities can have multiple presbyters and overseers. However, what your Scriptural texts do not do is make any claim to a hierarchial structure.

Jamie Donald said...

(Continued response to Ken [3])
Using these texts alone, one cannot state what type of hierarchy existed. The “plurality of elders” is not demonstrated. But the Scriptures do give some hints at structure. Titus is given authority over Crete. It is unlikely that anyone he ordained would immediately become an equal voice to his in Church matters. For that matter, the same applies to Timothy and the appointments he would ordain.

Furthermore, Timothy – ordained by Paul – was sent to (or remained in) localities as an authority over other presbyters (presumably also ordained by Paul). These include Berea, Macedonia, and Corinth. His authority is specifically stated in 1 Cor and 2 Cor, with him being co-author of 2 Cor! This is a hierarchy and not a plurality.

How does Paul distinguish Timothy to appoint him over other presbyters? The answer is in 1 Thes. This letter is co-authored by Paul, Silas, and Timothy. In 1 Thes 2:6-7 (which uses the word “we” – the letter’s authors) “promotes” Timothy and Silas to the position of “apostle,” giving them more authority than the standard presbyter. Paul’s use of the term here – and when he speaks of “super” apostles or false apostles or claims that he is an apostle to some, but not all – is as an office or position. And this position is roughly analogous to the term “bishop” today.

When Clement uses the plural term, presbyters, it is equally wrong to read in a plurality of elders. First, the Scriptural mandate isn’t there – it suggests otherwise. Second, Clement is clearly the author. Irenaeus and the Corinthians themselves (as related by Eusebius) declare it.

He, a single author, was speaking for the Church of Rome. So while there may have been multiple presbyters in Rome – just as there are in Philadelphia. A hierarchy is still implied.

When Clement states that bishops were picked “with perfect foreknowledge” that they would exercise their positions properly, we are left with a fairly strong statement which alludes to infallibility of the office. In short, Clement believes the position has authority, derived from God, by virtue of the position.

This is the reason he urges the younger faction to return from schism. You show that he equates the separation to the sin of envy. But this is only to say that the sedition is sinful. It does not discuss the reasons behind the separation any more than I would be discussing the reasons behind your separation from the Church by accusing you of the same sin! Why did the younger faction separate themselves? What are the biblical merits of their thoughts? Clement never discusses this. He simply states that the separation, in and of itself, is sinful. This is not a Sola Scriptura approach. My point still stands.

But what are the working assumptions behind the actual existence of this letter? The Church at Corinth obviously did not see that the authority of their “plurality of elders” using “sound exegesis of Scripture alone” could solve this problem. They felt the need to go outside their local church, to another authority. And not just any authority. Why didn’t they seek help from the Thessalonians, Colossians, or Ephesians? Each of these churches – with Paul’s fingerprints indelibly imprinted on them – is much closer than Rome. They would have afforded a much faster response, if just from the standpoint of how long it took to deliver the mail! Why does Clement feel he has the authority to be directive in this manner? He doesn’t say, “Well, in my local church we would handle it this way. But you are the authority there. Look at these Scriptures and let us know how it turns out for you.” Instead, Clement is directive. Those in schism are to either return themselves to the authority of their bishops or leave. Period.

Jamie Donald said...

(Continued response to Ken [4])
In referring to Clement’s letter, you assert that he is using a Sola Scriptura approach, very similar to one that any upstanding Protestant would. Then why do you add to the portions of 1 Cor which Clement referenced? He made a definite allusion to chap 1 and a possible allusion to chap 11. The only thing this reference accomplishes is to state that Clement feels the Corinthians are in an even worse state than they were when Paul wrote them.

He does not offer 1 Cor as a remedy as you suggest! The Corinthians are probably very confused. In the very beginning of Paul’s letter, he tells them to be united in Christ. Do not be divided. Then about two-thirds of the way through the letter, Paul tells them that some division is ok. Well, now they definitely have some division! Clement’s answer in this reference to Scripture?

Nothing from chap 4 about avoiding going beyond what is written (by context in the Old Testament). Instead, he essentially uses the letter to say Yep! You’re divided! And it’s even worse now!

When you use the fact that Clement cites Scripture as a proof of Sola Scriptura, you make a grouping error in logic. It is akin to saying that because all even numbers are integers, all integers are even numbers. Clement can cite Scriptures and use them as his remedy for the Corinthians and still not be a Sola Scripturist. Your response to chap 59 is inadequate. The Sola Scriptura response should be that it is sinful to disobey the words spoken through Him in the Holy Writ. But Clement’s claim to be speaking with the authority of Christ comes at the end of
the letter. He is summarizing, concluding, and praying for the community. Such a summary statement in this portion of the letter applies to all the words he wrote and the authoritative interpretation he applied, not just the quotes from Scripture. (As an aside, Lightfoot – Anglican – sees this as the beginning of the papacy)

Now to be certain and accurate, I am not asserting that Clement viewed authority in the same manner as Catholics do today. I am simply maintaining that he saw an authority for bishops based merely up on their appointment to the office, that that same appointment was secured by some form of “perfect foreknowledge” of the individual’s character, and that he claimed that same authority for himself – an authority which extended to the Church in Corinth in some manner. This is not Sola Scriptura.

On Tertullian, you completely missed the thrust of my argument. While his fall into heresy does show a change of position over time, one of the things which does not change is the belief in an authoritative church – well beyond any reasonable read of Sola Scriptura. So when we attempt to draw meaning from his words, this belief must be assumed as a context under which Tertullian writes and should be understood: both pre- and post-heresy Tertullian.

But it really doesn’t matter if I show him to have this particular authority belief after his descent into Montanism. The criticism from a heretic about what is right and wrong in the Christian Church has no more bearing or power than a similar criticism which a Muslim or Hindu might level against you. Tertullian’s beliefs prior to heresy pertain to this discussion.

In addition to the reference I’ve already included from Prescription Against Heretics, we have Tertullian’s own words, This too, therefore, shall be a count in my indictment against the Psychics; against the fellowship of sentiment also which I myself formerly maintained with them … [From On Modesty. Note “Psychic” is the term he uses for orthodox Christianity – he opponent in the treatise.] Here Tertullian admits to believing in an authoritative and Tradition-bounded Church when he was counted among the orthodoxy. The result is that any reading of a statement of faith from Tertullian must include this authority and Tradition as a part of the context in which his statement was made.

Jamie Donald said...

(Continued response to Ken [5])
I could end here, as you have truly not refuted anything I pointed out in my first series. But in reading your responses to me, I found that you seemed to answer in sections. You didn’t seem to treat the piece as a whole. Because of that your individual responses are in conflict with themselves or with previous things you’ve related to me. I’m going to address some specific points you made which I feel warrant a point-by-point discussion.

[Jamie] He [Tertullian, orthodox in Prescription Against Heretics] also makes a case for apostolic succession in the form of an office (chapt 32) [Ken] If I were living at that time in 180- 220 AD; I would do the same thing in battle against the Gnostics and other heresies. I found this amazing! Since we face many of these same heresies today, some 2000 years later, will you “do the same thing” and produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs ] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men,— a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. This prescription somewhat different from the handing on of certain writings as you made it out to be.

Moreover, while you tried to make apostolic succession into faithfully handing on the Scripture, your actual words say much more and sound very Catholic. In addition to handing on the content of the New Testament, you state that apostolic succession includes the handing down of apostolic doctrinal summaries and the passing on of the correct interpretation of the Scriptures. We have a name for these additional items which are beyond the Scriptures – Tradition. And your own writing indicates it’s pretty darned authoritative!

You also wrote, The only point by noting that Tertullian rebuked Callistus is to show that historically (being deep in history); other early writers rebuked the bishop of Rome … If you weren’t so serious about this, I would have laughed out loud! So a heretic disagrees with the pope – or any other Christian for that manner! What weight do you give to the criticisms of non-Christians to your spirituality and religious beliefs? I expect that type of criticism from without the Church. The existence of rebuke from without does not demonstrate a similar level of disagreement from within! Furthermore, in On Modesty, Tertullian was arguing against any form of remarriage – including the remarriage of a widow or widower. If you ever officiated the remarriage of a widow(er), approved of such within your congregation, or approve of it in general; then Tertullian would rebuke you!

Callistus was not “Pope” then, in the sense of the modern “Pope”…. So, no; we are free to use that as an example of historically disagreeing with a bishop of Rome and his authority, which shows that Roman church authority was not universally understood or known It was Tertullian who referred to Callistus as Bishop of Bishops. Seems like the development was pretty far along.

Except all the apostles (Matthew 18:15-20; John 20:21-23) and all Biblical churches today who stand on the confession of Peter, and the truth of God’s word (John 17:17) have the authority to do church discipline and bind and loose, based on Scriptural principles and preaching the gospel. Ken, in many ways I agree with that statement exactly as you’ve written it. The Catholic Church is a Biblical church. We stand on the confession of Peter, that Christ is “the Messiah. The Son of the Living God.” In fact, we stake our very lives, souls, and existence on it. Those are great verses to demonstrate the authority of the Church!

Jamie Donald said...

(Continued response to Ken [6/final])
But in many other ways, I have a problem with that same statement. I understand what you mean by it, and the whole difference of our opinion lies in the qualifiers which you’ve added to the Scriptural quotes. Just what are Scriptural principles? Here you assert your own opinion over and above that of the Church. You claim the authority, but for yourself in your church and in your belief setting. Yet, you deny that same authority to the Catholic Church who can produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs ] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men,— a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles - something you agreed was effective in combating heresies. In effect, you are doing the same thing that Tertullian did after he became a heretic. You appropriate the authority to yourself.

Finally, you believe that this authority resides in a local church and reject that it would apply universally. This is evident based on your responses to me here and to others in other places. But that means that you cannot be in agreement with Clement. Protestant churches break from one another on a regular basis. A certain portion of the congregation comes into disagreement, they leave, and they start their own community. This is precisely what Clement was arguing against! But you would state that both are valid communions provided they remained “Biblical” churches. Your answer is not the same one that Clement provided.

Additionally, I once asked you what (protestant) church I should join if I were to leave the Catholic Church. I emphasized that in such a situation, I would be interested in making sure that I came to God’s Truth. Your answer was to have me find a church which matched my “style.” But you can’t be in agreement with Clement and give that answer. If Clement is arguing for a local church – in the same manner as which you allege – and if you agree with Clement in his Letter to the Corinthians, then your answer to me should have been to join the local protestant church. Or to have named some specific denomination.

But the problem is that “local church” has become so watered-down in the protestant sense that it is meaningless. Clement – along with the rest of Christianity – saw only one church in Corinth. But my options if I were to follow your advice would leave me wondering if the “local” church was: Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Primitive Baptist, Church of Christ, nondenominational, etc. At the very least, if you believe that Clement was correct when he told the Corinthians that their division was sinful, you should be urging your fellow protestants to unite into single, not competing, local communions. A simple agreement to disagree over “secondary” matters (where what constitutes a “secondary matter” is itself in disagreement) does not fit Clement’s directive.

I know this has been a long answer to you and that the weekend is here. You must prepare for your services this Sunday. I hope that you will read my words with an open mind.

Your Brother in Christ,

Jamie Donald said...

Sorry, folks. I didn't notice the copy/paste formatting errors on the first post above until after it was too late to correct. You'll just have to guess where the real paragraphs go!

(Caught them the best I could on the subsequent posts)

Ken Temple said...

Thanks Jamie for the response and interaction!

Wow!

Overwhelming in volume.

Just want you to know that I did read it all the way through at least once and some parts of it more than once.

I am tired, it is 11:30pm and I need to go to sleep.

I may be able to respond to some later.

Thanks again.