Friday, March 26, 2010

An overdue correction of TurretinFan

Our new Muslim contributor and friend (thegrandverbalizer19), has promised to comment on the following from the previous thread:

>>Seems to me a more flexible picture of a loving family. Father divine, Holy Spirit feminine divine, and the Son. Let US make man in OUR image. Male and Female.>>

Me: Could you explain a bit further how the above formulation would work within an Islamic paradigm? (LINK)

After 138 comments, is seems the great discussion(s) is finally slowing down a bit. GrandVerb has been very active, and I would like to extend my thanks to him for his cogent and charitable contributions. I know from his last comments that he is very busy; as such, I do not want him to feel any time pressure in responding to the above.

So, with all that said, I would now like to address an issue that I have been ignoring way too long now: TurretinFan’s misguided remarks concerning me, and Dr. Charles Hodge.

Back in November, 2009 I started of series of sorts on the issue of whether or not the Catholic Church is a Christian/true/valid church with this thread:

Luther: “I honor the Roman Church”

I continued the series/theme with two subsequent threads:

CHARLES HODGE – “Is the Church of Rome a Part of the Visible Church?”

Steve Hays and Jason Engwer vs. Dr. Charles Hodge

Following his typical modus operandi, the anti-Catholic, epologist, TurretinFan (hereafter TF), rather than responding directly in the comments sections of the threads listed above, instead posted his criticisms on his own blog (Note: TF moderates the comments on his blog, and has chosen not to post a good number of the comments I have submitted; further, to deflect the charge of moderation, he later created a totally separate blog specifically for what he has termed, “criticism of turretinfan”):

Charles Hodge on Rome

From the above post we read:

David Waltz is trying to make something of Prof. Hodge's comments on Roman Catholicism (link to Waltz's post). It is worth noting that Waltz has chosen to selectively present one side of Hodge's coin. The other side is that Hodge viewed Rome as both apostate and antichristian (link to example of such teaching) and also as antichrist and a synagogue of Satan (link to example of such teaching) to which we may add the mystery of iniquity and the man of sin (link to example of such teaching).

TF does not attempt to explain what he meant by, “trying to make something of Prof. Hodge’s comments on Roman Catholicism”; my intent was to bring to the attention of the readers here at AF two insightful essays by one of the greatest Reformed theologians of all time. I provided the links (see below for those links, and further options) to both essays, and selections from those essays that set the tone for Dr. Hodge’s argument. TF opines that I did not present the “other side”, but his charge is baseless: first of all, as I said earlier, I provided the links to both of the pertinent essays (BTW, TF only linked to one of them); and second, one of the selections I provided most certainly touches on the “other side”—note the following from my second thread on this topic:

Fifthly, it is said we give up too much to the papists if we admit Romanists to be in the church. To this we answer, Every false position is a weak position. The cause of truth. The cause of truth suffers in no way more than from identifying it with error, which is always done when its friends advocate it on false principles. When one says, we favor intemperance, unless we say that the use of intoxicating liquors is sinful; another, that we favor slavery, unless we say slaveholding is a sin; and a third, that we favor popery unless we say the church of Rome is no church, they all, as it seems to us, make the same mistake, and greatly injure the cause in which they are engaged. They dive the adversary an advantage over them, and they fail to enlist the strength of their own side. Men who are anxious to promote temperance, cannot join societies which avow principles which they believe to be untrue; and men who believe popery to be the greatest modern enemy of the gospel, cannot co-operate in measures of opposition to that growing evil, which are founded on the denial of what appear to be important scriptural principles. It is a great mistake to suppose popery is aided by admitting what truth it does include. What gives it its power, what constitutes its peculiarly dangerous character, is that it is not pure infidelity; it is not the entire rejection of the gospel, but truth surrounded with enticing and destructive error. Poison by itself is not so seductive, and therefore not so dangerous, as when mixed with food. We do not believe that those of our brethren from whom we are so unfortunate as to differ on this subject, have a deeper impression than we have either of the destructive character of the errors of popery, or of the danger to which religion and liberty are exposed from its progress. We believe it to be by far the most dangerous forms of delusion and error that has ever arisen in the Christian world, and all the more dangerous from its having arisen and established itself in the church, or temple of God.

TF then continued with:

Waltz does not explain his motivations for choosing to highlight only part of what Hodge taught, and for doing so in a way that grossly exaggerates the differences between Hodge and some of my friends at Triablogue.

TF is clearly confusing his own methods with mine; it was TF who chose “to highlight only part of what Hodge taught”, not me. As for the charge of exaggeration, once again, it is totally baseless.

And finally, from TF:

Yes, my friends and I may well agree with Thornwell and others that Hodge (no doubt due to the softness of his heart) conceded too much to Rome in places such as those Waltz highlights, but the difference between Hodge and us is a lot smaller than Waltz's article would suggest to the unwary reader.

I linked to BOTH of Dr. Hodge’s essays; TF linked to only the first, and completely ignored the second essay which clarifies much of the content of the first. Further, to make matters even worse, the links that TF gave his readers pertain primarily the “Popish hierarchy”, and not to the issue of whether or not the Roman Catholic Church is still a true/valid church.

As for Thornwell, I have read his emotionally charged essay (“The Validity of the Baptism of the Church of Rome”, pp. 283-412, The Collected Writings of James Henley Thornwell – Volume 3. Theological & Controversial) directed at Dr. Hodge—I sincerely believe that one who exercises some objectivity will side Dr. Hodge’s clear, and articulate position, over Thornwell’s, sometimes crass, objections.


LIST OF LINKS TO: Dr. Hodge’s essays:

Discussions in Church Polity (Pages 191- 215.)

The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review Vol. 17 No. 3 (1845) (Pages 444 – 471.)


The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review, Vol. 18 No. 2 (1846) (Pages 320 – 344.)

The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review, Vol. 18 No. 2 (1846) (Pages 320 – 344.)

THEOLOGIA - Is the Church of Rome a Part of the Visible Church?

Anyway, I have taken time away from much more important issues, but in my defense, I did want to correct yet another misguided diatribe from our Reformed brother in Christ.



Grace and peace,

David


NOTE: I did not take the time to enable the links from TurretinFan's post; please go to his blog for the links.

16 comments:

Ken said...

David,
I did not understand your point of talking about the Grandverbalizer19's comments on Islam and Trinity, etc. at the previous post and then suddenly talking about you and TF's disagreement about Hodge and Thornwell and the RCC.

If the Church of Rome is a true church, why did you recently leave it? Did you not leave it?

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/01/solemn-announcement-but-with-no-thanks.html


I don't judge individual people's hearts; nor individual Roman Catholics; and I have sincere love for Roman Catholics and you; and you are a very worthy and careful apologist for (? some kind of historical Christianity ?) on historical theology, Islam, Latin, early church fathers, etc.

However, the RCC officially teaches a heretical view (obviously in our Reformation Protestant opinion) of the gospel of grace, because they reject justification by faith alone (anathematized at Trent- 1545-1563); and think that justification is by baptism initially, and have tied salvation to the ceremonies and rituals of the mass and the dispensing of grace through the ex opere operato actions of the priests; as if grace were a substance, that "adheres to the soul".

Seeing the Roman Catholic Church as becoming a false church when it anathematized justification by faith alone at Trent is not personal, nor "anti-Catholic", it is a sincere belief of calling something a false doctrine, in the same way as I can have love for Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims, but sincerely believe that the first two are cults and that Islam is a false religion.

When was Luther's sermon that you referenced? Didn't he die before Trent anathematized the gospel?

Our position does not mean that RCs were not saved before Trent (1545-1563). And Sproul never meant that either, as you and Hackle said. He meant that the official doctrine of the RCC from Trent on made it a false church that denies the gospel.

Beyond that; the debate between Hodge and Thornwell is an in house debate between Presbyterians; and I hope you and TF work out your differences.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

I have family staying through Wednesday (spring break), so my time on the internet will be very limited over the next few days. Everyone has finally gone to bed, giving me the opportunity to check in on my blog, and make a few comments. In your post you wrote:

>>David,
I did not understand your point of talking about the Grandverbalizer19's comments on Islam and Trinity, etc. at the previous post and then suddenly talking about you and TF's disagreement about Hodge and Thornwell and the RCC.>>

Me: I just wanted to let GV (and everyone else) know that I was not forgetting about the previous thread, and thought the diminished frequency of comments allowed me the time to comment on in issue that I had placed on the ‘back-burner’ for some time now.

>>If the Church of Rome is a true church, why did you recently leave it? Did you not leave it?>>

Me: An excellent question Ken; though I believe that the RCC is still a Christian church, I no longer believe that it is THE ONE TRUE CHURCH. And, as I delineated in previous threads, the fact a faithful member of the RCC MUST believe in the infallibility of the Popes and Ecumenical councils, two dogmas I cannot no longer affirm in good faith, forced me to make my decision (and declaration) to remove myself as an active member of the RCC.

>>I don't judge individual people's hearts; nor individual Roman Catholics; and I have sincere love for Roman Catholics and you; and you are a very worthy and careful apologist for (? some kind of historical Christianity ?) on historical theology, Islam, Latin, early church fathers, etc.>>

Me: You are a dear brother in Christ Ken, and though we differ on some issues, I always carefully, and prayerfully, read your charitable and cogent comments.

>>However, the RCC officially teaches a heretical view (obviously in our Reformation Protestant opinion) of the gospel of grace, because they reject justification by faith alone (anathematized at Trent- 1545-1563); and think that justification is by baptism initially, and have tied salvation to the ceremonies and rituals of the mass and the dispensing of grace through the ex opere operato actions of the priests; as if grace were a substance, that "adheres to the soul".>>

Me: I am not convinced (as Dr. Hodge), that the official teaching of the RCC denies “the gospel of grace” (see my threads under the label of “Justification”).

>>Seeing the Roman Catholic Church as becoming a false church when it anathematized justification by faith alone at Trent is not personal, nor "anti-Catholic", it is a sincere belief of calling something a false doctrine, in the same way as I can have love for Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims, but sincerely believe that the first two are cults and that Islam is a false religion.>>

Me: But Ken, did Trent in fact anathematize “justification by faith alone”? I honestly do not think that it did (once again, reference my threads on “Justification”).

Continued…

David Waltz said...

Continued…

>>When was Luther's sermon that you referenced? Didn't he die before Trent anathematized the gospel?>>

Me: Good question, and right now, I do not know for sure—it will be next weekend before I can do any serious research on this, but I am sure James Swan (whose studies on Luther I have great respect for), could answer your question if you pose it to him.

>>Our position does not mean that RCs were not saved before Trent (1545-1563). And Sproul never meant that either, as you and Hackle said. He meant that the official doctrine of the RCC from Trent on made it a false church that denies the gospel.

Beyond that; the debate between Hodge and Thornwell is an in house debate between Presbyterians; and I hope you and TF work out your differences.>>

Me: For the record, I have a soft spot in my heart for TF; I have no doubt about his sincerity, and he has compiled some wonderful resource links; however, I do wish he was a bit more careful when he ventures into areas beyond his expertise…


God bless,

David

James Swan said...

I am by no means an expert on Hodge, nor have I even read a lot of Hodge. However, is his view a Reformed exception for his time period, or the rule?

He wasn't always on the "winning side" of debates, even within the Reformed community of his day (Gardiner Spring Resolution, etc). Also, if I recall, his views on Roman Catholic baptism weren't widely accepted by the Reformed.

I guess the point is, each theologian has particular views. Even in today's theological climate, I can appreciate Doug Wilson's Reformed work without accepting his views on Rome.

Ken said...

James,
I was about to say the same thing regarding Doug Wilson - I praise God for him and his thoughtful work and creative wit; and his debates against atheists are great, but the Auburn Ave. controversy (in its different manifestations) is really strange.

As a Baptist, I don't have the struggle that Hodge and Wilson had or even Luther had, because it seems to come from an inflated and unbiblical view of baptism, (almost an ex opere operato view) especially infant baptism.

Since the RCC believes that an infant is born again at baptism, they cannot preach to their people,
"you must be born again" and feel the force of it. John 3:1-21 They may say, "I already was" or if they have not been baptized yet, "OK, when can I come and go through the baptism ceremony?" the emphasis on the external rite is the problem.

Macarthur (vs. Sproul) and Dr. White (vs. Wilson and Bill Shishko and others) won the debates on baptism with our Presbyterian friends; though we have great unity in most every other issue.

When was Luther's sermon that Dave referenced?

David,
thanks for answering my questions!

So, what church are you going to now?

Hebrews 10:25

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

With the name of God, Peace be unto you all. I have answered David's question in the previous blog entry.

I actually was not contemplating how the Father, Son, and Feminine Holy Spirit would work within an Islamic paradigm. I was actually remarking that it seems to work well within the Christian paradigm loving father, loving mother(Holy Spirit) and than the son.

I also wanted to say that I am responding to Ken's remarks as well. Allah-willing.

Peace be unto you.

Tim Enloe said...

I've been thinking about this issue of RC baptism lately because I've been revisiting and rewriting a lot of my material from several years ago to (hopefully) reflect a less polemical tone than was generated in the midst of open controversy.

It seems to me that there's no real way to resolve this question among the Reformed because, despite the external appearance of "agreement on the solas" (as some might put it) the two opinions originate with different first principles that are called by the same names.

For instance, it appears to me that "sola fide" doesn't mean the same thing to all Reformed people. Even when all of them say the same words ("justification is by faith alone"), the specific content of those words differs in subtle ways based on different first principles.

One set of first principles bifurcates the Old and New Testaments on the grounds of such passages as Jer. 31 with its apparently "radical" concept of the here-and-now eschatological reality of the "new" covenant. From this first principle, it is impossible to accept, as the Reformers themselves did, that infant baptism "does" anything. On this set of first principles, infant baptism is just an outward sign, useless and meaningless apart from real inward regeneration. This is, as far as I can tell, the position of those Reformed men who disagree with the Reformed men whose position is represented by Doug Wilson.

The other set of first principles doesn't bifurcate the "old" and "new" because it doesn't view the eschatological fulfillment of the "new" covenant as having already, right-here-and-right-now, fully come into the world. Avoiding this initial bifurcation leads to avoiding the subsequent bifurcation between "sign" and "thing signified," such that one has to conclude that although there is a DISTINCTION between the two there is (ordinarily) no SEPARATION.

On this position, it is possible to simply say with the Reformers themselves, that in baptism God Himself performs the work regardless of the subjective intentions or dispositions of the recipient, and that there is therefore a real "objective" something done by the baptismal act. Heart regeneration is still necessary, but that is subjective and the lack of the subjective thing signified does not vitiate the objective meaning of the sign. This is, as far as I can tell, the position of those Reformed men who agree with the other Reformed men whose position is represented by Doug Wilson.

Different first principles are passing under the same names, but in reality, there are two distinct understandings of what "sola fide" means among professing Reformed men. Or so it seems to me, in my attempt to be non-polemical and simply understand what is going on.

Tim Enloe said...

I forgot to put in near the end there that while the second position I spelled out enables one to speak with the Reformers themselves, without making excuses for them, the first position requires its adherents to adopt apologetic tones toward the Reformers: "Well, you see, Luther wasn't infallible and we don't have to follow him in everything he said." "Well, you see, Calvin just didn't quite get that he had some lingering Romanism in his theology."

Of course it is true that the Reformers were not infallible and that we don't have to slavishly follow everything they said. The question that remains on the table amongst Reformed people, then, swirls around what is meant by other slogans that ALL of us say, such as "Scripture is the only infallible standard for judging doctrines," and "Scripture is plain." These phrases also bear multiple shades of meaning that are based in different first principles, and without serious and sustained (and I add with four fingers pointing at myself, NON-POLEMICAL) discussion about these differing first principles that are passing under cover of the same words, I see no way to make any real progress in the debate.

Ken said...

Thanks for explaining for understanding, Tim.

I guess the big problem is that a sign should have a real reality that it points to; and a seal should not be done, unless, there is indication of the reality in it. (a jar is not sealed until you put the food in it; a ancient document is not sealed unless it had something written on it and it was finished by the author; a grave was not sealed unless there was a body in it. A person is not sealed by the Holy Spirit, unless the Spirit really has regenerated them. (Ephesians 1:13-14) Baptism is a seal and sign and symbol of the reality of the profession of faith and repentance (conversion). If that infant never actually gets regenerated later, then in what sense was it "objective"?

Saying it is in some sense "objective" seems to be another form of "ex opere operato" similar to the RCC. (although obviously it doesn't go that far)

That infants are "objectively in the Covenant community" (in the visible church and are able to hear the gospel and sound teaching; and part of the family of believers - accepted as a family unit under their parents - good emphasis ) - I have no quarrel with that - that is actually the best way to understand it and I appreciate doctrinal and conservative Presb. and paedo-baptists who emphasize that and call the children to repent and believe through the gospel as they grow up.

And I agree that many teenagers and adults can go through the motions or give appearance that they are regenerated, have faith, repentant, yet in reality are not.

Ongoing discipleship and growth is key.

But I am starting to read, "Reformed is not enough" by Doug Wilson in order to try and understand it all. (on the web)

Most of his other stuff is really good and he is a great gift and mind to the church. I really like the way he engaged Christopher Hitchens in Collision. Oh, that more Christians could do that well both in intellectual content and in spirit and demeanor with atheists/skeptics.

Tim Enloe said...

Ken, I guess I don't have as much of a problem with "ex opere operato" as many Reformed people do, provided that it is understood in a non-superstitious manner. The marriage ceremony (I believe either Wilson or Leithart makes this argument) is a kind of "ex opere operato" ritual: the ritual actually effects the union, at least in terms of external sociopolitical and ecclesiastical order is concerned. Other things have to happen, of course, for the union to be "real" in its fullest sense, but the external ritual is not at all "just some outward sign" that doesn't mean anything at all. Surely you agree, and if so, then suspicions about the MERE concept of "ex opere operato" (which suspicions are almost certainly tied directly to polemics about "Romanist superstition," which do not apply to all human experience) are not sufficient.

That said, again, to me it seems that there are different first principles at work behind this debate. Wilson, Leithart, et.al., take the Old Testament far more seriously as the background of the New than most of their opponents (as far as I can tell). To them, the OT is not "just some outward sign" in need of the inward reality. It does need the fulfillment of the inward reality, but it is not "meaningless" or "useless" in and of itself.

For myself, I can't square passages such as 1 Cor. 10 with the "baptistic" reading of the relationship of the covenants. Let me ask two non-polemical, text-based questions about that "baptistic" reading:

(1) In what way were the men who died in the desert our "fathers" if they weren't regenerate?

(2) In what way did "they all" drink of "the same" spiritual rock, Christ" if they weren't regenerate?

It seems clear to me that there are TWO kinds of "father" relationship in the Scriptures - an external one and an internal one. The internal one CAN exist without the external one (as, e.g., Paul calling himself the "father" of those he converted, when obviously he was not their physical father), but CAN does not imply MUST. External relationship is not meaningless, except for political anarchists and the types of people that Luther, that very Scripture-soaked "father" of us all, referred to as "monkish" deniers of the goodness of the physical world.

As for your questions about "objective," I believe you'll find that Wilson answers them in Reformed Is Not Enough, and also in his debate with James White. The "objectivity" of the covenant is not vitiated by the eventual lack of internal fulfillment, but rather forms the basis for the condemnation of the person as a denier of his God-initiated (read: monergism!) external covenant obligations.

The "baptistic" objection at this point from Jer. 31 is, to my mind, an instance of reifying the eschaton - acting as if the eschaton is not "already, not yet" but instead "already and fully, period." And also to my mind, it makes hash of the apostasy passages. I've heard White on this, and while he was most eloquent and most interested in tying his position to the text, I just don't believe he did the text justice. The whole position is based on a bifurcation, a separation, of things that are not, in fact, separate, but only distinct.

This is why the "baptistic" excuse-making for Luther also doesn't wash with me. Luther explicitly says that in baptism, CHRIST pushes the person under the water using the hands of the minister. This is simply NOT "leftover Romanism" in the Reformer, let alone "adding works to sola fide." It is, rather, the same thing in the realm of sacraments as the DISTINCTION, not SEPARATION, between justification and sanctification in soteriology proper.

David Waltz said...

Hi James,

Please forgive the tardiness of my response to your post; I have had guests during this spring-break since Friday (they all left yesterday), and I am just not a very good ‘multi-tasker’. Anyway, with that said, you wrote:

>>I am by no means an expert on Hodge, nor have I even read a lot of Hodge. However, is his view a Reformed exception for his time period, or the rule?>>

Me: I would say that it was not an exception, but rather, the minority position.

>>He wasn't always on the "winning side" of debates, even within the Reformed community of his day (Gardiner Spring Resolution, etc). Also, if I recall, his views on Roman Catholic baptism weren't widely accepted by the Reformed.>>

Me: Correct on both points.

>>I guess the point is, each theologian has particular views. Even in today's theological climate, I can appreciate Doug Wilson's Reformed work without accepting his views on Rome.>>

Me: Understood.

Now, as for Dr. Hodge’s position on the RCC, I sincerely believe that he was able to shed many emotional and prejudicial presuppositions and examine the data logically and objectively. Interestingly enough, he was able to do the same with the slavery issue; even though Hodge owned slaves, he was able to defend the abolitionist position—which as all know, ‘won the day’. Thornwell, unlike Hodge, was just not able to detach himself from his deep-seated presuppositions, and vigorously defended slavery until this death.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello Tim,

Excellent posts! I think the following you wrote was particularly insightful:

>>It seems to me that there's no real way to resolve this question among the Reformed because, despite the external appearance of "agreement on the solas" (as some might put it) the two opinions originate with different first principles that are called by the same names.

For instance, it appears to me that "sola fide" doesn't mean the same thing to all Reformed people. Even when all of them say the same words ("justification is by faith alone"), the specific content of those words differs in subtle ways based on different first principles.>>

Me: One could also bring into the equation the Lutheran position…

I really don’t have anything to add, except that I would encourage all to take the time to objectively reflect on what you have written here.


God bless,

David

Tim Enloe said...

Thanks, David.

Despite your exhortation, I expect to be basically ignored by most Reformed people who read my remarks, as I usually am whenever I ask them to think critically about our own foundational principles. If I go off on rhetorical rants about Roman Catholic misuses of Church history, well, that's all well and good and funny and edifying and well worth the reading. But if I ask for us all to think clearly and non-polemically about what we mean by, say, saying that "Sola fide IS the Gospel," or what we mean by saying we are faithful heirs of the Reformers, well, those kinds of discussions are just not things most Reformed people online want any part of.

I think that, from the point of view of the "in crowd," so to speak, things like that are just supposed to be "obvious" to everyone, and so it's very uncomfortable to have to face questions from inside the camp which are premised on the notion that no, it's NOT "obvious," and no, we can't just get away with any old thing we want to say as long as it's prefaced with remarks about our own obvious deep and passionate concern for "Truth" and "the Gospel," all of which is coupled with the unstated, but controlling belief in our own "obviously" regenerate status relative to those who believe the "false Gospel."

A big part of the problem is the "do or die" mentality of apologetics, which helps to create sociological subgroups that deliberately isolate themselves from all dissent that requires them to be self-critical rather than to simply criticize others. The odd thing about the Internet Reformed community these days is that its collective attitude toward self-reflectivity is precisely the attitude of those they smear as "Romanists" in the 16th century. If the attitude of today's Reformed people is the same attitude that demanded the silence of the Reformers for daring to question "the Fathers" and "what has always been believed."

So again, there are some serious first principle questions here, but if experience holds true, you won't hear much from other Reformed people in response to my remarks. It's more important to keep saying what's "always" been said and doing what's "always" been done - all under the aegis of "semper reformanda," of course.

And by the way, I think you'll find if you research the matter at hand that the position that came to dominate Reformed thinking in Hodge's day had been itself the minority position in the history of Reformed thought. IT was in the 19th century that radicalism of many varieties seriously infected Reformed thought and began to warp it into the sad "soteriology-wonk" and crypto-monastic world-denying caricature that it is for many today.

reformation500 said...

Tim -- I get the impression that the history of the Reformation paralleled, to some extent, the history of the early church, in that, just as we see in the early church, there were individual theologians espousing different things that weren't necessarily deemed to be "orthodox," after the Reformation, too, there were individual theologians espousing different things, and the various "Reformed Orthodox" efforts were trying to do pretty much what the earliest churches had done through the the assemblies that wrote and ratified the confessions, etc.

So yes, Luther's theology was in flux. Calvin re-wrote his Institutes a number of times. Turretinfan has a recent posting on the perpetual virginity of Mary (and the real Turretin evidently supported it). The issues were different (trinity vs justification), but the processes were similar. That's how Hodge could have found himself in a minority in his day.

I do think it's possible, and necessary, to challenge various authority structures that coalesce around "authoritative," but wrong positions. I'll continue to point to Nestorius, who I probably would have disagreed with on a number of issues, but who, ultimately, was mistreated in a very profound and authoritative way, to the detriment of a whole branch of the church, which ultimately was left to wither and die under Islam.

But I do also have profound respect for the Reformed Orthdox, and their efforts genuinely to understand and define what it meant to be a Scriptural Christian. I don't believe they got everything 100% perfect, either, but they came far closer than some of the other efforts in history that have tried to do what they did.

Tim Enloe said...

John,

Dunno if you're still looking at this thread, almost a month later (I've been extremely busy at work, and so my blog time has been so sporadic it isn't even funny).

I agree that the issues were different in the 19th century, particularly in the Presbyterian Church. Schaff has much of great interest to say about the situation of American religion in that century, particularly in terms of the radically democratic impulse that took most denominations by storm and the simplistic fanaticism that was adopted by many Protestants as they increasingly, shrilly, reacted to both Modernism and Romanism.

You still some good old solid Reformation stuff in the 19th century writers, of course. Hodge and Dabney, for instance, maintain the classic Christian tradition about reason, unlike the modern fideists who slavishly follow Van Til's conformance of Reformed Theology to Kant by denying reason to "make room for faith." Kuyper and a few others manage to retain Calvinism's insistence that the doctrine of the sovereignty of God has political and social implications, unlike today's uncurious cultural quietists who imagine that the only thing any Reformed person should ever care about discussing are "the five solas" - and if you do mess with other stuff, well, that shows you don't love Scripture properly.

So yeah, you're right in some respects about the battlefronts changing. The question that needs to be discussed is whether the shifts were good, and whether subsequent further shifts in line with the original 19th century ones are actually good things. I don't think a lot of them are. In fact, I think that Reformed Theology has, in the 20th century, progressively moved farther and farther away from the whole-life perspective of the Reformers themselves, and has accordingly become increasingly inbred and narrow-minded, and ineffective beyond the childish world of the intra-Reformed pep-rallies that often go by the term "apologetics" when talking with others.

nilesh mahapatra said...

Hi Ken,

I have family staying through Wednesday (spring break), so my time on the internet will be very limited over the next few days. Everyone has finally gone to bed, giving me the opportunity to check in on my blog, and make a few comments. In your post you wrote...........Thank's
Quran