This last Thursday evening, I was having difficulty getting to sleep, so I got out of bed and jumped onto the internet. After checking my blog, I signed onto James White’s “Prosapologian” chat room and began to interact with a couple of other visitors. We were having a friendly discussion concerning some Reformed systematic theologies (Charles Hodge and W.G.T. Shedd to be specific), when ‘out of the blue’ Pastor David King (aka: Skyman`) made his presence known. The theme he wanted to discuss was me, and on a very personal level. He called me a “liar”, “hypocrite”, “unstable”, and a few other things not worth repeating. I attempted to deflect the open hostility, and during the course of that attempt, (once I got David to calm down just a little), David expressed one of the primary reasons for his current disdain for me: on a few occasions prior to the publication of the joint (with William Webster), self-published, 3 volume work, Holy Scripture – The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, I had “praised” some of the work that David had shared with me; but then, I later criticized parts of the published work.
Now, David is absolutely correct on this, though I do not understand how this makes me a “liar”, “hypocrite”, and “unstable”. I mentioned to David that I have never been critical of the entire work, but only of certain conclusions/premises; and that just this week in the combox of a thread at James Swan’s Beggars All blog, had explicitly said that part of his contribution was “solid”. He told me that he did not “believe me”, and I replied that I would type up a thread on this issue and post in here at AF no later than the following Monday. Here is what I posted at BA:
Me: For the record, I have never said that William’s and David’s 3 volumes are “awful”, and/or “horrendous”; in fact, I think David’s treatment of the Biblical doctrine is [sic] of Scripture is solid (though it presents nothing ‘new’).
>>I assume you have Pastor King's book. Can you demonstrate the material is sub-standard?>>
Me: Depends on how one interprets “sub-standard”. Here is the rub James, I have yet to see W/K’s work cited by any patristic scholar since its publication. Now, does that make it “sub-standard”—personally, I believe that in and of itself, is [sic] does not; however, when this is coupled with the fact that a primary thesis of the work is at odds with a consensus contemporary, Protestant, patristic scholars, I must in good conscience say that in scholarly circles, the work is “sub-standard”. (LINK.)
I would like to delineate a bit further on what I believe to be “solid”, and then, what I consider to be “sub-standard”.
Pastor King is solidly Reformed (and not just in his soteriology); he subscribes to the Westminster Standards, and when he took up his pen to defend the Biblical doctrine of Scripture, it is from the Reformed perspective; the very sub-title of his volume on this, A Biblical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scritpura (vol. 1 of the 3 vol. set), is certainly accurate—and, for the record, once again, his presentation is quite solid. Personally, if I had to pick just one modern-day volume to represent the Reformed position on Scripture, I would choose G. C. Berkouwer’s Studies In Dogmatics – Holy Scripture (Dutch ed. 1967; English ed. 1975); but with that said, I would have no problem recommending David’s work to anyone interested in the Reformed perspective.
Next, I also think one should acknowledge the efforts of David and William as the editors of vol. 3, which is a collection of selections from the early Church Fathers (up to the time of John of Damascus) concerning how they viewed Scripture—they have done their English speaking readers a great service in providing up-t0-date English translations of the Greek and Latin, a few of which appear, at least to my knowledge, for the first time in English.
However, I believe that the sub-title of this 3rd volume, The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura, is not entirely accurate. As I have documented here at AF on more than one occasion (see A.N.S. Lane’s essay referenced and linked to on the right side bar, as well as the posts I linked to in my previous thread), the consensus of modern-day patristic scholars is that the sola scriptura principle of the early Church Fathers (some prefer the term prima scriptura) is not identical to that of the magisterial Reformers of the 16th century. So, while the 3rd volume is a good source for the non-scholar, it needs to be supplemented in order to get the more complete picture of the early Church Fathers view of Scripture. (I could add much more on this issue, but I would just be repeating what I have already posted in the past.)
Summation: if you are interested in a passionate, polemical defense of sola scriptura from the somewhat narrow perspective of the Reformed position (which, btw, is not entirely monolithic concerning the teachings of the early CFs on SS), then by all means purchase David and William’s 3 vol. set—but for me, Christendom is much larger than just our Reformed brothers in Christ, and as such, I believe that one should give a serious ear to the scholarly efforts of the patristic scholars I have referenced here at AF.
Grace and peace,