Last week in the combox of a thread at the Beggars All blog (LINK), I responded (LINK) to a combox post by John Bugay who wrote:
In another vein, T.F. Torrance, in his 1947 work "The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers" has written very convincingly that the generation of Apostolic Fathers from 1 Clement through the next 100 years or so had lost the concept of grace that was taught in the New Testament. (LINK)
I wanted to let John know that I too was aware of, and had read, Dr. Torrance’s above referenced work, hence my post. Jason Engwer, who had made some comments in the same combox (and who was also involved in January, 2004 thread that I referenced), responded to my post to John (the very next comment following mine - LINK), which precipitated a number subsequent posts between Jason and myself in the same combox. There is a fair amount of material that I see no need to repeat here; however, I would now like to respond to the following that Jason posted:
You go on to once again quote some of your comments from our 2004 discussions. As I said earlier, your quotations from that discussion aren't doing anything to advance that discussion or this one. I know what you said in 2004. I was part of the discussion. And you've already linked it. You keep quoting what you said in 2004 while continuing to ignore more relevant issues that you've been neglecting.
I have some difficulties with the above: first, I must sincerely wonder if Jason is accurately recalling the 2004 discussion; for instance, he stated that Eric Svendsen “didn't participate in either of the two Clement of Rome threads”, but he did (as I pointed out, and which Jason later acknowledged). Second, if our 2004 discussion is not “doing anything to advance that discussion or this one”, why does he keep bringing it up? Note the following:
Jason: >>- You ought to explain how Eric Svendsen's "monitoring" allegedly affected your posts from 2004 in any relevant way. He didn't participate in either of the two Clement of Rome threads. And a few of us who were moderators in that forum did participate, and we repeatedly encouraged you to make more of an effort to explain and defend your view.>>
Me: I had been told that I was engaging in “sophistry”, and that if I continued to do so, I would no longer be welcome in the forum. Right or wrong, such comments (and previous banning actions) weighed on my mind. (Oh, and btw, NTRMin do post in the thread I linked to above.) Anyway, the past is past; I do not think that arguing over some of my perceptions from 6 years ago is fruitful; as for the present, the sense of caution concerning the type of moderation that was present back then is completely absent in the confines of THIS forum.
Jason responded to the above with:
I don't know what comment about "sophistry" you're referring to. You still aren't explaining how having such things "weighing on your mind" is relevant.
Once again, I cannot help but wonder if Jason is accurately recalling the 2004 discussions. Here was what I was told by one of the moderators (dtking):
Explain the part in bold. And I'll warn you right now, if you wax sophistic with me, I'm finished with you. I don't care how you turn that language, it is not Tridentine language. (LINK)
And just a bit later:
But this is an evangelical board, sir, and you are welcome to keep your complaints to yourself.
Moving on, Jason wrote:
I haven't argued that Clement of Rome affirms imputation. Rather, I've argued that he affirms justification through faith alone. I explained the distinction in our exchange in 2004. You're repeating an argument I've already addressed without explaining why my earlier response supposedly is wrong.
I think it is important to make note of what Jason actually said above (last week), and what he has left out from our 2004 discussion(s). In one of the 2004 threads he penned:
I also reject your assertion that nobody believed in the concept of imputed righteousness between the apostles and the Reformation. You cited the Evangelical scholar Alister McGrath, but I don't think he addresses some of the earliest church fathers. We can speak in general terms about how a father believed in some form of justification through works. But, in my view, the church fathers sometimes were inconsistent with themselves, including on issues of justification, which means that we can sometimes be misled if we try to find one view that was always held by a father, as if he was always consistent. I'm not convinced that the concept of imputed righteousness was absent during the timeframe in question. (LINK)
And a bit later:
I didn't argue that Clement refers to the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Rather, I argued that he refers to justification through faith alone and contradicts your concept of infused righteousness.
Me: Hence my ‘confusion’ concerning Jason’s position on Clement of Rome; if Clement’s view of “justification through faith alone” in actuality “contradicts” the concept of “infused righteousness”, then what option other than imputation is left? Does not the affirmation that Clement “contradicts” the concept of “infused righteousness” at the very least imply that he held to the imputation of righteousness? Hopefully Jason can clear this up in the near future.
Now for my summation of the 2004 JUSTIFICATION thread:
In the opening post of the thread I attempted to explore the issue of why some prominent Evangelicals refused to accept/endorse the ECT document “The Gift of Salvation”. I went on to provide selections from R. C. Sproul’s book, Getting the Gospel Right, wherein he delineated his reason(s) for rejecting the document, and asked this queston: Is Sproul correct on this? Is the doctrine imputation vs. infusion an “essential”?
A good portion of the rest of the thread pertained to either attempts to ‘prove’ that I had somehow misread Dr. Sproul, or attempts to ‘prove’ that the Roman Catholic Church, the ECT document “The Gift of Salvation”, and the “Joint Declaration” document on justification, teach a “false gospel”. In the end, I sincerely believe that much of what I presented was not adequately addressed, and I suspect that whether or not one agrees or disagrees with me on this will depend on one’s presuppositions, with the anti-RCC crowd taking the position that I was thoroughly refuted, while those who maintain the RCC is still a Christian church opting for my reading of the material.
FYI: Jason has recently participated in two other threads that are germane to some of the issues touched on above; the following are the links to those threads for those who may be interested:
Justification: The Catholic Church and the Judaizers in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians
How Evangelical Pastors Can Make Former Catholics Feel Welcome in Their Church
I have been reading through those threads this afternoon, and may have some comments to post once I have finished both of them.
Grace and peace,