Friday, April 1, 2011

John Bugay's recent rant

I suspect that this thread will bore many readers, but please forgive me for taking up cyberspace, for I think it prudent to respond to John Bugay's early morning diatribe...

It took John less than 20 hours to type up a response (LINK ) to my March 31st post (LINK). IMHO, John should really think about taking a bit more time digesting and reflecting upon the material that he critiques. I am going to repost the bulk of John's diatribe in red (I see no need to reproduce the video, and his comments on it); my reflections on his diatribe will be in black.

In a way, David Waltz is playing Costello to my Abbott. Except, I’ve always laid all my cards (and definitions) on the table.

This is quite simply false; I shall provide two recent examples that demonstrate this: first, John has failed to give us his definitive definition of the term "liberal" which he has used in a good number of contexts; and second, John described Ratzinger/Benedict XVI as, "a full-blown pantheist", but never really tells us exactly what he means by this (instead, he provides a few quotes out of context, and then gives Michael Horton's highly debatable definition).

He said in his most recent post:
John (and others), continues to ignore the fact that presuppositions have serious implications concerning one's assessment of raw data that can legitimately be interpreted in more than one sense, and there is no question in my mind that this is especially true when one attempts to determine the form/type of ministry that Jesus' apostles had intended/instructed to be functioning after their departure into heaven. And further, it is one's view of the Christian ministry which constitutes one of the preeminent factors in determining the very nature of the Church founded by Jesus and His apostles.

David muddles things, and he does so pretty badly. I do not “ignore the fact that presuppositions have serious implications.” There are presuppositions all over the place. Some people try to slip in presuppositions without us knowing it. That’s where these folks find me so frustrating. I isolate Rome’s presuppositions, and I say, “let’s start without these.” That’s the main thing I try to do.

Yet another prime example of John's penchant for double-standards, he isolates Rome’s presuppositions, and asks us to start without these; but then, he refuses to isolate HIS presuppositions, and Dr. Lampe's presuppositions, and start without these.
David is not even talking about the right set of presuppositions.

A purely subjective assertion with no proof.
My goal all along, and I’ve stated this many times, is “to understand what [the early church] knew, and when they knew it.” Direct question for David Waltz: Have you ever seen this in any of my blog posts?

Here is yet another example of where John has failed to give us a definition: exactly what does John mean by the early church? Does John realize that a number of the scholars that he cites in his posts believe that it is impossible to speak of 'a church', but rather, that one must speak of 'churches'?

The effort to “understand what they knew and when they knew it” is an effort to exclude all presuppositions about what the early church believed. It is an effort to create a “presupposition-less” understanding of what the early church believed.

I sincerely believe that John is either being grossly naive here, or dishonest with us—it is impossible to approach what the 'early church' believed without presuppositions.

Now, to be sure, nature abhors a vacuum, and trying to create a “presupposition-less” understanding, is to try to create a kind of vacuum.

Finally some sound thoughts John's from pen.

If the early church truly believed certain things, I want to understand what those were. But if they did not believe things, then to suggest that they did, in any way, would be equally wrong. And as I’ve stated many times, it is necessary to exclude one particular, pernicious modern-day Roman belief as a presupposition of what the early church believed:
God the Father passed His authority on to Jesus (cf. Matthew 28:18 ), Who passed it on to the apostles (cf. Luke 10:16 and Matthew 28:19 ), who passed it on to their successors.

This is not something that the early church believed. And if you think they did, in this presupposition-less world, it is up to you to show where they believed it.

First, it is certainly not a presupposition-less world that we are dealing with; and second, John has yet to interact with 'conservative' Anglican and Catholic scholars who defend the conception of the 'early church' he cited above.

This statement is a conception of authority that Roman Catholics today believe, and at every occasion, they try to say, “It was this way with the early church, too, they just didn’t know it.” Now, that is the unstated presupposition that Roman Catholics, especially the Called to Communion sort, try to impress upon us. They just simply assume that’s the case.

I am not here to defend the folk at Called to Communion, I am here to defend what I have written.
In any discussion of “church history,” you have to understand, as Turretin says,
Thus this day the Romanists (although they are anything but the true church of Christ) still boast of their having alone the name of church and do not blush to display the standard of that which they oppose. In this manner, hiding themselves under the specious title of the antiquity and infallibility of the Catholic church, they think they can, as with one blow, beat down and settle the controversy waged against them concerning the various most destructive errors introduced into the heavenly doctrine (Turretin, Vol 3 pg 2).

What has the above quote to do about what the 'early church' believed, and what I have written on this matter—can you spell 'red-herring'?

And what is “the controversy waged against them”? In Turretin’s day, it was the Protestant Reformation. And what did the Reformation say? It said, repeatedly, “Roman authority is not God-given authority.” “Roman authority is not God-given authority.”

Yawn...can we get back on track...

I ask them to show where this authority came from; the most that I get in response is a variation of the “authority” quote above. They can’t prove it from the records. Instead, they have to come up with nonsensical explanations such as, “they believed it ‘implicitly,’ they just didn’t know it. It took ‘further reflection’. What did Newman say? “No doctrine is articulated until it is opposed.” That’s just a nonsensical way to look at things, and it did not in any way correspond with the historical facts on the ground.

John, have you lost your mind...can you prove to me what you think the 'early church' believed? And perhaps more importantly, do you honestly believe that the Reformed paradigm is devoid of significant development?

If you look at the actual historical events, you’ll see raw power struggles and a Roman authority that was determined to assert itself at every turn.


The thing that I am most trying to do is to provide a positive picture of what the world was like in the days of the early church. Lampe is not the only writer I’ve cited. I’ve been citing from F.F. Bruce and Roger Beckwith - not liberals at all, to be sure - and many others as well. I do this because, when you try to understand what the church, as a whole really believed (in various places and at various times), you first have to understand the world as it existed in those times and places. What it was really like.

You are limiting yourself here; try reading Aland, Barker, Dunn, Hanson, Kümmel, Küng, Segal, and then get back to me.

Lampe is one of those historians who genuinely succeeds in reconstructing that ancient world, its ancient beliefs. To do so, he has done actual historical work – “historical-critical” work.

William Dever, Mark Smith, Othmar Keel, Christoph Uehlinger, and a consensus of modern day OT/Ancient Near East scholars have done the same with the OT period; yet in another thread, you explicitly rejected the bulk of their assessments—I sense yet one more double-standard at work here.

These historians (Bruce and Beckwith and Lampe and others) go to those places, and cite not just religious documents, but all documents – they check the archaeology for what the land structure was like, what the topography was like. Where the rich people lived, where the poor people lived. Where they worshiped. What they worshipped. The kinds of building structures they worshipped in. The kinds of authority structures that were existent in the ancient world. Where these folks died and were buried. And they create a picture of that ancient world that is more complete, more complex in all of its interactions, than anything else that any writer in the 12th or 15th or 17th or 19th centuries can imagine. They don’t take a video camera back there, but the work that is produced is probably as close as we will come to that ideal.

You make it sound as if there are no 'gaps' in the historical record and that a unified theory exists among NT scholars as to the precise nature and theology of the early church/churches...I don't buy it John, I am just too well read on this issue to do so.

Into this mix, David Waltz wants to inject the illegitimate method of “smear by association” and suggest that “Lampe’s presuppositions caused him to misunderstand that world.”

Your charge of “smear by association” is false and misleading; all I have done is provide areas of agreement between scholars who are dealing with the same genre.

And in an effort to try to somehow to “prove” this, Waltz, in his most recent post, takes a long selection from the writings of the most well-known of the German liberals, Adolph von Harnack, and says, “Lampe and Von Harnack both believe the Pastorals were not written by Paul. Therefore, their work is flawed in exactly the same way.”

Once again, false and misleading; I do not, nor have I said, that their work is flawed in exactly the same way; your putting, “Lampe and Von Harnack both believe the Pastorals were not written by Paul. Therefore, their work is flawed in exactly the same way.”, in quotation marks and ascribing it to my pen is dishonest, and misleading. Further, it sure sounds like you are trying to smear Dr. Harnack!!! (Ooops...I forgot, it is OK for you to smear...)

Here is his “analysis”:

Enter Dr. Peter Lampe and John Bugay: A careful reading of Dr. Lampe demonstrates that he sides with Dr. Aland and the modern higher critical school in accepting the following presuppositions: first, the Pastorals were not written by Paul, and were composed at a much a later date; second, the original Christian ministry consisted of "charismatic offices"; third the "Catholic" concept of the ministry did not have apostolic warrant, and was an evolutionary development that took place at different times in different geographical areas, with the churches at Rome being one of the last regions to fully endorse the "Catholic" development. John accepts the last of these presuppositions, seemingly ignoring the fact that it is built upon the foundation of the other presuppositions, which John rejects. I have gone on record as maintaining that John is being inconsistent, and none of my continuing research into this important issue suggests otherwise.

“Take my word for it,” he says. This is the sum total of David Waltz’s analysis.

I am not asking anyone to, “Take my word for it,”; in previous posts I have already provided quotes from Dr. Lampe that clearly support my first two statements, and the third is supported by the entire tone of his work on this issue—and you charge me with a deficiency in my ability to comprehend what I read—my goodness!!!

He doesn’t prove that Lampe has these presuppositions. He doesn’t describe how and why these alleged presuppositions exist within Lampe’s work.

False; now I know for sure that you have not carefully read what I written.

He doesn’t describe the historical situation and say, “this begins here, that begins there”. David Waltz simply makes some loose assumptions, he declares “guilt by association,” and then he wants to go and take a nap or something.


This is not an analysis. It is a smear tactic. Pure and simple.

John, you are the grandmaster of smear tactic; it will take me a lifetime to even approach your level of expertise...

If Waltz ever wanted me to take him seriously, he would have dived into Peter Lampe’s work and show, not some kind of implied “guilt-by-association,” but rather, thought-by-thought, how Lampe’s portrayal of historical facts somehow becomes corrupted.

I do not contest any of the historical facts that Dr. Lampe portrays, what I contest is his theories.

But Waltz does not do that. He is not capable of doing such a thing.

Nice smear John...I am now going to return back to reality...

Grace and peace,


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