Saturday, April 5, 2014

A new Lampe apologia


A couple of days ago, whilst browsing the internet, I came upon a new defense of Peter Lampe's, From Paul to Valentinus, by Brandon Addison, a conservative, Reformed gent. Brandon's apologia was, interestingly enough, posted as a "Guest Author" in a recent thread at the conservative Catholic site, Called to Communion - Reformation Meets Rome. [LINK TO THREAD.]

Back on August 27, 2010, I began a series of threads (link to all 10 related threads) that exposed certain weaknesses in Lampe's position. I also brought into question the use of Lampe by some conservative, Reformed Christians as a polemical tool against the Catholic Church. With that said, I am a bit surprised to find yet another conservative, Reformed Christian defending Lampe.

A couple of folk have raised some excellent questions concerning the use of Lampe (and other liberal, critical scholars who side with Lampe on a number of points) in the combox of the thread; see the follow links for two of their cogent posts:



Now, it has been awhile since I last read Lampe (and a number of other critical scholars that Brandon has brought into the mix), but I was able to detect some highly suspect aspects in Brandon's apologia. From Brandon's opening article/post we read:

In my own investigation of this issue I was pressed to look at multiple modern critics of the consensus: Bernard Green and Chrys Caragounis. The arguments of earlier writers like Felix Cirlot and Gregory Dix have been judged as deficient and dated by modern scholars. These men also do not interact with the broader argument of fractionation (arguing against Lampe or Brent) and therefore are not in the scope of this discussion. As such, I won’t interact with them explicitly, though my exegetical work in the Fathers and the Scriptures offers an alternative to their positions.

Dr. Owen touched on this issue in comment #20 (see above link), wherein he wrote:

13. Finally, it was sad to see such a dismissal of Cirlot and Dix. These men were brilliant scholars, and just because they are not taken seriously by modern academics (if that is even universally true) is no reason to dismiss them out of hand. The vast bulk of evangelical biblical scholarship could easily be thrown into the trash bin on the same grounds. You should know better.

I totally agree with Dr. Owen here, and would add that it is not some defective scholarship on the part of men like Felix Cirlot and Gregory Dix that has led to their neglect by the majority of modern, critical, liberal scholars like Lampe, but rather, it is their rejection of certain presuppositions held by Lampe and his guild which has precipitated such neglect. (I wonder if Brandon has even read the contributions of Cirlot and Dix.)

Even more troubling for me is Brandon's assessment of Dr. Robert Lee Williams monograph, Bishop Lists. Once again, from Brandon's opening post we read:

One final scholar bears mention in this discussion of dissent to the academic guild and that is Robert Williams. Williams states that the episcopate probably originated first in Jerusalem and developed in other areas but Williams is clear to state that notions of episcopacy found in Ignatius does not approximate anything close to Apostolic Succession. Williams states:

“The succession of bishops arose in Rome from Jewish Christian interpretation of apostolic plans in reaction to erosion of established presbyterial authority. These developments set the stage for the initial use of succession lists in internal crises rather than in dialogue with Greco-Roman Society."

In addition to affirming what was argued regarding Hegesippus, Williams states that the monarchical episcopate developed from the erosion of presbyterial authority. Once again, William’s conclusions are not conducive to the RCC’s claims and are favorable to the thesis of this paper.

Brandon's isolated quote fails to capture the major import of Dr. Williams broader assessments which in fact do support something, "close to Apostolic Succession". Note the following:

The New Testament, Ignatius, and 1 Clement contributed to the ecclesiastical concept of apostolic succession of monepiscopacy in diverse ways. They contain no complete concept of such and no bishop list. They record in separate developments the emergence of all the constituents of the concept. (Page 45)

The "erosion of presbyterial authority" is not what Brandon seems to think it is (a series of events that precipitated a post-apostolic development of the monepiscopacy), but rather, it was events that actually occured in the apostolic age, giving rise to the implementation of the monepiscopacy by the apostles themselves. Please note the following:

...Paul seems to anticipate defections (v. 30). We therefore conclude that Paul promoted the governing by overseers in some congregations threatened with disunification from external and internal troublemakers, from Paul's viewpoint, but that these overseers were not necessarily submitted to without reservation by their congregations.

The subsequent situation in Titus seems to mark a further stage of church leadership, conceivably developing from such difficulties as were anticipated in Acts 20. Paul has left Titus in Crete with the responsibility of appointing "elders" πρεσβύτεροι "in every city" (1:5). In this context, then, a list of qualifications for "an overseer, as God's steward" follows (vv. 7-9). Campbell proposes that this overseer is an elder appointed to oversee all the house churches in a city, a monepiskopos. From those elders in each city, each of whom oversees a church in his or her household, Titus is to choose one as overseer of all the congregations in the city. This overseer will be required in each city to  teach the apostle's doctrine and to defend it in the face of adversartes. Such a need is envisioned in light of difficulties which have developed similar to the first of the two anticipated in Acts 20:28-30. (page 51)

And a bit later:

Such citywide responsibility is a dramatic development in the role of overseeing. It involves a single Christian leader in a city, suggestive of the second century monepiskopos in Ignatius's letters. Furthermore, it indicates appointment of the overseer by one with apostolic authority, albeit delegated. Such apostolic initiative suggests apostolic succession of bishops, the terminology of which emerges at the end of the first century in 1 Clement. (Page 53)

"Such apostolic initiative suggests apostolic succession of bishops"; that Brandon overlooked this in his reading of Dr. Williams raises some concerns on my part.

Before ending, I would like to share a few thoughts on the following from Brandon's opening post:

In summation, modern scholarship from Allen Brent to Robert Williams agrees that the existence of a monarchical episcopate developed in the second century. There are virtually no scholars in the extant literature who dispute this. I’ve encountered exactly one academic article that suggests that there was a monarchical bishop in Rome in the first century and that article is answered deftly by Francis Sullivan.

A couple of items: first, I have already noted that Dr. Williams does not agree, "that the existence of a monarchical episcopate developed in the second century", but rather, sees its beginning with the apostle Paul (he also adds James, the brother of Jesus), in the first century; and second, Brandon has overstated his belief that, "[t]here are virtually no scholars in the extant literature who dispute this", for in addition to Williams, I know of three more who do in fact "dispute this". Interestingly enough, Brandon himself mentions two of them, David Albert Jones and Oswald Sobrino, with the third being Michael C. McGuckian.

I would like to end here, leaving open the possibility of another thread(s) to address some more of the issues raised by Brandon (and the critical, liberal scholars he invokes).


Grace and peace,

David

4 comments:

Michael Fromtx said...

Thanks for the tag over from C2C. Good points, David.

Blessings to you,
Michael

John Bugay said...

David Waltz, I couldn't help but notice that my name appears more than the name of Peter Lampe in all of these threads. And of course, your work wasn't a genuine response, either to me or to Lampe. All it was, in effect, was to cite earlier writers who had come up with different conclusions. That effectively showed that you missed the whole point of what was going on.

Here's what has happened: Any objections you made echoed around among the Roman Catholic convert community, especially individuals who would be most threatended (I'm thinking Sean Patrick and Paul Hoffer. They were brought up, in fact, in the original thread that Brandon addressed.

What Brandon has done is to thoroughly address and debunk all of the objections you made in this thread.

Serious people will take Brandon's work seriously, and you, again, have thoroughly demonstrated that you don't really know what you're talking about.

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

Longtime no chat. I had a strong feeling that you might drop by, and was sincerely hoping that after our extended dialogue back in 2010/2011, if you did so, you would be a bit more reserved, refraining from emotional and/or polemical outbursts. Unfortunately, such is not the case...

In your post, you wrote:

==David Waltz, I couldn't help but notice that my name appears more than the name of Peter Lampe in all of these threads.==

Me: Only because of the numerous false charges that you accused me of in a number of your posts.

==And of course, your work wasn't a genuine response, either to me or to Lampe. All it was, in effect, was to cite earlier writers who had come up with different conclusions.==

Me: Patently false; I provided numerous quotations from Lampe's own works, as well as other contemporary scholars like Kurt Aland.

==That effectively showed that you missed the whole point of what was going on.==

Me: Since you have misrepresented a good deal of the content of what I actually wrote, it is difficult for me to lend any credulity to your charge.

==Here's what has happened: Any objections you made echoed around among the Roman Catholic convert community, especially individuals who would be most threatended (I'm thinking Sean Patrick and Paul Hoffer. They were brought up, in fact, in the original thread that Brandon addressed.==

Me: Hmmm...Dr. Owen is a "Roman Catholic convert" ? And further, who besides Sean and Paul built upon the reflecctions I made on my blog ?

==What Brandon has done is to thoroughly address and debunk all of the objections you made in this thread.==

Me: Hmmm...where has Brandon addressed his misreading of Dr. Williams ?

==Serious people will take Brandon's work seriously,==

Me: I cannot help but think that your definition of "serious" is different than mine, and that of the Oxford English Dictionary.

==and you, again, have thoroughly demonstrated that you don't really know what you're talking about.==

Me: Well John, at least I have actually read the works I have reservations about, including all but five of the works cited by Brandon in his opening post (two of which I have ordered). In contrast, Brandon dismisses a number of scholarly works without even reading them before doing so.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by; you are always welcome even though I have considerable reservations with a good deal of the content that you usually provide.


Grace and peace,

David

Paul Hoffer said...

David, thank you for sending me the link to your posting here.

Mr. Bugay, Please be assured that as a Catholic, I am never threatened by the truth, but embrace it heartily. While I have been mostly silent in apologetic circles over the last three years due to responsibilities that come with formation and ministry, I have used some of that time to read Dr. Lampe's entire work. My original thoughts on the conclusions he has inferred from the data and evidence he considered have not changed after a complete reading. The problem which I can better articulate now is that Lampe places emphases on different aspects of episcopal ministry that fail to consider the essential function of the office of a bishop~to preserve the apostolic deposit of faith. There is nothing in his conclusions that demonstrate that this core function developed at a later date as opposed to existing from the very beginning of the Church. Whether one wishes to argue about when and how much authority a particular person may have had over the governance of various churches in no way determines the question. The question is whether the deposit of faith was in fact entrusted to certain individuals or not at the end of the apostolic age. One can debate what functions the office of bishop came to have and when they assumed those functions, but the one irreducible essential of the office of bisop was then and still now is to preserve the apostolic deposit of faith. All of the other aspects of episcopal ministry can be delegated, changed or developed but this fundamental distinction between priest, deacon and bishop can not. This distinction is what Lampe did not treat appropriately in his writing nor can we assume he did as he never once ever bothered to even define what a bishop was in the first and second centuries let alone how folks in that time defined it. Rather, it appears based on the form his argumentation takes that he simply used an anachronistic definition of bishop from modern times as his point of comparison. In fact, most of the discussions I have seen dance around what distinguishes a bishop from other ordained clergy. History shows us that even in modern times, bishops even the bishop of Rome, can delegate and define their administrative and oversight functions. There are times in history when the bishop of Rome was not even in Rome. So one can not use geography or duties assumed as the criteria to define what a bishop is. What no bishop can delegate to others is their essential function to preserve and pass on the deposit of faith. After all what was the point of the lists of Iraeneus and Hegesippus if not to demonstrate whose tradition was a part of that deposit of faith in addressing the theological questions of that time? And neither you nor Lampe have refuted the premise that the men named in these lists were not given the responsibility to preserve and transmit the deposit of faith passed down from the apostles.

And if you are going to start quoting modern Catholic scholars to attack my view, don't waste your time as they too use a modern definition of bishop rather than a theological one. Their theological opinions suffer from the same mishmashing of history and religion that Lampe suffers from. In debating with opponents of apostolic succession, they blinker themselves by using the same erroneous definition. An appeal to authority does not become any less fallacious because of the number of authorities cited; rather what you would need to do is show that all of these authorities use a proper definition of episcopacy that actually considers what the essential purpose of apostolic succession is before using such argumentation to attack the dogma. Nothing I have read from Lampe or you or your associates come close.

Many regards and blessings to your and yours!