Thursday, May 8, 2014

Confusing, or did I miss something ???


Yesterday, I received in the mail Chalcedon's magazine, Faith For All of Life (May/June 2014). The first article was "From the President", Mark R. Rushdoony, with the title: "Defenders of the Faith" (pp. 2,3, 25). This opening article is essentially a defense of "ecumenical" creeds and councils of "the first seven centuries of the church". The article begins with the following:

In its rejection of the Roman Catholic Church, modern Protestantism has sometimes erred by steering to the opposite extreme of an anarchistic repudiation of all the church accomplished before the Reformation...

There is a modern hostility to councils and creeds. Many wrongly suspect the creeds of Christendom came out of the ecclesiastical equivalent of the political "smoke-filled room," where a tiny cabal of churchmen decided to mold Christianity to their own preference...

The councils and creeds of the church were a very practical response to the need to clarify doctrines that were being challenged...

The focus of the controversies for the first seven centuries of the church was the incarnation of Christ. The reason this was a source of controversy was that in order to "fit" prevailing thought into Scripture, the Biblical teachings on the incarnation and the doctrine of the Trinity had to be rewritten.

This changed the gospel, of course, and was resisted. Far from an attempt to mold Christianity, the councils and creeds were a defense of what was often called the "apostolic tradition," by which was meant Biblical faith as understood and taught by the apostles.  (Page 2)

Aside from the somewhat annoying use of capitals when using the terms "Biblical" and "Scripture" while neglecting to do so for the term "church" (except with reference to the RCC), and an incorrect/narrow understanding of what "apostolic tradition" entailed in the early Church, we have a solid affirmation of the ecumenical creeds and councils of "the first seven centuries of the church". Though not stated, I would argue that this affirmation implicitly points to the work of the Holy Spirit in those ecumenical creeds and councils.

Mr. Rushdoony then goes on to contrast what he believes to be the most important distinction between the 'true' faith of Christianity with that of Greek philosophy: "the Creator-creature distinction" vs. "a continuity of being, where all being was seen as one, so that the difference between men and gods was only one of degree, not substance." (Pages 2,3)

Now, "a continuity of being, where all being was seen as one", is a description of monism. But, in the very next sentance, Mr. Rushdoony writes:

The Greek thought which dominated was dualistic. It held to at least two metaphysical realms, material and spirit.

This is quite confusing to me on two important points: first, most Christians embrace, "two metaphysical realms, material and spirit." And second, if Greek thought is predominately "dualistic", then how can it also be seen as, "a continuity of being, where all being was seen as one" ??? What am I missing here...

I would also like to mention that Mr. Rushdoony seems to be ignorant of the fact that the Bible and early Church Fathers held to a doctrine termed deification. This fact/issue further complicates stark metaphysical distinction that he attempts to affirm in his article. [See the threads at AF which delve into this doctrine, especially the last two: LINK.]

So in ending, I would like to ask yet once again: what have I missed ???


Grace and peace,

David

10 comments:

Rory said...

Dave,

I see your point.

Maybe the apple fell too far from the tree?

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

OK, you got me...could you clarify your analogy ???


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. The old guys with the Spurs are spanking the Blazers !!!

Rory said...

If somebody wants to compliment the qualities of a child that seems inherited from a parent, it is sometimes said that "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

Like you, I was a little puzzled at what young Rushdoony was speaking about. I was snidely suggesting that perhaps he did not inherit his father's gift of clear thinking.

David Waltz said...

Hello again Rory,

Thanks for the clarification. Though I am familiar with the 'traditional' "apple not falling far from the tree" analogy, I did not know if you were referring to his physical father or his spiritual father, John Calvin.

Though I would agree with you that the son here is not as bright as either of the two, I would also argue that his apparent confusion is actually inherent in both of his fathers too.


Grace and peace,

David

Drake Shelton said...

David, I think by dualistic, he is confusing the term opposition. The distinction made between spirit and matter is there in Monism, but that is where the degree issue comes in. Matter is lower on the chain of being while the one is pure nature. Maybe he used the wrong word, dualism,when he should have said opposition.

David Waltz said...

Hi Drake,

Thanks much for dropping by, and taking the time to comment. With that said, I am not quite sure exactly what you mean by "opposition"; not familiar with this term in a metaphysical sense. If you stop back by again, could you clarify ?

FYI—I found the following article/entry to be very helpful:

Monism



Grace and peace,

David

Rory said...

Dave...delete this when you see it. I got your message just now from last Sunday. We have been out of town. Just got back. Company tomorrow. Working Memorial Day. I'm reading a real interesting book.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Arab_Peoples

I didn't realize the author was British born until just now. hmmm. The early part gives a picture of how Islam fragmented and unified as well. The later part is more interesting politically because you see events that you are familiar with from a western viewpoint, from a different angle. The Muslims being pushed out of "Andalusia" (Spain). Napoleon in Egypt. The Russian threat as the Turks saw it. Anyway, a good airplane read. Knocked out about half the book.

I'll talk to you soon.

God bless,

Rory

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

I don't have that book, nor have I read it. Checked out the preview at Google Books, and it looks like a good one.

I do have one of the books that was recommended at the site you linked to:

History of the Arabs by Philip K. Hitti

Though an older work, it is considered by many to the one of the best in this genre.

Looking forward to your call...


Grace and peace,

David

Rory said...

Wow.

The Spurs. That block on Westbrook by Leonard. Lis was watching with me.

I don't think she should have known about him this well but she said she thinks that Tim Duncan's humility rivals that of the Roman pope? Wow again!!! (Trying to keep it religious.)

Malcolm Kirk said...

David,

The key to his position is that the decisions / decrees of the first seven councils were agreed to by both East and West. Thus Rushdoony and many in the Reformed camp consider them "true" ecumenical councils.

There are several interesting problems with this. (1) Luther and others have rejected the idea that most of the members of these councils were even Christians, due to their various "aberrant" teachings and traditions. (2) As a result, they also generally tend to reject Eastern Orthodoxy as truly Christian, or at best consider it so severely tainted as to negate the preaching and power of the gospel. (3) Reformed churches are historically iconoclast, reflecting Calvin's own position. Yet Nicaea 2 restored the veneration of icons, and condemned iconoclasm.