Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Apostolic hermeneutic.

Well, the Olympic Games are over…back to the blog. Actually, I re-entered the blog-sphere earlier this week, and this thread will be an addendum of sorts to an ongoing dialogue between Steve Hayes and myself at Triablogue (specifically, to date, in three threads: FIRST; SECOND; and THIRD).

In the first thread, Steve opens with:

"In a typical exchange between a Catholic and a Protestant, a Catholic will say that we need a Magisterium to rescue us from the vicissitudes of private judgment—to which a Protestant will counter that a Catholic must apply his own private judgment to the interpretation of Magisterial statements."

In my first response, I directed Steve to my two recent threads on private judgment (neither of which he engages), and the debate was on. Rather than duplicate any sizable content from those three threads, I shall direct interested readers to go to the original threads for themselves.

During the ongoing dialogue, it became readily apparent that Steve embraces nuda sciptura, rather than sola scriptura. Steve maintains that one does not need any tradition when approaching the Scriptures, but rather, one only needs a "sound" hermeneutic—but what is a "sound" hermeneutic? Steve embraces the "the grammatico-historical method" and maintains that the clarity of true doctrine/s will emerge if one is armed with this hermeneutic. I then posed a question: was this the hermeneutic of Jesus and His apostles? His answer: the hermeneutic of Jesus and the His apostles is irrelevant. I kid you not…

Steve’s approach has been criticised by an Evangelcial scholar, who wrote:

Any contemporary investigation of apostolic hermeneutics that does not treat the NT in the context of its hermeneutical environment will at best tell only part of the story, and at worst misrepresent the issue. There is no question that this continues to raise certain doctrinal issues concerning the role of the Apostles in defining "proper hermeneutics," but these concerns cannot drive the discussion. The New Testament authors give us ample opportunity to observe their hermeneutical behavior, and it is upon these facts—the facts of Scripture understood in their historical context—that doctrine must ultimately be based, particularly if what one is after is the articulation of a doctrine of Scripture.

I would like to draw an analogy with grammatical–historical exegesis. Grammatical–historical exegesis insists that the interpretation of texts must begin with the words in front of us understood in the context in which these words were written. Even with the caveats that pure objectivity is an illusion and that the author’s intention is essentially unrecoverable (or better, recoverable only on the basis of the words in front of us, which places the modern interpreter in a hermeneutical circle), it is nevertheless a fundamental notion that meaning must be "anchored" some how in something beyond the mere will of the interpreter. Any writer (including this one) who wishes to be understood will have a deep-rooted sympathy for such a hermeneutical principle.

A problem arises, however, when we observe how the Apostles handled the OT. Despite protestations to the contrary, grammatical-historical hermeneutics does not account for the New Testament’s use of the Old. However self-evident grammatical-historical hermeneutics may be to us, and whatever very important contributions it has made and continues to make to the field of biblical studies, it must be stated clearly that the Apostles did not seem overly concerned to put this principle into practice. (Peter Enns, "APOSTOLIC HERMENEUTICS AND AN EVANGELICAL DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE: MOVING BEYOND A MODERNIST IMPASSE", Westminster Theological Journal, 63.3 – Fall 2003, p. 268.)

[Note: entire essay available online HERE.]

I am looking forward to my continuing dialogue with Steve, and hope interested readers will jump into the fray either here at Articuli Fidei, and/or over at Triablogue.

Grace and peace,


Friday, August 8, 2008

Two same day events.

Today marks the opening of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing, and the first anniversary of this blog. At 12:24pm on 08-08-07 I put up my first post. Since then, I have added another 44 threads; these 45 threads have receieved over 600 comments.

I would like to thank all who have participated. The level of dialogue has exceeded my expections; the charity exhibited has been outstanding, especially given the diversity of those posting; and I have had to impliment no moderation and/or editing of any of the comments. Once again, thanks to everyone.

I am looking forward to another year of blogging—the Lord willing. Hope to see your continued particaption here at Articuli Fidei !!!

Grace and peace,


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Some Early Church Fathers On Private Judgment

In my previous thread on PRIVATE JUDGMENT we looked at certain LIMITS that confessional churches have placed on the notion of “private judgment”. Our present thread will continue to explore the concept of “private judgment”, this occasion via a few reflections from the early Church Fathers.

…Valtentinians and Basilidians and Saturnillians; each introduced/brought in privately and seperately its own/private opinion (ekastos idiōs kai etepoiōs idian doxan pareisēgagosan), and from them came false Christs and false prophets and false apostles who destroyed the unity of the Church by their poisonous doctrine against God and against his Christ. (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, IV.22 – Greek from the Loeb Classical Library, Eusebius Ecclesiastical History, 1.376 – English trans. mine.)

But since they allege the divine oracles and force on them a misinterpretation, according to their private [ton idion] sense [noun – mind/understanding], it becomes necessary to meet them just so far as to vindicate these passages, and to shew that they bear an orthodox sense, and that our opponents are in error. (Athanasius, Discourses Against the Arians, I.XI.37 – NPNF 4. 327.)

For being forced from the conceptions or rather misconceptions of their own hearts, they fall back upon passages of divine Scripture, and here too from want of understanding, according to their wont, they discern not their meaning; but laying down their own [tēn idian - private] irreligion as a sort of canon [kanona - rule] of interpretation, they wrest the whole of the divine oracles into accordance with it…(Athanasius, Discourses Against the Arians, I.XII.52 – NPNF 4. 337.)

These passages they brought forward at every turn, mistaking their sense, under the idea that they proved that the Word of God was a creature and work and one of things originate; and thus they deceive the thoughtless, making the language of Scripture their pretense, but instead of the true sense sowing upon it the poison of their own [ton idion - private] heresy. (Athanasius, Discourses Against the Arians, I.XIII.53 – NPNF 4. 337.)

However here too they introduce their private [idiais] fictions, and contend that the Son and the Father are not in such wise ‘one,’ or ‘like,’ as the Church preaches, but, as they themselves would have it. (Athanasius, Discourses Against the Arians, III.XXV.10 – NPNF 4. 399.)

But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church’s interpretation? For this reason, — because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation. (Vincent of Lerins, A Commonitory, II.5 – NPNF 11.132.)

Grace and peace,


Friday, August 1, 2008

A Shocking Autobiography.

Upon the completion of my daily consigned readings (I am currently rereading Henri de Lubac’s, The Christian Faith), I thought I would catch up on my internet readings. While at James White’s AOMIN blog, I clicked on the 07-31-08 Dividing Line video broadcast. Not long into the broadcast, James pokes fun at a recently posted YouTube video that was reposted on Steve Ray’s and Dave Armsrtrong’s blogs. (FYI - The original posting on YouTube HERE.)

As I have now grown accustomed to, James did not provide any links to the original piece that provoked his somewhat whimsical critique; so, I enlisted Google and up came this SITE. The Google search brought the CELLEDOOR BIBLE blog to my attention for the first time. My ‘standard operating procedure’ for new sites is to try and obtain an overall ‘feel’ for the site, and while browsing through some of the other threads I came across THIS DISTURBING POST.

I WAS LITERALLY SHOCKED! Patty Bonds’ (James White’s older sister) ongoing autobiography via her Out of Darkness series is a heart-breaking one; yet thanks to God’s grace, there is healing and light. Patty shall be in my prayers, and I would like to request that she will be in yours as well…

Grace and peace,