Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kepha’s recent scholar of choice weighs in on subordinationism in the pre-Nicene Church Fathers—will he listen?

In the comments section of the Tilting at Windmills? thread, Kepha wrote:

David, you ask if I realize that "all [development theories] have one or more representatives among the early Church Fathers, or if he is just unaware of this." I wonder if you realize that I don't take your personal contributions on the development of the trinity, or on the issue of development in general, as authoritative because I've not found any scholars supporting your assertions. So, it's not that I'm ignoring what you say. Honestly, I keep it in mind, but nothing more until I see scholarly authorities confirming your views. Obviously, as of right now, I don't. I am not trying to be disrespectful, I honestly am not. I'm just stating it like it is. Let me leave you with just one reason why I choose scholars over David Waltz:

David Waltz: "While reading Gregory Nazianzen’s 'Fifth Theological Oration – On The Holy Spirit', I noticed something I had previously overlooked: a theory of doctrinal development."

John Thiel: "Drey’s Brief Introduction was influenced in both organization and content by Schleiermacher’s 1811 Brief Presentation of the Study of Theology, in which one finds the first explicit theory of doctrinal development in the history of Christian theology” (Senses of Tradition, p. 61; emphasis mine).

The next morning, I responded to his musings, clearly demonstrating that I have scholarly support for my assessment of Gregory Nazianzen’s nascent theory of doctrinal development, and also for my “personal contributions on the development of the trinity”. To date, Kepha has not responded.

Now, I have brought up this issue anew for an important reason: the ‘discovery’ of yet another scholar who supports my position on the pre-Nicene Church Fathers—and perhaps most importantly it is from the very scholar that Kepha had invoked earlier—John Thiel. From Thiel’s book, Senses of Tradition, we read:

Study of pre-Nicene Christianity with regard to this most important item on the conciliar agenda shows that subordinationism not only was prevalent in the early Christian centuries but also possessed, by virtue of its prevalence, a normativeness that only gradual—first, in the third century and definitively in the fourth—came to be challenged by many as heterodox belief. One can turn for examples to the early apologist Justin Martyr, whose reliance on the Middle Platonism of his day led him to portray Christ as a "second God"; or Theophilus of Antioch, whose strongly Jewish Christianity avowed the creation of the logos by God; or Tertullian, who still spoke of the created generation of the Son from the Father even as he struggled to maintain the unity of the Father and Son and creaturely difference between the Son and the universe; or Origen of Alexandria, who maintained the uniqueness of the Father by affirming the creaturely status of all other existence, including the Son and the Spirit, albeit a creaturely existence eternally crated by the Father. In each case, christological subordinationism of one form or another seemed to be a tacit rule of faith, undoubtedly because such subordinationism preserved the transcendence of the Father and thus the crucial distinguish-ability of the Father and Son for any faith did not err on the side of modalism or Sabellianism. (Page 135 – bold emphasis mine.)

For my part, it is my sincere hope that Kepha revisits Articuli Fidei and carefully ponders Thiel’s reflections on the subordinationism of the pre-Nicene Church Fathers. Perhaps then, he will take the views of the previous patristic scholars I have cited a bit more seriously…

Grace and peace,



Anonymous said...

I don't that would help at all.

I mean, if you took a look at what he wrote here:

He is attempting to impose his interpretation onto the context of Thiel's work (which can be seen here).

In other words, he is forcing Thiel's words to mean something that Thiel not only actually wrote and meant but Kepha's interpretation is such that its twisted contours would, quite frankly, alarm Thiel himself.

That is, no matter how one might attempt to persuade him otherwise, the above example (and others like this) should serve to demonstrate that his bias and prejudice is so strikingly notorious that any rendering that would side for the Catholic Church's legitimate development of doctrine will only be met with sarcastic dismissal and continued ridicule, as he will continue with his egregiously warped interpretations regardless.

Anonymous said...

That should read:

In other words, he is forcing Thiel's words to mean something that Thiel did not actually write/mean where Kepha's interpretation of Thiel's work has such twisted contours that would, quite frankly, alarm Thiel himself.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I think that if Kepha has a present "scholar of choice" it is Professor Abraham, with whom he has met and whose book he is reading. Kepha quotes Thiel as a scholarly proponent of a notion of tradition and religious authority with which he himself disagrees. To speak crudely, Thiel belongs to the other side, and it is in an effort to understand what that other side can say for itself that Kepha is reading him.

In Christ,


Anonymous said...

Oh, David. For all your reading, you have no understanding. I will never even entertain the thought of embracing your version of Christianity, which I call "Liberal Orthodoxy." I do not even take it seriously, David. Blessings to you as you finish out your years.

Anonymous said...

David, that last sentence was very unChristian for me to write. I was frustrated at your hounding me. Nevertheless, I offer an apology. Blessings.

David Waltz said...

Hi John,

Seems my choice of words was/is a bit confusing; by “recent scholar of choice” I merely meant that he was reading Thiel (a scholar), and that he was quoting him as such. When Kepha invoked Thiel to criticize my, and J.N.D. Kelly’s, take on Gregory and DD, I thought he might give some credence to his view on the pre-Nicene Fathers.

God bless,


Anonymous said...


Which, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, means that David has made his point vis a vis scholars whom have presented ideas that support the ones he has so kindly outlined for us here...


David Waltz said...

Hi Kepha,

Thanks for responding to my musings. You wrote:

>> Oh, David. For all your reading, you have no understanding.>>

Me: To be brutally honest, this is becoming my take on so many of your recent posts. Guess we will have to agree to disagree with each other on this…

>>I will never even entertain the thought of embracing your version of Christianity, which I call "Liberal Orthodoxy.">>

Me: A very odd, dare I say, totally off-base, label for my position. From our interactions, I KNOW for a fact that I take a more ‘fundamentalist’ view of the Scriptures and Tradition than you do. How you can describe such a position as “Liberal” in ANY sense continues to baffle me.

>>I do not even take it seriously, David.>>

Me: This is why I sincerely worry about you Kepha. You take a very liberal approach to post-Nicene development, but then turn around and adopt a ‘static theory’ of development when it comes to the pre-Nicene Fathers. You brush aside with an all too apparent ease the tour de force of patristic scholars who support my position on the pre-Nicene Fathers, and sure seem to be ignoring what they actually wrote. Once again, your stance gives me grave concerns…

>>Blessings to you as you finish out your years.>>

Me: Thanks Kepha; I know in my heart that you do mean well.

God bless,


David Waltz said...


Thanks for the apology; and though I appreciate your concerns, it was not necessary, for I did not (nor now) consider your comments to be offensive. As for the “hounding”, I hope you realize that my sole purpose in these threads is to shed some light on my concerns about what I perceive to be serious ‘holes’ in your emerging paradigm; and I hope you know that I do not mean to offend you personally.

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Hello Cantor,

Forgive my memory (or lack thereof), but have we dialogued before?

Also, if you get a chance, could you email me:

Grace and peace,


The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

Hi there!

[Leaving subversive link and then leave before getting spotted].

Bye there!