Thursday, December 31, 2009
My apologies for not posting this notification before now. It was unintentional but broke our agreed-upon rules.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
This one, fortunately, incorporates a lot of material from Meyer's very good book Signature in the Cell as well as discussions of what seems to this layman to be fairly cutting-edge research. Meyer also pwns Shermer's blind "God-of-the-gaps" canard in real time, which was fun, especially since Shermer went on a few minutes later to spew out a steaming pile of Darwinism-of-the-gaps.
Anyway, the audience Q&A was refreshing b/c the moderator had audience members write down their questions and send them up front during the intermission, and the mod read them. This is the best way to go about things, even though the mod misread and thus fundamentally neutered the question I sent to Mitch Pacwa a couple of years ago.
I was very happy to hear that an audience member asked Michael Shermer what amounts to a variant of the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (see more simplified version here, courtesy of a friend of mine) (or listen to the lecture or see some lecture outline notes) around the 1 hr, 39 minute mark.
Moderator: Do you believe that reason is an emergent property of molecules and if so, why should we trust anything you say?
Shermer and others laugh.
Shermer: Well, first of all you shouldn't. The first principle of skepticism is be skeptical of the skeptics. Um, so obviously, but I think there's something deeper in the question on - to what extent should we trust some kind of inductive process practiced by science or reason or logic or something like that?
Well, um, as opposed to what? As I started off saying, there's only 2 explanations; there's the scientific one based on reason and logic and evidence, and then there's everything else. And the one that works the best just pragmatically is science. You want to get a spacecraft to Mars, you use astronomy, not astrology. Just b/c it works is the best answer to that question.
That's the best that this nationally-recognised author, speaker, and debater, the editor of Skeptic magazine, can muster? A string of begged questions and "um, duh" assertions? Now, I don't mean to set the standard unreasonably high here - that's all PZ Myers could come up with as well.
I'd set the over/under for the wager "number of seconds has Michael Shermer spent pondering a very challenging argument put forward by well-known and widely-published professional philosophy professor Alvin Plantinga with respect to Shermer's own worldview and indeed his very livelihood?" at 3. Pitiful performance.
Monday, December 21, 2009
In chronological order, with highlights pasted here:
From TurretinFan -
Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 2 of 13)
The Nestorian error is (to put it concisely) to deny the hypostatic union. Nestorianism, as it is classically defined, argues that Christ was not one person with two natures, but two persons. The existence of the hypostatic union is critical to the Calvinistic view of the atonement...The fact that the person of Christ had a truly human nature made the atoning death of Christ possible, as well as making the form of the sacrifice (death of man) a proper suffering of the penalty due. Without one or the other, the atonement would be impossible. Consequently, it would be impossible for a consistent Calvinist to embrace Nestorianism.
In the years since "theotokos" became accepted terminology, Mary grew to have an increasing role in the worship of Rome, until today we have apologists for Catholicism insisting that devotion to Mary is a mandatory part of religious life. Now, an official document from the Vatican from the 1970's states: "With his mind raised to heaven ... the priest should very often turn to Mary, the Mother of God, ... and daily ask her for the grace of conforming himself to her Son." (source) If Nestorius were still around today, he'd feel vindicated in opposing the term "theotokos" on the ground that it can lead to what amounts to Mary-worship... (last link added)
Further Response to Dyer
...it does not appear, on the historical record that we have before us, that Cyril accurately represented Nestorius in his characterization's of Nestorius' views. I'm not sure why Dyer is so set on defending Cyril on this point. Why not just admit that Cyril was fallible, and may have misunderstood Nestorius for a variety of reasons?
From Vox Veritatis -
If Mary is the Mother of God...
...saying that Mary is the mother of Christ, rather than the mother of God, does not make one Nestorian, but rather saves one from an absurd logical conclusion.(Thus reflecting my words here: She bore the HUMAN Jesus, Who was God and man. Jesus was her Creator. She bore His humanity... It is more correct to say The Person who came from her is man. And it is MOST correct to say The Person who came from her is the God-man.)
1. Mary is the mother of God.
2. God is the Trinity.
3. Therefore, Mary is the mother of the Trinity.
This is absurd, but it gets worse.
4. Both the Father and the Holy Spirit subsist within the Trinity.
5. Therefore, Mary is the mother of both the Father and the Holy Spirit.
This is patently absurd. On the other hand, it is accurate (and logical) to say that Mary was the mother of the incarnate second person of the Trinity. That is, to say that Mary is the mother of Christ. Such an assertion maintains the unity of Christ's natures in one person, without the logical absurdities of saying that Mary was the mother of God. Thus, it is logically coherent, and not Nestorian (in the Christological sense)...
...Jesus and God are not logically identical. God is a trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and thus to identify Jesus as God, in the second sense, is to assert a modalistic view of the Trinity (since Jesus, encompassing the meaning of "God," must also encompass the Father and Holy Spirit, in which case the most logical explanation is that there is only one person who manifests himself in three different ways). Unless one wants to assert modalism, one cannot say that "Jesus is God, Mary is the mother of Jesus, therefore Mary is the mother of God."
And again from TurretinFan -
David's Relationship to God
The only argument for the expression is that Jesus is God, Jesus is the Son of Mary, therefore Mary is the mother of God. But Jesus is also the Son of David. Any takers for calling David "the Father of God" or the "Ancestor of God"?
Finally, this fine post from Vox Veritatis deserves to be read in its entirety.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Our friends in Rome like to point out that Jesus prayed in His "high priestly prayer" at the Last Supper that His followers would be in "complete unity", that they would "all...be one, Father..." So, they ask, why aren't Sola Scripturists joined together in perfect unity, as one institution, the Church? Did Jesus' prayer fail? Don't you Calvinists always say that God's will is always performed successfully?
We respond (for example, here, said far better than I ever could) that the unity Christ prayed for was not organisational or institutional in nature, but rather spiritual, as God builds together the Body of Christ into spiritual union with Christ. Presumably, RCs and Eastern Orthodox do not accept this identification of the unity Christ prayed for, but rather insist that the unity is institutional and organisational in nature. Let us see whether their contention holds water.
1) It has been proven over and over again at the Beggars All blog alone that this claimed unity within Eastern Orthodoxy and Rome does not exist in reality.
2) Our opponents criticise the Calvinistic doctrine of God's preservation of His saints, once justified, as a violation of the free will of each person (not to mention other points of Calvinism, such as irresistible grace). Yet the very building of an institutional unity into a group of disparate and different people who have sinful tendencies, in order to bring an answer to the prayer of the Lord Jesus, would require "violation" of their free will. I mean, Protestants are creatures "blessed" with free will, and just look how organised they are, in their sin! (There are RCs who are more Augustinian and who are less; this would be an argument against the latter and against EO-dox.)
3) On that same topic, take a look at John 17:15 - "I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one."
Isn't it RC and EO dogma that God does not preserve His believers, but that they can in fact fall out of a state of grace? Didn't Jesus' prayer thus fail here (on RC and EO presuppositions)?
4) More pointedly, apparently the fact that we Sola Scripturists are not in communion with the RCC or the EOC is not an obstacle to our eventually landing in Heaven.
Whenever the Sacrament of Baptism is duly administered as Our Lord instituted it, and is received with the right dispositions, a person is truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ, and reborn to a sharing of the divine life, as the Apostle says: "You were buried together with Him in Baptism, and in Him also rose again-through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead".Or:
Baptism therefore establishes a sacramental bond of unity which links all who have been reborn by it. But of itself Baptism is only a beginning, an inauguration wholly directed toward the fullness of life in Christ. Baptism, therefore, envisages a complete profession of faith, complete incorporation in the system of salvation such as Christ willed it to be, and finally complete ingrafting in eucharistic communion.
Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord's Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory. Therefore the teaching concerning the Lord's Supper, the other sacraments, worship, the ministry of the Church, must be the subject of the dialogue.23. The daily Christian life of these brethren is nourished by their faith in Christ and strengthened by the grace of Baptism and by hearing the word of God. This shows itself in their private prayer, their meditation on the Bible, in their Christian family life, and in the worship of a community gathered together to praise God. (source, emph. mine)
For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ... Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (source, emph. mine)In short, we Sola Scripturists are, by virtue of RCC's ex cathedra statement, united with Christ and thus on our way to Heaven (unless we commit a mortal sin, of course, but our Sola Scriptura convictions, refusal to participate in transsubstantiated Eucharistic suppers, and failure to join RCC are obviously not mortal sins, else they wouldn't have talked about being united with Christ, etc).
And my EO debate counterpart believes I am not headed to Hell as well.
Now, since we are united with Christ but not in communion with institutional RCC or EOC, since Christ prayed that His disciples would be united with Him, and since the RC and EO claim that Christ's prayer for unity would certainly not fail to be granted, we can conclude that Christ's prayer has either not yet been granted or that the unity He had in mind was not institutional / organisational unity. Either of these conclusions declaws the original argument cited at the beginning of this post.
(Also see TurretinFan's recent dealing with this passage and similar topics.)
(Please leave any comments at the cross-post at Beggars All)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
John, anonymous Eastern Orthodox commenter who apparently sees fit to speak for Orthodoxy: That assumes that some random John Smith has equal spiritial and theological skills as the greatest minds in God's church which is led by the Holy Spirit. Quite an arrogant claim.
1) Assumes that God speaks sufficiently clearly.
2) And takes into acct the fact that we have responsibility assigned by Jesus to properly interp the word of God, and
3) to dismiss traditions of men that make void the word of God (Mark 7:1-10).
John: Of course you won't accept the me and my bible under a tree accusation, but you'll pull out this nonsense when I suggest you listen to greater saints.
Me: 1) Maybe b/c that's a false dilemma. Just maybe.
2) If Jesus told us it was indeed me and my Bible under a tree, then I'm sticking with Him. Deal with what Jesus said.
John: If Jesus said to worship pink unicorns, I guess you will stick with that too.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
What are they saying? Mostly that Sola Scriptura as a rule of faith is insufficient to bring about institutional, organisational unity to the church of Jesus Christ. And of course, Christ would obviously want His church to have institutional, organisational unity! Evidently, setting the Scripture alone up as the sole infallible final rule of faith for the church doesn't accomplish what it's supposed to. Ergo, Sola Scriptura is false.
I've created this crude and very maladroit drawing to illustrate.
Let's analyse, then, the alternatives of Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy.
Now, we of course like to accuse them of Sola Ecclesia; that is, we contend that their sole infallible final rule of faith is Whatever The Church® Says. But they don't like it when we say that, so let's be conciliatory and lay the contention aside. Their "real" rule of faith is Apostolic Tradition, which includes written and unwritten tradition from the apostles, both in Scripture and in other places such as the lived-out faith of the church, the liturgies, the writings of church fathers down through the years, etc.
Notice that, like the Scripture, this too forms a corpus with limits. The Da Vinci Code is not part of Apostolic Tradition. Neither is the Qur'an, nor is The Audacity of Hope (though, depending on which Roman or EO priest you ask, that last one might be close). We and others have contended many times, rightly, that the limits to the Roman and EO Canons of Scripture are not only poorly defined but actually non-existent. It is also indisputable that one's presupposition of an infallible interpreter (whether she be Rome or EOC) will govern which little-t traditions are actually accepted, promoted if you will, to Big-T Sacred Apostolic Tradition, thus forming the basis for Roman or Orthodox dogma, leaving the little-t traditions to rot by the wayside, relegated to "Well, he was just speaking as a private theologian" or "That was just his opinion" status.
But let's leave all of that aside and grant that there is one big and awe-inspiring God-given Verbum Dei corpus of Scripture and Tradition that is the proper rule of faith for the church of Jesus Christ.
The problem is obvious - Rome, sedevacantists, traditionalist Catholics, Pope Michael-ists, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and various other churches with incompatible teachings all appeal to this set and limited corpus of Scripture and Tradition. It would appear that the criticism against Sola Scriptura of multiple denominations applies to the Roman and EO rule of faith as well.
The Romanist or Orthodox might object: "But we're not in communion with those schismatics/heterodox/heretics!" Now, what if I were to reply, as a member of a Southern Baptist church, that, have no fear my non-Sola Scripturist friends, my church holds that everyone who's not a member of a Southern Baptist church is a schismatic/heterodox/heretic too? Would that make our Romanist or Orthodox friends feel better?
Or would that make them criticise us even more strongly: "See? You Sola Scripturists can't even hold communion with each other!"? Yep, my money's on that one, too. We're darned if we do and darned if we don't, but somehow if the Romanists or Orthodox don't hold communion with these other churches, that's just fine. Such special pleading is just...special.
So let me break this down as clearly as I can. "The Protestant Church" does not exist. Self-named "Protestant churches" vary so widely in doctrine and authority as to make points of comparison impossible to ascertain. If you want to compare unity and disunity, compare the adherences to the competing rules of faith. Or compare churches, like the Roman Church to the Southern Baptist Convention or the Pope Michael Catholic Church to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. What do we find, if we do this? How different from each other are the churches that hold to Scripture alone as rule of faith, and how different from each other are the churches that hold to "Sacred Apostolic Tradition" as rule of faith? Answer that and you'll know one reason why we consider all this talk about how Tradition and Magisterium make for superior church unity to be just that - talk.
(Please leave any comments at the cross-post at Beggars All)
Monday, December 14, 2009
-Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), pp.603-605.
(HT: Saint and Sinner)
For more detail, check out Excursus 2 in Dan McCartney's commentary on James.
(HT: Steve Hays)
Friday, December 11, 2009
How do you know that this is indeed the correct rule of faith?
(Word count: 53)
(Link to comment repository/peanut gallery)
3) That whoever says that our Lord Jesus Christ at the Mystic Supper had unleavened bread (made without yeast), like that of the Jews, and not leavened bread, that is to say, bread raised with yeast, let him depart far away from us and let him be anathema as one having Jewish views and those of Apollinarios and bringing dogmas of the Armenians into the Church, on which account let him be doubly anathema.Now that's bringing the pain. DOUBLE anathema for using unleavened bread for the Eucharist. Watch out. And a measly single anathema for those who won't hold to the Old Calendar. I guess that's not quite as big a deal...
7) That whoever does not follow the customs of the Church as the Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils decreed, and Holy Pascha, and the Menologion with which they did well in making it a law that we should follow it, and wishes to follow the newly-invented Paschalion and the New Menologion of the atheist astronomers of the Pope, and opposes all those things and wishes to overthrow and destroy the dogmas and customs of the Church which have been handed down by our fathers, let him suffer anathema and be put out of the Church of Christ and out of the Congregation of the Faithful.
Remember, this is not an argument FOR my position. I merely bring this up because our EO friends so...very...frequently say stuff like: "Yeah? Well, you Protestants have 45 gazillion denominations!!!!1 You must be wrong!" And yet when we examine Eastern Orthodoxy's unity, we find that -horror of horrors- their church is filled with sinful human beings too! And God hasn't miraculously restrained their sinful predilection for disunity either. Crazy how that works. I consider the argument absolutely stupid and wrongheaded; I bring up refutations of it only because they try to use it against my position. I'll stop when they do.
And before you ask, yes, I don't know about you, but I consider the webmaster of orthodoxinfo.com a more informed and trustworthy source on Eastern Orthodoxy than DavidW, Texan blogger in his 20s.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Here's a recent example from a YouTube comment:
Majorbakstor: And that utility is based on the resistance of death and suffering, increasing the chance of survival and well-being. Anything that goes against these standards is immoral because it goes against the moral standards that prehistoric human beings required in order to survive at ALL. I recommend you studying anthropology and philosophy before you go spouting off about morality.Operating from that presupposition, I briefly examine homosexuality. Homosexual relations lead to non-procreative relationships between humans. The species' chances of survival are reduced to the lifespan of that generation, and only that generation, as there will be no offspring. The human race ceases to exist, or at least suffers damage to its evolutionary competitive fitness, as there are fewer humans to be selected from and thus it requires fewer disasters, fewer diseases, less predation, etc, to bring about the end of humanity.
Thus homosexuality is morally wrong, given this naturalistic evolutionary framework.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Sounds to me like you're the one not taking sin seriously. Let me get this straight: so I can cheat on my wife, never share a dime with the poor, drink myself stupid, eat to my heart's content, and even murder that neighbor that plays his stupid music at top volume all day and night -- and, as long as I have faith -- I'm still saved? Tell me if I'm getting this right. (from DavidW)
Let's see if DavidW does indeed take sin as seriously as he should, as seriously as Jesus did.
Matthew 5:20 "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."
-cheat on my wife
Matthew 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
DavidW is a man. I'm not going out on a limb in hypothesising that he's done that a few times. Today.
-never share a dime with the poor
Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?"
How much is enough? Does DavidW give as much as he's supposed to? Does he always put his neighbor's needs before his own, "considering others better than himself" (Philippians 2:3)?
-drink myself stupid
I'm willing to give him a pass, on his word that he's unlike most of the other Eastern Orthodox I've met in my life on this count. But can he be sure that he's never given himself over to anything that unduly influences his senses, intellect, and judgment? Never unwisely or in an unholy manner wasted his time?
-eat to my heart's content
Has DavidW never eaten to his heart's content? Has he never thrown excess food out, when he could have been sure to follow Christ's command: "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13 “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (Luke 14:12-14)?
Has he never indulged in the delight of a Snickers or a Coca-Cola when that money could've gone to a much better purpose, like feeding hungry children in Africa or making sure all the EO priests in his state had enough funds to pay their bills? Not even once?
-even murder that neighbor
Matthew 5:21 "You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."
So how well is DavidW "considering others better than himself" in this regard? Is it not better to forgive and allow that noisy neighbor to enjoy himself than to be angry? Is DavidW 100% sure that his anger and irritation are 100% holy and justifiable before a holy God Who "will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus" (Rom 2:16)? "21 Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart" (Ps 44:21).
So the answer to DavidW's question is: Yes, IF you have faith. The point of the biblical teaching, esp. that of James and 1 John, is that one's faith is seen as true by one's actions, and such actions reveal an unregenerate character. But ultimately, we don't know whom God has saved for sure; only He knows. Some live their whole life in a holy manner AND have true faith. Some imitate the holy manner in some, or even many, ways, and DO NOT have true faith - Matt 7:21-23. Some pass thru times in their lives in which they disobey God badly, but are indeed God's elect and have true faith, like King David, the Apostle Peter, Gideon, Samson.
Of course, such a lifestyle SHOULD also cause the man to doubt his own salvation. But it's not like a man can have infallible knowledge of his own salvation either. And that's the other angle to this question that is less relevant at this time.
I told DavidW, and still maintain, that his position equates to his not taking sin seriously. I was trying to help him see that he's making it about works! He says on the one hand that works ARE faith, like "baptism is faith" and other such nonsense, and then turns back around and acts all shocked when I tell him that God saves sinners through Christ's perfect and finished sacrifice. His view makes those men I named not saved. It's biblically backwards, but humanly forwards. What we all need a biblical perspective, that's the problem, and the EO position is not alone among the smorgasbord of man-centered religion out there. EOdoxy just sounds more Christian.
Given DavidW's intense and unremitting guilt before God for his unjust, evil, and repeated, consistent(ly bad) actions, what amount of "doing better" will outweigh the many times he has broken and will break the holy commandments of God? Does baptism do it? How about giving more money to the poor? Saying an extra set of prayers every single night? Giving up football on Sundays so he can work in a soup kitchen for several hours? At what point do the scales tip in a man's favor?
No, rather, as Scripture explains:
Romans 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognise the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.To be read in conjunction with this post of mine. DavidW and other EOdox (not to mention RCC) would have us believe that their position represents "that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all", quoting Vincent de Lérins (a Western Christian, interestingly enough). So... what's the answer here?
From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (source, emphasis mine)
Was Clement wrong and just speaking as a private individual? Is it intellectually honest just to scrub this testimony out of your annals of Sacred Tradition? If it's OK to ignore any writing you want to, why can't I do that too and only cite as For Real Sacred Tradition anyone I want and claim that the Reformed faith is "that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all"?
Am I mischaracterising him? I only quoted him, you know.
Some other option?
(See here a lame attempt by a Romanist to explain this away that I encountered.)
Saturday, December 05, 2009
First off, yes, it is true that I do not ascribe infallibility to the EOC. Nor do I ascribe infallibility to the church of Jesus at any time in history. But DavidW is setting up a false dilemma, that either the church is infallible or it is worthless. What's wrong with a third option? - that the church was and continues to be used by God to accomplish His purposes, sometimes to reveal Himself, sometimes to reveal man's sinfulness, sometimes to imperfectly foreshadow the Eschaton, sometimes to reflect the glory of God, sometimes to show that while there is the 'already', there is also the 'not yet'. And on and on the examples could be multiplied innumerably.
I do believe that the church of God reliably and sufficiently came to a correct knowledge of the Canon of Scripture. This can be powerfully argued on the basis of the impossibility of the contrary, as I mentioned in my 1st rebuttal. The i.o.t.c. is a powerful internal argument not only for atheism but also for EOC, which is why I've mentioned "DavidW is not an atheist" in my rebuttals. He too is supposed to believe the Scripture is breathed out by God, and if he does not, then it is easy to prove that he has no basis for believing any of his position, not with any degree of consistency.
Thing is, this doesn't require the church's infallibility. Just God's.
It does require the movement of the Holy Spirit over the course of time, bearing subjective and yet powerful, individual and yet repeated, witness that book X is theopneustos and book Y isn't. Sometimes some people got it wrong, sure, but not in the majority, and over time God arranged that commonality of belief would come to be. Given that this took place over the course of decades and centuries in the early church, that the early church was scattered over even thousands of miles and there was no means of communication that did not require at least weeks of sometimes-dangerous travel, and that the early church was often undergoing severe persecution and suppression of written Christian materials, I count it a serious and powerful, though subtle, miracle on God's part that any consensus was ever reached at all. Further, I don't see why David would disagree with this.
The bottom line for this point is that, while the church of God is not infallible, God is, and God chose to use a fallible church filled with fallible people to accomplish an amazing work - revealing His Word to His people.
If one were inclined to argue, I commend you to the example of the way God revealed to His people of the Old Testament just what the content of His self-revelation was. Did the Jews have an infallible hierarchy, as Rome teaches? No. Were they infallible as a whole? No. Rather, we see over and over throughout the OT the remnant motif. God preserves a remnant in the midst of a usually ungodly generation. This remnant is the people God preserves through the storms of judgment wreaked on unbelieving Israel. They knew somehow what the delineation of the Canon of God's speech was, but without an "official council", without an infallible body to decide it, without even all that much moral or spiritual purity. They knew that when a true prophet spoke, one was obligated to listen. Think about it - even thousands of years after the time of the writing of most of the OT and hundreds of years after it was complete, did the enemies of Jesus ever dispute with Him over His quotations of the OT, even when He used those quotation to condemn them and convict them of sin? They had every reason to do so, because His arguments and Scripture citations flummoxed them! Since they had no answer, at minimum they could have called into question the canonicity this or that OT book Jesus cited, but they never did. Why? Because they were still the covenant people of God at the time, and God had given them the knowledge of the Canon.
Romans 3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? 4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,
“THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS,
AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.”
Were the Jews who in large part missed their Messiah and even insisted He be put to death, who were the subjects of a "partial hardening" (Rom 11:25) from God, infallible? And were they clueless about their Canon? The comparison of the OT account of God's covenant people with the NT covenant people defeats the Sola Ecclesia argument.
See also my discussion of Canon1 and Canon2 in my first rebuttal.
Second, let us redirect the charge back at DavidW. I mentioned in my opener that EOC has at best a vague and partial answer to the same question. To the Sola Scripturist, let us remember, the Scripture contains all the teachings that are of the highest authority. Thus the Canon of Scripture is the delineation of
||infallible, most-authoritative teaching||
||fallible, less-authoritative or not-particularly-authoritative teaching||.
To the Sola Ecclesia-ist like the EOdox, where is that well-defined limit? My Canon is in the Table of Contents of my Bible. Where's EOC's? The Bible, the Deutero-Canonical books (well, sorta), the 7 (or is it 9?) œcumenical councils, and of course living tradition, handed down from the apostles and lived out in the liturgy and song of EO people throughout time. "That which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all," as DavidW quoted Vincent de Lérins in his first cross-examination answer. It doesn't get any vaguer than that, friends.
The Sola Ecclesia-ist might make hay of the fact that we SS-ists don't claim our Canon is infallible, but at least we have one! Where is EOC's canon of infallible teachings, even a fallible one? Non-existent. Know why? With no well-defined grounds for corrective authority, the enemy has a much easier time taking a group of people off-course, and it doesn't have to happen all at once. No, detach people from their sure and solid moorings to God's infallible Word, and Satan can move them pretty much at will, and gradually, to embrace teachings "which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind" (Jeremiah 19:5 and others).
This is why I said in my opener:
For another, are there not other candidates for the status of The Church®, or the infallible interpreter, out there? Rome? The WatchTower? The Latter-Day Saints? David Koresh? How can we choose which infallible interpreter really represents The Church®, if Scripture is not sufficient for that task? After all, all would shape "Tradition" in the way that best serves each one, picking and choosing, ignoring this and emphasising that.I'm not sure DavidW understood my point here. Read little-t tradition and you'll quickly discover all sorts of things the EOC does not accept. EOC doesn't accept it; therefore it's not Sacred Apostolic Tradition, as I've said before. That's just the way it is - the Church Fathers and other early Christian writers didn't, on the whole, agree on much of anything besides monotheism. But that's ostensibly EOC's rule of faith, its foundation for authority! What to do? Simple - cull them for what agrees with your position, call it SAT and demote the rest (or neglect to promote the rest), leaving it at the little-t. My point is that ANYone can do that and have the exact same logical consistency and the exact same circularity of appeal to self. Point out to the JW that there's a teaching in the Bible that disproves their position? Simple, the infallible interpreter (the Watchtower) tells me to ignore it, so I ignore it. Show an EO that Basil or Athanasius pointed to Scripture as the final authority? Simple, the "living voice of The Church®" says that's not really what he meant, so ignore it. The well-attended council at Constantinople in 754 says that veneration of icons in worship is wrong? That's not SAT, because The Church® (ie, the faction within the church who won) said in 787 that what The Church® really believes is that icons are perfectly fine for worship. Like I said, this kind of facile handling of history can be done by ANYone whose first authority is not to history but to the infallible interpreter of today. And there's no way to prove them wrong, because the presupposition is already in place.
In short, I'm glad DavidW asked this question, but if our situations were reversed, I would've stayed far away from it.
(Word count: 1551)
(Link to comment repository)
Friday, December 04, 2009
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Pastor Stephen Kingsley's Easter Answer
Harmony of the Resurrection Accounts from Answering Islam
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Me: 2) DavidW, if we don't hold to the same Gospel, how is it that you've said that I'm not headed for Hell (if my current trajectory holds)? Did you change your mind on that, or is your Gospel not all that central to how one escapes damnation?
DavidW: I trust in the loving mercy of our good God and Father.
Me: God's loving mercy unto relief from damnation (ie, salvation) is granted outside of the Gospel?
DavidW: "With God all things are possible." - Matthew 19:26.
Me: You don't think quoting Matt 19:26 in reply to that question is just a tad out of context?
DavidW: I trust in the loving mercy of our God and Father, with whom all things are possible -- and I leave it at that.
Maybe it would be helpful if we could define "Gospel". I assume you'd agree that from its Greek root, it means "good news".
What is the good news offered? Isn't it that Jesus Christ has come to take away sin, forgive sin, and give eternal life? What could be better news than that? "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul?"
Why is that good news? Because we're sinners! What's the problem with that? Why does it matter that we're sinners? B/c God is angry with sin AND sinners, no?
Lk 3:7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness
Rom 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,
Rom 4:14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.
Rom 9:22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
Col 2: 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Col 3:5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.
1 John 5:11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
Rev 6:16they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Rev 14:10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
What is the remedy for this? Jesus Christ!
What does Jn 3:36 mean?
--If one believes in Christ --> eternal life.
--If one does not believe in Christ --> not eternal life. Wrath.
And you want to tell me that Matthew 19:26's "all things are possible with God" means "self-contradiction is possible with God"?
I guess since you're an errantist, you're free to do whatever you want in this case. Do you really think that Jesus forgot His discussion with Nicodemus when He said Matthew 19:26, or vice versa? Or maybe your grand inclusivity is wrongheaded and exhibits postmodern politically correct inclusivism? I expect that from someone like Billy Graham, not from a representative of "the ancient Church".
When I was considering conversion to EOC, this is one of the things that bothered me greatly - your theology doesn't make a very big deal out of sin. It's only gotten worse and more obvious in the years since I stopped considering it.