Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Open Forum - 29 July 2009

This is an open forum. The rules are:

1) No blasphemy or profanity;
2) Nothing illegal or threatening; and
3) No promises of any kind from the blog owner.

19 comments:

  1. What? No criticism? Well that's something to criticize!

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  2. Hi TF,

    I have just moments ago posted a short reply to your 08/12/09 thread, "Aquinas on Sola Scriptura.

    Looking forward to your thoughts...


    Grace and peace,

    David

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  3. David,

    I'm wondering whether you think that the Reformed churches believe that the universal church can err (on articles of faith, which is the context for Aquinas' comment)?

    -TurretinFan

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  4. Alex wrote: "You keep making the groundless claim that about Aquinas and sola scriptura, but you avoid my quotes of Aquinas proving otherwise. Why?"

    a) My claim is that Aquinas is closer to the Reformed churches than to Rome on this issue, not that Aquinas is lock-step with the Reformed churches.

    b) See my comment to David above.

    -TurretinFan

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  5. Alphonsus wrote: "You know, Aquinas' opinion on any given matter is not automatically Catholic Dogma. Why not cite something more authoritative (e.g. the universal catechism)? There's no point in attacking stawmen... "

    Yes, everyone knows that Aquinas' opinion is not necessarily either what Rome teaches or "Dogma." Furthermore, as you can see at my main blog, I've provided more sources now - and I have a few more on standby, in case they should be needed.

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  6. Lucian wrote: "But that's not what SOLA Scriptura means."

    A very perceptive observation that is rendered irrelevant by the qualifications set forth in the article.

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  7. John wrote: "I don't see a single thing here about sola scriptura, so I'm puzzled. If you want to expound on which quote you think best makes your point, I'd be interested to see that."

    I think this is more or less the same point as Lucian's comment above. But to expound briefly, one of the key aspects of Sola Scriptura is the primacy of Scripture. Aquinas acknowledges the primacy not only by giving Scripture ultimate authority but by arguing that councils are simply excerpting Scripture when stating articles of faith.

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  8. On the woman of Revelation 12, Lucian wrote: "And the reason it is about the Church is because it is about Mary. The Church didn't give birth [proper] to Christ, Mary did. But by baptism we're all born anew from the Holy Ghost, bearing the Christ-child within the filthy stables of our very own hearts, as it were. Therefore, Mary becomes a type of the Church (both being our mothers). Therefore, the day-to-day implementation of that passage is about how Mary's motherhood reflects that of the Church (that of ours)."

    This is an interesting comment, but it doesn't seem to be any particular argument for anything. It's mostly off-topic where it was posted, but is perhaps worthy of being read here by those who might wish to turn it into an argument against my post.

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  9. Hi TF,

    Thanks for responding. You asked:

    >>I'm wondering whether you think that the Reformed churches believe that the universal church can err (on articles of faith, which is the context for Aquinas' comment)? >>

    A somewhat difficult question to answer, for though all confessional Reformed churches (at least to my knowledge) believe that the Reformed creeds teach Scriptural truth(s), they at the same time deny that such creeds are infallible. As I have said before, such creeds FUNCTION as though they are infallible, even though infallibility is denied.

    Your thoughts?


    Grace and peace,

    David

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  10. That's not quite the question I asked. The Reformed churches do view the confessions as a norm -- but as a normed norm, whereas Scripture is the unnormed norm. But that is not really the question, since Reformed churches don't view the confessions as statements of the universal church (as such). As well, almost no Reformed church views the confessions as equivalent to articles of faith (in the sense Aquinas uses that term). Thus, most of the Reformed churches do not require assent to the confession by members and do not require absolute adherence to the confession even by ministers.

    That's not really the question I posed though. The question I posed is whether you thought that the Reformed churches believe that the universal church can err on articles of faith?

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  11. I had written: "there is no positive example of God authorizing or permitting any image of himself"

    John responded: "Yes there is. Heb 1:3"

    The expression "the express image of his person" has nothing to do with representational likenesses.

    Matthew explains: "The person of the Son is the true image and character of the person of the Father; being of the same nature, he must bear the same image and likeness. In beholding the power, wisdom, and goodness, of the Lord Jesus Christ, we behold the power, wisdom, and goodness, of the Father; for he hath the nature and perfections of God in him."

    Similarly, Gill explains: "this intends much the same as the other phrase; namely, equality and sameness of nature, and distinction of persons; for if the Father is God, Christ must be so too; and if he is a person, his Son must be so likewise, or he cannot be the express image and character of him"

    A similar expression is used in Colossians 1:15: "[Christ] is the image of the invisible God ... ." If you had noticed that one first, you might have avoided this comment regarding Hebrews 1:3 from the absurdity of imagining a visual similitude of something invisible.

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  12. Hi TF,

    Once again, thanks for responding…you wrote:

    >>That's not really the question I posed though. The question I posed is whether you thought that the Reformed churches believe that the universal church can err on articles of faith?>>

    Since you seem to reject the qualifications of my previous post, I am at a bit of a loss as to whether the question you posed should be answered in the affirmative or the negative—I have personally never been asked this question with your qualifications.

    I do not want to deflect my answer, but given what you said in your last post I must ask a couple of questions before I can attempt to respond: first, what is your definition of “the universal church”; and second what do you think constitutes the “articles of faith”.


    Grace and peace,

    David

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  13. Anonymous wrote: "The Woman Of Revelation 12 is indeed a Woman. See Prophecies.org for the full account of the extraordinary events of Revelation 12!"

    I answer: I don't see any particular value in the prophecies.org website, and I don't normally permit this kind of near spam in the comment boxes of my main blog.

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  14. "Since you seem to reject the qualifications of my previous post, I am at a bit of a loss as to whether the question you posed should be answered in the affirmative or the negative—I have personally never been asked this question with your qualifications."

    Well then, I am glad to be the first to ask.

    "I do not want to deflect my answer, but given what you said in your last post I must ask a couple of questions before I can attempt to respond: first, what is your definition of “the universal church”; and second what do you think constitutes the “articles of faith”."

    Well, generally, as I pointed out in my debate with Mr. Bellisario (see Aff. Q. 1) we, like the Early Church, define the universal church by faith.

    I can't recall seeing an explicit definition of this in Aquinas, and Aquinas does seem to focus on the centrality of faith as opposed to the more modern Roman view of the definition being communion with the dominant Roman bishop.

    Articles of faith are essential Christian doctrines.

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  15. Lucian wrote: "Uhm... Aquinas didn't believe in Sola Scriptura. So, the fact that You interpret his words wrongly does not do You any favor, because You'll only loose credence when You'll try to distort the words of the Fathers as supposedly teaching or believing in the same. :-)

    Seriously, man, call it quits! :-\ "

    I think, Lucian, that you have missed what I was saying that Aquinas taught. What he taught was somewhere between what we teach and what Rome teaches today - but it was much closer to our position.

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  16. Lucian wrote: "Mary is a type of the Church: she gave birth to Christ by the Holy Spirit; the Church gives new birth to Christians also by water and the Spirit. Herod tried to take the Babe's life; so did the other (Roman) emperors to the children of the Church, the Christians. Etc.

    It's not an either-or, it's a both-and. (You Westerners and Your age-long scholastic obsession with the dialectic of opposition!). :-) "

    Show me where Scripture makes Mary a type of the Church. That's the standard that the Antiochan bishops would have held you to - and they were not "Westerners" by any stretch of the imagination.

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  17. Anonymous wrote: "Let me "bottom-line" the debate on Sola Scriptura..."

    ok

    Anonymous again: "1. Aquinas was a theologian - and as great as he was - he was not infalliable. The R.C. Chruch is infalliable."

    That's a very lofty claim. If it were true, it would be a very significant issue. That it is not true is also very significant.

    "2. The issue of Sola Scriptura had not really been an issue before Protestantism, thus there wasn't a real need to fully explore it. Protestanism brought many fallacious theories to the forefront, and thus they were fully proven as such at that time."

    a) Sola Scriptura was (at least in general) the position of the early church fathers. There was a gradual development away from that - leading to significant corruption in the mainstream churches of the middle ages.

    b) One of the reason for the Reformation's success is that the Reformation's positions were victorious in the debating halls and so forth.

    "3. If Sola Scriptura is true, then why are there several thousand Protestants denominations/sub-denominations/sects/sub-sects? Why are there even two? Give any 2 Protestant preachers any 5 chapters in the New Testement, and you will wind up with 2 partially conflicted/contradictary interpretations."

    The reason is because private judgment is inevitable and inescapable.

    "4. O.K. - you win - you're right....Sola Scriptura is correct. So just please tell me which Protestant church I should follow - i.e. which church has it exactly right."

    What makes you think that any church has it exactly right?

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  18. Gabe Martini commented as follows:

    Since you asked (and despite the fact that you're presupposing a Protestant view of ideas like "Bible" and "canon"), I'll bite:

    The Orthodox Canon is simple.

    The OT canon is the LXX. There was no further dogmatic assertion necessary on this, but there were discussions and variations on which books specifically were to be read in the Liturgy. While the LXX in its entirety is "Divine Scripture," (St John of Damascus cites Wisdom of Solomon, for example, calling it "divine scripture") not all the books are on the same level of importance or necessary for the establishment of doctrine. Thus, the term "deuterocanonical." The Orthodox also apply this to the NT writings, as the Holy Gospels are held to be of greater importance than the Epistles.

    The NT canon is the same as that found in Carthage (the AD 419 one), for example, but there are many other councils that enumerated this at various times.

    The emphasis, again, in Orthodoxy is not a book called the Bible but what letters of the Apostles should be read in the Liturgy, for example. Ultimately, the Quinisext Council of Trullo in the 7th century in its second canon confirms the decisions of the previous Ecumenical Synods along with some of the local ones including Carthage that spelled out a NT canon for liturgical use.

    Hope that helps!

    P.S. St John of Damascus does mention the unwritten traditions of the Apostles in several places in his works, and their importance for establishing both doctrine and order in the Church. There's no contradiction between his high view of Scripture and a belief in the oral traditions of the Apostles preserved by the Church by the Holy Spirit (St John 14:26).

    Take care,
    GVM

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  19. A few rejoinders.

    i) I suggested asking an Orthodox scholar, not just anyone who has recently converted. No offense is intended, but a neophyte's opinion is not the same as that of a serious scholar.

    ii) Saying "The OT canon is the LXX" betrays a lack of familiarity with the LXX versions that exist. Typically Eastern Orthodox churches accept, for example, 1-3 Maccabees, but not 4th Maccabees. Another open question is acceptance (or not) of the Psalms of Solomon.

    iii) John of Damascus plainly relegates Wisdom and Sirach to a lower level (he doesn't even bother to mention Tobit, Judith, etc.).

    iv) In practice, most (if not all) EO churches seem to recognize the 27 book NT canon (despite J of D's broader acceptance).

    v) Which canon of the Quinisextet council was that again?

    I mean, I remember canon 19: "We declare that the deans of churches., on every day, but more especially on Sundays, must teach all the Clergy and the laity words of truth out of the Holy Bible, analyzing the meanings and judgments of the truth, and not deviating from the definitions already laid down, or the teaching derived from the God-bearing Fathers; but also, if the discourse be one concerning a passage of Scripture, not to interpret it otherwise than as the luminaries and teachers of the Church in their own written works have presented it; and let them rather content themselves with these discourses than attempt to produce discourses of their own, lest, at times, being resourceless, they overstep the bounds of propriety. For by means of the teaching afforded by the aforesaid Fathers, the laity, being apprised of the important and preferred things, and of the disadvantageous and rejectable, are enabled to adjust their lives for the better, and do not become a prey to the ailment of ignorance, but, by paying due attention to what is taught, they sharpen their wits so as to avoid suffering wrongly, and for fear of impending punishments they work out their own salvation."

    I'm also familiar with canon 64 of that council: " That a layman must not publicly make a speech or teach, thus investing himself with the dignity of a teacher, but, instead, must submit to the ordinance handed down by the Lord, and to open his ear wide to them who have received the grace of teaching ability, and to be taught by them the divine facts thoroughly. ..."

    And 68: "As regards the fact that it is not permissible for anyone to destroy, or to cut up, or to turn over to book stores or to so-called druggists, or anyone else whatsoever for destruction any of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, or of our holy and eminent Preachers and Teachers, unless it be completely useless because of having been damaged by bookworms or water or in some other way. Anyone caught doing such a thing from now on, let him be excommunicated for a year. Likewise anyone buying such books, unless he keeps them for his own use and benefit, nor should he give them away to others to keep, but who attempts to destroy them, let him be excommunicated."

    But I don't recall any canon that endorses the list of any of the North African councils.

    More to the point, as the 69th canon of that council suggests and as you see in the liturgy, the Bible is treated (today) as a book - it is kissed, handled with reverence, although (sadly) not all of its teachings are followed.

    vi) I recall John of Damascus mentioning the value of tradition for certain practices - but not for doctrine. I'd welcome your comments if you think he suggested that doctrine should be taken without reference to Scripture.

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