A Word From Dr. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

This post is all Dr. Gaffin, not me. He has graciously allowed me to post this on my website. Comments are enabled. Note, however, that Dr. Gaffin is not in a position to interact with comments. Therefore, comments should not be directed to him, but to the substance of the post.

Observations on a Controversy

The publication in mid-2005 of Inspiration and Incarnation by Dr. Enns left me in a difficult position. The second paragraph of its Preface (p. 9), fairly read, leaves the impression that, though not necessarily fully endorsing its content, Westminster Seminary as an institution and his colleagues are supportive of the book’s publication. For me, for one, that was not the case. My initial reading soon after it appeared left me with substantial reservations about much of its content as well as its rhetorical strategy, and also with considerable misgivings about its publication. Subsequent re-reading and discussions have not alleviated but reinforced these concerns.

An aspect of my difficulty stemmed from the fact that the book soon became the object of discussion in many quarters as well as of a number of published and online reviews. The most substantial of these make searching and serious criticisms, criticisms that in large part I share. At the same time, however, I have not been in a position to express my problems with the book openly, because of a commitment, as a colleague of Dr. Enns, to confine myself to a process of closed discussion within the faculty and board. This process was one that I not only felt bound by but also wanted to support, with the hope that the outcome might be a satisfactory resolution of the division in our midst concerning his views and their compatibility with Scripture and the Westminster Standards, especially, in the case of the latter, chapter 1 (on Scripture) of the Confession of Faith. Regrettably, these internal discussions did not result in a viable resolution.

At a special meeting on March 26 of this year the seminary’s board decided to make public its action at that meeting and also to make certain key documents available to our students in hard copy and to others on the seminary’s website (the HTFC précis of its Response to I&I as well as the HFC précis of its Reply, initially omitted inadvertently, are now also available on the website). With that decision the situation is now changed and I am free to express myself publicly.

A couple of things should be kept in mind in reading this document. First, it does not provide a full or self-contained discussion of all my concerns. Rather, along with a couple of new items, it is a composite of various items previously sent to the faculty and/or the board during the course of discussions over the past two years, made available here with some editing. Also, like the “official” documents now made public, they originated in the context of discussions not accessible to the reader. Despite the definite disadvantage this entails, I nonetheless offer them here with the hope that, read along with other materials now available, they will provide a somewhat fuller perception of the issues raised by this controversy, about which, in my view, there is considerable confusion and misconception abroad, within the seminary community as well as beyond.

A particular concern I have in this document is to make clear, especially to students, past and present, whom I can now address openly, major concerns I have with I&I and why I, for one, believe it necessary for me to have voted against the “Edgar-Kelly” motion, adopted by the faculty in support of the views of Dr. Enns.

“I have not shirked the difficult questions.” These words under the portrait of original faculty OT professor, Robert Dick Wilson, which hangs in Machen Hall in what was at one time the faculty dining room, have marked the institutional outlook of WTS from its beginning. They ought to be a watchword for everyone and every institution that takes studying the Bible seriously. At the same, however, it should be clear that the right way of addressing such questions is crucial. Solutions wrongly arrived at only compound the problems. No one I’m aware of is faulting I&I for raising problems and seeking their solutions (though it may be asked at a number of points whether matters he raises are really problems). The major difficulty with I&I is its proposed resolutions of problems.

This document is strongly critical of certain views of Dr. Enns, as deviating in important respects from Scripture and the Westminster Standards, Chapter 1 of the Confession in particular. I am keenly aware of the responsibility making such criticisms places on me, above all before the Lord. Over the years I have received enough of what I consider unfair and misplaced criticism of my own views to be doubly concerned to avoid that in dealing with the views of others. After many hours of reflection and discussion, formal and informal, over the past several years, the analysis and criticisms expressed in this document are, for the most part, fairly firm. But where I may need to be corrected, I hope for grace to be given me to recognize and acknowledge that.

This is a sad time for Westminster. In the confusion that has descended upon us, with many I regret the stresses that have resulted, particularly for Dr. Enns and his family and for others as well. With many I’m deeply burdened about the magnitude of the differences that have emerged among us, faculty and board, and our inability to resolve them. Whatever one’s outlook on the issues involved in this controversy, I hope that many will also join me in beseeching our God that he will be pleased to preserve Westminster, consistent with his blessings on it in the past, for a future of usefulness to the church.

I consider this a public document that others are free to circulate at their discretion.

R. B. Gaffin, Jr.
Westminster Theological Seminary

June 2008

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#1

In January 2008 Dr. Enns sent his “Reflections on Inspiration and Incarnation” to the board and voting faculty. Currently he has begun posting portions of this document on his website and in doing so notes also that it “appears to have been fairly widely circulated (which, as I state on page one of that report, is perfectly fine by me).” He also notes that he is aware of “at least one website” where the document appears in full. In view of this sort of circulation, I include the following comments here.

Toward the close of his “Reflections” is a discussion of Academic Freedom and Obligation, including confessional subscription (a discussion with which I have substantial disagreements not addressed here). He concludes that discussion with the following quotation from something I wrote in 1981, by which, he believes, his “thoughts are well summarized” (pp. 36-37):

…whether in our midst Scripture will still have the last word, whether the whole counsel of God will be something more than what we imagine we already have under our control and have already mastered with our theological structures and doctrinal formulations. Will we, too, as the church must in every time and place, continue to return there to be reconfirmed and, when necessary, corrected in our faith, and, above all, to discover there the inexhaustible and “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8)?

He then adds the final comment, “I read these words, which pierce my heart, and I wonder ‘what has happened to Westminster?’”

Since he has brought me into his “Reflections” in this fashion, some response on my part is appropriate, even mandatory, especially so because my deep concerns about views taken in I&I are well known within the faculty and board, and the fact is now public that within the faculty I am among those who are unable to join in approving I&I. The suggestion left by the quotation and final comment above, then, is that the Gaffin of 1981 and today are not the same and that, lamentably, that change has not been for the better.

I will be as brief and pointed as I can. As Dr. Enns himself notes, the quotation above was made in a particular context (“the Shepherd controversy,” p. 36). That contextual factor is all-important. What I wrote was in defense of contested views in a context where both sides within the WTS community (board and faculty) shared a largely common understanding of the nature of their commitment to the subordinate authority of the Westminster standards and, more importantly, a commonly understood commitment to the inspiration and authority of Scripture as the written word of God. Those commitments were never at issue, no matter how strongly held were the conflicting views about the particular teaching of Scripture and the Standards in dispute (primarily the nature of justifying faith). In the present context, however, the differences among us are, I judge, of another and more fundamental order. The foundational commitments held in common in 1981 are precisely what are now at issue and being threatened. In having to say that, I hope that I have made every responsible effort to convince myself otherwise.

As to a perceived change in me, for whatever it’s worth, as far as I can know myself, if the context and issues as they were in 1981 were today’s, I would write now what I wrote then. And if the issues in 1981 had been what they are today, I would have been of the same mind then as I am now.

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#2

WTS and Biblical Theology

A perception present among faculty supporters of I&I and others (for instance, many on the SOS website) is that opposition within the faculty to it and its major emphases is driven by an unduly restrictive and exegetically uninformed and disinterested confessionalism that signals, among other things, an abandonment of interest in biblical theology and the tradition of redemptive-historical interpretation that have been an important and distinctive part of the training provided by WTS over the years.

I disagree with this assessment. In fact, as someone who over the years in my teaching and writing has had no greater interest than biblical theology and its fructifying potential for systematic theology, I dispute it as vigorously as I can. The right of biblical theology as such is not at issue in the controversy over I&I. Not only does no one on the faculty with basic concerns about the book question that right, but we all, in differing degrees no doubt, cherish it and the continuance of biblical theology at WTS.

Rather, at stake are two contending understandings of biblical theology, the one for whom Geerhardus Vos can be said to be the father, the other a more recent and diverging conception reflected, for instance, in troublesome ways in views present in I&I. Why do I say this?

Consider the following quote from Vos, written in 1916 at the height of his career (“Hebrews, the Epistle of the Diatheke” in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, pp. 232-33; bolding added):

In the fourth place the Reformed theology has with greater earnestness than any other type of Christian doctrine upheld the principles of the absoluteness and unchanging identity of truth. It is the most anti-pragmatic of all forms of Christian teaching. And this is all the more remarkable since it has from the beginning shown itself possessed of a true historic sense in the apprehension of the progressive character of the deliverance of truth. Its doctrine of the covenants on its historical side represents the first attempt at constructing a history of revelation and may justly be considered the precursor of what is at present called biblical theology. But the Reformed have always insisted upon it that at no point shall a recognition of the historical delivery and apprehension of truth be permitted to degenerate into a relativity of truth. The history remains a history of revelation. Its total product agrees absolutely in every respect with the sum of truth as it lies in the eternal mind and purpose of God. If already the religion of the Old and New Testament church was identical, while the process of supernatural revelation was still going on, how much more must the church, since God has spoken for the last time in His Son, uphold the ideal absoluteness of her faith as guaranteed by its agreement with the Word of God that abideth forever. It is an unchristian and an unbiblical procedure to make development superior to revelation instead of revelation superior to development, to accept belief and tendencies as true because they represent the spirit of the time and in a superficial optimism may be regarded as making for progress. Christian cognition is not an evolution of truth, but a fallible apprehension of truth which must at each point be tested by an accessible absolute norm of truth. To take one’s stand upon the infallibility of the Scriptures is an eminently religious act; it honors the supremacy of God in the sphere of truth in the same way as the author of Hebrews does by insisting upon it, notwithstanding all progress, that the Old and the New Testament are the same authoritative speech of God. 1

In writing and lecturing over the years, I have occasionally cited what is bolded above, in the interests of affirming the continuity there is between confessional Reformed orthodoxy and the biblical theology advocated by Vos and others following him. Here, however, I want instead to direct attention to the nonbolded material, which I encourage you to go back and re-read, along with the footnote.

I am certainly not suggesting an exact correspondence between the outlook Vos was opposing and views present in I&I. But there is, I believe, an affinity, particularly on the fundamental and ever-crucial issue of the relationship between revelation and history and how that relationship is viewed. Vos stresses, specifically, that within Scripture the historical character of its truth, while integral, is subordinate to its revealed character. At every point revelation is superior to historical development.

In contrast, in the way I&I conceives of and utilizes the incarnational analogy, in what I&I both says as well as does not say, what Vos is so intent on affirming is at best unclear, especially for the Old Testament. In the approach of I&I, in a constitutive way as far as I can see, revelation is blurred by highlighting the “messiness” of history (e.g., 109, 110, 111, 161). With that blurring, meaningful divine authorship fades to a vanishing point by making the intention of each human author, with all the limitations of his historical situation and circumstances, determinative for the meaning of the text as it originated. With I&I’s resulting lack of clarity and uncertainty, Scripture, for Vos the “accessible absolute norm of truth” (“revealing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”) that we must have in our ever “fallible apprehension of truth,” is rendered obscure and uncertain.

Further, as Vos notes, “the religion of the Old and New Testament church [is] identical”; the way of salvation for both old and new covenants is the same. It is difficult to see how this truth, the unity of biblical religion, a central tenet of the Reformed faith (e.g., WCF, 7:5-6; 8:6; 11:6; WLC, 33-35) is not being obscured, even compromised, by views in I&I and elsewhere (the article on “Faith” in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books, commented on below).

On his website, Dr. Enns has posted some comments on biblical theology. There (par. 10) he defines biblical theology as “an attempt to offer a coherent picture of Scripture, respecting the historical particularities of any portion while also understanding that portion as a part of a grand story whose conclusion is known to us.” As the “brief definition” he intends, this is helpful. But, then, as he spells out what this definition has in view, problems enter, particularly for how the Old Testament is viewed, problems akin to those already noted by many in I&I. For instance (par. 7 and 8), involved is “holding in tension two dimensions of the Bible’s own theological dynamic: (1) The theological contours of the OT, which is itself fluctuating, diverse, developing, and (2) observing how the NT writers ‘take captive’ the OT and bring it to bear on the reality of the crucified and risen Christ.” Needed as well, we are told, is “an adequate understanding of how the NT seizes the OT … enriched by understanding the hermeneutical world of the Second Temple period in which the NT writers wrote.”

Briefly, in response, in fact the NT does not “seize” the OT. If anything, if we choose to use such language, it is rather the NT writers who are “seized” by the OT; the OT, in its own all-encompassing and basically clear witness to Christ, “seizes” them. And it is hardly apt to speak of mastering perceived theological fluctuations (contradictions?) within the OT by “taking captive” the OT for Christ.

We are bound to judge otherwise in the light, for example, of what is said to be true about the pervasive Christ-centeredness of the OT, in passages like Luke 24:44-45, John 5:39-47 and 1 Peter 1:10-11, passages, unless I’ve missed something, about which Dr. Enns is silent in discussing the NT use of the OT in I&I and elsewhere, except for a brief treatment of Luke 24 in I&I as providing “a hermeneutical foundation for how the Old Testament is now to be understood by Christians” (119, italics added; cf. 129, 134).

In this regard, I accent here a point raised again below (in #5 on the NT use of the OT). In John 5:46-47 Jesus says to Jews who were rejecting him, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” It seems reasonably clear that here Jesus affirms a relative overall clarity and independence of Moses (the OT), as a witness to himself, distinct from his own teaching (and so from the NT as well). So much is that the case (v. 45) that, in the just condemnation of those rejecting him, this OT witness to Christ serves as an adequate basis in itself and apart from his own self-witness. One does not get that impression of the OT from reading I&I.

I know that Dr. Enns sincerely believes that his work in biblical theology is on a trajectory that I, for one, as a former teacher, have helped to set. But, although I hope I have made responsible and peace-seeking efforts to be persuaded that I’m wrong, I’m left with the conclusion that we are not on the same trajectory in important ways. As I have tried to indicate here briefly, the biblical theology he advocates and that is reflected in I&I and elsewhere diverges from the Reformed and confessionally compatible biblical theology inaugurated by Vos. It does so in a way that blurs the fundamental difference there is between that biblical theology, founded, as it is, on a clear and biblically sound understanding of the Bible’s inspiration and final authority, on the one hand, and the historical-critical understanding of biblical theology, with its contrary presuppositions involving rational autonomy, on the other (one evidence of this methodological blurring is the perception, expressed repeatedly, that on the issues it raises I&I “move[s] beyond” (15) and “transcends” (171) the divide (“impasse ,“ 48 ) between liberal-modernist and evangelical-conservative-fundamentalist approaches, e.g., 14-15, 21, 41, 47, 49; see further the comments that follow in #3).

Dr. Enns captions his website, “a time to tear down | A Time to Build Up.” That is how he sees himself in his work. In the matter of biblical theology, for one, I fear that the effect (though not the intention) of that work is to tear down what WTS has stood for and to build up something that is proving to be alien.

So, as I contemplate all that has transpired and been brought to light by I&I and in the aftermath of its publication, including numerous colleagues who, with virtually no substantial reservations, have affirmed it, then, as he has asked toward the close of his “Reflections” (see above), I, for my part, am left wondering, with distress, “what has happened to Westminster?”

1. Earlier in his 1894 inaugural address at Princeton Seminary, he wrote in a similar vein (“The Idea of Biblical Theology,” Redemptive History, p. 19):

The second point to be emphasized in our treatment of Biblical Theology is that the historical character of the truth is not in any way antithetical to, but throughout subordinated to, its revealed character. Scriptural truth is not absolute, notwithstanding its historic setting; but the historic setting has been employed by God for the very purpose of revealing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It is not the duty of Biblical Theology to seek first the historic features of the Scriptural ideas, and to think that the absolute character of the truth as revealed of God is something secondary to be added thereunto. The reality of revelation should be the supreme factor by which the historic factor is kept under control. With the greatest variety of historical aspects, there can, nevertheless, be no inconsistencies or contradictions in the Word of God. The student of Biblical Theology is not to hunt for little systems in the Bible that shall be mutually exclusive, or to boast of his skill in detecting such as a mark of high scholarship.

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#3

Some of the blog commenting subsequent to the WTS board’s release of documents is quite confident that the HFC Reply thoroughly refutes the HTFC Response to I&I and shows that there are no credible objections to the orthodoxy of Dr. Enns and I&I. Especially those animated with such confidence may want to consider the following: beyond the telling substantive critiques of I&I by those outside the seminary and in addition to the fact that the HTFC Response was never intended as a full critique to I&I; it was an initial statement of some basic concerns produced and submitted under the deadline pressure of about a month (in contrast to the HFC Reply which eventually appeared about a year later).

First, the HFC Reply (approximately triple the length of the HTFC Response) spends considerable space arguing matters that are not at issue with the HTFC as if they were (for instance, I surely do not disagree where the Reply cites me with approval). More importantly, the précis of the HTFC Response (also included among the documents available on the seminary’s website) should not be overlooked, in expressing as it does the heart of the Response’s concerns.

Concerning the intended audience of I&I, the précis states (p. 5):

It should be apparent that it is just such troubled readers, in keeping with Proverbs 3:5-6, who are most in need of the clear affirmation indicated above [of the divine authorship and consequent divine authority of Scripture]. Such an affirmation assures us of at least three things in advance of whatever problems we encounter in the Bible. Because “God (who is truth itself) [is] the author thereof” (WCF, 1:4): 1) the Bible is reliable and, appropriate to the genre involved, will not mislead us in what it reports as having transpired; 2) the Bible does not contradict itself, and what it teaches as a whole, in all its parts, is unified and harmonious in a doctrinal or didactic sense; 3) problems that may remain insoluble for us are not ultimately unsolvable; they have their resolution with God.

This three-fold assurance is essential for dealing constructively with the problems there undoubtedly are for us in Scripture. It is especially essential to provide that assurance for those whose faith in Scripture is being shaken by these problems.

The HFC response to this passage, expressed to the board and faculty, was, in substance, that while the three points of assurance, which the HTFC précis considers requisite but finds lacking in I&I, may be suitable for demonstrating one’s own orthodoxy, they are not helpful for reassuring the many Christians who are wrestling with difficulties in the Bible. That sort of reaction prompts the questions like the following:

1) What role, if any, beyond serving as a badge of theological orthodoxy, ought these three points to have in one’s study and interpretation of the Bible?

2) What role, if any, ought these points to have in teaching and writing, especially on matters of hermeneutics and biblical interpretation?

3) Why is it that even a minimal affirmation and explanation of these points with their implications for understanding the Bible and addressing the problems we find there are deemed out of place or even unhelpful for the intended audience of I&I?

A biblical-theological approach claiming to be developing in the tradition of Vos will have ready and clear affirmative answers to these questions. The HFC Reply, despite its considerable length, does not provide such answers.

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A frequent claim of its supporters is I&I’s continuity with Westminster’s past. The following two items test that claim by comparison with the work of John Murray, as much as anyone a benchmark of that past.

#4

Murray and I&I on Myth

The following passage is toward the close of the Preface in John Murray’s Principles of Conduct (p. 9):

It may be objected that the standpoint reflected in this book fails to take account of the mythological character of certain parts of Scripture on which a good deal of the material in these studies is based, particularly Genesis 1-3. It is true that the argument is not conducted in terms of the mythological interpretation of Scripture. By implication such an interpretation is rejected. That Genesis 2 and 3, for example, is story, but does not represent history, the present writer does not believe. An express attempt to refute such an interpretation had not been undertaken. But if I have been successful in demonstrating the organic unity and continuity of the ethic presented in the Bible, this fact should itself constitute one of the most potent arguments against the mythological interpretation of Genesis 2 and 3, as also of other passages. This is just saying that the historical character of the revelation deposited in the Bible does not comport with a nonhistorical view of that which supplies the foundation and starting point of that history. It is surely apparent how far-reaching must be the reconstruction of the Bible’s representation respecting the history of revelation if we are to reject the historicity of the fall of Adam as the first man. It is the conviction of the present writer that a mythological interpretation is not compatible with the total perspective which the biblical witness furnishes. To state the case positively, the concreteness of Genesis 2 and 3, as historically interpreted, is thoroughly consonant with the concreteness which characterizes the subsequent history of Old Testament revelation.

I&I takes up the issue of myth, primarily on pages 39-41, 49-56. In comparing these two assessments of myth in the Bible, I offer the following observations.

First, I do recognize that I&I is concerned for a “more generous” understanding of myth (40), one that is not synonymous, as has been its usual understanding in biblical studies, with “untrue,” “made-up,” “storybook” (40). No doubt Murray has this latter understanding in view in rejecting “the mythological interpretation.”

Murray’s speaking, simply and without differentiating, in the singular, of “the mythological interpretation” was responsible and defensible around 1960, when he wrote, as I believe it still is today. For the view of myth he rejects has been and continues to be common and widespread to the present within the historical-critical tradition of biblical interpretation. Emerging in late-Enlightenment scholarly study of the Bible, as a categorical rejection of its God-breathed and infallible truthfulness and historical reliability, this view also has its precursors, going back at least as far as the view flatly rejected in Scripture itself (e.g., 2 Pet 1:16).

Second, for these historical reasons, and for the sake of avoiding confusion and misunderstanding, it is incumbent on anyone wishing to maintain myth in the Bible in a more benign (“more generous”) sense to delineate that sense carefully from the conventional and widely accepted sense. As far as I can see, I&I fails to do that. Twice (pp. 40, 50), myth is defined as “an ancient, premodern, prescientific, way of addressing questions of ultimate origins and meaning in the form of stories: Who are we? Where do we come from?” But this definition simply begs important, even crucial questions. How does it differ from the understanding of the dominant historical-critical conception of myth in biblical studies? How is it any less applicable to the myths elsewhere in the ancient Mesopotamian world, whose similarities with the biblical materials I&I is so concerned to stress?

Specifically, what is factual, what is the historical reference in the storied myths of Genesis that differentiates them from myths of the nations surrounding Israel? The most I can find by way of an answer in I&I is that, in distinction from the gods of other contemporary myths, Israel’s God is Yahweh and that “Yahweh, the God of Israel, is worthy of worship” (55). But what is there in fact about who Yahweh is and what he has done that makes him worthy of worship? As far as I can see, according to I&I, the Genesis myths provide little, if any, help in answering that question.

Third, and this further compounds my difficulties, the major part of I&I’s discussion of myth unfolds under the heading, “Is Genesis Myth or History?” (49; cf. 39). Recognizing, as already noted, that I&I wants to maintain myth in Genesis other than in the sense of “untrue” or “made-up,” nonetheless a couple of things have to be said here. First, in terms of the question posed in this either/or heading, I&I comes down on the side of myth. That means, in some sense, it is not history and so makes it all the more incumbent my concern expressed in the previous paragraph that I&I do what it has not done: clearly distinguish its understanding of myth from the common, historical-critical one and also clarify in what sense Genesis, now to be taken mythically, is still historically reliable, that is, in what sense it is, in Dr. Enns’ terms, still “true” and “not made up.” Second, the heading question, “Is Genesis Myth or History?” has history in view in a modern, scientific sense. It apparently does not consider any other notion of trustworthy history.

Unless I’m missing something, it would have been far better, perhaps mandatory, and certainly wiser, to come down categorically, instead, on the side of history and then clarify how Genesis, in the face of its similarities with ANE creation myths, is nonetheless historical in a nonmodern, nonscientific sense. That at least is the approach that has been taken by the best in the Reformed tradition, e.g., Bavinck and Warfield, Murray and Stonehouse. Their view, all told, to cite just one, is that “the historiography of Holy Scripture has a character of its own,” which, among other considerations, means, “It does not speak the exact language of science and the academy but the language of observation and daily life.” It “uses the language of everyday experience, which is and remains always true…. the language of observation, which will always continue to exist alongside that of science and the academy” (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 1: 447, 445, 446; worth reading in this regard in their entirety are pp. 445, from the paragraph beginning at the bottom of the page, through 447, the last full paragraph).

Fourth, concerning its intended audience and purpose, I cannot see how I&I is helpful. Those struggling with faith issues about the Bible who may initially think they are helped by I&I will eventually be confronted by the question of historical reference in the Genesis material. Unless they close their eyes to the issues involved, they will be bound to ask in what sense, if any, it is reliable as narrative. Where that happens the treatment of I&I will prove to be confusing at best. I wish I did not have to draw such a conclusion, but I can’t see how it can be otherwise.

Finally, Murray’s observation may not be missed or evaded. “It is surely apparent how far-reaching must be the reconstruction of the Bible’s representation respecting the history of revelation if we are to reject the historicity of the fall of Adam as the first man.” Dr. Enns may very well wish to affirm the historicity of both Adam as the first man and his fall. But it is not clear on what grounds he does so. Clear affirmations of the historicity of Adam and his fall elsewhere in Scripture (e.g., Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:21-22, 45, 47) rest on Genesis 1-3. The integrity of the entire history of redemption, including its culmination in the death and resurrection of Christ, stands or falls with the historicity of its beginning, as presented in Genesis 2-3. I cannot see how the mythical approach to Genesis argued in I&I contributes to maintaining that integrity. If anything, it tends toward undermining it.

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#5

Murray and I&I on Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15

A complaint, frequently voiced within the faculty and elsewhere, is that those with fundamental objections to I&I deal solely in doctrinal generalities and fail to engage the specific problem texts that I&I addresses. The following observations concern one such perceived problem.

In John Murray’s Collected Writings, 1 is an address (pp. 23 –26), “The Unity of the Old and New Testaments.” I commend reading it in its entirety. It concludes with the following two paragraphs:

The events of New Testament realization, as noted, afford validity and meaning to the Old Testament. They not only validate and explain; they are the ground and warrant for the revelatory and redemptive events of the Old Testament period. This can be seen in the first redemptive promise (Gen. 3: 15). We have a particularly striking illustration in Matt. 2: 15: ‘Out of Egypt have I called my son’. In Hosea 11: 1 (cf. Numb. 24:8), this refers to the emancipation of Israel from Egypt. But in Matthew 2:15 it is applied to Christ and it is easy to allege that this is an example of unwarranted application of Old Testament passages to New Testament events particularly characteristic of Matthew. But it is Matthew, as other New Testament writers, who has the perspective of organic relationship and dependence. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt found its validation, basis, and reason in what was fulfilled in Christ. So the calling of Christ out of Egypt has the primacy as archetype, though not historical priority. In other words, the type is derived from the archetype or antitype. Hence not only the propriety but necessity of finding in Hosea 11:1 the archetype that gave warrant to the redemption of Israel from Egypt.

In this perspective, therefore, we must view both Testaments. The unity is one of organic interdependence and derivation. The Old Testament has no meaning except as it is related to the realities that give character to and create the New Testament era as the fulness of time, the consummation of the ages.

I&I discusses the Hosea passage and its use in Matthew 2 on pages 132-34 and 153, which should be studied for the comments that follow.

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These two approaches have a similar interest, namely how the OT relates to the NT and what has taken place in Christ. But one does not need to ignore or minimize that similarity, in order also to recognize that it is undercut by a deep difference. In terms of the basic hermeneutical stance and commitments each reveals, it is difficult for me to see how these two approaches are compatible. It does not seem overstating to say that they are mutually exclusive.

The fundamental difference is apparent from the note on which each ends:

Murray: In this perspective, therefore, we must view both Testaments. The unity is one of organic interdependence and derivation. The Old Testament has no meaning except as it is related to the realities that give character to and create the New Testament era as the fulness of time, the consummation of the ages.

I&I: I should make one final observation. Matthew does not say that the events in Jesus’ boyhood life fulfill Hosea’s words. He says that they fulfill what ‘the Lord has said through the prophet.’ It is what God says that is important, and what God said is not captured by the surface meaning of the words on the page, but by looking at the grander scope of God’s overall redemptive plan (134; emphasis original).

And so Hosea’s words, which in their original historical context (the intention of the human author, Hosea) did not speak of Jesus of Nazareth, now do (153).

Murray is emphatic about the unequivocal “no meaning except” of the OT text and, true to the revelation-historical insight of Vos, emphatic also about the unambiguous unity, the “organic interdependence” and harmony, textual and didactic, there is between the OT and NT. For I&I, in contrast, any thought of unity, organic and interdependent, between the text of Hosea (what he, the human author, wrote, his intention) and the text of Matthew (his intention) is not only not present but denied, and with some emphasis. Contrary to Murray, given with the text of Hosea is ambiguity and disjunction, even contradiction it seems, between the meaning of the divine author and the human author (“what ‘the Lord has said through the prophet,’” on the one hand – “Hosea’s words,” on the other; again, “what God says” – “the surface meaning of the words on the page”). Further, there is a corresponding disjunction, again amounting to contradiction, between Hosea and Matthew, that is, contradiction between what the text of Hosea says and what Matthew says is said through the text of Hosea. This hardly squares, for instance, with the equation, as it has been expressed by Warfield: “’It says:’ ‘Scripture says:’ ‘God says’” (a chapter title in his The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, 299-348).

A different sort of equation is present in I&I, as foreign to Murray’s approach as it is unwarranted, an equation between what Hosea wrote and what he, as a human author with his personal, cultural and historical limitations, intended (=, apparently, what he happened to understand of what he wrote). As a result of this confusion, as already noted in the previous paragraph, what the text of Hosea says does not agree with what God says later, in Matthew, through the text of Hosea. And what God, the primary author, said and intended, as distinct from Hosea, when Hosea wrote, is anything but clear.

The view of I&I revolves around Matthew’s use of Hosea. But how do we know that Matthew has gotten it right or deserves preference? The answer, presumably, is from our assessment of “the grander scope of God’s overall redemptive plan.” But it is difficult for me to see how the “christotelic” criterion that determines this assessment of the overall redemptive scope of Scripture is not based exclusively on NT texts, to the exclusion of the OT, so that Christ is present only by being read into it from the vantage point of the NT (this is one of Bruce Waltke’s criticisms of I&I; see below). This criterion functions in a way that affirms and includes certain texts (in this instance, Matthew) while excluding or negating others (in this instance, Hosea). The OT text (“the surface meaning of the words on the page”) is played off against “the grander scope of God’s overall redemptive plan”; the one is at odds with the other. Luther’s reductive canon criterion, Was Christum treibet (“what urges/inculcates Christ”), seems present here in even less benign garb.

How are we to square this approach of I&I with that, for example, of Jesus? In John 5:46 he says, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” From the instance of Hosea above, it would seem, according to I&I, that what Jesus really meant to say was that Moses’ “words, which in their original historical context … did not speak of Jesus of Nazareth, now do”; or that what God both said and now says through what Moses wrote “is not captured by the surface meaning of the words on the page.”

But is that really what Jesus says or means to say? Further, when in the same context he says of the OT Scriptures generally, “these are they which testify about me” (v. 39), does he really mean that previously they, as a whole or at least in some parts, did not testify about him but now, in the light of his coming, they do? Again, is that what he means when he indicts those who “do not believe what he [Moses] wrote” and does so just as he specifically distinguishes that unbelief from the issue of belief in his own words (v. 47)? I very much doubt that it is. When in his final, post-resurrection teaching he affirms the necessary fulfillment of “everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44), he hardly has in view what the OT, in part or as a whole, now means but did not previously.

The view of I&I, I can’t see otherwise, is not tolerable for a proper understanding of Scripture as the written word of God, interpreted in the light of its self-witness and the good and necessary consequences of that self-witness. More importantly, it is not tolerable given who God is according to Scripture. No amount of appeal to the incarnational analogy or the humanness of the Bible, properly understood, can change that.

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Note: The footnote on the first page of Murray’s address (23) indicates that its original audience, in 1970, was the Christian Union of the University of Dundee, thus presumably a gathering of students. This further invites comparison with I&I, given that it has a similar intended audience, as its author and supporters are concerned to stress.

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#6

Dr. Enns has written the entry, “Faith,” in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (IVP, 2005), 296-300. This article as a whole is extremely troublesome to me, with its baseline assertion that “there is little if anything in the Historical Books that one could turn to as examples of ‘saving faith’” (296, col. 1). Rather, its overall nomistic conclusion, it seems clear enough (297-300), is that faith is the faithfulness or covenantal fidelity that marks both God and his people in their mutual relationship, so that for the latter, faith is equivalent to obedience in word and deed.

According to the article, if we view Rahab in Joshua 2, for instance, as an example of faith, “certainly this would be reading too much into a complex narrative” (296, col. 1). Aware of the two NT passages (Heb 11:31; Jam 2:25) that do just that, that is, “cite Rahab’s act as an example of faith,” that fact nonetheless “does not settle the issue of how the story functions in its original and historical context” (296, col. 2). Further, in general, “Appeal cannot be made to these NT texts to settle the issue of faith in the Historical Books” (296-97). Presumably, then, this generalization applies as well to the numerous other NT examples of OT faith, notably in Hebrews 11 as well as the example of Abraham in James 2 and Paul’s use of Abraham (Rom 4, Gal 3) and David (Rom 4) as prime examples of justifying faith. At least it is not clear how this generalization would not apply in these other instances.

This is the case, all told, apparently, because “[t]he use of this story in these NT books clearly is a function of their specific rhetorical-theological contexts, which raises complex questions of its own, as does the whole matter of the NT’s use of the OT” (296, col. 2). I’m not clear about everything this sentence intends; whatever the implications of “rhetorical-theological,” they are not spelled out. But what does seem clear is that the use the NT makes of OT narrative material is foreign to, even in conflict with, how this material “functions in its original and historical context.” Until I can be shown I’m missing something I shouldn’t and despite Dr. Enns’ affirmation elsewhere of “the majestic coherence of the Old and New Testaments” (see this article, last line), I can’t see how this view is compatible either with the Bible’s doctrinal unity, its didactic coherence, or with the unity of the covenantal religion of the Bible, the essential continuity of normative OT and NT religion. There are no doubt relative (new covenant, old covenant) distinctions between us and Abraham, David and Rahab in believing; our NT faith is undoubtedly fuller and clearer. But, more basically, their OT faith is the same as our NT faith, our justifying, saving faith. The NT tells us that plainly and nothing the OT historical books teach is incompatible or at odds with that.

Further, the view that there are apparently no examples of saving faith in the Historical Books of the OT contradicts fundamental elements of the system of doctrine taught in Scripture as contained the Westminster Standards, specifically in their affirmation of the basic Christ-centered identity of OT and NT religion and faith: Confession of Faith, 7:5, Larger Catechism, 34 (“… faith in the promised Messiah, …”); Confession of Faith, 7:6 (“… one and the same, under various dispensations”); 8:6; 11:6 (OT and NT justifying faith are “… in all these respects, one and the same …”). In conflict with the Standards as well is the related view that in the Historical Books of the OT faith is covenantal obedience or faithfulness: in addition to the places cited in the preceding sentence, Confession of Faith, 14:1-2; Larger Catechism, 72, Shorter Catechism, 86.

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#7

A special interest of Dr. Enns over the years has been the NT use of the OT. Some of the problems attendant on his approach have just been noted in #5 and #6. Here I offer some further reflections on this approach as a prime instance of how he thinks the incarnational analogy forces evangelicals to make a doctrinal “reassessment” (I&I, 14) of what the Bible is.

I&I treats the NT use of the OT in chapter 4. The controlling approach he takes, not immediately apparent there, has already been articulated more explicitly earlier in his article, “Apostolic Hermeneutics and an Evangelical Doctrine of Scripture: Moving Beyond a Modernist Impasse,” in WTJ 65 (2003): 263-87.

This approach turns on the distinction between method and goal in the NT handling of the OT. This distinction itself is hardly problematic (no more than there is a problem with the incarnational analogy per se, for recognizing the presence of both divine and human factors in the origin of Scripture and reflecting on how they relate). Where problems enter is in the way Dr. Enns understands how method and goal relate and the resulting conclusions he draws. Those problems emerge in both the article and the book.

To state the nub of his view, apostolic method, the various interpretive procedures with which the NT utilizes the OT, as method, though strange to us, is quite unexceptional in that it is strikingly similar and entirely consistent with interpretive approaches already existing elsewhere, outside the NT, within contemporary Judaism. In this respect apostolic hermeneutics are purely a function of Second Temple Jewish hermeneutics and so for us are burdened with the same problems as the latter, of which they are but one manifestation.

In decided contrast, however, the apostolic goal is thoroughly at odds with the surrounding Judaism in its various factions. In light of Christ, his death and resurrection, methods in common with that Judaism are utilized for unprecedented “Christotelic” readings of the OT and for finding Christ as its pervasive meaning.

This construal of goal and method and their relationship has results that do not square with what the Bible itself, especially its self-witness, requires us to affirm about its divine authorship and consequent authority and doctrinal unity. Among these are the following results expressed as four points. These points both overlap and also repeat some of what has already been said in #5 but are distinguished as they are here for the sake of clarity. For documentation pertinent to points 1 through 3, almost all the examples offered in I&I, chapter 4 (and in the WTJ article cited above) could be cited, but see, in particular, the treatment of the NT use of Hosea 11:1 in I&I, 132-34, 153 (already discussed in #5) and of Exodus 3:6 on 114-15, 132.

1. The NT frequently attributes to OT passages a meaning each did not have when it was written.

The Westminster Confession, 1:9 speaks of “the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold but one).” In the view of Dr. Enns, the NT does not provide “the true and full [= “deeper”] sense of the OT passage, in the requisite sense, biblical and confessional, that there is always harmony and organic unity (“not manifold but one”) between what the OT passage says and what the NT says it says.

Rather, in his view, what the OT passage says and what the NT says it says (or what the NT says God says through it) are so different as to be discontinuous to the point of being mutually incoherent and effectively contradictory.

Dr. Enns introduces the analogy of reading a novel to explain his view (153). But that analogy actually serves to reveal how his view is not like reading a novel, at least a good one. A reader, having read a novel in its entirety, is able, on a subsequent re-reading, to see how details in the plot leading up to its conclusion, which on an initial reading didn’t seem to fit, in fact did fit all along. In the view of I&I, however, not only on a “first” read but even when we re-read from the vantage point of the conclusion the NT provides, we are still unable to see how OT plot “details,” in their original contexts and when they were written by their human authors, are in harmony with that NT conclusion or how the NT finds that harmony, other than by reading into the OT what is not there.

Bruce Waltke has aptly described this view: not only does I&I maintain that “some diversity in the Bible implies contradictions” but also “that the New Testament writers used stories invented during the Second Temple period as a basis for theology; and that they employed the highly arbitrary pesher method of interpretation, which was used in IQpHab.  According to this method of interpretation, the people who believe they are living in the eschaton impose their convictions on reluctant Old Testament texts” (Old Testament Theology[Zondervan, 2007], p. 34, n. 18).

2. What the OT writers intended to say is often not what the NT writers say they said. Specifically, the OT writers do not speak of Christ when the NT writers say they do.

Dr. Enns affirms that for the NT authors “Christ gives the Old Testament final coherence.” But that happened only as they look at the OT “in a whole new light” (italics added) that bypasses “what the Old Testament author intended” (I&I, 160). The “coherence” of the OT that Christ provides is one that accommodates dissonance with what the OT writers intended.

This construal conflicts with many NT passages like Matthew 13:17: “Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it”; John 12:41: “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him”; and, most especially, 1 Peter 1:10-12: in what they were about, “the prophets,” likely to be taken as a synecdoche for the OT writers as a whole (cf. 2 Pet 1:20-21), were intent on the new covenant revelation of messianic sufferings and consequent glory.

Both I&I and the 2003 WTJ article are completely silent about 1 Peter 1:10-12. This silence is strange because these verses are the most explicit in the NT in affirming, and in fairly sweeping terms, that the OT writers, in their multiplicity, have an explicitly Christ-centered intention. Assuming that Dr. Enns, given his interests, can hardly be unaware of this passage, how should we interpret this silence? If we take the passage at face value, as affirming what is in fact true about the intention of the OT writers, then we have important evidence in the NT itself against his views on the NT use of the OT.

It is hard to imagine that Dr. Enns would agree with that reading of the passage. So that leaves us to surmise that for him, the common redemptive-historical epoch (between Christ’s resurrection and return) that 1 Peter shares with the church today notwithstanding, it, along with other NT passages like those noted above, is to be read in terms of its cultural strangeness and historical distance from us. As a programmatic statement of pesher method, singular within the NT, it shows just how thoroughly Peter and the other NT writers were committed, true to their Second Temple Jewish roots, to attributing to the OT writers an intention they did not in fact have. But on that view Dr. Enns unavoidably maintains that the NT writers creatively contradict and correct their OT counterparts. If there is another, more plausible way of reading his silence, then I have missed it.

Also, there is this to be noted briefly here. Take, for instance, the third Gospel (and Acts). On Dr. Enns’ view Luke’s use of the OT would have to be exempt somehow from the standard for careful narration and historical reliability he sets for himself in his prologue (1:1-4). It would have to be maintained, as an exception to the overall approach indicated in the prologue, that Luke exercises a hermeneutical freedom and latitude in handling inscripturated OT tradition that he did not allow himself in utilizing tradition and sources from the recent past. But such an exception, given a proper understanding of the methodological interests expressed in the prologue, is difficult to establish in a convincing or even plausible fashion.

Dr. Enns finds the notion of “ancient historiography,” marked by relative indifference to original authorial intent and factual truthfulness, in Second Temple Judaism (WTJ, 65 [2000], 304-05). But that notion is no more applicable to Luke-Acts than it was in the effort of Martin Dibelius and others a generation ago in deriving it from pagan Hellenistic sources. As others have shown (e.g., F. F. Bruce, I. H. Marshall), “ancient” and “modern” historiography, broadly considered, are basically continuous in their concern for historical reliability. Undeniable theological shaping and reliable narration are both present in Luke-Acts without tension (and in the other Gospels as well).

3. What God, as the primary author, says is not what the human author says.

Dr. Enns holds that in numerous OT instances the intention of God and the intention of the human writer differ. They differ not in the requisite sense that God’s intention is the same as the human writer’s, only at a deeper, more comprehensive and clearer level. Rather, they are seen to differ as the NT use of the OT writer shows that God’s intention and the writer’s intention are dissimilar and even at odds.

The effect of this view, whether or not intended, is, once again, to undermine the doctrinal coherence and the didactic unity-in-diversity of the Bible as a whole. It also renders unclear, at best, what God’s word (the divine intention) was in the original setting of the human writer and of all subsequent readings prior to the NT and the coming of Christ.

4. The NT use of the OT involves erroneous methods.

WTJ 65 (2003), 279 raises the question, “How does apostolic hermeneutics affect inerrancy?” The first sentence in answer reads, “There is no question that ‘inerrancy,’ at least in its earlier formulations, is not a term that is designed to encompass apostolic hermeneutics understood in its Second Temple context.” Since these “earlier formulations” are not specified, it is unclear what Prof Enns intends to exclude. From what he goes on to say, he apparently has in view notions of inerrancy he labels “abstract,” in that they are inappropriate to what Scripture is and how it functions. But what specifically constitutes the abstractionism of the past he wishes to exclude is not spelled out.

As one reads on here (and elsewhere), it is difficult to conclude other than that Dr. Enns affirms the inerrancy of apostolic hermeneutics, in the NT use of the OT, in its goal but not in its methods. Their lofty “Christotelic” goal entitles the NT writers, even demands of them, to make OT texts say what ignores or even contradicts both what their human authors wrote (“the surface meaning of the words on the page,” 134) and intended in what they wrote. Sustained by the conviction “that the only agenda Scripture is called to support is Christ” (p. 282, n. 40), the NT writers employ methods that, whether or not knowingly, violate the integrity of their OT counterparts. This last clause does not seem to be too strong or an unfair way of characterizing this view.

This view, with the way in which it relates apostolic goal and apostolic method, is a variant, at least in its tendency, on a view of inspiration that has plagued the church especially in the modern period since the time of the Enlightenment. This is the view that distinguishes in Scripture between its divine and therefore in some sense trustworthy and authoritative subject matter (or content), with its attendant goal (or purpose), on the one hand, and, on the other, the fallible human form, including methods used, for presenting that subject matter and realizing the goal.

This view is fundamentally at odds with chapter 1 of the Westminster Confession. When 1:4 speaks of “God (who is truth itself) the author thereof,” it leaves no room for a tension between an infallible divine goal and fallible human methods for reaching that goal. Most assuredly, it can not be read properly as having in view a divine authorial truthfulness limited to subject matter or purpose, in distinction from errant human forms used to convey that content or flawed methods for achieving that purpose. Nor can its view of God as author be credibly extended to cover the notion that in his all-controlling providence God has condescended “incarnationally” to a written self-revelation whose form includes questionable human methods. Such a notion of condescension or accommodation, no matter how sovereign, does not rise to the level of affirming God as the primary author of the text of Scripture.

To say flatly, within the context of chapter 1 as a whole, as the Confession does, “God (who is truth itself) the author thereof,” excludes any such disjunction between divine goal and human method in Scripture. Rather, consistent, for instance, with the “God-breathed” of 2 Timothy 3:16 and the “from God” of 2 Peter 1:21, such language affirms that God’s truthfulness, as primary author, includes the form as well as the content of the biblical documents. Specifically, nothing less than God’s own authorial integrity and veracity are ultimately at stake in the intentions of the human authors or final redactors of the OT documents, no matter how limited their own grasp of the full depth of those intentions. So, too, divine authorial integrity and veracity are at stake as well in the methods the NT writers use, in the light of Christ’s coming, in interpreting those OT intentions.

Much is made by Dr. Enns of the similarities between the hermeneutics of the Second Temple period generally and the NT. But, whatever similarities there are and even whether or not we knew a thing about Second Temple hermeneutics, we know from the NT itself, because it God’s written word, that the methods the NT writers use in interpreting the OT, as distinct (not divorced) from their purpose, are appropriate for disclosing the meaning of a given OT text. These are methods appropriate to the OT text at the point of its origin, human as well as divine, and in both its divine and human intention, a divine-human sense that is unified (“not manifold but one,” Westminster Confession, 1:9). What I find Dr. Enns not only lacking an awareness of but also calling into question is the organic unity, that is, the unified coherence and didactic harmony, there is between the OT and NT documents, with God as the primary author of each and considered in terms of the human as well as divine intention of each.

In continuing to wrestle with the sometimes nettlesome questions that do arise in considering the NT use of the OT, sound resolutions will not be arrived at by viewing the NT writers as using methods, recently discovered to be historically and culturally relative and also judged to be defective for disclosing the original meaning of an OT text and the intention of its author, yet are nonetheless to be exonerated by the sublime “Christotelic” goal to which they are dedicated.

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#8

In keeping with I&I’s overall concern for evangelical “reassessment of doctrine” (14), Dr. Enns’ ultimate interest in the NT use of the OT is how the church today should use the OT in its teaching and preaching. That contemporary use is addressed primarily in I&I, 160-63 and chapter 5 and in the WTJ article referenced above (in the second paragraph of #7), 281-86. The general idea expressed is that OT interpretation is “a subtle interpenetration of a myriad of factors, known and unknown, that can rightly be described not as a product of science but a work of art.” Focused on Christ, it is “a product of much more than an exegetical exercise” that “includes such things as creativity, intuition, risk, and a profound sense of the meaningfulness of the endeavor” (I&I, 162).

As I ponder this gist and his related comments in these pages, I cannot avoid the conclusion that matters of method are left in such a state of flux that the end result over the question of how the church today should use the OT is a large cloud of uncertainty, a cloud of such density that only a hoped-for activity of the Holy Spirit, understood as remedial or compensatory, can dispel it. The outcome of his own use of grammatical-historical methods in interpreting the OT and the NT use of the OT functions to undermine the church’s use of such methods, or at least marginalizes them, for understanding the meaning of the OT for today. That understanding, as already noted, is ultimately “not … a product of science but a work of art.” Sound interpretive methods and scholarly exegetical procedures are seen to be in tension with factors like Sprit-worked “creativity,” “intuition” and “risk,” with the latter as decisive. This outcome for arriving at the contemporary relevance of the OT may be fairly traced, step-wise, as follows.

1) Grammatical-historical method shows us that the OT (the original intent of the human authors) is not about Christ.

2) Grammatical-historical method shows us that Christ and the NT writers did not use grammatical-historical method to find Christ in the OT.

3) Grammatical-historical method shows us that the NT teaches the church that, following Christ and the NT writers, it is to find Christ in the OT.

4) The church today cannot validly use the historically distant and culturally relative (Second Temple) methods of the NT writers to find Christ in the OT.

5) The church today shares the goal of the NT writers, but not their methods, for finding Christ in the OT.

6) The church today is without a method (in basic methodological uncertainty) for its goal of finding Christ in the OT. In its own way, ultimately uncontrollable methodologically (“not … a product of science but a work of art”), the church today is to read Christ into the OT, dependent on the contemporary work of the Holy Spirit.

7) The work of the Holy Spirit in the church today, akin to his work in the NT writers (“an intuitive, Spirit-led engagement of Scripture,” I&I, 160), protects against arbitrary and subjective individual readings of the OT and, despite our confusion and uncertainty about method, produces a communal finding of Christ in the OT for today. This consensus is no more than provisional, because, though communal, it is also a culturally relative finding of Christ in the OT.

1) through 5) are fairly straightforward in what Dr. Enns has written. 6) and 7), as far as I can see from the pages noted in the first paragraph above, express where his work will almost certainly take him, if it is not where he already is presently.

This view, whether or not intentionally, effectively replaces the Reformation principle of the Spirit working with the word (Scripture), in its unity and pervasive clarity, with a quite different principle, the principle of the Spirit presumably working with the word, in the face of and despite disunity between the NT and the OT (and also within the OT) and the pervasive obscurity of the OT, especially in its discordant relationship to the NT. Here, I cannot see otherwise, the unambiguous Christ of the Scriptures as a whole (not just the NT), however imperfectly grasped by faith, is displaced by the imaginative and supposedly Spirit-intuited Christ of fluctuating faith.

It is surely true that the OT can’t stand without the NT in the sense that, as revelation, the former apart from the latter records a revelatory history short of its consummation, in terms currently in vogue, a “story” lacking its ending. The OT is one large promise looking for its fulfillment or, using a grammatical analogy, one long protasis without an apodosis. Christ in his exalted glory is that consummation, that ending, that fulfillment, that apodosis.

But, by the same token, NT revelation can’t stand on its own, without the OT (already in the second century the conflicts with Marcion and various strands of Gnosticism made that clear to the church). Which is to say, Christ and the gospel can’t stand without the OT. To recall just one key passage here, the gospel, centered in his death and resurrection, is ”according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). If the gospel is not that, ”according to the Scriptures,” in the sense of the pervasive, though shadowy, clarity of the OT, its unidirectional, univalent movement toward Christ, and the organic unity of the OT, including the intentions of its human authors, with the NT, then Christ is a consummation rendered obscure because isolated from a coherent history leading up to it, an ending without a story, a fulfillment detached from its promise, an apodosis lacking the protasis essential to its meaning.

Christ is the fulfillment of the OT and, as such, shines an elucidating light of nothing less than eschatological brilliance on the OT. But he does not give meaning and coherence to an OT marked by “messiness,” an OT that, because and in terms of its human authorship, is in itself discordant and marked by dissonance. Interpreting the OT in the light of the NT for the edification of the church today is a challenging task that does pose some difficult questions (although we should avoid a tendency to exaggerate these difficulties). It would be a great loss, should the controversy that has erupted over I&I cause us to become inhibited in continuing to confront this task for the good of the church. But, we should be clear, finding Christ in the OT is not ultimately a matter of creative and intuitive “risk”-taking.

[Pertinent to the issues addressed in #7 and #8, see my “’For Our Sakes Also’: Christ in the Old Testament in the New Testament,” in R. Penny, ed., The Hope Fulfilled: Essays in Honor of Dr. O. Palmer Robertson, (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2008), 79-99.]

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#9

On his web site Dr. Enns has posted a medium-length review of A High View of Scripture by Craig Allert (Baker, 2007), a book primarily about the formation of the New Testament canon and its authority.

To put it bluntly, this book is deeply flawed. Certainly one can learn from the author’s considerable knowledge of historical details about the New Testament in the early church. But as he draws out the theological significance of this history, including conclusions for the authority of the Bible today for evangelicals – the primary reason he has written the book and why Dr. Enns has reviewed it – he is confusing at best.

Dr. Enns states, “Allert explicitly affirms inspiration, …” True, but the inspiration he affirms explicitly rejects plenary verbal inspiration, as held, e.g., by Warfield. Further, he blurs the categorical difference there is between inspiration and illumination, that is, between the Spirit’s activity in the past in producing Scripture, on the one hand, and, on the other, his ongoing contemporary activity in our recognizing that Scripture is God’s word and understanding it.

Allert also holds, for instance, that we really can have no clear idea what the Greek word (θεόπνευστος) translated “God-breathed” means in 2 Timothy 3:16 and argues that plenary verbal inspiration is an untenable view because rooted in a fallacious use of etymology: Paul’s use of the word, he goes so far to say, no more means what Reformed and evangelical theology has heretofore understood it to mean than “nice” means “ignorant” because the latter is the meaning of the Latin root (nescius) for “nice” (pp. 153-54). He also questions inerrancy and throughout undertakes lines of argumentation that destabilize our understanding of what Scripture is, as well as of canonicity and apostolicity.

In all, the book leaves no place for another categorical distinction essential to any sound doctrine of Scripture: the distinction between God’s giving of the canon, in fact, the NT canon is closed with the completion of its last book and the subsequent ongoing and sometimes ragged process of recognizing and accepting that closed canon in the ancient church. At the very least it blurs that crucial distinction beyond recognition. The overall impression left is that the theological significance of the canon history that unfolded within the ancient church is not in the Holy Spirit’s working throughout it, in a purely receptive way, to bring about in the church the eventual consensus recognition of the existing 27 book canon it had already been given by God. Instead, that history is viewed as a constitutive factor the Spirit uses, by involving the church not merely in recognizing but in establishing what is Scripture and in determining the eventual contents of the New Testament canon.

Yet Dr. Enns, in singling out this book for review, commends reading it, with only minor criticisms, for its affinity with some of the concerns of I&I, as a book whose “aim is a noble one,” and for the contribution it makes “as Evangelicalism continues to explore new frontiers in self-definition.” He is completely silent on the problems noted above.

It is difficult to square either this commendation or this silence with a cordial and knowledgeable commitment to Chapter 1 of the Westminster Confession. For Allert’s book surely subverts what that chapter affirms about inspiration and canonicity. It is also thoroughly at odds with the line of theological reflection on the issue of canon, faithful to Scripture and the Confession, that has marked Westminster from its beginning and has been expressed more recently, for instance, in the chapter, “The New Testament as Canon,” in the Inerrancy and Hermeneutic(1988).

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The criticisms of Dr. Enns’ views in this document are substantial and serious. I regret, as I’m convinced, their necessity. In making them I hope not to have misrepresented or overstated, or to have come short of the judgment of charity he is due. As I stated at the outset, where it may prove that I’m remiss in these respects, I hope I will come to see that.

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79 Comments

  1. June 26, 2008 at 11:13 am

    This was very helpful, and it provides some much-needed clarification, at least for me. As an incoming student to WTS (Hebrew starts next week!) I’ve been waiting for something like this to appear from WTS faculty, as I weave through all the comments from students on either side of the fence (according to whom WTS is either a heaven-on-earth utopia, or Satan’s playground, depending on whose take on the issues you’re listening to on a particular day). Thank you, Dr. Gaffin, for putting it together, and Rev. Keister for posting it. I found it to be quite helpful in understanding better the concerns of the historical/theological faculty.

  2. ReformedSinner (DC) said,

    June 26, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Definitely an in-depth, fair, and accurate analysis as expected from a pastoral scholar like Dr. Gaffin. Clarifying how foreign Dr. Enns’ approach is from Old Princeton/WTS/Vos/Warfield. Also clarifying the relationship between revelation and history.

    It’s amazing Dr. Gaffin can said in so few words what it took this blog 500 posts… :)

  3. June 26, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Lane,

    I thought Dr. Gaffin’s critique was by far the most impressive one offered thus far. The lesson he teaches in biblical theology, the canon and the NT interpretation of the OT is utterly necessary in this matter. It is interesting to note the different angles from which others have critiqued Enns’ work. I have posted some thoughts on this, together with a PDF version of Dr. Gaffin’s review at http://www.feedingonchrist.blogspot.com. Thanks for checking with Dr. Gaffin on comments.

  4. Manlius said,

    June 26, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Gaffin is a true gentleman, and this critique is not easily dismissed. IMHO, it far surpasses Dr. Lillback’s work in that Enns and his supporters (of which I am one) have good points with which they can interact.

    In terms of the big picture of Reformed biblical theology, Gaffin and Enns are actually quite close, near identical really. Their more substantial differences lie in the details, particularly in approaches to literary genre analysis (and how the ANE context informs this). Enns truly believes these differences in approach are not nearly so important as to divide WTS; Gaffin and others truly believe they are. No one is trying to be dishonest here. These are indeed honest differences. I continue to believe that these different perspectives can still be held within the framework of one WTS. I realize that others, including Dr. Gaffin, think differently. I can’t help but respect Dr. Gaffin and his view, but I admit that I’m sad that he sees it this way.

    There is one point I would like Dr. Gaffin to clarify, however. He says that he has been in a “difficult position” since the publication of I&I. I can understand, from his perspective, why he would feel this way. But didn’t he realize that the basic thrust of I&I has been taught, rightly or wrongly, for YEARS at WTS? I&I was essentially the same as my OT Intro class with Enns back in the mid-90s. I heard the same stuff from Longman, Groves, and Green, and I read the same in Dillard. People can say they don’t like it, but they can’t say it’s new.

    So my question is this: if the different perspectives on this controversy could both be held in the 1990s, why not in the 2000s? Did the publication of one book make all the difference?

  5. Edward said,

    June 26, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Manlius’ asks the same question I have been wondering about – I was there in the late ’90s and heard everything in I&I, and there was no controversy. Perhaps there were some tensions, but they were discussed amicably. The best explanation I have seen was posted by Theological Mom over at the Connversation blog.

    Her explanation:

    http://connversation.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/on-aggressively-misreading-and-misrepresentation-a-critique-of-one-part-of-peter-lillback%e2%80%99s-essay-against-peter-enns/#comment-3386

    I hope that link works.

  6. ReformedSinner (DC) said,

    June 26, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    #4:

    “There is one point I would like Dr. Gaffin to clarify, however. He says that he has been in a “difficult position” since the publication of I&I. I can understand, from his perspective, why he would feel this way. But didn’t he realize that the basic thrust of I&I has been taught, rightly or wrongly, for YEARS at WTS? I&I was essentially the same as my OT Intro class with Enns back in the mid-90s. I heard the same stuff from Longman, Groves, and Green, and I read the same in Dillard. People can say they don’t like it, but they can’t say it’s new”

    I cannot speak for Dr. Gaffin, but I can speak for what I know but it’s extremely limited so take it as such. I have spoken similar issues with various professors at WTS and they admit that for one they don’t really listen to each other’s classes for they all trust each other to be faithful to the WCF and the Reformed Tradition. For two they, and rightfully so, always give their collegues the benefits of the doubt when students expressed concerns on class contents, and in the past they would suggest students with problems with particular classes to deal with the teaching professor directly. Three, even when the professors do inquire on the concerns of students with each other the usual answers are: “it’s taken out of context”, “they are just hyper-Calvinists looking for a fight”, etc.

    Now, from a grander perspective you always give some benefit of the doubt to “classroom lectures”, but one is more critical towards publications.

  7. Edward said,

    June 26, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Let me also second Manlius’ words about Gaffin and his estimate of this document in comparison to the earlier documents of the HTFC.

  8. ReformedSinner (DC) said,

    June 26, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    What moved me so much is Gaffin’s quoting of Enns, “What has happened to Westminster?” Dr. Gaffin’s retirement will be a big loss to the school and Reformed community in general. Lane Tipton (and other professors) has a huge set of shoes to fill following the Vos/Warfield-Murray/Kline-Gaffin BT/ST trajectory.

  9. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 2:44 am

    ReformedSinner: “Now, from a grander perspective you always give some benefit of the doubt to “classroom lectures”, but one is more critical towards publications.”

    You have a point about lectures vs. publications, ReformedSinner, but on the other hand, it’s not like nothing was written before I&I. There have been journal articles, commentaries, and even a whole “Introduction to the Old Testament” (Dillard/Longman)!

    And, of course, there is still this nagging little fact: the majority of the faculty have agreed with Enns. If Enns is far beyond the pale, how come so many of his colleagues don’t see it? If he is indeed terribly wrong and his colleagues lack the discernment to see it, then doesn’t WTS have too many problems ever to be salvaged?

    I mean, if the majority of the faculty is this far off themselves or too incompetent to see how far Enns is off, then what’s one firing going to accomplish?

    Oh yeah, you’ve got to start somewhere with graffiti, right?

  10. Darryl Hart said,

    June 27, 2008 at 5:07 am

    Manlius, what do you think the vote would be after the pieces by Gaffin and Poythress? Do you really think Gaffin wouldn’t switch any votes?

  11. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 9:03 am

    That’s a good question, Darryl. I haven’t seen Poythress’s piece yet, but Gaffin’s piece moves the discussion forward positively in that it gets to the heart of the differences. My hunch is that the votes would not be changed, but I say that as someone who knows VERY LITTLE about what has transpired the past decade or so.

    It may just be that too much water has passed under the bridge. As worthy as Gaffin’s piece is, it comes so late. These discussions on the appropriate boundaries of WTS should have been happening a long time ago. If Gaffin is right, then Enns and several others should have never been hired. But they were hired, and many of us enjoyed their teaching (just as we enjoyed Gaffin, Poythress, et al). As I’ve said before, why should the egg be unscrambled now? Trying to do so will continue to divide the seminary, perhaps beyond repair.

    I feel like it’s December 1860, and while everyone regrets how things have gone, our division seems inevitable. Sad.

  12. ReformedSinner (DC) said,

    June 27, 2008 at 9:16 am

    #9:

    While not discounting the 12-8 majority vote in favor of Enns, there are many things to say to that. For one majority rule is not an absolute truth (and jury’s still out whether this is a Biblical way of deciding matters), and definitely majority isn’t always right. The point of having a vote is not to stump the majority upon the minority, but to hear both sides of voices on why are there so many minorities in the first place. Second, with respect to all the faculty members but I think it’s safe to say not all of them are equals in theological depth and insights. Certainly in matters like this I take Gaffin’s concerns more than say a professor from PT. I would have though I’m foolish if Gaffin and Poythress would come out and defend Enns. However, when both Gaffin and Poythress came out and say they have concerns, I am worried. I don’t care if it’s 18-2 vote, if the 2 minority votes are Gaffin and Poythress, I am worried.

    Finally, we don’t know what goes in the minds of a “favor” or “unfavor” vote. I personally know that many professors (more than 8) from communicating with them that they definitely have some reservations on what Enns is saying. In a vote like “is he or isn’t he” there is just no room to express that. Some faculty might have some reservation but not enough to say Enns is 100% against the WCF. Just like if you come up to me and force me to decide: “is it ok to use majuriwana, yes or no” there’s no room for me to express that if it’s for legitimate medical use and research why not?

  13. ReformedSinner (DC) said,

    June 27, 2008 at 9:16 am

    that smiling face should be the number “8”

  14. ReformedSinner (DC) said,

    June 27, 2008 at 9:24 am

    #11:

    “many enjoyed their teachings”: so are truths and love based solely on emotions and enjoyments now? Anybody that is dynamic and charismatic can make their teachings “enjoyable.” But that shouldn’t even be the substance of the argument. I keep seeing this get bought up, “students feel they enjoyed Enns too much”, “students think Enns opened their mind to the possibilities of the Bible”, “students felt helped by Enns” – replace Enns with words like “Liberalism”, “Neo-Orthodoxy”, and “Mormonism” and it would be just as valid of a statement to make by any other party that “enjoy” the teachings. It doesn’t prove or disprove anything.

    Why WTS took so long to realize Enns teaching something contrary to the Bible? Don’t know, but now the rabbit’s out of the hat it’s time to deal with it.

  15. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 9:45 am

    ReformedSinner, please don’t miscontrue what I’m saying. My argument is not that truth is based on majority vote or on how much students enjoy certain teaching. My point is that WTS has moved in a particular direction over many years now, and many teachers and students have embraced this direction.

    For the seminary’s leadership to say, “Let’s change course now,” I believe they need to persuade faculty, students and alumni that the direction is in need of correction. I don’t think it’s right simply to declare they’ve won the argument and insist that everyone needs to conform.

    ReformedSinner: “Why WTS took so long to realize Enns teaching something contrary to the Bible? Don’t know, but now the rabbit’s out of the hat it’s time to deal with it.”

    You see, this is my point. You assume that WTS has come to the realization that Enns is teaching something contrary to the Bible and this must now be dealt with. I’m saying that this argument is far from settled, and to deal with anything at this point is grossly premature. Why do the President, the board and a minority of the faculty suddenly get to declare that the debate is over? Doesn’t that strike you as unfair?

  16. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2008 at 9:49 am

    I have taken Ron Henzel’s advice and eliminated the automatic emoticon feature of this blog. No fear of that sneaky smiley with shades (for an 8 plus closing parenthesis).

  17. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Manlius, are you aware of the over 2 years of debate that the faculty had over this? And the equally grueling hours that the board poured into this? The end of the debate is not sudden. And the end of the debate is not yet, since the board doesn’t finally vote on the matter until December.

  18. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 10:28 am

    I grant, of course, that a lot of time has been spent debating this. But the point is that even after all this debate, the seminary community seems to be split right down the middle. Shouldn’t that be ruled a draw and not a clear victory for either side? Shouldn’t a clearly agreed upon resolution be reached before any firings begin?

    If after 2 years of debate, a solid majority of WTS faculty, students and alumni ruled that Enns were out of bounds, then the time for action would be appropriate. I personally wouldn’t be happy about that, but I would have to respect the fact that the WTS community has set its boundaries exactly where it wants them. As it is, it seems like one side is simply trying to force its view on the other.

  19. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2008 at 10:33 am

    The fact of the matter is that the board has the decision, not the faculty, and certainly not the students, whose theological acumen can definitely be called into question. The board is no longer split down the middle, and there was a strong majority even before 8 members of the board resigned. This is the way that the seminary is set up. Furthermore, I deeply appreciate the comments about the weight of Gaffin and Poythress (I would add Oliphint, Tipton, Jue and Trueman to that list).

  20. Ron Henzel said,

    June 27, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Manlius,

    You wrote: “If Gaffin is right, then Enns and several others should have never been hired.”

    Exactly!

  21. its.reed said,

    June 27, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Ref. 18:

    Manilus, you may not intend this, but your comment about declaring a draw seems to grow out of an egalitarian perspective. WTS is not a body-politic in which the votes determine the right.

    As I said, I don’t think you intend this, but I do think your comment reveals some considerations you think are important that are in the end not considerations upon which to reach a decision.

    It seems to me that this is what the student body is facing. “I’m with Enns,” “Gaffin supports us,” “no he doesn’t, but I’m not sure but Professor Wigglesworth,” et.al. … such comments, far too common in this discussion, smack so much of the kinds of thinking Paul judged as ungodly in 1 Corinthians 3.

    Instead, a sincere debate, with both sides sincerely seeking the truth, with in the end the one given the authority to make the decision to do so, and with the respect for those who may still disagree – this is the course of action that will find Christ’s blessing.

    Indeed, as far as I can tell, it has been the course of action of Lilliback, the board, and the faculty. My prayers that God will bless them.

    The problem seems to be with those of us on the edges who think we have some right to give our party-spirit two-cents worth. My prayers that God will grant us all the humility to discuss these things appropriately.

  22. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Ron, I wonder how Gaffin voted on those faculty members you wish had never been hired.

    its.reed, am I egalitarian? I don’t follow. The question is not who or what determines truth (that’s God alone – his vote is the only one that counts, obviously), but what the Westminster community believes about what that truth is. There have always been boundary markers for the WTS community, but the faculty members, in the context of their creedal commitments, have decided what those markers are. How else should it be done? Don’t the OPC and PCA takes votes on what constitutes adherence to the WCF? Now some may believe a majority vote is in error, but those folks have to convince others according to the Bible that they’re right. They don’t carry the day until they persuade a majority.

    I guess I didn’t realize that the WTS community handed all this decision-making authority to the board alone. Evidently they hold all the cards, so whatever they think goes. Game over. The rest of us will have to go play elsewhere.

    Look, the board will make its decision, but we will all have to live with the consequences. Faculty will be forced out, alumni will be alienated, some prospective students will never matriculate. If that’s the way they want it, and they have the power to do it, I guess people like me just need to shut up.

    its.reed: “Instead, a sincere debate, with both sides sincerely seeking the truth, with in the end the one given the authority to make the decision to do so, and with the respect for those who may still disagree – this is the course of action that will find Christ’s blessing.”

    Is this statement always true, or just true in this case? And if it’s true only in this case, how do you know that?

  23. Ron Henzel said,

    June 27, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Manlius,

    You wrote, “Ron, I wonder how Gaffin voted on those faculty members you wish had never been hired.”

    And I wonder how your lack of information on this point advances the discussion.

  24. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    You’re right – I do lack that bit of information.

    My point for this discussion, however, remains valid. If Gaffin has been concerned about the trajectory of Enns and the biblical studies guys for some time, he’s been quiet about it (at least publically). Now he may have had good reasons for remaining quiet, I don’t know. But as someone who comes at this controversy from the other side of me, don’t you wish he had spoken out sooner?

  25. Ron Henzel said,

    June 27, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Manlius,

    Another shot in the dark. But as I understand it, this crisis has been brewing ever since I&I came out in 2005, and it seems to me that it would have been inappropriate for Dr. Gaffin to make a public comment about it before the matter was resolved.

  26. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Exactly, Ron. The information I have is that concerns were floating around long before that. However, there were no published writings of Enns on which to base anything. Therefore, it could just be written off as hearsay. Or, one would have to go through a whole bunch of students’ notes. Besides, if Gaffin had come out before all this erupted, would not Enns’s supporters have been complaining about how this was brought out into the open before private discussions could take place and Enns’s views be properly evaluated before raising the issues in a public forum? What is frustrating about this is that the manner in which this has been handled would always be deemed unfair, even though that discussion is irrelevant to the question of whether Enns is confessional or not. Talk to Carl Trueman about the process.

    By the way, the piece by Tipton/Jue prevents us from saying that Enns is simply following Dillard’s footsteps. Dillard did not say the same thing as Enns.

  27. Ron Henzel said,

    June 27, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    When people don’t like the results, they attack the process.

  28. ReformedSinner (DC) said,

    June 27, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Dr. Enns says it all in his inauguration: “I thank the WTS professors for bringing me into the Reformed Faith, and I thank the Harvard professors (namely Kugel) for teaching me Scholarship.”

  29. its.reed said,

    June 27, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Manilus;

    It is distinctly unhelpful to raise questions about the lack of actions on the part of others, actions that you deem appropriate without full knowledge of the circumstances.

    Humility would suggest that we take men of good standing at their word and not spend too much time wondering if they did something wrong or could have done something better. Such an attitude of second guessing is wrong.

    As to what I know about the process and whether or not it was as I described – every written record I’ve seen, combined with the character of the men involved, tells it is so.

    On what basis do you question their integrity in these matters?

  30. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    I’m just saying that what Enns and others have been teaching has been known for a long time. NOTHING about I&I surprised me. I remember saying to myself when I read it, “Now I can throw out my OT Intro notes, because it’s all here in this book.”

    My questions are still hanging out there. If Enns was such a problem, why wasn’t he confronted earlier? It’s hard to believe that such a dangerous teacher should have been allowed to teach seminarians for a over a decade. And if Enns still is such a problem, how come a majority of the faculty still support him? I respect the minority faculty a lot, but their votes aren’t worth more than the others.

    Ron, I don’t like the process or the results. But I am able separate them.

    Greenbaggins, so Dillard didn’t say the same thing as Enns? How about Longman? Kelly? Green? Groves? Is Enns alone out there?

    And by the way, I think everyone would have been served a lot better from the beginning if the professors felt free to air their views publicly. There are some matters to be kept private, and nothing should get personal, but I certainly would not have been bothered if all the professors spoke their mind more freely. In fact, I remember as a student being a little frustrated how the professors seemed to be always tiptoeing throught the tulips (no Calvinist pun intended). Perhaps a lot of this controversy would have been avoided if they could get their opinions out there in the open. Other institutions do it. I don’t know why Westminster has this notion that everything has to be so private all the time.

  31. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Its.reed, I have been very careful NOT to call Dr. Gaffin’s motives or actions into question. I have utmost respect for him and would always give him the benefit of the doubt.

    My only point is to wonder why Enns and others have not been called into question earlier. It’s okay to wonder, isn’t it?

    My questions in this thread have been about people’s judgment, NOT their integrity.

  32. greenbaggins said,

    June 27, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Manlius, I could not disagree more strongly about airing these views publicly. Can you honestly tell me that Enns’s supporters would not have been yelling out “Slander, Slander!”? if your program had been followed. As moderator of this blog, I am pronouncing a moratorium on the process regarding Enns. There is no reason to discuss it further.

    There are plenty of reasons why this has not come out earlier, the lack of literature being one of them. There are other reasons about which I have sensitive information that I will not divulge. I have significant problems with much of Longman’s writings. Kelly and Green haven’t written much, and these issues did not come up much in Hebrew class, or in OT prophets. They have kept a lower profile if they do teach the same things.

  33. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    BTW, wasn’t it Ron Henzel who used my hypothetical to express regret that Enns and others were hired in the first place? And isn’t it ReformedSinner who’s done a lot of speculating about why certain people have supported Enns?

    Funny, then, that I would be the one’s who called out for speculating on actions and questioning people’s motives when I’ve done just a little of the former and NONE of the latter.

  34. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    sorry – should be “one who’s”

  35. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Just to be clear, I agree that once the disciplinary process got going, privacy was necessary. My point is that I think professors should have been freer to express their views before any discipline was at issue.

  36. Ron Henzel said,

    June 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Manlius,

    Given Lane’s moratorium, I’ll steer clear of the points you directed at me, since I assume they come under its scope. Meanwhile, you wrote: “…so Dillard didn’t say the same thing as Enns? How about Longman? …”

    I haven’t read a lot from either Dillard or Longman, but I do know that regarding Genesis 1-2 they wrote, “…the passage definitely guards against a mythological or parabolic interpretation…” (An Introduction to the Old Testament, [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], 52).

    For what it’s worth…

  37. Darryl Hart said,

    June 27, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I think Manlius is making a number of strong points even if he and I disagree about Enns. This is a real crisis for WTS. Either the seminary has been moving in a wrong direction for the last 25 years. Or if the current trajectory continues with Enns then the seminary’s first 50 years are in question. That was the point of “Can Westminster Put the Genie Back in the Bottle?”

  38. ReformedSinner (DC) said,

    June 28, 2008 at 1:37 am

    #36:

    For what it’s worth. Longman III when he’s teaching OTHT II for the late Al Groves, a student asked him if he supports I&I. Longman III answered: “I would use a gentler language, but yeah, I support everything in that book fully.”

  39. ReformedSinner (DC) said,

    June 28, 2008 at 1:55 am

    #37 Mr Hart:

    I think it’s unfair to say WTS has a crisis for the last 25 years. First off last I check the CH, ST, and AP departments are all solid. Even the NT department WTS used to have a solid NT trio of Silva – Poythress – McCartney for a good amount of time. Finally, it’s questionable exactly when the OT department has been “corrupted.” Some argued it’s a recent thing while others argued it can be traced as far back to Dillard.

  40. June 28, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I am wondering how given Gaffin’s material above he can make sense of passages like John 11:51. I was waiting to see him discuss it since it has immediate bearing on the difference between divine and human intentions and inspiration. Was Ciaphas inspired to prophesy? Was Ciaphas’ intention the same as the divine intention? Did he mean what God meant according to Gaffin or something different, even opposite?

  41. its.reed said,

    June 28, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Ref. 40:

    Perry:

    “He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,” (John 11:51, ESV).

    What??

    If I’m beginning to understand your question, I think you’re asking it wrong. Rather than a disparity between Caiaphas and God, is not the correct question is there a differenc between John’s intention (human author) and the Spirit’s (Divine author).

  42. June 28, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Its reed.

    Did Ciaphas prophesy? Does inspiration apply only to the writing of a text or does it extend to the prophets when they prophesied? If Ciaphas prophesied, was his intention and meaning isopmorphic with God’s or not? Gaffin seems to claim that in order for inspiration to be the case, they’d have to be, so here I have apparently a clear case where it is not so.

    So either Ciaphas wasn’t inspired but prophesied, didn’t prophesy and wasn’t inspired, or Gaffin’s intentional and semantic isomorphic criteria is wrong.

  43. Ron Henzel said,

    June 29, 2008 at 5:24 am

    Perry,

    First of all, this discussion, as framed by Enns himself, was never about prophecies we may find in the New Testament. Gaffin reminds us that Enns claimed that I&I provided “a hermeneutical foundation for how the Old Testament is now to be understood by Christians” (119, italics added; cf. 129, 134). This is consistent with the fact that one of Enns’s main interests has been the New Testament authors’ interpretation of the Old Testament, and now he has gone as far as to claim to have provided “a hermeneutical foundation” for understanding it. In the strictest sense, the Caiaphas prophecy is outside the boundaries of this discussion.

    But now that you’ve brought it up, the truly notable thing about Caiaphas’s prophecy was not the difference between what he meant to say and what God meant to say through him, but the similarity. “Both Caiaphas and John understand Jesus’ death to be substitutionary: either Jesus dies, or the nation dies. ‘If he dies the nation lives. It is His life instead of theirs’ (Morris, p. 568). But while Caiaphas is thinking at the purely political level, John invites his readers to think in terms of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (1:29, 34).” (D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, [UK: InterVarsity and US: Eerdmans, 1991], 422.)

    In Caiaphas’s prophecy, both Caiaphas and God are referring to Jesus. Both Caiaphas and God are saying that He must die a substitutionary death. Both Caiaphas and God say that this must be done to spare the nation. The primary referents are all the same.

    The differences between Caiaphas and God center on why they are true, not that they are true. The referents are the same; the reasons differ.

    But to make this example more relevant to Gaffin’s critique of Enns: not only were the referents the same at the time they were uttered, they were also the same after the events played out. Concerning Hosea’s prophecy, Enns claimed that “words, which in their original historical context … did not speak of Jesus of Nazareth, now do.” So I don’t think the Caiaphas prophecy speaks relevantly to the object that Gaffin was addressing.

    But even on this score we have not yet captured the main point, because if you read Gaffin’s citations of Murray carefully, along with Gaffin’s follow-up comments, you’ll notice that the issue was never whether the primary referents of Hosea’s prophecy differed from Matthew’s application of them. Murray was very clear with respect to “Out of Egypt have I called my son” that, “In Hosea 11: 1…this refers to the emancipation of Israel from Egypt. But in Matthew 2:15 it is applied to Christ…” Murray has no problem with this. His point is that Hosea’s original meaning was always bound up with the fulfillment we read about in Matthew. According to Murray, Hosea’s prophecy has always had a “unity” with Matthew’s text that “is one of organic interdependence and derivation.” As he wrote further, “The Old Testament has no meaning except as it is related to the realities that give character to and create the New Testament era as the fulness of time, the consummation of the ages” (emphasis mine). In other words, it is impossible to speak of Hosea’s original prophecy gaining a meaning that it never had before because of something that happened later, even if that “something” was part of the life of Christ.

    Furthermore, as for how much Hosea might have understood concerning its prophetic meaning, this seems to be quite beside the point that Gaffin is trying to make. In fact, Gaffin seeks to guard against the notion that the divine meaning of an Old Testament prophecy must be identical to the intention of its human author. Gaffin is not concerned, not that Hosea’s words are “blurred,” but that “revelation is blurred” by Enns’s “messiness of history” approach. He writes: “With that blurring, meaningful divine authorship fades to a vanishing point by making the intention of each human author, with all the limitations of his historical situation and circumstances, determinative for the meaning of the text as it originated.” In other words: because there is such a phenomenon as types (and antitypes) in Scripture, the total meaning (significance might perhaps be a better word here) of Hosea 11:1 was not exhausted by what Hosea was thinking at the time he wrote it. From the standpoint of the historical narrative that Hosea was providing, his words strictly referred to a past event. From the standpoint of the outworking of God’s redemptive plan, God inspired Hosea’s words to ultimately refer to His only-begotten Son as the fulfillment of everything He was accomplishing in redemptive history.

    But according to Enns, the text of Hosea 11:1 did not mean anything that would later be fulfilled by Christ when it was originally written (and obviously here, the nature of any kind of fulfillment would have had to have been that of type and antitype). It only gained that meaning because of later events, because its original meaning was limited to what Hosea knew at the time. This view has alarming implications for the orthodox doctrine of inspiration, since it precludes the idea that Hosea’s text originally contained any divinely-deposited meaning (which would not have been a “double meaning” in the standard sense, since we’re dealing with types here) that could later be uncovered through further revelation, and it replaces an inspired meaning for Hosea 11:1 with an “evolving meaning” of sorts that really amounts to a reading of later history back into previous events instead of allowing Scripture to tell us what God meant in the first place.

  44. Ron Henzel said,

    June 29, 2008 at 5:30 am

    I would like to re-word the fourth paragraph of my previous comment to read: “The differences between Caiaphas and God center on why and how they are true, not that they are true. The referents are the same; the reasons differ.”

  45. steve hays said,

    June 29, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Perry,

    Let’s not lose sight of what’s an issue in the debate over Enns. Enns and his supporters are taking the position that God sometimes inspires errors, that Bible writers sometimes intend to make true assertions which we now know are false.

    How is the case of Caiaphas relevant to that issue? He intended to make a true assertion, and he succeeded in making a true statement. God inspired him to speak, and what he spoke was true.

    That is not comparable to the alleged case of an inspired Bible writer who meant to make a true assertion, even though his assertion does not, in fact, correspond to reality—according to our enlightened, modern viewpoint.

  46. steve hays said,

    June 29, 2008 at 11:55 am

    That should read “what’s at issue,” not “what’s an issue.”

  47. June 29, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Ron,

    I disagree. I drew an analogy so while even if it were true that the discussion was never about prophecies in the NT, it is about inspiration and its nature, which is entailed by the notion of prophecy on pain of denying that prophecy is inspired. My argument was in essence a counter example to Gaffin’s apparent semantic isomorphic condition and nothing you wrote touches that counter example. So please allow me to explain.

    First, it isn’t clear to me that God and Ciaphas have the same thing in mind. It isn’t clear that Ciaphas has a substitutionary thought in mind. It is more pragmatic or utilitarian. Further, the nation does not survive given the events of 66-70 A.D. which is why I think Jesus tells the people to weep for themselves and their children. If so, then God and Ciaphas don’t have the same thing in mind. This is why Morris is wrong. The irony is that Jesus dies and the nation does as well. If not, one wonders why God brings judgment on Israel in 70 A.D. for apostasy. Further, if Ciaphas is thinking on “purely political level” then he isn’t thinking what God is thinking. What is more, Jesus death is to take away the sin of the world, not just the sin of the nation. Consequently Carson’s take seems undermined by his own citation. And it doesn’t matter how we gloss kosmos in either a calvinistic or non-calvinistic way-it will still be true that Jesus’ death isn’t a strict substitution for the Jewish nation, unless you wish to affirm Jesus dies for unelect persons.
    If I thought that reference entailed meaning I might agree with you about God and Ciaphas having the same meaning, but I don’t. You can have the same referents and different meaning. Meaning isn’t co-extensive or identical with reference and this is true if you are a Fregian, Wittgenstinian or a follower of Kripke. I can know what you mean even if you get the wrong referent and I can fail to understand you even if you have the right one.

    If reasons are constitutive of meaning then it will follow God and Ciaphas don’t mean the same thing. And even if the difference is on why they are true, then Ciaphas will be wrong and God will be right, which gives us reason to suspect that the semantic content differs. In any case, it is still possible to leave the question of what constitutes their meaning untouched.

    To be fair, Enn’s book is more suited to a popular read. There are a number of ways one could understand what “now do” amounts to. Furthermore, it is a counter example to Gaffin’s semantic isomorphic condition and it is a case where the Apostles and Disciples likely after the Resurrection were able to understand its inspired significance, even though it couldn’t be garnered from the grammar at the time of utterance. So it maps well on to the cases of the OT prophetic texts.

    I take Murray to be wrong for the simple reason that his gloss will imply serious Christological error. The subordinational relationship is a sure marker of it. And I am not so concerned as to whether Enns follows Murray. The question should be who is right? If Murray is wrong, what good is it to appeal to a traditional view if the traditional view is wrong?

    Now I don’t know if Enns would agree with what I am about to propose, but lets take it for a test drive. I am not clear on why Hosea can’t be inspired if he doesn’t have the same idea in mind as the NT writers? In some cases it won’t be that what the OT author said is false but just a different meaning from how the NT authors understand it. In either case of difference or error, I am not clear on why God can’t inspire persons who are ignorant or mistaken. Take the ignorance of Christ, for example-always a fun topic. Christ is truly ignorant, but is he any less a prophet? Can God inspire in and through human weakness, including error? If not, I wonder how God can then become incarnate and die for God does truly die. What’s the difference between saying God inspired and erroneous statment and saying God died? Not much that I can see. Now as to Murray and the “original meaning” I don’t see what the problem is unless by “original meaning” you mean what Hosea meant rather than what God meant.

    I saw the comments about an “organic unity” and it puzzzled me. First it seemed like a fudge phrase. Second, what constitutes the “organic” part of the union? That sounds awfully realist to me. Not that I am adverse to a realist gloss, but I am not sure Murray’s metaphysics or Christology will permit it. Third, I don’t know why Enns can’t say something like the following. The “original meaning” is the divinely intended one that the NT authors employ, even if the OT author didn’t have that meaning in mind at the time of inspiration. Why identify inspiration with intellect? It seems to suppose that to be a person is to be conscious and rational, that the mind is the person, which will cause all kinds of heterodoxy in Christology since Jesus confesses genuine ignorance.

    If Gaffin seeks to preclude the condition that the meaning of the OT text and the NT employment must be semantically equivalent, then why saddle Enns with a semantic and intentional isomorphism that he rejects? Furthermore, if the meaning of the OT text isn’t identical to the divine meaning, then how could anyone hope to get at the latter via a grammatical analysis?

    As for Gaffin’s comments concerning a “vanishing point, I don’t think his point follows from Enns premises. It doesn’t follow that if the intention of each human author is determinative for the meaning of the text as it originated that revelation is eclipsed, but only that accessing the surface grammar won’t entail accessing the inspired content. So much the worse for the grammatical-historical approach or any attempt to make theology a science. (This has the added benefit of cutting against Rome as well btw) There is no blurring here, but only denial that reason can do the work of the Spirit. The natural man can’t undertand the things of God. And such was a major point that many church Fathers made against their Jewish opponents. Further, what this entails is that I don’t agree with Gaffin’s understanding of typology, which for my part has more in common with Theodore of Mopsuestia’s hermeneutical practices and ideas. There is more than one theory of inspiration, particularly a more theanthropic model rather than a pneumatological one like what Lane proposes which isn’t really Chalcedonian IMO, that requires the invention or adherence to silly doctrines like “created grace, which can get you to an idea of “double meaning.” That said, what Gaffin says about the total meaning of Hosea’s writing wasn’t exhausted by the contents of his mind at the time of writing seems right to me and not much different if at all from what I think Enns says.

    As for the “orthodox doctrine of inspiration” that strikes me as rather odd. I think what you mean to say is what counts as orthodox for most Calvinists for the last few centuries. But I don’t think that I share the same view of inspiration with Calvinists because I don’t think we share the same Christology and Trinitarianism.

  48. Ron Henzel said,

    June 30, 2008 at 3:30 am

    Perry,

    I think it would be helpful if you explained what you mean by the word “isomorphic.” As I’ve already explained, Gaffin is not saying that the meaning in the prophet’s mind has to have the same shape, form, or structure as the meaning He is communicating through the prophet’s words. In fact, he specifically objects to subjecting prophetic texts to that kind of limitation. To me, this is the opposite of isomorphic, unless you’re using the word in some other way.

    With that in mind, I see now that I overstated the overlap between Caiaphas’s meaning and God’s meaning for the words of John 11:50. Specifically, I do not believe that the referent for the word “nation” was identical in both cases, since in God’s mind I believe it referred only to spiritual Israel, which I identify with the church of all ages. I apologize for the confusion caused by not making that clear.

    Unfortunately, since I’ve made it clear that this is not about Murray is really not saying anything all that different from Augustine’s old adage, “The New is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” He’s just applying it hermeneutically. And yet you write, “I take Murray to be wrong for the simple reason that his gloss will imply serious Christological error. The subordinational relationship is a sure marker of it.” I assume the “subordinational relationship” to which you refer is that of subordinating the meaning of OT texts to NT interpretation. If so, you have not made any case for how this “will imply serious Christological error,” which, of course, is a classic illegitimate tactic in theological argumentation: grabbing a heresy from an unrelated (or at best tangentially-related) category of theology and trying to make it stick on a position we dislike in some other category. Thus the iconodules blasted the iconoclasts as “gnostics,” and although they made a far better case than current FV proponents (who wouldn’t know a gnostic from a gnome) who try to slap the same pejorative on Meredith Kline, their argument was still illegitimate.

    Meanwhile, I find it highly ironic that you don’t have any problem with the notion of God inspiring error, but you feel free to reject Murray’s view because you think it is erroneous. Why not be consistent? If you can accept Scripture with errors in it, why not theology? Is not the Bible still God’s word, errors and all, in your view? Are we not to bow down to Scripture rather than to reject it merely because it has errors in it? What, then, is your logical basis for rejecting Murray’s view simply because it is erroneous? Do tell.

  49. Ron Henzel said,

    June 30, 2008 at 3:32 am

    Please ignore the words, “Unfortunately, since I’ve made it clear that this is not about,” at the beginning of paragraph 3 in my above comment. I woke up too early this morning and haven’t had my first cup of coffee yet…

  50. steve hays said,

    June 30, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Perry Robinson said,

    “There is more than one theory of inspiration, particularly a more theanthropic model rather than a pneumatological one like what Lane proposes which isn’t really Chalcedonian IMO.”

    I suppose Lane favors a pneumatological model of inspiration because the Bible consistently attributes inspiration to the agency of the Holy Spirit. It’s terrible the way Lane gets his doctrine of Scripture from the witness of Scripture—instead of some post-Biblical, Greek Orthodox construct.

  51. Ron Henzel said,

    June 30, 2008 at 7:36 am

    Steve,

    If Perry will settle for an erroneous Bible, why can’t he also have an erroneous theory of inspiration to go along with it? I mean, come on—let’s be reasonable here!

  52. Darryl Hart said,

    June 30, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Reformed Sinner (#39): I wonder if you’re a bit too optimistic about the recent WTS. Before the Shepherd controversy WTS was dominated by conservatives from American and Scottish Presbyterian, and Dutch Reformed backgrounds. You could call them Old School in a loose sense. They combined many of the best elements from Old Princeton, Scottish Presbyterianism, and Dutch Calvinism. Even more important, they were churchly in that they were traditionalists in worship, had a high view of office and ordination, and a real sense of obligation to serve in the courts of the church.

    In that setting, biblical counseling, contemporary worship, and urban ministry were minority perspectives.

    After Shepherd the “Old School” group was divided and not even in the majority thanks to the start of Westminster California. Since Shepherd contemporary worship, every member minister through the avenues of urban emphases and biblical counseling, and openness to evangelicalism has been far more the custom. The intellectual vigor at WTS has come from either biblical theology or biblical counseling, with inspiration coming from a can do spirit to transform America, starting with its large metropolitan areas. But the older WTS tradition of being for the Reformed faith and against departures from it was much harder to find.

    That was the context in which biblical studies proceeded after 1982. In that setting, it was much easier to be oriented to the Society of Biblical Literarture than to presbytery or General Assembly. This is why I am not optimistic that simply removing the influence of individual faculty members will remedy the situation. Somehow the ethos has to change, one where serving the institutional church and particular Reformed communions, both through training pastors and conducting beneficial scholarship, is the expectation.

    But at least the last president didn’t rename Machen Hall as Edwards Hall.

  53. greenbaggins said,

    June 30, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Darryl, I certainly do see your concerns, and sympathize with many of them. I hated the contemporary worship model being perpetrated at WTS. However, the counseling class had many good points about it. I felt very much equipped by that class to be a pastoral counselor, and don’t see it as being at all in conflict with Old School Presbyterianism. I think there were some problems with regard to egalitarianism and counseling. But I see that as not being part of the issue of counseling itself. On the issue of general evangelicalism, don’t you think that the ethos is definitely moving away from that towards confessionalism in this whole debate over Enns?

  54. its.reed said,

    June 30, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Darryl:

    If I might echo Lane on this one. You were in the process of heading out west when I came to WTS (fall of ’97). As one who has demonstrated himself to be an astute student of the Church, and an “insider” at WTS, your observations do carry some weight with me.

    As one who was an “outsider,” is appreciative of the old-school heritage of all three sources you noted, I am as well one who is cautiously optimistic that the vision you enumerated can be yet again brought to the fore. I am continually reminded that as the Church grows, so her appearance grows.

    I am hopeful and prayerful that those responsible for the shepherding of WTS will be led of the Spirit to the path of maintaining the heritage and raising up yet more generations who can take it into the future of the Church.

    Thanks for your insights.

    Reed DePace
    TE, PCA
    WTS, MAR, ’99

  55. Darryl Hart said,

    June 30, 2008 at 10:26 am

    GB: you and I will likely differ on biblical counseling. For one, it appeals to the Bible on many matters that I believe call for Christian liberty. T. David Gordon wrote a great piece on the insufficiency of Scripture some time back in Modern Reformation (not a great phrase but he was getting at an important poiint). I believe he and I both thought he was reacting to an abuse of the Bible to regulate personal matters in highly specific ways that are exegetically suspect. He was also objecting to an approach to the Bible which treats as the personal manual for the life coach within you.

    For another, biblical counseling has encouraged the idea that the biblical counselor is as qualified and as authorized as a minister of the word to minister the word. You know, of course, that many non-ordained practice biblical counseling, right?

    its.reed and GB: on WTS turning confessional, what do you say to Tim Keller being the guy who walks on water for all parties at the seminary?

  56. greenbaggins said,

    June 30, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Darryl, I agree that ministering the Word belongs to the minister only. As such, biblical counseling should be limited to the ministers. However, I’m not sure that I would agree that the way CCEF does counseling is over-reading Scripture to be too specific. I also think they do not treat the Bible as a personal manual.

    As to Tim Keller, I don’t think he is everyone’s hero at WTS. When I was there (’00-’04), I didn’t really hear a lot about him. As to the man himself, I appreciate what is good about him (his practical apologetics are incredibly good, although he shrinks Christianity down to its lowest common denominator), and reject what is bad (non-confessionalism, egalitarianism, broad big-tent views of the confession, etc.).

  57. June 30, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Ron,

    I think you have confused mockery with an argument. It would be helpful for the tone of the conversations if you could make arguments rather than mocking ideas that it is obvious that you have not yet grasped. This is so much more the case since you have explicitly capitulated to me in a few areas so far.

    I didn’t think I should have to explain fairly standard vocabulary such as isomorphism. And your comments about Gaffin strike me as incoherent. On the one hand you say that for Gaffin the meaning in the prophets mind doesn’t have to be the same shape, form or strucutre as the meaning God is communicating through the prophets words. Well I don’t know what you mean by “shape” since I generally don’t take meaning to have a shape. As for form or structure this signals to me that you have conceptual content in mind. If so, then what you are claiming is that the meaning in the prophets mind and the meaning God has in mind don’t have to be identical for God to inspire the speech. If so, I don’t see where this diverges from Enns. Further it seems to directly contradict what Gaffin does say regarding intentional and semantical identity between the two. That was the whole point of his use of Warfield. On the other hand you say that God is communicating through the prophets words. Well which is it, words or meanings that are different?

    Lots of people can agree with Augustine’s adage across theories of inspiration so I don’t see that doing any argumentative work for you. I already gave a reason for thinking that Murray was wrong. Moving it to a discussion of Augustine doesn’t address that reason, but at best only expands the set of those guilty of the same error.

    I don’t commit the fallacy that you accuse me of regarding heterodoxy. First I do in this thread and in others and in a separate post on my own blog http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2008/06/15/a-deformed-christ/
    It seems that both Vos and Murray take the relationship between revelation and history to one of a subordinating relationship through an act of will. You can see the same fundamental gloss in Lane’s piece when he writes, “The divine and human in the God-man, therefore, are not equally ultimate, existing in some sort of parity with one another. The divine is primary; the human, while real, is subordinate” http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=109
    Following Chalcedon, the proper relationship of the divine to the human is not one of subordination, which was in fact the Nestorian position as well as that of the Arians in the doctrine of creation. Vos and Murray’s views on the relation of inspiration and revelation and history then are a function their Christology and consequently this Christological mistake. You can see this plainly in the contemporary literature on those debates. (See Anatolios’, Athanasius: The Coherence of his Thought, Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, & McGuckin, St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy, for starters. As I have said from the start here concerning Enns, the issue as I see it is Christological.

    Truth be told, if you actually go back and read the thread in question, I actually defended Kline against Johnson and Hoss’ charge of Gnosticism, since they were clearly wrong and don’t seem to be sufficiently familiar with Gnosticism to correctly apply that term. And in fact the Iconoclasts at the end of the day were Gnostic, for their fundamental problem was that God could not be united with matter for matter, following the Hellenistic tradition for them was formless and by definition opposite to God since God and matter were defined in terms of opposite properties. (See Giakalis’ work on the 7th council for further discussion.)

    I don’t have a problem with the idea that erroneous statements could be inspired anymore than I have a problem with the idea that an immortal God can die. Perhaps you don’t think that God can die or did die, but I do. Further, the issue as I see it turns in part on how we understand impassability. I don’t see the suffering of divine persons as a compromise of divine impassability. (See Gavriluk’s The Suffering of the Impassible God) Following Cyril and Athanasius, divine suffering while genuine suffering of the divine person is not like ours in the following respect. It is not a passivity in God but rather an activity so that God kind of lays hold of the suffering rather than in our case it happens to us. So your objection concerning Murray’s error and error in the statements of biblical authors turns on an ambiguity. So I am consistent. The errors of biblical writers still serves divine purposes in Christ, just as Rehab is a genuine ancestor of Christ. Besides, Murray’s texts aren’t inspired.

  58. June 30, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Steve,

    Caiaphas’ case is relevant since he was wrong yet inspired. I thought that would be obvious. And I wouldn’t think that a theory of inspiration would turn on a specific theory of truth like correspondence theory. I don’t see why a deflationary account wouldn’t do just as well.

    Lipton’s view if you read his article was attempting to be articulate a Christological model, but it is the relation between the Son and the Spirit that is in view. He designates his own view in pneumatological terms. So his own view isn’t the idea that the HS is solely responsible for inspiration. Further, as I noted before, his own gloss entails unbiblical doctrines such as “created grace”, an artifact of medieval Catholicism. This can be seen in the material where he talks about the Spirit giving created graces to the humanity from the outside. The standard Roman dialectic between nature and grace, where grace is alien and eternal to nature is obvious. That is hardly a product of the witness of the Scriptures. It is no great surprise that he views it this way since I suspect he adheres to other unbiblical doctrines such as the Filioque, which has direct bearing on the relation of the Son and the Spirit in the Economia. I am still waiting for an exegetical defense of that doctrine without an appeal to natural theology from you.

    As for constructs, last I checked, Protestant views are the result of an attempt to reconstruct the Bible’s meaning and so at worst you’ve only put Orthodoxy on the same level as Protestantism. And since I don’t think you are going to find any churches in the first century with Calvin’s name on them, Reformed theology is “post-biblical” as well. Wise cracks make bad arguments.

  59. steve hays said,

    June 30, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Perry Robinson said,

    “Caiaphas’ case is relevant since he was wrong yet inspired. I thought that would be obvious.”

    No, it’s not obvious. Are you claiming that his statement is erroneous? If so, in what respect.

    “And I wouldn’t think that a theory of inspiration would turn on a specific theory of truth like correspondence theory.”

    Now you’re changing the subject. I was pointing out what Enns’ theory entails, and then pointing out that Caiaphas doesn’t illustrate that principle.

    The theory of inspiration turns on the self-witness of Scripture, not a specific theory of truth. However, inspiration is not an end in itself. It’s a means of securing certain objectives, of which a truthful record is one.

    “Further, as I noted before, his own gloss entails unbiblical doctrines such as ‘created grace’, an artifact of medieval Catholicism. This can be seen in the material where he talks about the Spirit giving created graces to the humanity from the outside. The standard Roman dialectic between nature and grace, where grace is alien and eternal to nature is obvious. That is hardly a product of the witness of the Scriptures.”

    You’re obfuscating the issue by attacking a particular formulation of “pneumatic inspiration” because that particular formulation gives you a pretext to attack what you disapprove of in Protestant theology generally.

    That doesn’t change the fact that Scripture itself attributes its inspiration of the agency of the Holy Spirit rather than a theanthropic model. Attacking “created grace” is an exercise in misdirection.

    “I am still waiting for an exegetical defense of that doctrine without an appeal to natural theology from you.”

    What’s your problem, Perry? I’ve already stated my position on the Filioque. Don’t you remember?

    The problem is that you only have ears to hear the answers your looking for. If any answer doesn’t conform to your polemical agenda, you’re deaf to what the person said. So you keep demanding an answer as if none was given.

    “As for constructs, last I checked, Protestant views are the result of an attempt to reconstruct the Bible’s meaning and so at worst you’ve only put Orthodoxy on the same level as Protestantism. And since I don’t think you are going to find any churches in the first century with Calvin’s name on them, Reformed theology is ‘post-biblical’ as well. Wise cracks make bad arguments.”

    Once again, we weren’t discussing Reformed theology in general. Rather, we were discussing the Reformed doctrine of inspiration. In particular, the self-witness of Scripture.

    And, of course, Reformed theology in general has an exegetical basis, so the question of 1C labels is a red-herring.

  60. its.reed said,

    June 30, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Ref. #55:

    Darryl:

    Admittedly you have more first-hand experience wit the brothers at WTS than I. So in a sense my opinion, re: Keller’s influence on the current faculty, is rather like asking a Mongolian from the steppes whose only seen baseball once or twice on cable what he thinks the Phillies’ (Orioles, fill your team) chances are this year.

    As to this question, I think I’ll follow Lane’s lead and plead, “not what I observed.”

    In the end I generally believe the men at WTS are going to pull this out. It won’t look fully like what you or I might expect, yet I believe we will both look back in hindsight and say amen to the Lord’s work.

    And, with you, if that hindsight shows that WTS has become yet another part of the history of the Church whose heritage we appreciate, but whose demise we accept, I’ll join you in amen then too.

  61. Ron Henzel said,

    June 30, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Perry,

    The confusion here is all yours. I have simply responded to you based on the dictionary definition of the word “isomorphic,” which you can find here. You are obviously using the word to mean something other than it’s true meaning, hence you project your own incoherent thinking onto me.

    Your choice of words here appears designed to convey the impression of erudition but merely betrays ineptitude. One might be tempted to conclude that you are trying to sound brilliant by importing a technical linguistic term into a theological discussion. Even as a linguistic term, however, “isomorphic” is not related to the field of semantics as you are trying to apply it (cf. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics). Little wonder you’re not able to understand my response. Wherever you’re getting this word from, it has little to do with any serious discussion related to the topic at hand in a theological context.

    Meanwhile, you wrote: “what you are claiming is that the meaning in the prophets mind and the meaning God has in mind don’t have to be identical for God to inspire the speech. If so, I don’t see where this diverges from Enns.” I find it difficult to believe that you read either me or Gaffin with any degree of carefulness when you make such statements. Where it differs from Enns is that Enns denies that Hosea 11:1 originally had a meaning that was later fulfilled in Christ. As Gaffin put it, according to Enns: “…Hosea’s words, which in their original historical context (the intention of the human author, Hosea) did not speak of Jesus of Nazareth, now do.” As I wrote in comment 43: “…according to Enns, the text of Hosea 11:1 did not mean anything that would later be fulfilled by Christ when it was originally written…” What part of this do you not understand?

    You also wrote: “Further it seems to directly contradict what Gaffin does say regarding intentional and semantical identity between the two.” You just need to go back and re-read Gaffin. At best you’re caricaturing his view on the organic relationship between prophecy and its fulfillment. But here’s what makes your comment so ludicrous: I’ve already quoted the following verbatim from Gaffin, where he specifically objects to “making the intention of each human author, with all the limitations of his historical situation and circumstances, determinative for the meaning of the text as it originated.” This is now the second time I’m quoting it. What part of it do you not understand?

    You wrote: “That was the whole point of his use of Warfield.” You are apparently referring to Gaffin’s reference to “…the equation, as it has been expressed by Warfield: ‘”It says:” “Scripture says:” “God says”‘” Are you serious? Where is “The prophet intended to say” anywhere in this equation? What part of the fact that the intention of the human author does not limit the diving meaning of the text do you not understand?

    You wrote: “On the other hand you say that God is communicating through the prophets words. Well which is it, words or meanings that are different?” The intentions are different. Hosea may have perfectly understood that his words in 11:1 foretold Christ. I have no problem with that idea, and, in fact, my theology is congenial to such a conclusion. But the divine intention of what God meant to communicate in that text does not change, even if Hosea did not intend to foretell the coming of Christ. Which part of this do you not understand?

    You write: “I don’t commit the fallacy that you accuse me of regarding heterodoxy,” and then you proceed to commit that very fallacy in spades. Then incarnation is as inappropriate a model or analogy for the inspiration of Scripture (especially the way folks like Enns use it) as it was as an apologetic for venerating icons. The only reason you can’t see that is because you’re steeped in Eastern mysticism. You use the weasel word “seems” when you write, “It seems that both Vos and Murray take the relationship between revelation and history to one of a subordinating relationship through an act of will,” because it only seems that way to someone who approaches the issue with your presuppositions.

    You wrote: “Following Chalcedon, the proper relationship of the divine to the human is not one of subordination, which was in fact the Nestorian position as well as that of the Arians in the doctrine of creation.” To anyone who’s actually read the formula of Chalcedon, his is too bizarre for words. As Schaff wrote of the Chalcedonian formula: “The self-consciousness of Christ is never divided; his person consists in such a union of the human and the divine natures, that the divine nature is the seat of self-consciousness, and pervades and animates the human” (The Creeds of Christendom, 1:32).

    Your remarks about God suffering in His divine nature are intriguing, but for reasons I’ve already stated, irrelevant to this discussion—not to mention the fact that they fly in the face of the way Chalcedon was interpreted by, for example, Pope Leo, who wrote at the time: “…while yet he suffered, not in his Godhead as coeternal and consubstantial with the Father, but in the weakness of human nature” (ibid.).

    You wrote: “Perhaps you don’t think that God can die or did die, but I do.” I am quite surprised to read this, even coming from you. Proceeding from standard assumptions concerning both semantics and authorial intent, based on this statement alone, unless you are once again using words in utterly arcane senses followed by multiple qualifications (in which case you’re using words deviously), it sounds to me like you need to become a Christian. Sorry, that’s just the way I see it. You would have to that far outside the bounds of historic Christianity to make such a statement in an unqualified sense.

  62. David Gadbois said,

    June 30, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Ron,

    Perry’s theopaschitism is a staple of EO theology, although it can also be found in Lutheran theology. I have also seen such statements made by RCs.

  63. David Gadbois said,

    June 30, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Schaff remarks thusly on theopaschitism in relation to Chalcedon:

    The liturgical shibboleth of the Monophysites was: God has been crucified. This they introduced into their public worship as an addition to the Trisagion: “Holy, God, holy Mighty, holy Immortal, who hast been crucified for us, have mercy upon us.” From this they were also called Theopaschites. This formula is in itself orthodox, and forms the requisite counterpart to θεοτόκος, provided we understand by God the Logos, and in thought supply: “according to the flesh” or “according to the human nature.” In this qualified sense it was afterwards in fact not only sanctioned by Justinian in a dogmatical decree, but also by the fifth ecumenical council, though not as an addition to the Trisagion. For the theanthropic person of Christ is the subject, as of the nativity, so also of the passion; his human nature is the seat and the organ (sensorium) of the passion. But as an addition to the Trisagion, which refers to the Godhead generally, and therefore to the Father, and the Holy Ghost, as well as the Son, the formula is at all events incongruous and equivocal. Theopaschitism is akin to the earlier Patripassianism, in subjecting the impassible divine essence, common to the Father and the Son, to the passion of the God-Man on the cross; yet not, like that, by confounding the Son with the Father, but by confounding person with nature in the Son.

  64. steve hays said,

    June 30, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    “Perhaps you don’t think that God can die or did die, but I do.”

    Perry makes provocative comments like this because he wants to change the subject. He’s looking for a wedge issue to use against Protestant theology.

    He doesn’t want to talk about, say, Warfield’s inductive case for the verbal, plenary inspiration of scripture.

    Instead, he wants to turn this into a fight over Christology since he’d rather fight on his own turf, and he feels comfortable debating Christology. So he’s baiting commenters into riding his hobbyhorse instead of discussing Richard Gaffin and Peter Enns.

  65. June 30, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Steve,

    Caiaphas was wrong in terms of what was in fact better for the nation, not to mention the justice and morality of his statement or rather lack thereof.

    Actually I didn’t change the subject. You inserted a specific theory of truth upon which the problem supposedly in part turned. I just brought to light your mistake. To my knowledge Enns isn’t necessarily wedded to a correspondence theory of truth and I don’t see why one must be in discussing this problem. So I don’t think Enns account “entails” a correspondence theory of truth.

    If inspiration turns on the self witness of Scripture then it is odd that you are injecting correspondence here. And I am not convinced that inspiration is merely instrumentally valuable. It may be true that inspiration serves a goal, but intrinsic goods can also have extrinsic value. You’re assuming quite a lot here without argument.

    I am not obfuscating the issue because the issue was your claim that my views were unbiblical. I shot back that Lipton’s view entails unbiblical doctrines so the shoe is on the other foot. So far you have left that untouched, unless of course you think that your statements constitute an exegetical argument. And you are confused since Scripture wouldn’t attribute inspiration to a “model” but to the God-man. In fact, Scripture does give reason for thinking that the primary revealing agent was the Son since the Hebrews never heard the Father nor saw his form, but rather the Son. Hence the irony of coming to his own and his own not recognizing him. And the issue isn’t whether the Spirit is involved in inspiration, but the relation of the Spirit to the Son in the economia, specifically as Lipton glossed it. And it is hardly “a particular formulation” as if I was criticizing something out of the blue since that article was put forward here. And since “created grace” was an essential part of Lipton’s piece in glossing inspiration, my comments regarding it were hardly a red herring. Even if it Lipton’s piece did give me a pretext for attacking what I disagree with in Protestant theology in general, it doesn’t follow that my arguments against his presentation are bad ones. You confuse describing my alleged argumentative behavior with an evaluation of the arguments themselves. The former is quite irrelevant to the question of the quality of the arguments.

    As for the Filioque, you sure did give an answer but you gave no exegetical defense of the doctrine, which is what I am still waiting for. So you mislead the reader. The claim wasn’t whether you supplied an answer but whether you gave an exegetical defense for it, which you didn’t, or don’t you remember?

    Your personal remarks about what I am deaf to or my polemical agenda are irrelevant to the questions at hand and to the arguments I gave. It seems you haven’t learned how to keep the ad hom’s out of your puff pieces.

    Once again, you mislead the reader. You claim was that my Orthodox views were “post-biblical” and so I responded in kind. No amount of fist pounding that Reformed theology has an exegetical basis will make it so, nor will it get you away from the fact that it is historically “post-biblical.” So my comments about Reformed theology being “post-biblical” only constitute a red herring if yours do.

    As for provocative statements, my statements would only be so to people either ignorant of or opposed to Chalcedonian Christology. Rather than being provocative, they function as shibboleths. As for Warfield’s inductive case, why would I need to discuss it? I favor a more presupp approach. I don’t think induction can get you to where Warfield wants to go and I think his gloss on inspiration, inductive or not is mistaken. I have addressed this before both here and on my own blog, but perhaps you missed that as well. So is it true to say that a divine person died on the cross or not? Let’s see if you can answer it in a straightforward fashion or not.

    I am perfectly happy to concede that Christology is my “turf.” And since I think the issues between Gaffin and Enns are at bottom a function of and reflect Christological differences of course I am going to discuss it. And I am certainly not the only person to say as much, que McCormack for example.

    You talk quite often about what I “want” and try to put my on the couch as it were and you do this on a regular basis with people, imputing all kinds of motives. I suspect you have a bad case of transference. In any case, such comments are irrelevant to the arguments I gave and the degree that you engage in such behavior shows your inability to show exactly where my arguments supposedly go wrong.

  66. June 30, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Ron,

    Let me try to defuse your apparent frustration as much as I am able and bring the conversation to focus on the issues rather than my motives, supposed doxastic states and other things that are irrelevant.

    I am using isomorphic in terms of the semantic content. So two intensions or meanings are isomorphic only if one maps on to or is congruent with the other. Gaffin seems to chide Enns for saying that the meaning and goal of the human author can be different, “even at odds” with the divine. So for Gaffin inspiration entails a kind of semantic isomorphism, that is that the two have to match up and form an “organic unity.”

    If you think that “seems” is a “weazel word” then why do you use its equivalent when you say that my choice of words “appears” to make me sound more intelligent than I am? I think you could only convict me of that claim if you had a clear case of a bad argument or some obvious misuse of technical terminology. So far I haven’t seen that demonstration from you. Even if it were so that I was an arrogant SOB, the question is not whether I am sinful but whether my arguments are good ones. And in fact I deployed the term from my experience in philosophy of language and discussions of theories of truth, where it is used in that fashion by advocates of certain types of Correspondence Theories of truth. See Kirkham’s, Theories of Truth or Lynch, Nature of Truth. Further since meaning is use and practicioners of other disciplines regularly import terms from other disciplines my behavior is hardly out of the ordinary or unwarranted. To be fair, theologians do this quite often. Take terms like “ousia” or “hypostasis” for example.

    If my reading of Enns or you is wrong then please demonstrate that it is so. Reporting your impressions about it doesn’t constitute a good argument that it is so. As I wrote previously, there is more than one way to understand Enns’ statements. Perhaps I am wrong, but I haven’t seen an argument as to why he must be read as implying that the NT writers made meanings up out of thin air. Furthermore, you are citing Gaffin’s gloss on Enns and not Enns. Gaffin’s reading doesn’t strike me as a charitable or sympathetic reading or accurate. Enemies rarely make good interpreters. And I don’t see why Enns can’t maintain that the words for Hosea didn’t mean anything relative to the NT, but were still inspired to be so. Here there is an implicit thesis that inspiration requires at least some consciousness of the inspired message. As I pointed out with Caiaphas, this doesn’t seem to be a necessary condition.

    If I am caricaturing Gaffin, that was not my intention. But it does seem to me that you wouldn’t be worried about, and Gaffin as well, Enns’ supposed claim that the meaning of Hosea’s words don’t mean the same thing as the NT writers thought they did if there were no condition for semantic and/or teleological identity. You can’t maintain both. Since I didn’t see any spelling out of what “organic” means I can’t read what isn’t there. If you think there is a place where he cashes this out, please point me to it.

    Gaffin seems to me to chide Enns for saying that the meaning of the text between OT author and NT citation can be “at odds.” This leads me to think that he thinks that they must be identical. The quote you give only seems to reinforce that point.

    As for the reference to Warfield, is it your view that the prophet intension doesn’t need to be semantically identical with what God intends to say through the prophet? If so, as I asked before, how could grammatical considerations ever give us access to the inspired meaning? If not, then it seems they do need to be semantically equivalent. The question as I see it is not any supposed delimiting activity of the semantic content of the human author but whether they must be identical

    You write that Hosea may have perfectly understood his words in 11:1 to refer to Christ, but my question is, is it necessary that he understood that they were so, and is it necessary that his meaning was identical to the NT authors’ citation in order for his words to be inspired? And I don’t see any citation from Enns that would lead me to believe that he thinks that the divine intension changes from the OT text to the NT citation. If you think so, can point it out to me? And asking me repeatedly, “which part of this do you not understand?” Is rather rude and condescending. I am not an idiot and talking to me as I am one doesn’t exactly help the conversation nor does it display to me a willingness to read the other person charitably or even be disposed to hear what they have to say.

    Simply asserting that the incarnation is an inappropriate model for inspiration doesn’t amount to a demonstration that it isn’t appropriate. I think it is and I think it reflects a willingness to be Christ centered in one’s theology where Christology plays a defining role, as historically was the case for not a small number of church fathers. If you wish to deny that they aareyour fathers through the gospel,that is your choice I suppose. And the incarnation wasn’t so much an analogy for the veneration of icons as it was a justification for the idea that God and matter were not opposed as the iconoclasts thought, both in the 4th and the 8th. If God takes upon himself matter in the incarnation, then matter isn’t evil or intrinsically opposed to God, which was the core issue in that debate.

    And attacking me with an ad hom about “eastern mysticism” doesn’t do work for you. To be direct, I highly doubt you have any significant understanding of Orthodox theology or how its “mysticism” differs substantially from say Hindu and Buddhist takes. If you read anything on my blog you’d know that I don’t subscribe in the disparagement of critical thinking. So dismissive comments like that one above don’t move the ball down the argumentative field. Even if it were the case that I were some navel gazing baffoon, such that it explained a psychological impasse or lapse on my part, it wouldn’t follow that my arguments were bad ones. You can have bad motivations for perfectly good arguments.

    I don’t use “seems” as a “weasel word” but rather to express caution and charity. This is fairly standard usage in philosophical writing. Moreover, I can only speak of the ways things seem to me and I doubt you’d prefer me to speak of ways that they do not seem to me to be. I may interpret the facts according to my presuppositions, but I am at a loss to see how this implies that my interpretation is false or my presuppositions for that matter. Locating the source of a view doesn’t imply that the view is false. And Vos explicitly says that history is subordinated to the divine and Lipton makes similar comments. And what is more, do you know anyone who doesn’t interpret the facts according to their presuppositions? Is there some presuppositionaless paradigm out there that you wish to inform me of? And isn’t your complaint the result of your interpreting my comments in light of your own presuppositions? In any case this leaves the problem with a subordinating gloss untouched.

    The citation from Schaff is confused and here is why. By self consciousness does Schaff mean the person or the intellect of Christ? (Here the importation of a Lockian understanding of personhood should be obvious.) For Christ has two of the latter and only one of the former since nous is a feature or capacity of the nature, just as will is. And Schaff’s gloss on the hypostatic union in the citation is ambiguous and is easily capable of a Nestorian understanding. When he writes that the human and the divine natures constitute the person, does this mean that the Logos takes into itself human nature so that post incarnation the Son is a composite person or does it mean that the person is the result or product of the conjoined and contiguous two natures? You’d find McCormack’s piece helpful on this matter over at aboulet’s blog.

    So it is obvious to me given your reaciton that you don’t understand the Nestorian position, which took the two substances/hypostases to form or produce one prosopon or person which had only one will. The theanthropos was the result of the union. This is why the Nestorians could admit of the material that you cite from Schaff. Furthermore, they took the relation between the two hypostases to a subordinating one where the divine determined the human in practically a predestinating fashion. See McGuckin for starters or Romanides’ outline of patristic dogmatics.

    I think you misread me on divine suffering for I never stated that the divine nature suffered and so I am not a theopaschite. I stated that the divine person of the Son suffered and since he is a divine person it is right to say that God suffers and dies, just as it is right to call Mary the Theotokos. The reason why the divine nature doesn’t suffer, other than that it transcends such things is that natures don’t suffer, persons do. The divine person suffers in and through his humanity as genuinly man. That is the point of his humanity being enhypostacized. As I noted before, to get up to speed on the patristic notion ,see Gavrilyuk’s text. Furthermore, the analogy I drew is appropriate since the suffering of a divine person while genuine is an active, rather than passive participation in suffering and weakness even though being weak seems to be impossible for deity. In a similar manner it is quite possible it seems to me to God to inspire **via** human weakness. As for “actually reading” Chalcedon, I have done so and “actually read” the entire set of documents numerous times as well as a good number of professional monoographs and articles on it. This I think gives me a far better position to comment on it than reading a one hundred year old 3 page survey from a non-specialist.

    And Leo’s Tome isn’t the work that you seem to take it is. I suspect that you have bought into the now largely defunct older Roman Catholic reading that the Tome was the touchstone of Chalcedon. In actual fact, Cyril’s works were the touchstone to which Leo’s Tome had to be investigated to make sure it complied with Cyril’s teaching. This is why the council appointed a special study committee over a number of days to make sure that the bishop of Rome’s teaching was consistent with Cyril, not the other way around. This was in part because Alexandria was taken to be a Petrine See like Rome since Mark was Peter’s disciple. Leo’s Tome while adequate suffers from a number of weaknesses and this is hardly news to anyone familiar with the scholarship on it for say the last fifty years, not to mention the expressions of reservation concerning it in the East. The fact is that like most disputes Rome did not have a good grasp the theological and philosophical issues-que Honorius.

    Why should you be surprised to hear that the Son died unless you don’t think the Son was a divine person? It sounds to me, how did you put it? “that you need to become a Christian.” So I suspect that you don’t think a divine person hung on the Cross. Of course I suppose that makes sense since if God can by an act of will make one man represent all in an infinite debt, there is nothing to preclude God willing another man to positively represent all. The deity of Christ is simply unnecessary. Of course, that isn’t Christianity. Perhaps that’s why Unitarianism fell out of a strictly functional Christology of the Reformers. I didn’t make the statement in an unqualified sense. I made it in the context of discussing classical Christology, which it seems you have only a superficial grasp of. Look, talking down to me isn’t charitable and I can play the insult game as well if you really want to, but you need to make arguments rather than insults. Otherwise, the conversation will go beyond the moral boundaries for Christian conversation and just plain civility and it won’t be worthwhile.

  67. GLW Johnson said,

    July 1, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Paul Helm has just posted a piece onhis blog-http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/
    entitled -Analysis Extra: ‘The Phenomena’- which unlike Perry’s ramblings, actually does deal with the substance of this thread.

  68. July 1, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Johnson

    “with respect” 1 pet 3:15

  69. steve hays said,

    July 1, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Perry Robinson said,

    “Caiaphas was wrong in terms of what was in fact better for the nation, not to mention the justice and morality of his statement or rather lack thereof.”

    It was wrong for Caiaphas to say it’s better for the people if Jesus dies? How is that wrong?

    John didn’t think it was wrong. To the contrary, John thought his statement was ironically right. That’s why John does a gloss on his statement, building on the truth of what he said.

    Your interpretation cuts against the grain of John’s editorial comment—not to mention the broader flow of the narrative. You need to learn how to exegete a passage of Scripture.

    “Actually I didn’t change the subject. You inserted a specific theory of truth upon which the problem supposedly in part turned. I just brought to light your mistake. To my knowledge Enns isn’t necessarily wedded to a correspondence theory of truth and I don’t see why one must be in discussing this problem. So I don’t think Enns account ‘entails’ a correspondence theory of truth.”

    No mistake on my part. I summarized Enns’ position as follows: “Let’s not lose sight of what’s an issue in the debate over Enns. Enns and his supporters are taking the position that God sometimes inspires errors, that Bible writers sometimes intend to make true assertions which we now know are false…That [Jn 11:50] is not comparable to the alleged case of an inspired Bible writer who meant to make a true assertion, even though his assertion does not, in fact, correspond to reality—according to our enlightened, modern viewpoint.”

    How, specifically, is that a misstatement of Enns’ position?

    But while we’re on the subject—yes, an oral or textual statement that corresponds to extratextual reality certainly figures in what Bible writers would take to be a true statement, and securing true statements is very much an aim of inspiration.

    “If inspiration turns on the self witness of Scripture then it is odd that you are injecting correspondence here. And I am not convinced that inspiration is merely instrumentally valuable. It may be true that inspiration serves a goal, but intrinsic goods can also have extrinsic value. You’re assuming quite a lot here without argument.”

    And you’re resorting to weasel words like “merely.” But that actually concedes my point.

    Take the divine promises and prophecies of Scripture. Do you think they would be true, as Bible writers understood truth, if the fulfillment (the future referent) didn’t correspond to the promise or prophecy?

    And what do you think is the purpose of inspiration if not to secure true statements? We don’t need inspiration to secure false statements, do we? The absence of inspiration will secure false statements.

    Why does Paul carry on in Rom 9-11 if the word of God doesn’t have to match up with this historical outcome? Why are false prophets subject to the death penalty if a “true” or “inspired” oracle doesn’t have to match up with the historical outcome?

    “I am not obfuscating the issue because the issue was your claim that my views were unbiblical. I shot back that Lipton’s view entails unbiblical doctrines so the shoe is on the other foot.”

    Trying to shift the issue to Tipton’s position does nothing to absolve your own position. That’s just a diversionary tactic.

    “So far you have left that untouched, unless of course you think that your statements constitute an exegetical argument.”

    I’m not here to debate Tipton’s article. The onus is not on me to debate Tipton’s article.

    “And you are confused since Scripture wouldn’t attribute inspiration to a ‘model’ but to the God-man.”

    “Model” was your word. I responded to you on your own terms.

    Scripture doesn’t attribute inspiration to the God-man. The agent of inspiration is the Holy Spirit.

    “In fact, Scripture does give reason for thinking that the primary revealing agent was the Son since the Hebrews never heard the Father nor saw his form, but rather the Son. Hence the irony of coming to his own and his own not recognizing him.”

    So you’re a Marcionite. You dispense with the OT. Divine revelation begins with the Incarnation.

    You’re also equivocating. The Son is the self-revelation of God. That doesn’t mean the Son inspired the Scriptures. The Son is revelatory in his own right. The person and work of the Son is revelatory.

    That’s not the same thing as inspiring the words of the prophets, whether their spoken or written words.

    “And since “created grace” was an essential part of Lipton’s piece in glossing inspiration, my comments regarding it were hardly a red herring.”

    It’s a red herring when you introduce that gloss as an excuse to disregard the self-witness of Scripture regarding the distinctive role of the Holy Spirit in the inspiration of Scripture.

    “You confuse describing my alleged argumentative behavior with an evaluation of the arguments themselves. The former is quite irrelevant to the question of the quality of the arguments.”

    I’m under no obligation to respond to you according to the way in which you’d prefer frame the argument. You don’t get to dictate my theological priorities or recast the questions to your liking, then impose that on everyone else.

    “As for the Filioque, you sure did give an answer but you gave no exegetical defense of the doctrine, which is what I am still waiting for. So you mislead the reader. The claim wasn’t whether you supplied an answer but whether you gave an exegetical defense for it, which you didn’t, or don’t you remember?”

    This was my initial response: “Historically, this has its Scriptural appeal in certain Johannine statements. And, traditionally, these statements are understood as having reference to an ontological subordination within the immanent Trinity. But, in context, they actually refer to the economic Trinity, not the immanent Trinity. When I recite the Filioque clause, I do so in the Johannine (economic) sense. This may or may not be in line with the original intent of the creed, but unlike the original intent of Scripture, which is divinely authoritative, creedal intent is not inherently authoritative.”

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/08/ugly-duckling-of-orthodoxy.html

    I then did a follow-up piece:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/09/perry-robinsons-bombshell.html

    What, exactly, do you think I need to defend? My economic reading of the processional statements in John? But since you reject double procession, why would you object to an economic reading of those statements? Are you paying attention?

    “Your personal remarks about what I am deaf to or my polemical agenda are irrelevant to the questions at hand and to the arguments I gave. It seems you haven’t learned how to keep the ad hom’s out of your puff pieces.”

    I’ve had more experience dealing with you than some of the commenters here. They didn’t even know you were a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. It’s quite relevant for me to apprise them of your tactics.

    “Once again, you mislead the reader. You claim was that my Orthodox views were ‘post-biblical’ and so I responded in kind. No amount of fist pounding that Reformed theology has an exegetical basis will make it so, nor will it get you away from the fact that it is historically “post-biblical.” So my comments about Reformed theology being “post-biblical” only constitute a red herring if yours do.”

    My usage was self-explanatory. I set up a contrast between the self-witness of Scripture and a post-Biblical construct. So exegetical theology was the differential factor all along.

    “As for Warfield’s inductive case, why would I need to discuss it? I favor a more presupp approach. I don’t think induction can get you to where Warfield wants to go and I think his gloss on inspiration, inductive or not is mistaken. I have addressed this before both here and on my own blog, but perhaps you missed that as well.”

    Now you’re confusing two different things:

    i) Does our doctrine of Scripture derive from the self-witness of Scripture. That’s an inductive question. A question of exegetical theology.

    ii) How do we defend the doctrine of Scripture (thus derived)? That’s a question of apologetics, which might (or might not) involve a transcendental argument.

    One doesn’t establish a Biblical doctrine of inspiration by presuppositional reasoning. Rather, that has to be established on the basis of what the Bible says about the nature of its own inspiration.

    “So is it true to say that a divine person died on the cross or not? Let’s see if you can answer it in a straightforward fashion or not.”

    I’m not going to step into your trap. Your question is irrelevant to the inspiration (and inerrancy) of scripture.

    And even if you question were relevant, you have no interest in Scriptural answers. You want to frame this in terms of historical theology. You don’t care about a Biblical Christology.

    “You talk quite often about what I ‘want’ and try to put my on the couch as it were and you do this on a regular basis with people, imputing all kinds of motives.”

    Because I’ve dealt with you before. I know your modus operandi. And you’re reaching for the same bag of tricks here. You try to bait people into debating the issues you care about according to your rules. You try to reorient the thread so that you can take it where you want it to go.

    “In any case, such comments are irrelevant to the arguments I gave and the degree that you engage in such behavior shows your inability to show exactly where my arguments supposedly go wrong.”

    You want to dictate what the answers are by dictating what the questions are. I, for one, won’t take the bait.

    Perry likes to pose trip-wire questions and redirect the conversation to his own turf. He wants to maneuver the conversation into a debate over the fine points of Cyrillian Christology, then score rhetorical points by accusing his opponents of the Nestorian heresy.

    I understand why Perry’s upset. It’s hard for him to stage a successful ambush when I’m standing right behind him, exposing the hidden location of his guerilla warriors.

    I hardly think that Lane wants to turn this thread into a debate over the Filioque. But I’ll leave that to the moderators.

  70. GLW Johnson said,

    July 1, 2008 at 11:15 am

    my fault- that should read ,”which unlike Perry’s very respectful ramblings”.

  71. steve hays said,

    July 2, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Why does Perry keep harping on the Filioque anyway? He acts as if this is a big problem for Protestant theology. But, if so, then it’s an even bigger problem for Orthodox theology given internal divisions over this issue:

    “At the Second Council of Lyons in 1245, and at the Council of Florence in 1439-45, Orthodox delegates accepted the filioque. Western theologians faced the Easterns with persuasive collections of patristic texts that used language suggesting that the Orthodox doctrine was not incompatible with the filioque,” The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, 198.

    If Eastern Orthodoxy can’t speak with one voice on this issue, even within the solemnity of two church councils, then why is this a problem for us, but not for them?

    He’s making grander claims for his ecclesiology that we make for ours. Look at the mismatch between the authoritarian claims and the end-product.

  72. July 2, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    “If Eastern Orthodoxy can’t speak with one voice on this issue, even within the solemnity of two church councils, then why is this a problem for us, but not for them?”

    She spoke her decision in 879/880 and 1285 at Blachernae with the condemnation of Bekkos and the vindication of Gregory II of Cyprus. Those folks who captiulated to Medieval Catholicism ceased to be Orthodox at those councils. Orthodox ecclesiology is grounded in the content of one’s confession like Peter. Bishop’s lose their apostolic succession when they capitulate to heresy.

    “Why does Perry keep harping on the Filioque anyway?”

    Becasue the doctrine is grounded in philosophy. I think we’ve attempted to make that pretty apparent over the years. See my paper on Gregory of Nyssa and Eunomius on my blog.

  73. steve hays said,

    July 2, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Photios Jones said…

    Hi Daniel. In quoting me you’ve juxtaposed two of my statements in a rather misleading fashion.

    My rhetorical question—“Why does Perry keep harping on the Filioque anyway?”—was a setup for what followed. By separating the statements and inverting the order, it creates a misleading impression.

    I wasn’t asking for information. I was pointing out that it’s imprudent for Perry to harp on the Filioque since that will boomerang against his own position.

    Continuing:

    “She spoke her decision in 879/880 and 1285 at Blachernae with the condemnation of Bekkos and the vindication of Gregory II of Cyprus.”

    And she spoke to the contrary at Florence and Lyons II. So who speaks for Orthodoxy? Which side of her mouth is the true voice of Orthodoxy?

    “Those folks who captiulated to Medieval Catholicism ceased to be Orthodox at those councils. Orthodox ecclesiology is grounded in the content of one’s confession like Peter.”

    That reminds me of how Wesleyans defend sinless perfectionism. On the one hand, they deny that a Christian can sin. On the other hand, they also believe that a Christian can commit apostasy, which would be a sin. (Indeed, there is no graver sin.)

    When you point out the discrepancy, they save face by claiming that if a Christian commits the sin of apostasy, he ceases to be a Christian: hence, a Christian can’t sin! The moment he committed apostasy, he wasn’t a Christian.

    Hence, the claim is made consistent with opposing lines of evidence: If he doesn’t sin, that goes to show that a Christian is impeccable. And if he does sin, that also goes to show that a Christian is impeccable!

    The circularity of your escape clause leaves your claim pretty vacuous. They’re Orthodox as long as they’re not heterodox. Well, that’s a nice tautology, but it’s also a way of insulating your position against any possible falsification. And the price you pay for that flexibility is the inability to verify your position, since it’s now consistent with any line of evidence or counterevidence.

    “Becasue the doctrine is grounded in philosophy.”

    I don’t think that’s a fair characterization. To my knowledge, it’s historically grounded in a particular interpretation of certain Johannine statements. And it’s the same hermeneutic which infers the eternal generation of the Son from certain Johannine (and other Scriptural) statements. If you’re committed to the eternal generation of the Son, then that commits you to double procession as well.

  74. July 2, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Steve,

    I think the irony in John and the ability to see more and a different meaning in the statements than Caiaphas wished to express show that Caiaphas was wrong. Not to mention the fact that the unjust death of Christ and their apostasy, because they claimed Caesar as king and not Jesus, resulted in their destruction in 7- A.D. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t see the destruction of Jerusalem as something “better” than allowing Jesus to preach. Their concern was to preserve their power and prestige and what they took they be their place, that is, the Temple. This is essentially the same line taken by various commentators. Take Carson for example, who writes,

    “Double meanings run to the end of v. 52; Johannine irony reaches its apogee here. The legal precedents for Caiaphas’ judgments are complex, his reasoning is rather simple. Both from the perspective of political prudence in international realism (what will save the nation), and from the perspective of what is best for the ruling party (‘it is better for you’ v. 48) the execution of Jesus is indicated. And so he died-but the nation perished anyway, not because of Jesus’ activity but because of the constant mad search for political solutions where there was little spiritual renewal. Justice is sacrificed to expediency. When Caiaphas argues that Jesus must die for the people (hyper tou laou), he is using sacrificial language. He certainly did not mean this in a Christian sense; he probably meant that Jesus was to be ‘devoted’ to death, sacrificed as a scapegoat, in order to spare the nation and its leaders. Readers living after the cross could not help but see more. In this sentence, Jews are referred to both as a nation (ethnos) and as a people (laos), and both terms are later taken over by Christians an applied to the church. John has often used irony or double meaning, and sometimes drawn attention to it. Here he spells out his understanding of Caiaphas’s words, and how the prophecy came about. Caiaphas did not say this on his own. This does not mean that God used Caiaphas as if he were a puppet, a creature like Balaam’s ass, a mere mouthpiece. Caiaphas spoke his considered if calloused opinion. But when Caiaphas spoke, God was also speaking, even if they were not saying the same things.” Pillar NT Series, John, pp. 421-422

    As for John thinking that the statement was “ironically right” I quite agree because irony is dialectical, which means that the meaning John saw was the opposite of Caiaphas. Your condescending comment about learning how to exegete notwithstanding, I don’t suppose you think Carson needs to learn to do so as well.

    I take Enns to be saying that inspiration outruns historical accuracy and doesn’t turn on it. So even if a statement is known to be false via meaning garnered from grammatical considerations, it can still be true relative to some other meaning. This seems to be in part what he points out when discussing NT use of OT passages, namely that grammatical considerations can’t get you to the inspired sense that the NT authors see. Caiaphas is a case where a person is inspired, but it is not the meaning that they utter via the statement that is inspired so strictly speaking what he said was false. It wasn’t better because the nation perished. Caiaphas surely meant to make a true assertion but he didn’t in so far as what was in his head was false. Furthermore, you inject correspondence as a requirement, which to my knowledge Enns does not.

    “Merely” isn’t necessarily a “weasel word.” It can mean when coupled with a negation, not only, not limited to, etc. and that is how *I* used it. I would only have conceded your point if I wrote that inspiration was not merely about correspondence, but I didn’t. I wrote that it wasn’t merely extrinsically valuable.

    Prophetic statements can be true without correspondence. I don’t see any reason why they can’t be seen as true on deflationary accounts. Truth is the way things are, but it isn’t at all obvious that “the way things are” entails a congruence relation or correlation between two entities. It’d be a neat trick if you could get a correspondence theory of truth out of the Biblical text. And if my entire point is that inspiration is not limited to or even in accordance with the understanding of the authors your question simply begs the question at issue. And if I do not think that meaning is exhausted by or even entails reference, why would you think I would think that prophetic statements require a future referent to be true?

    I don’t deny that a purpose of inspiration is to secure true statements, I only denied that it was only instrumentally valuable. And you are either wrong or unclear when you write that the absence of inspiration will secure false statements since the mere lack of inspiration doesn’t entail that my math book has errors. I can agree that the historical events are the way Paul’s statements say they are, but that doesn’t necessarily imply a Correspondence Theory of truth and some “matching” relation.

    I didn’t shift the discussion to Lipton. I merely gave an example of where Reformed persons in elucidating and defending the Reformed viewpoint on inspiration are committed to non-biblical and extra-biblical doctrines like created grace. This was in response to your claim that my view was non-biblical. And given that his article was posted here, but a few entries back in support of the Reformed view in light of Chalcedon, it was hardly diversionary for me to make reference to it. You may not be here to debate Lipton’s article, but you did make a claim about Reformed theology having an exegetical grounding. I gave an example where it doesn’t. You have yet to show where the notion of “created grace” is found in the biblical text either explicitly or by implication. So my example stands, Reformed theology has extra-biblical doctrines relative to inspiration. The onus is on you to respond to evidence and arguments made. Again, you haven’t engaged the example I gave, but merely dismissed it.

    Model was my word but it was in reference to the theory, not to the agent doing the inspiring. Further as Lipton notes, Scripture does in part attribute inspiration to the Son for it is the Son who sends the Spirit and the Spirit comes through the Son. Lipton is correct to see the issue as a matter of the relation of the Son and the Spirit in the economia even if he gets that relation wrong And thinking that the Son spoke to Moses and the OT figures doesn’t make me a Marcionite since Marcion denied that the deity of the OT and NT were the same, which my view affirms. And Jesus explicitly says that the Hebrews never heard the Father’s voice no saw his form at any time. Who did they see? Who did Daniel see in the furnace if not Christ? And further, since the Son says that the Spirit takes what is his and teaches the Apostles, then Jesus is active in the inspiration of the Scriptures, even if derivatively speaking. Your compartmentalism here simply isn’t biblical.
    I did not introduce that gloss to disregard Scripture’s self witness but in fact in response to your charge that I adhered to extra-biblical doctrines. Further, it wasn’t a red herring since it was an essential part of Lipton’s piece against Enns on the nature of inspiration. I suggest you read it and see how Lipton thinks of the role of the Spirit in inspiring the Scriptures *relative to Christology,* since that is what *he* is discussing. And in any case, even if I were wrong about that, it wouldn’t follow that the Reformed don’t have extra-biblical doctrines like “created grace.” That claim you leave untouched.

    You may be under no obligation to respond to arguments in the way I frame them, but that was not the point. The point was that you are under an obligation not to argue fallaciously by committing genetic fallacies.

    Your current response on the filioque isn’t an exegetical response and so is another non-answer. “Traditionally” the doctrine was that from the persons of the Father and the Son the person of the Spirit was eternally generated as from one principle. No one disputed the sending of the Son in the economia because that is not the doctrine of the Filioque. So when you recite the creed with the Filioque you are either affirming a doctrine which has no scriptural support or you are reinterpreting the creed contrary to its historical meaning and the meaning given to it by theologians in the Reformed tradition and are therefore making a false profession. It doesn’t matter if you hold to the doctrine in any case since the question on the floor was whether the Reformed tradition holds to extra-biblical doctrines that violate Sola Scriptura. Even if you do not profess to believe in the eternal hypostatic generation of the Spirit from the Son and the Father, Reformed confessions and theologians have fairly universally done so and continue to do so. The fact that you dissent from them shows that my point is on target that the doctrine enshrined confessionally is not biblical and it shows that you have to deny standard Reformed Trinitarianism to get away from the argument.

    And your answer shows that you either simply do not understand the doctrine in question since the disputed idea was never the economic procession or you are being misleading by giving the reader the idea that you have given a scriptural defense of the doctrine as historically and currently professed. Much the same weaseling can be seen in your comments about creeds not being inherently authoritative. Even if ths were so, they still function with a secondary authority in the Reformed tradition and one is professing belief in their statements as intended and understood by the Reformed churches. To say that they are not inherently authoritative is irrelevant. Even if they weren’t and you dissent from them on that basis, it is still dissent from Reformed teaching. The point again is not what Steve Hays professes, but what the Reformed tradition does and the point still stands that the Filioque as taught, confessed and defended by the Reformed is an extra-biblical doctrine not capable of an exegetical defense. This is why all of your bantering concerning other traditions having non-exegetically derived doctrines is really not available to you as you are inconsistent in not charging them with the same kind of error that you charge others with and that the Reformed tradition itself is inconsistent.

    Our past discussions really aren’t relevant to the question as to whether the arguments I gave are good ones or not for the simple reason that someone else non-Orthodox could give them, as McCormack for example did and he certainly is no toady for Orthodoxy. Tactics are irrelevant unless you wish to do psychology rather than logic.

    The self witness of Scripture is still a construct by us by which we access its content in Scripture. Besides that, as I pointed out, plenty of Reformed views are post-biblical by your own standards (Filioque, ADS, created grace, et al.)

    I don’t think I am confusing the origination of the doctrine with its defense. Van Til seems to link these two quite easily and often in his apologetic, if he didn’t he’d be vulnerable to the kinds of Humean worries about induction that he deploys against secularism. Furthermore, the designation of the origin of any doctrine isn’t a separate compartment to relative to its justification. It is not as if the practice of exegesis is some neutral science that one uses to get to the doctrine of contained in scripture and then from there one can justify it via transcendental reasoning.

    As for a divine person dying, as I noted before this functions as a Shibboleth and it seems you can’t make your tongue (or in this case, fingers) bend that way. I asked for a straight answer which anyone conversant with the traditional Chalcedonian reading which the Reformed profess to accept should have no trouble answering in the affirmative. You simply dodge the question which makes manifest your heterodoxy, even by your own tradition’s standards. The only question is which Christological heresy you endorse.

    Second, since Enns’ position is relative to Christology, since other scholars recognize this, and since Lipton’s piece was written on Reformed Christology relative to Enns and the Reformed reading of Chalcecon, my question is quite germane since Christ is the center piece and heart of all Christian theology. If you have a wrong view about Christ, it not only doesn’t much matter what you think about inspiration, but it is also likely that you have other heterodox views as well, perhaps some that you are not even conscious of or that you inconsistent. Since much of the conversation here has been in terms of historical theology I am framing the issue in a way that is relevant. I do care about a Biblical Christology because I think that the Christology of the church is Biblical Christology and vice versa. The two are hardly mutually exclusive. I think I can manage to care about both but it seems that you can’t. And this is often the path of Christological heretics who wish to trash historical theology to hide their own heretical views behind the shield of biblical theology because they know that if they were to spell out clearly and affirm their views, they get skewered.

    Furthermore, to argue apologetically I don’t have to do exegesis. Van Til for example hardly wrote commentaries justifying every one of his views by a text of implication therefrom. Rather he took specific ideas or doctrines and performed an internal critique showing the inconsistency in the view in question and its incompatibility with the foundations of morality, science, knowledge or some specific Christian doctrine. Methodologically, I haven’t been doing anything much different than that.

    I didn’t bait anyone here. If anything you’ve simply thrown out the same old psychobabbling ad homs as you usually do and then use my responses to ride your hobby horses. My focusing in on christology in the Enns debates is hardly something I invented. Que McCormack. Is McCormack on my payroll? How about Lipton? They wrote their pieces before I jumped in here.

    I don’t wish to dictate answers, but simply that you address the arguments put forward, rather than perceived “tactics” personality traits or unspoken goals. All of those are irrelevant to the arguments put forward by either side. If you want to do psychology then you should be writing about me personally, but that will be hard for you to do since we’ve never met and to my knowledge we have no mutual friends or acquaintances. But if you want to discuss the arguments and show where the arguments are bad, then all of the above is quite irrelevant. This is why I stop responding to you after a while because you cease to be a worthwhile dialog partner. You serve the purposes I want for a while, namely to show others that you can be answered and how to go about it. After a while, I simply have more important things to do than to bang on the keyboard with someone who seemingly has hours upon hours to do nothing in his post middle aged existence than to write on the internet.

    I wasn’t harping on the Filioque. I used it as an example of a doctrine that violates Sola Scriptura in response to you since it is not justifiable from Scripture alone. But you are apparently ignorant of what the doctrine actually is, which hopefully explains why you aren’t railing againts your own church for violating the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Otherwise, it’s a manifestation of prejudice. I could have given other examples, like divine simplicity or created grace . There are a number of other non-biblical hold overs from Scholasticisms natural theology.

    Now you seem to enjoy citing the Blackwell dictionary and it is a common practice of those unfamiliar with a given tradition and can’t think through the system from the inside out to resort to perceived normative sources or handbook type works. In point of fact the citation is wrong and the fact that you don’t recognize that it is so shows that you have gaps in your knowledge of Orthodox theology and just plain church history. If you had read even say Pelikan’s survey you’d probably not used this citation. So let me explain why you are mistaken.

    The first council of Lyon was in 1245 and the second was in 1274/5. Second, most sources not that the Easterners were simply dictated to, to what they would have to assent to and there was no substantial discussion of the issues, which violates church law as laid down, which required free and open discussion. Emperor Michael compelled what bishops he could to attend and rubber stamp its decrees. The Orthodox patriarchates never accepted it as required by 2nd Nicea in its sixth session.

    Much the same could be said of Florence since its most important participants on the Orthodox side never signed the decrees, that being Mark of Ephesus and a few others. Mark was so significant a figure that when the Pope learned that he had not signed he exclaimed “If Mark has not signed then we have accomplished nothing!” Those that did sign also did so under duress wishing for military aid against the Muslims and/or for the gold, cardinal hats or other benefits promised in advance by the Papacy, thereby making their signatures the seal of their simony. Furthermore, at crucial points in the dialogs, the emperor violated church and imperial law by dictating what could or could not be discussed. Without a free and open discussion, the council was void. These are some of the main reasons why the synod was rejected. None of the patristic citations unproblamatically teach the filioque and are quite easily explained in terms of an eternal, yet not hypostatic procession of the Spirit through the Son, otherwise known as an energetic procession. Since the Latins didn’t have a metaphysical place for energies, just essence and accidents, they either could not make sense of the passages in any other way or read them through misleading Latin translations.

    In point of fact 880 was a council agreed to repudiating the Filioque by both East and West and ratified by the Papacy, so if anyone is inconsistent, it is Rome and her Protestant children. And it is a fair characterization to say that the doctrine is derived from natural theology. First because the lynchpin is divine simplicity. If God is simple, then the economic and theological processions must be identical. This reasoning is found in the Reformed scholastics as well as Catholic theologians. And simplicity is most certainly a product of philosophy and natural theology. Furthermore, the entire issue of deriving many from one is as old as Plato in the Parmendies as well as having legs and being derived from Plotinus’ discussions in the Enneads on how Soul proceeds from both the One and Nous, since the difference between the two, implied a third. Three is the smallest number, Plotinus argued against the Gnostics where you can have the Platonic genera of sameness and difference making the infinite number of Gnostic intermediaries unnecessary. Plotinus discussion of the procession of Soul from One and Nous mirror practically exactly scholastic theologies attempt to vindicate the Filioque via reason. This philosophical outlook was brought to bear on the Johannine texts and this is why following the dialectical reasoning from Platonism that Augustine even ventures to speculate a Spirituque, a procession of the Son from the Father and the Spirit.

    So, I am not therefore being inconsistent by using it as an example. And even if what you claimed were true, an inconsistency in Orthodoxy wouldn’t entail or serve as evidence that the doctrine as professed historically to this day by Protestants was derived from Scripture. So you still have not either argued that Protestants should revise their confessions and condemn the error or give an exegetical defense for it as it stands. In any case, your attempt to manufacture an inconsistency for Orthodoxy is stillborn due to your own ignorance regarding history. You simply won’t make an effective apologetic against positions by reading popular dictionaries and handbooks. You have to be able to represent a position as its best adherents would do and understand it from the inside out. So far, you’ve acted in typical fundamentalist fashion-pick up some popular works and handbooks and go searching for anything you can whip up into a problem.

  75. July 2, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Well, gee, Steve I thought that the fact that Orthodox ecclesiology being grounded in the confession of the faith would play well to your own Protestant sensibilities, since we would both see that it is that confession of faith in which Christ built his church, and not on some particular see or geography or what have you. Anyways, it just seems like we Orthodox and Protestants could actually have a conversation since we see the content of the faith as the formation of unity.

    Photios

  76. steve hays said,

    July 4, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Perry Robinson said,

    “I think the irony in John and the ability to see more and a different meaning in the statements than Caiaphas wished to express show that Caiaphas was wrong.”

    Even if we accept your description, how does that follow? For example, when a homicide detective questions a suspect, he’ll try to trick the suspect into revealing more than he wished to express. Likewise, when a prosecutor cross-examines the accused, he will try to trick the defendant into revealing more than he wishes to express.

    On the one hand, the intent of the suspect or defendant is to conceal his knowledge of the crime. On the other hand, the intent of the detective or prosecutor is to make him inadvertently reveal more about the crime than he would be in a position to know if he were innocent.

    That doesn’t make his unwitting admission false. And that doesn’t make the detective’s interpretation of the statement (or prosecutor’s interpretation) at odds with the meaning of the statement.

    Take the classic example of the Freudian slip, where a speaker accidentally says what he really thinks.

    Let’s also remember that Gaffin’s formulation is targeting the examples cited by Peter Enns. And, in that context, it’s possible that Gaffin’s formulation doesn’t take an example like Caiaphas into account. Why would we expect him to? Enns didn’t cite Caiaphas.

    Suppose there are cases in which there’s a difference between the intent of the speaker and the content of the statement? Unless the examples the Enns is citing, and Gaffin is responding to, belong to that category, how does that invalidate Gaffin’s critique?

    In the case of Caiaphas, the irony lies in who is making the statement. It’s made by an enemy of Jesus. And that’s what creates the possibility of a tension between the intent of the speaker and the content of the statement.

    But that is not a paradigm for OT prophets. The OT prophets did not intend to speak contrary to divine intent. Their messianic oracles weren’t true in spite of what they intended to communicate. They meant to speak truthfully, and they succeeded.

    And, actually, if we were to extend Perry’s interpretation of Caiaphas to the case of OT prophets, then Perry would be taking the position that OT messianic prophecies are false.

    Does Perry suppose that what Isaiah meant is the opposite of what God meant when he inspired Isaiah? And does Perry suppose that, given a discrepancy between divine intent and human intent, what Isaiah said was wrong?

    How does Perry apply his principle more generally? Does he apply it to OT prophecies? If he doesn’t apply it more generally, then how is that germane to the issue at hand?

    “Not to mention the fact that the unjust death of Christ and their apostasy, because they claimed Caesar as king and not Jesus, resulted in their destruction in 7- A.D. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t see the destruction of Jerusalem as something ‘better’ than allowing Jesus to preach.”

    Remember that Perry cited the statement of Caiaphas as a counterexample to Gaffin. So this comes down to an exegetical question. But Perry isn’t mounting an exegetical argument for his interpretation.

    To raise objections on the basis of judicial misconduct or national apostasy or the fall of Jerusalem tells us what Perry thinks of Caiaphas’ statement, but it doesn’t tell us what John though of Caiaphas’ statement. The outlook of the narrator is what is pertinent to the interpretation of Caiaphas’ statement.

    Does John think it would be better if Christ kept on preaching for the next 40 years or so, then died of natural causes? No. For John, Jesus came to die. And, by divine design, wicked men like Caiaphas were instrumental in implementing God’s redemptive plan.

    Perry’s evaluation of Jn 11:50 is at odds with John’s evaluation (vv51-52). John takes the statement of Caiaphas as true statement and starting point to make a broader observation.

    And, yes, it was beneficial that Jesus die for the nation. Not all Jews were apostates. John was a Jew. Was John an apostate? The 1C church of Jerusalem was a Jewish church. Some (not all) of the Jews who perished in sack of Jerusalem went to heaven thanks to the vicarious atonement of Christ.

    Because Eastern Orthodoxy has a deep strain of anti-Semitism, it doesn’t even occur to Perry that Jews might be beneficiaries of Jesus’ death. But the elect includes a Jewish remnant as well.

    “As for John thinking that the statement was ‘ironically right’ I quite agree because irony is dialectical, which means that the meaning John saw was the opposite of Caiaphas.”

    John doesn’t see an opposite meaning in the statement. The irony lies, not in the statement, but the speaker. What’s ironic is “who” said it, not what he said. What he said was true. It’s ironic that an enemy of Jesus would say it. And not just any enemy, but the high priest.

    There are different types of irony. There’s verbal irony, in which a speaker intentionally means the opposite of what he says. But Caiaphas wasn’t trying to be ironic. He isn’t Jonathan Swift.

    There’s dramatic irony, in which the listener (or reader) knows more than the speaker. That figures in Jn 11:49-52.

    And there’s situational irony as well, where the actions of an agent bring about the opposite of what the agent intended. (A paradigm case is fatalism in Greek tragedy.) That also figures in the Johannine pericope.

    So Perry is systematically misreading his own prooftext.

    “Your condescending comment about learning how to exegete notwithstanding, I don’t suppose you think Carson needs to learn to do so as well.”

    Unfortunately for you, that backfires. Carson doesn’t say or imply that Caiaphas’ statement was false. And he doesn’t say or imply that John thought it was false.

    Moreover, you said back on comment #47, “It isn’t clear that Ciaphas has a substitutionary thought in mind.”

    But Carson says, “both Caiaphas and John understand Jesus’ death to be substitutionary” (422).

    Not surprisingly, you didn’t include that when you quoted Carson.

    Carson doesn’t take the position that John means the opposite of what Caiaphas meant. And that’s true of other commentators as well.

    “Caiaphas is a case where a person is inspired, but it is not the meaning that they utter via the statement that is inspired so strictly speaking what he said was false.”

    So you deny verbal inspiration. Does your general theory of inspiration deny verbal inspiration? Do you limit inspiration to the person, but not the end-product? If so, do you apply that theory to conciliar inspiration as well?

    Is Caiaphas the exception or the rule? If the former, how’s that relevant to OT prophecies? If the latter, what about ecumenical councils?

    “Furthermore, you inject correspondence as a requirement, which to my knowledge Enns does not.”

    Enns is trying to liberalize the traditional, Reformed doctrine of inspiration because he doesn’t think that certain passages in Scripture, like Gen 1 conform to reality (to take one example).

    “Prophetic statements can be true without correspondence. I don’t see any reason why they can’t be seen as true on deflationary accounts. Truth is the way things are, but it isn’t at all obvious that ‘the way things are’ entails a congruence relation or correlation between two entities.”

    Well, I happen to think it makes a wee bit of difference whether Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Kochba, or Menachem Schneerson. So, yes, I think a one-to-one correspondence between the figure denoted in Isa 53 and its historical fulfillment is “reasonable”—to say the least.

    “And if my entire point is that inspiration is not limited to or even in accordance with the understanding of the authors your question simply begs the question at issue. And if I do not think that meaning is exhausted by or even entails reference, why would you think I would think that prophetic statements require a future referent to be true?”

    Actually, it’s your failure to consistently distinguish between sense and reference that leads to your mishandling of OT prophecy.

    Did Isaiah know that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah? No.

    What Isaiah gives us is a partial job description for the Messiah. And his messianic job description is reiterated or supplemented by other OT writers.

    Isaiah didn’t know who the Messiah would be. He didn’t know the identity of the future referent. But he knew what the Messiah would be like.

    The historical fulfillment doesn’t add anything to the *meaning* of the oracle. Rather, it supplies the concrete *referent*.

    And messianic prophecies were future-oriented, so it was understood all along that these oracles would have a future referent, even if the prophet didn’t know the actual identity of the future referent.

    Since prophecies are future oriented, they require a future referent. And the historic terms of fulfillment must be true to the semantic terms of the oracle.

    “I don’t deny that a purpose of inspiration is to secure true statements.”

    Really? How can you say, on the one hand, that inspiration secures true statements while, on the other hand, you cite the statement of Caiaphas as a paradigm-case of inspired falsehoods? Which is it, Perry?

    “I can agree that the historical events are the way Paul’s statements say they are, but that doesn’t necessarily imply a Correspondence Theory of truth and some ‘matching’ relation.”

    How does the veracity of a divine promise not entail a match between the terms of the promise and what actually took place? If God promises Abraham a son, and Abraham dies childless, did God keep his promise or break his promise?

    “I didn’t shift the discussion to Lipton. I merely gave an example of where Reformed persons in elucidating and defending the Reformed viewpoint on inspiration are committed to non-biblical and extra-biblical doctrines like created grace. This was in response to your claim that my view was non-biblical. And given that his article was posted here, but a few entries back in support of the Reformed view in light of Chalcedon, it was hardly diversionary for me to make reference to it. You may not be here to debate Lipton’s article, but you did make a claim about Reformed theology having an exegetical grounding. I gave an example where it doesn’t. You have yet to show where the notion of ‘created grace’ is found in the biblical text either explicitly or by implication. So my example stands, Reformed theology has extra-biblical doctrines relative to inspiration.”

    i) To begin with, we need to distinguish between Reformed distinctives or Reformed essentials, on the one hand, and things incidentally to Reformed theology qua *Reformed* theology, on the other hand. Perry is equivocating.

    For example, sola fide and sola Scriptura are Reformed essentials, but they’re not Reformed distinctives. Conversely, a doctrine like double predestination or special redemption is both a Reformed essential and a Reformed distinctive.

    If a Reformed essential and/or a Reformed distinctive were unscriptural, then Reformed theology would be unscriptural. But double procession doesn’t define Calvinism in the way that double predestination defines Calvinism.

    If, for the sake of argument, we were to drop the filioque from our creed, what difference would that make to Calvinism? We’d still have covenant theology, TULIP, the five soli, &c.

    For a number of years, now, Wayne Grudem has been arguing that we should drop “the descent into hell” from our creeds. But that’s not a debate over the Reformed theology, per se. It’s not like Amyraldism.

    ii) Likewise, the fact that a theologian who happens to be a Calvinist takes a position on something doesn’t mean this represents Reformed theology. And here I’d draw attention to Perry’s double standard. When, for example, I quote Bishop Ware on universalism, Perry waxes indignant. He assures me that Bishop Ware doesn’t speak for Eastern Orthodoxy.

    But Perry then acts as though, if he can quote something that some Reformed theologian said somewhere at some time, then that’s Reformed theology.

    There’s a little bunch of expat, Cameronian wannabies up in Edmonton Canada who imagine that anyone who doesn’t swear by the Auchensaugh Renovation is an apostate to the Reformed faith. Should I feel honor bound by their scruples?

    “The onus is on you to respond to evidence and arguments made. Again, you haven’t engaged the example I gave, but merely dismissed it.”

    The onus is not on me to debate irrelevant arguments. Lane Tipton is shadowboxing with Enns. Enns’ employed an Incarnational analogy to justify his liberal theory of inspiration. So Tipton is answering him on his own grounds. Fine.

    That doesn’t commit me to employ the same strategy. I simply reject the framework.

    Enns is trying to steer the Reformed community towards a more liberal theory of inspiration. But that’s inherently controversial. So he cloaks his proposal in Incarnational terms. That’s a smart, tactical move.

    It gives his proposal a pious veneer. Indeed, it’s a preemptive move. A way of putting his critics on the defensive. If they take issue with his liberal theory of inspiration, then they’re attacking the Incarnation. They’re crypto-Docetists.

    Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t even bother going down that road. It’s a decoy to throw us off the scent.

    Bible writers never model inspiration on the Incarnation. So it’s improper to treat the Incarnation as the paradigm around which we must formulate our theory of inspiration. That’s an exercise in misdirection. Rather, we should formulate our theory of inspiration on the self-witness of scripture.

    And that, I’d add, is traditional Reformed theological method. To my knowledge, Reformed tradition never framed its theory of inspiration in light of the Incarnation.

    So even if, ex hypothesi, Tipton were educing extrascriptural arguments in defense of inspiration, that’s irrelevant to the way in which Reformed theology customarily derives its doctrine of inspiration. Rather, it’s an apologetic countermove to Enns. Answering him on his own terms.

    “Further as Lipton notes, Scripture does in part attribute inspiration to the Son for it is the Son who sends the Spirit and the Spirit comes through the Son.”

    Now you’re equivocating. That doesn’t justify your attempt to substitute a theanthropic model for a pneumatological model.

    “And further, since the Son says that the Spirit takes what is his and teaches the Apostles, then Jesus is active in the inspiration of the Scriptures, even if derivatively speaking. Your compartmentalism here simply isn’t biblical.”

    “Derivatively speaking”? So now you have to admit, after your convoluted, face-saving explanation, that you were equivocating.

    “And thinking that the Son spoke to Moses and the OT figures…”

    i) Now you’re shifting ground. I was responding to what you said in comment #65: “Hence the irony of coming to his own and his own not recognizing him.”

    That’s an allusion to Jn 1:11. That has reference to the advent of Christ, not OT Christophanies. So you’re confusing the timeframe.

    ii) Moreover, you continue to equivocate. The Son speaking to Moses is not the same thing as inspiring Moses to speak. A really basic, obvious difference.

    iii) Furthermore, this also goes to your inability to distinguish between inspiration and revelation. They aren’t synonymous.

    A theophany is revelatory. Yet it’s not a case of inspiration. It’s objective to the viewer. But inspiration is a subjective process.

    “Your current response on the filioque isn’t an exegetical response and so is another non-answer. ‘Traditionally’ the doctrine was that from the persons of the Father and the Son the person of the Spirit was eternally generated as from one principle. No one disputed the sending of the Son in the economia because that is not the doctrine of the Filioque.”

    “Traditionally,” the locus classicus of the Filioque was Jn 15:26:

    “proceedth] The original term (ekporeuetai, Vulg. procedit) may in itself either describe proceeding from a source, or proceeding on a mission. In the former sense the preposition out of (ek, e) would naturally be required to define the source (Rev 1:16, &c.); on the other hand the preposition from (from the side of, para, a) is that which is habitually used with the verb ‘to come forth’ of the mission of the Son, e.g. 16:27, 17:8. The use of the latter preposition (para) in this place seems therefore to shew decisively that the reference here is to the temporal mission of the Holy Spirit, and not to the eternal Procession. In accordance with this usage the phrase in the Creeds is uniformly ‘which proceedeth out of’ (to pn. to hagion to ek tou patros ekporeuomenoun); and it is most worthy of notice that the Greek fathers who apply this passage to the eternal Procession instinctively substitute ‘out of’ (ek) for ‘from” (para) in their application of it: e.g. Theodore of Mopsuestia (cat.’ In loco),” B. F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John (Eerdmans 1981), 224-25.

    So this was employed as a traditional prooftext, by Greek Fathers, for the ontological, and not merely economic, procession of the Spirit. Westcott himself demurs.

    “And your answer shows that you either simply do not understand the doctrine in question since the disputed idea was never the economic procession.”

    You suffer from a serious case of reading incomprehension. I never said the disputed idea was economic procession. I was opposing economic procession to the tradition dogma, which construed Johannine statements like Jn 15:26 as ontological descriptions of the immanent Trinity. Try to pay attention next time.

    “So when you recite the creed with the Filioque you are either affirming a doctrine which has no scriptural support.”

    I affirm the filioque in the same sense that I affirm Jn 15:26.

    “Or you are reinterpreting the creed contrary to its historical meaning and the meaning given to it by theologians in the Reformed tradition and are therefore making a false profession.”

    Several problems with this statement:

    i) Westcott, for one, thinks the wording of the creed supports an economic import.
    ii) More to the point, I’m not duty-bound to affirm the original intent of an uninspired document.
    a) Original intent is hermeneutically normative in the sense that the wording means whatever it meant to the author or framers.
    b) But unless a document is inspired, original intent isn’t doxastically normative. I’m under no obligation to agree with the framers.
    iii) As to “false” profession, that depends on to whom or for whom the profession is made.
    a) If I were an ordinand, and I were asked if I affirm the creed, I’d be duty-bound to explain my interpretation.
    b) But in a public recitation of the creed, I’m affirming *my* faith, not the faith of the Nicene fathers.
    iv) In addition, most laymen, including most Eastern Orthodox layman, have no scholarly knowledge of original intent or the finer points of Cyrillian Christology. Are they also guilty of a false profession? By Perry’s elitist standard, only a patrologist is qualified to truly profess the creed.

    “This is why all of your bantering concerning other traditions having non-exegetically derived doctrines is really not available to you as you are inconsistent in not charging them with the same kind of error that you charge others.”

    If the only churches were Reformed churches, I might pick on these penny-ante issues—but with such enormous engines of error like Orthodoxy and Catholicism, that’s scarcely a priority.

    “Tactics are irrelevant unless you wish to do psychology rather than logic.”

    It’s relevant to alert readers to your machinations.

    “Furthermore, the designation of the origin of any doctrine isn’t a separate compartment to relative to its justification.”

    Depends on the audience. Documenting the self-witness of Scripture is distinct from justifying the self-witness of Scripture. Now, if the audience is Christian, then it will need no justification. It will believe the self-witness of Scripture on the authority of Scripture.

    But if you’re doing apologetics, then you’d need to justify the authority of Scripture. Conversely, even an unbeliever can read Warfield and agree with Warfield that the Bible does assert its plenary, verbal inspiration.

    So there is a basic difference between believing the Bible and believing that the Bible claims to be inspired.

    “As for a divine person dying, as I noted before this functions as a Shibboleth and it seems you can’t make your tongue (or in this case, fingers) bend that way. I asked for a straight answer which anyone conversant with the traditional Chalcedonian reading which the Reformed profess to accept should have no trouble answering in the affirmative.”

    Actually, anyone conversant with the Reformed version of the communicatio idiomatum can predict how I’d go about answering that question, were I so inclined.

    “You simply dodge the question.”

    Just as Jesus had a habit of “dodging” malicious, irrelevant questions. You want to shift the debate from the exegesis of Scripture to the exegesis of the creeds, and then shift the debate from the exegesis of the creeds to the exegesis of your favorite church fathers. I don’t jump when you say, “jump!” Get a dog.

    “Which makes manifest your heterodoxy, even by your own tradition’s standards. The only question is which Christological heresy you endorse.”

    Notice that Perry is doing exactly what I predicted. In my previous reply, I said, “Perry likes to pose trip-wire questions and redirect the conversation to his own turf. He wants to maneuver the conversation into a debate over the fine points of Cyrillian Christology, then score rhetorical points by accusing his opponents of the Nestorian heresy.”

    Since he’s frustrated, because I don’t play into his hands, he now has to tip his hand.

    “My question is quite germane since Christ is the center piece and heart of all Christian theology.”

    That sounds oh-so pious, but you’re using that as a pretext for sloppy theological method. The proper way to establish a Biblical doctrine, including the doctrine of Scripture, is to turn to those passages which speak most directly to the issue.

    It’s improper to begin with a subset of patristic theology, then infer our other doctrines from that point of reference.

    “If you have a wrong view about Christ, it not only doesn’t much matter what you think about inspiration, but it is also likely that you have other heterodox views as well, perhaps some that you are not even conscious of or that you inconsistent.”

    Except that, for Perry, Scripture doesn’t define what constitutes a right or wrong view of Christ. Rather, he takes his cue from Holy Tradition. And he tries to impose that extrascriptural yardstick on everyone else.

    “Since much of the conversation here has been in terms of historical theology I am framing the issue in a way that is relevant.”

    Once again, we need to draw a basic distinction:

    i) At one level, the Enns’ affair is a case of internal, institutional discipline. Westminster is a confessional seminary. The faculty is hired on that basis.

    Moreover, Westminster was founded in 1929, so it’s developed its own history, its own traditions. And that, in turn, is also bound up with the history of the OPC.

    It’s inevitable that an institution like Westminster will undergo a periodic identity crisis given the turnover in faculty. It’s up to the powers-that-be to decide how much discontinuity between past and present is tolerable. So we get into debates over the relation between Westminster and Old Princeton. Or Westminster and the vision of Machen. Or E.J. Young and Peter Enns. Not to mention the Westminster Confession.

    That’s how you’d expect a disciplinary process to proceed. This is not like a debate between Bart Ehrman and William Lane Craig, where we have to defend the faith from scratch, from the bottom up. In a disciplinary process involving a seminary prof., a lot of things are taken for granted.

    ii) At another level, though, for those of us who aren’t responsible for policing the seminary, it’s a question of evaluating his thesis. Is it true? That’s a very different question than whether he’s crossed the line of permissible dissent.

    Is he right or wrong about comparative mythology? Is he right or wrong about apostolic exegesis? Is he right or wrong about “diversity.”

    Historical theology doesn’t answer those questions. History is descriptive. That’s not a way to establish the truth or falsity of his thesis.

    “And this is often the path of Christological heretics who wish to trash historical theology to hide their own heretical views behind the shield of biblical theology because they know that if they were to spell out clearly and affirm their views, they get skewered.”

    And Perry shows us the path of ecclesiolaters who wish to trash exegetical theology to hide their own unscriptural views behind the shield of historical theology because they know that if they were to spell out clearly and affirm their views, they get skewered.

    For Perry, unless you invest your eternal destiny in the blind trust of Holy Tradition, then you’re a heretic. It’s a mark of Perry’s own view of Scripture that he doesn’t think we can out-argue the heretics on the basis of Scripture.

    “Furthermore, to argue apologetically I don’t have to do exegesis.”

    You have to do exegesis if you wish to establish that your alternative is the true alternative. True to revealed truth.

    “Methodologically, I haven’t been doing anything much different than that.”

    Methodologically, you like to take shortcuts.

    “After a while, I simply have more important things to do than to bang on the keyboard with someone who seemingly has hours upon hours to do nothing in his post middle aged existence than to write on the internet.”

    Oh, dear! If I didn’t know better, I’d almost suspect that Perry is resorting to an ad hominem attack. But I’m sure he’d never stoop to that level since he disapproves of ad hominem attacks.

    “Now you seem to enjoy citing the Blackwell dictionary and it is a common practice of those unfamiliar with a given tradition and can’t think through the system from the inside out to resort to perceived normative sources or handbook type works.”

    I see. So Perry is now going to give us his personal, “insider” account of what really happened at a 13C council. I must say that Perry is very well preserved for his age. Is he a vampire?

    But for those of us who don’t enjoy his prediluvian lifespan, we rely on secondhand information about the past.

    “If you had read even say Pelikan’s survey you’d probably not used this citation.”

    So now the problem is that my secondhand source of information disagrees with his secondhand source of information. Should we flip a coin?

    “So far, you’ve acted in typical fundamentalist fashion-pick up some popular works and handbooks and go searching for anything you can whip up into a problem.”

    That’s an interesting value judgment. Why would I think the Blackwell Dictionary is a useful reference work? Well, one reason might be that it’s recommended by a Greek Orthodox Bishop. As Metropolitan Kallistos Ware explains in his foreword to the Blackwell Dictionary:

    “Over the past fifty years there has been a truly remarkable grown of interest in the Christian East, and a comprehensive work of reference such as the Blackwell Dictionary has long been needed. Here is a book written with clarity, accessible to the non-specialist and the beginner, yet there also is a book in which those already familiar with the Eastern churches may discover much to surprise them and to evoke their sense of wonder” (ix).

    I guess that makes Bishop Ware your typical, fundy fuddy-duddy—who doesn’t understand the Orthodox faith from the inside out. Thankfully, we have Perry Robison to set the Right Reverend straight. Why doesn’t Perry just cut to the chase and crown himself the Pope of Eastern Orthodoxy?

  77. steve hays said,

    July 5, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Incidentally, I take basically the same position on the filioque/double procession/eternal procession/eternal generation as Reformed theologians like Warfield, Frame, and Helm.

  78. May 25, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    [...] issues with Enns revolve around his book Inspiration and Incarnation, upon which see the outstanding critique that Dr. Richard Gaffin made of it. I cannot really improve upon it, and so I will not even [...]

  79. PuritanBoard said,

    September 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    […] had to keep up appearances to retain employment. Gaffin's response at the time of Enns' dismissal: A Word From Dr. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. | Green Baggins Rich Ruling Elder, Licentiate, Under Care, Hope of Christ Church (PCA), Northern VA Student, New […]


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