Passages on Oral Tradition or the Written Law?

Madrid argues that the Old Testament provides evidence against Sola Scriptura. There are three main passages that he adduces to prove his point: Deuteronomy 17:8-12, 2 Chronicles 29:25, and 2 Chronicles 35:4. Let’s examine each of these in turn to see if they prove what Madrid says they prove.

Deuteronomy 17:8-12 says this:

8 If a case is too difficult for you—concerning bloodshed, lawsuits, or assaults —cases disputed at your gates, you must go up to the place the LORD your God chooses. 9 You are to go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who presides at that time. Ask, and they will give you a verdict in the case. 10 You must abide by the verdict they give you at the place the LORD chooses. Be careful to do exactly as they instruct you. 11 You must abide by the instruction they give you and the verdict they announce to you. Do not turn to the right or the left from the decision they declare to you. 12 The person who acts arrogantly, refusing to listen either to the priest who stands there serving the LORD your God or to the judge, must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. (HCSB)

It is difficult to see what Madrid is trying to prove by quoting this, but if I would make a guess, he is trying to say that God had given the Church an infallible teaching authority, both in the OT and in the NT. While he doesn’t specifically reference this text as providing it, he does say that there are “clear references to an authoritative body of teachers” (p. 15). My question is simple: how does this passage prove an authoritative (as in Roman Catholic authoritative!) body of teachers? It merely proves that the priests and magistrates of Israel had the authority to pronounce just sentences, and that, following the fifth commandment, those who received said verdict were to abide by it. Why does this passage speak of some kind of infallible magisterium? That would read into the text a fair bit.

The next passage is 2 Chronicles 29:25: “Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the LORD’s temple with cymbals, harps, and lyres according to the command of David, Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet. For the command was from the LORD through His prophets” (HCSB). Madrid argues that this passage, as well as 2 Chronicles 35:4 (“Organize your ancestral houses by your divisions according to the written instruction of David king of Israel and that of his son Solomon,” HCSB) offer “examples in which authoritative oral Tradition is at work alongside Scripture in the Old Testament” (p. 15). It is rather difficult to believe that Madrid has read these texts very carefully, if he gets oral tradition out of them. Take the second passage, for instance: the author explicitly mentions written instruction, not oral instruction. Wondering where this instruction originated? For the second passage, which explicitly mentions written instruction, we should look at 1 Chronicles 23:6- “Then David divided them into divisions according to Levi’s sons: Gershom, Kohath, and Merari” (HCSB). The written instructions regarding the first passage come in 1 Chronicles 15:16- “Then David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their relatives as singers and to have them raise their voices with joy accompanied by musical instruments—harps, lyres, and cymbals” (HCSB). In both cases, what we find is that the specific instructions were given to the prophets, who then wrote them down. We have a record in both cases of those instructions. We are therefore not moving in the realm of oral tradition at all, but rather the written tradition of Scripture itself.

One final point must be made here: it is quite true that God revealed things to His prophets that were not written down. The question is this: how do we view such happenings? There is no record that we have such oral traditions today. What happened was that such revelation served its purpose at that time, was not recorded, and we therefore don’t have it. If Madrid is seriously seeking to argue that oral tradition from the Old Testament is around today, where is his proof?

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84 Comments

  1. Devin Rose said,

    June 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I doubt Madrid is arguing that the Old Covenant has an infallible authoritative interpreter, but rather just an authoritative interpreter whose directives were binding upon the conscience.

    Does anyone argue that there wasn’t Jewish tradition that held some authority? Matthew 23:2 with the “seat of Moses” would seem to indicate that there was. But I don’t know any Catholics who claim that that tradition was equal to sacred Tradition of the New Covenant, only that it was a Old Covenant example of something binding outside of the Old Testament scriptures themselves.

    Further, I don’t think Catholics claim that any Old Covenant tradition is binding now, but even from the NT we see the importance of the Apostles’ oral instructions/wisdom given to the churches, much of which was likely not written down. Take John 3 for instance where the Apostle says he has much more to say but doesn’t want to write it, preferring to come in person.

    God bless,
    Devin

  2. greenbaggins said,

    July 1, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Devin, I don’t personally see how your distinctions are relevant to my arguments. My arguments are valid against any of the positions you are describing. You haven’t dealt with the exegetical data here. My position argues against anything “binding outside of the scriptures.”

  3. Devin Rose said,

    July 1, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I pointed out that several things you said about what you think Madrid is thinking are likely inaccurate. I doubt he thinks that oral tradition from the Old Covenant is “around” today or binding. But it is valid to point out the many examples of tradition from the Old Covenant. I mentioned the seat of Moses.

    I also pointed out that even from the New Testament itself we have evidence of oral tradition/instruction in the New Covenant, like in the incredibly short 3 John. So the argument is that there is evidence of tradition from the Old Covenant (which Jesus alludes to in Matthew 23:2) as well in the New Covenant.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    July 1, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Devin, the NT is irrelevant to this discussion, which is about OT tradition (I will be dealing with the NT evidence in a DIFFERENT post). I have pointed out that my arguments work against whatever position you are asserting (extra-scriptural tradition of one form or another). It’s debatable what Madrid meant. I have argued that my exegesis works either against the “Madrid” of the original post, or against your “Madrid.” Instead of engaging that argument, you merely asserted that I misunderstood Madrid. This is not cogent argumentation. You have still not engaged the actual exegesis put forward here, but have put in mere assertions. Those who are versed in logic (and there are quite a few of those reading my blog!) will see how illogical your argumentation is here.

  5. Steve G said,

    July 1, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Devin

    I’m not sure how you make the leap to oral tradition/instruction that is normative for the entire church from 3 John. All John says is that he has much to say that he will say in person rather than in his letter. I hate to say it but, duh, that no doubt could be said for every letter written in the NT (or not in the NT for that matter) whether the writer says this specifically or not.

    You haven’t shown that any thing they said in person differed in any significant way from what they said in their letters – at least in terms of what is normative for the church. Nor have you demonstrated the contents of this oral tradition and established that it came from the apostles.

    Just saying John (or any other letter writer) didn’t say everything in their letters is merely stating the obvious. Demonstrating that what they said in person equates to oral tradition that is normative for the church is a whole new ball game.

  6. Devin Rose said,

    July 1, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Well, I don’t have Madrid’s work that you are referencing, only the small quotation you used. So if I wrongly brought in the New Covenant thinking that this reference to the Old one was intended to demonstrate a parallel of some sort, my bad. You mentioned sola Scriptura, which is of course a (Protestant) New Covenant belief.

    Of course all the Old Covenant traditions found their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and I know of no Catholic apologist who claims they should be used “today,” except insofar as they help us know Christ better. So if that’s what you mean by “they fulfilled their purpose” I agree. But I pointed out several times that Old Covenant traditions like the seat of Moses indicate an authoritative, unwritten tradition that Jesus Christ himself expected his followers to both know and obey. So it can by way of analogy argue against sola Scriptura. But if you don’t want to talk about the New Covenant or sola Scriptura, that’s fine. I misunderstood.

    Look, give me the benefit of the doubt here. I’m not trying to be sophistical. If I misunderstood the (narrow) scope of your post, I apologize. It’s certainly possible. I’ll give you the last word on this one.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    July 1, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Devin, how can you call Sola Scriptura a New Covenant belief? Protestants don’t believe that it is simply a New Covenant belief, but that it is the teaching of the entire Scripture. The seat of Moses was the place where people expounded the written text of Scripture. It was not the place where they expounded an unwritten tradition. ISBE, volume 3, p. 425: “This seat symbolized their authority as interpreters *of the law* in unbroken succession from Moses” (emphasis added). Otherwise, why call it the seat *of Moses?* It is the seat of interpreting Moses, not unwritten tradition. Your argumentation leaves much to be desired. And, we *are* talking about Sola Scriptura, but *not* the Old Testament. I’m beginning to wonder if you understand written English.

  8. rfwhite said,

    July 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Lane:

    I’m not certain I’m understanding you. I don’t disagree with your critique of Madrid. The following statement, however, threw me: Protestants don’t believe that it is simply a New Covenant belief, but that it is the teaching of the entire Scripture. Do you mean to imply that Sola Scriptura was operative throughout the history of revelation and redemption?

  9. greenbaggins said,

    July 1, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Dr. White, what I mean is that Sola Scriptura is taught throughout the Bible, not just in the New Testament. As I said above, there was revelation from God that was in addition to Scripture. However, that was temporal, and only valid for the time in which it was given, since it was not preserved. I haven’t made the study yet, but I would guess that even the record we do have of extra-biblical revelation was still *based on* the written Word, not something seen as independent of it.

  10. July 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Sola Scriptura is taught throughout the Bible, not just in the New Testament.

    OK, now I’m confused. Many of our apologists insist that Sola Scriptura did not become the operative principle guiding the church until after the apostles passed from the scene (since during their ministries the Word came in both spoken and written form).

    Lane, could you please clarify?

  11. TurretinFan said,

    July 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    The formal sufficiency and ultimate/supreme authority of Scripture is what is entailed, Mr. Stellman. Of course, whenever God speaks, whether in the person of Jesus, or in a voice from heaven, or in dreams and visions or through the Spirit in a genuine prophet he has the same authority as when He speaks through the Scriptures.

    The elders of the Israelites never had equal or superior authority to the Scriptures, whether in a time when there were prophets, or during the time of the silence of prophecy, prior to John the Baptist.

  12. rfwhite said,

    July 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    #9 Lane:

    Ok. One thing that Madrid fails to note is a distinction between a charism of authority and a charism of infallibility. I had a similar conversation at CtC about 18 months ago regarding the presence or absence of a Magisterium (i.e., with its charism of infallibility) in the pre-NT era. There was agreement that there was no counterpart to the Magisterium in the pre-NT era. Granted that point, the argument shifted to defending the necessity of the Magisterium for the era after the completion of revelation, and only after the completion of revelation.

  13. Devin Rose said,

    July 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Green,

    Given that two learned Protestants, Dr. White and Rev. Stellman, both also admitted some difficulty understanding your claim vis-a-vis sola Scriptura across both Covenants, perhaps you can extend to me a bit more courtesy, as I had asked for in my comment, rather than insulting me by saying I don’t understand English.

    I’ll consider more the claim that the seat of Moses was only for expounding upon the written Scriptures.

  14. greenbaggins said,

    July 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Jason, what TFan said.

    Devin, would you also consider the actual exegesis I offered regarding the OT passages?

    Let me make plain why I am frustrated: You say that I don’t understand Madrid. I reply that my arguments are good against the Madrid I thought I was answering *as well as* the Madrid you propounded. You respond by saying that I don’t understand Madrid. But since that is no longer the issue, your reply is not germain. Then you introduce the NT evidence as a general concept, when the discussion was about the OT. Then you say that I’m not talking about Sola Scriptura, when I most certainly am. Furthermore, you start your whole discussion by saying this, “I doubt Madrid is arguing that the Old Covenant has an infallible authoritative interpreter, but rather just an authoritative interpreter whose directives were binding upon the conscience.” I never said that Madrid was arguing for an infallible authoritative interpreter of the Old Covenant. I understood Madrid to be arguing for a “distinct” authority outside the Old Testament, but to which he thinks the Old Testament gives witness. That’s two irrelevancies, by my count; and two misunderstandings of my position. Four times you’ve gotten it wrong. And all of these four issues are pretty central to what’s going on in the post above.

  15. Devin Rose said,

    July 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Green,

    In the original post you said: “[Madrid] is trying to say that God had given the Church an infallible teaching authority, both in the OT and in the NT.”

    In this comment you say: “I never said that Madrid was arguing for an infallible authoritative interpreter of the Old Covenant.”

    These statements seem contradictory to me, unless you are trying to differentiate them based on using “the Church” in the first one. Do you see how they can seem contradictory? Can you explain what you meant on this point?

    So your point in the first paragraph of your post “Why does this passage speak of some kind of infallible magisterium?” doesn’t make sense if Madrid is not arguing for an Old Covenant infallible Magisterium (which I’m sure he isn’t). You think your arguments are good whether Madrid is arguing for this infallibility or not. But they are pointed against infallible-Madrid.

    Okay, I’ve re-read your post now several times. I got (and get) what you are saying. Unfortunately I’m not Patrick Madrid and cannot tell you whether he is arguing for Old Covenant tradition that is around today. I doubt it. The passages he used may or may not be the best ones–I know of others, some of which I recall reading in Mark Shea’s By What Authority–but I don’t think it’s worth going into here.

    At this point I am tired of the whole discussion, with its rancor. Sorry I frustrated you.

  16. rfwhite said,

    July 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Lane:

    In light of #12-#14, let me seek further clarification. Granted, there are those with fallible teaching authority during the biblical era and until its close and, in fact, now, during the post-biblical era. Granted also, there were those with infallible teaching authority during the biblical era and until its close. Would you agree that throughout the biblical era and until its close, there were two kinds of infallible revelation, one written and one spoken, issuing from those with infallible teaching authority?

  17. TurretinFan said,

    July 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Prof. White,

    You’ve mentioned the concept of “infallible teaching authority.” Allow me to distinguish:

    Revelations from God are infallible. That’s true whether God speaks directly, or whether he speaks through prophets (including the apostles who received the prophetic gifts). God’s Word through prophets is infallible whether it is spoken or written.

    But the prophets are not infallible in themselves or generally, but only when the Spirit gives them the Word. Also consider that the apostles wrote Scripture under the inspiration of the Spirit, yet Paul (by the Spirit) instructed the Galatians not to take everything that Paul taught for granted (“if we or angel from heaven …”).

    Of course, Christ is an exception, since He is both God and man, but aside from Christ, all men are fallible and only speak infallibly when they speak the Word of God.

    In other words, Moses wasn’t an “infallible Magisterium” in the sense that Rome pretends to be – even the apostles themselves were not an infallible magisterium in the sense that Rome pretends to be.

    -TurretinFan

  18. TurretinFan said,

    July 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Let me add one further point of clarification: Rome alleges that public revelation ended with the death of the last apostle. Thus, Rome is not claiming that the Tridentine fathers received some new prophetic utterance telling them which books are inspired and which are not. So, their alleged ability does not come (according to Roman theology) from fresh inspiration or new revelation. Thus, their “infallible teaching authority” is distinguishable from everything we have in the Bible. There’s nothing like that to be found, even though during the period of living prophets, sometimes the Word of God was proclaimed orally, which differs from our present situation.

    They may attempt to claim the council in Acts 15, but we could explore at greater length why that appeal would fail them.

    To sum up – although we now have only the Scriptures (and not the Son in person nor any living prophets) – we have never had something analogous to what Rome claims for herself.

  19. rfwhite said,

    July 1, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    TF,

    With you, I would not claim, or want to claim, otherwise than this — that the prophets and the apostles were not infallible in themselves but that their infallibility depended on the operation of the Spirit. To that operation the charism language I employed was meant to refer.

    More directly related to Lane’s post and subsequent comments, the point I was seeking to express was that the infallible word of God by which the people of God lived in the biblical era was given in written form or in spoken form. Granted its spoken and written forms in the biblical era, the invariably infallible word of God was extrascriptural as well as scriptural. If this is so, then the sola scriptura situation of God’s people in the postbibiblical era is distinguishable from the situation of God’s people in the biblical era.

  20. TurretinFan said,

    July 1, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I think we’re in basic agreement. The situations are distinguishable. But I want to emphasize that the situations are not distinguishable with respect to a difference that is relevant to Rome’s alternative to sola scriptura.

    For example, Deuteronomy 17 does not suggest an infallible interpreter of the Torah. There is indeed, a very explicit Sola Torah statement (which prohibited men from adding to what was written, but of course did not prohibit God from delivering further revelation):

    Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

    Deuteronomy 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

    The Jewish leaders were not faithful to this command, which ended up being one of Christ’s criticisms of them:

    Matthew 15:1-9
    Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

    Jesus is referencing:

    Isaiah 29:10-14
    For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

    Which same criticism is likewise rightly directed at the Roman see and its doctrine of the formal insufficiency of the sealed and delivered book.

    -TurretinFan

  21. todd said,

    July 1, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    How do the RC’s deal with John 21:23, where an oral tradition of the Apostles interpreting the words of Jesus was incorrect?

  22. rfwhite said,

    July 2, 2011 at 8:16 am

    20 TF:

    Granted the basic agreement between us, we also agree about the circumstance envisioned in Deut 17, which, as Lane rightly points out, Madrid misappropriates. There is another circumstance reflected, for example, in 1 Corinthians, where the apostle infallibly interprets the (infallible) instruction he had previously spoken or written. This, we’d agree, would be in continuity with their infallibly authoritative interpretation of God’s OT word: the NT apostles were infallible interpreters of the OT prophets. In light of such examples, would you not also say that in the biblical era God used the then living prophets and apostles as the only infallible interpreters of His word?

  23. TurretinFan said,

    July 2, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Today, in the absence of living prophets, we adhere to the maxim “Scripture interprets Scripture.” We can generalize that principle to all eras of revelation by expressing it as “revelation interprets revelation.”

    Thus, when providing some further revelation from God, a living prophet or apostle could provide an infallible interpretation of previously delivered revelation. That assumes that the new revelation is a revelation that interprets some previously given revelation.

    I’m hesitant to call the prophets and apostles “infallible interpreters,” since it is not that they had a gift of special interpretive ability, but rather that the Spirit gave them additional revelation.

    You may recall that during the post-Pentecost era there were some people who were given the miraculous ability to speak in tongues, and there were people who had the ability to translate those tongues into the common language. Assuming that the gift of translating tongues was a miraculous and supernatural gift, then it may be that those men who had such a gift were indeed “infallible interpreters” within a very narrow sense of that term.

    But otherwise, I’m hesitant to describe the prophets and apostles as “infallible interpreters,” since such infallible interpretation was only accidental (i.e. not all revelation interprets previous revelation, though some does). They had a gift of prophecy, not interpretation, those sometimes their prophesies also interpreted.

    -TurretinFan

  24. rfwhite said,

    July 2, 2011 at 10:28 am

    23 TF:

    A few notes … We agree about the state of affairs that obtains “today.”
    To be sure, we also agree that new revelation would not necessarily interpret previous revelation, that not all revelation is infallible interpretation of previous revelation and, in such cases, was of an accidental sort. At the same time, we acknowledge that the apostles’ infallible interpretation of previous written revelation and not just on their involvement in new revelation was foundational to NT.

    That said, I’m satisfied that I understand what he was driving at in his post; I just don’t agree with the possible implication of his wording, to wit, that the people of God in the biblical era lived according to a sola scriptura principle.

  25. TurretinFan said,

    July 2, 2011 at 11:01 am

    When you say, “lived according to a sola scriptura principle,” I wonder what you have mind. For example, do you deny that the Torah (and progressively the Old Testament) was insufficient either materially or formally for the people of that day? Or are you simply pointing out that there were at that time prophets of God who orally conveyed the Word of God, which was also of the same kind of authority as the written Word? Or did you have something else in mind?

    Also, I am curious what you mean by: “we acknowledge that the apostles’ infallible interpretation of previous written revelation and not just on their involvement in new revelation was foundational to NT.” Could you elaborate?

  26. July 2, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I can’t really speak for Fowler, but what I think he is getting at is the idea that since in the earliest days of the apostolic church the NT was not yet written (let alone recognized as canonical), and since God’s revelation took both oral and written form while the apostles were still ministering, that therefore it is inaccurate to say that the post-Ascension church lived according to Sola Scriptura.

  27. TurretinFan said,

    July 2, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Thanks very much for the response. Perhaps my concerns were not expressed clearly enough. Let me try to be more precise.

    Is the concern simply that we wouldn’t use the label “sola” scriptura, since they also had other available revelation? Or is it something more than that? Specifically, is the concern that the Scriptures of that time were not authoritative or not perspicuous?

    If they were authoritative and perspicuous, then it seems the principle was the same, even though the circumstances were different.

    Regarding canonicty, Paul was in the synogogue ever Saturday arguing with the Jews from the canonical old testament books. And the gospels and Acts show Jesus and the apostles relying on the canonical old testament scriptures as authoritative.

    There was a brief period during which there were no new testament scriptures, but we see evidence in Paul’s writings of a recognition of the canonicty of at least one of the gospels (the labourer is worthy of his hire) and recognition of the canonicty of Paul’s writings in Peter’s writings.

    While Scripture was not complete until the Revelation of Jesus to John, it is reasonable to hold to a formal and material sufficiency of any of the gospels, especially John, which essentially asserts that for itself.

    So, if someone were going to take the position that the Scriptures had different authority or sufficiency then (leaving aside a short period from the ministry of Christ until the inspired writing of the gospels), then we might be in a position to debate whether the principle of sola scriptura were not in play. But if the point is just that there was also additional revelation at that time, and so we wouldn’t describe the position using the word “sola,” then it seems like a relatively uncontroversial point.

    I hope no one would take Lane’s comments to mean that there were not prophets in that day and age, but if you and Prof. White were just trying to point that out, I am confident that no one will disagree.

    (Sorry if this is a duplicate, but it does not appear to hae posted the first time.)

  28. Ron said,

    July 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    “In light of such examples, would you not also say that in the biblical era God used the then living prophets and apostles as the only infallible interpreters of His word?”

    God “used” the prophets and the apostles to communicate the infallible Word.
    Notwithstanding, the interpreter of God’s word is God’s word. Naturally, therefore, God’s people in turn “interpret” God’s word according to God’s word.That the prophets and apostles spoke with authority does not suggest that only they could interpret God’s word aright and apart from the imprimatur of the church (which comes after the right interpretation). It is the Spirit that bears witness to God’s word so that men can know the truth with full assurance of faith. Fallible men can have infallible assurance that comes directly from God.

    Now then, if we can only know the Word through the imprimatur of the church, then the church’s words becomes part of the word of God, which although is problematic it also implies that man can interpret the Word aright by having at his disposal more Word – that being the alleged infallible interpretation of the Scriptures. That of course begs the question of why man cannot know God’s word apart from such means.

  29. July 3, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Ron,

    Forgive me, I’m very confused by your comments.

    Notwithstanding, the interpreter of God’s word is God’s word.

    So the person who interprets the Bible is the Word of God? Or do you mean that the interpretation of God’s Word is God’s Word?

    Naturally, therefore, God’s people in turn “interpret” God’s word according to God’s word. That the prophets and apostles spoke with authority does not suggest that only they could interpret God’s word aright and apart from the imprimatur of the church (which comes after the right interpretation).

    Which church gives the “imprimatur”? And which interpretation is “the right interpretation”? Because if all that happens is that a particular church gives its stamp of approval to an interpretation it already agrees with, that sound circular, don’t you think?

    It is the Spirit that bears witness to God’s word so that men can know the truth with full assurance of faith. Fallible men can have infallible assurance that comes directly from God.

    But how does this help when every person thinks he has the Spirit’s testimony? Is this the same the “the church’s imprimatur” or is it something different? How do we adjudicate between rival claims to ecclesial and Spiritual approval?

    Now then, if we can only know the Word through the imprimatur of the church, then the church’s words becomes part of the word of God….

    At first I thought you were arguing for this view, but now I think you might be arguing against it. Does the first “if” mean “since,” or does it mean “if, as some say”?

    If the former, then you seem to be arguing that the WCF becomes part of the Bible (which I doubt you could be intending). Do you mean the latter then?

  30. Ron said,

    July 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Jason,

    Let me elaborate on what I said and see if it helps.

    “God ‘used’ the prophets and the apostles to communicate the infallible Word. Notwithstanding, the interpreter of God’s word is God’s word.”

    In other words, the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself. Therefore, it is false that the “living prophets and apostles [are] the only infallible interpreters” of Scripture. “Living prophets” in this context is a reference to a magisterium that is perceived as being necessary for one to know Scripture aright.

    “Naturally, therefore, God’s people in turn ‘interpret’ God’s word according to God’s word.”

    In other words, God’s people are to interpret God’s word by comparing Scripture with Scripture (i.e. comparing the less clear with that which is more clearly stated in Scripture). Not “living prophets” but the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture is the supreme judge of all doctrinal disputes.

    “That the prophets and apostles spoke with authority does not suggest that only they could interpret God’s word aright and apart from the imprimatur of the church (which comes after the right interpretation).”

    In other words, believers can interpret God’s word aright apart from any magisterium’s claim of having the infallible, authoritative interpretation. Simply put, believers can know the truth apart from a spiritual organization’s stamp of approval.

    “It is the Spirit that bears witness to God’s word so that men can know the truth with full assurance of faith. Fallible men can have infallible assurance that comes directly from God.”

    In other words, by ordinary means even the unlearned can know those things necessary for salvation, which is to say that the formal sufficiency of Scripture is biblical.

    “Now then, if we can only know the Word through the imprimatur of the church, then the church’s words becomes part of the word of God, which although is problematic it also implies that man can interpret the Word aright by having at his disposal more Word – that being the alleged infallible interpretation of the Scriptures. That of course begs the question of why man cannot know God’s word apart from such means.”

    In other words, if one cannot know Scripture apart from an infallible magisterium, then the declarations of the magisterium are for all intents and purposes on par with Scripture, which begs the question of why men can know the alleged infallible word of the tradition that supposedly interprets Scripture for us aright yet not know the infallible word of Scripture itself without the aid of said tradition. Why is God speaking through the church perspicuous but not his revelation in Scripture? Moreover, although the Reformed tradition affirms hermeneutical principles, it does not affirm a normative interpretation of Scripture. There is no binding authority, in other words, other than Scripture itself.

  31. Ron said,

    July 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    “But otherwise, I’m hesitant to describe the prophets and apostles as ‘infallible interpreters,’ since such infallible interpretation was only accidental (i.e. not all revelation interprets previous revelation, though some does). They had a gift of prophecy, not interpretation, those sometimes their prophesies also interpreted.”

    In keeping with TF’s point, if the apostles were to be regarded as the “infallible interpreters” of Scripture, then their appeal for the authenticity of their message would have terminated upon themselves. Yet Paul does not set himself up as having such intrinsic authority. In fact, he takes his polemic in the other direction. For he says: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” The necessary inference is that Paul was not to be regarded as an infallible of interpreter of Scripture but rather Scripture and the Holy Ghost was to judge his interpretation of the gospel message.

    At the very least, if the apostles and prophets were to be regarded as infallible interpreters, then who would have been be able to settle a dispute between Peter and Paul? Moreover, on what authority was the church to discern and receive the apostles? If not on the authority of the apostles, then on God’s authority, and if on God’s authority then the voice of God was to interpret the voice of God not only regarding whom the apostles were but also whether their message was of God.

    It was on Christ’s authority that the apostolic age was to receive the apostles’ message. For in these last days God has spoken through His Son, which includes the message delivered by the apostles. It is God who always spoke through the apostles and prophets.

  32. rfwhite said,

    July 4, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Quick recap: the point on which I was seeking clarification from Lane was his statement in #7 that “Sola Scriptura is the teaching of the entire Scripture.” As I later said, I believe I understand what Lane was getting at, yet I also think it’s valuable to sharpen the argument by acknowledging that, during the history of revelation and redemption, God did communicate His infallible word in both spoken and written forms — which, in this context, is to say that, in those days before the completion of revelation and redemption, God communicated His infallible word both apart from and in the Scriptures. With regard to His activity of communicating apart from the Scriptures, that activity occurred at a time when those documents were still being produced. So, during that long history of Scripture writing, God’s people lived by a “Scripture plus” principle of authority: there were, at that time, living prophets and apostles through which God communicated His word and that spoken word came and stood alongside the Scriptures. My specific point was that God employed the then living prophets and apostles to communicate His extra-Scriptural words and those living prophets and apostles sometimes interpreted previous written revelation, demonstrating that the history of revelation and redemption had reached its culmination in Christ.

    As I agreed above, the situation I just described constitutes a situation different from that in which the church lives today. Today the church does not live in the “Scripture plus” situation of the biblical era: now we confess that the history of revelation, spoken and written, is over; that the writing of Scripture is finished; that the canon is closed – in other words, the church now lives by the “Scripture alone” principle.

    To relate this observation to Lane’s post, I agreed with his core thesis that Madrid’s argument from Deut 17 et al. is wrong. My aim was to try to sharpen Lane’s argument by saying that the situation of God’s people in the biblical era overlaps with ours in the post-biblical era in this way: during absences of living prophets/apostles and that which they might speak, God’s people were obliged to live by that which had been written . This, I take it, was the fundamental directive of those with teaching authority and of those who heard them throughout the biblical era (such as the Levites) and also was the main point that Lane was driving at when he stated that “Sola Scriptura is the teaching of the entire scripture.”

    To elaborate just a bit, there were times in the biblical era when a living prophet/apostle was absent, and during those then temporary absences, the people, as instructed by those with teaching authority, were to live by that which had been written. To my mind, this is tantamount to the situation that prompted the apostle to write in 1 Tim 3.14-15: “I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” In other words, if we ask how it is that the household of God is to know how to behave during the temporary or permanent absence of a living apostolic (or prophetic) voice, the answer would be the same throughout history: look to that which had already been written.

  33. Ron said,

    July 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    “Scripture plus” principle of authority: there were, at that time, living prophets and apostles through which God communicated His word and that spoken word came and stood alongside the Scriptures…

    RFW,

    We are to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Therefore, if the interpretation of a particular passage by a “living prophet” was God’s interpretation, then the interpretation was no different than Scripture itself with respect to its binding authority. So, to say “Scripture plus principle of authority” is not to me helpful, and possibly harmful for what it could imply regarding the source of what is to norm our faith and practice. Revealed tradition that was not preserved and Scripture that was preserved were both not only authoritative, but also they were authoritative for the same reason. That they were God’s revelation made them authoritative. The authority is always indexed to God, not to the prophets, is the point I would like to make. Accordingly, just like then, today we too are to judge the tradition of men according to God’s word, which we know to be contained in Scripture alone. There is no room among Christians for a living tradition such as we find in the Roman communion. That’s the material point, I think.

  34. TurretinFan said,

    July 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Prof. White,

    I suspect there is broad agreement between us, but I think there may yet be a little more to be extracted.

    Do you agree that there is a difference between “unwritten tradition” and contemporaneous oral revelation?

    Further, do you agree that there is a difference between an office of infallible magisterium and contemporaneous oral revelation?

    It’s important to remember that “sola Scriptura” is just a shorthand label. What it designates is a bundle of related doctrines.

    When you wrote: “… the situation of God’s people in the biblical era overlaps with ours in the post-biblical era in this way: during absences of living prophets/apostles and that which they might speak, God’s people were obliged to live by that which had been written,” I think you only got a part of the situation.

    While that’s one area of overlap, but there are other important overlaps. Since they began to be written, the Scriptures have always had supreme authority in matters of controversy. Indeed, as I noted above, there was a Sola Torah principle in effect. That principle extended to making the writings of Scripture of even greater authority than an attested prophet:

    Deuteronomy 13:1-5
    If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

    It is true that their situation differed from ours in that the canon was not yet closed, revelation was not yet complete. Yet our situation may be closer to them than you think. After all, while we have in Scripture all the revelation we need for this life, there is another life coming. I cannot believe anyone thinks that Christ will not personally teach us even more in heaven.

    Moreover, we can affirm the sufficiency of the Scriptures of the Torah for the entire Old Testament period. It is the coming of Christ that brings the need for additional revelation in the New Testament era. Yet that needed additional revelation is quickly written down by those apostles/prophets to whom the extraordinary gifts of the spirit were given (especially Paul, John, and Luke).

    The overlap also extends to the fact that “unwritten tradition” (alleged revelations that are neither contemporaneous or enscripturated) were never rightly treated as having equal authority with Scripture. Likewise, there was never an “infallible magisterium.” It is the former of these, I think, that Lane was getting at in his comment.

    “God’s people lived by a “Scripture plus” principle of authority: there were, at that time, living prophets and apostles through which God communicated His word and that spoken word came and stood alongside the Scriptures.”

    This does seem to overstate the authority of the merely spoken word. Recall that the Bereans are commended, not criticized, for judging the words of an apostle by Scripture – and yet who can deny that this was during the time while Scripture was still being completed?

    Moreover, much of the prophetic word that was merely oral may have had only little doctrinal significance. For example, recall that many of the prophecies that Paul heard were prophecies about the fact that he was going to be bound.

    Acts 20:23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

    Acts 21:10-11 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

    Notice that neither Agabus’ prophesy nor the prior prophecies to which Paul alluded had any particular doctrinal significance. They were particular prophecies that were useful primarily to testify to the fact that Paul was going to be imprisoned (which might otherwise look like a defeat for Paul), and to mentally prepare Paul for that difficult circumstance.

    Cf. Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

    While those prophecies and others like them certainly had the authority of God, and while Paul obviously took them to heart, they were more practical, informative and signatory, rather than being loaded with doctrines to be believed and commands to be obeyed (at least those that we know about).

    The obvious exception is found in the person of Christ, who during his earthly ministry spoke and taught. His commands are to be obeyed and the doctrines he taught are to be believed, which is why the Gospels were written (see the end of John’s gospel).

    -TurretinFan

  35. rfwhite said,

    July 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Ron:

    I agree with you, except about acknowledging that, before the completion of the history of revelation and redemption, the norm for the people of God was “Scripture plus,” which is only to say that it was the spoken as well as the written word of God, whether it was communicated mediately or immediately..

  36. dozie said,

    July 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    “Today the church does not live in the “Scripture plus” situation of the biblical era: now we confess that the history of revelation, spoken and written, is over; that the writing of Scripture is finished; that the canon is closed – in other words, the church now lives by the “Scripture alone” principle”.

    Ok, if now you live by the “Scripture alone principle”, where in the scriptures do you find your above conclusion? How do you know that the history of revelation, spoken and written, is over? Surely, you could not have arrived at this conclusion by following “scripture alone” principle.

  37. rfwhite said,

    July 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    TF: I don’t see us disagreeing.

  38. Ron said,

    July 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    RFW, I trust we do agree on the main point. For reasons already given, I would simply like to see a rethinking and recasting of the categories into one, that being God’s word.

  39. rfwhite said,

    July 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    dozie:

    What evidence will you accept as support of the conclusion?

  40. Ron said,

    July 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    I thought of asking him that too but then thought… we’ve been through this before with Dozie and company.

    Good luck. :)

  41. rfwhite said,

    July 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Ron:

    Thanks. I do agree that the discussion needs to be done with care to guard against the very concerns you have identified. I don’t mean to say that I have achieved or can achieve that here; I have tried to do it elsewhere at greater length.

  42. dozie said,

    July 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    “What evidence will you accept as support of the conclusion?”

    I will be glad to evaluate your scriptural evidence.

  43. Ron said,

    July 4, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Dozie,

    Let’s cut to the chase. Assume there is no evidence, how do you get from Peter as the rock to a perpetually infallible magesterium? That’s a question that makes all the papists run, run, run.

    Moderators – head’s up here, this is where the Romanists don’t debate – they just insist. Please keep a close eye on the responses.

  44. Ron said,

    July 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Dozie,

    Maybe you might wish to pick up where Tom left.

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/whitaker-on-the-canon-part-1/#comment-75237

  45. rfwhite said,

    July 4, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    dozie:

    Since this is not my blog and I won’t preempt it for my own purposes, let me just offer a summary and a few bibliographic references.

    With regard to living by the Scriptures alone, the contours of the evidence are actually fairly reasonably summarized in the lead post and in the subsequent comments. According to the Scriptures themselves, God’s activity of speaking apart from the Scriptures occurred only at a time when those documents were still being written. Moreover, in the absence of a living prophetic or apostolic voice, the household of God is told that it will come to know how to behave by looking to that which is written.

    As for the end of the history of revelation, in my view, the only demonstrable basis for this affirmation is that God’s giving of revelation, spoken and written, is always historically joined to and qualified by God’s work of redemption. Now that God has accomplished salvation once-for-all, He has also spoken His word once-for-all.

    I better leave it there. For more, let me refer you to H. Ridderbos, Redemptive History and The New Testament Scriptures (2nd rev. ed.; trans. H. De Jongste and rev. R. B. Gaffin, Jr.; Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1988); R. B. Gaffin, Jr., “The New Testament as Canon,” in Inerrancy and Hermeneutic: A Tradition, A Challenge, A Debate (ed. H. M. Conn; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988); and R. B. Gaffin, Jr., and R. F. White, “Eclipsing the Canon? The Spirit, the Word, and ‘Revelations of the Third Kind,’” in Whatever Happened to the Reformation? (ed. G. L. W. Johnson and R. F. White; Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2001).

  46. dozie said,

    July 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    “Let’s cut to the chase. Assume there is no evidence, how do you get from Peter as the rock to a perpetually infallible magesterium? That’s a question that makes all the papists run, run, run”.

    You are going to have to reasonably deal with the questions I posed before shifting the discussion – a clear running away.

  47. dozie said,

    July 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    “Since this is not my blog and I won’t preempt it for my own purposes, let me just offer a summary and a few bibliographic references”.

    I am not at all interested in your bibliography – chasing around your scholars. I am only interested in the biblical references you alluded to – “scripture alone”.

  48. dozie said,

    July 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    “Since this is not my blog and I won’t preempt it for my own purposes, let me just offer a summary and a few bibliographic references”.

    I find it very interesting that you would go, not to the bible, but to extra biblical sources (your scholars) in order to demonstrate your doctrine of “scripture alone”. With your bibliographies you end up demonstrating that you do not believe in “scripture alone”. The question I was however hoping you would address is how a Protestant, especially the non scholar, would “know that the history of revelation, spoken and written, is over”? Is the answer to be found in the scriptures? There will be no need for repeat or new bibliographic references.

  49. bsuden said,

    July 5, 2011 at 12:07 am

    For starters, dozie:

    John 1:1  ¶In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    John 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    Hebrews 1:1  ¶God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
    2  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

    Revelation 22:18  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
    19  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

  50. Ron said,

    July 5, 2011 at 5:35 am

    “You are going to have to reasonably deal with the questions I posed before shifting the discussion – a clear running away.”

    Dozie,

    This is a rough sketch of what’s been avoided by the called to communion crowd in the past, but since you insist… Jesus promised to build his church. (Matt. 16:18) Jesus also told his apostles that those who received them received Him. (Matt. 10:40) The implication is that the building project of the Lord was to be founded upon the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone. (Eph. 2:20) Consequently, the words of the apostles and Christ had to be received without error because Jesus promised to build his church upon them. God being sovereign and good brought that to pass, just as promised. Added to that, the apostolic tradition was both oral and written (II Thess. 2:15) but only the written apostolic tradition has been providentially preserved. If you would like to produce Paul’s unwritten tradition, please do so and we’ll accept it into evidence for your position. Until such time, Scripture alone is what the church is to be built upon, which must have been God’s intention since Scripture alone is all he left us in keeping with Christ Jesus’ promise to build his church. Now then, given that the foundation of the church is a matter of history, we may safely conclude that there will be no more foundation and hence no more revelation with the passing of the apostles, Christ’s earthly ministry and the miracles that attested to their message. In sum, we have that which is sufficient for every good work.

  51. TurretinFan said,

    July 5, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Dozie:

    You wrote:

    The question I was however hoping you would address is how a Protestant, especially the non scholar, would “know that the history of revelation, spoken and written, is over”? Is the answer to be found in the scriptures?

    One reason for my exchange with Prof. White and Mr. Stellman above was because I anticipated exactly this question.

    I wanted to emphasize then, and I want to emphasize now, that the question of whether revelation, spoken and written, is over, is not central to the fundamental principles of sola Scriptura (i.e. to the formal and material sufficiency of Scripture and its unique and supreme authority), although obviously the label “sola Scriptura” isn’t the label we would use to identify that bundle of doctrines during a time when there was a living prophet.

    From my own perspective, if you want to refuse to accept the idea that the canon is closed or that there are no more prophets today because you interpret 1 Corinthians 13:8 (prophesying the cessation of the prophetic gifts), Hebrews 2:3-4 (demonstrating a winding down of the prophetic gifts), and Revelation 22:18-19 (closing the canon) differently than I do, I won’t be overly contentious about it.

    All I insist is that you demonstrate why we should accept your living prophet, if you want to say there is one now.

    In other words, the onus is on the proponent of the living prophet to demonstrate his gifts. But Rome cannot demonstrate that the council of Trent had the prophetic gifts, nor indeed does Rome claim that there has been any new public revelation since the time of the apostles.

    Which is to say that this stream of thought is primarily a waste of our time and a distraction from the fact that Rome’s claim to be an infallible interpreter of Scripture is neither supported by Scripture nor verified by history. There’s no good reason to accept Rome’s claims.

    -TurretinFan

  52. Ron said,

    July 5, 2011 at 10:35 am

    great post, tf

  53. bsuden said,

    July 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    As above, I would also want to emphasize/repeat that sola scriptura per se does not kick into play until the closing of canon. So WCF 1:1. As Ron put it, the parameters are the word or revelation of God, both written and unwritten.

    Further regarding the unwritten revelation of God, the Westminster divines remarked in determining the jus divinum of church govt., not to mention worship, that there was nothing in Scripture but the examples for building of altars and sacrifices before Moses, the synagogues and the reading of the law or the change in worship of the NT church to the first day of the week (Sess. 649, June 1, 1646).

    In all of which examples, as we have cause to believe that the fathers at the first had a command from God for those things whereof we now find only their example for the ground of their posterity’s like practice for many generations, so likewise, though we believe that Christ, in the time that he conversed with His disciples before and after His resurrection, did instruct them in all things concerning the kingdom of God, yet nothing is left recorded to show His will and appointment of things instanced in, but the example and the practice of the apostles and the churches in their time (emph. added).

    Minutes

    Which is to say again, whatever the papists may say, the church of God in Christ was always ruled by the Word of God alone – written and unwritten then, but written alone now.

    FTM this same question came up some time ago in the discussion with the Roman apologists, among largely the same parties now and never got nailed down then as it should have to prevent the usual suspects from crowing over their discovery of a way to weasel out of biblical Christianity.

  54. David Meyer said,

    July 5, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Todd in #21 said:
    “How do the RC’s deal with John 21:23, where an oral tradition of the Apostles interpreting the words of Jesus was incorrect?”

    I have only gotten as far as this comment, so forgive me if it has been touched on. It really interests me. I have never heard this verse in the context of Catholic/Protestant apologetics.
    My first reaction was curiosity about why you would think they were incorrect. They are apostles after all! If you and I were under their instruction at that time and they told us that John would not die, I think we would not be in error to believe them. At any rate how would we prove them wrong from scripture? In a very wooden/technical way they were wrong, but in context they were correct. John did not really die in a comparable way/time as the other apostles. I mean that he died so long after them (~30 years later in the 90′s) that for the purposes of the apostles oral tradition (if it can be caled that even), they were right: Jesus spared John’s life. He also survived the boiling oil unscathed, which is no easy thing without divine help.
    I don’t think this is a good example of fallible oral tratition from the apostles. It just aint that fallible!

    Enjoying the discussion! (especially contributions from Prof. White)

    Peace,

    David Meyer

  55. David Weiner said,

    July 5, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Ron, re # 50:

    Please forgive this rabbit trail but you mention Matthew 10:40 in your comment to dozie. I was just wondering how the RC’s use of this verse might in any way deal with the context provided in verse 5 and 6 of that chapter. The RCC is primarily gentile, no?

  56. David Weiner said,

    July 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Todd, re #21:

    I was going to respond to your question but was sure that it would be handled by somebody else here more effectively. But, now, I see David Meyer’s response and am confused.

    Both of you seem to think that the apostles were the ones with the faulty view of Peter’s death. As I read that verse, it seems to me that there is nothing said about their view but only about the views of the people who were listening to them. In fact, since John is one of the apostles and he obviously did not agree with the view expressed in verse 23, he is at least one apostle who got it right. What’s to say that they didn’t all get it right and teach correctly?

  57. Ron said,

    July 5, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Hi David,

    Verse 40 may not be taken in such a wooden way as only to apply to the Jews. That you would hearken back to verses 5 and 6 to find a most esoteric and dispensational application for verse 40 only demonstrates that these tendencies of yours will hinder you from receiving many of the applications found in God’s word. I warned you about that years ago…

  58. David Weiner said,

    July 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Ron, re # 57,

    I understand at least some of our differences and yet I really do appreciate your advice and wisdom (truly) in spite of my ‘dispy-ness.’ Verse 5 is the start of this passage, that is the only reason I went there. He sets the ground rules, Israelites only, and never changes them, at least up to verse 40. In fact He repeats them in Matthew 15:24. (Actually, not until Paul got going were the Gentiles ‘let in.’) Yet somehow, you just know He didn’t mean what He said. I’ll keep seeking truth; but, some passages just seem so simple.

  59. todd said,

    July 5, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    David, re # 56

    John got it right by the time he wrote John, but that doesn’t mean he got it right at that moment. Since the apostles were the ones that first heard Jesus, though others also might have heard the comment, it is difficult to believe they would have allowed such a view to spread if they themselves did not believe it. Calvin writes of this:

    “The Evangelist relates that, from misunderstanding Christ’s words, an error arose among the disciples, that John would never die. He means those who were present at that conversation, that is, the Apostles; not that the name brethren belongs to them alone, but that they were the first-fruits, as it were, of that holy union. It is also possible, that, besides the eleven, he refers to others who were at that time in company with them; and by the expression, went forth, he means that this error was spread in all directions; yet probably it was not of long duration, but subsisted among them, until, being enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they formed purer and more correct views of the kingdom of Christ, having laid aside carnal and foolish imaginations.” (John commentary)

  60. Ron said,

    July 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    David,

    Did all the instruction pertaining to being a disciple only apply to the Jews?

  61. David Weiner said,

    July 5, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Todd, re # 57:

    Please don’t take this as argumentative. You say John got it right by time he wrote the gospel. I agree with you that we can’t know if he originally misunderstood. What we know is he heard the words that were spoken (he was right behind Jesus and Peter as they talked, based on verse 21:20) and that he remembered the words and put them in verse 23 some years later.

    You say “it is difficult to believe they would have allowed such a view to spread if they themselves did not believe it.” OK, but have you ever tried to correct a misunderstanding in a large group? Peter and John (the only ones who seem to have been within ear shot?) may have repeated the words exactly to the ‘others.’ That doesn’t mean they were in control of the interpretations these others may have developed, does it? Anyway, nothing here seems to indicate that an apostle misunderstood the meaning or promulgated an error. Although, I guess they could have as long as they didn’t write it in Scriture while under the guidance of the HS.

  62. David Weiner said,

    July 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Ron, re # 60:

    Now, if that is not a difficult question, I don’t know what would be. OTOH, I would not expect an easy one from you. Let me try this. Jesus specifically limits the ‘audience’ in a few places. I believe that the apostles Peter, James and John were specifically identified as apostles to the Israelites in Galatians 2:9. (And, then the RC’s have Peter as the first Pope. Amazing.) Is there a reason to think the other 9 were not also apostles to the circumcision? Paul identifies himself as the apostle to the Gentiles. But, that is at least 8 years after the cross. And, his gospel (1 Cor 15:1ff) is not what the apostles to the circumcision preached initially. Finally, I know of no place where Jesus actually lifts His own restriction regarding the lost sheep of Israel, do you?

  63. todd said,

    July 5, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    David,

    I don’t take your words as argumentative. I guess to me you really have to stretch what seems to be the plain meaning that those who heard (which included the apostles) misunderstood. And don’t forget Acts 1 where the apostles still got it wrong as to the nature of the kingdom and needed to be corrected, as well as Galatians 2 and Peter’s need for rebuke. I think these are good examples that the Scripture never presents the Apsotles as infallible interpreters of Scripture, but only their writings that were inspired by the Spirit; i.e., Scripture.

  64. David Meyer said,

    July 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I thought I was safe from Dispensationalism on this site. Arg! Is David W. a Reformed Dispensationalist (if there is such a oxymoronic thing?) Check out CR Stam David, you will love him.

  65. David Weiner said,

    July 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Todd,

    Well, all’s well that ends well and I completely agree with your last statement. Peace brother.

  66. Ron said,

    July 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    re: 62

    David, my advice would be to give up the dispi ghost……. :)

    Peace,

    RD

  67. dozie said,

    July 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    “Which is to say that this stream of thought is primarily a waste of our time and a distraction from the fact that Rome’s claim to be an infallible interpreter of Scripture is neither supported by Scripture nor verified by history”.

    The stream of thoughts are a waste of time primarily because Protestants, even here, can’t seem to agree upon what grounds they accept the doctrine of “scripture alone” or the concept of a closed canon. Again and again, every Protestant/Catholic debate can easily turn into Protestant on Protestant debate. Remove Catholics from this debate here; the battle of definitions will get no less fierce.

    It is no secret that Catholics and Protestants talk of “closed canon” from very divergent religious views. If a Catholic talks of a closed canon, he does so only because the Church talks that way. On the other hand, I have been trying to understand how Protestants got the idea of a closed canon (or canon for that matter), given the “scripture alone” principle, but all I am getting is an escape to the scholars and when they reference the scriptures, they jump all over themselves. Others hide under the cover of “well Catholics accept a closed canon also therefore the argument is dead”. Well, the Catholic Church makes her arguments without regard to what Protestants believe or practice; and Catholics, including the pope, accept the canon, in parts and in whole, and its closed status because that is the explicit teaching of the teaching Church. On the Protestant side, one only needs to review comments #49 and #50 above to note that the contributors don’t even come close to saying the same thing.

  68. bsuden said,

    July 5, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Yo dozie. Do you know how to read?
    Can you put 2 and 2 together?
    “For starters”.
    Where’s the contradiction to Ron’s more specific remarks?
    If this is the best you can do, you deserve the Roman servitude.
    Have at it. It is all yours.

  69. Doug Sowers said,

    July 6, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Hi Ron, :)

    You are a Greenbaggins jewl! I love you bro, keep pressing on!

  70. TurretinFan said,

    July 6, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Dozie:

    “The stream of thoughts are a waste of time primarily because Protestants, even here, can’t seem to agree upon what grounds they accept the doctrine of “scripture alone” or the concept of a closed canon.”

    No. The interaction amongst the Reformed folks here has actually been a profitable one of honing the distinctions. In the Reformed world, we have a little concept of “iron sharpens iron.” Perhaps to an outsider like yourself, the sparks look scary. But to us, they have been edifying. What has been waste of time has been your insincere questioning.

    “Again and again, every Protestant/Catholic debate can easily turn into Protestant on Protestant debate. Remove Catholics from this debate here; the battle of definitions will get no less fierce.”

    Those in Rome’s communion don’t deserve the label “Catholic,” since (amongst many other reasons) their ultra-sectarianism is the polar opposite of a catholic spirit.

    And, of course, there are significant differences between us honing/refining our positions and us defending the faith against Rome’s servants.

    “It is no secret that Catholics and Protestants talk of “closed canon” from very divergent religious views. If a Catholic talks of a closed canon, he does so only because the Church talks that way.”

    Where has your church officially defined that the canon is closed? Gary Michuta – to take one example of one of the folks from your side of the Tiber – seems to think that the canon is not closed. He says that the council intentionally passed over LXX Esdras A in silence, for example.

    “On the other hand, I have been trying to understand how Protestants got the idea of a closed canon (or canon for that matter), given the “scripture alone” principle, but all I am getting is an escape to the scholars and when they reference the scriptures, they jump all over themselves.”

    It’s hard to understand your complaint. Is your complaint that you thought that every Protestant is a robot with a pre-programmed identical answer to your question? Is your complaint that you got too many good answers? Is your complaint that you won’t accept the Scriptures or that you won’t accept the scholars or that you won’t accept them together?

    “Others hide under the cover of “well Catholics accept a closed canon also therefore the argument is dead”.”

    I think most of those in Rome’s communion do accept a closed canon. But more to the point, the question about why we believe the canon is closed is not one to which you will accept any answer except “because the Church says so” – and you know we’re not going to give you that answer.

    “Well, the Catholic Church makes her arguments without regard to what Protestants believe or practice; and Catholics, including the pope, accept the canon, in parts and in whole, and its closed status because that is the explicit teaching of the teaching Church.”

    a) See my comments above. Arguably Trent closed the canon, but even the folks within your communion can’t seem to agree about that.

    b) Your church says lots of things that are wrong. For example, Trent claimed that Hebrews was one of Paul’s epistles, which is pretty clearly wrong. Trent also claimed the Vulgate was authentic, which is transparently wrong. So, if all you had to go on was the authority of Trent, you’d be putting all your eggs in a rather flimsy basket. It wouldn’t guarantee that you adopt an erroneous opinion about everything – after all, Trent got 66 books of the canon right.

    c) And while Trent did a very poor job of answering the Reformation, it was attempting to address their beliefs and practices.

    “On the Protestant side, one only needs to review comments #49 and #50 above to note that the contributors don’t even come close to saying the same thing.”

    Two complimentary answers are not good enough for you – they need to be identical answers?

    -TurretinFan

  71. David Meyer said,

    July 6, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Ditto to Dozie in #67.

    In #49, in answering the “where is sola S. found in scripture” question, bsuden gives some verses “for starters”. I would assume you would give the best, most clear verses for starters, and those verses are not relevant to sola Scriptura (at least primarily). John 1:1? I can’t see how that applies at all. Hebrews 1:2? I just don’t see the application. I know a dispensationalist would go to (and not leave) 2 Tim. 3:16. 2 Tim. 3:16 still does not give us sola Scriptura, but it at least talks about scripture.

    In #50 Ron gives a bit more exegesis, which is helpful in seeing where you are coming from Ron, but I just dont see the scripture in there relating to sola S. If anything your exegesis reminds me of a Dispensationalist making random claims of relevance to disparate passages (think Matt.10:5-6 above)
    You said: “Added to that, the apostolic tradition was both oral and written (II Thess. 2:15) but only the written apostolic tradition has been providentially preserved. If you would like to produce Paul’s unwritten tradition, please do so and we’ll accept it into evidence for your position.”

    We all agree it was both written and oral. But you are the one who claims it has ceased to be oral. So why can’t some of it still be oral…? I really have never got this question answered. (here come the insults about me being deaf and stupid or something)
    If it was answered I would probably still be Reformed. I think it is ad hoc to say that at the close of the canon the oral tradition disappeared. I mean, show me in scripture where it says it disappeared (or was going to disappear). Cor. 13:10 is what I usually hear, but RC Sproul taught me what Isogesis is, and that use of that verse is exibit A. It is just simply not to much to ask of a sola Scriptura Christian to show in scripture where his position is clearly stated. Also show me where the extra biblical tradition is said to stop being applicable. You are the ones who say the Bible is perspicuous and formally sufficient, not the Catholics and Orthos. Well if it is formally sufficient and clear, and perspicuous, it should be easy to show where the not-very-complicated principle of sola Scriptura is found in the Scriptur-a.

    In #49 bsuden said “for starters”. Well frankly I don’t see how it was a start at all. So could bsuden or someone else please start and finish? (RF White seems to have provided some references to check out, which I will if it is easily available).

    Show me the money from scripture Billy Graham style. Do the Baptist air conditioning and WOW me with the references for sola scriptura, the canon, and the end of tradition FROM the scripture.

    As far as producing an apostle’s unwritten tradition, how about the cannon itself? This is an unwritten tradition even Protestants hold firmly to (-some books) The 73 books of Scripture are identified by the magisterium using Apostolic Tradition. What about abortion being evil? Tradition. Polygamy? Tradition. Now you may disagree that the claimed tradition is authentic, but the method of it being identified by a living magisterium is internally consistent.

    I don’t see that sola scriptura can be internally consistent if sola scriptura, the canon itself, and the end of tradition are not clearly found in scripture.

    Please be kind in your responses. I mean no ill will, I admit I am stupid, and not as smart as you guys. So please just cut past the “you can’t read English and add 2+2 comments” and show me the money. Scoring insult points is fun, but when I ask honest questions and consistently get shifty answers, my decision to become Catholic last year is reinforced, which you should not want. You should want to put doubt in my mind with solid points so I return to my former PCA session, and give an answer for what you believe as Peter calls you to do.

    Kyrie Eleison,
    David M.

  72. TurretinFan said,

    July 6, 2011 at 8:11 am

    David M.:

    You wrote: “I don’t see that sola scriptura can be internally consistent if sola scriptura, the canon itself, and the end of tradition are not clearly found in scripture.”

    Since you haven’t actually presented an argument, I am left imagining why you think that there is an internal inconsistency.

    But rather than just imagining, let me ask you to explain yourself. What doctrine or doctrines of the bundle that we call “sola Scriptura” do you think is inconsistent with our view about sola scriptura, our view about the canon, or our view about the “end of tradition” (whatever you think that means)?

    Remember that you asserted that it is an “internal” inconsistency (I suppose I should be careful here – you just said said that you don’t see the consistency … but I’m taking that to mean that you are asserting that there is some inconsistency). What is is internally inconsistent?

    The answer to the question asking for the reason that we don’t have oral revelation is that we don’t have any living, attested prophets. If we had a prophet of God, and if God gave him revelation, we would have that revelation. I don’t hold out any hope that this answer to your question will lead you to repent of your departure from the church, but – of course – if it does, I will praise the Lord.

    - TurretinFan

  73. rfwhite said,

    July 6, 2011 at 8:48 am

    47-48 dozie:

    In the references I provided you, you’ll find ample discussion of relevant biblical texts (among them are those cited for you by bsuden and TFan) and of the questions on which you purport to desire answers.

  74. greenbaggins said,

    July 6, 2011 at 9:55 am

    David M., in the spirit of your post, here are some thoughts on the nature of Scripture in the Reformed tradition.

    1. The Word of God consists not only in the actual words of Scripture itself, but also what can by good and necessary consequence be deduced from Scripture. There is a pattern of sound doctrine (2 Timothy 1:13). There is a faith once for all given to the saints (Jude 3).

    2. So, the issue abortion, for instance, can easily be gotten in this way: a person in the womb is a human life (Psalm 139:13, Luke 1:41, Jeremiah 1:5). It is wrong to murder a human life (Exodus 20:13). Abortion is the murder of a human life (this follows of logical necessity). Therefore abortion is wrong. There doesn’t have to be a verse in Scripture that *explicitly* says this if it can by the above logical syllogism be proven from other axioms that *are* stated in Scripture, or clearly implied; it would be *just as much* the Word of God as a direct assertion. So, abortion being wrong should not be chalked up to tradition, but rather to logic, and the analogy of faith, coupled with the careful reading and exegesis of God’s Word.

    3. You say, “I don’t see that sola scriptura can be internally consistent if sola scriptura, the canon itself, and the end of tradition are not clearly found in scripture.” There are a couple of things that need to be said here. Firstly, Revelation 22:18-19 show us that God is not going to change His revelation to humanity. It is now set. In Matthew, Jesus argues against the tradition of the Pharisees, because they added to God’s Word. The same argument works against the Romanist tradition. Secondly, as the case of Jerome clearly indicates, the Roman Catholic tradition is ambiguous about the deutero-canonical books. Which Romanist tradition is the correct one? It is not nearly as monolithic as Romanists like to claim. Thirdly, as David King has pointed out rather thoroughly, the question of authority in the church has at least as much (David would argue for a whole lot more!) testimony in favor of Scripture alone being the authority of the church than having an added magisterium. This is found in his three-volume set on Holy Scripture.

  75. Ron said,

    July 6, 2011 at 9:55 am

    In #50 Ron gives a bit more exegesis, which is helpful in seeing where you are coming from Ron, but I just don’t see the scripture in there relating to sola S. If anything your exegesis reminds me of a Dispensationalist making random claims of relevance to disparate passages (think Matt.10:5-6 above)

    David M.,

    Sola Scriptura implies that the Bible alone provides all that is necessary for faith and practice. The Bible tells us what to believe and how to live. You would like to add to the principle of Sola Scriptura all oral tradition revealed by God to the church, which in a qualified sense Protestants are happy to do. As I noted, God did not see fit to preserve the oral tradition of the apostles for his people. The only thing left for you to produce is the oral tradition revealed by God since the time of the apostolic age, which you think is found in the Roman tradition. Our problem is twofold. First, the Roman tradition often contradicts the Scriptures. Secondly, if further interpretive revelation is necessary (i.e. additional tradition), then the foundation for the church contained in what we have from the apostolic age was inadequate – yet God’s word teaches that it is sufficient, and that the early church was equipped for every good work. Consequently, if a perpetual oral tradition is necessary, then God’s word is wrong.

    It is in a sense futile to debate this first disagreement, that Roman dogma is contrary to Scripture, for we have different ultimate authorities of interpretation. The second point has been argued, but we’re at an impasse.

    We all agree it was both written and oral. But you are the one who claims it has ceased to be oral. So why can’t some of it still be oral…? I really have never got this question answered. (here come the insults about me being deaf and stupid or something)

    Again, the tradition has ceased to be oral for the same reason that it has ceased to be written. The foundation for the church is a matter of history, and we are instructed by God’s word to weigh all supposed traditions against Scripture.

    If it was answered I would probably still be Reformed.

    Not so, David. You’d be Reformed if you embraced the gospel and all that pertains to God’s electing grace. Let’s be clear on this point. When you fell away from the faith you did not merely adopt a vastly different ecclesiology and bibliology – you embraced a different soteriology as well. So let’s not pretend that this matter of oral tradition is the watershed. What you’ve rejected is much more than what you suggest. What you’ve rejected is the only way in which you may have peace with God. This matter of tradition is a matter of trifles in comparison to the gospel by which you must be saved.

    I mean, show me in scripture where it says it disappeared (or was going to disappear).

    Your pre-commitment is to the supposed infallible teaching of Rome, therefore, anything I could show you (or have shown you) must be interpreted according to your ultimate axiom. That is precisely why you reject the plain teaching of the gospel found in Scripture, is it not? Moreover, if your axiom were true, then you could not know anything directly from the Scriptures for any warrant for your beliefs must come from the magisterium. After all, if Scripture says anything that appears to run contrary to the dogma of your communion, you will be constrained to embrace your communion’s interpretation (if, that is, your true to your axiom). In a word, you have allowed another mediator other than Christ to come between you and God’s word. That, my friend, is a frightening thought but one you must wrestle with….

  76. paigebritton said,

    July 6, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    David M. –
    Not intending to gang up on you here, but just to piggyback on Lane’s #74:

    Another “good and necessary consequence” for us (re. the closed canon) has to do with people. By the end of the 1st century Jesus had returned to the Father and the apostles had all died. Because we do not recognize a continuation of apostolic authority past that first group (here’s that authority question again!), voila, we’ve got our “end-of-tradition” closed canon.

    (This point does not address the deuterocanonicals, which of course were written earlier, but it’s our historical reason for saying the canon was closed at the end of the apostolic age.)

    pax,
    Paige B.

  77. Ron said,

    July 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Paige, doesn’t that beg the question, which I think you sense by your “here’s that authority question again!” quip. Essentially, aren’t you saying that we don’t recognize a continuation of such authority, therefore, there is no more authority beyond that which we recognize?

    The question we must be concerned with is why must that apostolic authority be final? Moreover, aside from authority, where do we find precedence for an infallible interpreter? O

  78. bsuden said,

    July 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    71 David or dozie, for starters,

    Jn. 1:1
    Christ is inseparable from the Word, as is the Father, and the Spirit, contra respectively romanists, liberals and pentecostalism/charismaticism.
    Jn. 14:26 is primarily the promise of Christ to his apostles to guide them into what ends up being the New Testament. True, most romanists, incl. Joe Sobran are more inclined to focus on the promise of being with his church and give the Scripture short shrift, but what else is new? Unfortunately for their argument, at one point – however briefly – they must appeal to scripture.
    Heb. 1:1 again, God spoke to his church in Christ, who spoke by his Spirit through the apostles.
    Rev. 22 literally no one may add to the book, but in light of the ninth commandment and a similar injunction in Prov. connect the dots. We may not add to Scripture, regardless that Rome, Muhammed and Joseph Smith all claim the mantle of inspiration and the continuation of infallible and binding prophecy.

    Further, you’ve been around here long enough to know that we are not dispensational fundamentalists, even though you insist on filtering everything through that paradigm yourself even as you accuse Ron. Yet as above with GB, WCF 1:6 asserts that the good and necessary consequences of Scripture are Scripture (you can look up the proof texts yourself). Yes, we know the roman catholics don’t accept the doctrine, but the reformed catholics do, even as you yourself cannot show us from Scripture anything that really explicitly supports popery.

    But that is no matter. If Rome is infallible, that trumps all the objections, from Scripture or not, whatever these poor deluded protestant care to believe.
    To be sure, if I was an arminian fundamentalist, I might be worried, since arminianism is akin to romanism, but reformed catholicism is no such hybrid compromised beast.

    cheers

  79. paigebritton said,

    July 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Ron -
    Yep. It always comes around to that question, wherever we start.

  80. dozie said,

    July 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    TF: “It’s hard to understand your complaint. Is your complaint that you thought that every Protestant is a robot with a pre-programmed identical answer to your question? Is your complaint that you got too many good answers? Is your complaint that you won’t accept the Scriptures or that you won’t accept the scholars or that you won’t accept them together?”

    I am going to address your questions as though you are being sincere. One of the observations I make about Protestantism, especially as practiced by TF, is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish Protestantism from the “American Skeptics Association”. One of the criticisms made by atheists is that no thinking person can be a Christian; Protestants build upon this concept (by upholding un-“identical answers” to almost every question). Instead of being embarrassed by the multiplicity of divergent beliefs in a seemingly “one God”, they celebrate their divided house as a gift from God. Individual Protestants end up being the ones who reveal the nature of the God they want to worship as TF often does. And, why should I ask one question concerning an article of faith and get 100 different but correct answers?

    The bible is supposed to be the Protestant’s ultimate authority but since the bible has no language and no voice, the language (beyond alphabets and sound) that a Protestant understands and hears is his own dictation. Does this need to be explained? Just look at the mess of denominations that is called Protestantism. Again, the Protestant does not get embarrassed; he thinks God is at work in all of these – warring against himself.

    When for example St. Augustine is quoted as saying:

    “That bread which you can see on the altar, sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ.”

    Every Christian who has drank milk from the breast of the Church entertains no doubt what Augustine is referring to because the same idea has been repeated to him over and over again. Not so for a skeptic who retorts:

    “It may be that Augustine has already consecrated the elements and has now, in essence, interrupted the distribution of the elements to provide this homily. Alternatively, Augustine may not be referring to the consecration at all. He may just be referring to the fact that the word of God is what puts the elements to their sacramental use.”

    Also, every Christian raised in the Church knows to honor the feasts and seasons of the Church, especially Easter and Christmas. Not so for skeptics like TF who insist:

    “I trust that both non-Reformed and Reformed members of Triablogue would agree with me that no church has the right to impose on the conscience a duty to celebrate Christmas, and that God has nowhere indicated that he wishes to be worshiped by an annual feast of the nativity.”

    What we have then in Protestantism, are individuals who latch on the idea of not being pre-programmed and therefore reserve for themselves the right to write the table of contents of their own religious systems and beliefs while making a claim to being Christian. In so doing, they deprive the veritable word of any referential meaning. Given this ideology, no one will be able to say: “this is what it means to be a Christian” – because it is all a matter of personal preferences, viewpoints, and research outcomes. These are some of the observations, even if they are labeled “complaints”.

  81. bsuden said,

    July 6, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    As before, dozie, if it makes any real difference, you start with the Westminster Standards here. Contrary to how you would like to present the matter the genuine presbyterian and reformed catholic has stated what it believes.
    Rome? Well, we’re still waiting for an infallible canon of traditions, never mind an infallible pronunciamento on just about any verse of Scripture.

    Justification before a righteous and holy God is by faith alone in Christ alone as found in Scripture alone.
    Ditto the pope is antichrist because he denies JBFA and usurps Christ place as the head of his church.

    Hey, but nice try at changing the subject/mischaracterizing the issues.
    Not that we have come to expect anything but, but regardless the relatively polished aplomb in which you bring it off, is noted and appreciated.

    cheers.

  82. paigebritton said,

    July 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    (#80 – Dozie, I fixed it so just your corrected comment appears there.)

  83. paigebritton said,

    July 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    So, dozie, you are basically observing that Protestants don’t have a unified anything — magisterium, denomination, interpretation, etc. — so all is chaos, confusion, and disagreement? But the RCC offers happy unity all across the board — magisterium, denomination, interpretation, etc.?

    (Funny — we diverse Protestants seem to have a more unified canon of Scripture than the “unified” RCC, given the examples Lane has been offering from Whitaker’s works lately!)

    We’ve been around this block — how many times? We hear you. (We could probably write your comments for you.) I kind of doubt you’ll hear anything to shake your accepted caricature of Protestantism (which can be a mess, yes, but not ONLY ALWAYS a mess) or your accepted illusion of Roman Catholicism’s authority and unity. But if you want to keep going on this thread despite this apparent impasse of communication, try to stick to the oral/written canon topic, please.

    pax,
    Paige B.

  84. TurretinFan said,

    July 7, 2011 at 9:26 am

    “I am going to address your questions as though you are being sincere.”

    Great!

    “One of the observations I make about Protestantism, especially as practiced by TF, is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish Protestantism from the “American Skeptics Association”.”

    I’m tempted simply to reply that your inability to distinguish those who believe in absolute truth from those who don’t is your fault, not ours. However, let’s consider your comments in support of your contention.

    “One of the criticisms made by atheists is that no thinking person can be a Christian; Protestants build upon this concept (by upholding un-“identical answers” to almost every question).”

    It sounds like you are attempting to use the atheist argument against the Christians. But, of course, this argument is premised on the idea that un-identical answers can’t be harmonized.

    “Instead of being embarrassed by the multiplicity of divergent beliefs in a seemingly “one God”, they celebrate their divided house as a gift from God.”

    There’s nothing particularly skeptical about that, even if it were true.

    “Individual Protestants end up being the ones who reveal the nature of the God they want to worship as TF often does.”

    a) Beware of blasphemy, Dozie.
    b) Ironically, Vatican II claims to worship the same god as the Muslims. So, I think that from a relative standpoint, I’m on pretty safe ground if I worship the same God as someone who quotes 3 or 4 different verses to support the same doctrine.

    “And, why should I ask one question concerning an article of faith and get 100 different but correct answers?”

    Why should you get 4 different but correct gospels? What an inane criticism!

    “The bible is supposed to be the Protestant’s ultimate authority but since the bible has no language and no voice, the language (beyond alphabets and sound) that a Protestant understands and hears is his own dictation.”

    That sounds like the skeptic talking. God Himself speaks through the Bible, and we his sheep hear his voice.

    “Does this need to be explained? Just look at the mess of denominations that is called Protestantism. Again, the Protestant does not get embarrassed; he thinks God is at work in all of these – warring against himself.”

    No.

    While God is at work in all of His churches, the strife comes from our flesh.

    “When for example St. Augustine is quoted as saying: “That bread which you can see on the altar, sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ.” Every Christian who has drank milk from the breast of the Church entertains no doubt what Augustine is referring to because the same idea has been repeated to him over and over again. Not so for a skeptic who retorts: ‘It may be that Augustine has already consecrated the elements and has now, in essence, interrupted the distribution of the elements to provide this homily. Alternatively, Augustine may not be referring to the consecration at all. He may just be referring to the fact that the word of God is what puts the elements to their sacramental use.’”

    You are referring, I suppose to my posts here:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/06/augustines-sermon-227-and.html

    and here:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/06/augustines-sermon-272-and.html

    By the way: how do you answer the question? Is it after the consecration? If so, you have the problem that he calls it bread. Is it before the consecration? Then how has it been sanctified by the word of God?

    The solution to that dilemma is not to stick your fingers in your ears, but to realize that this popish nonsense of transubstantiation wasn’t on Augustine’s radar screen.

    And, finally, of course, it isn’t skepticism to read and study what Augustine wrote, in order to understand what he believed and taught.

    “Also, every Christian raised in the Church knows to honor the feasts and seasons of the Church, especially Easter and Christmas. Not so for skeptics like TF who insist: ‘I trust that both non-Reformed and Reformed members of Triablogue would agree with me that no church has the right to impose on the conscience a duty to celebrate Christmas, and that God has nowhere indicated that he wishes to be worshiped by an annual feast of the nativity.’”

    Of course, there’s nothing skeptical here. I’m just rejecting the authority of your church (or any church) to impose on men a duty to worship God according to ways that God has not commanded. Show where God commanded us to have annual celebrations of the nativity and resurrection, and I’ll cheerfully obey. You cannot, of course.

    “What we have then in Protestantism, are individuals who latch on the idea of not being pre-programmed and therefore reserve for themselves the right to write the table of contents of their own religious systems and beliefs while making a claim to being Christian.”

    This isn’t an accurate picture of Reformed theology.

    “In so doing, they deprive the veritable word of any referential meaning.”

    The real problem is in the distortion of heretical groups, like Rome, which don’t interpret Scripture by reference to Scripture but Scripture by reference to the traditions of men.

    “Given this ideology, no one will be able to say: “this is what it means to be a Christian” – because it is all a matter of personal preferences, viewpoints, and research outcomes.”

    That’s your imposition of relativism on us. We don’t accept relativism, in fact we explicitly reject it.

    “These are some of the observations, even if they are labeled ‘complaints’.”

    ok.

    -TurretinFan


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