Not By Scripture Alone?

One of the main apologetics books from a Roman Catholic position on the doctrine of Scripture is entitled Not By Scripture Alone, a Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura. It is edited by Robert Sungenis, a Westminster Philadelphia graduate. Sungenis also wrote Not By Faith Alone: The Biblical Evidence for the Catholic Doctrine of Justification. Sungenis has been busy seeking to convert Protestants to the Catholic faith. (I first read about the Scripture book while reading David King’s first volume Holy Scripture.) In this book, 8 Catholic authors seek to show that the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura is not defensible. I propose to go through this book in some detail, refuting its arguments point by point. I would certainly invite my Catholic authors to seek to contact Mr. Sungenis, so that he would become aware of this refutation, and I would certainly welcome him to comment on my posts. I hope to engage this book fairly, yet critically, since I fundamentally disagree with the book. I would encourage my readers and commenters to stick to the point, and avoid name-calling, but rather examine the logic of each point carefully.

The foreward is by Peter Kreeft, and will be the focus of this post. After noting that there are many areas of disagreement between Protestants and Catholics, he states that “all of these disagreements are derived from a single one (he means Sola Scriptura, LK). On each of these divisive issues, Protestants say that Catholics believe too much, and Catholics say that Protestants believe too little. Protestants see Catholics as semi-idolaters, and Catholics see Protestants as semi-skeptics” (xv). One or two comments on this are in order. Firstly, I don’t know that the confessional tradition sees Catholics as “semi” idolaters. The Protestant position is that the Mass is idolatrous, and that the elevation of tradition and the magisterium to the level of Scripture is idolatrous. Nothing “semi” about it, as far as I can see. I can appreciate Kreeft’s attempt here to be generous to Protestants. However, it would be best to have all the cards clearly on the table. Secondly, though I agree with Kreeft on his analysis of believing too much versus believing too little, I am not sure it is tremendously helpful. One could say Protestants need to have more faith to believe what they believe, since so little of it is visible, unlike Catholicism. That being said, it is only a tangential point.

Kreeft gets at the main point rather clearly, as one of authority: “All the Catholic doctrines and practices that Protestants reject are rejected because Protestants do not find them clearly in Scripture. And the reason Catholics accept them is not that they have reasoned each one out by independent, rational theological criteria. Rather, Catholics accept them on the authority of the Church” (p. xv). The authority of the Bible alone, versus the authority of the Bible plus the Church is one way of putting it. However, and this will be a refrain that echoes later, Protestants have never denied that the Church has authority. So far, I have read about 50 pages of this book, and one clear thing has emerged: to a Catholic, unless one accords the authority to the Church that the Roman Catholic Church claims, then one has accorded no authority to the Church whatsoever. This false dichotomy will play a very important role in sorting out the Catholic doctrine from the Protestant one. The basic point Kreeft makes is clear enough, however, and is helpful as a succinct way of putting the issue. The main point is one concerning authority.

On the next page, Kreeft makes an argument for the teaching authority of the Catholic Church by asking this question: “If the cause (the Church) is not infallible, how can its effect be infallible? By what authority do we know what books constitute the New Testament?” (p. xvi). As to the first question, we merely note that Kreeft seems to assume that there is only one cause for the Bible’s writing, namely, the Church. However, it is much more complicated than that. To speak of the causality of the Bible, one would have to speak about God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, inspiration, and human beings. Is it theoretically impossible that God should cause the writers to be infallible without giving perpetual infallibility to the Church? Just because God inspired some authors to be infallible when they wrote portions of Scripture doesn’t mean that the whole Magisterium is infallible. That is in fact quite a leap of logic. As to the second question concerning the canon, we will get into that more later. I will merely outline here what will be spoken of in painstaking detail later: the authority of the Bible rests in itself, the Holy Spirit applying that authority to the Church. It makes no sense to say that God requires humanity to lend authority to God’s own writing. God chose to use human instruments, that is true. But when it comes to the authority of Scripture, God used no human authority whatsoever. If the authority lies in itself, the Church’s job is simply to receive what is self-attesting, and self-authoritative. The question of the Apocrypha will be dealt with much later.

176 Comments

  1. Joe branca said,

    January 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Looking forward to this.

    oh, paragraph two, “forward” => “foreword”, I believe?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    January 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Yes, thanks for catching that. I have corrected it.

  3. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    January 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    “unless one accords the authority to the Church that the Roman Catholic Church claims, then one has accorded no authority to the Church whatsoever. This false dichotomy will play a very important role in sorting out the Catholic doctrine from the Protestant one.”

    This is a very key statement. I see this issue coming up repeatedly in debates and discussions between Catholics and Protestants.

  4. Ron Henzel said,

    January 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Being a “semi-idolater” is kind of like being “semi-pregnant.” And when Catholics refer to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) as being the Bible’s “cause,” or refer to the RCC or (“the Church”) has having produced the Bible, I have almost always (I can’t think of an exception to this) found them to be equivocating in actual meaning between the Bible’s content and the Bible’s canon.

    If they insist on identifying the RCC as the cause of Scripture’s content, they’re dead wrong: the Holy Spirit inspired specific members of the church to write the New Testament (the Old Testament having been already completed before any Roman bishop ever wore a miter and fancied himself a successor of Peter); He didn’t inspire the whole church (or the church as a whole) to produce Scripture.

    On the other hand, if they opt for the fallback position of identifying the RCC as the cause of the Bible’s canon (i.e., the authority that upholds it), they’re also dead wrong: the Holy Spirit needs no authority beyond Himself, and any human agency that usurps it is guilty of the horrendous sin of trying to get men to bow before them rather than before God. The recognition of the canon does not imply any special authority on the part of the people who recognize which books are part of it any more than when someone recognizes the authority of the President it implies that that someone has the authority to decide who gets to be President. (And, once again, the Old Testament canon predates the guys with the pointy hats.)

    By the way: if you want to dialogue with Robert Sungenis, just make sure to steer clear of mentioning his alleged anti-Semitism, or his clear Holocaust revisionsim (for both of these, see the Robert Sungenis and the Jews blog), and try not to mention his insistence upon a pre-Copernican geocentric model of the universe.

  5. Ron Henzel said,

    January 3, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    When I wrote above:

    He didn’t inspire the whole church (or the church as a whole) to produce Scripture.

    I should have also written: “Nor is there any evidence that Bible was the product of some imaginary church hierarchy that supposedly existed in the first century (just to make sure we cover the normative functional meaning of ‘the Church’ for most Roman Catholics).”

  6. greenbaggins said,

    January 3, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    BOQ And when Catholics refer to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) as being the Bible’s “cause,” or refer to the RCC or (“the Church”) has having produced the Bible, I have almost always (I can’t think of an exception to this) found them to be equivocating in actual meaning between the Bible’s content and the Bible’s canon.EOQ

    This is a very interesting thought. I will have to keep it in mind in the future to see if Sungenis and Co do this all throughout the book.

  7. Joe branca said,

    January 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Any indication whether any of the Catholic authors engage the “redemptive historical” arguments for sola scriptura? (ie Kline, Ridderbos) I hope so, they are compelling lines of argumentation making use of established historical patterns.

  8. andrew said,

    January 3, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    “On the other hand, if they opt for the fallback position of identifying the RCC as the cause of the Bible’s canon (i.e., the authority that upholds it), they’re also dead wrong: the Holy Spirit needs no authority beyond Himself, and any human agency that usurps it is guilty of the horrendous sin of trying to get men to bow before them rather than before God.”

    Does anyone know if any protestant theologian has proposed an alternative to this line of thinking? It is, I conceed, more or less what the WCOF says. My proplem is, that believing as I do in sola Scriptura, the Holy Spirit has never revealed to me which books are in the canon.

    Now I believe an historical case can be made for the protestant canon (being the same as the Jewish on), and no ecumenical council ever decreed the RC version. But essentially, I agrre with the RC that appeal to the authority of the church is the only reasonable basis to make a canon – I just disagree with what part of the church we appeal to.

    Am I on my own on this?

  9. Ron Henzel said,

    January 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Andrew,

    You wrote:

    My proplem is, that believing as I do in sola Scriptura, the Holy Spirit has never revealed to me which books are in the canon.

    Please clarify: which things has the Holy Spirit specifically revealed to you?

  10. paigebritton said,

    January 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Lane, about this part:

    Is it theoretically impossible that God should cause the writers to be infallible without giving perpetual infallibility to the Church? Just because God inspired some authors to be infallible when they wrote portions of Scripture doesn’t mean that the whole Magisterium is infallible.

    Do we actually use the word “infallible” to talk about the authors? I thought it was just used in reference to the Scriptures (whether individual texts or all of them collectively). IOW, we ascribe to the biblical writers authority (maybe especially the apostles), but not infallibility, even though they produced infallible texts. Am I close, or missing something?

  11. greenbaggins said,

    January 3, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Paige, it is normal to speak of the Scriptures as infallible. However, in order for the Scriptures to be infallible, the authors had to be guided by the Holy Spirit in such a way that they produced infallible Scriptures. Whatever you wish to call that process, and it has been called different things, it made the process of writing infallible. Thus, when the writers were writing, they were writing infallibly. I don’t think we should shy away from such assertions. It is simply saying that God superintended the writing process.

  12. January 3, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    1. Will follow this closely.

    2. Correction. The term “Catholic” should be reserved for “True Catholic Churchmen,” to wit, Confessional Reformation Churchmen–Confessional Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican Churchmen. To use “Catholic” for a “Romanist,” or Roman believer, is a disservice to True Catholics.

  13. paigebritton said,

    January 3, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks, Lane. I know I am being picky, but I can’t remember ever reading the assertion that the writers themselves were infallible (temporarily infallible?). Text, yes; process, yes; and I understand what you mean about it being about God’s perfect superintendence. But I don’t recall bumping into this idea before. I’ll keep my eyes open for it.

  14. Ronnie Brown said,

    January 3, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I would agree with Paige in reference to calling the writers infallible. Only God is infallible(i.e. incapable of error ), the writers were protected from error and therefore inerrant. One can be inerrant without being infallible.

  15. Ron said,

    January 3, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I’ll be picky with you, Paige. No offense Lane. :)

    I don’t think to say that the writers were infallible is to employ the happiest of terms. We need something else to add to mix other than (a) God’s sovereign orchestration coupled with (b) man’s correctness – otherwise, if the Westminster Standards are correct, then the Divines were infallible in that instance. Or if one guesses correctly the multiple choice questions on an exam according to God’s providential orchestration, then the guesser acts infallibly. Even if we introduce promise as the third variable in the equation, I still wouldn’t feel comfortable applying the term to moral agents – as I discuss briefly here. Why can’t we just say that God, who is infallible, ensured X-and-so?

    That’s my 2 cents.

  16. January 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Interesting that you posted this today, Lane. Just today (before I knew this post was up), I checked out of a library “Tradition and Traditions: An Historical Essay” (1960) and “Tradition and Traditions: A Theological Essay” (1963) by the French Roman Catholic scholar Yves Congar (1904-1995). (The two are bound in one volume.) Reading up on Congar, one source (Wikipedia) said that he was open to discussion and acceptance of some Protestant ideas. So, it’ll be interesting for me (a former RC myself) to see him lay out the whole RCC doctrine regarding its position on authority and tradition, and how his views stack up against what you’ll be posting.

  17. AJ said,

    January 4, 2011 at 12:00 am

    From Dr. Francis Beckwith (former President of Evangelical Theological Society) which I found to be very compelling:

    “Because the list of canonical books is itself not found in Scripture—as one can find the Ten Commandments or the names of Christ’s Apostles—any such list, whether Protestant or Catholic, would be an item of extra-Biblical theological knowledge. Take for example a portion of the revised and expanded Evangelical Theological Society statement of faith suggested by the two ETS members following my return to the Catholic Church. (The proposed change failed to garner enough votes for passage, losing by a 2-1 margin). It states that “this written word of God consists of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments and is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behavior.” But the belief that the Bible consists only of 66 books is not a claim of Scripture—since one cannot find the list in it—but a claim about Scripture as a whole. That is, the whole has a property—“consisting of 66 books”—that is not found in any of the parts. In other words, if the 66 books are the supreme authority on matters of belief, and the number of books is a belief, and one cannot find that belief in any of the books, then the belief that Scripture consists of 66 particular books is an extra-biblical belief, an item of theological knowledge that is prima facie non-Biblical.”

    A further good reading about the Catholic position of Bible Alone principle in this link:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/

    Peace.

  18. The 27th Comrade said,

    January 4, 2011 at 12:10 am

    1. Isn’t this thing that everybody is calling “infallible” what (you) Reformed theologians call “inerrant”? I think it is a better equivalent to use in a case where one does not want to (perhaps unwittingly) equivocate between asserted-infallible-but-of-course-wrong encyclicals like Exsurge domine and the eternally-faultless truths like “Whoever believes in Him has passed from judgement to life.”

    2. Andrew says that he has never been revealed to the canon by the Holy Spirit, and so he cannot certainly know what it is. Something like that. To quote:

    My proplem is, that believing as I do in sola Scriptura, the Holy Spirit has never revealed to me which books are in the canon.

    But essentially, I agrre with the RC that appeal to the authority of the church is the only reasonable basis to make a canon …

    Andrew, the problem is that you will need an authority to appeal to in order to validate your choice of Church (to validate the validator), and even to validate what part of the Church does the validating. Indeed, since Scripture sets up the Church (that is, we know that the Church is, because the Scripture is), you have a case of logical circularity from which no human reasoning can save you. This is the mistake of Roman Catholics, and indeed most Westerners of all stripes, this idolatry of human reason (from the atheist to Thomist).

    Now, every time I mention that fideism is in fact the article on which the faith stands or falls (pardon the pun) I am attacked even here, by Reformeds. But what does the Scripture say? “We live by faith, not by sight.” Questions of canon, if they are going to be settled, will have to be settled by faith, not some appeal “further up”. The axioms are never proven.
    How does the Holy Spirit tell you that you are of Jesus Christ? Well, He tells you of the canon the same way. “My sheep know my voice,” says the Lord.

  19. Ryan said,

    January 4, 2011 at 12:21 am

    I found Crampton’s critique of Sungenis’ book – Part II of By Scripture Alone – to be very well written.

  20. The 27th Comrade said,

    January 4, 2011 at 12:42 am

    AJ,

    That Beckwith argument starts out with the assumption that you need to have someone to validate the claim that “the books are 66” before you are justified in so believing. Essentially, the argument starts out by assuming that we need an infallible magisterium, and so it manages to create paradoxes in the absence of such a magisterium.
    But this has never been how we establish these things; the Church did not need to validate Paul’s visions before they were accepted as divine revelation. Even the one who says “the books are 66” for Beckwith will have to succumb to such scepticism, for it is nowhere found anywhere that “there will be a group of men to tell you which books are in the canon.” Whatever axioms you choose (Scripture for me, Roman Authority for the Catholics), you will have to take by faith, and proceed from there. The axioms are never proven, because they cannot be proven.

    Since this question always ends in paradox for all who dare to touch it the only way to cross to certainty is by child-like faith. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” But the Roman Catholics have already spent centuries anathematising such faith, so the best you can hope for is to start with some Protestant thing of one sort or another. But even the Reformeds are getting poisoned; see how they line up the “wisdom of the Greeks” whenever such questions are brought up. 1 Cor 1, any1?

  21. curate said,

    January 4, 2011 at 2:26 am

    The Roman argument is indeed circular: start off by assuming what you want to prove, and proceed accordingly.

    To my mind the reason that scripture is supremely authoritative is that it is the word of God. All other writings are not. God’s words are intrinsically authoritative because they are God’s, and man’s words are subordinate because he is God’s subject.

    Rome’s claims are proven wrong practically in that they contradict the teaching of scripture on the central teaching of grace. That fact on its own destroys the pretensions of the Roman Bishop.

  22. Ron Henzel said,

    January 4, 2011 at 4:39 am

    AJ,

    The Roman Catholic position on canonization (as exampled by Beckwith’s presentation) presumes that it was an act of authority. The Protestant position assumes that it was an act of submission to authority. There is no way to either reconcile or harmonize those two positions. Only one can be right.

    When one assumes the Protestant position on canonization, the RCC’s presumption appears hubristic beyond credulity. And the Council of Trent’s forcing of the apocrypha into its canon was exactly that.

  23. Sean Gerety said,

    January 4, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I would second Ryan’s recommendation of Dr. Crampton’s By Scripture Alone as must reading. (I confess, I really enjoyed watching him rip Sungenis and Co. to shreds, so I’m looking forward to this series as well).

    :)

  24. andrew said,

    January 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Re 9:

    “Please clarify: which things has the Holy Spirit specifically revealed to you?”

    If by specifically, you mean directly, the answer would be nothing. I am a cessationist. This is why I strugle with the idea that the Holy Spirit gives me revelation about the names of books in the canon.

    As I understand it, the problem is not attributing our knowledge to the Spirit, but whether we expect the Spirit to work through means (e.g. the church) or without means, directly on our minds/hearts.

  25. andrew said,

    January 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Re 18:

    “Questions of canon, if they are going to be settled, will have to be settled by faith, not some appeal “further up””.

    I am all for faith, but first I need something to have faith in. I need a proposistion, or at least a suggestion. And if I can’t refer to the church, where do I get it from?

    Surely there must be something more objective than my impressions of what the Holy Spirit might be telling my mind.

  26. steve hays said,

    January 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Andrew,

    You act as if the canon of Scripture is a random collection of books with no internal relationship. Yet the books of the Bible are interconnected in complex ways by various lines of intertextuality.

    Likewise, why do you think the church is authoritative, but, say, the Gospel of John is not? If you think the church authorizes the canon, then what authorizes the church?

  27. AJ said,

    January 5, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Ron said, “The Protestant position assumes that it was an act of submission to authority. There is no way to either reconcile or harmonize those two positions. Only one can be right.”

    The crucial question is, Whose assumption a christian has to choose as an act of submission to authority? His own ability to discern? his pastor?

    The ultimate problem of making Scripture the authority is that it is of necessity subject to interpretation. INTERPRETATION IS A HUMAN ACT, therefore authority (interpretive authority included) must rest in humans. Now, if everyone is their own authority, nobody can claim authoritative interpretation, because their authority is no higher than anyone else’s. But this entails subjectivism, and not a “faith once delivered,” although that phrase could just as easily be re-interpreted as, “the faith once delivered and forever stumbled over and misinterpreted.” For correct (apostolic) doctrine to be ascertained in any objective sense, it cannot come from within (either the person or the text – even the Book of U.S. Constitution needs a supreme interpreter and thus pass judgment if there exist a dispute, how much more between christians). Consequently, one cannot derive correct doctrine from the scriptures without first being properly taught the Scriptures. (Apostolic Tradition).

  28. The 27th Comrade said,

    January 5, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Andrew, the same way you learnt about the Church—where to find it for reference to such matters as canon—is the same way you find out canon. After all, canon establishes the Church. How do you know to go to the Church—a group that maintains that “Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish”—and not to a shaman? You know from already having the canon; even this canon that cannot be known apart from the Church (as you say). So, you have a circularity. That is why I reply “No” to this assertion of yours, that “Surely there must be something more objective than my impressions of what the Holy Spirit might be telling my mind.” Faith is not objective; and the just shall live by faith.

  29. AJ said,

    January 5, 2011 at 2:38 am

    27th said, “for it is nowhere found anywhere that “there will be a group of men to tell you which books are in the canon.”

    My friend, actually there are, lots of them found in the Holy Scripture, by what authority are they sent? By sending someone means an authority has been given to speak for God (much like the authority of Moses) and in fact it was Our Lord Himself said,

    “He that hears you hears Me; and he that rejects you rejects Me; and he that rejects Me rejects Him that sent Me. (Luke 10:16)

    Romans 10: 14-15 “but how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? and HOW CAN MEN PREACH UNLESS THEY HAVE BEEN SENT?’

    Jn 16:13 – guided by Holy Spirit into all truth
    Jn 14:26 – Holy Spirit to teach & remind them of everything
    Lk 10:16 – speak with Christ’s own voice
    1Tim 3:15 – Church called “pillar and foundation of truth”
    1Jn 2:27 – anointing of Holy Spirit remains in you
    Acts 15:28 – Apostles speak with voice of Holy Spirit
    Mt 16:16 – first infallible pronouncement
    Mt 28:20 – I am with you always
    Lk 10:16 – He who hears you hears me
    AA 6:10 – speak with voice of Holy Spirit
    Acts 2:42 … doctrine, community, sacred rite (bread).
    Eph 5:25-26 … Christ loved the Church.
    Mt 16:18; 14:26 … Christ protects Church.
    Heb 13:17 … obey.
    Mt 18:17-18 … church as final authority (bind on earth/heaven).
    BONUS – Mt 23:2 … Pharisees succeeded Moses (seat of Moses).
    Matt. 16:17–19 “keys to the kingdom, bind on earth/heaven”
    John 21:15–17 “love Me? Feed my sheep”

    Please don’t tell me that this obvious delegation of authority BY the Eternal God stops when Peter and the apostles died.

    Peace.

  30. D. T. King said,

    January 5, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Mr. AJ asserts: The crucial question is, Whose assumption a christian has to choose as an act of submission to authority? His own ability to discern? his pastor?

    The ultimate problem of making Scripture the authority is that it is of necessity subject to interpretation. INTERPRETATION IS A HUMAN ACT, therefore authority (interpretive authority included) must rest in humans.

    OK, let’s take Mr. AJ’s own model for interpretation at face value. Since interpretation is a human act, then the officially defined dogmas of Rome must likewise be interpreted by humans. And since “INTERPRETATION IS A HUMAN ACT,” according to Mr. AJ, when Romanists interpret the officially defined dogmas of Rome, the “interpretive authority must rest in humans” who must fallibly interpret Rome’s official dogmas as to what they mean. Therefore, the problem of making Rome “the authority is that it (Rome) is of necessity subject to interpretation” by the members of its communion.

    Moral of the alleged model thus presented? If the model for one’s own argument (so employed) undermines itself, then it is not, cannot be, a sound argument. But let’s see if Mr. AJ really desires to be consistent with his own reasoning.

  31. Ron Henzel said,

    January 5, 2011 at 5:02 am

    AJ,

    You wrote:

    Please don’t tell me that this obvious delegation of authority BY the Eternal God stops when Peter and the apostles died.

    Of course it didn’t! It continues to be mediated through the Scriptures—alone!

    But please indulge me here: why do you write, “Peter and the apostles”? Was Peter not an apostle?

  32. steve hays said,

    January 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    AJ said,

    “The crucial question is, Whose assumption a christian has to choose as an act of submission to authority? His own ability to discern? his pastor?”

    When Jesus spoke to crowds, invoking Messianic prophecies, were the crowds supposed to exercise their own judgement, or were they supposed to turn to the religious authorities for guidance? Of course, the religious authorities were generally enemies of Jesus.

    “The ultimate problem of making Scripture the authority…”

    Since Scripture is the word of God, we can’t very well avoid “making” Scripture the authority. Scripture speaks with the divine authority of the God who inspired Scripture.

    “…is that it is of necessity subject to interpretation. INTERPRETATION IS A HUMAN ACT, therefore authority (interpretive authority included) must rest in humans.”

    Well, unless you think the pope is really an alien from outer space, clever disguised as a human, a papal encyclical is also A HUMAN ACT.

    “Now, if everyone is their own authority, nobody can claim authoritative interpretation, because their authority is no higher than anyone else’s.”

    Who says an interpretation has to be “authoritative” anyway. You’re just parroting the verbiage of Bryan Cross. Can’t you think for yourself?

    Why does an interpretation have to be authoritative as long as it is correct?

    Take the debate between the blind man and the Jewish leaders in Jn 9. They had the authority, he didn’t. Yet they were authoritatively wrong while he was authoritatively right.

    “But this entails subjectivism…”

    You need to define your terms. Are you using “subjectivism” as a synonym for an individual judgment? And what’s wrong with individual justment as long as it is right?

    After all, the pope is an individual.

    And at the risk of stating the obvious, you had to exercise your “subjective” judgment when you decided that the Roman church was the true claimant among various competitors for the title.

    “For correct (apostolic) doctrine to be ascertained in any objective sense, it cannot come from within (either the person or the text – even the Book of U.S. Constitution needs a supreme interpreter…”

    Well, that’s an interesting comparison. So when the Supreme Court discovers a Constitutional right of abortion, or a Constitutional right to commit sodomy, that represents the “objective sense” of the text?

    Do you even listen to what you’re saying? Or do you mindlessly repeat back what you read pop apologists for Rome say?

    “Consequently, one cannot derive correct doctrine from the scriptures without first being properly taught the Scriptures. (Apostolic Tradition).”

    That begs the question of what constitutes apostolic tradition, as well as how to identify and verify apostolic tradition.

  33. dozie said,

    January 5, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I will be following this conversation to try to understand a thing or two about Protestantism. First, some questions:
    1. Is there a Protestant canon?
    2. If the answer to the above is yes, how and when did the Protestant canon come about?
    3. If an “unbeliever” joins Protestantism, will the new Protestant be required to accept the “Protestant” canon or will the individual be expected to decide on his/her own canon based on some illumination from God?
    4. Is it necessary for a Protestant to accept the “Protestant” canon as a sign of an orthodox faith?
    5. Is the Protestant canon closed? Who closed it and upon what biblical authority? Can a Protestant or groups of them add or remove books to or from the Protestant canon? If not; why not?
    6. Finally, a larger question: From the Protestant point of view and with so much reliance on “me, myself, and my bible, what is the nature of “Christianity” and of “Christian” beliefs?

  34. curate said,

    January 6, 2011 at 7:36 am

    The canonicity of the NT is found in its authorship. It was written by the company of apostles, Paul, and the NT prophets, like Luke and Mark, who were members of Paul’s party.

    No mystery there.

  35. curate said,

    January 6, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Dozie, when a heathen man joins the Protestant Church, he is joining the Catholic Church. I do not include the Anabaptists in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has authority given it by God – you know, the keys – and so it teaches him all that he needs to know.

    The OT canon we received from the Jewish Church, as well as the NT canon, except for possibly Luke’s writings, but it is still within the time when the Jewish Church existed, prior to 70 AD. See post 35.

    The Roman Church is headed by a man who is clearly an Anti-Christ, since he claims the rights of Jesus Christ here on earth.

    Why would anyone want to hear him?

  36. January 6, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Dozie’s cleverness is a bit ironic, given that it was the Roman province of the church which elevated (some of) the Apocryphal books to canonical status, only at the time of the counter-reformation, thus deviating from the consensus of the catholic church up to that time that these were not of the same infallible, wholly inspired nature as the Holy Scriptures. One wonders if and when Rome might add some tertiocanonical books?

    One thing that will be instructive to all those truly seeking to understand Reformational Protestantism is that we have no issue with authority in the church. We happily recognize it and submit to it, when it does not abrogate our final authority, God’s written Word. The issue then is not of authority, but of its nature. We deny the claim of (conveniently occasional, but unspecified in instance) infallibility by the Roman pontiff and magisterium. And we deny that what Rome says IS the word of God in those instances that it plainly contradicts the sure Word of God we have in Scripture. And we deny that the Scriptures are anything less than fully sufficient for salvation and ALL good works (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

  37. steve hays said,

    January 6, 2011 at 9:57 am

    dozie said,

    “I will be following this conversation to try to understand a thing or two about Protestantism.”

    If you were sincerely trying to understand the Protestant position, you wouldn’t be posing argumentative questions with tendentious assumptions that have been repeatedly answered on this blog and elsewhere.

    “1. Is there a Protestant canon?”

    A disingenuous question merits no response.

    “2. If the answer to the above is yes, how and when did the Protestant canon come about?”

    That’s a red herring. The important question is not so much the historical process, but how we evaluate the end-product.

    “3. If an “unbeliever” joins Protestantism, will the new Protestant be required to accept the “Protestant” canon…”

    i) In general, the prerequisite for membership is a credible profession of faith. Church officers are held to a higher standard.

    ii) Are Catholics required to accept the Catholic canon? Are Catholics who reject the Catholic canon excommunicated?

    “…or will the individual be expected to decide on his/her own canon based on some illumination from God?”

    Of course, divine illumination is a false alternative. An individual can judge the case for the Protestant canon on the basis of the evidence for the Protestant canon. There are various lines of evidence for the Protestant canon.

    “4. Is it necessary for a Protestant to accept the “Protestant” canon as a sign of an orthodox faith?”

    Seems reasonable to me.

    “5. Is the Protestant canon closed? Who closed it and upon what biblical authority? Can a Protestant or groups of them add or remove books to or from the Protestant canon? If not; why not?”

    i) The Protestant canon is closed if it’s God’s will that the Protestant canon is closed.

    ii) We can, of course, postulate hypothetical scenarios, like discovering a lost letter of Paul which as misfiled in the backstacks of St. Catherine’s monastery. But there’s no reason to think that’s a realistic hypothetical.

    iii) You’re getting swept away with the metaphor of “closing” something. But something can be ipso facto closed, like when we say “that chapter of history is closed,” simply because it is past. That’s over and done with.

    Likewise, the Protestant canon doesn’t have to be “closed” by a “who.” It can be closed by the fact there are no other viable candidates for inclusion in the canon.

    Of course, in an ultimate sense, God is the “who” behind whatever happens in history.

    iv) If there are no other biblical books, then there is no addition biblical authority.

    v) There’s an obvious sense in which later Biblical books finalize earlier stages of the canon, by attesting earlier stages of the canon.

    vi) And, of course, there’s the self-witness of a qualified writer like Isaiah or St. Paul.

    vii) The question at issue is not what Protestants “can” or “can’t” do, but whether their actions are warranted. If there’s good evidence for the Protestant canon, then adding or removing books would be unjustified.

    viii) We can also turn your question around. Is the Catholic canon actually closed? The Tridentine decree is arguably inclusive rather than exclusive. It was promulgated in reaction to the Protestant canon. It makes a point of including books which were excluded from the Protestant canon.

    But it doesn’t speak to the issue of other potential or hypothetical candidates. It says what *is* canonical, not what *isn’t* canonical. It doesn’t speak one way or the other to the canonical status of, say, 1 Enoch or the Gospel of Thomas.

    “6. Finally, a larger question: From the Protestant point of view and with so much reliance on ‘me, myself, and my bible, what is the nature of ‘Christianity’ and of ‘Christian’ beliefs?”

    That’s another trick question. You never let honesty get in the way of papist apologetics, do you?

    Protestantism avails itself of the best exegetical scholarship. The use of appropriate evidence, as well as appropriate rules of evidence.

  38. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    January 6, 2011 at 11:06 am

    “If you were sincerely trying to understand the Protestant position, you wouldn’t be posing argumentative questions with tendentious assumptions that have been repeatedly answered on this blog and elsewhere.”

    Thanks Steve for your entire reply to Dozie.

    I hope Dozie carries through with what he said:

    “I will be following this conversation to try to understand a thing or two about Protestantism.”

    and follows what you’re saying so that he can understand a thing or two.

  39. andrew said,

    January 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Re 27:

    “Likewise, why do you think the church is authoritative, but, say, the Gospel of John is not? If you think the church authorizes the canon, then what authorizes the church?”

    Steve, thanks for that. Perhaps I have not expressed myself clearly. I am not contesting the authority of any book of the Bible, or saying the church has more authority. My question is simply how we know which books are part of the Bible.

    I would prefer to say the church ‘recognizes’ the canon rather than ‘authorizes’ it, since the authority of Scripture comes from its status as God’s word. However, since God has promised to lead the church into truth, describes her as the pillar of the truth and has ‘entrusted the oracles’ to her, I would much rather follow what the church has recognized than rely on my emotional/spiritual reponse on reading any possibly sacred text. To that extent, the church’s recognition is authoritative for me.

    Or let me put it this way. If we accept the neccesity or fact of written revelation, we must also accept certain other things such as the ability of language to convey truth, the possibility of objective meaning, the existance of alphabets and languages, etc. This may in some sense be prior or necessary for revelation, but that does not pit them against revelation. There are certain theological consequences/preconditions as well. If God intended to reveal himself through the Word, it must be understandable. Hence, the doctrine of perescuity. If God reveals himself today through ancient writtings, then He must have preserved those writings for us free from significant error.

    I am simply suggesting that an additional requirement for revelation(communication) is that we know what or where the revelation is. If all I know is that somewhere in world literature is a book containing God’s words, God has not really revealed himself to me.

    Now the standard Protestant posistion seems to be that each individual should read sacred material. When reading some of it he will feel ‘moved’ by the Spirit (precisely what this entails, I have been unable to establish). For him this is the canon. Now the problems in this seem to me so massive and glaring I won’t elaborate unless you want me too.

    If instead we suggest that God will have guided his church coporately to correctly recognise his word, we at least have something firm. All branches of Christendom agree on the 27 NT books, so that is in the bag. Everyone agrees on the 39 books of the Protestant/Jewish canon, so their in. All that is left is the Apocrapha. We can point out that we follow the Jewish cannon, and given our covenant theology, that means we follow the canon of the OT church, which seems much more persuasive that the council of Trent.

    To our Catholic friend we have been able to give an objective canon without giving the church such authority that it can invent new doctrines, or wherever our papist friend wishes to take us next. But we have also avoided giving a foothold to charismatics and other weirdos.

  40. Ryan said,

    January 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Andrew,

    “My question is simply how we know which books are part of the Bible…since God has promised to lead the church into truth, describes her as the pillar of the truth and has ‘entrusted the oracles’ to her, I would much rather follow what the church has recognized.”

    By your own predication of the epistemic justifiability of the canon of Scripture on the consensus of the church, you could not know the promises you mention are indeed God’s own words unless you already know that the church has approved them as such. You can’t ground your case that church consensus is the means by which one knows the canon on those [or any other] passages – your interpretation of which it seems I would disagree – because that would be to assume you know God’s canon, in which He has made His promises, by means other than church consensus. Essentially, it would be using the effect to prove the cause.

    If knowing church consensus as to what constitutes the canon (x) is an epistemic precondition for knowing what is the canon (y), the following is a fallacy: “since God has promised y [in the canon], I believe x” or, equivalently, “y, therefore x.” Yet that affirmation of the consequent is the way you set up your argument.

    The question, then, is: how have you identified God’s people other than by God’s written revelation as to who His people are?

  41. steve hays said,

    January 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    andrew said,

    “However, since God has promised to lead the church into truth…”

    Where does the Johannine verse you’re alluding to index that promise to the “church”? How do you exegete that referent?

    “…describes her as the pillar of the truth.”

    In context, that has reference to a local church–the church of Ephesus.

    Also, what exegetical literature, if any, have you actually studied on that verse?

    “…and has ‘entrusted the oracles’ to her.”

    Where does the Pauline verse you’re alluding to index that statement to “the church”?

    “I would much rather follow what the church has recognized than rely on my emotional/spiritual reponse on reading any possibly sacred text. To that extent, the church’s recognition is authoritative for me.”

    i) Which claimant (among many) to be “the church” are you turning to for guidance, and why?

    ii) The church is just a bunch of people. Some saved, some lost. Some wise, some foolish. Some learned, some ignorant. Some famous, some obscure.

    “Now the standard Protestant posistion seems to be that each individual should read sacred material. When reading some of it he will feel ‘moved’ by the Spirit (precisely what this entails, I have been unable to establish). For him this is the canon. Now the problems in this seem to me so massive and glaring I won’t elaborate unless you want me too.”

    You could elaborate by stating what “standard” Protestant literature on the canon you’ve read.

  42. andrew said,

    January 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Ryan,

    Thanks for the interaction. I am afraid you you misunderstand the purpose of the Biblical allusions, though that may due to my expressing of them.

    I merely show that my suggestion on canon recognition is consistent with Scripture, rather than proving it from Scripture. Such arguement as I did try was made on what seems to me an apparant condition of revelation. I am happy to admit, though, that as we are discussing the foundations of the faith some circularity is inevitable – though as much for what I imagine your posistion to be, as any other.

    “The question, then, is: how have you identified God’s people other than by God’s written revelation as to who His people are?”

    It all depends on how much ‘background’ you will allow. Your question posits the knowledge of God, the Bible and the church. I assume you mean a Christian God. So I need a group of people claiming to be God’s, bearing his revelation, who can show continuity from the moment of revelation. This gives me the Reformed (inc. Anglican), RC and Orthodox churches (we can throw in the various baptist groups if that helps).

    I might add that I am not dogmatic or insistent on this, and it is far from thought through. If you can explain how the WCOF posistion works in a way that avoids butterflies in the belly, goosebumps, or without contradicting sola Scriptura, I would be all ears.

  43. Ryan said,

    January 6, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Andrew,

    I see. I will be curious to see your response to Steve’s questions and comments with regards to those Scriptural allusions, then.

    “I assume you mean a Christian God.”

    I may have equivocated. Let me rephrase: in light of so many different groups of people who appeal to different texts as evidence for their respective conceptions of God, by what means did you come to your belief that the people who preach Scripture as we as Christians know it are in fact God’s people, given that you cannot use Scripture itself as the means of differentiation and that you believe the “movement of the Spirit” answer is vague.

    As for my own position, you can feel free to read posts on my blog which pertain to epistemology, but to put it simply, I would be a Scripturalist or Clarkian presuppositionalist. If you check out Ron’s reply to Bryan in the comment section of the latest blog post, you will get an idea as to which biblical texts I would use to support this contention (from the perspective of internal consistency).

  44. andrew said,

    January 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Re 42

    Stephen – thanks for those points. On the exegetical questions, as I said to Ryan, my point was simply to suggest that the idea that God would guide the church to recognize his word is not, prima facie, at odds with Scripture’s teaching on the church.

    If I want to push it further than that, the questions you pose would certainly be good ones.

    “i) Which claimant (among many) to be “the church” are you turning to for guidance, and why?”

    As I note, any or all of them (with we discount cults) are sufficient to establish the Protestant canon.

    “The church is just a bunch of people. Some saved, some lost. Some wise, some foolish. Some learned, some ignorant. Some famous, some obscure.”

    Lol! My impression (from Green Baggins, or elsewhere, I am not sure) is that you are at leastly broadly Reformed, so I assume you don’t mean this. The church is a bunch of people, but it certainly is not ‘just’ a bunch of people! If I am mistaken and you are brethern/broad evangelical in background, I apologise. Certainly, I would need to establish the existance of the church before introducing it into the conversation. Perhaps, another thread, though …

    “You could elaborate by stating what “standard” Protestant literature on the canon you’ve read”

    Perhaps standard is too pompous! Apologies! Would ‘popular’ work better? Or ‘common’? The direct answer is shamefully little. The various Confessions, the relevant sections of the Institutes, relevant parts from popular systematic theologies – Berkhoft, Raymond, Hodge, Dabney, Grudem. I have ‘the OT canon’ by Beckwith, some Scottish theology on the church (Bannerman), and a few individual books whose names I forget, generally on the doctrine of Scripture, with a chapter on canon.

    But far from comprehensive. What would you recommend? My limited impression was that most evangelical literature is concerned either with things like inerrancey, or giving the historical credentials of the Jewish canon (which I greatly agree with).

    Do Carl Henry’s big tomes on Scripture address it? I was hoping John Frame’s book on the Doctrine of the Word might touch on it.

    As I say, I am, (no doubt very presumptously) trying to strenghten what I see as an area of weakness in Protestant apologetics. I am certainly open to suggestions as to how we should put our case.

  45. andrew said,

    January 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Ryan,

    Thanks.

    “Let me rephrase: in light of so many different groups of people who appeal to different texts as evidence for their respective conceptions of God, by what means did you come to your belief that the people who preach Scripture as we as Christians know it are in fact God’s people, given that you cannot use Scripture itself as the means of differentiation and that you believe the “movement of the Spirit” answer is vague.”

    Mmmm … I am, though not in any very advanced technical way, inclined to think of myself as a presuppositionalist, albeit in the Van Tillian sense, which may not endear me. But I am not inclined to try to establish Christianity by automonous reason, as you invite.

    I would not accept, I suppose, that I must ignore the content of Scripture (or the other sacred texts) in your challenge. If a group of people make certain claims about themselves, God, and the world, on the basis of certain texts, I can certainly discount them if those beliefs are contradictary, or if the beliefs and the text contradict, or the text contradicts within itself. That for, me, disposes of all non-Christian sytems. And once we are within Christianity, the protestant canon is secure, and we need only discuss the rather dubious claims of the Apocrypha.

    But help me out. How exactly do we mean by appealing the the movement of the Spirit? Is it experiential – I feel something when I read inspired material. Do we honestly feel that all the time, in all books? Do I remain agnostic about those bits I have not yet read or studied? Or if I accept all 66 books in faith before reading, how do I know to accept those particular 66 books without reference to the witness of the church? How would you put it to a papist chum?

  46. Ryan said,

    January 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Andrew,

    “…I can certainly discount them if those beliefs are contradictary, or if the beliefs and the text contradict, or the text contradicts within itself. That for, me, disposes of all non-Christian sytems.”

    While it is the case that reduction to absurdity arguments can dispose of many non-Christian systems – it is my preferred apologetic method – I have yet to see a transcendental argument which reduces “all” non-Christian systems to absurdity. Unless you do that, however, your conclusion is inductively derived and, therefore, fallacious. I wrote a post on this and Van Til’s TAG recently, if you’re interested (see part 3 of the “Evaluation” section especially). Perhaps you have formulated a TAG which indeed defeats all non-Christian systems; if so, I should like to read it!

    You didn’t ask, but I would add that I don’t think that the unity amongst Christians with regards to the canon of Scripture is an irrelevant fact; Scripture states that God does not author confusion in His church, so that we see and have seen a general consensus amongst believers as to the scope of the canon is not surprising.

    “How exactly do we mean by appealing the the movement of the Spirit?”

    I can only speak for myself, and I think the WCoF puts it as well as I could hope to:

    Section 1.5 “…our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.”

    The conviction the Holy Spirit brings is not an act apart from the word; the two are inseparable. So, in answer to your question:

    “Do I remain agnostic about those bits I have not yet read or studied?”

    I suppose it would depend; after all, one doesn’t need to study the Pentateuch before knowing it is canonical, given that it is cited in numerous Scriptures. Scripture is inter-connected, so I would hesitate to answer in a way that could commit me to defending the idea that one must be agnostic until one has read all of Scripture. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge someone who put effort into study of this subject before dogmatically stating one way or another.

  47. dozie said,

    January 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    “A disingenuous question merits no response”.

    I am not sure Steve has an answer to my question. If he has, he would have been ready to offer a defense…

    “That’s a red herring. The important question is not so much the historical process, but how we evaluate the end-product”.

    The questions I asked were questions important to me. I was hoping that Protestants would have a story about their religion that they can’t wait to tell. Are we to assume that your end-product was dropped from the sky or is there a story behind it? Also, who in Protestantism evaluates the end-product?

    “In general, the prerequisite for membership is a credible profession of faith. Church officers are held to a higher standard”.

    The question was about Protestant Canon.

    “Are Catholics required to accept the Catholic canon? Are Catholics who reject the Catholic canon excommunicated?”

    I was assuming that Protestantism is not Catholic; does not act Catholic and does not want to be what Catholic is.

    “Of course, divine illumination is a false alternative. An individual can judge the case for the Protestant canon on the basis of the evidence for the Protestant canon. There are various lines of evidence for the Protestant canon”.

    What is the case for the Protestant canon? Who made the case? When, where and how was the case made? I am really interested in hearing how Protestants arrived at the NT canon. Secondary to that, I am interested in learning how a Protestant like Steve Hays came to believe that there are X number of books in the NT and that each of the books is God’s word.

    As a Catholic, I am glad to proclaim that I am not capable to do the work a Protestant is required to do in order to judge the canonicity of each of the books in the canon. I accept the Christian canon as a whole and in its parts only on the authority of Catholic Church.

    “Seems reasonable to me”.

    So, the canon is a Church thing?

    “The Protestant canon is closed if it’s God’s will that the Protestant canon is closed”.

    This is not a definite answer. You don’t seem to know if the Protestant canon is closed or not. This only leads one to wonder about the nature of Protestant-Christianity.

    “We can, of course, postulate hypothetical scenarios, like discovering a lost letter of Paul which as misfiled in the backstacks of St. Catherine’s monastery. But there’s no reason to think that’s a realistic hypothetical”.

    It is of course not clear who the “we” refers to. For the Catholic, the canon is closed. Even if a verifiable letter of St. Paul or St. Peter is found, such a letter will not make it to the canon.

    “You’re getting swept away with the metaphor of “closing” something. But something can be ipso facto closed, like when we say “that chapter of history is closed,” simply because it is past. That’s over and done with”.

    You are talking Protestantism. In the Catholic Church, a closed canon actually means something. A closed canon is not an undefined Protestant terminology.

    “Likewise, the Protestant canon doesn’t have to be “closed” by a “who.” It can be closed by the fact there are no other viable candidates for inclusion in the canon”.

    We would not know until we hear the story of the Protestant canon.

    “Of course, in an ultimate sense, God is the “who” behind whatever happens in history”.

    Very pious but really begs the question.

    “If there are no other biblical books, then there is no addition biblical authority”.

    Have there been other NT books that claimed to be biblical? How did your church decide to keep them in or out?

    “We can also turn your question around. Is the Catholic canon actually closed? The Tridentine decree is arguably inclusive rather than exclusive. It was promulgated in reaction to the Protestant canon. It makes a point of including books which were excluded from the Protestant canon”.

    And, the Protestant canon that Trent wa reacting against was…? The Protestant canon was decided upon by…? The canon decision in Protestantism was decided in Church council or by what other authority? Was an authority even required to arrive at the “Protestant canon”? These are important stories that non Protestants want to hear and reason through. Are Protestants simply assuming a “Protestant canon”?

    Dozie: “Finally, a larger question: From the Protestant point of view and with so much reliance on ‘me, myself, and my bible, what is the nature of ‘Christianity’ and of ‘Christian’ beliefs?”

    Steve: “That’s another trick question. You never let honesty get in the way of papist apologetics, do you? Protestantism avails itself of the best exegetical scholarship. The use of appropriate evidence, as well as appropriate rules of evidence”.

    Since scholarship is still continuing, it seems that in Protestantism, the attitude is to keep fingers crossed because this form of religion is still in the process of being defined – defined by the ever evolving next “best exegetical scholarship”.

  48. D. T. King said,

    January 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    The questions I asked were questions important to me.

    Who really cares about what is important to your own autonomous, subjective sense of self-importance? Because, thus stated, you are simply engaging in the same subjective mindset for which you accuse Protestants. This confession is a de facto admission of hypocrisy behind your post. Thanks for sharing.

  49. January 7, 2011 at 12:17 am

    David,

    I’ve pointed this out to you before, as well as to Lane privately (though I never received a response), but your behavior on this blog does damage to the Reformed cause. You come across as immature and juvenile, especially when you constantly end your comments with “Thanks for sharing.”

    And for the record, I’m not the only one who thinks so. I have heard the same assessment of you made by a handful of other Reformed people. There’s a way to win an argument without resorting to these kinds of childish tactics.

    Now it may be the case that neither Lane nor any of this blog’s moderators agree with me, which is fine. But as long as you keep up your behavior I am going to keep complaining about it until they ban me.

  50. Bob S. said,

    January 7, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Sorry, Jason, I don’t agree. Neither does DTK “constantly end” his comments with the phrase. Rather there is a time and a place to state the obvious. That is that the objection raised is immaterial to the argument or discussion and believe me, we’ve seen enough sleight of reasoning in the discussion of all things romish.

    But for that matter, sir, why did you change the decor and theme over at your site? Frankly imo it’s pretty creepy, if not a violation of the Second re. pictures of Christ – at least as possibly the weaker brother, that’s how I take the medieval? theme.

    Thank you. That’s all I have to share for now.

  51. January 7, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Bob,

    Well, he uses the “thanks for sharing” line a lot, and it’s just plain immature and dismissive.

    I changed the look and name of my blog last February, mainly because it’s way easier to say “creed code cult dot com” than it is to say “de regnis duobus dot blogspot dot com.” Plus, the old banner had that big pic of Hitler on it, which I got tired of seeing every day.

    Hey, how do you know that’s Jesus washing feet on my new banner? His head’s cut off, it could be anyone. Plus, I don’t even know what he looked like….

  52. D. T. King said,

    January 7, 2011 at 4:19 am

    Mr. Stellman,

    I have told you before and never got a response – but frankly I do not care what you think, nor do I have any regard for you presuming to speak on behalf of others.

    Now, I have many times refrained from telling you exactly what I think of some of your comments. But since you brought up the subject, you are the one who does damage to the Reformed cause by catering to these Romanists and indulging their nonsense. Now, I am tempted to express myself further concerning your own immaturity and dismissiveness with examples to back it up, but I am going to show you some courtesy and refrain from doing so. But for the record, I have had enough of your condescension to last me a life time. I’ve yet to see you engage these folk with any serious argumentation, all the while suggesting at times we ought to concede this or that claim by Romanists simply because you are clueless as to how to answer them.

  53. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    January 7, 2011 at 5:45 am

    “But since you brought up the subject, you are the one who does damage to the Reformed cause by catering to these Romanists and indulging their nonsense.”

    I think John Bugay has also made the same observation/charge.

    FWIW, and IMHO, I think what hurts the honest exchange of ideas is the intrusion of the Tone Police. IMO, I think JJS is overly preoccupied with tone to the point of smothering content and also possibly smothering appropriate rebukes and corrections.

  54. paigebritton said,

    January 7, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Andrew,
    I’d add a thought to Ryan’s good answer in #47, in that the bit he quoted from the WCF about the Spirit’s role in convincing us of the “infallible truth and divine authority of Scripture” does not have in mind either the formation or the recognition of the canon (or its individual books), but rather the recognition that Scripture is indeed God’s voice speaking to us. IOW, WCF 1.5 speaks to the effects of regeneration on one’s ability to hear the Shepherd’s voice in the text, in contrast to the unregenerate who cannot hear that voice (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14).

    Sadly (and frustratingly), this bit of the WCF has been used by some RC apologists to force the conclusion that individual Protestants must rely on the Spirit to determine whether or not each book in their Bible is truly canonical.

    As others have said earlier, the recognition of the canon is not a task laid at the feet of individual Prots or new converts. It is a “done deal,” accomplished at the end of the apostolic age by the simple expedients of recognizing the authority of Jesus (who approved the Tanak) and the apostles and their associates.

    In fact, if we were to accept the Apocrypha as part of Scripture, it would be because we have first accepted Rome as our authority in these matters, and that’s another question entirely.

    On a historical/literary level, you might be interested in looking at some of William Whitaker’s arguments re. the dubiousness of Rome’s claims for those apocryphal books (he wrote his Disputations on Holy Scripture in 1588).

  55. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 7, 2011 at 7:36 am

    I have tremendous respect for your scholarship, David, and I am grateful to God that you are willing to share it with us, as the substantive points you raise greatly help advance the conversation and give meat to the Protestant arguments.

    That said, I think you have a blind spot on the issue of tone. Regardless of what Jesus or Paul may have done in this instance or that, the commands of Scripture are

    Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. — Tit 3.1-2.

    Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. — 2 Tim 2.23-26.

    It is no concession to the Roman Catholic apologists to say that if you were to seek gentleness in your conversation with them, your already excellent points would hit home more surely. Angry words, say Proverbs, stir up wrath; but a gentle word can break a bone.

    I’ll not raise the issue again; but please consider what I’ve said.

  56. D. T. King said,

    January 7, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Jeff, I am not going to argue with you, but simply to say that I disagree with you.

    Now, if the moderators here at Green Baggins are inclined to agree with you, unlike Mr. Stellman, they won’t have to ban me. I will simply move on without any hard feelings. But these would-be apologists for Rome do not IMO deserve soft-spoken rebukes. They are hardened adversaries of the Gospel, and the Apostle Paul had far more harsher words for such than myself.

  57. TurretinFan said,

    January 7, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Mr. Cagle:

    I appreciate the difference between the maturity of your “I’ll not raise the issue again; but please consider what I’ve said,” as contrasted with “I am going to keep complaining about it until they ban me.”

    I see things a little differently, I suppose. But I have more interactions with Pastor King than just seeing his responses to some of the more outspoken zealots for the Roman religion.

    I see the bigger problem being a lot of folks (not you!) that treat Romanism as though it were not an apostate church, and as though its adherents were not (to all appearances) on the road to hell.

    Sadly, I’ve even seen some folks suggest that the WCF’s statement, “such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, papists, or other idolaters,” should be edited because of what it says about popery!

    The tough(er) love that Pastor King provides in some instances is something that I hope God will use to jar the senses of the zealots, where a gentler approach would simply lull them into a false sense of security.

    But, in any event, I appreciate the respectful way you expressed your disagreement. I hope I have been as respectful in my response.

    -TurretinFan

  58. steve hays said,

    January 7, 2011 at 9:18 am

    dozie said,

    “What is the case for the Protestant canon? Who made the case? When, where and how was the case made? I am really interested in hearing how Protestants arrived at the NT canon.”

    i) Notice Dozie’s tacit admission that his commitment to Roman Catholicism is due to ignorance of the alternative.

    ii) This will be a test-case of Dozie’s sincerity. Let’s see if he’s actually prepared to study the issue.

    There are various types of evidence for the Protestant canon. This includes objective as well as subjective evidence. The objection evidence includes internal and external evidence. Internal evidence includes the intratextual, intertextual, and paratextual evidence. External evidence includes text-critical evidence as well as testimonial evidence from Jewish sources and Christian sources, as well as from enemies of the faith (i.e. pagans, heretics).

    Subjective evidence has reference to the internal witness of the Spirit.

    I. Intratextual evidence:

    Standard conservative Bible introductions, as well as major conservative commentaries, discuss the intratextual evidence for individual books of the canon. Representative OT introductions include Archer and Hill/Walton. Representative NT introductions include Blomberg, Guthrie, Carson/Moo, and Kostenberger/Kellum/Quarles.

    The commentaries are too numerous to mention, but specific recommendations are available upon request. There are also conservative monographs on the authorship of certain contested books.

    II. Intertextual/paratextual evidence:

    Representative examples include:

    Gregory Beale & D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament Canon.

    Stephen Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible.

    E. E. Ellis, The Making of the New Testament Documents.

    Greg Goswell, “The Order of the Books in the Hebrew Bible,” JETS (Dec 2008).

    John Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch.

    III. Testimonial/Text-critical evidence:

    Roger Beckwith, The OT Canon of the New Testament Church

    Everett Ferguson, “Factors Leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon,” in The Canon Debate.

    Andreas Kostenberger & Michael Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy.

    Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament

    IV. Monographs

    There are also monographs that discuss the role of certain Bible writers (i.e. Ezra, John, Paul) in editing the canon of Scripture, such as:

    David Noel Freedman, The Unity of the Hebrew Bible.

    C. E. Hill, Who Chose the Gospels, chap. 10.

    Stanley Porter, “Paul and the Process of Canonization” in Exploring the Origins of the Bible.

    V. The Witness of the Spirit:

    John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God, chap. 41.

    I can give more complete citations as needed.

    After Dozie has acquainted himself with the case for the Protestant canon, we’d be happy to take any follow-up questions.

  59. Ron said,

    January 7, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Dozie and Andrew,

    Not too long ago some Protestants, I think mostly Paige and myself, preferred to argue for the reception of the canon by the church by building a case for the divine intention to have the church receive the canon. It was an argument that was based upon intent and providence we might say. The polemic got a bit long and took many turns but that I believe was because a few Romanists started to bring in irrelevant points that inevitably took the discussion in various directions. (My opinion of course.) I incorporate their major objections in the polemic below as I did on the original thread, but in brief (ignoring those distractions for now) the argument is simply that Jesus promised to build his church upon word of God, therefore, the church had to receive the word of God in order for God’s promise to be fulfilled. God does not break his promises, etc. You see the point, I trust. The two major objections to that argument were (a) what about the oral tradition Scripture? and (b) to receive the apostles is to receive not their flesh and bones or merely their words and doctrine but also their successors, so what about them? Both those objections don’t touch the argument, as was pointed out to the Romanists that raised the objections, which again they never cared to acknowledge. In any case, below is a more comprehensive polemic that touches upon those two objections.

    Chew on the meat and spit out the bones, but please know I am not inclined to discuss this matter too much more. The polemic is basic, so doesn’t need much clarification I think. Just please note one thing more, it has nothing to do with God revealing a table of contents or the inspired books to all individuals; so don’t look for it – it’s not there. It also does not require an infallible magisterium for its validity. We simply need to know the divine intention and God’s goodness and power, no more no less.

    Jesus promised to build his church. (Matt. 16:18) Jesus also told his apostles that those who received them received Him. (Matt. 10:40) Coupled with 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. The apostolic tradition was both oral and written (II Thess. 2:15) but only the written apostolic tradition has been providentially preserved. Accordingly, 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.

    Irrelevant objections addressed:

    This simple argument has recently been met by Romanists from “Called to Communion” with resistance for two primary reasons. The claim is that the apostolic office in view in Ephesians 2:20 includes both the perpetual seat of the papacy and the oral tradition of the church. Let’s assume then that the unwritten tradition still exists even though it has never been produced. Jesus promised to build his church and we’ll say that he promised to build it upon both Scripture and unwritten tradition. (I of course would say that if Jesus promised to build his church on the unwritten tradition then he failed since there is no preserved unwritten tradition that the church has been built upon; yet for argument sake let’s assume the tradition is intact.) Whether we have the unwritten tradition or not has zero impact on the argument from “intent and providence” for the reception of the written tradition. Any preservation of the unwritten tradition does not undermine the reception of the written tradition. Now in a last ditch desperation Romanists will resort to saying that the texts in view are not just speaking about the teachings of Christ and his apostles (even oral traditions) as being the foundation of the church, but rather the texts mean that we are to receive for the foundation of the church the teachings of their alleged successors (the popes) both written and oral. In passing I’ll note that to have to receive the teaching of a pope 2,000 years after the teachings of the apostles and Christ would clearly deny the import of “foundation of the church.” But aside from the obvious, even if we grant the point, the reception of the written tradition through divine intent and providence is not affected by the Gnostic “exegesis” of Ephesians 2:20 regarding popes because a papal apostolic succession and the reception of the canon are not mutually exclusive premises. To “refute”” the Protestant position on the canon in a non-arbitrary, non-ad hoc fashion the Roman apologist will have to deny that Jesus had any intent whatsoever for the church to be at least partially built upon his written words and the written words of the apostles. To introduce Gnostic dogmas regarding unwritten traditions and the succession of bishops is simply to throw up Red Herrings in a sophist manner.

    In sum, the Roman apologist needs to avoid the divine intent at all cost; for as soon as he acknowledges Christ Jesus’ intent to build His church “at least in part” on Scripture, he is then constrained to show why God’s intent could not have come to pass without an infallible magisterium (according to the same divine providence by which the rest of the eternal decree comes to pass). Since Romanists cannot possibly succeed in showing that God could not bring to pass the reception of the canon without an infallible magisterium, they are left no other choice (short of becoming Protestant on this matter) than to bring into question the divine intent. The Romanist does this through arguing by false-disjunction, introducing non-mutually exclusive premises to the promise of building the church “at least in part” on the canon; these Red Herring premises are the intent (a) to bring to pass the reception of the apostolic oral tradition, and (b) of establishing a succession of infallible bishops, neither of which undermine the divine intent to bring to pass the reception of the canon for the establishment of the NT church. Yet even allowing for those unjustified premises, the Romanist still cannot with any valid argumentation undermine the divine intent, which presuppose the necessity of bringing to pass the reception of the canon. They with the Satan can only say, “Has God said?”

    Ron

  60. steve hays said,

    January 7, 2011 at 9:30 am

    dozie said,

    “Since scholarship is still continuing, it seems that in Protestantism, the attitude is to keep fingers crossed because this form of religion is still in the process of being defined – defined by the ever evolving next ‘best exegetical scholarship.”

    i) That’s a self-incriminating accusation considering the fact that Vatican II codified the theory of development.

    ii) Apropos (i), Modern scholarship, including Roman Catholic scholarship, is also redefining the historical foundations (or lack thereof) of the papacy. To take a few examples:

    Raymond Brown, Priest and Bishop: Biblical Reflections

    Robert Eno: Rise of the Papacy

    Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries

    Francis Sullivan, From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church.

  61. Ron said,

    January 7, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I’m saddened to see the public objection to DTK’s occasional use of “thank you for sharing.” My general impression is that the phrase is at least usually employed by DTK when the one he is addressing (typically a proselytizing apostate) has not advanced any argument or has avoided addressing what has been presented by a Protestant. In other words, the person DTK is addressing in such cases is merely sharing opinions (as opposed to advancing arguments and conducting internal critiques of the opposing position). We’ve all experienced it and know how tedious it can get.

    Unfortunately, this small misfortune will probably be considered a big “victory” for the Romanists. They have no “good news” and very little in the way of arguments; so all they can delight in is seeing disunity within the household of faith.

  62. steve hays said,

    January 7, 2011 at 10:08 am

    dozie said,

    “I am not sure Steve has an answer to my question. If he has, he would have been ready to offer a defense…”

    Dozie has the mindset of a conspiracy theorist.

    “The questions I asked were questions important to me.”

    Of course, if Dozie knew the right questions to ask, he wouldn’t be Roman Catholic. Therefore, Dozie doesn’t get to frame the terms of the debate.

    “Are we to assume that your end-product was dropped from the sky or is there a story behind it? Also, who in Protestantism evaluates the end-product?”

    An example of asking the wrong questions. The pertinent question concerns the justification of the results. Are the results justifiable? And by what criteria?

    The “who” is irrelevant. What matters is not “who” said it, but the quality of the evidence, and the supporting arguments.

    “The question was about Protestant Canon.”

    No, you posed a question about the Protestant canon in relation to church membership.

    “I was assuming that Protestantism is not Catholic; does not act Catholic and does not want to be what Catholic is.”

    So Dozie confesses to a double standard. He holds his own denomination to a lower standard than Protestant churches.

    “As a Catholic, I am glad to proclaim that I am not capable to do the work a Protestant is required to do in order to judge the canonicity of each of the books in the canon. I accept the Christian canon as a whole and in its parts only on the authority of Catholic Church.”

    In which case he’s not capable of doing the work required to assess whether or not the Roman church actually has a rightful claim to the authority it abrogates to itself.

    “So, the canon is a Church thing?”

    Which doesn’t follow from my answer.

    “This is not a definite answer. You don’t seem to know if the Protestant canon is closed or not.”

    We all depend on God’s providence. We play the hand we’re dealt.

    There is no good reason to think the canon is open at this juncture, but one can always imagine hypothetical situations.

    That applies to the church of Rome as well. What if a papal conclave was rigged. Can Dozie disprove that? He wasn’t there. The proceedings are secret.

    “For the Catholic, the canon is closed. Even if a verifiable letter of St. Paul or St. Peter is found, such a letter will not make it to the canon.”

    i) That nicely illustrates the arbitrarily character of the Tridentine canon, as well as Rome’s insubordinate attitude towards apostolic authority.

    ii) BTW, who is Dozie to prejudge what the Magisterium would do in a case like that?

    “You are talking Protestantism. In the Catholic Church, a closed canon actually means something. A closed canon is not an undefined Protestant terminology.”

    I didn’t say it was undefined, I said it was metaphorical. The fact that you don’t know the difference disqualifies you from even discussing the issue.

    “We would not know until we hear the story of the Protestant canon.”

    So by Dozie’s own admission, his rejection of the Protestant canon is prejudicial and uninformed.

    “Very pious but really begs the question.”

    Is Dozie a closet atheist? Does he agree with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens that “Goddidit” begs the question?

    “Have there been other NT books that claimed to be biblical?”

    The question is incoherent. If the books at issue were “NT books,” then, by definition, they’d be “biblical.”

    “And, the Protestant canon that Trent wa reacting against was…? The Protestant canon was decided upon by…? The canon decision in Protestantism was decided in Church council or by what other authority? Was an authority even required to arrive at the ‘Protestant canon’? These are important stories that non Protestants want to hear and reason through. Are Protestants simply assuming a “Protestant canon”?”

    Notice that Dozie tries to recast the issue in terms of “authority.” But that begs the question.

    “Since scholarship is still continuing, it seems that in Protestantism, the attitude is to keep fingers crossed because this form of religion is still in the process of being defined – defined by the ever evolving next ‘best exegetical scholarship’.”

    Notice Dozie’s distrustful attitude towards divine providence.

  63. steve hays said,

    January 7, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Andrew,

    i) I don’t think my definition of the church essentially differs from WCF 25.

    ii) Yes, I have no doubt God guided the church in the recognition of the canon.

    iii) My response to Dozie indirectly answers your question about bibliographical resources.

    iv) In terms of looking to “the church” for guidance on the canon, two groups are pertinent:

    a) There is testimonial evidence from Jewish and early Christian sources.

    b) The best of modern scholarship (of the sort I already cited in reply to Dozie).

  64. andrew said,

    January 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Re 47

    Ryan,

    Checked out your blog and article, and I shall have think about it a little more – a lot of good stuff there

    In terms of our present conversation, the challenge it might be be relevant that there are only a few religions claiming to have text which is God’s revelation (as far as I know). If we agree that TAG can answer them, then we are left with Christainity.

  65. andrew said,

    January 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    re 55

    Paige,

    That was very helpful clarification, and I think I may have been taking WCOF in the manner you mention the RC’s do.

    I am not sure I totally see the distinction yet. If I say that a specific book is part of the canon, I take that to mean that it is the word of God. Do you mean the Spirit persuades us of certain characteristics of that Word – that it is trustworthy, sufficient, etc?

    I shall see if i can locate some Whitaker.

    Thanks again.

  66. andrew said,

    January 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Re 60

    Ron,

    That is great stuff – exactly what I have been trying to say, but not so well.

    Thanks.

  67. andrew said,

    January 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Re 64

    Steve,

    Thanks for the response.

    “I don’t think my definition of the church essentially differs from WCF 25.”

    This is good. I just got the impression because you seemed to object to me saying the oracles were entrusted to the church, a phrase WCOF 25:3 employs.

    “Yes, I have no doubt God guided the church in the recognition of the canon”

    That is all I want to say! Perhaps we are in agreement. If a Christian told you he doubted the status of a certain book, would you feel it appropriate to point out that it has been accepted by the church as canonical. For me this seems a more useful response than to urge him to read it more, hoping to feel the movement of the Spirit.

  68. steve hays said,

    January 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    andrew said,

    “If a Christian told you he doubted the status of a certain book, would you feel it appropriate to point out that it has been accepted by the church as canonical. For me this seems a more useful response than to urge him to read it more, hoping to feel the movement of the Spirit.”

    I don’t think either answer gets the job done.

  69. Steve G. said,

    January 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Andrew said:

    “If a Christian told you he doubted the status of a certain book, would you feel it appropriate to point out that it has been accepted by the church as canonical.”

    Why not give him more? Why not give him the reasons it’s accepted by the church? It’s not like there wasn’t debate and discussion even among the ECF’s about what books to accept and why? In many cases they used the same reasoning as scholars today – apostolic authorship, continuity of doctrine with known apostolic works, historical evidence, etc.

    There are lots of reasons to consider when analyzing a book for canonicity other than “just because the church says so”.

  70. paigebritton said,

    January 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Andrew,
    You asked, Do you mean the Spirit persuades us of certain characteristics of that Word – that it is trustworthy, sufficient, etc?

    Yes, in a general sense, the Spirit must regenerate our hearts before we can say that the Word has such characteristics. But more, the Spirit persuades us that what the Word says about itself is true (i.e., that it is trustworthy and sufficient!), and that these words are God’s words. An unbeliever will never be convinced of this until he is regenerated, though he may pick up on all the other literary characteristics listed by the Westminster writers in that section (“majesty of style,” etc. — I don’t have it right at hand).

    Can you see how this question of believing reader v. unbelieving reader is separate from the question of canon? In general, Protestants don’t question the canon until they bump into a dialogue like this or become curious about church history. But anyone who is regenerated by the Spirit will be worked on by the Word, even if he hasn’t bothered to find out “How We Got the Bible.”

    Now that you are asking the questions, though, it’s worthwhile to go beyond just pointing out that these 66 texts have been accepted by the church as canonical. The RC/Prot tussle is really over the Apocrypha, and it is basically a wrangle about authority (it always is). We accept the books that we do because they have the affirmation and the imprimatur of Jesus and the apostles; we have various reasons for rejecting the Apocrypha (Whitaker gets into these details), but the biggest is simply that we don’t accept the authority of the Magisterium in the formation of the canon.

    And back around to the original point, if RC’s spent as much time actually reading the part of the Word we can all agree on, as their apologists do challenging the Protestant canon, they might end up Protestants.

  71. Ryan said,

    January 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Andrew,

    “In terms of our present conversation, the challenge it might be be relevant that there are only a few religions claiming to have text which is God’s revelation (as far as I know). If we agree that TAG can answer them, then we are left with Christainity.”

    While it may be pragmatic to think in those terms, it is possible to construct an infinite number of non-Christian world-views. Hitting alternatives one at a time cannot satisfy the requirements of a TAG. That doesn’t mean that apologetic method isn’t useful, as again, it is the one I use. But at a certain point, we have to recognize our apologetic limitations; the rest is in God’s hands.

    Thanks for the discussion and kind words.

  72. dozie said,

    January 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    “if RC’s spent as much time actually reading the part of the Word we can all agree on, as their apologists do challenging the Protestant canon, they might end up Protestants”.

    You also assume a “Protestant canon”. Who made the list of New Testament “Protestant canon”, and what was the logic behind such a canon? There cannot be a Protestant canon without also starting Church history all over again. I therefore suggest that you find proper language to convey what you mean by “Protestant canon”. A Protestant canon does not yet exist, if it ever will exist, and there is not even an effort or a mechanism to discuss and examine the canon issue in Protestantism. Ordinarily, “Protestant canon” would amount to theft of intellectual property – one group actually did the arduous task of judging and compiling the Christian canon while an alien, destructive, and “we hate doing difficult things” group thinks it has right to arrogate to itself a claim to it.

  73. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Dozie: A Protestant canon does not yet exist, if it ever will exist, and there is not even an effort or a mechanism to discuss and examine the canon issue in Protestantism.

    That’s a strange claim. Pick up any Bible in any Protestant church, and I think you’ll find the same 66 books IDed as Scripture. You *might* find the apocrypha in an Anglican Bible, IDed as “not Scripture.” So given Protestant unanimity (!!) on the canon, it seems strange to doubt the existence of a “Protestant canon.”

    Perhaps you mean something else?

    Ordinarily, “Protestant canon” would amount to theft of intellectual property – one group actually did the arduous task of judging and compiling the Christian canon while an alien, destructive, and “we hate doing difficult things” group thinks it has right to arrogate to itself a claim to it.

    Be careful here. Which is the alien and destructive group? Is it the group that added to the canon, or the group that refused those additions?

    You’re trying to paint a divorce as if it were a theft; and while we all know that divorce court proceedings can have accusation and counter-accusation, we also all know that the parties involved have to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Here’s the proper language to describe what I mean by “Protestant canon”:

    (1) Given, the Holy Spirit spoke by the prophets and apostles to convey His truth to the church,
    (2) Given, that the early church identified the 66 as certainly of authority; and others, of dubious authority;
    (3) Therefore, the “Protestant canon” is a list of those 66 that the early church certainly IDed as having Scriptural authority, while rejected those whose attestation was dubious or came later.

    I think you’ll find that that’s an objective enough description to be worth discussing.

    I also think you’ll find that this is neither IP theft nor laziness, but rather a conservative judgment that goes hand-in-hand with sola scriptura: we may bind men’s consciences only on the basis of the things God has certainly said.

  74. Ron said,

    January 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Andrew,

    Re: 67, thanks.

    I believe you to be sincere in your inquiries.

    Warmly,

    Ron

  75. curate said,

    January 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Dozie, you want an historical narrative, yes? Here it is:

    Prior to the great schism about 1000 years ago there was one church. Rome then left that church by excommunicating anyone who would not submit to the arbitrary decrees of the Pope of Rome. She went further astray by adding more and more odd and unChristian doctrines – as necessary for salvation – until she barely resembles the church of the Fathers at all.

    At that point the Reformers decided to reform the church back to what she had been before the Medieval errors of the Papacy overthrew orthodoxy.

    What you call Protestantism is the old church of the fathers restored. We are the Catholic Church. You are innovating heretics. The Reformation churches are not a new thing invented 400 years ago, although you will insist that it is.

    The Reformation polemic against Rome was that she was an innovator!

    You may disagree, but you need to know what our argument really is.

  76. andrew said,

    January 7, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Paige,

    Re 71, I think I see the difference, and that is v. helpful. Thanks.

    I don’t want to stir up controversy, or bog you down, but if I describe how the discussion seems to play out to me, perhaps you (or anyone else) could briefly comment on the difference between that and what you/Ron think (re 60), or note where I am going wrong …

    Paul Papist and I are discussing matters religious. He challenges me as to how I know what books are in the Bible. He might make lurid comments about Luther and the epistle of James. He says he goes with what the church says.

    I could say the Holy Spirit persuades us of the correct books by inward testimony. But that leaves me open to all sorts of accusations of individualism, mysticism, subjectivism. And even if these are not true, one is forced to spend a great deal of energy in dealing with them. Why is Paul papist pursuing this line of argument? I see three possible advantages:

    i) by forcing the protestant to adopt a posistion that sounds like anarchy to the RC;

    ii) by hoping that we will conceed something big about the authority of the church;

    iii) that if the Apocraphya is accepted, then certain RC dogma will be more easily proved.

    Now if, instead of appealing to the persusaion of the Spirit, I agree with him that God intended the church to receive His revelation, and guided her to recognise the canon, I have partly negated his arguement;

    i) subjectivism is no longer a valid charge.

    ii) If God guided the church to correctly recognise the canon, that is a firm foundation for my personal devotion. BUT I have not conceeded infalliability to the church, or inerrancey in other matters, or the existance of the magisterium, etc, etc.,

    iii) Nor am I bound to accept the Apocrypha. The earliest ‘Ecumenical’ council to recognise it was Trent (I know some local councils and individuals may have recognised it as well, but that can’t so easily be translated into the Church). But of course, at this stage in the conversation, I don’t accept RC as the one true church or Trent as an ecumenical council, so that is not a very fruitful line for my papist friend.

    In turn, I can appeal to the canon of the OT church: that is I claim I am following the church’s canon, and his is the one straying.

    Obviously the RC then tries to cast doubt on the OT canon, argue for a broader Alexandrian one, or whatever. But so far as I know he cannot prove, pre-Trent, the acceptance by the church of the Apocrypha.

    Does this agreement to a moderate appeal to the church jeopordize other aspects of Protestant thought? Can the Catholic use this to prove other dogma?

  77. dozie said,

    January 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    ” Therefore, the “Protestant canon” is a list of those 66 that the early church certainly IDed as having Scriptural authority, while rejected those whose attestation was dubious or came later”.

    A wild assertion. What is your link to the early Church? How do you get from where you are to the early Church? I hope you do not say: “through modern scholarship”, or worse, “through the internet”

  78. dozie said,

    January 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    “At that point the Reformers decided to reform the church back to what she had been before the Medieval errors of the Papacy overthrew orthodoxy”.

    I am surprised you did not ask yourself how the figures you refer to as “reformers” ended up delivering up the Church to you. At least the “church” you profess did not come to you from Buddhists or Moslems; the “church” you profess was brought to you by a man baptized, confirmed, and ordained a priest in the Holy Church but your conscience does not disturb you that this “son” of the Church, at one point, could get so violent as to arrogate to himself the only “church” authority. The “Catholic” Luther became the father and judge of the Church and easily judged the Church of his day as no longer Church. He of course has had no problems collecting followers around him just as many ancient and modern heretics gather easy believers around them. But, the madness you are willing to accept is violence against God and shows where your heart is, regardless of your wild and empty logic.

    Again, there is no Protestant canon; what we have in Protestantism is violence agaist the society of God.

  79. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Dozie (#78):

    What is your link to the early Church? How do you get from where you are to the early Church? I hope you do not say: “through modern scholarship”, or worse, “through the internet”

    My link is the same as yours: primary and secondary sources.

  80. Ron said,

    January 7, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    I see that Dozie isn’t interested in arguing anything. He simply likes to make assertions. I won’t thank him for sharing though that is all he has done, shared his opinions.

    Who made the list of New Testament “Protestant canon”, and what was the logic behind such a canon? There cannot be a Protestant canon without also starting Church history all over again.

    The Word is God’s. He has given it to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. The canon remains with the church. No argument has refuted that premise. No argument leads us to believe that Rome is that church, let alone a church.

    …one group actually did the arduous task of judging and compiling the Christian canon while an alien, destructive, and “we hate doing difficult things” group thinks it has right to arrogate to itself a claim to it.

    The one, holy, catholic and apostolic church received the the canon under God’s providence. Nothing as refuted that premise and there has been no argument that leads us to believe that the seat of that church is in Rome or that she performed the “arduous” task involved in receiving what the Lord had promised would be delivered.

    This thread is simply turning into a soap box for Romanists.

  81. Bob S. said,

    January 8, 2011 at 12:22 am

    52

    Not to pile on Jason, but can we do better than just assert that, in your opinion, the phrase in question is “immature”? As for “dismissive”, the term is only too appropriate. Those who, and more often than not they are romanist or papist, waste everyone’s time including their own with immaterial and less than substantial replies, if not outright and deliberate distractions, deserve to be dismissed, even out of hand. Thus DTK’s by now infamous rejoinder.

    After all one of the scriptural qualifications for an elder is an ability to stop the mouth of the gainsayers Tit. 1:9 and imho there’s a dearth of it these days. FTM if in this instance, you are unaware of Dozie’s record, he is hardly John Mark to your Barnabas to DTK’s Paul. While we might all wish it were, I am sadly, no longer surprised as I was upon becoming P&R, of the abysmal knowledge of many protestants as to what and how Rome really teaches.

    Never mind the glaring schizophrenic hypocritical contradiction of one and all of the romanists on this site who decry the old bugaboo of private judgement, regardless that the exercise of the same is inescapable no matter how much they try to suppress and deny it, as well as exacerbate their guilt in exercising that same private initiative in chiding protestants here about it. All men are responsible moral agents and are addressed as such in the gospel and Scripture and hiding behind the skirts of blind/implicit faith in holy Mother Rome will not win one, a “well done, thou good and faithful servant” from our Lord on that day.

    “That all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” in Rom. 3:23, recognizes no absolutions due to paygrades among competent adults Roman or Protestant; neither does membership in the Vatican’s sectarian – as opposed to catholic in the original and genuine sense of the word – erase any obligation to know and obey the one only and true God as he has revealed himself in the Word of God written and the Word become flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ. Or have those of us in Woodinville bought into the watered down gospel of the sincere seeker mentality of the CCM megachurches in applying it to CtC and truly reformed folks ’ll have to give you the evil eye next time they drive down I405?

    Neither am I going to say that the CTC gang wouldn’t have started without the safe haven of sorts that DuoRegnibus provided – Mr. Cross after all, does have a PhD to justify, if not a guilty conscience – but it sure didn’t seem to hurt. Coddling these sort of folks in the fawning and fond hope to win them will only result in being played. Big Time. Near as I can tell, most if not all of those oohing and aahing over “oh, what nice manners you have, Mr. Roman Apologist”, don’t have a clue of what the roman dialectic and ecumenicism is really all about.

    Just what is it we don’t understand about semper eadem; that Rome always remains the same, never errs and likewise her self appointed apologists here implicitly assume the same of themselves, though we grant that most of them are not self conscious enough to be aware of it, never mind admit it? Ipso dixit, vox papa, vox Deus. So too the end of all reasonable discussion or resistance.

    FTM yet another Scripture Jeff C left out of his post was Jeremiah 12:5:

    If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?

    IOW if we can’t handle the Roman dialectic, there’s a good chance that their FV kissing country cousins and the PCA good ole boy BCO garblese will also have us spinning doughnuts in the Atlanta parking lot all the while we think we’re breaking the land speed record on the run from LA to NYC. We will be called more than immature and dismissive and not on the impersonal internet, but in person and by those of our own church.

    You are after all the point man in NW Presbytery to bring Mr. Leithart to bar – as he most blatantly should be – for his pronounced FV proclivities, are you not (and may Godspeed that effort)? But I can assure you if you do not have sound grasp of just what it is you are about, you will be easily and endlessly sidetracked by same sort of efforts that Mr. King dismisses with his standard phrase. Vide the nonsense now in Missouri Presbytery over Mr. Meyer who actually signed a FV Statement and the hollow objections directed toward those who were so unnice to ahem, ask the court of jurisdiction about the obvious. There are always far more McCartneys than Machens in Christ’s church.

    As for old pictures of Hitler and the pope (?) – birds of a feather flock together, totalitarianism loves company and dictators promote their own – and the newer of some funny guy with a sceptre and crown; the first is bad enough, but the second is down right creepy. Just what is it you are selling at Creed, Code, Cult? Two out of three might guess gnosticism, but hey, I dunno.

    But I’ll stop hogging the mike and let somebody else um, uh, do the sharing thing. I am sure you’ll understand, even if you don’t want to get in on it yourself.

  82. curate said,

    January 8, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Dozie, the canon was received from God through the prophets and apostles by the Catholic Church, not the RCC. You really need to come to grips with this fact. No church of the East ever asked the bishop of Rome to tell them what is or is not canonical.

    No ancient Eastern Church has ever acknowledged the absurd claims of Rome, so I suppose that makes them Protestants too ….

    Yes, all the Reformers were loyal Papists, like you, until they began reading the Bible, and comparing it with the overweening pride and abuse of the Papal Court. Gradually they came to realise that the Church they loved was in captivity to an earthly usurper, so they acted by preaching the true truth.

    The response was the sort of thing you always get from tyrants – fire and the sword.

    So yes, we did come out of the RCC, and have no difficulty acknowledging it. The Jews had no difficulty admitting that they had come out of Babylon either. The time of the Papacy was a dark chapter in our history, which we are determined never to relive.

    BTW the actual text of the Bible had been lost to the West for centuries because of the schism caused by your AntiChrist. It was the Greek text of the NT that opened peoples eyes to the mistranslations of the official Latin – which itself was unknown to the Pope and his co-conspirators.

    After meeting the Pope’s personal delegate, Luther said, They know Plato, so do I, they know Aristtotle, so do I, they know the Schoolmen, so do I – but I know the scriptures, and they do not.

    Awake from your dozing, and Christ will shine on you.

  83. curate said,

    January 8, 2011 at 2:32 am

    BTW Rome did not give us the Bible. They did everything in their power to withhold it from us, but being ignorant fools, we did violence to the “society of God” and refused to stop reading it.

    This year is the 400th anniversary of the KJV, and BBC 4 has had a few good articles on its origin and history. Check it out.

  84. curate said,

    January 8, 2011 at 2:32 am

    That is Radio 4 of the BBC.

  85. paigebritton said,

    January 8, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Andrew #77,
    You’re doing great. Indeed, we do not need to fall back on subjectivism re. the individual books of the canon. Luther’s personal assessment of James, as Jeff has pointed out somewhere, provides an unfortunate aberration that RC apologists like to throw at us as if it were the norm. But Luther was not infallible; even if we like much of what he thought, we don’t have to embrace all of his theological quirks without question or evaluation.

    What it boils down to among RC critics of Protestantism is that they (RC’s) have a locus of certainty for their canon — i.e., the infallible Magisterium — whereas we can’t point to a central authority for ours and must fall back on individual decisions (like Luther’s about James) to put together the table of contents in our Bibles. In fact, some of them have been known to say, every individual Protestant must have to do this, since there is no centralized church authority guaranteeing the list!

    There also comes the contention on the RC side — both from strident apologists and sincere folks who have bought into their version of the story — that God would never allow something as important as the canon to be passed along to the church in an ordinary way, say through the identification of the authors during and just after the apostolic age, or Jesus’ approval of the Jewish Tanak. No, the supernatural must be delivered in a supernatural way — i.e., via the infallible magisterium.

    We have to say that both assumptions are falsely reductionistic.

    First, there is a third option besides magisterial infallibility and individualistic canon-formation: the simple expedients of ordinary providence, allowing believers to identify texts from authoritative sources way back at the start of the Christian era. Our certainty, as Ron has said, rests in the God who promised his Word would be there for his people — and who never hinted at something like what we see in the “infallible magisterium.”

    And second, we confess that our God ordinarily works ordinarily, even in the delivery of his most precious Word. (Compare the delivery of his most precious Son: a Virgin Birth, yes, but otherwise an ordinary birth, very common, in fact. And how did they happen to end up in Bethlehem when the time came?) I wrote about this idea last month sometime in “The Neatly Ordered Ordinary.” (Some of the many comments on that thread are relevant to what you are asking, but I don’t blame you if you don’t end up plowing through them all.) You’ll find that many of the based-on-Tradition doctrines of the RCC share this quality of extraordinariness, a supernatural transformation of the ordinary, which is tellingly absent from the related based-on-Scripture doctrines of Protestantism. We need to challenge this assumption that God ordinarily works in obviously miraculous and extraordinary ways; it speaks more of the medieval world of superstition than it does of the world described in the Bible, full of miracles though the Scriptures are.

    Hope those thoughts are helpful. Blessings on your continued digging.
    pax,
    Paige B.

  86. Ryan said,

    January 8, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Andrew,

    While it is the case that one could try to argue that the Protestant takes an individualistic, subjectivist, and therefore uncertain approach to recognition of the canon, one wonders how this is different from Abraham (Genesis 22) or any other patriarch who heard God’s voice and regarded it as such without an appeal to the church or whatnot. I have yet to hear a RC coherently explain how the patriarchs were justified for believing God spoke to them over against, say, Descartes’ demon if we as Christians are not justified for similarly persuaded and assured of the infallible truth and divine authority of God’s written word by the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts (cf. WCoF 1.5).

    Going back to what I wrote a day or two ago:

    //I would add that I don’t think that the unity amongst Christians with regards to the canon of Scripture is an irrelevant fact; Scripture states that God does not author confusion in His church, so that we see and have seen a general consensus amongst believers as to the scope of the canon is not surprising.//

    I was reading through Frame’s The Doctrine of the Word of God and found this:

    “The problem with current literature on the canon is that is does not take account of God’s expressed intentions. It seeks, rather, through autonomous reasoning (see chap. 3), to determine whether any first-century books deserve canonical status, and using that method it arrives at conclusions that are uncertain at best. But once we understand God’s use of a canon from the time of Moses, we must approach our present problem with a presupposition: that God will not let his people walk in darkness, that he will provide for us the words we need to have, within our reach.

    So we reach out, and we find before us, 27 books—from Matthew to Revelation. God did not put them in the Jerusalem temple, for that temple is gone. He placed them in his temple the church (1 Cor. 3:16-17, Eph. 2:21, Rev. 3:12), that is, among the people of God, where, as in Deut. 30:11-14, the word is very near us…

    What happened? Jesus’ sheep heard his voice (John 10:27). Or, to put it differently, the Holy Spirit illumined the texts so that God’s people perceived their divine quality. Recall that in Chapter 14 I discussed a similar problem in connection with the divine voice: how can we be sure that the voice is God? The answer I proposed was that our assurance is supernatural. When God speaks, he at the same time assures us that he is speaking.” – pg. 136-137

    The fact that great majority of Protestants agree as to the extent of the extant divine revelation also mitigates against this “individualism connotes uncertainty” argument. If RCs wish to continue to use effect-to-cause reasoning when they assert sola scriptura is the reason for disagreements amongst Protestants, it cannot hurt to point out that it would be special pleading to deny that sola scriptura is the source of widespread Protestant unity with regards to the recognition of the canon.

    There are tests which can and should be applied which confirm what God assured: Scripture coherency, apostolic origin or approval, citations, etc. indeed can and should be used, for they are useful. But these tests of internal consistency do not form the the epistemic ground of justification for our axiomatic belief God’s word is God’s word and that His word is found in the 66 books which comprise the extant extent of divine revelation. I believe church agreement with regards to the canon falls under the same category of “confirmatory evidences” of what God has already assured us, and that’s why I don’t think that it is an issue which is irrelevant to the conversation even though I ground the church on God’s word.

    I hope that helps.

  87. dozie said,

    January 8, 2011 at 8:37 am

    “Dozie, the canon was received from God through the prophets and apostles by the Catholic Church, not the RCC. You really need to come to grips with this fact. No church of the East ever asked the bishop of Rome to tell them what is or is not canonical”.

    Another wild assertion and no argument for the claim. If I ask you to identify the Catholic Church of the first five centuries in terms of its government and structure, you will throw your hands up in the air.

    Also, are you willing to equally assert that no pope/bishop of Rome has been a member of the Catholic Church; that they have all been “Roman Catholics”?

  88. Ron said,

    January 8, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Dozie,

    Prove with a valid form of argumentation God’s institution of the Holy See. I’ll begin by granting you anything you wish concerning Saint Peter. Once you’ve done that, we can begin to examine the justification for your premises. Note well though Dozie, you don’t get a pass on the form of the argument. Your conclusion needs to follow from the premises.

  89. dozie said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:13 am

    “After meeting the Pope’s personal delegate, Luther said, They know Plato, so do I, they know Aristtotle, so do I, they know the Schoolmen, so do I – but I know the scriptures, and they do not”.

    If Luther was meeting with the pope’s personal delegate, he must have still been Catholic or one not long before the meeting. An obvious question would be: “from where did Luther learn the scriptures”? Who produced the scriptures he was learning? You would say: “the antichrist”. The scriptures however teach that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”. So, there were two options for Luther: (1) he heard and matured his faith in the Catholic Church, or (2) the Holy Spirit made revelations to him. Even in Pentecostal Churches today, an alleged revelation from God which is not confirmed by others is to be held suspect. Furthermore, the most vicious of cultists rely on this subjective internal locution as grounds for their outlandish teachings. Given Luther’s foul mouth and mental state, he seems an unlikely candidate for the Holy Spirit to confide in. The world since Luther has been in constant deterioration, including and mostly in the religion he started.

  90. paigebritton said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Andrew —
    One last thought, on reading Ryan’s note above:

    I think Ryan and I may be leaning in different directions on canon formation, he (with Frame) to the side of spirit-confirmed illumination, and I to the side of providence, the ordinary events of text and author identification, which Frame rather disparagingly calls autonomous reasoning. I would rather see this more objective understanding of canon formation as including (with Frame, and Ron above) God’s intentions, but acted out in the world more through the ordinary expedients of identifying authoritative texts by their author (NT) / their status among the Jews (OT) than through supernatural, subjective assurance in the early believers (not that this element was entirely lacking; but it’s awfully hard to pin down).

    Supernatural assurance, as a part of the regenerate life, describes our reaction to God’s Word as God’s Word (as per WCF 1.5). Did it matter that it was believers who identified the canon at the end of the apostolic age? I would say yes — not because, or merely because, they had a subjective, supernatural assurance of the divine nature of the texts, but because it was only believers who would care whether they were faithfully following Jesus and the apostles in their recognition of the authoritative Scriptures by the means God made available to them.

    Hope that makes sense.

  91. greenbaggins said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Jason and David, you guys need to continue this discussion outside the combox. I’m not banning either one of you. Jason, David is the expert here. He knows more about the doctrine of Scripture and about Roman Catholicism (from the Protestant side) than anyone else here, almost certainly. He is the one who has done MASSIVE amounts of reading in Catholicism, the early church, and in the doctrine of Scripture. He has come to the opinion that Romanists of the sort that frequent my blog are not really here to be convinced that their position is wrong. He is also convinced that such people do not require “coddling.” I respect that position. I think you should, too. At the very least, he has the scholarship to back up every single claim he makes. He is certainly not one of those folks who just swoops in from the outside, makes a target claim with no basis, and then evades capture by ducking away again. Jason, if you are of the opinion that the Romanists who come here are open to the truth, then your seeking to gain them with honey is a very valid approach, too. What is going on here is a simple difference of opinion about how open these guys are. Do you really think, Jason, that David would use the same tone with a nominal, non-scholarly Catholic who was genuinely interested in learning more about the Protestant position? David thinks that you are giving ground. Coming from someone with his background, that should give you pause. If you want to understand more where David is coming from, then read his book. I have read volume 1, so far, and found it extremely helpful reading. Gentlemen, we are brothers here. Let’s act like it.

  92. greenbaggins said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Oh, and Bob S, I have not forgotten about Whitaker or Muller, either. Sometimes I just need a break from one series of posts in order to look at something else.

  93. dozie said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:28 am

    “Prove with a valid form of argumentation God’s institution of the Holy See. I’ll begin by granting you anything you wish concerning Saint Peter”.

    If you are responding to what I wrote in No. 88, you should begin by answering the simple questions I posed there. I note however the introduction of the Holy See, whether as a diversion or due to ignorance of the distinctions between Office of the Bishop of Rome/ Catholic Church and the Holy See, I am not sure. I suggest you google Holy See and understand what it refers to before continuing with your line of questioning.

  94. curate said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Dozie said: If I ask you to identify the Catholic Church of the first five centuries in terms of its government and structure, you will throw your hands up in the air.

    Curate: Not at all. But I will say that it was by no means governed from Rome with the Pope as its head.

    Dozie: Also, are you willing to equally assert that no pope/bishop of Rome has been a member of the Catholic Church; that they have all been “Roman Catholics”?

    Curate: Not at all. All of the many Popes who denied transubstantiation and the raft of other innovations of the Medieval Period, (and who believed, for many did not), were Catholics.

  95. Ron said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Dozie,

    I had no particular post in mind. Romanists assume the incredible, a perpetually infallible magisterium. Who told you that God would provide such a luxury?

  96. Ryan said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Paige,

    “I would rather see this more objective understanding of canon formation… acted out in the world more through the ordinary expedients of identifying authoritative texts by their author (NT) / their status among the Jews (OT)”

    Is that to say that you predicate canonicity upon prophethood and apostleship? If so, would that not presuppose knowledge of who were God’s prophets and apostles? If so, wouldn’t that presuppose knowledge of the very divine revelation you are seeking to predicate upon prophethood and apostleship?

    Thanks for clarifying.

  97. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Dozie (#88):

    If I ask you to identify the Catholic Church of the first five centuries in terms of its government and structure, you will throw your hands up in the air.

    No hands in the air here. The Catholic Church truly was Catholic in its early years.

    The problem occurs as east and west drift further from one another in the early Middle Ages, one speaking Greek and the other Latin; one saying the filioque and the other rejecting it.

    Aside: Note that at *this* time we are talking about, the Church is still outwardly Catholic — and yet it has serious theological differences within it. How do you account for this fact?

    Anyways, when the split becomes formalized in 1054 (and even then, there is not a truly clean break until the sack of Constantinople in 1204), the government of the church becomes murky. Which is the true church?

    Rome, of course, asserts that it is the true church, and the EOs broke away from them. I can assure you (having seen it myself) that the EOs draw themselves as the true church and Rome as the schismatics (with the Protestant fragmentation as “proof” that Rome was in the wrong).

    On what objective basis can we decide this question?

    Or, is it a foolish question? Could it be that the true church of Jesus is not “all those organized under the true leadership”, but rather “all those who truly profess the Gospel of Christ”?

    Wouldn’t that latter definition have the salutary effect of pointing to Christ as the head of the Church, rather than a human being as the head?

  98. Ron said,

    January 8, 2011 at 10:40 am

    But Jeff, the gospel is of no concern for the Romanist. They do not seek to be found in Christ but rather in his church. If they would seek the former, they’d end up with the latter too. Because they only seek the latter, they end up with neither.

  99. steve hays said,

    January 8, 2011 at 10:47 am

    steve hays said,

    “Take the debate between the blind man and the Jewish leaders in Jn 9. They had the authority, he didn’t. Yet they were authoritatively wrong while he was authoritatively right.”

    That should read: “Yet they were authoritatively wrong while he was unauthoritatively right.”

  100. dozie said,

    January 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

    “it cannot hurt to point out that it would be special pleading to deny that sola scriptura is the source of widespread Protestant unity with regards to the recognition of the canon”.

    But, no Protestant had any hand in recognizing the canon. The canon was already there before there was a Protestant.

  101. Reed Here said,

    January 8, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Ron: good observation. To be fair, they’ll deny the fatal choice you say they’re making. But this is the effect of this system. Again, good observation.

  102. curate said,

    January 8, 2011 at 11:54 am

    re 101: “The canon was already there before there was a Protestant.”

    … and the canon was there before there was a Roman Catholic.

  103. dozie said,

    January 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    “Or, is it a foolish question? Could it be that the true church of Jesus is not “all those organized under the true leadership”, but rather “all those who truly profess the Gospel of Christ”?”

    A rather interesting comment overall. To understand where the true Church resided after the Eastern Church separated from Rome; you would have to understand the structure of the Church immediately prior to that break. Even till today, the Eastern Church still regards the bishop of Rome as primus inter pares. Even in the relationship between Rome and Constantinople, you can see who behaves like a mother trying to gather her children together and who behaves like a stubborn child. You can also see that since after the break, the East has made no progress in theology and has not been able to call an ecumenical council since then but has rather devolved into ethnic associations. During the annual celebration of the “feast of the chair of St. Peter”, the Eastern Church does not fail to send delegates to the celebration in solidarity with the Roman Church. They do not sit around like Protestants and argue: “let the early Church be the early Church; the early Church is not us and it is not you”; the Church is all those invisible people who truly profess the Gospel of Christ” and similar nonsense. Instead, the Eastern Church recognizes the continuity in the Church to the present age. In any case the break from the Church has shown not the strength of Constantinople, but its handicaps. However, Protestants watch their elders (Rome and Constantinople) behave a certain way and instead of stopping and noting the very nature of Christianity by how it is practiced by the ancient Church, fall back to on their appeal to an invisible church model, a mystery religion, and act as the true originators of generation X culture (a culture which respects no tradition but the ones it is creates) which they truly are.

  104. Ryan said,

    January 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    dozie,

    “But, no Protestant had any hand in recognizing the canon. The canon was already there before there was a Protestant.”

    Recognition and determination aren’t synonyms, you goof.

  105. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Dozie, you mistake greatly. I spoke nothing of the “invisible church” (much less of “invisible people”!), but of the visible church:

    The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. — WCoF 25.2.

    You may not like this definition, but it certainly has nothing to do with invisible people.

  106. Reed Here said,

    January 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Ryan: no name calling, please. Unless of course, you mean something in a friendly jest. Then place some markers in your comments to let us know the good humor intended.

    Thanks!

  107. Ryan said,

    January 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Reed,

    Please picture my address as having been said with a winkface and a tousling of the hair.

  108. curate said,

    January 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Dozie: “However, Protestants watch their elders (Rome and Constantinople) behave a certain way …”

    Namely, bowing to pictures and statues in direct violation of an explicit prohibition of God, not reading the Bible, praying to dead people as if they were all knowing, and worshipping bread and wine in the context of a blasphemous act of sacrilege called the sacrifice of the Mass. Worshipping Mary as a goddess, and praying to her instead of directly to the Father, as Christ commanded his disciples to do.

    It is for conduct like this that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. You are naughty children, not adults.

  109. Bob S. said,

    January 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    92 Lane,

    Glad to hear that Whitaker has not been forgot.

    As far as “sharing” goes, I for one am still waiting for the Romanists to do the ‘mirror, mirror on the wall’ thing and in all honesty apply their radical skepticism, not just to Protestantism, but to their own epistemological presuppositions regarding this immaculate church we keep hearing about.

    That shouldn’t be too much to ask of a bunch of papists led by a philosophy Phd, that of all things, became a papist because he couldn’t answer the Mormon door to door gainsayers.

    Until then I would have to conclude, based on their presuppositions, that they just like to share their opinions as they also like to share their toys.

    But if they don’t have any of the Lego Ultimate or Star Wars stuff, I’m not playing.

  110. Ron said,

    January 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    “But, no Protestant had any hand in recognizing the canon. The canon was already there before there was a Protestant.”

    Dozie,

    The one, holy, apostolic, catholic church rediscovered the gospel in all its fullness and wonder 1500 years after Christ. The illuminated church was called “Protestant” – so of course “they” were not there when the canon was being received. They weren’t yet born. In the like manner, papal Rome wasn’t there either, but these observations, although true, are utterly irrelevant. What seems to escape you is that Protestantism claims to have its roots in the apostolic church. We believe in a succession of doctrine.

  111. Reed Here said,

    January 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Ryan: excellent. Thanks!

    Roger: and excellent to you too. ;-)

  112. D. T. King said,

    January 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    The Claim by dozie: However, Protestants watch their elders (Rome and Constantinople) behave a certain way and instead of stopping and noting the very nature of Christianity by how it is practiced by the ancient Church, fall back to on their appeal to an invisible church model, a mystery religion, and act as the true originators of generation X culture (a culture which respects no tradition but the ones it is creates) which they truly are.

    I hope everyone is conscious of the approach being taken by this Romanist poster. He is not really interacting, but rather simply expounding Protestantism as he (and I suppose other Romanists) imagine the ancient church to have been. There was never this kind of pristine unity that Romanist contend, which a careful reading of the early church fathers will demonstrate. An example would be Basil of Caesarea’s Preface on the Judgment of God

    Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): Liberated from the error of pagan tradition through the benevolence and loving kindness of the good God, with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the operation of the Holy Spirit, I was reared from the very beginning by Christian parents. From them I learned even in babyhood the Holy Scriptures which led me to a knowledge of the truth. When I grew to manhood, I traveled about frequently and, in the natural course of things, I engaged in a great many worldly affairs. Here I observed that the most harmonious relations existed among those trained in the pursuit of each of the arts and sciences; while in the Church of God alone, for which Christ died and upon which He poured out in abundance the Holy Spirit, I noticed that many disagree violently with one another and also in their understanding of the Holy Scriptures. Most alarming of all is the fact that I found the very leaders of the Church themselves at such variance with one another in thought and opinion, showing so much opposition to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so mercilessly rendering asunder the Church of God and cruelly confounding His flock that, in our day, with the rise of the Anomoeans, there is fulfilled in them as never before the prophecy, ‘Of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.’
    Witnessing such disorders as these and perplexed as to what the cause and source of such evil might be, I at first was in a state, as it were, of thick darkness and, as if on a balance, I veered now this way, now that—attracted now to one man, now to another, under the influence of protracted association with these persons, and then thrust in the other direction, as I bethought myself of the validity of the Holy Scriptures. After a long time spent in this state of indecision and while I was still busily searching for the cause I have mentioned, there came to my mind the Book of Judges which tells how each man did what was right in his own eyes and gives the reason for this in the words” ‘In those days there was no king in Israel.’ With these words in my mind, then, I applied also to the present circumstances that explanation which, incredible and frightening as it may be, is quite truly pertinent when it is understood; for never before has there arisen such discord and quarreling as now among the members of the Church in consequence of their turning away from the one, great, and true God, only King of the universe. Each man, indeed, abandons the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and arrogates to himself authority in dealing with certain questions, making his own private rules, and preferring to exercise leadership in opposition to the Lord to being led by the Lord. Reflecting upon this and aghast at the magnitude of the impiety, I pursued my investigation further and became convinced that the aforesaid cause was no less the true source also of secular difficulties. I noticed that as long as the common obedience of the others to some one leader was maintained, all was discipline and harmony in the whole group; but that division and discord and a rivalry of leaders besides proceeded from a lack of leadership. Moreover, I once had observed how even a swarm of bees, in accordance with a law of nature, lives under military discipline and obeys its own king with orderly precision. Many such instances have I witnessed and many others I have heard of, and persons who make profession of such matters know many more still, so that they can vouch for the truth of what I have said. Now, if good order with its attendant harmony is characteristic of those who look to one source of authority and are subject to one king, then universal disorder and disharmony are a sign that leadership is wanting. By the same token, if we discover in our midst such a lack of accord as I have mentioned, both with regard to one another and with respect to the Lord’s commands, it would be an indictment either of our rejection of the true king, according to the Scriptural saying: ‘only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way,’ or of denial of Him according to the Psalmist: ‘The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God.’ And as a kind of token or proof of this, there follow the words: ‘They are corrupt and are become abominable in their ways.’ Fathers of the Church, Vol. 9, Preface on the Judgment of God (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1950), pp. 37-39.

    Basil complained bitterly on account of the pride of the western church (referring specifically to the bishop of Rome and his arrogance). The North African Church sought to maintain its autonomy against Rome’s attempts to intervene in their ecclesiastical affairs, and they even excommunicated pope Vigilus in the middle of the 6th century. That is not a papal structure of the church! Yet Romanists imagine an ecclesiastical world that never existed in the early church.

    As for the visible/invisible church distinction, the foundation for the recognition of that reality did not originate with the Reformers of the 16th century, but with men such as Augustine, Poper Gregory the Great, and the Venerable Bede as the following citations illustrate…

    Augustine (354-430): Therefore, whether they seem to abide within, or are openly outside, whatsoever is flesh is flesh, and what is chaff is chaff, whether they persevere in remaining in their barrenness on the threshing-floor, or, when temptation befalls them, are carried out as it were by the blast of some wind. And even that man is always severed from the unity of the Church which is without spot or wrinkle, who associates with the congregation of the saints in carnal obstinacy. NPNF1: Vol. IV, On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Book I, Chapter 17, §26.
    Latin text: Itaque sive intus versari videantur, sive aperte foris sint, quod caro est, caro est: sive in area in sua sterilitate perseverent, sive occasione tentationis tanquam vento extra tollantur, quod palea est, palea est. Et semper ab illius Ecclesiae quae sine macula et ruga est, unitate divisus est, etiam qui congregationi sanctorum in carnali obduratione miscetur. De Baptismo Contra Donatists, Liber Primum, Caput XVII, §26, PL 43:155-156.

    Augustine (354-430): But I think that we have sufficiently shown, both from the canon of Scripture, and from the letters of Cyprian himself, that bad men, while by no means converted to a better mind, can have, and confer, and receive baptism, of whom it is most clear that they do not belong to the holy Church of God, though they seem to be within it, inasmuch as they are covetous, robbers, usurers, envious, evil thinkers, and the like; while she is one dove, modest and chaste, a bride without spot or wrinkle, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed, an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits, with all similar properties which are attributed to her; and all this can only be understood to be in the good, and holy, and just, — following, that is, not only the operations of the gifts of God, which are common to good and bad alike, but also the inner bond of charity conspicuous in those who have the Holy Spirit, to whom the Lord says, “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” NPNF1: Vol. IV, On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Book VI, Chapter 3, §5.
    Latin text: Habere autem Baptismum, et tradere, et accipere malos nequaquam in melius commutatos, et de Scripturis canonicis, et de ipsius Cypriani litteris, satis, ut arbitror, demonstravimus: quos non pertinere ad sanctam Ecclesiam Dei, quamvis intus esse videantur, ex hoc apertissime apparet, quia isti sunt avari, raptores, feneratores, invidi, malevoli, et caetera hujusmodi; illa autem columba unica, pudica et casta, sponsa sine macula et ruga, hortus conclusus, fons signatus, paradisus cum fructu pomorum, et caetera quae de illa similiter dicta sunt: quod non intelligitur nisi in bonis et sanctis et justis, id est, non tantum secundum operationes munerum Dei bonis malisque communes, sed etiam secundum intimam et supereminentem charitatem Spiritum sanctum habentibus, quibus Dominus dicit, Si cui dimiseritis peccata, dimittentur ei; et si cui tenueritis, tenebuntur. De Baptismo Contra Donatists, Liber Sextus, Caput III, §5, PL 43:199.

    Augustine (354-430): Whom has he called antichrists? He goes on and expounds. “Whereby we know that it is the last hour,” By what? Because “many antichrists are come. They went out from us;” see the antichrists! “They went out from us:” therefore we bewail the loss. Hear the consolation. “But they were not of us.” All heretics, all schismatics went out from us, that is, they go out from the Church; but they would not go out, if they were of us. Therefore, before they went out they were not of us. If before they went out they were not of us. Many are within, are not gone out, but yet are antichrists. We dare to say this: and why, but that each one while he is within may not be an antichrist? For he is about to describe and mark the antichrists, and we shall see them now. And each person ought to question his own conscience, whether he be an antichrist. For antichrist in our tongue means, contrary to Christ. Not, as some take it, that antichrist is to be so called because he is to come ante Christum, before Christ, i.e. Christ to come after him: it does not mean this, neither is it thus written, but Antichristus, i.e. contrary to Christ. Now who is contrary to Christ ye already perceive from the apostle’s own exposition, and understand that none can go out but antichrists; whereas those who are not contrary to Christ, can in no wise go out. For he that is not contrary to Christ holds fast in His body, and is counted therewith as a member. The members are never contrary one to another. The entire body consists of all the members. And what saith the apostle concerning the agreement of the members? “If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and if one member be glorified, all the members rejoice with it.” If then in the glorifying of a member the other members rejoice with it, and in its suffering all the members suffer, the agreement of the members hath no antichrist. And there are those who inwardly are in such sort in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ — seeing His body is yet under cure, and the soundness will not be perfect save in the resurrection of the dead — are in such wise in the body of Christ, as bad humors. When these are vomited up, the body is relieved: so too when bad men go out, then the Church is relieved. And one says, when the body vomits and casts them out, These humors went out of me, but they were not of me. How were not of me? Were not cut out of my flesh, but oppressed my breast while they were in me. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Homily 3.4.

    Gregory the Great (Gregory I c. 540-603): And because in the Church the wicked are mingled with the good, and the condemned with the elect, it can be said to be like wise and foolish virgins. Dom David Hurst, trans., Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies, Homily 10, Matthew 25:1-13 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1990), p. 69.
    Latin text: In qua quia mali cum bonis et reprobi cum electis admisti sunt, recte similis virginibus prudentibus et fatuis esse perhibetur. XL Homiliarum In Evangelia Libri Duo, Liber Primus, Homilia XII, §1, PL 76:1119A-B.

    Gregory the Great (Gregory I c. 540-603): The character of those at the banquet reveals clearly that the king’s marriage feast represents the Church of this time, in which the bad are present along with the good. The Church is a thorough mix of a variety of offspring. She brings them all forth to the faith, but does not lead them all to the liberty of spiritual grace successfully by changes in their lives, since their sins prevent it. As long as we are living in this world we have to proceed along the road of the present age thoroughly mixed together. We shall be separated when we reach our goal. Only the good are in heaven, and only the bad are in hell. This life is situated between heaven and hell. It goes on in the middle, so to speak, and takes in the citizens of both parts. The Church admits them now without distinguishing them, but separates them later when they leave this life. Dom David Hurst, trans., Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies, Homily 38, Matthew 22:2-14 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1990), p. 344.
    Latin text: Ecce jam ipsa qualitate convivantium aperte ostenditur quia per has regis nuptias praesens Ecclesia designatur, in qua cum bonis et mali conveniunt. Permista quippe est diversitate filiorum, quia sic omnes ad fidem generat, ut tamen omnes per immutationem vitae ad libertatem spiritalis gratiae culpis exigentibus non perducat. Quousque namque hic vivimus, necesse est ut viam praesentis saeculi permisti pergamus. Tunc autem discernimur, cum pervenimus. Boni enim soli nusquam sunt, nisi in coelo; et mali soli nusquam sunt, nisi in inferno. Haec autem vita quae inter coelum et infernum sita est, sicut in medio subsistit, ita utrarumque partium cives communiter recipit; quos tamen sancta Ecclesia et nunc indiscrete suscipit, et postmodum in egressione discernit. XL Homiliarum In Evangelia Libri Duo, Liber Secundus, Homilia XXXVIII, §7, PL 76:1285C-D.

    Bede (672/673-735), commenting on 1 John 2:19, the phrase, “But that it may be clear that they are not all from among us”: With the Lord’s permission, certain persons go out from the Church even before the final dismissal, showing that they were not members of the Church and did not belong to the body of Christ; this is so that by this it may become clearly obvious that all are not from among us who are set with us within and receive the sacraments of Christ, but only those who perform works worthy of the same sacraments in the unity of the Church of Christ. Dom David Hurst, O.S.B., trans., Bede the Venerable, Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1985), p. 177.

    Now, I know that the Romanists hate for it to be pointed out, as do a few Protestants here, but the fact of the matter is that these Romanists (like Dozie) appear here, began pontificating about the early church, and all they’re doing is expounding to us their utter ignorance about church history. And it is simply tedious to have to correct all their nonsense, especially when they never interact with history as it was when it is pointed out to them, but they simply move on to the next list of assertions, while never accepting the corrections to their previous list of the same.

    Just bear in mind that when a Romanist begins to pontificate about the early church, he ought to bear the burden of proof that he demands from us, because they operate with this kind of double standard. You see, when they begin, as dozie did here, with all their interrogations, more often than not they are engaging in Romanist presuppositions about the early church, not as it was, but as they wish it to have been, or have been told it was.

    Now, this is true with all of dozie’s interrogations about the canon of Holy Scripture, while ignoring all of the posts by many contributors here on that very topic. This is why I regard these Romanists as disingenuous.

  113. D. T. King said,

    January 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Reed,

    Could you please release my latest post from the spam filter?

    Thanks.

  114. Ron said,

    January 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I hope everyone is conscious of the approach being taken by this Romanist poster. He is not really interacting, but rather simply expounding Protestantism as he (and I suppose other Romanists) imagine the ancient church to have been.

    Keenly aware, my brother. Dozie is simply sharing his opinions. :)

  115. Bob Suden said,

    January 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    There he goes again in 113.
    DTK just doesn’t stop “proof texting”.

    But if out of good sportsmanship, we don’t let Little League T-ball teams run up the score and hurt their opponents’ feelings, so too, a little restraint is in order here.

    The moderators need to ban him in order to make this anything close to an even contest.

    Stop playing favorites and letting this kind of stuff slide, gentlemen and do your duty.

  116. paigebritton said,

    January 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Ryan, #97:
    I had written (quoting the whole sentence)…I would rather see this more objective understanding of canon formation as including (with Frame, and Ron above) God’s intentions, but acted out in the world more through the ordinary expedients of identifying authoritative texts by their author (NT) / their status among the Jews (OT) than through supernatural, subjective assurance in the early believers (not that this element was entirely lacking; but it’s awfully hard to pin down).

    …and you asked: Is that to say that you predicate canonicity upon prophethood and apostleship? If so, would that not presuppose knowledge of who were God’s prophets and apostles? If so, wouldn’t that presuppose knowledge of the very divine revelation you are seeking to predicate upon prophethood and apostleship?

    Two responses:

    First, who is the subject of the verb “predicate” in your question, and who is “presupposing knowledge”? If it is you or I, then we do not have firsthand knowledge of the prophets and apostles, and couldn’t identify the canon ourselves. However, there were those in the early church (meaning the apostolic age and just past it) who could identify the authors (of the NT) and the contents of the Book of the Jews (the Tanak). So if we place this predicating and presupposing at the right point on the timeline, then yes, this is a valid way of recognizing the inspired books of the canon. (For our part, we recognize that the early believers already recognized the canon. Perhaps you were thrown by my phrase, “acted out in the world”? I did mean that to refer to the actions of Christians during & at the end of the apostolic age, not now.)

    Now, was “divine revelation” needed by the believers back then to recognize the prophets and apostles? I’d answer, no, not divine revelation — but surely, divine regeneration! For who would (or could) acknowledge even the great apostle Paul’s authority, except those who were born again? The “revelation” in question was the content of what Paul taught and wrote (which included, “Hi, my name is Paul, I’m an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ…”).

    Second, in the quote you provided Frame seemed to want to drive a wedge in between the ordinary, objective action of simply recognizing the authors (apostles and prophets) and the subjective experience of direct affirmation from the Spirit that this or that text belonged to the canon. I am not sure if this represents the whole of your own thinking on canon formation, but it seems to me to be an unnecessary division. Surely believers were moved by the Spirit’s illumination as they read the texts, but such subjective feelings (as RC’s have pointed out) are notoriously deceptive. Perhaps we could understand the recognition of the canon as a mix of subjective and objective elements, all working together to carry out God’s intentions. What do you think?

    I’m enjoying your thoughtful comments.
    pax,
    Paige

  117. dozie said,

    January 8, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    “Recognition and determination aren’t synonyms, you goof.”

    Which one do you associate with Protestantism and how did it happen?

  118. Ryan said,

    January 8, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Paige,

    You have correctly understood my questions.

    “Now, was “divine revelation” needed by the believers back then to recognize the prophets and apostles? I’d answer, no…”

    I don’t think any knowledge-claim can be justified apart from divine revelation (link), so it becomes obvious why we have differing understanding as to the means by which one recognizes the canon :)

    With regards to your second point, it’s a complex issue, at least in terms of explanation. I’ll do my best to explain my position.

    God’s word is self-authenticating. I don’t think the RC “deception” objection is damning even if he could explain by what “objective” means Abraham and the other patriarchs to whom God revealed Himself knew that it was indeed God rather than Descartes’ demon. The RC’s “yea, hath God said?” questions may attempt to insinuate uncertainty into our minds, but we have no reason to believe their words over God’s words.

    Now I certainly don’t wish to eliminate from the discussion those tests I mention in the last paragraph of post 87 which confirm my belief in the extent of the canon, I just don’t think such tests should ground my belief. I don’t think those tests should be regarded premises by which we conclude the 66 canon is indeed God’s extant revelation. Divine revelation is the precondition for justified knowledge-claims. What are those tests, then?

    //…for Scripture to be the ground of knowledge also presupposes that it provides an account of the means by which one knows that which God has revealed. Deducing [from Scripture] the historical process by which one comes to accept the axiom of revelation is as important as recognizing that such a deduction cannot circularly function as a premise by which the axiom of revelation becomes, oxymoronically, a conclusion. Rather, a Scriptural explanation of the means of knowledge serves to confirm the logical consistency of [other] Scriptural claims and anticipates reductio ad absurdum argumentation.//

    When Jesus explains that the reason we are said to hear and follow Him is because, as His divinely regenerated sheep, we know the voice of our Shepherd, we are being told the historical process by which we come to regard God’s word as such. When Jesus is said to commission the apostles, we are similarly being told the historical process by which the New Testament would come into being. We know these truths because they are Scriptural.

    In this way, the questions pertaining to the historical formation and recognition of the canon are not left out of the loop, yet we are not making the mistake of predicating our knowledge-claims on something other than divine revelation:

    //…this discussion is meant to establish the historical reason I accept[ed] the Protestant canon… my first principle itself entails what the canon is, so I’m not reasoning circularly (i.e. I’m not arguing that my exegesis is a premise for my first principle, as that would mean my first principle is no longer my first principle); rather, this exegesis suffices to show that my epistemological “system” is self-affirming, or that I’m not just making up a canon arbitrarily.//

    In sum: why do I believe the 66 book canon comprises God’s extant revelation? It depends on the sense in which the question is asked. Propositionally speaking, as it is axiomatic, I have no prior, justificatory premise for believing it. The historical reason, however, is clear. I believe it because God has determined to reveal Himself through His prophets and apostles and, at the time of His choosing, regenerated me unto recognition of this fact. This I know because Scripture tells me so; the truth Scripture is the premise by which I justify this knowledge of history.

    Thanks for your kind words and continued interaction.

  119. Ryan said,

    January 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    dozie,

    “Which one do you associate with Protestantism and how did it happen?”

    Refer to Ron’s post 111 with regards to the understanding of what Protestantism is. Both are associated. We recognize and assent to God’s word when we are regenerated, and as for the determination of the canon, no external body or person needs to pronounce it as canon in order for it to be so. Scripture was self-authenticating and self-authoritative the moment it was breathed – the 66 books comprise the canon because the 66 books comprise what God breathed.

  120. Ron said,

    January 8, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Paige asked: “Now, was “divine revelation” needed by the believers back then to recognize the prophets and apostles? I’d answer, no…”

    Ryan answered: I don’t think any knowledge-claim can be justified apart from divine revelation (link), so it becomes obvious why we have differing understanding as to the means by which one recognizes the canon :)
    —–

    I think what Paige is saying, for instance, is that we don’t need additional revelation from God saying the first five books written by Moses are God’s word. In other words, we don’t need a revelation of an index of books to know God is speaking in those books, through the prophets. Whereas Ryan is saying that the justification of all knowledge must be special revelation. There’s a difference between our having a justification for what we believe that can be raised to the level of knowledge, and having a justification for that knowledge. There are internal(ist) and external(ist) distinctions at work.

    Maybe what needs to be teased out is that man knows God is speaking through the prophets apart from an additional revelation saying that it is God speaking. The revelation of God through the prophets accompanied by the Spirit’s attestation is all that is required for the knowledge that God is speaking. Whereas to justifify that knowledge (the knowledge that
    God is speaking) can only be through the same justification for any knowledge, special revelation.

    If that doesn’t help, then forget it. My guess is, however, that you might end up speaking by each other.

    RD

  121. Ron said,

    January 8, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    There’s a difference between our having a justification for what we believe that can be raised to the level of knowledge, and having a justification for that knowledge. There are internal(ist) and external(ist) distinctions at work.

    That should have been: There’s a difference between our having a justification for what we believe that can be raised to the level of knowledge, and being able to give a justification for that knowledge. There are internal(ist) and external(ist) distinctions at work.

  122. D. T. King said,

    January 8, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    dozie asserted Since scholarship is still continuing, it seems that in Protestantism, the attitude is to keep fingers crossed because this form of religion is still in the process of being defined – defined by the ever evolving next “best exegetical scholarship”.

    Actually, if I were a Romanist, I don’t think I would indulge in this sort of the “pot calling the kettle black,” because given the so-called “living voice” of the Roman magisterium and papal infallibility (a 19th century addition to the apostolic deposit!), continuing into the 20th century to define dogma (BAM), thereby adding to the original apostolic deposit, and remaining in the posture of the possibility of doing so again in the future, Rome is the communion engaged in the “ever evolving” cycle of dogmatizing and adding to “he faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 1:3. This is Rome’s guilt, not Protestantism.

  123. D. T. King said,

    January 8, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Correction: “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 1:3.

  124. paigebritton said,

    January 8, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Ron & Ryan —
    Yes, Ron expressed my thinking right (#121) — actually I agree with you, Ryan, about the foundation of all knowledge, but I thought you were asking about direct (and extrabiblical) revelation (whether to us or to the early church) re. who is & who is not to be regarded as a prophet. (I maybe missed some of your earlier posts where you went a bit deeper with the epistemological bit.)

    I happily agree with you also about the historical reasons why you believe the Bible is God’s Word, but I am not sure this gets us closer to the historical fact of canon reception (or recognition) at the end of the apostolic age. I think we would both want to say that the Scriptures are the foundation of the church, and not the other way ’round. But at the onset of challenges to the original collection of inspired writings, a sort of self-conscious awareness of the specific texts that made up those Scriptures had to arise in the church, and part of the fencing of the canon was the affirmation of the authorship (or Jewish source) of those texts. In my view, God’s loving ordering of such objective events was as much a part of canon formation in that day as his subjective work in regenerating his elect readers all along.

    pax,
    Paige B.

  125. Ryan said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Thanks for the clarifications, guys.

  126. brian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 7:11 am

    I’m late to the discussion, but there are some disconnects here. In comment 35 I’m told that, “The canonicity of the NT is found in its authorship. It was written by the company of apostles, Paul, and the NT prophets, like Luke and Mark, who were members of Paul’s party. No mystery there.”

    This makes no sense and there’s a significant splitting of hair here. If authorship is the prime mark of canonicity, we’d better be certain of who authored these. Was it Luke, Mark, etc., or was it God himself? If Luke, Mark, etc. are to be held as the authors, there’s a big problem since these books make no such claim. For example, the book we know as “Mark” in itself doesn’t tell us Mark actually wrote it. So, it’s authorship (if to be considered Mark) is extra-biblical, so sola-scriptura fails in this sense.

    But, if God is considered the author, he’s a little absent minded in recalling certain facts. See 1 Cor 1:16. So it appears comment 35 crumbles quickly.

    It seems the Prots here are kinda boiling this down to something like… The bible may seem as any other book to the unregenerate, yet we come to know the scripture as inspired once we are regenerate. God replaces our heart of stone with a heart of flesh and by that investing, and through faith, we can then know that the bible is the Word of God.

    Well, why can’t the same be said of purgatory? I’d say something like… Before I knew God I had no understanding of his ultimate perfection. Once regenerate, I know that my sinful nature remains unto death, and by faith in the scriptures I see that 1 Cor 3:12-15 shows us that on judgement Day there is a final purification preparing us that we may be present in God’s perfection. The Holy Spirit has shown me, and it’s validated through scripture, that purgatory is a reality… just like the canonicity of the bible is a reality.

    I doubt the Reformed folk here would buy into this, but it seems to me that that’s about what the line of reasoning boils down to.

  127. David Weiner said,

    January 9, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Brian, re: #127,

    Just ignorant and curious. Are you saying that the final purification of a still future judgment day and a present experience of purgatory at death are speaking to the same thing?

  128. curate said,

    January 9, 2011 at 11:12 am

    127. Brian, if you, living in the lifetime of the apostles, know that one of them wrote a Gospel, and told you in it that he was writing down the gospel of Jesus Christ, are you saying that you would not be certain that it was of God?

    All of the books of the NT were written down by people known to the early church. Not one of them stepped forward to say that they had factual issues with what was written. Not one. Not one stepped forward to say that a Gospel was not in fact written by the person whose name is attached to it.

    You, however, seem to be in possession of information not known to the apostolic church …

    “But, if God is considered the author, he’s a little absent minded in recalling certain facts. See 1 Cor 1:16. So it appears comment 35 crumbles quickly.”

    That has to be one of the most impious and foolish arguments I have ever heard.

  129. Brian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 11:35 am

    curate,

    A couple of questions for you:

    “All of the books of the NT were written down by people known to the early church.”

    Who wrote Hebrews?

    Regarding my reference to 1 Cor 1:16, you say, “That has to be one of the most impious and foolish arguments I have ever heard.” Here’s my question to you. Who do you say authored 1 Corinthians? If you say God dictated scriptures through Paul, then it’s not foolish to wonder why God couldn’t remember who Paul baptized?

  130. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 9, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Brian, what does Peter mean when he says, “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet 1.21)?

  131. steve hays said,

    January 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    brian said,

    “This makes no sense and there’s a significant splitting of hair here. If authorship is the prime mark of canonicity, we’d better be certain of who authored these. Was it Luke, Mark, etc., or was it God himself? If Luke, Mark, etc. are to be held as the authors, there’s a big problem since these books make no such claim. For example, the book we know as ‘Mark’ in itself doesn’t tell us Mark actually wrote it. So, it’s authorship (if to be considered Mark) is extra-biblical, so sola-scriptura fails in this sense.”

    i) For starters, all of the gospel authors are named in the titles, and, to my knowledge, all of our extant Greek MSS name the authors. For more detail, see Martin Hengel’s discussion. Therefore, to make good on your claim, you need to show us that the titles are later scribal/editorial additions.

    ii) The question, “Was it Luke, Mark, etc., or was it God himself” is a false dichotomy given the inspiration of the Gospels.

  132. Brian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Jeff,

    “Brian, what does Peter mean when he says, “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet 1.21)?”

    It means what it says. What’s your point?

  133. Brian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    David Weiner,

    “Are you saying that the final purification of a still future judgment day and a present experience of purgatory at death are speaking to the same thing?”

    If I understand your question correctly, Yes. My personal salvific judgement at my death is manifested in the final judgement. Tricky to get our minds around since eternety is beyond time, but at my death I’m either friend or foe of God and my fate is sealed. And this is linked to the final judgement at the end of the world. If friend of God, he prepares me to enter into his eternal presence. Thanks.

  134. Brian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    steve hays,

    “i) For starters, all of the gospel authors are named in the titles, and, to my knowledge, all of our extant Greek MSS name the authors…Therefore, to make good on your claim, you need to show us that the titles are later scribal/editorial additions.”

    Perhaps the extant Greek MSS name the authors, but I imagine the earliest we’d have would be from about half a milenium after Jesus’ death. That’s hardly proof. Plus, knowing that the Greek MSS says Mark wrote the book, even if we both agree that he did, is itself extrabiblical. In other words, to accept that Mark wrote the book of Mark is to place our faith, not in the book itself or what it says about itself, but rather is to place our faith in the early Church’s diligence in making known that Mark wrote it. Extrabiblical indeed. Plus, while that may apply to the 4 gospel accounts, we still don’t know who wrote Hebrews.

  135. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Brian, my point was that your post 127 seems to present the alternative, “either the books were written by humans, or else written by God.”

    I was suggesting that Peter is saying, “Both at once.”

  136. David Weiner said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Brian, re #134,

    Your ‘yes’ answer is indeed clear. And, I can agree with much of the rest of your response. Yet, I am left confused. If you have the patience . . .

    Are you equating the ‘preparation to enter into his eternal presence’ with purgatory or the final judgment? Or, in fact, do you consider them one and the same?

    Your initial reference to 1 Cor 3 seemed to equate this ‘preparation’ with the final judgment. However, the passage seems to have to do with reward if works remain after purging and not having anything to do with purging of the individual? Yet, I thought purgatory had to do with purging of the individual? I guess my bottom line is that I am having a hard time seeing the 1 Cor 3 passage supporting the idea of purgatory.

  137. Brian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    Yes, we agree, and that’s what I’m driving at when I press the point. The Catholics have an Incarnational world view in that God’s plan is manifest in how the natural and supernatural are interconnected. So, when we see the Church, it’s not only the invisible connection of “true Christians”. No, it, like Jesus, has both body AND spirit. It’s visible and supernatural. Similarly, in the Incarnational understanding, we see that God’s plan is not merely a decree that is carried out as God wills it, but that God’s plan involves our participation. So, when Prots seem to say that God regenerates us and that’s when we know that scripture is scripture, Catholics see that as an incomplete understanding. In the Incarnational understanding, Jesus established his simulaneously visible and supernatural Church, and from those members, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they adjudicated which books make up the bible. Revisiting the point that Peter is saying, “both at once” when referencing prophecy or the writing of scripture, why can we not say “both at once” in the understanding of the Church’s teaching authority? Cannot God use fallible humans to preserve the deposit of faith as Catholics claim. If God is truly implementing “both at once” in the Catholic Church, then many prots must recognize that the Church is not the power-hungry, arrogant body that they believe her to be.

    The Upper Room is a pivotal place in the beginnings of Christ’s Church. That Church immediately began teaching and admonishing. That Church “sent” others to do the same. We see this played out in 1 Cor 4:17 where Paul says, “Therefore I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.” Timothy is SENT, to teach the SAME WAYS in EACH AND EVERY CHURCH. So, apostolic succession and teaching authority and unity of belief are all evident in this one verse. Christ’s Church is seen to be active in this way decades before the apostolic NT letters were commonly circulated. The Church came first, and scriptures sprung forth from, and belongs in, the bosom of the Church. In Protestantism, the view of scriptures is incomplete and askew.

  138. steve hays said,

    January 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Brian said,

    “Perhaps the extant Greek MSS name the authors, but I imagine the earliest we’d have would be from about half a milenium after Jesus’ death. That’s hardly proof.”

    i) Now you’re moving the goalpost from “these books make no such claim” to “that’s hardly proof.” Moving the goalpost is symptomatic of a dishonest disputant.

    ii) Also, if you demand apodictic proof, then that will simultaneously undercut the historical claims of Rome.

    “Plus, knowing that the Greek MSS says Mark wrote the book, even if we both agree that he did, is itself extrabiblical. In other words, to accept that Mark wrote the book of Mark is to place our faith, not in the book itself or what it says about itself, but rather is to place our faith in the early Church’s diligence in making known that Mark wrote it. Extrabiblical indeed.”

    i) Before you level ignorant attacks on sola Scripture, it would behoove you to actually learn what that position amounts to. For a classic statement, read 1:6 of the Westminster Confession. After that you can also read Turretin on the subject.

    ii) Your Bart Ehrmanesque scepticism cuts both ways. By your own yardstick, you don’t know what the popes and church councils and church fathers really said. You only know what anonymous scribes and monks and publishers say they said.

    iii) It’s not extrabiblical for a Bible writer to entitle his own writing.

    “Plus, while that may apply to the 4 gospel accounts, we still don’t know who wrote Hebrews.”

    i) According to the Council of Trent, Paul wrote Hebrews. To judge by your agnosticism on the authorship of Hebrews, you don’t believe that we can trust your denomination to tell us who really wrote Hebrews. Tsk! Tsk!

    ii) According to Heb 13:14, it was written by a member of the Pauline circle.

  139. Brian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    David Weiner,

    “Are you equating the ‘preparation to enter into his eternal presence’ with purgatory or the final judgment? Or, in fact, do you consider them one and the same?”

    One in the same. Revelation 21:27 – Nothing unclean enters into heaven. When you die, do you imagine that there’s some remnant of sin you’ll be holding on to? Certainly, we’re human and fallible, and despite our best efforts to live holy lives, sin remains. So, 1 Cor 3 gives us imagery of God’s love as a consuming fire on the Last Day (Heb 12:29). God is indeed a consuming fire and scriptural imagery of God is along these lines (the burning bush, the pillar of fire, tongues of fire at Pentecost, etc.). This final purging of any remnant of our sinful nature is out of God’s burning love for us (pun intended).

  140. steve hays said,

    January 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Brian said,

    “In the Incarnational understanding, Jesus established his simulaneously visible and supernatural Church, and from those members, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they adjudicated which books make up the bible.”

    So even though Jesus and the apostles debate the Jews over OT prophecies, the Jews didn’t have a Bible.

    “That Church ‘sent’ others to do the same. We see this played out in 1 Cor 4:17 where Paul says, ‘Therefore I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.’”

    i) It doesn’t say the “Church” sent Timothy. Rather, Paul sent Timothy. Nice bait-n-switch.

    ii) I notice that you don’t quote a Magisterial interpretation of your prooftext. Nice to see your faith in the perspicuity of Scripture.

    “Timothy is SENT, to teach the SAME WAYS in EACH AND EVERY CHURCH. So, apostolic succession and teaching authority and unity of belief are all evident in this one verse.”

    It doesn’t say that Paul sent Benedict XVI.

    “Christ’s Church is seen to be active in this way decades before the apostolic NT letters were commonly circulated.”

    How does quoting an apostolic letter imply anything about the activity of the church prior to the circulation of apostolic letters?

    “The Church came first, and scriptures sprung forth from, and belongs in, the bosom of the Church.”

    I see. So the Pentateuch was written sometime after the day of Pentecost. Same thing with Isaiah, &c.

    So when Jesus, in the Gospels, quotes something from the OT, he’s quoting something that has yet to be written.

    That’s unfortunate for the argument from prophecy.

  141. Brian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Steve Hayes,

    “Now you’re moving the goalpost from “these books make no such claim” to “that’s hardly proof.” Moving the goalpost is symptomatic of a dishonest disputant.”

    I’ll stick with “these books make no such claim.” My saying, “that’s hardly proof” was me poo-pooing your rebuttal, and perhaps I could have chosen my words better.

    I’ll say that I’ve only posted on Green Baggins on one other round of discussions, and it took little time for the discussion to turn personal. In that it’s happened pretty quickly again (in your calling me “dishonest” in my dispute), I think I’ll withdraw from comment on Green Baggins once again. I imagine I’ll jump in another time in some future posting, but, for now, I’ll give it a rest.

  142. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Brian,

    Thanks for filling in some of the details. We indeed are closer than it might seem. I have to say, your understanding of Protestantism seems a bit incomplete, so allow me to correct a couple of things if I may.

    First, Protestants do not believe that the church is invisible. I’ve seen several Catholic posters here mention this idea, and it’s factually false. Actually, Presbyterians believe that the Church has an invisible and a visible aspect — Calvin spoke of the “The church as God sees it and the church as man sees it.” If you do not have a reformed background, I recommend reading chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession.

    It is the invisible church that is elect, those who will be gathered by Jesus when He returns; but it is the visible church that has been charged with adjudicating theological disputes, subject to the norm of Scripture.

    Second, when Protestants say that regeneration is necessary for recognizing Scripture as such, they do not mean that canonical determination is an invisible work of the Spirit, as the Mormons teach.

    Rather, they mean this: The Church, as the collection of God’s people, has recognized the canon. And the testimony of the Church is valuable confirming evidence, as is the self-consistency of the Scripture, the disclosure of the way of salvation, and many other wonderful features of Scripture — all of that provides strong evidentiary reasons to say “These books and not those.” (see WCoF 1.5).

    BUT

    In the end, it must be the work of the Spirit to finally convince the individual that the Scripture is not merely “the book that the Church says is God’s word” but actually God’s word itself.

    What I’ve mentioned is somewhat parallel to your thesis: that God’s work shows an organic unity between the visible and invisible. The individual relies on the work of the Spirit to convince him of the truth. But he is not special and privileged; no, the Church throughout the ages consists of hundreds of millions just like him, and their testimony confirms his.

    Now for the genuine point of disagreement. You say,

    Catholics see that as an incomplete understanding. In the Incarnational understanding, Jesus established his simulaneously visible and supernatural Church, and from those members, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they adjudicated which books make up the bible. Revisiting the point that Peter is saying, “both at once” when referencing prophecy or the writing of scripture, why can we not say “both at once” in the understanding of the Church’s teaching authority? Cannot God use fallible humans to preserve the deposit of faith as Catholics claim. If God is truly implementing “both at once” in the Catholic Church, then many prots must recognize that the Church is not the power-hungry, arrogant body that they believe her to be.

    and again

    Christ’s Church is seen to be active in this way decades before the apostolic NT letters were commonly circulated. The Church came first, and scriptures sprung forth from, and belongs in, the bosom of the Church.

    The problem here, as I mentioned to AJ in one of these posts, is that authority can be usurped. Absalom knew this when he sat at the gates of Jerusalem and adjudicated issues that properly belonged to King David. John the Baptist knew this when he said of Jesus, “He must increase and I must decrease.”

    When the Catholic Church claims to have “adjudicated” which books belonged to the canon, or that the church came first, and the scriptures sprang from her, she is placing herself in authority above the Scriptures.

    And if above, then she cannot submit to them.

    This is not because all Catholics or Catholic popes are power-hungry, of course not; but it is a structural feature of Catholicism that makes it unable to submit to the Scripture — indeed, made it unable to submit to the Scripture at Worms. Here is a portion of the Edict of Worms:

    And so as to prevent poisonous false doctrines and bad examples from being spread all over Christendom, and so that the art of printing books might be used only toward good ends, we, after mature and long deliberation, order and command you by this edict that henceforth, under penalty of confiscation of goods and property, no book dealer, printer, or anybody else mention the Holy Scriptures or their interpretation without having first received the consent of the clerk of the city and the advice and consent of the faculty of theology of the university, which will approve those books and writings with their seal.

    In the end one has but two choices: either an authoritative Scripture with fallible interpretations thereof, or “infallible interpretations” of a Scripture that has no real authority.

    Far better then to recognize that the Scripture was recognized by the church, not created by it. And in any event — what about the Old Testament? Did it not precede the Church?

  143. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Brian (#140):

    So this is something I’ve never understood about Purgatory. Let’s agree that to be in God’s presence, one must be pure of sin.

    And let’s also agree that those who die in faith are God’s friends, saved from His wrath.

    And we agree that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

    I think we agree to these three, right?

    So why is it necessary that our cleansing should take any amount of time whatsoever? Isn’t God fully capable of cleansing us fully and totally and instantaneously upon our death? And, assuming Yes, wouldn’t He do that for those who are His friends?

    I’ve never understood (outside of cynical thoughts about holding sticks over people’s heads) what purpose is served by Purgatory when it seems utterly unnecessary.

    In your view, what is the purpose of Purgatory as something that lasts a period of time (which is presumed in the doctrine of indulgences)?

  144. David Weiner said,

    January 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Brian, re # 140,

    Pun noted and appreciated. OK, from your side, final judgment and purgatory are the same thing. There is still, it seems, a problem of timing; but, possibly eternity answers that.

    Getting back to your Scripture reference of 1 Cor 3:12-15 which you indicate gives you strong conviction of purgatory: Isn’t it primarily about ‘burning’ of sinful works and not sinful saved people for whom there is now no condemnation? Fire, somehow seems to indicate condemnation, no? So, how does this passage lend support to the idea of purgatory?

  145. Brian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Jeff and David,

    I appreciate your respectful approach to these discussions, and although sitting on the sidelines may be the best place for me, I’ll attempt to find more common ground. First, purgatory is not a place, it’s a “state.” So, as when one can be in a state of grace, once can be be in a state of purging. David you are correct in saying that eternity answers that. There is no time in eternity, so Jeff, you are justified in wondering if God can purge us instantaneously, and that may indeed be how this occurs. We don’t know. Funny thing is, purgatory isn’t even considered a major doctrine in the RCC. It’s simply an explanation for what happens at death, but because it was connected to indulgences abuse at the time of the Reformation, it took on a life of its own as if it’s some sort of prime-time Catholic teaching, when to the Catholic, it’s a run-of-the-mill teaching.

    David, regarding your viewing fire as indicating condemnation, it seems hell-fire and brimstone images in our modern day minds have overtaken images of God as fire. God renews his covenant with individuals in the image of fire (a fire pot and flaming torch with Abraham in Genesis, the burning bush with Moses, the pillar of fire with Israel in Numbers, the heavenly fire that consumed the sacrifices of Solomon and Elijah, the tongues of fire with the apostles in Acts. And we are told God is a consuming fire, and that he is surrounded by Seraphim, which in Hebrew means “burning ones.” So, as God has communed with these biblical characters in the past in the form of fire, it’s fitting that he’d meet us at judgement time in an inferno of consuming love.

    Verse 15 in 1 Cor 3 makes clear that some pass through this fire and suffer loss, yet are saved. I picture silver in the crucible where the dross is burned off so that the silver become pure. In fact, I think this silver imagery is found somewhere in the OT. Hope this helps.

  146. January 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Brian writes:

    I’ll say that I’ve only posted on Green Baggins on one other round of discussions, and it took little time for the discussion to turn personal. In that it’s happened pretty quickly again (in your calling me “dishonest” in my dispute), I think I’ll withdraw from comment on Green Baggins once again. I imagine I’ll jump in another time in some future posting, but, for now, I’ll give it a rest.

    This comes across as a rather transparent excuse for not dealing with the effective refutation Steve Hays leveled at your position. If you don’t own up to erroneous argumentation against a position you don’t seem to understand very well, expect this kind of behavior to be called out for what it is.

  147. David Weiner said,

    January 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Brian, re #146,

    I really do appreciate your biblical knowledge and irenic style. Your inputs have indeed been helpful. I sense that this is the real you coming through and it has been a pleasure exchanging comments.

    My conclusion from our brief exchange is that we, for whatever reason, place expressions found in Scripture, at different points on the literal vs. figurative continuum. And, this more than anything else leads to our different conclusions. Oh well, after we both walk through that ‘fire’ lets sit down and talk again; but, then with more insight.

  148. brian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    David,

    Agreed. Later.

  149. dozie said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    “so of course “they” were not there when the canon was being received”.

    Then, the canon is anything but Protestant.

  150. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    And anything but Roman, or Greek, or Coptic.

    It belongs to the whole Church everywhere.

  151. Reed Here said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    The canon is anything but Roman Catholic either. A seriously silly, meaningless and irrelevant observation Dozie.

  152. dozie said,

    January 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    “Dozie, the canon was received from God through the prophets and apostles by the Catholic Church, not the RCC”.

    Similar to my response in 150, the canon Protestants have, according to what is being claimed, is the canon of the Catholic Church then and not a Protestant canon. Protestant canon is a misnomer at best and Plagiarism ordinarily. It is attributing to Protestantism what it does not have the faculty to produce.

  153. steve hays said,

    January 9, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Not to mention all the books which the Roman church purloined from Jewish literature. A Roman Catholic canon is a misnomer at best and plagiarism at worst.

  154. dozie said,

    January 9, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    “A seriously silly, meaningless and irrelevant observation Dozie”.

    Can’t read here says it is silly, therefore it is silly. The individual needs to come to grips that he has no canon whatsoever except what he taken from the Catholic Church by violence.

  155. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 9, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Dozie, the fallacy here is

    (1) The canon was created by the Catholic church (true!)
    (2) The Roman church is the Catholic church (not true!)
    (3) Therefore, the canon belongs to the Roman Church (false because of (2)).

    You can’t lay claim to the canon before you can prove that “the church” belongs to Rome. I have no doubt that you sincerely believe this — but I also have no doubt that any Protestant here is utterly unmoved by it.

    Again: You’re treating a divorce as if it were a case of theft. But 1517 was a long time ago, and it’s time that we all asked, “What now?”

  156. steve hays said,

    January 9, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    dozie said,

    “Can’t read here says it is silly, therefore it is silly. The individual needs to come to grips that he has no canon whatsoever except what he taken from the Catholic Church by violence.”

    Yes, John the Baptist should be convicted for mugging Mother Church.

  157. Reed Here said,

    January 9, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Dozie yet again writes with an arrogance that displays his foolishness. I wish he’d write in a manner that constructively engaged. Then it would be worth responding to him. Unfortunately he yet again falls into the habit of poor argumentation masquerading as intelligent discourse.

    Answer a fool according to his folly.

  158. Ron said,

    January 9, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Hey Reed,

    Remember when Barney would deputize Otis in certain situations? How about making me a moderator just for five minutes and I’ll take care of Dozie once and for all! :)

    Ron

  159. Bob S. said,

    January 10, 2011 at 12:59 am

    130 If you say God dictated scriptures through Paul, then it’s not foolish to wonder why God couldn’t remember who Paul baptized?

    No Brian, it is foolish to think that because Paul couldn’t remember, that God didn’t know. That’s a non sequitur.

    Rather in light of 1 Cor.1:17 Paul dismisses it because Christ sent him to preach the gospel, not baptize.
    Which gospel, if we don’t believe, we shall perish.
    Even further, nobody will be sitting around on the sidelines in hell. Rather the smoke of their torment ascends forever in the presence of the Lamb and his holy angels Rev. 14:10,11

    As for 138
    Christ’s Church is seen to be active in this way decades before the apostolic NT letters were commonly circulated. The Church came first, and scriptures sprung forth from, and belongs in, the bosom of the Church. In Protestantism, the view of scriptures is incomplete and askew.

    ???Where did you get that?/Prove.
    As per Muller’s Post Ref. Ref. Dogmatics 2:182f, protestantism teaches the distinction between the Word and Scripture. Or the unwritten and written word. God spoke to Adam first. Much later Moses wrote it down. Likewise Christ and the apostles. At the time of the Gospels and Book of Acts there was no written Gospels or Bk. of Acts. They came later as per Christ’s promise to his apostles that the Holy Spirit would lead them into the truth John 14:26, 16:13-5

    IOW God regenerates and effectually calls his church out of the world through his revelation and word and when in good time that church is constituted, the word and revelation becomes inscripturated.

    IOW the Roman argument that the church came first is not true. God’s word is always first. Without it there would be no church. But as per WCF 1:1 for the better preservation and establishment of the church the word was put down in writing and the unwritten word ceased.

    Needless to say that church could and did recognize the written word when it came to them by the hands of the apostles and their secretaries.

    Thank you.

  160. curate said,

    January 10, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Brian 130: “If you say God dictated scriptures through Paul, then it’s not foolish to wonder why God couldn’t remember who Paul baptized?”

    Look up the difference between dictate and inspire. Write a short paragraph of not more than three sentences to show that you have grasped the distinction.

    Teacher.

  161. curate said,

    January 10, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Scripture was sent to the church by inspired men chosen by God. It was sent to it, not produced by it.

    Do you imagine that Ephesians was produced by the church in Ephesus? By the Pope? By the Magisterium? By a bishop? Did the Bishop of Rome even exist when Paul began his missionary journeys to the Gentiles? To whom did Paul give earthly submission? Peter? Read Galatians, you silly person.

  162. Brian said,

    January 10, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Teacher,

    “Look up the difference between dictate and inspire. Write a short paragraph of not more than three sentences to show that you have grasped the distinction.”

    Notwithstanding the condescension, it seems my use of hyperbole has gone unnoticed. My point is that while Reformed and Caths may same the same thing about scriptures (inspired, not dictated), our world view is different, and so our actions speak louder than words. Prots say “scripture alone” whereas Caths say Dei Verbum (the Word of God alone). It’s been said a heresy is a truth taken too far, and that’s what we have with sola scriptura – scriptures is treated as if God dictated in entirety all that his people should know. Caths don’t see it this way. Read Dei Verbum for more.

    Teacher (although you’ve called youself this in sarcasm), I can learn much from you and the other Reformed folk here, so now I have a question for you… name 3 positive things you’ve learned from Catholics. (Here are a some I’ve learned from Prots: a deeper sense of Christian “fellowship”, a more pronounced sense of reaching out to others in evangelization in my own life, a more free-spirited prayer life.) Are Catholic beliefs and practices good for anything in your world?

  163. TurretinFan said,

    January 10, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Dozie:

    Have you read F.F. Bruce’s book on the Canon of Scripture?

    -TurretinFan

  164. Bob S. said,

    January 10, 2011 at 11:06 am

    163
    Three positive things I have learned from these discussions, Brian?
    The reinforcement of the following:

    John 3:27  John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

    1 Corinthians 11:19  For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

    Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    As well as:
    2 Thessalonians 2:11,12  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

  165. Bob S. said,

    January 10, 2011 at 11:14 am

    163 Prots say “scripture alone” whereas Caths say Dei Verbum (the Word of God alone).

    Which means exactly what according to the official Romanist position? Scripture, tradition and the Roman church?

    (S)cripture is treated as if God dictated in entirety all that his people should know.

    And what particular good work is left out by 2 Tim.3:16,17 if it says “throughly furnished unto all good works”?

  166. dozie said,

    January 10, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    “Answer a fool according to his folly”.

    Unfortunately you failed to take advantage of my folly; you failed to answer my question/assertion with any element of wisdom. In attempting to evade my question by placing yourself on a high horse, you show where the folly resides. You failed to show me that there is a Protestant canon. It is not sufficient to redirect to F.F. Bruce or whoever else; you’ve got to trace the history of Protestant canon and outline the criteria Protestants used in arriving at their list. Was the Protestant canon decided by a committee, one person, or did it just happen? What was the period of consideration for the so called Protestant canon; one year, one decade, or one century? If you do not have these details and if you can’t show your NT scriptures were dropped from the sky, you do not have a Protestant canon; what you have is a plagiarized document that you have no right to. You may get angry, but simply assuming a certain level of sophistication is not sufficient to address the facts of my charge.

  167. Bob S. said,

    January 10, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Ah, the scandal, the scandal, the scandal.
    We cannot answer one of dozie’s comments/questions on the canon and are therefore damned/doomed.
    Oh, the agony and pathos. It is heartrending.

    FWIW I had always understood that the early – not the Roman – church had decided the canon and the Reformers with the renaissance of Greek manuscripts that came West in the diaspora of Christian scholars that followed the Islamic conquest of Constantinople – which included the NT in Greek, where the West had largely up until this time relied on revisions of Jerome’s 4th century Vulgate – chose the ECF’s and the early church over the medieval Roman option.
    Your mileage may vary of course and other scholars might have far more to add, but it works for me, if not dozie.
    Sorry about that, d.

    cordially,
    Bob S.

  168. D. T. King said,

    January 11, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Was the Protestant canon decided by a committee, one person, or did it just happen? What was the period of consideration for the so called Protestant canon; one year, one decade, or one century? If you do not have these details and if you can’t show your NT scriptures were dropped from the sky, you do not have a Protestant canon; what you have is a plagiarized document that you have no right to.

    This sort of rant is what is known as the logical fallacy of plurium interrogationum (many questions), and it is dozie’s standard practice. This fallacy is that of demanding simple answer for a complex question. This is how he operates. Now, to be sure, I doubt very seriously whether he/she even cares that this is fallacious in its approach, but I thought I would point it out in order for all of us to be able to recognize it for what it is.

    It is also disingenuous because we’ve already been through a long thread addressing the question of the canon, to which he/she apparently gave no attention. But the Romanist always gets a thrill out of rewinding the merry-go-round to ride it again (In other words, he wants to get as much mileage out of it as he can without going anywhere). This is the kind of rant that calls for my “thanks for sharing” response.

  169. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 11, 2011 at 7:07 am

    You failed to show me that there is a Protestant canon.

    Now dozie, I did that up above. Take a look back at #74, which gives a clear and definitive answer, and Protestants are entirely united on that answer (if not much else!).

  170. Reed Here said,

    January 11, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Dozie: please stop being so ridiculour. Look up Jeff’s response in no. 170. You’ve been answered.

    There is no Protestant or RCC canon – historical fact. Why do you not understand this? Are you so bent on push your own agenda that you ignore the truth?

    Answer a fool according to his folly.

  171. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    January 11, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Dozie, #34: “I will be following this conversation to try to understand a thing or two about Protestantism. First, some questions:…

    D.T. King, #169: “This sort of rant is what is known as the logical fallacy of plurium interrogationum (many questions), and it is dozie’s standard practice. This fallacy is that of demanding simple answer for a complex question. This is how he operates. Now, to be sure, I doubt very seriously whether he/she even cares that this is fallacious in its approach, but I thought I would point it out in order for all of us to be able to recognize it for what it is.

    It is also disingenuous because we’ve already been through a long thread addressing the question of the canon, to which he/she apparently gave no attention. But the Romanist always gets a thrill out of rewinding the merry-go-round to ride it again (In other words, he wants to get as much mileage out of it as he can without going anywhere). This is the kind of rant that calls for my “thanks for sharing” response.”

    Thank you pastor King for shining the light on Dozie and exposing him and his works for all of us to see.

    P.S. It’s singularly unfortunate that pastor Stellman would have shut off the light, were he the moderator, due to his unhealthy obsession with being a tone policeman.

  172. steve hays said,

    January 11, 2011 at 10:08 am

    dozie said,

    “You failed to show me that there is a Protestant canon. It is not sufficient to redirect to F.F. Bruce or whoever else; you’ve got to trace the history of Protestant canon and outline the criteria Protestants used in arriving at their list. Was the Protestant canon decided by a committee, one person, or did it just happen? What was the period of consideration for the so called Protestant canon; one year, one decade, or one century? If you do not have these details and if you can’t show your NT scriptures were dropped from the sky, you do not have a Protestant canon; what you have is a plagiarized document that you have no right to.”

    i) Dozie labors under the conceited illusion that he has the right to unilaterally frame the terms of the debate. But while he may accord himself that prerogative, the rest of us are entitled to disregard his egotistical pretensions. Dozie doesn’t get to prejudge for the rest of us the right questions to ask, or the right answers.

    Moreover, the fact that he keeps repeating his parroted talking-points doesn’t make his clamor any more legitimate on the 10th repetition that it was at first.

    ii) Notice how he arbitrarily confines the issue to the NT canon. Dozie is a functional Marcionite.

    iii) There’s nothing mysterious about the history of the Protestant canon. Mind you, the history of the Protestant canon is secondary, but let’s address that for the sake of argument.

    Historically, the Protestant church represents one branch of Latin Christianity. At the time of the Reformation the precise scope of the canon was in a state of flux. You had the Augustinian tradition, based on Christian editions of the LXX–and you had the Hieronymian tradition, based on the Hebrew canon. Both traditions were represented at the Council of Trent. Both traditions were live options among the Tridentine Fathers.

    There was also traditional, albeit informal, consensus on the scope of the NT canon–on the eve of the Reformation.

    So that’s the historical legacy which Protestants (as well as Roman Catholics) had to sift.

    iv) Of course, you can take the story further back in time. The early history of the Eastern church also fed into the canonical history of the Latin church. And, before that, the history of the Jewish canon fed into the canonical history of the ancient church.

    v) To take a comparison, consider the situation of a 1C Palestinian Jew. There was the Hebrew canon. There were sectarian claims regarding the Oral Torah. And there was intertestamental literature floating around.

    One would have to sift through the material.

    vi) As I’ve said before, what is important is not the process, per se, but how we evaluate the end-product. Unlike Adam and Eve, who started from scratch, the rest of us come to the debate in medias res. We enter history at a certain stage. We come into the process at some earlier or later phase in the ongoing process. My present was someone’s future, or someone else’s past. We take the past as our immediate point of departure. We evaluate whatever the past has given us.

    The question is whether, or to what extent, we can go back and validate the judgments of those who came before us. And they were in the same situation. We have forbears, and our forbears had forbears. Every generation must evaluate its ancestral legacy. Every generation begins with what was handed to it by the last generation, does something with that legacy, then hands that off to the next generation, which repeats the cycle.

    We may decide to embrace our heritage in toto, reject it in toto, or modify it in some respect. That’s a decision which our heathen forbears had to make when Christian missionaries brought the gospel to pagan nations.

    vii) I’ve already discussed the various lines of evidence for the Protestant canon. Not surprisingly, Dozie chose to ignore what he cannot refute.

    Now I’ll make some additional points:

    viii) It isn’t necessary that every Christian be able to evaluate the end-product. God, in his providence, puts us in different situations, with varying opportunities. The point is to be faithful in the situation in which we find ourselves.

    In his providence, God can ensure a reliable result, whether or not all of us are in a position to retroactively validate the result.

    xi) Apropos (viii), the testimonial role of the Holy Spirit has been mentioned from time to time in this debate. Given God’s providential canon, the regenerate heart senses the evident inspiration of the Word.

    That doesn’t give us the canon, but given the canon, that gives us a type of assurance apart from supporting arguments for the canon.

    If you have 20/20 vision, an optometrist can verify your visual acuity. However, you can rely on your 20/20 vision whether or not you have that additional confirmation. Given 20/20 vision, you can use your 20/20 vision. Your vision is reliable in its own right. Use and proof are not the same thing. If your eyesight is reliable, you can rely on your eyesight. That’s not what gives you reliable eyesight. Yet it’s possible to retroactively verify your visual acuity. But these are separate questions.

    xii) In making the case for the canon, we don’t need apodictic proof. Rather, we assess the issues in light of the best evidence that God has put at our disposal. God has chosen to preserve certain lines of evidence for the benefit of posterity. When we appeal to various lines of evidence, we exercise trust in the wisdom and benevolence of God’s providence. We play the hand God dealt us. And that’s a faithful attitude. We’re not demanding signs and wonders. There’s an impious type of certainty as well as a pious type of certainty.

  173. TurretinFan said,

    January 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Dozie:

    If you sincerely desire to know how we come to recognize which books are in the canon, why not read the work of our scholars on the subject?

    If you are just trolling, though, be gone!

    -TurretinFan

  174. dozie said,

    January 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    “There is no Protestant or RCC canon…”.

    Fair enough. This is the very point I have been laboring to make. Protestants, at least those read this board, should stop using the term “Protestant canon”. There is also no “Roman Catholic” canon just as there is no “Roman Catholic” pope.

  175. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 12, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Dozie (#175): Tell ya what. There’s no Protestant canon. Instead, there’s a list of 66 books that Protestants all agree are the Word of God, and they call it “canon” in scare quotes.

    So it’s not a Protestant canon, it’s a “Protestant canon.”

    Better?


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